[A Work in Progress]
This is not a usual reading list.
Rather, it is structured around the idea of this blog. I attempt to share here all those personal readings which have provided me with the insights and awakenings; the ways of thinking, articulating and presenting; general writing skills; and actual writing inspirations that have come together to shape a large part of my deliberations and their expressive outcomes on this blog. I not only list and point readers to (through links where found) the books, but also attempt to lay down how they weave into the background of this blog.
The primary sources in such an enterprise, not listed below, are of course Quran and it’s Tafseer (exegesis). I’ve read Maualana Maududi’s Tafheem-ul-Quran, and am currently perusing Maulana Mufti Taqi Usmani’s Ma’arif-ul-Qur’an. I’ve read some portions of Tafseer Ibne-Kaseer as well. Similarly I do not list here all my readings in psychology, research methodology and statistics, both as a student and as a teacher; however, their relevance to this blog is obvious. I am also aided by my certification in Quranic Arabic that I acquired from a registered institute.
Other resources follow. I have attempted to categorize them roughly. Within each category, I present books in the order in which I have read them.
The last three categories showcase: i) generally useful reference works; ii) books which I have yet to read but which I think will likely form an important part of the bedrock of this blog; and, iii) books which have no relevance content-wise but they have been highly inspiring or moving to me in general, having definitely contributed to the overall base of my aspirations and general illuminations from which my urge to share my mental concerns emerges.
Mohammad (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam)
I was young (probably senior school age) when I read an Urdu translation of Dr. Martin Ling‘s (now, Abu Bakr Siraj ad-Din)English biography of our prophet. At that time I had no idea who Lings was or how internationally acclaimed his biography had come to be but I could certainly feel the inspiring quality of his writing compared with other seerahs I had read before. His book touches readers because it’s written in a fluently flowing narrative style and it also occasionally interweaves Quranic texts with the prophet’s life story such that they seem freshly enlightening and uplifting. It is through this feature of this seerah that I was able to search it out on the internet successfully only to discover that the book in my memory was the same as this famoush seerah.
Among all the biographies of Prophet Mohammad (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) I have read, this one is the best. Originally in Arabic, it won the Seerah competition arranged by the Muslim World League, in 1979, competing against 170 other manuscripts (from wikipedia). It’s author, Maulana Safi-ur Rehman Mubarakpuri, later translated the book in Urdu himself. Its English translation has been published as the Sealed Nectar. I have read the Urdu version.
I love this seerah since it flows beautifully and fluently from event to event. In addition to providing authentic references, Maulana Safi has integrated the whole text with Quranic ayahs wherever the events concerning the descent of particular ayahs are narrated. Thus, I believe, this is the best companion seerah volume to the Qur’an itself.
CONCEPTS OF ISLAM
Islami Nizam e Zindagi or us ke Bunyadi Tasawwurat
(The Islamic system of life and its basic concepts)
I received this exalted book as prize for excellence while I was studying for my diploma in Quranic Arabic. Written by the famous scholar Abul Ala (Maulana) Maududi, I was most impressed by the exceptionally persuasive quality of the author’s prose. In a highly convincing manner, the author elaborates the need for a theory of intelligent creation and of prophethood with elaborate and captivating examples. I aspire to someday post a translation of those chapters as the elucidation they provide cannot be bettered.
The book is available as a pdf document.
First Things First: For inquiring minds and yearning hearts
A collection of columns written by Khalid Baig, this is a very accessible and readable book covering all the major topics related to our religion. The book elucidates concepts and illuminates the purpose behind the various tenents of Islam in such an engaging manner as to appeal to readers from all walks of life.
I was reading this book during the time that I began this blog. I was inspired by how lucidly the author explains key Islamic tenets so as to be able to quench the minds of inquisitive (especially young) readers seeking to get to the insight behind the laws of their religion. I hoped to do the same on my blog (though my blog has taken a more of a metaphysical turn). Reading Khalid Baig’s short essays in flowing language made me realize how well-integrated our religion was to the psychology of our characters.
For a description of the book along with excerpts from reviewers, click here.
SOCIETY, WORLD AND UNIVERSE
The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell
The Creative Brain
The National Geographic Magazine
The Pleasures of Philosophy
They Say You are Crazy
Mind’s I: Fantasies and Reflections on Self and Soul
When I was continuing with my graduate studies, I discovered this gem of a book in the library of my institute. This mind-blowing book opened to me a whole world of adventures in understadning the intricate connections between mind and brain __ a subject I was in love with ever since my venture in psychology began. The book is actually an anthology of essays with comments by the editors (Douglas Hofstadter and Daniel Dennett) joining them in a common whole.
Written by various authors and in myriads of styles, the essays relate to how we perceive the world, how does the brain ‘constructs’ the mind, whether the soul is nothing but the mind, the nature of the universe at large and our connection with it, can we induce a mind in an artificial ‘thinking’ machine, etc etc. In fact, most of the essays present fictional scenarios in interesting ways: such as stories and dialogues. They are actually ‘thought experiments’, deliberate mental explorations (or rather, extrapolations) of ‘what if’ a given idea about the nature of brain/mind/world was true.
Now armed with my personal copy of the book, I’ve begun a series on this blog (two posts so far) in which I flesh out against other readings and the Quran metaphysical ideas suggested to me by each of the essays.
Mazhab aur Jadeed Chalenge
Written by Maulana Wahiduddin Khan, a well-known Muslim Scholar in South Asia, the book outlines the ‘challenge’ given by biologists and physicists in the early last century to the foundational tenets of our religion, namely: the existence of God, and prophethood. Following his commentary on the challenge he then writes beautiful, well-informed, and logical answers to each question raised by scientific discovery or dismissive claim made by scientists.
I read the book after having recently graduated as a Masters in psychology. The book helped me immensely in reconsolidating my metaphysical beliefs against the backdrop of scientific scene. Its answers and logical explanations are pertinent to this day. The book is old, of course, but the pertinence rests not only on the soundness of the arguments but is also strengthened by the current scene in both physics (where discoveries are taking more and more of mystical and spiritual turns) and biology (leading to increasing refutability of earlier evolutionist claims). The book is obviously very close to the heart of this blog. It is now widelY distributed as a free e-book and can be read in a pleasantly presentable format here.
I have not included this book in the category “Concepts of Islam”. That is because the book’s focus is not our basic tenets per se or exclusively. Rather it concerns with meeting the challenge posed by the then science scenario and writes about our religion’s foundations from within that same frame of reference.
Dajjal: The King who has no clothes
The Fragile Science
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid
(Dr. Allamah Mohd. Iqbal)
The Life and Works of Maulana Jalal-ud-Din Rumi
Road to Mecca
Allah ki Talwar
(Lieutenant-General A.I. Akram)
Peer-e-Kamil (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam)
The Snow Leapord
Beyond Forbidden Frontiers
An Unexpected Light
The Holographic Universe
The Spiritual Brain: A Neuroscientist’s Case for the Existence of the Soul
La Tom De Marot
Collected Fictions of Jorge Luois Borges
Republic of Rumi
Into the Wild
Illusion and Reality: A Study of the Sources of Poetry
The Little Brown Handbook
Introduction to Poetry
The Bedford Reader
Nasir Kazmi’s Divan
The Diary of Anne Frank
Snow Lake and K-2 Kahani
To Kill a Mocking Bird
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Surely You’re Joking Mr. Feynman
What Do You Care What Other People Think?
Long Walk to Freedom