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The reality of you being your children’s mirror and seeing them adopt the reflection you give is a revelation I’m witnessing unfold beautifully in front of me. I find myself sowing the same seeds of love for reading to my children as how my mother used to do for me. She would read to me from the womb, bringing me to the library on all her off days, and spending most of our time together behind our fort of books. She taught me how to read deeply, to immerse myself in an intimate emotional dimension.

I can enter into the feelings, thoughts, and imaginings of others so much so that it taught me a particular kind of empathy. I loved the idea of being in the comfort of my private world but still having the capacity to feel and communicate with another. As I am reading, I leave myself and return having changed emotionally and intellectually, sometimes feeling strengthened or broadened. I will always be grateful for this gift that knows no end. Sharing these moments now with my kids, I pray it carries on with them and hopefully build generations of book lovers to come.

Farah's Picks

Conference of the Birds

by Farid ud-Din Attar

This book is very dear to me as it was gifted by a friend back during my teenage years, a phase in life where my soul felt like a little lost bird in search of the spiritual truth of Divine love and knowledge. I fell in love with its charming and ingenious rhyming couplets, structured so smoothly like an easily read narrative that it did not tire me at all reading through it. The book tells of how the birds of the world gather and undertake a gruelling journey in search of a mythological king, the Simorgh. Each bird represents a different human type. I could relate immensely with each of the travellers’ obstacles, fears, vanities and doubts as they go through the seven valleys to reach the Great Simorgh’s court. The Conference of the Birds was a gateway that got me started on my journey towards self-purification.

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Purification of the Heart

by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

This book was a good companion and resonated very powerfully with me when I decided to do some serious soul searching. It was an emotionally straining period where I desperately craved peace of heart and mind and this book helped greatly in dealing with the major emotions contributing to my ‘spiritual diseases of the heart’.

Shaykh Hamza Yusuf does an excellent job highlighting all types of feelings, emotions and modern issues that it would be surprising not to find a chapter relevant to oneself. He then goes on to provide the causes and cures in the clearest and most beautiful of ways, using examples of the Prophet Muhammadﷺ. His intelligent choice of words and eloquent delivery brings benefit even to non-Muslim readers. Truly a relevant and necessary book to help you unlearn and understand the human psyche and develop a way to better yourself and make rational decisions in the future, without emotional turmoil, or at least much less of it.

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Al-Ghazali on Remembrance of Death and the Afterlife

by Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali

I just found out that I was blessed with my first child when I had this great urge to pick up this book to read. What interesting kismet indeed to be growing a life inside of me whilst learning and meditating on death. I have to admit that this book is such a heavy read since it makes one truly reflect upon one’s state before God. But it was illuminating, valuable and didactic, having magical transformational powers within its pages.

The chapters highlighted why meditating on death is spiritually necessary for everyone and how many forgo it especially in this modern era where we are drowning in our materialistic hopes and desires. We either remember it with a heedless heart or lack greatly in its contemplation. The text provides remedies to this problem, sayings, Hadiths and Sunnahs of the Prophetﷺ relating to what happens during death and the stages of life we will lead after in extensive detail. It ends beautifully with reminders of Mercy as God’s primary quality and is the reason why we should continue being optimistic in the face of the harsh unknowns of death.

This book will surely awaken every soul from its slumber of idleness, inciting the spirit to prepare for our journey to reach salvation. I wholeheartedly recommend reading this book with utmost urgency and be made a constant source of assistance to what lies ahead in these troubling times.

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A Thinking Person’s Guide to Islam

by Prince Ghazi bin Muhammad

Growing up I found myself slowly losing interest to pursue knowledge of my religion and was not receptive to its teachings as discussions and questions were always quickly snubbed out. So much of my whys and thoughts were left to themselves, which I realised was very damaging to my soul. So when I saw the title of this book, I knew I just had to read it.

The chapters in the book are titled in question form, framing a discussion on major themes and fundamental basics of Islam that are sometimes misunderstood or just glossed over. Each chapter starts with a verse from the Quran that manages to summarize the theme in question. What really got me was how Prince Ghazi prompts the reader to reflect on ‘why it is important for me to know this’. The author stresses the importance of exercising some thought into the topics at hand, urging the reader to challenge their own ideas, explore more than what is in its covers, presenting an invitation to uncover the entire ocean of the beautiful multitudes of meaning within Islam.

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Educating Children: Classical Advice for Modern Times

by Imam al-Ramli

This book was to me like a ship’s wheel that helped steer and control the course as I rode the waves of motherhood. It is a fusion of a 500-year-old classical poem on parenting and its commentary, translated beautifully by Shaykh Abdul Aziz, contextualizing their wisdom and guidance in view of the modern-day conditions. The book also addresses the direst parenting questions with advice that is appropriate for the different stages of a child’s development, explanations of Prophetic traditions, coupled with Shaykh Abdul Aziz’s personal reflections and experiences with children.

I liked that it also included practical examples and discourses from parents of different walks of life, discussing the parenting issues that we face specifically to living in a modern society with many negative and western influences. Knowing that the education of children from the initial stages is a great affair, and it is our obligation to nurture our children to have their hearts ingrained with the love of God and His Messenger, certainly, this is a book we should all look out for.

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