By Umm Ibrahim
Bismillahir Rahmanir Raheem
And it happens again! You pick up an awesome book, read through it, and put it back on your shelf. A few weeks later, someone asks you about something related to the book and you draw a blank. You know you read it in that book but you just cannot recall it; or, for that matter, you can’t even figure out the chapter in which you read it. Sounds familiar?
We all read many, many books on diverse subjects. How do we ensure that we become familiar with each book’s contents such that we can actually benefit from it?
Here are some quick tips:
1. Right intention
Begin with the right intention. Before starting any book, ask yourself: “Why am I reading this book? What do I hope to gain from it? How would I like others to benefit from this book through me?” Aim to read the book to gain knowledge and spread it as an act of worship and Allah will reward you for the time and effort you spend on it, inshallah. You can also aim to read for pleasure to relax but the material must be beneficial, without any content that is not in accordance with the Sharia. Having the right intention will ensure that you stay away from books that are not beneficial in any way and would only waste your time.
2. Write down the important information
As you begin reading, keep a packet of Post-It notes handy. If the book belongs to you, you can simply jot down brief points or gems on the Post-Its and stick them on the book’s pages. If you feel this spoils the book, keep a special journal or notepad handy for the same purpose. The process of writing will help etch the points in your memory and you are likely to remember important information from the book you’ve read. You may also want to write a review and post it online.
3. Discuss with a friend who’s read the same book or share it with your study circle
Once you are done reading the book, don’t just keep it back on your shelf and forget about it. Share the book with a friend or with your study circle. Once everyone in the circle has read the book, you can discuss it thoroughly. The process of discussion will be helpful in clarifying any points that you did not fully understand. Each person in the study circle can also put forward one take-home point from the book for the benefit of all. This will be a source of sadaqah jariyah (ongoing charity) for the person who introduced the book.
After a few months, come back to the same book. You may not read it cover to cover, but still skim through it along with your journal to refresh what you learned from it.
5. Implement what you read
This is possibly the best form of benefiting from books. Try to implement in your life what you have learned. Many books—for instance, Enjoy Your Life—give practical pointers which can be made a part of your daily life even as you read.
May Allah (swt) enable us to benefit from all the books that we read. Ameen.
Umm Ibrahim is a stay-at-home mom, and a freelance writer and editor.
© IIPH 2016