Admit it. You promised yourself that this year you'd work on putting in a little extra effort on the Islamic knowledge front. Chances are you're like the rest of us, and your momentum tends to falter once Muharram or Ramadan is done, and between work, school, and family obligations, finding time to attend lectures becomes difficult.
Thanks to the dedication and hard work of scholars, editors, writers, and volunteers, there is a plethora of Islamic books on the internet (and usually free!) available. While it's important to actively attend and listen to lectures, books hold a distinct advantage over articles, speeches, and even discussions regarding Islam. It is important for Muslims to be familiar with various books, authors, and different theories and perspectives regarding our religion.
With spring break just around the corner, below is a list of books which have been newly-translated into English that are worthwhile reads and can greatly add to your Islamic knowledge and background:
Principles of Faith (Usul al-Din) by Ayatollah Hussain Wahid Khorasani
Many individuals have some knowledge concerning the five branches of religion in Islam. However, Principles of Faith (Usul al-Din) is the first resource written for the average reader in English to go into significant depth about the principles. There is a chapter dedicated to each branch of religion and countless verses from the Holy Qur'an and traditions concerning it. This book is highly recommended to readers who wish to gain a more thorough understanding of the principles and foundation of Islam. It also provides us with a distinct privilege, and that is reading the first English-translated work of one of the most learned scholars of our time, Ayatollah Wahid Khorasani. The book is available online.
The Human Cycle: Eighteen Lessons with Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Jalali by Adil Miyanji Musabji
It seems today that there is a new book out every week on how to raise children and why the method or approach of one culture is either superior or inferior to those of others. But what does Islam say about raising children? Very few texts in English have tackled this question. The Human Cycle is composed of 18 lessons the author had with Sayyid Muhammad Husayn Jalali concerning parenthood and child upbringing in Islam. The book is available online.
The Hidden Treasure by Shaikh Jaffer Ladak
The first book written in any language entirely about the biography of Lady Um Kulthum (peace be upon her), this is a must-read for all lovers of Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them). The author presents a comprehensive biography of the second daughter of Imam Ali and Lady Fatima (peace be upon them), as well as tackles many controversial issues surrounding her personality. The book can be ordered in print.
Deficient? By Ayatollah Nasir Makarem Shirazi
What is the status of women in Islam? Where do women stand compared to men? In recent years, many have claimed that Imam Ali (peace be upon him) stated women were "deficient" in faith. Is this a correct claim? Translated by Shaikh Saleem Bhimji, Deficient? is a short book is taken from Commentary of Nahjul Balagha, written by Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, and it seeks to clarify the oft-misused words of the Commander of the Faithful regarding women. The book is available online.
There are also many great websites that provide hundreds of Islamic books free of charge to readers. Some excellent resources include: