As many of our readers prepare to start the new academic year, the Qarawiyyin Project presents a special reading list dedicated to combatting some of the issues often faced at university. Ranging from personal development and activism, to imbibing an Islamic alternative to a liberal worldview, these books are aimed at equipping young Muslims with the confidence to enter into the discourses often found on campus.
Purification of the Heart
University is a time of, not only intellectual, but spiritual development for many
Muslims. While some find this to be a period of immense growth, it can unfortunately be the cause for greater distance from The Creator for others. In order to monitor one’s own spiritual development and relationship with Allah as they confront the unique challenges of the university setting, they must be aware of which spiritual diseases afflict the heart and how to combat them. Each chapter of Purification of the Heart deals with one of these diseases, its symptoms, and its remedies. This book serves as a practical guide for tazkiyyah that students on the path to Allah should revisit regularly.
Length: 220 pages
““The heart also needs to breathe, and the breath of the heart is none other than the remembrance of God.”
2. Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life
Understanding tawhid, the nature of Allah and His relationship with us as human beings, is the foundation of the Islamic worldview, and consequently any understanding of Islam and our religious duties must start from this premise. Dr Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi attempts to portray this for the novice reader in his landmark book, weaving in questions of morality, philosophy and incidents from Islamic history. Touching on Islam’s timeless social and political systems, his writing serves as an important starting point for university students questioned about the core principles underlying Islamic thought.
Length: 216 pages
“If the concept of Tawhid is central to Islam and everything Islamic, it is because of its centrality to existence and everything that exists. Belief in the Divine Principle, the transcendent Allah, brings with the understanding that all creation is subservient to Him. With this relationship at the core of all matters, all things and all creatures are thus interrelated, at least at the most basic level.”
3. The Autobiography of Malcolm X
With Muslims in the West increasingly juxtaposed between the left and right of the political spectrum, the life of Al-Hajj Malik Al-Shabazz is one of the greatest examples of what principled activism looks like. Recounting his early life through to his membership with the Nation of Islam, his subsequent conversion to Sunni Islam and his life-changing trip to Hajj, the book keenly address the suffering of the African American community but also the underlying nature of broader society. Malcolm’s activism, which turned the civil rights movement on its head and challenged core values at the heart of the American project, continues to strike a chord for minorities in the West battling racism and islamophobia.
Length: 528 pages
“Conservatism’ in America’s politics means ‘Let’s keep the niggers in their place. And ‘liberalism’ means ‘Let’s keep the knee-grows in their place – but tell them we’ll treat them a little better; let’s fool them more, with more promises.’ With these choices, I felt that the American black man only needed to choose, which one to be eaten by, the ‘liberal’ fox or the ‘conservative’ wolf – because both of them would eat him. [At least] in a wolf’s den, I’d always known exactly where I stood; I’d watch the dangerous wolf closer than I would the smooth, sly fox. The wolf’s very growling would keep me alert and fighting him to survive, whereas I might be lulled and fooled by the tricky fox.”
4. Why Liberalism Failed
Patrick Deneen’s latest book is an easy, yet thorough read into one of the most relevant discussions of our time. Yet despite the topic’s often polarised nature, Deneen approaches the conversation outside of the typical left/right spectrum, instead looking at how both the left and the right have contributed to the failure of liberalism as a guiding force in society and governance. The book devotes chapters to issues such as individualism and statism, technology’s double sided role in expanding liberty, the changing role of the liberal arts and the degradation of citizenship. Drawing on the conceptions of liberalism’s founding philosophers as well as the current phenomena of Trump and Brexit, this book is an enlightening read for those with a desire to question the modern project.
“If I am right that the liberal project is ultimately self-contradictory and that it culminates in the twin depletions of moral and material reservoirs upon which it has relied, then we face a choice. We can pursue more local forms of self-government by choice, or suffer by default an oscillation between growing anarchy and the increasingly forcible imposition of order by an increasingly desperate state.”