Friday, September 18, 2009

Books re: Islam and/or Christianity currently on the shelf

I decided to give you guys a list of the Islamic/Christian/comparative religion books I have read (marked with a *) or have on my bookshelf to be read soon. In no particular order:

* Why Islam is Our Only Choice by Muhammad Haneef Shahid - Okay, I'm about half-way through this one. I have to tell you, the grammatical errors are heinous, so much so that they're a distraction. My guess is that a lot of these stories were in English/non-Arabic language, were translated to Arabic for publication, then translated back from Arabic to English. The most recent story comes from the mid-80s and the oldest goes back to the 1800s, so it's probably safe to assume that the original letters have been lost/thrown away over time.

101 Questions and Answers on Islam by John Renard

Qur'an, Penguin Classics edition translated by N.J. Dawood. Currently reading, and using the Qur'an translated by Maulana Muhammad Ali as a cross-reference.

Islam: A Short History by Karen Armstrong. This one is next on the shelf to be read.

Teach Yourself: Islam. This is a good, fast-reading basic primer on Islam for the person who doesn't know ANYTHING about Islam.

* Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab's View of Islam by Dr. Anis A. Shorrosh. This guy debated a prominent Muslim scholar, Ahmed Deedat, a couple of times between 1988 and 1993.

* Christianity and Islam According to the Bible and the Qur'an by Nasr Al-Moghamis. This is a compare/contrast of the two books by a Muslim. In this case, it's obvious that the point is that the Bible is erroneous and wrong when compared to the Qu'ran.

* partially. Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today by Yvonne Yazbeck Haddad, Jane I. Smith and Kathleen M. Moore.

* The Truth about Islam and Women by John Ankerberg and Emir Caner. This one is a short book, written by a Christian and a Christian convert. Caner was disowned by his father when he converted to Christianity.

* Daughters of Another Path by Carol L. Anway. I really enjoyed this one, but I talked about it in one of my earliest posts, so I'm not going to repeat myself. : )

Daughters of Islam: Building Bridges with Muslim Women by Miriam Adeney.

Unveiling Islam: An Insider's Look at Muslim Life and Belief by Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner.

Voices Behind the Veil: The World of Islam Through the Eyes of Women by Ergun Mehmet Caner. This one is from a Christian POV.

The Caged Virgin: An Emancipation Proclamation for Women and Islam by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I got this one because it was on clearance at Half Price Books. : P

And, finally, last, but certainly not least: the Holy Bible (the King James Version and the New International Version).

Anybody have some to recommend that I haven't listed here?


  1. I'm writing these down! Thanks!

    Daughters of Another Path is great. Especially good for mother's of converts/ those thinking of converting from Christianity to Islam.

  2. I would immmediately return/chuck out Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book. She's had a sad life, but she's kind of full of crap. And makes a TON of money on giving islamophobic speeches.

    I would try anything by John Esposito. He's one of the top guys and absolutely amazing.

  3. Noor - Thanks for the note! I have so many books to read, I'll be happy to ditch that one. As for Esposito - I actually have "Islam: The Straight Path" in a stack of things to read.

  4. I'm going to have to disagree with Noor re: Ayaan Hirsi Ali. *However* her book does need to be read with an understanding of her life - because it does heavily influence everything she thinks. (I actually found The Caged Virgin less angry than I expected, but I got all that anger out of her biography) Much of what was done to her was culturally based, with the 'justification' being given with Islam, even though they really had no basis in Islam. But then, the events, especially female circumcision are being done in the name of purity for women under Islam (and again, I know, it has no real basis in the religion), but I just got finished watching a documentary on National Geographic where one of the sheikh's was swearing up and down that female circumcision came from Allah, was *necessary* and was why Muslim women were pure, and Western women (who don't get to be blessed with this particular gift) are all sluts. And that he prayed we (Western women) would all get circumcised so that we'd stop being such harlots. Which was the point where I went looking for my voodoo dolls and a red hot pin. He did have other, wacky, wacky ideas, and they did have *multiple* other sheiks, scholars, etc. saying that this wasn't part of Islam, but still. The belief is out there.

    If you're going to read her book, which I have, and found interesting, I'd read her biography first. It's called Infidel and could most likely be found at a library instead of having to go buy it.

    Reza Aslan's 'No God But God' is excellent.

    Really, anything by Karen Armstrong, but 'A History of God' and 'The Battle for God', the later of which is a history of the rise of 'fundamentalism' in all three Abrahamic faiths.

