Wednesday, 9 December 2009

The Alchemist

Written by Paulo Coelho
HarperCollins publishers
ISBN 0-7225-3293-8                              

This book was given to us (me and my significant other) as a wedding gift and we managed to finish it quite soon as we really enjoyed the story. This is a fiction story which is about an Andalusian shepherd boy who dreams of travelling the world in search of a treasure as extravagant as any ever found. From his home in Spain he journeys to the exotic markets of Tangiers and then into the Egyptian desert, where a fateful encounter with the alchemist awaits him. It’s a fascinating story which gives us the essential wisdom of listening to our heart and above all, following our dreams! Although I am not really fond of fiction that much, I have really enjoyed reading this one. The author here talked about ‘personal calling’ by which he meant God’s blessing. It meant the path that God chose for us on Earth. He talked about the obstacles that we may encounter while trying to fulfil our dreams. The story has taught me something very important about life. I believe that the life of every one of us is unique and special and it’s a journey towards Allah SWT and through the journey we gain wisdom.

Wayfarers to God

Written by Habib ‘Ali Zain Al ‘Abideen Al Jifri
Translated by Shaykh Mohamed Mlamli Adam

Published by Guidance media
ISBN 0-9550891-1-5

‘Wayfarers to God’ (Ma’alim as-Suluk) is a translation of a series of Arabic lectures given at Al Zayed University for Women in the United Arab Emirates. Equally relevant to men and women, these lectures are full of wisdom to learn and practise insha-Allah. The shaykh shades light on how to approach Allah SWT, the importance of adhering to the Sunnah of our beloved prophet Muhammad SAW, impediments to wayfaring and so on. It also discusses about the principal diseases of the heart and most importantly their cures. This book has taught me a lot about self-accounting and how to perceive and deal with our ephemeral world, Alhamdulillah.

While reading this book, there came some moments where I felt very emotional and moved by the way the author talked about certain realities of life. But there also occurred some moments where I was feeling optimistic too, by the grace of Almighty. It puts your entire life into a proper perspective and teaches you how to deal with your short but very crucial time on this earth. As the author says, “Whoever knows that this (death) is the end of his world, know that the most that one will gain from this world is camphor and a funeral shroud with a little perfume that is folded in his shroud, that he will be placed in the dust in a hole. What is this intelligence that he has? Is he pleased that his aspirations, his mind, his consciousness, his thoughts, his lifespan, his time and his effort have come to an end, but that they do not go with him to the grave and no one will accompany him? This is what is incumbent upon man to be alive to, to wake up to. He wakes up to the fact that his connection with this dunya ( world), deceitful and scheming as it is, quick to flee and abandon its companions, treacherous to them, that his only worthwhile connection to it is as a means to attain Allah’s presence, nothing else. Intrinsically, this world is cheap, but can be priceless if it becomes a ladder for one to scale to Allah’s presence as one plans for the Next World.”

The author also talked about Rizq but not as financial provision but as ‘spiritual’ (non-physical) Rizq which has motivated me a lot Alhamdulillah. According to him, the spiritual rizq is the real rizq that is incumbent upon a Muslim to seek from Allah SWT. This rizq has been defines as the light of faith, reliance upon Allah SWT, being pleased with Allah SWT, fear and awe (before Allah), humility and renouncing (this world), hope, unveiling, beneficial knowledge, actions on the basis of beneficial knowledge, sincerity to Allah, teaching people, serving this religion and praiseworthy character. These are all forms of Rizq that Allah SWT bestows upon those He honours! This book is full of wisdom and not easy to grasp in one go. But Insha-Allah you won’t regret reading this book, I can assure you.

