Translated by Ahmed Abu Turaab
What was Al-Albaani doing in his teens?
Al-Huwaini: What year was this, when you started to read the magazine, Al-Manaar?
Al-Albaani: Less than twenty, it is possible that [I was] seventeen or eighteen or the like. So I started to write until I had arranged [part of] the first volume when I had an idea which was that I was a beginner in seeking knowledge, secondly I was a foreigner, an Albanian–[and so] many times I would come across sayings of the Prophet, صلى الله عليه وسلم, which I would not understand or some Arabic words which would be obscure and vague to me–words which I later came to realise were from [that special category of word] which occur in hadiths and are problematic/difficult to understand [i.e., gharibul-hadith].
So I said [to myself]: why don’t I use some of the books which are in my possession or in my father’s library to explain these words which I find difficult to understand? So I did that but I had just begun to make some notes when I started to blame myself and regard what I had done as something disagreeable. Because now the first volume seemed to be unorganised: the first part of it had no [such] commentary but the second part did, and this disparity did not please me. So I cancelled what I did and started all over again, commenting and explaining from the beginning of the book when the need arose.
In this manner the first volume was completed and then I started the second. [Until in the end] the difference in commentary between the first volume and the last volumes was clearly apparent. For in the first volume you will see that most pages only have a little commentary but after that the complete opposite is true: you could see one line [of main text] at the top and below it would be [nothing but] footnotes, written in a very fine script.
In Syria we had two types of writing pen: that which was for writing Arabic and the other for writing French, they would call the latter ‘the French pen’ because it had a very fine nib. So I would write the commentary in Arabic with the French pen to distinguish it from the main text, so you would find all of the page full of this minute writing and at the top [you would see] a line or two [of the main text for which the commentary was written] with the Arabian pen and so on.
Bearing in mind that I felt that I benefitted greatly from this revision in making up for this deficiency which I used to feel due to, firstly, being a beginner in seeking knowledge, and secondly, due to my foreignness.
So I benefitted from this work greatly, greatly indeed, and it is present with me, and all praise is due to Allaah, as a remnant of that work.
 Shaikh Muhammad al-Majdhoob said, “And the Shaikh showed me the work he did on that copy. And behold I came face to face with three volumes [which contained] four parts and whose pages reached two thousand and twelve in number, made up of two different types of handwriting. The first was normal whereas the second was fine, [and is] the one he used to write his commentary or corrections in the footnotes area. By Allaah, it is an effort which the people of high resolve from the people of knowledge today would lack the strength for, let alone the university graduates who have no firm will to give them the patience to check, verify and pursue [such matters].
Then what is the case when you add to that the fact that the Shaikh was not more than twenty years old? So there is no doubt that this colossal effort in writing those volumes, while using all those means of verification which were available to this youth at that time, had the greatest effect on him becoming accustomed to this kind of academic endeavour. For it, even though he was [still] not entirely satisfied with it in its complete form, had opened up the way for him to progress to a higher level in this field.
So through such a life and that development, and those problems that he faced, it seems to me [that the presence of] other hidden factors also steadily directed this youth to that path. To make him, in the end, one of the great aiders of the pure Sunnah in the lands of Syria.” Ulamaa wa mufikkiroon (1/292).
Al-Imaam al-Albaani, Hayaatuhu, Da’watuhu, Juhooduhoo fee Khidmatis-Sunnah, of Muhammad Bayyoomi, pp. 12-14.