Ten Islamic Books That Changed My Life (PART 2)

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Refer to the previous article here.

10.  Even Angels Ask: A Journey to Islam in America by Dr. Jeffrey Lang.

9.  The Book of Assistance by Shaykh Abdallah Ibn Alawi al-Haddad.

8.  Healing Body and Soul by Amira Ayad. 

7.  Don’t Be Sad by Aidh Ibn Abdullah al-Qarni.

6.  Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart. By Shaykh al-Mawlud and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf.

5.  The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali.

4.  Timelessness and the Reality of Fate by Harun Yahya.

3.  The Way to the Qur’an by Khurram Murad.

2.   Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings.

1.  The Holy Qur’an.


5.  The Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife by Abu Hamid al-Ghazali.

To be frank, anything written by al-Ghazali is nothing short of brilliant.  Regarded by many as the most influential Muslim of all time following the Prophet (sas) and his immediate companions, there is probably no scholar in history that has so deeply shaped Islamic philosophy and the Muslim worldview. Not only was this a man of immense knowledge, he really mastered the weaving together of different branches of knowledge with profound personal reflections and was then able to present his information in a way that would simultaneously satisfy logic and intellect while retaining a deeply spiritual focus.  Of the books I have read, this is the one that has had the most lasting impact and the reason is simple: the topic.  If, for whatever reason, the idea of death and its inevitability in your life eludes you, this is the book that will make it real. The depth and detail of this book is absolutely remarkable. Every Muslim needs to read it.  It’s certainly not an easy read, but it’s an urgently important one, and it will never leave you quite the same.


4. Timelessness and the Reality of Fate by Harun Yahya.

When I first started inclining towards religion I was always confused by the idea of predestination.  If Allah (swt) is All-knowing and my fate is already written and decided, then how am I an agent of free will? How are my actions rewardable or punishable if I am not the author of my own fate?  I had read and heard many explanations on this subject but this is the book that finally laid my questions to rest. By taking an approach to Islam that emphasizes the compatibility of our religion with science and reason, Yahya does a huge service to contemporary Islamic thought. In this particular work, complex discussions about space, matter and time are made accessible to the average reader and relevant to the Islamic understanding of God and the hereafter. Nor does Yahya shy away from discussing the inherent problems of competing worldviews, skilfully tackling the foundations of materialism and even challenging the theory of evolution. The result is a book that has certainly strengthened the core tenets of my faith, as I know it has for others. Lastly, and this may seem unconventional, if you felt there was a spiritual component to your interest and enjoyment of films such as The Matrix and Inception then this is definitely the book for you.

3. The Way to the Qur’an by Khurram Murad.

How many of us believe in God, practice Islam to the best of our ability, attend lectures and read books about our religion but fail to regularly read God’s Book? Why? Is it because we think we are not qualified, that somehow the work of trying to understand the Qur’an should be left to scholars? Has the Qur’an taken on a ritualistic significance in our lives, only to be recited on special occasions?  Or do we regard its contents as somewhat historical and archaic, out of touch with modern concerns?  The central conviction of this book is a simple and very powerful one: “the Qur’an, being the eternal Word of the Ever-living God, is as relevant for us, today, as it was 1400 years ago.”  Murad goes on to make an insistent case that deep, regular, personalized engagement with the Qur’anic text is a must for every believer and indeed the key to Islam. He also outlines the important prerequisites, guidelines and potential pitfalls of that endeavour. This work enlightened my approach to the Qur’an, transformed my relationship with it and compelled me to bring it to its rightful place at the centre of my life.

2. Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings.

As an ardent bookworm I am regularly asked by friends and family which book about the life of Muhammad (sas) I would recommend.  My answer, without hesitation, is “Martin Lings.”  There were so many fascinating details about the life of our beloved Prophet that I never knew before reading this book. Some biographies fail to capture the spiritual significance of various events, reducing the Prophet (sas) to a merely political or social figure. Others ignore his domestic life. Others try to gloss over the difficulties and internal tensions of the early Muslim community, likening the Prophet (sas) and his companions to angels as oppose to the very relatable human examples that they were.  Still others fail to provide context or at least fall terribly short in illustrating the complex cultural realities of the time. This book does all that, and more, and does so in beautiful prose. Lings truly made me fall in love with the Prophet (sas) all over again and appreciate him so much more.  I remember when I read it the first time, I kept thinking towards the end of it that perhaps now the Prophet (sas) will enjoy a moment of rest, perhaps now he will feel some satisfaction that his mission is complete. But he never did. He was tireless in his devotion, relentless in his sacrifice and ever-concerned for his fellow Muslims, even in his final moments.  I could not stop my tears upon completion of this book. It was as if he had just passed away and only now did I understand his true significance to my life.

1. The Holy Qur’an.

As you probably would have guessed, the Islamic book that I have found the most deeply influential and important to my personal Islamic journey is none other than the Qur’an. This is not as a matter of course or formality. I really mean it. When I was studying history in my undergraduate years, I remember being marked low on a particular paper that I thought deserved a higher mark.  When I approached the professor, he asked me something that has stayed with me ever since: “Why would you consult so many secondary sources for this paper when you had access to primary ones?” In other words, why not go straight to the main source when trying to figure something out? It made me think about my relationship to the Qur’an. I think one of the problems of the Muslim world is that we have become increasingly reliant upon other sources for knowledge and inspiration instead of turning to the One True Source that trumps them all. Perhaps the increased availability of the Qur’an and the growing literacy among Muslims has made us oblivious to the very rare, precious gift that we possess. Just think about it:  it is the actual Word of God. It is a direct conversation with the Divine. And it contains the answers to so many of our questions, simultaneously easing the pain of our challenges, worries, failures and disappointments and giving us hope for the future.  This is not even to mention the innumerable blessings and rewards in its very recital.  If you have tried to approach the Qur’an before and were not as touched by it as you had hoped, try again. And this time make sincere Dua that Allah (swt) makes His Book your most intimate lifelong companion, opens your mind to its proper comprehension, and opens your heart to its infinite knowledge and treasures. And then don’t give up! My sincere hope for every Muslim is that they find the Qur’an to be as indispensable to their journey as I have discovered it to be for mine.

Other books which I would like to mention include: The Purification of the Soul (A compilation of works by several scholars by Ahmed Farid), The Alchemy of Happiness (Abu Hamid al-Ghazali), The Lives of Man (Shaykh Abdallah Al-Haddad) and Patience and Gratitude (Ibn Qayyum al-Jawziyyah).  May Allah (swt) abundantly bless the people who authored and translated these books, Grant them forgiveness for their shortcomings and Admit them to Paradise.  Ameen.  I seek forgiveness if I misunderstood or misrepresented their works in any way. May Allah (swt) Bless us with Guidance for without His guidance we would truly be lost.

What about you? Are there any books in particular that illuminated your spiritual journey? I would love to hear from you.

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  1. Salam./ great article, please write more about the matrix and inception and there “spiritual components” that would make a great article.

  2. What are some of the most popular Islamic books other than the Quran and Hadith?

    TEN ISLAMIC BOOKS THAT CHANGED MY LIFE The following is a compilation of the ten books that I have found profoundly instrumental to my understanding and appreciation of Islam, and consequently, my growth as a human being. There are countless books that…


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