Riyadh Newspaper | Dr.. Dhafer Al-Omari: The book kept me up at night… and kept me busy during the day

A visit to a library

Dr.. Dhafer Al-Omari: The book kept me up at night… and kept me busy during the day

Dr.. Dhafer Al-Omari is a constant presence in his library

Literature, translations, and countries have a special flavour

Libraries with their owners have stories and situations, as well as anecdotes and sorrows that deserve to be told. “Al-Riyadh” visits the libraries of a group of intellectuals, evokes the memory of beginnings, and follows the passion for collecting the most valuable possessions, and the stages of building libraries.. In this written dialogue we host A. Dr.. Dhafer bin Gharman Al-Omari, President of the Saudi Scientific Society for Arabic Literature (formerly), about his library, which contains more than two thousand titles, and a large number of books on rhetoric, criticism, literature, and language sciences, as well as a large number of books on Islamic heritage, history, civilization, geography, and scientific encyclopedias , and a variety of other books.

  • At what stage did you learn about the book?

  • I knew the book in the middle school, and if I was in elementary school, I found myself inclined to it when my father was visiting Al-Muayyad library in Taif, and it combined books and study tools.

• Do you remember the beginnings of establishing your home library?

  • The establishment of my library began in high school when I allocated a place for it at home, and my father – may God preserve him – honored me with a suitable safe in which I collected a number of books, and he encouraged me and supported me with everything he had. I have acquired books on literature, in addition to what my father had of simple religious books, and my literary inclinations drew me towards literature books, such as the Book of Songs and the Book of Believing the Lord, as well as poetry collections such as Diwan of Antara, which I acquired since childhood, and Diwan of Imru’ al-Qays, And the alienation of Bani Hilal, and the book Jawahir al-Adab was one of the first books that entered my library.

At the university level, I used to frequent libraries, so I did not know a library in the western region except that I visited it and bought books from it, unlike the libraries of Riyadh, Madinah, Abha, and Dammam. Studying at the university, where literary clubs rarely hold book fairs. I do not know of a book fair in Makkah, Jeddah or Taif that I did not visit and bought books from, and among the books that attracted me were encyclopedic books such as songs, the unique contract, the orphan of time, the dictionary of writers, animals for Al-Jahiz, and Nafh Al-Tayeb for Al-Maqri. Among the encyclopedic books that I acquired during the founding stage were the Dictionary of Lisan al-Arab, which had time devoted to daily reading, the Ocean Dictionary, and the Dictionary of Language Measures by Ibn Faris.

In fact, the establishment of the library is linked to the scientific establishment of the researcher, as I used to base my library on my need of books, so as soon as the book came to my library, I allocate time for it to read, and it is interesting that I received the book of the assistant to facilitate the benefits for Ibn Aqil as a gift from a relative, and it is one of the specialized books In grammar, I was a high school student at the time, so I browsed it and it did not attract me, but after my studies at the university I found it one of the best books, so I summarized its first two parts in papers that did not mention a question except that it is in those papers. My professor, Dr. Abd al-Rahman al-Uthaymeen – may God have mercy on him – had the merit of guiding me to many books of language and literature.

  • What about book fairs, and their role in enriching your library?

  • I consider myself one of the pioneers of book fairs, especially the internal fairs in Riyadh, Jeddah, Makkah, and Taif, and the book fairs were an opportunity to buy, especially since books are available that we do not find in bookshops, and I visited the book fair in Cairo more than once, and my last visit was the Book Fair 2020 The truth is that it is a luxurious international exhibition, and the price of the book is reasonable.

  • What are the most prominent turning points that accompanied the growth of your personal library?

  • The university stage was the largest and clearest path in building my personal library, as I acquired the course book, books related to the course, and related research books, and general readings. Literary and critical theories, books of philosophy and logic, and I did not borrow the book from the university library unless I could not find it in commercial libraries.

  • Tell us about the first books that entered your library?

  • The first book that entered my library after the Holy Qur’an was the book Jewels of Literature by Ahmed Al-Hashimi, then followed by collections of poetry, and an encyclopedia was written, including the book of songs that I was occupied with and fascinated me to read.

  • Do you keep manuscripts in your library?

