Such High Aspirations…!
From p. 26-34 of ‘Sawanih wa Ta’ammulat fi Qimat az-Zaman’ by Khaldun al-Ahdab:
“al-Khatib al-Baghdadi said:
“I heard ‘Ali bin ‘Ubaydullah bin ‘Abd al-Ghaffar al-Lughawi saying: “Verily, Muhammad bin Jarir at-Tabari, out of his eighty-three years of life, spend forty of those years writing, with him writing forty pages each day of those forty years.””
This means that he – may Allah have Mercy on him – wrote almost 584,000 pages in that time! Professor Muhammad Kurd ‘Ali said, in this biography of Ibn Jarir at-Tabari:
“It is not reported from him that he wasted even a single minute of his life in something other than benefiting others or benefitting from others.”And in order to grasp the lofty quality of these works that he authored, reflect over what Abu Hamid Ahmad bin ‘Ali Tahir al-Isfra’ini said: “If a man were to travel to China simply in order to acquire ‘Tafsir at-Tabari,’ then this would not be too much to do.”
al-Bayhaqi authored over 1,000 volumes, each one of them being unique and different from anything else of its time, filled with benefit, and he would fast regularly for over thirty years.
Abu al-Wafa’ ‘Ali bin ‘Aqil al-Hambali al-Baghdadi, regarding whom Ibn Taymiyyah said: “He is from the wisest people on Earth,” in his conservation of time on an even greater scale, wrote the longest book ever written by a scholar in the world, and that is the book ‘al-Funun,’ which is 800 volumes long.
And Ibn ‘Asakir authored his book ‘Tarikh Dimashq’ in over eighty large volumes.
And Abu Hatim ar-Razi wrote his ‘Musnad’ in over 1,000 volumes.
And Ibn al-Jawzi said, regarding himself:
“I authored over 1,000 volumes with these two fingers, and over 100,000 people repented by my hand, and over 20,000 Jews and Christians entered Islam by my hand.”
If we assume that a medium-sized volume contains about 300 pages, then the amount that he wrote in 1,000 volumes would surpass 6,000,000!!
Ibn al-Jawzi continues:
“So, when I saw that time is the most valuable of things, and it is a must to take advantage of it by doing that which is good, I hated (the wasting of time by the people engaging in idle talk and actions), and I was, in regards to this, caught between two choices: if I reprimanded them for their actions, then I would cause a rift between myself and them, and if I accepted their actions, then I would have wasted my time. So, I decided to expend some effort in pushing the meetings along, and if I saw that it was heading in the direction of idleness, I would shorten the conversation in order to be able to depart from the sitting.
Then, I would prepare certain tasks that would not interfere with a conversation during the times that people would meet me at my home, so that no time would pass by without anything beneficial being done. So, I would arrange to be able to sharpen my pens and organize my notebooks, as such tasks do not require any thinking or concentration. Therefore, I would reserve these tasks for times in which people would visit me, so that I would not allow any time to be wasted.”
And as-Suyuti was nicknamed ‘Ibn al-Kutub’ (Son of Books), as his father had requested from his pregnant mother to get him a book from his library, and she began going into labor as soon as she was in the library, giving birth to him between all the books. This nickname was appropriate for him until he became Abu al-Kutub, as the works that he authored in his lifetime numbered over 600, besides what he wrote and then retracted.”