Another guest post by another amazing sister masha Allah. Books have a very special place in Islam. Iqra (read) was the first revelation given to the Prophet Muhammad (saw). And coincidentally, Iqra Asad is the name of the sister sharing with us the 5 books she loved reading about Islam.
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Nothing Like a Good Book
There’s nothing like a good book to draw you in, inspire you and enlighten you. What makes it even better is that the book is about Islam. Most of my non-fiction books are Islamic, with varying levels of depth and density. I generally go for the ones which I find readable and interesting. Without further ado, let’s dive into the list of 5 books I loved reading about Islam.
You know what they say, don’t judge a book by its cover. If you were to go against that and judge this book by its cover, you would probably guess it to be densely written in a textbook style however, it is really very easy to read. It is a book on the social interactions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), with lessons derived from each scene the author has described from the Seerah. It is divided into small chapters and written in a conversational tone as if the author is talking to you. There are many profound moments in the process of reading this book. The most thought-provoking one for me was when the author says that you should treat your mother so well that she thinks of you as the one who treats her best of all. The social interactions covered in this book range from family to friends and business transactions and beyond. I won’t be able to do full justice to this book in the way I am describing it. By all means, get your hands on a sample section of this book and find out for yourself.
The Sayings of Rumi and Iqbal by Dr Khwaja Abdul Hamid Irfani (Sang-e-meel Publications)
This is a uniquely structured book in the sense that the first section describes how the author came to put together this project. It’s a collection of quotes from Rumi and Iqbal that show how Iqbal derived his thought from Rumi, and the brilliance of both. The main part of the book is devoted to the quotes themselves arranged by topic. This means that you can pick up the book and flip through to any topic and start reading. The quotes are not accompanied by explanations but they speak for themselves. It is a book to be read slowly and pondered upon. Of course, you can breeze through it if you want, but then you should return to it and read it thoughtfully.
Al Ghazali on Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the Two Desires, translated into English by T.J.Winter (Islamic Texts Society)
The Ghazali series by Islamic Texts Society is dedicated to the translation of different works by Ghazali into English. They have the best translations available of sections of Ihya ulum Al Din (Revival of the Religious Sciences), Ghazali’s major work of forty volumes in which each section is dedicated to a particular aspect of Islam. The book in question is a combination of book number 22 and book number 23 of the 40-book Ihya. The book covers, in clear and careful language, the struggle against the inner self and handling the two desires of hunger and lust, which are connected. You can’t go wrong picking up any book in the Islamic Texts Society Ghazali series, but this is the first one of the series I read. Because of that, I have a special connection to it. I cannot pass up the mention of one other book in the series, “Al Ghazali on the Manners Relating to Eating“. While Disciplining the Soul and Breaking the Two Desires dives into the core of the matter, Manners Relating to Eating is a short and simple volume dedicated to the proper way to approach and consume food. You can say one is the “how” and the other is the “why” of the subject, though that may be a bit of an oversimplification.
Born Again by Faiez Hassan (Ace Learning Resources)
This is the first Islamic book I ever read, therefore it holds a special place in my heart. It is a self-development book based on quotes from Quran and Hadith, with little one-sentence explanations alongside them. The book is based on a one-year structure, with each quote and its corresponding explanation assigned to a specific day. It begins with “Month One: Clearing Few Myths” and goes straight to day 1 and its quote. It is a book which can be very easily skimmed through but the real experience of reading it is taking time to think about what you read. It is very easy to read and has something for every reader. In all my years of gifting this particular book to my friends and family, I have never had a single disappointed recipient.
Written in a very readable style, this book is bound to touch your heart. The author takes you on a personal journey through life’s most private and spiritual struggles. The first time I read it, I read it at the same pace throughout, but the second time around, I stopped to highlight the parts that really made me stop and think. Reflecting on these parts brings out the full value of this gem of a book. The essays are grouped into sections based on topic, such as love, relationships, connection with the Creator, and so on. It is the very personal tone of this book that makes it so special. It draws you in and makes you feel like you are part of a conversation with the author.
In this brief revisiting of all five books, I feel like I have not described them well enough, for they are certainly far more striking and profound than any expression I have to talk about them. Let it rest in the assurance that these are all must-read books which certainly count as money well spent. “Enjoy your life” and “Reclaim your heart” are available in ebook format as well. If you end up reading these books, I hope you go on a journey with the authors and enjoy every step of the way.