18. A Call to Authors and Book Publishers
As for you, O authors and writers! Your main concern should not be authoring books and writing, less this be a proof against you in front of Allah swt. Write about those topics you feel will benefit your own selves as well as your Muslim brothers, and your Ummah, taking heed not to turn knowledge into a business through which you seek this wordly life.
Maybe you write, explain or check works related to the topic of jealousy, or righteousness to parents, the love of Allah, or taqwa. Your role is indeed a great one, but you are the first person that should take benefit from these texts. So ask yourself: "Have I purified myself from jealousy?" Who is it that you envy and why? Do not have a good opinion about your own self. That self which urges you towards evil. Reproach yourself so that you may be savd and hurry to seek treatment for yourself with repentence to Allah swt, before you complete your composition. This shoul be your affair with every piece of writing and explanation, every checking and every book that you work on.
Is it not disgraceful that an author spends months on a book, knowing that somebody else has already written its like, or similar to it, or has done a much better job than him. Where is the fear of Allah with regard to this time spent, that Allah swt will soon ask him about on the Day of Resurrection?
Do you find it acceptable, may Allah have mercy upon you, that you spend years preparing a
thesis in order to gain a major certificate, researching a "particle" of the Arabic language?
Or do you deem it proper that you expend years writing about a particular personality, knowledge of whom is no benefit to the Muslims.
How can you be pleased with yourself, that you waste several years in writing about issues which do not lead to righteous actions nor to the abandonment of evil actions?
How do you permit yourself to quote from somebody, without ascribing that to whome you quoted from, or mentioning the book that you took from?
* Is it that you pretend to possess what you do not have? How is it that you, while being one who puts himself forward to teach the people, neglect the saying of the Messenger (saw), "The one who pretends that he has been given what he has not, is like the one who wears two garments of falsehood". (al Bukhari, Eng. trans. vol.7 no.146; Muslim, Eng. trans. vol.3, p.1167, no.5313; and others).
* Or is it out of jealousy on your part that you hide that which should not be hidden? Did not your writings, lectures and admonitions lead you to remove and mitigate this jealousy? Whereas the Messenger of Allah swt says in this regard, "Two things can never unite in the heart of any true worshipper: faith and jealousy". (part of a hadith reported by Ahmad in his Musnad, and an-Nasa'i. Sahih an-Nasa'i, no.2912, reported by Abu Hurayrah ra).
* Or do you see it as a love for prominence, reputation and showing off? Was the saying of the scholars hidden from you: "The blessing of knowledge is in ascribing it to he who mentioned it"? So as a result of this, the blessing was removed and destruction justified.
As for you O book publishers! Fear Allah your Lord, the Most High. It is not befitting that one among you should print and distribute many books, not knowing whether or not they are beneficial and worthy, except through hearsay, or due to their high demand.
Indeed your very self, my brother publisher, has more priority in being benefitted by this good. So give your attention to reading a beneficial book, contemplating its meaning and hurry towards acting upon it. This is worthier than busying yourself printing a second, third.. ninth book, for "that which is little yet suffices is better than that which is abundant but causes distraction". (part of a hadith mentioned in full in chapter 19).
Beware from having that which your printed come as a proof against you on the Day of Resurrection because of what it contains, of orders you have not fulfilled, and prohibitions you have not abstained from.
Also, take heed from printing that which is of no benefit and from distributing that which contains misguidance. Do not let the Shaytan play around with you through his rulings, making halal for you that which Allah sanctioned as haram, out of love for wealth and seeking its gain.
Stay well away from books which have been stolen, whether it be from the authors or from other publishing houses, as the blessing is removed by such a practice. Moreover, transgressing the rights of creation is a dangerous path to tread, and its repercussions are severe.
Examine yourselves: Are you gaining closeness to Allah swt while continuing in printing and distributing? Or do you feel preoccupied, heedless of Allah swt?
Try to strike a balance as much as is possible, between purifying yourselves and increasing in spreading knowledge.
Yet as I have already said, and I will continue saying, "Don't forget yourselves, before everything else".