On Islam

The recommended books given below cover various areas of Islamic subject matter and are based upon a broad approach to grounding the reader in necessary knowledge – a primer. Clearly, this is not meant to be an exhaustive list. However, it does contain sufficient readings to give the person a reasonable orientation towards understanding Islam and being a Muslim. It also serves as a meaningful starting point for more detailed studies if one so desires. The authors and the books that have been selected represent a cross-section of writers of varying time periods and background; each having demonstrated sound competency, consistency and trustworthiness of knowledge being imparted and reliability in his/her respective topic. They represent mainstream Islamic thought and belief. Good resources for accessing and purchasing these and other books include www.kazi.org, www.islamicbookstore.com, and www.amazon.com. {Café a la Fikr does not endorse any or all views expressed in these writings. As is obvious, the works represent the thoughts of its authors.}


Of Contemporary Relevance – Following two categories of writings are critical for developing a balanced thinking: rekindling the intellect, spirit and reason from within the Islamic paradigm.  

General Orientation:

    • Crisis in the Muslim Mind by Abdul Hamid Abu Sulayman
    • Islam and Modernity: Transformation of an Intellectual Tradition by Fazlur Rahman
    • Rethinking Islam: Common Questions, Uncommon Answers by Mohammed Arkoun
    • Radical Reform: Islamic Ethics and Liberation by Tariq Ramadan
    • And God Knows the Soldiers: The Authoritative and Authoritarian in Islamic Discourses by Professor Khaled Abou el Fadl
    • Losing My Faith by Jeffery Lang
    • Toward Our Reformation: From Legalism to Value-Oriented Islamic Law and Jurisprudence by Mohammad Omar Farooq
    • Towards Realization of the Higher Intents of Islamic Law: Maqasid al-Shariah, a Functional Approach by Gamal Eldin Attia


Qur’anic Studies:

  • Major Themes of the Qur’an by Dr. Fazlur Rahman
  • ‘Ulum al-Qur’an (An Introduction to the Sciences of the Qur’an) by Ahmad von Denffer
  • Variant Readings of the Qur’an: a Critical Study of their Historical and Linguistic Origins by Ahmad Ali al-Imam
  • The Tajwidi Qur’an by A. Nooruddeen Durkee (The introductory section on Tajwid rules)
  • For proper tajwid learning it is necessary to sit with someone familiar with correct recitation method.

Arabic Studies: (Recommend studying under a teacher)

  •  Arabic Course (Vol.1-3, for English-Speaking Students) by Dr. V. Abdur Rahim (Madinah Islamic University Course)
  • Elementary Modern Arabic (Part 1-2) by Peter Abboud and Ernest McCarus

Qur’an Translations & Commentaries:

  • Abdullah Yusuf Ali (revised edition)
  • Muhammad Asad
  • Ma’ariful Qur’an by Maulana Mufti Muhammad Shafi
  • There are many classical and modern commentaries of the Qur’an of varying scope and breadth. Some of better quality and relevance than others. Many are based on the commentators’ time-period and religious or ideological orientation; thus, having inherent biases and human interpretive limitations.

Hadith & Sunnah Studies:

{It is imperative to realize that in reading hadith a person has to be very careful in making any legal extractions or definitive conclusions. Hadith is a science of religious scholars for determining transmission authenticity. How a particular hadith fits into Islamic thought, practice and law is a very complex process. Hadith can only be understood in its context and from within the Qur’anic guidance, not in isolation.}

  •  Forty Hadith (Imam Nawawi) by Ezzeddin Ibrahim/Johnson-Davies and translation with explanation by Zarabozo
  • Forty Hadith Qudsi by Ezzeddin Ibrahim and Johnson-Davies
  • Riyad-us-Saliheen (Imam Nawawi) translated by Dar-as-Salam or Muhammad Masumi (Islamabad)
  • A Textbook of Hadith Studies by M. Hashim Kamali
  • An Introduction to the Conservation of Hadith by Dr. Muhammad Hamidullah
  • Hadith Literature (Its Origin, Development and Special Features) by Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqui
  • A Day with the Prophet by Ahmad von Denffer
  • Approaching the Sunnah: Comprehension and Controversy by Yusuf al-Qaradawi
  • The Qur’an and the Sunnah: Time-Space Factor by Taha Jabir al-‘Alwani and Imad Din Khalil

Sirah (Prophetic Biography):

