Books

Some of these books have small group dialogue sessions or lesson plans prepared and available for use at no charge.  A bold capital C or D will link from these entries below to the Curricula and Dialogue pages.

          Contemporary Issues:

Ali, Kazim. Fasting for Ramadan: Notes From a Spiritual Practice. Tupelo Press. 2011. “Poet, novelist, essayist, organizer, lobbyist, yoga instructor and professor addresses the question, ‘When we deny our major appetites, what do we become?’  Poet and essayist Jane Hirshfield comments that ‘Ali’s meditations on the month-long ritual fast unfold, across cultures and spiritual practices, the deep meaning of a chosen foregoing. … It is…a work…at once modest and an undeniable tour de force.'” (Amazon.com)

Esposito, John and Dalia Mogahed. Who Speaks for Islam? What a Billion Muslims Really Think based on Gallup’s World Poll. Gallup Press. 2007.  “In the wake of the terrorist attacks on 9/11, U.S. public officials seemed to have no idea whether or not many Muslims supported the bombings. This troubled Gallup Chairman and CEO, who felt that “no one in Washington had any idea what 1.3 billion Muslims were thinking, and yet we were working on intricate strategies that were going to change the world for all time.” Clifton commissioned his company to undertake the enormous job.  The result is based on six years of research and more than 50,000 interviews representing 1.3 billion Muslims who reside in more than 35 nations that are predominantly Muslim or have sizable Muslim populations.” (Amazon.com)

Findley, Paul. Silent No More: Confronting America’s False Image of Islam.  Amana Publications. 2001.  “A 22-year veteran of Congress and a Christian debunks the stereotypes of Islam. The author draws on his decade-long experience as the senior Republican on the House of Representatives subcommittee on the Middle East, his personal knowledge of the region and its leaders, as well as his nationwide acquaintance with U.S. Muslims.  He writes: ‘Most Americans have never read a verse from the Qur’an, nor met a person they knew to be Muslim. They have no awareness of Islamic principles and beliefs—monotheism, peace, charity, compassion, interfaith tolerance, women’s rights—common principles that should bind Muslims, Christians, and Jews together.’” (Amazon.com)

Jamal, Amaney and Nadine Naber, eds. Race and Arab Americans Before and After 9/11: From Invisible Citizens to Visible Subjects. Syracuse University Press. 2008. “Bringing the rich terrain of Arab American histories to bear on conceptualizations of race in the U.S., this groundbreaking volume fills a critical gap in the field of ethnic studies. Unlike most immigrant communities who either have been consistently marked as “non-white,” or have made a transition from “non-white” to “white,” Arab Americans historically have been rendered “white” and have increasingly come to be seen as “non-white.” This book highlights emergent discourses on the distinct ways that race matters to the study of Arab American histories and asks essential questions. What is the relationship between U.S. imperialism in Arab homelands and anti-Arab racism in the lives of Arab Americans? What are the relationships between religion, class, gender, and anti-Arab racism? What is the significance of whiteness studies to Arab American studies? Transcending multiculturalist discourses after September 11 that have simply “added on” the category “Arab American” to the landscape of U.S. ethnic and racial studies, this volume locates September 11 as a turning point, rather than a beginning, in the history of Arab American engagements with race, multiculturalism, and Americanization.” (Amazon.com)

Lewis, Bernard. What Went Wrong? Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response. Harper Perennial. 2003.  “For centuries, the world of Islam was in the forefront of human achievement — the foremost military and economic power in the world, the leader in the arts and sciences of civilization. Christian Europe was seen as an outer darkness of barbarism and unbelief from which there was nothing to learn or to fear. And then everything changed. The West won victory after victory, first on the battlefield and then in the marketplace. In this elegantly written volume, Bernard Lewis, a renowned authority an Islamic affairs, examines the anguished reaction of the Islamic world as it tried to make sense of how it had been overtaken, overshadowed, and dominated by the West.” (Amazon.com)

          General:

Armstrong, Karen. Islam: A Short History.  Modern Library. 2000.  (Check out Rosemary Bray McNatt’s review of this book in UU World.)

Aslan, Reza. No god but God: The Origins, Evolution, and Future of Islam.  Random House. 2011. “In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith. The updated edition addresses the events of the past decade, analyzing how they have influenced Islam’s position in modern culture. He also provides an update on the contemporary Muslim women’s movement, a discussion of the controversy over veiling in Europe, an in-depth history of Jihadism, and a look at how Muslims living in North America and Europe are changing the face of Islam.(Amazon.com)

El Fadl, Khaled Abou. The Place of Tolerance in Islam. Beacon Press. 2002.  “This book opens with an essay by El Fadl, an Islamic law professor at UCLA, about tolerance in Islamic theology and among Muslims. He effectively disposes of the terrorists’ intolerant interpretations of Qur’anic passages by arguing that a more accurate interpretation would acknowledge the verses’ historical contexts and note that they contradict other passages in the Qur’an that are both more tolerant and more central to Islamic practice. The book’s second section consists of 11 responses to El Fadl’s essay by such notable figures as professors Amina Wadud and John Esposito. The book closes with a follow-up response by El Fadl, reflecting on the opinions of his co-authors.” (Publisher’s Weekly)

