Do You Know How to Read a Book?

A few months ago, my wife received an email from one of the homeschooling mailing lists she’s subscribed to about a lecture titled “How to Read a Book”. The lecture’s by Hamza Yusuf Hanson (yeah, yeah, I know. Hamza Yusuf’s a Sūfî. I’m well aware of that) and is based on a book by Mortimer J. Adler by the same title (Chapters-Indigo, Amazon). When my wife first told me about it, I kind of laughed thinking “who doesn’t know how to read a book?” and dismissed it as a waste of time. Since then, a few of my friends (all Salafi) have mentioned this lecture and mentioned that it’s pretty beneficial. After some thought and contemplation (especially with regards to taking truth from wherever it comes), I made the decision that I’d check it out if I had the time.

I’ve listened to most of the two part lecture (I’ve got about about an hour left to go; the two parts together is just over 3 hours long), and although he’s mentioned several things about how to read a book that I already knew (e.g., the types of reading, the levels of reading, etc.), I’ve found it very beneficial so far. I also think that it contains enough benefit that I’d want to share it with my readers, especially with regards to specific things he mentions, like understanding the terms and the language the writer is using in his/her work (this has been the source and cause of so many disputes and misunderstandings, not only among the laity, but also among scholars), as well as the importance of critical and analytical thinking (which, sadly, so many Salafis–a group who supposedly hold academics in high esteem–seem to be utterly devoid of).

In any case, for those of you interested, check out the lectures. Videos after the jump.


About Rasheed Gonzales
My name is Rasheed Gonzales. I’m a Muslim convert of Filipino descent. Born and raised in Toronto, Canada, I was guided to Islam through one of my younger brothers and a couple of friends, all of whom had converted to Islam sometime before me (may Allah reward them greatly). I am married with four children (and the praise is Allah’s) and also a volunteer for the Qur'an & Sunnah Society of Canada, based in Toronto.

3 Responses to Do You Know How to Read a Book?

  1. Faheem Lea says:

    This was highly bebeficial, I saw this a couple of months ago. There was one profound statement that Hamza Yusuf said in the first video, comparing how the ‘ulamaa of the past were, and compared to today: “Ancients wrote sentences that could be summed up in volumes, whereas moderns write volumes that can be summed up in sentences.”

  2. Maddermonk says:

    Man. If there’s one this you can definitely say about Hamza Yusuf, is that he takes FOREVER to get to the point. This talk could be and should be half its length.

  3. LOL. Very true. But to be fair, his tangents usually relate to the point he’s making, and also don’t tend to take a life of their own and become the focus of the discussion, which is good.

    Also undeniable is that his knowledge of Arabic is excellent, and his knowledge of English phenomenal. There aren’t many Salafis I know who can come close to his level when it comes to language, and really, that’s very unfortunate. We’d be taken a lot more seriously if our academics and our presentation of our call were a lot more refined and mature, rather than the street thug and “gansta” image I so often see with Western Salafism.

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