August 12, 2007

Bookshelf Identity

Since the beginning of the year, I've hardly visited my own apartment. I've kept it around because I love the location, and it's been of great service to Muslim students that I've accommodated for the last little while.

Of late, I've been hosting large groups of visiting Al-Maghrib students in my apartment. I never actually meet these people, as I'm never around anymore. But often I wonder, when these people stay at my place, what impression does my home give to visitors who never actually meet me? As I returned to my apartment yesterday for the first time in months, I realized that my two bookshelves probably serve as the best indication of my personality.

In the foreground is my complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes, followed by project management notes I compiled during a training seminar I took last year. The rest of the books cover four years of Engineering studies, and a few other non-fiction publications. Sitting atop all these hardcover books is my little manual on changing the world.

My other bookshelf contains my Islamic content. The titles here effectively speak for themselves. The "Saviours of the Islamic Spirit" collection is a fantastic read, and the seerah shown to the right is among the best I've read. The top shelf contains the four volumes of Shaikh Abul Hasan's Qissasus Nabiyeen in Arabic, the reader of choice for the Shariah Program. All of these books were written by Shaikh Abul Hasan ali Nadwi rahmatullahi'alaih, whose contributions to modern Islamic scholarship are astounding. It is an unfortunate reality that such scholars, who transcended the petty differences we find our ummah mired in, are very few and far between today.

Overall, I do believe that the literature on my shelves is a fairly accurate reflection of my personality. I would imagine that any guests who perused my bookshelves would develop at least a rudimentary understanding of their host, even though they never met me in person.

What does your bookshelf say about you? Does it accurately reflect your personality?

This almost sounds like a tag. In which case, any blogger who is reading this is invited to display their own bookshelves, and share it with the world.

Update 2007.09.03: We have participants!
If anyone else has done this, then let me know and I'll put a link up here.


  1. assalamu alaykum..

    what impression does my home give to visitors who never actually meet me?
    I asked myself the samething last week.. but "my home" was referring to my blog. :)

    I've been thinking of organizing my bookshelf for a couple of days now (Alhamdulillah). I got a new book rack last week. So look out to my collection photo next week insha Allah. (though i warn you, my books are prolly not half classical and not as interesting as yours).

  2. Mine is full of fiction on one side and many Islamic books on the other but it's shameful that i have read only a couple of the Islamic ones.
    Overall my bookshelf gives an impression of a confused person:(

  3. This is hilarious. Wow I wonder what my bookshelf says about me. Too bad I haven't seen my bookshelf for two months now, but when I get back, I'll definitely have to take you up on your general tag.

    I can't believe you have those Calvin and Hobbes books...

  4. As-salaamu 'alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

    My own personal bookshelf, in my room, is filled with fiction - but when I look at it, I don't think it accurately reflects me/ my taste because it's stocked with what managed to surface from the black hole that is our garage! Most of my favourite books are still buried in a box somewhere amongst the other boxes that *still* haven't been emptied from our move last summer.
    The only exceptions are "The Crusades Through Arab Eyes" by Amin Maalouf, and two books (from the If I Should Speak trilogy) by Umm Zakiyyah.

    All the Islamic books in my house are contained in my dad's office/ library room, the walls of which contain a collection of both English and Arabic books that has been slowly but surely built up since his days at the Islamic University in Madinah.
    (You can see some of them in the pic on my blog where my little bro is modelling my sweater.)

    I love the idea about taking pics of our bookshelves! Unfortunately, I still don't have a decent webcam (never mind a digital one) :(

  5. Hafsa: Wa'alaykum assalam; thanks for participating. :)
    I often wonder what impression people get of me through my blog, but it really depends on the person rather than my content. Both the nicest and most offensive things that have been said to me/about me in the last few years were through these irrelevant opinions.

    Iman: Thanks for visiting. I think something like a bookshelf will always give a confused picture, but that's part of what makes us human; we can't be summarized by simply a few book titles. As they say, you can't judge a book by it's cover, and you can't judge a person by his books.

    Asmaa: What's so surprising about my having the complete collection of Calvin and Hobbes? I reference it often enough, and I do show the comic on a daily basis just below ...

    AnonyMouse: Wa'alaykum assalam wa rahmatullah,
    I like the idea of having a dedicated Islamic library, all of our stuff is all over the place. Maybe when I eventually move into a bigger place insha-Allah...

  6. Nice blog mashallah.
    Please take a look at my blog and and link up here if you think it of benefit.

  7. Hmm... I'd go with Iman on this one. My bookshelf also points to a very confused person. Thankfully, only the upper portion of the shelf has a glass front, otherwise everyone'd know I'm not only confused but also messy. :P

    The glass shelves has medicine books below and Islamic books at a higher level. Some good reads on the top shelf include

    -'Woman Between Islam and Western Society' by Maulana Waheeduddin Khan (it's a great book!)

    -Road to Mecca by Muhammad Asad and

    -Muhammad (saw) by Martin Lings (Abu Bakr Siraj Ad-Din)>.

    The med books can stay unnamed here but I should mention they're huge and thus attract attention st first sight. That's enough to repel people from the book case, muttering, 'Oh, doctor!' as if there's a contagious disease around!

  8. Assalaamu'alaykum wa rahmatu Allahi wa barakaatu

    I hope all is well there, insha'Allah.

    You have a beautiful collection of books, masha'Allah.

    My books *sniff*. SubhanAllah. Just recently I was itching to read one book that I have in my humble collection, and my friend who happened to visit me had it with her... and I was able to read it. SubhanAllah. It's amazing how things work out sometimes.

    Unfortunately (or maybe it's not so unfortunate), I'm not sure what my books say about me... I guess I have to figure myself out first.
    Thanks for putting the question forward.

    All the best, insha'Allah!

  9. Muslim Beliefs: Thanks for visiting, I'll be sure to visit yours.

    Ameera: I've heard a lot about the Martin Lings book, how does it differ from other seerahs?

    I get intimidated whenever I visit one of my friends who completed his medicine degree; it makes my measly Engineering degree seem so basic!

    Maryam: What about Tupperware manuals? Surely you read those?

    Farzeen: Wa'alaykum assalam wa rahatmullah,
    It's a nice little collection alhamdulillah, but I haven't read every one of them start to finish. In particular, the book "Al-Hidayah" has hardly been touched since I bought it a couple of years ago.

  10. I'm sure you must have heard a lot about that book. It's really an amazing book in a number of ways. For one, we Muslims know the Prophet (saw)'s Seerah overall and the events of special note that occured in his life. However, when you read Martin Lings's book, you feel you're discovering the Seerah all over again, from entirely different angles. If you compare it with Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum it will be clear that this work focuses more on the Prophet (saw)'s personal life and relations with people.

    Each chapter ends on a note of suspense which is surprising because we generally know what's going to happen next in the Seerah. The description, the detail is amazing. I especially love reading about the part of the Pledges of Aqaba wherein Shaytan, in his anger, shouts out "Mudhammam!" ("Reprobate!"). The Prophet (saw) replies in a fitting manner (I don't have my copy at home right now or I'd have quoted here the exact words).

    I've read the book twice and recommend it to everyone. It refreshed and elevates the Iman because you feel you've been with the Prophet through each and every trial right till the time of his leaving the world.

  11. you've inspired me to post a picture of my bookshelf too. but looking at yours, i think of you as an organized and methodical person (the accenture manuals + engineering texts) who likes to have fun (calvin and hobbes, a collection which i also have). the first 2 shelves on my stand are occupied by islamic books, the third by my comics collection, and the fourth by fiction and other miscellany.

  12. Assalamualaykum

    I took the tag on also :-)