101 Questions on Islam
Among global religious communities, Islam shows the fastest rate of growth. John Renard has written a fine overview of this religion, using a question-and-answer format. Here are a few things he asks: What basic views do Muslims hold on human rights? What role models does Islam offer to young women? How did Islam develop? Does Mary also have a place in Islamic tradition?
The Pilgrimage to Mecca
The pilgrimage to Mecca -- the fifth pillar of Islam -- has been performed by Muslims every year for the past 14 centuries as an act of devotion to Allah. A Season in Mecca by Abdellah Hammoudi is an erudite, engaging account of his hajj in 1999. It is a delight to see this journey of 2.5 million people through the eyes of an anthropologist who is used to describing things in detail.
Inside a Mosque
What You Will See Inside a Mosque by Alisha Karen Khan shows readers ages 6 - 10 the nature of worship in this special place. Here children learn about the call to prayer, dressing modestly, praying together, sharing God's gifts, fasting, and more. There are definitions of qibla, minaret, imam, and other Islamic terms. This brief book does a good job teaching about Islamic devotional life.
Honoring the Qur'an
For more than 14 centuries the Qur'an has provided wise instruction to countless believers. In The Vision of the Qur'an, Shaikh Kabir Helminski chose 263 passages to highlight essential spiritual themes. Translations in Approaching the Qur'an by Michael Sells convey the texture, tone, subtlety, and power of the Arabic text. The Heart of the Qur'an by Lex Hixon brings alive for western readers what he calls "the Divine Song of power and love sung directly by Allah."
Reciting by Heart
Join devout children from some 70 countries in Koran By Heart, a documentary about a competition to recite this entire text in Arabic. By the time the film ends, you will gain a fuller understanding of the diversity of believers within Islam, fresh awareness of children's awesome brain power, and a reminder of the rich experiences that can emanate from travel abroad.
A Bad Rap for the Peoples of the Book
Religion Gone Astray looks at religious zeal that goes too far, promulgating vengeful theologies. Three of the world's religions have gotten a bad rap for doctrines, attitudes, and actions which violate the core teachings of the Abrahamic traditions. For Jews, according to Rabbi Ted Falcon, that core teaching is oneness; for Christians, according to Pastor Don Mackenzie, the core teaching is unconditional love; and for Muslims, according to Imam Jamal Rahman, the core teaching is compassion.
Muhammad and the Cat
How the Children Became Stars by Aaron Zerah contains one of our favorite stories, "When the Cat Came to Muhammad." One day the prophet was speaking with a group of believers when a sickly cat lay down on the hem of his precious robe and went to sleep. When it was time to leave, the prophet, without a word, "took a knife, cut off the hem of his robe on which the sick cat still lay sleeping, destroying the finest of robes, and left the cat undisturbed."
Children's Picture Books on Islam
The Last Night of Ramadan by Maissa Hamed gives children and adults a wonderful picture of village life, Muslim culture, and the value of fasting during Ramadan. Golden Domes and Silver Lanterns by Hena Khan is an awe-inspiring children's book about beauty in Islam and the colors that pervade the everyday life of a young Muslim girl.
A Muslim Master of Love Poems
Ghalib lived in India in the seventeenth century at the end of the Mughal Empire and the beginning of British colonial rule. Many consider him to be the greatest poet since Kabir. He was a Muslim who spent much of his life in Dehli writing ghazals, a form of love poem developed in Iran during the tenth century and translated by Robert Bly in The Lightning Should Have Fallen on Ghalib.
Adab, rooted in surrender to God, is learned from acts of the Prophet Muhammad and revelations of the Qur'an. In Good Character, Musa Karim Gutur reveals how to act with good manners, ethics, and morals in all our doings. This excerpt pays tribute to gentleness, shown in the actions of a person who is peaceful, slow to anger, quick to forgive, and in control of their lower nature.
The Islamic Code of Conduct
The Islamic code of conduct has three categories: duties towards those near you (being kind to parents, supporting the needy); good conduct (noble attributes such as sincerity, generosity, and modesty); and etiquette for daily routines (like sleeping, eating, talking, and walking). You can pick up more about this in Moral Teachings of Islam by Imam al-Bukhari and Abdul Ali Hamid.
What Do You See?
Researcher and pollster Dalia Mogahed is an author, advisor and consultant who studies Muslim communities. In this talk, she helps us peel back our preconceptions.