The Quran and its Study

The Quran and its Study is an exhaustive textbook on the sciences of the Quran, or the discipline known as ulum al-Quran. It was written by Adnan Zarzour and translated by Adil Salahi (the author of the famous biography Muhammad: Man and Prophet).  Weighing in at more than 500 pages, this tome is carefully organized and is probably best suited to serve as a textbook or a reference book for students of the Quran and Islamic studies. The contents are divided into chapters, sections, and subsections that are carefully numbered and named. It is easy to locate specific topics and then to peruse the headings and subheadings of each chapter to find an exact point or opinion. View Post

Signs on the Earth

There are too many of us now wanting much, much more than past generations. Contentment is now a scarce commodity.

Corruption has appeared in the land and sea,
for that men’s own hands have earned,
that He (Allah) may let them taste some part of that which they have done,
that perhaps they may return. (Quran, 30:41)

Signs on the Earth: Islam, Modernity and the Climate Crisis is a wake-up call and a call to action by one of the world’s leading Muslim environmentalists—Fazlun M. Khalid. Khalid tells the story of how money, power, and culture have created the current environmental crisis. While this book is full of information specifically about climate change and other topics, where it really shines is as a beginner’s text to talk about the interconnectedness of environmental issues, world economics, and world hegemony. For example, the development of modern day banking and colonialism (from the 1500s until today) are two of the major topics Khalid contextualizes in relation to the catastrophe that is our management of the Earth. Khalid even tackles the fact that I just alluded to the “management” of the Earth: we have dissociated ourselves from nature in order to rule over it. In reality, we are a part of nature and cannot survive separate from it. Quranic verses throughout the fact-heavy text show that environmentalism is as much a part of Islam as we are a part of the Earth. View Post

Finding Peace in the Holy Land: A British Muslim Memoir by Lauren Booth

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Practising faith is like opening a door and realizing your life so far has been lived in a broom cupboard in the mansion of existence. Reality actually lies beyond and underneath the nuts and bolts, the brooms and cloths of the material world.

Finding Peace in the Holy Land is a memoir by Lauren Booth, who is probably best well-known as Tony Blair’s sister-in-law. Beginning with her hilarious upbringing, and moving through her life as an actress, a political activist, and then a journalist and humanitarian, it is ultimately the story of how she came to Islam.

Booth has a lovely sense of humor, and her writing is as spontaneous and vivacious as she herself is. Her sharp descriptions of the landscape in Palestine (“a building decorated in the local flavor; bullet holes”) and her narrative flair (“It was excellent advice. Advice I would completely ignore”) were a pleasure to read. View Post

Communicating with Allah by Bassem Saeh

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Once upon a time, Bassem Saeh was asked to speak at an event about prayer (salah). When the time came, he rushed up to the podium and hurriedly read a few verses and a couple of hadeeth he had jotted down on a piece of paper, reading so quickly that his words ran together. He then turned and left. The audience was shocked and confused. After a moment, he returned to the podium and explained that his performance was no worse than the way that many of us pray. Rushing in, reciting without expression or understanding, and rushing off again.

Communicating with Allah: Rediscovering Prayer is Saeh’s answer to the problem of disconnecting from our distracting, modern lives and finding tranquility in our connection with Allah. Unique and powerful, this book breathes new life into an action that Muslims repeat constantly. If you are looking to worship smarter, a little bit of consistency in improving the quality of your five daily prayers will go a long way. View Post

The Rohingya Crisis: A People Facing Extinction by Muhammad Abdul Bari

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A concise and informative history of the Rohingya, an evidence-based denunciation of Myanmar’s ethnic cleansing campaign, and an impassioned plea for recognition and human rights for the Rohingya. 

Before reading this book, I knew little more about the Rohingya than that something awful was happening to them and that it had to do with Myanmar, wherever that is. I should be ashamed of myself; I know.

Instead of relieving my shame, this book has increased it. I am ashamed of what some of humanity is capable of doing, and what the rest of humanity is content to allow to happen.

This 69-page book offers a concise and informative introduction to the ethnic cleansing of the Rohingya by the state of  Myanmar. Since August of last year, more than 10,000 Rohingya have been killed, and more than half a million people have fled across the border to Bangladesh. Even more disturbing than the scale of the crisis is the lack of awareness about it. View Post