To wrap up 2019, Wardah's booksellers present four books that we consider Wardah Books of the Year 2019.
The four titles are, in no particular order:
Last year, This is What Inequality Looks Like by sociologist Teo You Yenn (Ethos Books) made it to our list in 2018. While Teo's book dealt with the issue of poverty and inequality in Singapore, this year, another Ethos title has made it on our 2019 list, and it too deals with an important issue in Singapore society: mental health.
Written by a mother who is coming to terms with the suicide of her daughter, Loss Adjustment is an act of emotional forensics executed with humanity and humility. It is a pathbreaking work on self-harm, suicide, and loss that will be referenced and studied for years to come both within Singapore and internationally. Linda Collins’ matter-of-fact, elegiac prose is impossible to ignore and we hope this book, and indeed this subject, gets the attention it so urgently deserves.
Michael Sugich, a traveller on the path of Islamic spirituality, has with his previous works, done much to bring to attention sainthood and the saints of Islam. With this 2019 book, Hearts Turn, Sugich gives ear to stories of tawbah and redemption as experienced by the people he encounters.
Written with characteristic sympathy and eye for detail, he weaves story after story of how men and women of all walks of life turn their lives around to reorient themselves towards Divine Compassion, Forgiveness, and Guidance. These stories tell us that tawba and salvation are from God's Mercy, but it is up to each individual to turn, or rather re-turn.
But we don't have to face all things alone. Our journey in life is made easier and more meaningful with a life-partner; a spouse. Shaykh Abdur-Rahman ibn Yusuf Mangera has been behind the production of so many beneficial and practical books for the modern-day Muslim but we believe this book, published in 2019, Handbook of a Healthy Muslim Marriage, may well be his most widely read work.
As a scholar and a mufti, Shaykh Abdur-Rahman is well disposed to write a work on marriage, but what makes this a 'handbook' is his years of practical experience working with Muslim couples and seeing first hand the problems and pitfalls they face. This book reminds us that marriage is not just about legality, rights and 'roles', but about goodness, sacrifice and of course, love. Marriage completes half of our religion, and it behooves us – newlyweds and otherwise – to take it seriously and to learn about it as much as we can. Shaykh Abdur-Rahman's book is a good place to start and to return to when, as we often do, hit a bump on the twisting road of matrimony.
All the books above have been written by authors who address or respond to the needs of these times in their way, but Prince Ghazi Bin Muhammad's work is a meta-analysis of the present. His dissection of our times has been published amongst a sea of other works that raise the alarm: from Shoshana Zuboff's The Age of Surveillance Capitalism to David Wallace-Wells's The Uninhabitable Earth. Clearly, we live in times of crisis.
But what Prince Ghazi brings in A Thinking Person’s Guide To Our Times is an analysis informed by pro-active Islamic scholarship and a blueprint for would-be change makers. We need to work on ourselves, to realise our destiny, to lift our aspirations, and set our sights on Heaven. Prince Ghazi reminds us of our sacred trust as vicegerents: ‘Vices corrupt the vicegerent, and the vicegerent corrupts the world. Therefore to purify the world of corruption, the vicegerent must start with his or her own vices.’
And God knows best.