Glasse, Cyril. The New Encyclopedia of Islam. Rowman and Littlefield. 2008.  “The acclaimed New Encyclopedia of Islam comprehensively encompasses the beliefs, practices, history, and culture of the Islamic world in a single, accessible volume. Now extensively revised and updated, The New Encyclopedia of Islam describes all aspects of the religion, from its rituals, sects, and prayers to its political movements, social institutions, and spiritual and political leaders; from the art and architecture of Islam, to its history and ethnography; from its nations and states to its languages, science, and major centers of learning.” (Amazon.com)

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein.  Islam: Religion, History, and Civilization.  HarperOne. 2002. “Providing compelling analysis of contemporary Islam and its conflicts without overwhelming the reader with information, Nasr, one of the most admired Islamicists, introduces all the important movements and beliefs of Islam in broad, sweeping sections on the history of Islam, the schools of Islamic thought, and other topics. Whereas most introductions breeze past the diversity within Islam to focus on the common ground, Nasr proves himself equal to the challenge of distilling 1,400 years of faith and history by discussing and lauding Islamic diversity in some detail; for instance, he treats Sufism and Shi’ism in general and also historic and contemporary sects within those traditions.” (Booklist)

Smith, Huston. Islam, a Concise Introduction. Harper San Francisco. 2001.  This is the chapter on Islam for his well-regarded work, The World’s Religions.

Waines, David. An Introduction to Islam. Cambridge University Press. 2003.  “An Introduction to Islam is a wide-ranging account of the history and theology of one of the world’s most dynamic religions. For this revised and updated Second Edition, David Waines has added a long section tackling head-on the issues arising from Islam’s place in the changing world order at the turn of the new millennium. Coming at the end of a book which has explored the ideas and traditions of Islam in depth, this new section offers thought-provoking reflections on the place of religion in the current conflicts.” (Amazon.com)

Weiss, Walter M. Islam: An Illustrated Historical Overview. Diane Pub. Co. 2000. 

          Muhammad:

Armstrong, Karen. Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet. Harper Collins. 1992.  “In a meticulous quest for the historical Muhammad, Armstrong first traces the West’s long history of hostility toward Islam, which it has stigmatized as a “religion of the sword.” This sympathetic, engrossing biography portrays Muhammad (ca. 570-632) as a passionate, complex, fallible human being–a charismatic leader possessed of political as well as spiritual gifts, and a prophet whose monotheistic vision intuitively answered the deepest longings of his people. Armstrong refutes the Western image of Muhammad as an impostor who used religion as a means to power. Denying that Islam preaches total intransigence, she finds in the Prophet’s teachings a theology of peace and tolerance. The “holy war” urged by the Koran, in Armstrong’s reading, alludes to each Muslim’s duty to fight for a just, decent society. She draws significant parallels between the spiritual aspirations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.” (Publisher’s Weekly)

Conover, Sarah. Muhammad: The Story of a Prophet and Reformer.  Red Wheel/Weiser.  2013.  ages 12 and up…  “In the[se] pages, young readers will encounter a man very different from the figure often presented in Western popular culture. Drawing from biographies, the Quran, and hadith, Conover relates the story of a radical prophet who challenged the rich and powerful, guided his community of followers through a dangerous time of persecution and exile, formed alliances with people of different beliefs, and preached ‘love for humanity what you love for yourself.’  Before he became one of the most venerated, and most misunderstood, religious leaders in history, Muhammad was an orphaned child and shepherd…”

Ibrahim, Ezzedin, & Johnson-Davies, Denys, translators.  An-Nawawis’s Forty Hadith: An Anthology of the Sayings of the Prophet MuhammadIslamic Texts Society. 1997.  “This collection of forty hadith by one of the most famous compilers of hadith is generally regarded as the most popular anthology and the best introduction to the study of the Prophet’s sayings which, together with the Qur’an, contain the essential teachings of Islam. The Arabic original has been printed alongside the English translation for the benefit of those with a knowledge of Arabic. The translation, by two scholars working in close collaboration, combines accuracy with readability.” (Amazon.com)

Lings, Martin. (1983). Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. Inner Traditions. 1983. “Martin Lings’ biography of Muhammad, unlike any other, is based on Arabic sources of the 8th and 9th centuries (of which some important passages are translated here for the first time).” (Amazon.com)

Nasr, Seyyed Hossein.  Muhammad: Man of God. Kazi Pubs. 2007.  “This short study of the life of the Blessed Prophet of Islam, for high school and above, is neither a new historical analysis nor yet another purely devotional sketch of the earthly career of God’s last prophet. This biography takes the spiritual dimensions into consideration as well as the more factual and historical elements of the life of the person who changed human history.” (Amazon.com)

          Sufism:

Barks, Coleman & Green, Michael. The Illuminated Prayer: The Five-Times Prayer of the Sufis. Ballantine Books. 2000.  “These ancient rituals are presented here as a gift for anyone with a heartfelt desire to set aside for a moment the concerns of every day and enter a sacred time and space in which to explore the beckonings of the spirit. The authors take us through the words, movements, and hidden meanings of the Call to Prayer, the Ablutions, The Prayer itself, and the Peaceful Embrace afterwards. Faithful practice lends a sacred rhythm to each day and creates a psychological force that helps us nurture and express a profound inner harmony.” (Amazon.com)

Ernest, Carl, W. The Shambhala Guide to Sufism. Shambala. 1997. 

