My English summer reading list is relatively shorter this year. I’ve been concentrating much of my time on Arabic hadith works and getting around to finishing some research assignments. However, in my free time, I’ve been perusing some of the following books with a hope to complete some, write a review of at least one, and at least skimming another.
The Accessible Conspectus by Shaykh Musa Furber
For centuries, Abu Shuja al-Asfahani’s legal primer Matn al-Ghayat wa-l-Taqrib (The Ultimate Conspectus) has been a standard text for introducing students of the Shafii school of Islamic law to the full range of basic legal issues. Students will often start their studies by reading it from a basic commentary with their instructor. Many students will read it again from more advanced commentaries as they progress in their mastery of the subject. This volume presents an amiable commentary that makes Abu Shuja’s primer accessible to new students. It uses contemporary language and examples to help readers build a sound foundation in Islamic law. The Accessible Conspectus is a perfect companion to The Ultimate Conspectus.
Return of a King by William Dalrymple
In the spring of 1839, the British invaded Afghanistan for the first time. Led by lancers in scarlet cloaks and plumed shakos, nearly 20,000 British and East India Company troops poured through the high mountain passes and re-established on the throne Shah Shuja ul-Mulk.
On the way in, the British faced little resistance. But after two years of occupation, the Afghan people rose in answer to the call for jihad and the country exploded into violent rebellion. The First Anglo-Afghan War ended in Britain’s greatest military humiliation of the nineteenth century: an entire army of the then most powerful nation in the world ambushed in retreat and utterly routed by poorly equipped tribesmen.
Shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize 2013, Return of a King is the definitive analysis of the First Afghan War, told through the lives of unforgettable characters on all sides and using for the first time contemporary Afghan accounts of the conflict. Prize-winning and bestselling historian William Dalrymple’s masterful retelling of Britain’s greatest imperial disaster is a powerful and important parable of colonial ambition and cultural collision, folly and hubris, for our times.
Tadhkiratur Rashid by Maulana ‘Ashiq Ilahi Meerut
This biography is bound to be a source of inspiration and beneﬁt to every sincere Muslim who is desirous of purifying himself and gaining proximity to Allah – especially those Talibin (seekers) who are acquainted with the ﬁeld of Tasawwuf and have aligned themselves to the Tariqah. Indeed, there is no comparison to this treasure which has been gifted to us through the generosity of our spiritual elders (may Allah be pleased with them all) and the excellent authorship of Hadrat Maulana ‘Ashiq Ilahi Meeruti Rahimahullah. The humility and modesty of this great scholar and role-model – Shaykh al-Masha’ikh Hadrat Maulana Rashid Ahmad Sahib Muhaddith Gangohi Rahimahullah – permeates every page of this two-volume bequest. His matchless knowledge and wisdom emanates from every word of advice and every morsel of guidance. Tadhkiratur Rashid | Biography of Hadrat Maulana Rashid Ahmed Sahib Muhaddith Gangohi (Rah) 2 Vols Set – English
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
In this stunning new book, Malcolm Gladwell takes us on an intellectual journey through the world of “outliers”–the best and the brightest, the most famous and the most successful. He asks the question: what makes high-achievers different?
His answer is that we pay too much attention to what successful people are like, and too little attention to where they are from: that is, their culture, their family, their generation, and the idiosyncratic experiences of their upbringing. Along the way he explains the secrets of software billionaires, what it takes to be a great soccer player, why Asians are good at math, and what made the Beatles the greatest rock band.
Islam, Science, Muslims, and Technology by Seyyed Hossein Nasr in conversation with Muzaffar Iqbal
Islam, Science, Muslims, and Technology: Seyyed Hossein Nasr in Conversation with Muzaffar Iqbal brings into sharp relief important dilemmas faced by the Muslim world today, especially in reference to modern science and technology. In three full-length articles and four focused conversations Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Muzaffar Iqbal explore Islamic views on the origin of the cosmos and life, various dimensions of the relationship between Islam and science, Muslim attitudes toward modern science and technology, and the environmental crisis. At the heart of these wide-ranging conversations is what can perhaps be called the most pressing issue of our times: the future course of Islamic civilization.
Definitive Encounters: Islam, Muslims, and the West by Dr. Muzaffar Iqbal
Islam, Muslims, and the West explores various dimensions of Islam, provides insights into the making of the contemporary Muslim world, and brings into sharp relief some of the more hidden aspects of the encounter between Islam, Muslims, and modern Western civilization. These encounters are viewed from the perspective of sacred history-a view of history which takes all events at the human plane as a continuum of the story of humanity, which began with the descent of Adam to Earth. Seen through this prism, contemporary global conflicts gain a degree of depth that is often lacking in secular approaches. The prism through which contemporary events are seen is constructed by tapping into the primary sources of Islam-the Qur’an and the Sunnah-as well as the early history of Muslims and the traditional Islamic view of the cosmos and the human condition. Divided into three major themes, Definitive Encounters builds a compelling case for seeing the contemporary situation of the world as a continuity of an old conflict between those who believe in the Creator and those who do not. It argues that the forces of globalization, the unprecedented reach of modern science and technology, and the insatiable craving of certain Western powers for dominance, power, and wealth are now playing a major role in producing a global calamity of apocalyptic proportions. In addition to its insights into the relationship between Islam, Muslims, and the West, Definitive Encounters is also a bold and accessible study of the contemporary Muslim world, rent asunder as it is by its encounter with modernity. The book describes various facets of the internal crises of the Muslim world and its increasing alienation from its own spiritual roots through numerous experiential aspects of the Muslim world which often remain unexplored.
Everday Life in Ottoman Turkey by Raphaela Lewis