BEING MUSLIM A PRACTICAL GUIDE – Book Sample
CONTENTS – BEING MUSLIM A PRACTICAL GUIDE
- Transliteration & Pronunciation Key
CHAPTER 1: STARTING POINT
- The Beginning
- Islam in Context
- Learning Islam
CHAPTER 2: BELIEF
- The Testimony of Faith (Shahādah)
- God (Allāh)
- Judgment Day
- Divine Decree (Qadr)
- CHAPTER 3: WORSHIP
- The Legal Rulings
- The Prayer (Ṣalāh)
- Purifying Alms (Zakāh)
- Fasting Ramaḍān
- The Pilgrimage (Ḥajj)
- Other Components of Worship
- Rulings Particular to Women
CHAPTER 4: SPIRITUAL REFINEMENT
- Human Consciousness
- The Path of Refinement
- Destructive Vices
- Saving Virtues
- Noble Character
CHAPTER 5: THE PROPHET s
- The Role of the Prophet s
- An Introduction to the Prophet s
- Blessings (Ṣalawāt) Upon the Prophet s
- A Brief Biography
- His Miracles
CHAPTER 6: THE QURAN
- The Nature of the Quran
- Major Themes in the Quran
CHAPTER 7: ISLAMIC HOLY DAYS
- The Islamic Year
- The Friday Congregational Prayer (Ṣalāt al-Jumuʿah)
- Ramaḍān & the Festival of Completing the Fast (ʿĪd al-Fiṭr)
- The Festival of Sacrifice (ʿĪd al-Aḍḥā)
CHAPTER 8: LIFESTYLE
- Living Islamic Law
- Daily Life
- Communal Life
- SELECTIONS FROM THE QURAN
- RECOMMENDED READINGS
- GLOSSARY OF COMMONLY USED TERMS
PREFACE – BEING MUSLIM A PRACTICAL GUIDE
This book was written to help Muslims live and practice their faith—to learn what Muslims believe, how we pray and fast, and how to live life in a manner pleasing to our Lord. It highlights both our spiritual struggles and aspirations; how we can, on a daily basis, develop a healthy relationship with God, through both devotions and in ordinary daily life. This book is not meant to expound on abstract theoretical aspects of Islam, but to give readers practical and useful knowledge that can help them understand what it means to be Muslim.
In the winter of 2005, I met a young new convert who, unlike most converts I had met before, had almost no real exposure to Islam or Muslims before embracing the faith. I was caught off guard when he began to ask me for a list of do’s and don’ts. After affirming some things, he already knew, I told him that first he needed to learn the basics, such as how to pray. Still, he continued to press me for guidelines.
While I admired his earnestness, I realized that this was not the best way for him to learn the religion; he needed context and prioritization for this new information. So I resolved to help him get started in a more systematic manner. I began to think of the books on Islam that I was personally familiar with and realized immediately that none of them suited his needs well. I then searched Muslim bookstores and found a few books that would be somewhat helpful, but they were either narrow in their scope or intended for children. As we began to meet and talk, I started compiling a list of the things I thought essential for new Muslims to know early in their Islamic learning.
And so, this manual before you was born, out of the realization that beginner English-speaking Muslims, whether new or returning, were underserved with regards to written materials to help them learn and practice their faith. These Muslims face multiple obstacles in their quest for knowledge. First, the information they need is scattered in multiple books that one would have to already know in order to find what one is looking for. Even if one knew how to find these books, they contain information beyond a novice’s level and needs, which could be distracting and overwhelming. Second, these books presume a level of background knowledge that these readers lack. Third, many books introduce Arabic
words without consistent translation, which often leads to the reader becoming focused on memorizing terms rather than understanding them.
To be clear, this work is by no means an original production. Rather, it is a compilation of concepts, explanations, and wisdom from the works of multiple luminaries, past and contemporary, brought together into one manual. The function I attempted to serve is analogous to that of a cloudy lens—although it inevitably distorts and diminishes the light—it at least focuses the separate beams upon one point. Anything of value found in this work testifies to the radiance of the beams of light that could penetrate such a lens—for the lens generates no light of its own. This work is firstly indebted to those luminaries who preserve for us all the light that came forth from the Holy Prophet Muhammad s. It is my hope that this manual makes the vital and revivifying knowledge they preserve and teach more easily accessible to the eager learner. I pray that, by striving to gather light for others, I too, despite the reality, by God’s grace, am counted among those illuminated.
“Whoever has not thanked people, has not thanked God.”
— PROPHET MUHAMMAD s
After thanking and praising God, without Whom nothing is possible, I would like to thank others whose contributions were vital to the completion of this work.
While this work is influenced by many, it is most indebted to a man whose contribution to Islam in the West is arguably unparalleled. His writing, teaching, and lecturing has inspired countless Muslims over the last twenty years (including myself), shifting paradigms and rectifying cognitive frames.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a great master of two traditions, has revived Islam in the West by helping Western Muslims rediscover traditional Islam while making it immediately relevant to the context of the modern world. In describing his contributions to Islam in the West, one can only remember, “God suffices as a witness!” (Quran 48:28).
I would like to thank my parents, Dr. Mahmoud Tarsin and Dr. Fawzia Bariun for their unyielding love and support. We are all who we are because of your love. May Allah grant your children the ability to serve you well. To my brother and friend, Amjad Tarsin, thank you for your constant support and for staying on me. A very special thanks to Aftab Malik for encouraging me in the early phases of this project—you tolerated me and
were there with your experience and invaluable advice at every turn. To my partner in this project, Zahid Ahmed, thank you for always being there. To my dear friend Feraidoon Mojadedi, thank you for your urging me across the finish line. To my dear sister, Aisha Subhani, thank you for all of your support. For editing content and advice, my deep appreciation to both Imam Zaid Shakir and Faraz Khan. For diligently editing and really helping bring this to completion, I want to thank you, Tom Devine, for all of your work— it made all the difference.
I am grateful to Mariam Jukaku, Sadia Shakir, and Zaynab Salman who helped proofread the manuscript. This work is indebted to Brad Brennan, a good friend who inspired me with his courage to leap towards the light without hesitation. Lastly, my deep appreciation to my supportive and understanding wife, Imaan Youssef, and my children, Yaseen, Maryam, and Ahmed Zarruq.
Below are a few points of reference for the reader: Quotations from the Quran are referenced by their chapter (sūrah) and verse (āyah) number. For instance, a quotation followed by “(2:136)” refers to Chapter 2, verse 136. For the translation, I have relied almost exclusively on the work of M.A.S. Abdel Haleem. However, for a few verses, when it better illustrated the point being made, I used the translation of Thomas Cleary.
For some of the transliterated Arabic terms, I sometimes added an “-s” to denote the plural instead of transliterating the linguistically correct Arabic plural form. I did this for terms that English-speaking Muslims commonly use as though they are anglicized. For example, in Arabic the plural form of masjid (mosque) is masājid. However, for the sake of simplicity, I used the term masjids.
Lastly, this work presents Islam from the Sunni orthodox perspective and does not compare or contrast with other sects of Islam for the sake of clarity. The erring servant of God, ever in need of His mercy, Asad Tarsin Ramadan 1436 June 2015
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