Front and center of tomorrow's society – learn smarter, teach harder
For the past few years, the religion of Islam has been a hot topic in news and film media. Many popular depictions from these outlets offer dangerous misconceptions about Islam. And unfortunately, the mainstream public may only know Islam from these sometimes misleading sources; consequently, leaving them with horribly skewed views of the religion as a whole.
However, there are a number of credible and engaging academic sources readily available that can dismiss rumors and allay fears about Islam. The list I have created are some of my five favorite books on Islam. I frequently suggest these books to my friends and colleagues who wish to gain a better understanding of the religion. Happy reading!
I read this book on the way to Malaysia to meet my in-love (most people say in-law, my friend Tal checked me on the correct lingo) family for the first time. The ironic part is that after I was able to gain the respect from my notoriously hard-nosed grandfather-in-law (God rest his soul), he recommended that I read this exact same book (real recognizes real).
Dr. Aslan’s book is a perfect starting point for someone wishing to learn about Islam. The book presents a very concise yet simple intellectual view of the religious doctrines and political history of Islam. This is an excellent overview of the religion and how it has spread over time.
This book has changed so many lives (Tupac, Clarence Thomas, Spike Lee and many others), and it has been named as one of the top ten “required reading” autobiographies by Time Magazine. I devoured this book while in the chemistry lab the summer before starting my freshman year. Luckily nothing burned down while I had my nose glued to this book.
“The Autobiography of Malcolm X” gives a vividly insightful perspective into the Nation of Islam movement. The man himself, and the book, are major reasons why many African Americans have converted to mainstream Islam (including myself). Not much information is provided about mainstream Islam, but this book is a gem that features a real person’s journey to Islam and the impact it had on his life.
I have been a DK Eyewitness Books fan since elementary school (Ancient Egypt, Dinosaur, Money, Civil War, etc.). “Islam” is a good beginner’s book on the history of the religion, scientific advancements, basic religious tenets and modern artifacts/pictures of present-day practitioners. It’s a great book for elementary and middle school level readers as well as adults as it features pictures, graphs, charts and blurbs of information that are easy to digest.
Dr. Armstrong is a prominent, world-renowned scholar on religion in the academic world. Her biography about the life of the Prophet (PBUH) is very endearing and informative. The book presents historical and religious accounts of Muhammad (PBUH) to help clear up misconceptions of the transformative figure.
Dr. Armstrong wrote the book with the political climate of the 1990s fully in mind. Readers will get a double treat in this gem – a colorful biography of Islam, plus a foundational understanding of one of the most important people in Islam.
For people interested in reading the Quran, this is the perfect prerequisite. Reading religious texts (or any text for that matter) without knowledge or appreciation of the historical context can lead to distortions and misunderstandings. For example, the Quran is not chronologically arranged like the Bible or the Torah, but based on the length of the surahs, or books. Without this important knowledge, readers could easily become confused and form wrongful judgments.
F.E. Peters is an acclaimed religious scholar who has many analytical and comparative publications dealing with the Abrahamic faiths – Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In “A Classical Reader on Islam”, Peters provides readers with many gateways to understanding the historical contexts and philosophical contentions within different sections of the Quran and the religion itself.