    • The share of manuscripts in my library is small as I was not engaged in investigation. My research is all studies that I did not go into to investigate a manuscript, but I visited research centers and libraries in India and Egypt and photographed some manuscripts, and discussed letters in investigation, and I have a tendency to collect copies of a manuscript in Arabic poetry for study!
  • What about the share of old and rare books?

  • I have some rare books that I brought from private libraries that were sold in Egypt, such as the book Tajrid al-Banani fi al-Balaghah, printed in 1347 AH at the Sobeih Press in Cairo, and a lithograph of al-Mutawil printed in 1317 AH, printed in Istanbul, and this edition is the one from which the various editions in the Arab world were taken, if we exclude The investigation of Prof. Dr. Ahmed Al-Sudais, where he relied on a copy from the “Cobrielli” library in Istanbul, a photocopy from the Ottoman Library in Aleppo, and a third copy from Damascus, and also relied on the lithograph we mentioned.

  • Do you have any of the old newspapers and magazines?

  • I keep old numbers of newspapers and magazines in the old cupboard of my father – may God protect him – in Taif, since I was a student at the university. Some of them were kept after that.

  • What are the funniest addresses in your office?

  • The Great Book of Medicine by Al-Razi, although I do not read much books on medicine, but I received a gift from a friend.

  • Is the novelty of the book or the novelty of its subject among the criteria for its selection?

  • Sometimes the title attracts you for its wit, but that is not the only attraction for acquiring the book. The title may be attractive and when you browse its content, you turn away from it, which attracts the book with its subject, content, and author, and if it is old, the mighty investigator will attract you to acquiring the book.

  • What was the funniest thing that happened to you while searching for books?

  • When I was researching for my PhD, I would open books next to each other, and I might have opened a few books to look at and compare them. One of those days I closed one of the books on an old document of the father that he keeps, and although I read that book and refer to it, I did not find it in it. Then I found it a few years later by chance.

From one of the book fairs, I acquired the Book of Songs by Abu al-Faraj al-Isfahani. I was a first-year student at the university level. The book kept me awake at night and occupied me during the day. I did not put it in the bookcase, but put all the twenty-four volumes on the floor. The mother was looking at her as she filled the floor of the room. She was surprised by my condition.

  • What are the most prominent books that you are keen to read since you are interested in books?

  • I did not find in what I read greater than reading the Qur’an, so it is the one that does not get bored and does not satisfy the soul. As for the permanent readings, they are books of literature, criticism, language in general, books of interpretation, doctrine, principles, books of thought, and the history of nations and civilizations. As for other readings, I do not hesitate to open the book whose topics I yearn to know, and I do not want the book instead.

  • Does your family benefit from your library in preparing their research?

  • Yes, and praise be to God, my entire family is a book reader, starting with my wife, and all the sons and daughters, and we have an almost daily scientific session in which we discuss a book or a scientific topic.

  • What do you prefer a paper or digital library, and why?

  • I have no alternative to the paper home library, although I sometimes browse through the books available on the World Wide Web, but it is a quick pass for urgent review when I am away from my library, and the correct reading is only in the paper book, which I feel is part of my personal formation, and I feel the daily need Rather, I do not know of a day when I did not have a share of reading the book, I do not say reading, but reading the book in particular.

The paper book forms an intimate relationship between him and his lover, and embracing the book in the hands of the reader generates love, loyalty and a closeness to the soul that the reader does not find in digital books, but the reader addicted to reading thirsts for the book as he thirsts for water.

  • Are there any of your reading books that still stick in your mind?

  • Yes, useful and beloved books are many, and I can hardly count their impact on me, and also I do not count books close to myself, but literature, translations, and country books for those books have a special taste.

  • What is your message to everyone who owns a private library?

  • My message to library owners is to honor her by reading and caring, and to establish her love in the hearts of sons and daughters, for the best of what a father inherits is knowledge, building the mind, awareness and knowledge that does not go away as money goes, and I also advise him not to leave his library to other temptations that steal time.

  • last word:

  • I extend my sincere thanks to “Al-Riyadh” newspaper for this beautiful visit to my private library, and for the newspaper’s interest in books and libraries, and my thanks go to Professor Bakr Hazal, who makes an effort in this aspect, and is concerned with books and libraries.

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