As we are almost halfway through Ramadan, we are reminded to continue reading the Qur’an and improve our spiritual state. This list was compiled in the hopes of facilitating a closer connection with the Book of Allah ﷻ and aid in perfecting our worship. May Allah ﷻ forgive our shortcomings and enable us to make the most of this blessed month.
Al-Ghazali The Mysteries of Charity and the Mysteries of Fasting: Book 5 & 6 of Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din, The Revival of the Religious Sciences by Michael Abdurrahman Fitzgerald
The Prophet (saw) was known to increase his generosity in the blessed month of Ramadan, ‘moreso than a nourishing wind.’ Books 5 and 6 of Imam al-Ghazali’s magnum opus Ihya’ ‘ulum al-din cover the inner and outer subtleties of two central themes of this month – charity and fasting respectively.
Contemplating the Quran: A Thematic Thirty-Part Commentary on the Noble Qur’an by Shaykh Ahmed Saad
Shaykh Ahmed Saad’s tafsir (exegesis) provides a thematic commentary for each juz of the Qur’an. At a relatively short length compared to other exegeses, this work can help facilitate the completion of the Qur’an in Ramadan and is available in both English and Arabic. It is also available as an audio book here.
Being Muslim: A Practical Guide by Asad Tarsin
Being Muslim is a return to the basics and an excellent guide for new Muslims and everyone to reconnect with essential aspects of Islam. A physician by trade and student of the Islamic sciences, Tarsin discusses aspects of creed, worship, and spiritual refinement while incorporating practical tips in fulfilling one’s fard al-ayn (obligations upon every Muslim).
Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatments by Shaykh al-Sulami, translated by Shaykh Musa Furber
From the Stoic philosophy to New Age spirituality, mindfulness practices, religions and cultures throughout history developed ways to cleanse the spiritual heart of its ills. In today’s world where we are starved of spirituality and fed in its stead superficial balms, we return to ihsan (spiritual excellence) and the sacred science of purifying the heart. Shaykh Musa Furber’s translation of over a millennium old text, Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatments by Abu Abd al-Raḥmān al-Sulamī, is an introduction to 69 faults, or infamies, that plague the human soul, and how to treat them. In Ramadan, alongside increasing ritual acts of worship, we cannot ignore the internal state. Not every reader struggles with every infamy listed, but ponder on an applicable one at a time and plan ways to address it through the treatment Al-Sulami recommends. Lessons on the text by the translator can be found here.
Shaykh al-Sulami’s Wasiyyah: Practical Spiritual Advice for Muslim Self-Care by Shaykh Al-Sulami, translated by Shaykh Musa Furber
Shaykh Musa Furber calls this a lighter and gentler companion to Infamies of the Soul and Their Treatments. Here, Shaykh Al-Sulami – in a similar format to Infamies – provides 46 counsels to the reader. Each one discusses an action Allah ﷻ and the Prophet (saw) commanded one to preform or avoid. This guide, like the one above, also requires more time spent in reflection and deliberate implementation than time reading.
Ibn Juzay’s Sufic Exegesis: Selections from Kitab al-Tashil li-Ulum al-Tanzil by Ibn Juzay al-Kalbi, translated by Shaykh Musa Furber
Sufism is connected to the Qur’an since the Qur’an mentions divine knowledge, struggling against the self [nafs], and illuminating and purifying hearts via obtaining praiseworthy character and avoiding blameworthy character.
Ibn Juzay’s tafsir (exegesis) of the Qur’an in the original Arabic spans multiple volumes. Shaykh Musa Furber translated his introduction to the twelve topics of tasawwuf in the Qur’an, from shukr (thanks) to ikhlas (sincerity), providing a brief but insightful read in 48 pages.
Connecting to the Quran: Imam Al-Nawawi’s Abridged Guide to Practical Etiquette with the Quran, translated by Shaykh Musa Furber
One must approach their desire to connect with the Qur’an in the right way, with the proper adab, usually translated as etiquette. Too often, in one’s fervor to make the most of the limited time in Ramadan, is the temptation, for example, to rush intelligibly through recitation or to touch the mushaf while in a state of minor ritual impurity (both men and women). Imam Al-Nawawi’s guide rectifies this, covering purifying intentions, and etiquette in teaching, learning, memorizing, and reciting the Qur’an both as an individual and in a group setting. The unabridged version is also available by the same translator as Etiquette with the Quran for those with greater reading himma.
Inner Dimensions of Islamic Worship by Imam Al-Ghazali, translated by Muhtar Holland
A secular world attempts to empty acts of worship of their metaphysical purpose. Prayer is reduced to only a set of movements, and Ramadan to only a time of community and family feasts. As Allah ﷻ says in the Qur’an, Ramadan was prescribed so that people may gain taqwa. Thus, the Muslim must strive to perfect their external and internal states, and Imam al-Ghazali’s candour helps readers understand the purpose of worship and beautify it.
Taqwa and Knowledge by Imam ‘Abdallah bin ‘Alawi al-Haddad
The works of Imam al-Haddad, an influential scholar from the 12th century, have increasingly been translated into English and proliferated among Muslims in the West. Among his illustrious works is al-Nasaih al-Diniyyah. Abdul Aziz Ahmad extracts the discourses on Taqwa and Knowledge from it and translates it for the benefit of the English reader. As concepts, taqwa and knowledge are found as recurring themes in the Qur’an. The prescription of fasting is directly associated with the attainment of Taqwa, which is an essential characteristic in the path of seeking true knowledge.
The Spheres of Islam, Iman, Ihsan & Irfan by Habib `Abd al-Rahman Balfaqih
Our deen is often categorized into three elements in accordance with the famous Prophetic tradition known as the Hadith of Jibril. Of these, the first one Islam has to do with outward acts; the second Iman has to do with beliefs and attitudes; while the last Ihsan has to do with internal states. The goal behind synchronizing the three and being holistic submitters to God is but one – to attain Irfan, true gnosis of The One. This short work introduces these topics and teaches how the Sacred Law, Spiritual Path and Reality are connected. There is also a lecture series on this book available from Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.
The Book of Intentions by Habib Muhammad bin Alawi Al-Aydarus, translated by Mohammad Ahmad Mbaye
One of the most famous Prophetic traditions is “Actions are by intentions”. We are informed in another tradition that God cares not about our wealth or appearances, rather He requires from us sincerity of heart and deed. This book presents over 50 different circumstances and provides examples of how an individual may correct their intention in those matters.
The Book of Assistance by Imam ‘Abdallah bin ‘Alawi al-Haddad, translated by Mostafa Al-Badawi
A classical manual by Imam al-Haddad, this book is a collection of advice on some of the most important matters that a believer should pay due attention to on their path towards success in the eternal life to come.
The Lives of Man: A Guide to the Human States: Before Life, In the World, and After Death by Imam ‘Abdallah Ibn Alawi al-Haddad
Another important work by Imam al-Haddad, this work is a dramatic exposition of the classical Muslim division of human life into five stages: before conception, life in the world, life in the grave, the resurrection, and heaven or hell. Extensive Qur’anic and Hadith references explain the condition of the soul at each stage.
Compiled by Abu Zayd AbdurRahman.