Al-Albaani the Carpenter
Al-Huwaini: After you finished your study why didn’t you go on to complete your academic education, i.e., secondary education and so on?
Al-Albaani: I didn’t increase upon my elementary education, and the reason for that goes back to my father. Perhaps this was a shot in the dark on his behalf [but a successful one at that], since what I witnessed later was that if I had continued in that line of education I wouldn’t have been able to do the study that I do. Since it is true that formal education makes it easy for someone who wants to progress in great strides in academic research, yet it is very rare to find this in those who do graduate.
My father, may Allaah have mercy upon him, had a bad opinion about the government schools, and he had a right to, since they would not teach anything from the Sharee’ah except its outline and not its reality [i.e., skim its surface]. For this reason he didn’t send me to a preparatory school, for example, which in those days was known as secondary school in Syria.
Due to that I started to study Hanafi fiqh and morphology [sarf] with my father; and with another Shaikh whose name was Shaikh Sa’eed Burhaani, and it became apparent to me later that he was a Sufi, a follower of a tariqah, I studied some Hanafi fiqh with this Shaikh, specifically [the book] Maraaqi al-Falaah Sharh Nurul-Eedaah. I also studied some books of Arabic grammar and modern day rhetoric with him using some books of contemporary writers.
I finished reading the Quran to my father with tajwid and at the same time I was pursuing work as a carpenter, that which these days is called Arabic carpentry. I finished learning [it] from two carpenters, one of them was my maternal uncle whose name was Ismaa’eel, may Allaah have mercy upon him, I worked with him for two years. The other was a Syrian known as Abu Muhammad who I also worked with for two years. Most of my work with them centred around repairing and restoring old houses, since old houses in Syria were made from wood and bricks. Over time and with rain, snow and such, parts of the floors would collapse and would require someone [specialising] in Arabic carpentry to come and fix them so I would go with them.
Most of the time in winter we would not be able to do any work whatsoever, so I would pass by my father who was working as a watch repairer. One day he said to me, when I had returned from my two [carpentry] instructors and he could tell that there was no work because it was an overcast and cloudy day, he said, “It looks as though there’s no work today.”
I replied, “Yes, no work.”
So he said, “What do you think, I feel that this profession [i.e., carpentry] isn’t easy nor is it a profession. What do you think about working with me?”
I said to him, “As you wish.”
He said, “Come on then, climb up!” His shop was raised off the ground since he used to fear that damp would set in, and so from that day I stuck to him until I learnt the profession from him and then opened up my own shop.
Al-Imaam al-Albaani, Hayaatuhu, Da’watuhu, Juhooduhoo fee Khidmatis-Sunnah, of Muhammad Bayyoomi, pp. 9-10.