The Ideal Muslimah

Written by Dr. Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi

Published by: International Islamic Publishing House

ISBN 9960-850-39-0

I came across this book for the first time in Saudi Arabia during the hajj season 2006. This book is very special to me as my father bought this book for me. I am very thankful to him, Alhamdulillah. It is a very useful book for sisters who are interested to mould their personality according to the Qur’an and the Sunnah of our beloved prophet Muhammad SAW. It deals with every aspect of a woman’s life such as her relation with her Lord Allah SWT, her own self, relation with her parents, husband, children, in-laws, relatives, neighbours, friends and sisters in Islam, her community and so on. I must say, it is quite a comprehensive book on ideal characteristics of a Muslim woman. It’s almost a 550 page book to read and grasp the wisdom! But it really deserves to be read thoroughly. Every woman should have this book and try to practise the teaching Insha-Allah to their best ability, that’s certainly includes me too. Some extracts from the book: “The blessing of Islam did not stop at raising women from humiliation and backwardness to a level of progress, honour, security and protection. Islam is also concerned with the formation and development of every aspect of her personality, whether it affects her alone or her relationship with her family and society, so that she may become refined and highly developed, worthy of her role as Allah’s vicegerent ( khaleefah) on earth.” “When it comes to Islamic duties, the Muslim woman is just like a man; she has a mission in life, and so she is required to be as effective, active and social as her particular circumstances and capabilities allow, mixing with other woman as much as she can and dealing with them in accordance with the worthy Islamic attitudes and behaviour that distinguish her from other women. Wherever the Muslim woman is found, she becomes a beacon of guidance and a positive source of correction and education through both her words and her deeds.” Without any doubt I can say, this book is bound to boost your belief in Allah SWT and make you completely satisfied with Allah as your Lord, Islam as your faith and Muhammad SAW as your beloved prophet.

You can be the happiest woman in the world

Written by Dr. A’id al-Qarni
Published by International Islamic Publishing House
ISBN 9960-850-89-7

Well, the title says it all, doesn’t it? But still I would like to say something about this great book. Whenever I feel a bit sad or bored with my life, I turn to this book as it helps me to go on, Alhamdulillah. According to the translator, this book is for busy women, regardless of their role in life, whether they are wives, mothers or working women (or all three), containing short, snappy passages that lead to greater truths. I would like to quote some extracts from the book to enable you to get an idea about the book, Insha-Allah: "It is sufficient honour for you that you are a Muslim. If a woman obey her Lord, offers her five daily prayers and preserves her honour, she will enter Paradise of her Lord." “Wherever you go and find darkness in your life; what you have to do is to light the lamp within yourself.” And finally I love to read the passage below and hope you will love it too, insha-Allah. To be the most beautiful woman in the world! “With your beauty, you are better than the sun; with your morals you are more sublime than musk; with your modesty you are nobler than the full moon; with your compassion you are more beneficial than rain. So preserve your beauty with faith, your tranquillity with contentment, your chastity with hijab. Remember that your adornment is not gold, silver or diamonds, rather, it is two rak’ahs at Fajr, going thirsty when you fast for Allah, concealed charity which no one knows except Him, hot tears that wash away sin, a lengthy prostration born of utter submission to Allah, shyness before Allah when the inclination to do evil overwhelms you. Clothe yourself with the garments of taqwa (piety) for you are the most beautiful woman in the world, even if your clothes are shabby. Clothe yourself with the cloak of modesty, for you are the most beautiful woman in the world even if you are barefooted. Beware of the life of bewitching immoral disbelieving women, for they are the fuel of the fire of hell.” Need I say more!

Reflections of pearls

Written by Inam Uddin & Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf
Published by: White Thread Press
ISBN 0-9728958-5-7

Mashallah this book is a very useful book as it has lots of supplication (dua) we need on a day to day basis. This book not only deals with the supplication itself but also talks about the significance and etiquette of supplication. The authors have also mentioned the places and the time where our prayers are more likely to be accepted by Allah SWT.
One thing I really love about this book is the citation of prayers from the Qur’an and the Sunnah (tradition) of our beloved prophet Mohammad SAW. The 99 beautiful names of Allah SWT are written with its meaning and English transliteration (which really comes handy if you cannot read Arabic properly). Beside, a short description of how to pray some of the well recommended ( by our prophet SAW ) supererogatory prayers such as Sunrise prayer, prayer of the pious, prayer for repentance, prayer for decision making, prayer for need and so on are given by the authors.I would definitely suggest this book as it has helped me a lot to connect to Allah SWT on a daily basis, Alhamdulillah!