Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam - Fred Donner (280 pgs) purchase on Amazon here
The origins of Islam have been the subject of increasing controversy in recent years. The traditional view, which presents Islam as a self-consciously distinct religion tied to the life and revelations of the prophet Muhammad in western Arabia, has since the 1970s been challenged by historians engaged in critical study of the Muslim sources.
In Muhammad and the Believers, the eminent historian Fred Donner offers a lucid and original vision of how Islam first evolved. He argues that the origins of Islam lie in what we may call the "Believers' movement" begun by the prophet Muhammad―a movement of religious reform emphasizing strict monotheism and righteous behavior in conformity with God's revealed law. The Believers' movement thus included righteous Christians and Jews in its early years, because like the Qur'anic Believers, Christians and Jews were monotheists and agreed to live righteously in obedience to their revealed law. The conviction that Muslims constituted a separate religious community, utterly distinct from Christians and Jews, emerged a century later, when the leaders of the Believers' movement decided that only those who saw the Qur'an as the final revelation of the One God and Muhammad as the final prophet, qualified as Believers. This separated them decisively from monotheists who adhered to the Gospels or Torah.
Islam without Extremes: A Muslim Case for Liberty - Mustafa Akyol (368 pgs) purchase on Amazon here
As the Arab Spring threatens to give way to authoritarianism in Egypt and reports from Afghanistan detail widespread violence against U.S. troops and women, news from the Muslim world raises the question: Is Islam incompatible with freedom? In Islam without Extremes, Turkish columnist Mustafa Akyol answers this question by revealing the little-understood roots of political Islam, which originally included both rationalist, flexible strains and more dogmatic, rigid ones. Though the rigid traditionalists won out, Akyol points to a flourishing of liberalism in the nineteenth-century Ottoman Empire and the unique “Islamo-liberal synthesis” in present-day Turkey. As he powerfully asserts, only by accepting a secular state can Islamic societies thrive. Islam without Extremes offers a desperately needed intellectual basis for the reconcilability of Islam and liberty.
The Prophet - Khalil Gibran (92 pgs) purchase on Amazon here
A collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and, above all, inspirational. Gibran’s musings are divided into twenty-eight chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating and drinking, work, joy and sorrow, housing, clothes, buying and selling, crime and punishment, laws, freedom, reason and passion, pain, self-knowledge, teaching, friendship, talking, time, good and evil, prayer, pleasure, beauty, religion, and death. Each essay reveals deep insights into the impulses of the human heart and mind.
If Oceans Were Ink: An Unlikely Friendship and a Journey to the Heart of the Quran - Carla Power (350 pgs) purchase on Amazon here
An eye-opening story of how she and her longtime friend Sheikh Mohammad Akram Nadwi found a way to confront ugly stereotypes and persistent misperceptions that were cleaving their communities. Their friendship-between a secular American and a madrasa-trained sheikh-had always seemed unlikely, but now they were frustrated and bewildered by the battles being fought in their names. Both knew that a close look at the Quran would reveal a faith that preached peace and not mass murder; respect for women and not oppression. And so they embarked on a yearlong journey through the controversial text.
Difficult Conversations - by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen (351 pgs) purchase on Amazon here
This book provides a step-by-step approach to having those tough conversations with less stress and more success. you'll learn how to:
· Decipher the underlying structure of every difficult conversation
· Start a conversation without defensiveness
· Listen for the meaning of what is not said
· Stay balanced in the face of attacks and accusations
· Move from emotion to productive problem solving
Broken Wings - Khalil Gibran (60 pgs) purchase on Amazon here
A tale of tragic love, set in turn-of-the-century Beirut. A young woman, Selma Karamy, is betrothed to a prominent religious man's nephew. The protagonist (a young man that Gibran perhaps modeled after himself) falls in love with this woman. They begin to meet in secret, however they are discovered, and Selma is forbidden to leave her house, breaking their hopes and hearts. The book highlights many of the social issues of the time in the Eastern Mediterranean, including religious corruption, the rights of women (and lack thereof), and the weighing up of wealth and happiness.
After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam - Lesley Hazleton (258 pgs) purchase on Amazon here
Combining meticulous research with compelling storytelling, After the Prophet explores the volatile intersections of religion and politics, psychology and culture, and history and current events. It is an indispensable guide to the depth and power of the Shia-Sunni split.
Muslim Teens: Today's Worry, Tomorrow's Hope - Dr. Ekram and Mohamed Reda Beshir (256 pgs) purchase here
Offers Muslim parents a practical guide for meeting the challenges of raising teens in today's world.
History of God - Karen Armstrong (487 pgs) purchase on Amazon here
Why does God exist? How have the three dominant monotheistic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—shaped and altered the conception of God? How have these religions influenced each other? In this stunningly intelligent book, Karen Armstrong, one of Britain's foremost commentators on religious affairs, traces the history of how men and women have perceived and experienced God, from the time of Abraham to the present.