  •  Ar-Raheeq-al-Makhtum (The Sealed Nectar) by Safi-ur-Rahman Mubarakpuri  (new edition published in 2011 by Dar-us-Salam)
  • Madinan Society at the Time of the Prophet (2 vols) by Akram Diya al-‘Umari
  • Muhammad: A Prophet of Our Time by Karen Armstrong
  • In the Footsteps of the Prophet: Lessons from the Life of Muhammad by Tariq Ramadan

‘Aqidah (Islamic Belief):

  •  The Fundamentals of Tawheed (2nd Ed.) by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips
  • The Creed of Imam al-Tahawi (translated by Hamza Yusuf Hanson)
  • al-Fiqh al-Akbar of Imam Abu Hanifa (published by White Thread Press)
  • There are many classical works in this area – of various inclinations and persuasions!! It is extremely important to have prior grounding in basic Islamic knowledge, primarily Qur’anic, before delving into works on Islamic theology and philosophy.

Fiqh (Islamic Jurisprudence):

     Of Concerning Fiqh Schools and Islamic Legal Theory

  • The Four Imams by M. Abu Zahra
  • The Principle Imams (lecture series) by Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah
  • The Evolution of Fiqh (2nd Ed.) by Dr. Abu Ameenah Bilal Philips
  • Islamic Methodology in History by Dr. Fazlur Rahman
  • Imam al-Shatibi’s Theory of the Higher Objectives and Intents of Islamic Law by Ahmad al-Raysuni
  • al-Maqasid by Imam an-Nawawi
  • al-Shafii’s Risala: Treatise on the Foundations of Islamic Jurisprudence, translated by Majid Khadduri
  • The Ethics of Disagreement in Islam by Dr. Taha Jabir al-‘Alwani

Of Concerning Fiqh Issues and Rulings {these are the generally understood traditional positions}

  • Halal wa Haram Fil Islam (The Lawful and Forbidden in Islam) by Sheikh/Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi
  • Fiqh-us-Sunnah (Vol 1-5, Amana Trust Publications) by Sheikh As-Sayyid Sabiq
  • Our Dialogue (compilation of questions and answers by Sheikh Adil Salahi; www.ourdialogue.com)
  • Reliance of the Traveler (Umdat-us-Salik, based on tradtional Shafi’ Fiqh) translated by Nuh Ha Mim Keller (reference book)
  • Al-Hidayah (2 volumes; based on traditional Hanafi fiqh) translated by Imran Ahsan Khan Nyazee

Islamic Philosophy:

  •  History of Muslim Philosophy by M. M. Sharif (2 vols)
  • Gabriel’s Wing by Dr. Annemarie Schimmel
  • The Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam by Allama Muhammad Iqbal
  • Asrar-i-Khudi (The Secret of the Self), translated by Nicholson; Rumuz-e-Bekhudi (The Mysteries of Selflessness) and Javid Nama, both translated by A. J. Arberry. These are works of Allama Muhammad Iqbal
  • Ethical Philosophy of al-Ghazali by Professor Muhammad Umaruddin

Islamic Spirituality and Tazkiyya (Purification):

  •  Ihya Ulum-ud-Deen (The Revival of Religious Sciences) by Imam Abu Hamid Muhammad al-Ghazzali
  • The Invocation of God by Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya translated by Islamic Texts Society (Fitzgerald and Slitine)
  • Al-‘Ubudiyyah (Being a True Slave of Allah) by Ibn Taymiyah translated by al-Khattab (Ta-Ha Publishers)
  • Prayers for Forgiveness by Imam Hasan al-Basri, translated by Abdur Rahman ibn Yusuf
  • Selected Prayers: A Collection of Du’a from the Qur’an and Sunnah by Dr. Jamal Badawi

Gender Issues:

  • Gender Equity in Islam by Dr. Jamal Badawi
  • Women, Muslim Society and Islam by Lamya Lois al-Faruqi

Comparative Religion:

  •  Historical Atlas of the Religions of the World by Ismail al-Faruqi
  • Anthropomorphic Depictions of God: The Concept of God in Judaic, Christian and Islamic Traditions: Representing the Unrepresentable by Zulfiqar Ali Shah
  • The Cross and The Crescent by Dr. Jerald Dirks
  • Islam and Other Faiths by Ismail al-Faruqi
  • Trialogue of the Abrahamic Faiths by Ismail al-Faruqi

Islamic Political Theory:

  •  The Principles of State and Government in Islam by Muhammad Asad
  • This Law of Ours and other essays by Muhammad Asad






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