Translated by Ahmed Abu Turaab
Learning from his Father
Al-Huwaini: I asked Shaikh Shu’aib al-Arnaa’oot about some things and then he ended up saying, “I used to go to Shaikh Nooh (i.e., Shaikh al-Albaani’s father) but Shaikh Naasir would not be present at our sittings.”
Al-Albaani: I never used to attend those lessons which he is referring to. But we used to have a private lesson with my father with two other Arnaa’ooti youths one of whose names was Abdur-Raheem Zainul-Aabideen and he is still alive, the other has passed away and we used to read Al-Qadoori in hanafi fiqh to him, likewise we read Al-Maraah in morphology to him and we finished reciting the Quraan to him.
So this does not mean that we did not read to him, for I would not attend at the time he was attending just as the opposite [conclusion] is not binding–for he never used to attend these particular lessons of ours with my father, [but this does not mean] that he never sat with my father, this is not binding.
Al-Albaani Leaving the Hanafi Madhhab to Study Hadith
and the time he was too poor to buy a Book
Al-Huwaini: There is a matter here which draws one’s attention: how did you turn to hadith and such, bearing in mind that some of what you have said and what Shaikh Shu’aib said [shows] that your father was a Hanafi, he would revere the Hanafi school of thought greatly?
Al-Albaani: That is from the blessings of Allaah. But as for the reason then it is as is said, “When Allaah intends a matter He facilitates the means for it.” So I truly was living in an atmosphere of bigoted Hanafism. My father, especially among the Arnaa’oots, was regarded as the most knowledgeable of them in Hanafi fiqh, he was the one they would recourse and refer back to.
When I finished elementary school and studied as I have previously detailed with some of the Shaikhs, I would have a very great desire to want to read as a hobby. But reading [those things]–as would seem to one looking in on it–that contained no benefit, indeed which could even have an adverse effect. But later on the effect of this reading became clear in my language for it had strengthened my oral skills. What is peculiar is that I was infatuated with reading modern day fiction works which were known as hiwaayaat [leisure reading/books that are read as a hobby], especially the stories of the American thief famous as Arsene Lupin. So I was truly infatuated with reading this type of story and narrative.
Then I found myself moving to the second stage which perhaps was better than the first, and it was studying Arabic stories, even though [most of them] were fiction. So for example I read A Thousand Arabian Nights, I read the story of Antar ibn Shaddaad, the story of Salaah ad-Deen al-Ayyoobi, a story of resoluteness and valiant champions, and so on. I was extremely captivated by such types of perusal and reading, and then from the perfectness of Allaah’s Plan and His Kindness to me was that when I changed my profession and accompanied my father I came across a lot of free time.
We would split the time [we’d sit] in the shop. So he would go [to it] in the morning and I would go with him [and he would stay there] until he prayed dhuhr, then after he had prayed it he would go home to relax and I would remain in the shop until he returned [which would be] after asr. We were both workers and sometimes I would come across a lot of spare time, there would be hours and I would not [have to] repair any watches, so I would ask his permission to go out … and to where? This was also from Allaah’s granting of success to me [that] I would go to the Amawi masjid and would give the people some general lessons, and I was influenced as regards ideology: some of it was correct, in what became apparent to me later, and some of it was incorrect.
That which was incorrect was connected to two points: blind following and Sufism. Then in this free time during which I would leave my father’s shop, Allaah ordained [that I meet] an Egyptian man who would buy books left by people who had passed away and then [sell them and] put them on display in front of a shop of his [which was] in the direction of the western door of the Amawi mosque. So I would pass by the stack of books which he would pile up outside his small shop, turning over the pages, and I would find whatever I wanted from those narrations, and I would loan the book from him for some money, read it and then return it and so on.
One day I found some issues of the magazine ‘Al-Mannar’ with him, and I remember very well that I read a chapter in it by as-Sayyid Rashid Rida, may Allaah have mercy upon him, speaking about the merits of al-Ghazaali’s book Al-Ihyaa and he [also] criticised it from some angles, likes its Sufism, for example, and the weak and baseless hadiths that were in it. In this regard he mentioned that Abul-Fadl Zainul-Aabidin al-Iraaqi had a book which he authored about Al-Ihyaa in which he checked its hadiths, distinguishing between its authentic and weak ones and he called it, Al-Mughni an Hamlil-Asfaar fil-Asfaar fee Takhrij maa fil-Ihyaa minal-Akhbaar.
So I began to greatly yearn for this book, I went to the market asking after it like someone infatuated and madly in love [aashiq] [saying], “Where is this book?” Until I found it with one of them and it was in four volumes, the print of al-Baabi al-Halabi, on soft, yellow paper.
But I was poor like my father and could not afford to buy a book such as it, so I came to an agreement with its owner that I would loan it from him, I don’t recall now [whether it was] for a year or less or more, so I did, I took the book and was almost about to fly out of joy. I went to the shop and I would take advantage of the time when my father was away so I could be alone with my book. I made a plan to copy it out and so I started to do so. I bought some paper and got a ‘mistarah’–and this refers to cardboard that had parallel lines on it.
Al-Imaam al-Albaani, Hayaatuhu, Da’watuhu, Juhooduhoo fee Khidmatis-Sunnah, of Muhammad Bayyoomi, pp. 10-12.