The soaring voice of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the ecstatic dance of the Whirling Dervishes, the rapturous verse of Jalaluddin Rumi—all are expressions of Sufism, often regarded as the mystical tradition of Islam. Who are the Sufis? They are more than mystics; they are empowered by the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad. They are guided by saints and masters. They belong to orders ranging from North Africa and Turkey to India and Central Asia. In addition to prayer and fasting, they practice techniques of meditation. They recite poetry, delight in music, and perform dance, all towards one goal—union with God, the Divine Beloved. This comprehensive introduction clarifies the concept of Sufism and discusses its origin and development. In addition, the author discusses the important issues of Sufism’s relationship with the larger Islamic world and its encounters with fundamentalism and modern secularism, along with the appropriation of Sufism by non-Muslims and the development of Sufi traditions in the West.” (Amazon.com)

Lings, Martin. What Is Sufism.  Islamic Texts. 1999.  “Martin Lings provides an excellent and authoritative introduction to the mystical movement of the Sufis based on his lifelong interest in Islamic culture. His explanation derives from a profound understanding of Sufism, and extends to many aspects which are usually neglected.” (Amazon.com)

Muhaiyaddeen, M.R. Bawa. Islam and World Peace: Explanations of a Sufi. Fellowship Press. 2008.  “It is important in this present day that we understand the true meaning of Islam. Islam is equality, peacefulness, and unity. Those who claim to be in Islam must destroy the evil qualities that arise from within their heart. We must all wage a holy war against the evil qualities that come to destroy our good qualities. This holy war, this Jihad, is not something that can be fought on the outside; our real enemies have been within us since birth. Our own evil qualities are killing us.They are the enemies that must be conquered. That is the way of Islam. That is what this book urges us to.” (Amazon.com)

Schwartz, Stephen. The Other Islam: Sufims and the Road to Global Harmony. Harmony Publications. 2008.  “The Other Islam is more than an engaging introduction to Sufism in full. Stephen Schwartz has also sketched a suggestive roadmap for the kind of inter-religious dialogue that can move the world beyond the clash of civilizations to a mutually enriching encounter of noble religious traditions. Schwartz’s Sufi-inspired conviction that it is, finally, God’s world, not one in which nihilism married to distorted monotheism will have the final word, can and should be embraced by serious Jews, Christians, and Muslims alike.” —George S. Weigel, Distinguished Senior Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center, and biographer of Pope John Paul II  (Amazon.com)

Witteveen, H. J., ed. The Heart of Islam: Essential Writings of Hazrat Inayat Khan. Shambala. 1999.  “The Indian Sufi master Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927) was the very first teacher to bring Sufism to the Western world. This is the first representative collection of the master’s teachings. Newcomers will be inspired by just how delightful and useful Inayat Khan’s teachings are for everyone, regardless of religious background. Each chapter includes a wealth of material taken from Inayat Khan’s work on a particular subject, such as Mysticism, Discipleship, Music, Children, or Divine Intimacy, followed by a selection of his short sayings and aphorisms on the same topic.”

         Women:

Abdul-Ghafur, Saleemah.  Living Islam Out Loud: American Muslim Women Speak. Beacon Press. 2005.  “Some essays are passionate, while others are more subdued, but all attempt to define female identity in the context of American and Muslim ties. As editor Abdul-Ghafur, a former chief executive of Azizah, a leading magazine for Muslim women, notes, this identity reflects the continuum of Muslim women in the West -evolving, spiritual, and unique. Moving essays and poems cover marriage, religious beliefs, homosexuality, abuse, American cultural expectations, and religious ecstasy in the idiom of Islamic belief. All entail some element of spiritual transformation and provide a wonderfully satisfying read.” (Library Journal)

Helminski, Camille Adams. Women of Sufism: A Hidden Treasure. Shambala. 2003.  “An admirable job of bringing history to life . . . a book that can be read with rapture, browsed, used for scholarly reference, or as an inspiring source to deepen our knowledge of Sufism by the examples and teachings of these beautiful and wise Sufi women.”—Sufism

Mernissi, Fatima. Women and Islam: An Historical and Theological Enquiry. South Asia Books. 2002.  “The author, who is both a feminist and a Muslim, aims to shed light on the status of women in Islam by examining and reassessing the literary sources as far back as 7th-century Islam. She portrays how, far from being the oppressor of women that his detractors have claimed, the Prophet upheld the equality of all true believers. Sifting through the mass of literature surrounding the life, works and teachings of Muhammad, some surprising facts emerge: such as accounts of the wives of the Prophet discussing politics with him, and even going to war. Later restrictions and impositions on women – such as the veil – were never, she finds, the intention of the Prophet.” (Amazon.com)