    C.S. Lewis's 'Mere Christianity' is a classic and favorite of mine. As a matter of fact, anything by C.S. Lewis is great!

    I've had Lee Strobel's 'The Case for Christ' rec'd to me many times, though I haven't read that one yet.

    A while back I was looking for non-fic book recs:

    That's a list of what I owned at the time (I've since expanded my collection, of course), plus there were some interesting books rec'd in the comments.

  5. Another thing about Ayaan Ali (sorry, it occured to me - I'll stop after this) *much* if not *most* of the 'suffering' that she endured was non-existant. If I'm recalling the details of the story right (it's been a while since I read the bio), her family was actually fairly well off for most of her life. Given, it's a relative term, but still. She never starved.

    The circumcision she and her sister underwent was done by a grandmother, against the express wishes of their parents (especially the father). Her sister was, in fact, mentally ill, and didn't receive the treatment she needed for a variety of reasons. And the 'abuse' and 'fear for her life' that she used to get asylum? Never happened. Her father did force her to marry a man she didn't want to, but neither one of them beat her or threatened her or anything. She lied, and thereby took the spot of a woman who might truly have needed it. I don't, actually, like Ms. Ali. I don't even respect her.

    Yes, her father did disown her and say she was 'dead to him', but this was later, and she was living a morally bankrupt life as far as he was concerned. I *believe* the disowning came after she'd left Islam, as well, but I could be smooshing the timeline a bit. She was granted her divorce from her husband quickly and painlessly, really.

  6. I really enjoyed "Muslims, Christians and Jesus" by Carl Medearis (very quick read) and "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. For understanding how western Christians look to the Muslim world, I highly recommend an Arab Christian's book "The Crescent Through the Eyes of the Cross" by Nabeel Jabbour. He writes with such compassion and understanding. It's not at all a bash-Islam type of book! Neither is Carl Medearis' book. That's why I loved them both dearly.

  7. Amber,
    I'm in Egypt, where the current estimate is that 89-98% of women here are circumcised. And the men hate it. What I've found, with personal research, is that the mothers or grandmothers are the ones perpetuating it. The men tend not to like it because their wives are essentially sexless. They don't enjoy sex, don't seek it out, and don't respond the way they are biologically supposed to (orgasm being nature's roller coaster..everyone gets a thrill.) My husband actually had a cab driver complain to him about the issue a few days ago, when they passed a billboard calling for people to stop the jaahili (ignorant) behavior.

    However...I want to make this absolutely clear. The Jews and Christians in this country circumcise their women as well. As do many animist African tribes across the continent. This practice comes from culture, not religion.

    The religious argument that I hear made most often is that Allah gave us our goods for a reason. If there's a problem, such as an overly enlarged protuding clitoris (which is a type of hermaphroditism in some cases), it is permissible to trim the clitoris if the sex drive is out of control. Otherwise, the permissible action in Islam is to trim the prepuce (hood of the clitoris) so that the area is 1, easier to clean and 2, the woman has more clitoral exposure during intercourse. The shuyukh I study with have said explicitly that if it is not done in the permissible way and the clitoris is removed, the person who is responsible for removing it owes a blood writ to the woman, as they have effectively killed their sex lives.

    Not all sheikhs are reliable or even true sheikhs. I hate to say it but the true scholars of Islam are lessening year by year, which is the sign of the last days approaching. Not all sheikhs have ijaza or have followed a pure line from the Prophet PBUH. I've met quite a few sheikhs who did not uphold the truth, enjoin good, forbid evil, or practice what they preach. That's their flaw, not the faiths.

    What is it? If you want to know Christ, don't look at the Christians? Goes the same for any and all religious doctrines.

  8. (PS. Sorry for the rant. Those sheikhs drive me batsh*t crazy, as do the Americans I know who scream "THEY'LL CIRCUMCISE YOU!!!" when they find out I live in Egypt. That's why I study under shuyukh I can trust who actually study under other very reputable shuyukh.

    Heather, if you really want clear info, I'd suggest taking a class with Sunnipath. Their "Understanding Islam" course is fantastic and non-Muslims and new converts get a 75& discount on a few other classes that teach the basics.)

  9. Noor,

    Thanks, I like hearing from someone who actually lives in a country where things like this are practiced. And, as I mentioned, I know female circumcision is a cultural practice, it's just a particular 'pisses me off' thing, even though I'm certainly in no danger of it... which is why I had to come back and make a second post, because I realized I hadn't said what I thought of Ms. Ali, I was too busy ranting about circumcision. :)

  10. I recommend Even Angels Ask by Jeffrey Lang.