Ramadan is a time to reflect on our spiritual state and build a stronger relationship with Allah - SWT - by reading the Quran. Through reading and reflection, we hope to learn from the many stories and wisdoms such that we may become better servants of Allah - SWT.
The Quran isn't the only book we can read during the blessed month of Ramadan. There are many other books that also contain gems which can help us improve both our understanding and application of the Quran in our daily lives. In this post, we go over some suggested books and our review when reading them.
The Clear Quran, Dr. Mustafa Khattab
While technically not a standalone book, The Clear Quran is one of the more recent English translations of the Quran. While other English translations exist, they tend to translate the Arabic in the Quran too literally. This results in a loss of information and mostly confusion when non-native speakers try to read the translation to understand the meanings of the Quran.
Dr. Khattab takes a more thematic and contextual approach to translation, ensuring that the translation captures the message and themes that the Quran delivers. With detailed footnotes and clearer English terminology, The Clear Quran truly makes the message of the Quran clear to Muslims and non-Muslims; native and non-native Arabic speakers alike.
The Clear Quran is the default translation in Tarteel and Quran.com.
The Book of Assistance, Imam Abdallah Al-Haddad
This book is a collection of short chapters, each it's own beautiful gem on how to align spiritually with Allah - SWT. This book is a great resource for those seeking further spiritual refinement during Ramadan through the lens of a classical Sufi scholar. Despite the short chapters, each comes with detailed insights, rich wisdoms, and practical methods to becoming closer to Allah - SWT - as well as gaining a stronger sense of love for the Prophet - SAW.
The strong notions of detachment (Zuhd) and internal reflection discussed in this book make it a very good read while fasting during Ramadan. It will help in (spiritually) demonstrating to Allah - SWT - how you are aiming to attain his pleasure through the fast and being grateful for all the bounties he has bestowed upon us as humble servants. By the end of the book, you will have been able to open your heart to embrace the love of Allah - SWT - and the Prophet - SAW.
This is a Tarteel team favorite and was part of our weekly reading group! (Check the end of this post for a sign up link)
Etiquette of Friendship and Companionship, Imam Al-Ghazali
With COVID isolating us at home, it becomes very easy to lose track of our relationships with our Muslim brothers and sisters. It's also very difficult to communicate and convey certain emotions and ideas digitally as opposed to in person. That is why even in quarantine, we shouldn't forget how we engage each other with good morals and ethics.
Imam Al-Ghazali discuss the etiquette of friendship in three chapters:
- The virtues of companionship and brotherhood.
- The rights of companionship.
- The right of Muslims, relatives, neighbors, rulers, and the etiquette of their companionship.
Each chapter goes into the details of each theme by providing examples from the Quran and Sunnah, giving practical advice and guidance on how to navigate social relationships. Imam Al-Ghazali's poetic spirit is also conveyed throughout the book, drawing on various poems to help make information easy to remember and illustrate in a beautiful manner.
The book has many great concepts, but it is strongly recommended to read a version revised with footnotes since there are references to many forged and unauthentic hadiths. The reason why such hadith were included in the book is beyond the scope of this post, but one factor is due to the time at which the book was written - a period when Imam Al-Ghazali did not have access to a full reference of authentic hadiths.
Being Muslim: A Practical Guide, Asad Tarsin
Many of us are already familiar with the basic principles of our faith. Some however might struggle to find clear answers, are too shy to ask, or forgot. This book is a wonderful guide with detailed illustrations and clear explanations that provide Muslims with the foundational blocks of their faith. For those of you who already have a strong grasp on the pillars of Islam, the book is still a wonderful reminder on the basic principles, helping ensure that your foundations are solid and that you remember basic concepts like repentance (Tawba), conscientiousness (Taqwa), and detachment (Zuhd), as well as our reverence for the Prophet - SAW.
Tarsin takes a step by step approach, starting with the pillars of belief and worship, following up with spiritual refinement, following the Quran and Sunnah, and how to conduct yourself as a Muslim and lead an 'Islamic' lifestyle.
Each section gives just enough detail to ensure you are practicing Islam the right way and know how to conduct yourself in various scenarios, but not too detailed to overwhelm the reader. The section on "Selections from the Quran" is a beautiful introduction to common verses that help ease Muslims into starting to recite the Quran. Make sure to try reciting some of these verses using the Tarteel app and read their translations and commentary!
Interested in both reading and Tarteel? Make sure to join our weekly Tarteel reading group where our team reads from a chapter from a book and we engage in a discussion and reflections. You'll probably also get first hand accounts from our founders on what we're currently working on and what's next!
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