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It shouldn’t come as a surprise that I am asked a lot about what the best books are to read about Islam. To be honest, this question is a lot harder than it might seem to answer. People have different interests and what might be good for one, is not necessarily good for another. That being said, I do make an effort to make recommendations that I feel offer a fair 360-degree view of the tradition.

These are the six books I often recommend and a few sentences on why I think they are important:

1. A Thinking Person’s Guide…


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‘Abdallah Bin ‘Amr Bin ‘Āṣ said that he heard the Messenger of God (God bless him and give him peace) say, “There are forty acts, the best of which is giving food, if any are done seeking their reward and believing in their promise, God will grant them Paradise by this act.” (Bukhari).

Shaykh ‘Abdullah Bin Siddīq al-Ghumārī (d. 1993) wrote a small book enumerating these forty acts and finding all the supporting hadith for them. I took the liberty of distilling this book in the following list, finding the appropriate modern English equivalent of the Prophetic expressions so as…


How I Turned a Simple Trip Into a Long-Term Relationship

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A snap of Mt. Fuji on our way by Shinkansen from Tokyo to Kyoto

About two years ago, an opportunity to travel to Japan emerged from some of the consultancy work I do. Since my approach to preventing violence and extremism is unique and effective (I hope to share something about this soon), and since my background in comparative religions is well known amongst the people I work for and with, there was interest for me to travel and meet with Japanese religious leaders, especially Muslims, and share information and lessons learned. It was supposed to be a simple, straightforward trip, and from a…


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The Meknez Hadith Collection-my go-to edition for hadith

I hope that the brevity of this post will be compensated by its great benefit. The Hadith is a vast body of literature within the Islamic sciences and it is all too easy for a student/scholar to become overwhelmed by the sheer volume. For some, unfortunately, this means that they don’t approach it all. For others, tragically, they reject the importance of it all together. However, we know that the two primary sources of our religion are the Quran and the Hadith traditions of the Prophet (God bless him and give him peace), and therefore we need a roadmap to…


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For many people life is an endless quest for the elusive. We seek success, advancement, and wealth. We crave ultimate and unending happiness through the acquisition of material things. We desire the perfect companion, friend, and lover. The list goes on, and on. Without having a map, however, and without having rules and principles to guide you along the way, this can oftentimes lead to the opposite desired effect: frustration and grief. You never seem to actually get what you want, so you give up believing that the quest is impossible, and the dream is unachievable. However, if you understand…


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Salafis in Egypt protesting……well, whatever….

From the wisdom of David is that the believer knows what they need for their own affairs and is aware of the time in which they live.

Prophet Muhammad (Ibn Ḥibbān)

In the first part of this series I introduced the concept of the Islamologist based on Robert Pirsig’s notion of the philosopholigist articulated in his book Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. Following this, I began to outline one type of Islamologist; the western academic who studies Islam. My choice in so doing reflects not the chronology of various types of Islamologists, but rather a personal belief that this particular…


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‘Art Critic’ (close up) — by Norman Rockwell, 1955

Sacred knowledge is religion, so look to who you take your religion from.

Muhammad Ibn Sirīn (Saḥīḥ Musilm)

The American writer and philosopher Robert Pirsig (author of the cult classic Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) introduced the term “philosophology” in his book Lila: An Inquiry into Morals. He defined it as:

Philosophology is to philosophy as musicology is to music, or as art history and art appreciation are to art, or as literary criticism is to creative writing. …


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The gate surrounding the blessed grave of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ

Celebrating the birth of our beloved Prophet ﷺ has been a custom of Muslim communities ever since the time of the Companions. To celebrate and commemorate his birth is to ultimately show thanks and gratitude to God for sending him ﷺ to us as a mercy. There is much to be thankful and happy for on this blessed occasion and over the ages it has served as a source of great spiritual outpouring from scholars and sages to the average pious Muslim. …


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Ṣafar is the second month of the Islamic lunar calendar. There is a weak hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Abbās that states, “On the last Wednesday of the month [of Ṣafar] there is a continual calamity.” In other hadiths it is mentioned that this is the day during which Pharaoh and his army perished, and the people of ‘Ād and Thumūd were destroyed. Accordingly, there emerged from these texts various supplications and prayers to meet these historic, calamitous events with prayers and devotion. It should be made clear that these devotions, prayers, and supplications are not necessarily based on a specific…


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Shaykh al-Azhar Abdullah al-Sharqawi meeting with Napoleon during the French invasion of Egypt

Inside the field of Islamic law (fiqh) there is a sub-field that deals with Islamic governance (al-siyāsa al-shar’iyya). Sunni Islam is known for a type of quietism in the face of partisan politics, largely structured to ensure the ‘ulamā’s role in high politics and to warn them from becoming entangled in low politics. This is a subfield that rarely gets attention, but whose issues have come more and more to the forefront in recent years. While not the most comprehensive treatment, I find the excerpt below to very interesting and infused with great wisdom if understood properly.

The selection below…

Tarek Elgawhary

Reflections on Islam, life, and wellness. www.makingsenseofislam.com

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