The one who converts to Islam or someone who has just decided to know more about Islam, you may have come across this dilemma as to which books are better to study and which would give you a fuller and more comprehensive view of Islamic matters.
In what follows we have suggested some of the most significant Islamic books which are essential for anyone who is interested in Islam or is looking for answers to his/her questions. The books in this list include basic pillars of Islam, the most important obligatory practices, as well as ethical, historical and philosophical matters related to the religion of Islam.
The intellectual miracle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the Quran is the holy book of Muslims which includes many historical, ethical, spiritual and social matters brought through a unique, cohesive and capturing language. This book offers anyone who is in search of the truth with revealing and thought-provoking information and is a must-read book for converts to Islam.
Nahjul Balagha includes a series of sermons, letters, and sayings by Imam Ali (AS) and compiled by Allamah Sharif Razi which deal with many a wide variety of topics including our existence, our relationship with God, Islamic codes of ethics in all aspects of life whether personal or social. Reading this book helps you realize the deep moral concerns of Islam and the wisdom that lies behind this religion.
Written by an influential German scholar, Annemarie Schimmel provides us with unbiased, simple and introductory information about the religion of Islam. This book approaches Islam with a more historical attitude through which the pre-Islamic time, the emergence of Islam, the figure of Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUHHP) as the messenger of this religion and the process of Islam’s expansion are explained. It also includes some information about the Quran, the Islamic law, and tradition, the philosophy of Islam, different Islamic sects, mysticism, etc. It can be a very helpful guide for converts to Islam.
This brief e-book provided by Salam Islam explains the three significant steps before the action of converting to Islam. These include the belief in one God (Monotheism), belief in the prophets (Prophethood) send by God and the belief in the afterlife (Ma’ad).
This book, written in a relatively simple language, presents a summary of the teachings of Islam to provide some information for those who are not able to examine Islamic matters deeply and in a specialized manner. The book starts with a general reflection on the concept of religion and belief, explains the pillars of Islam and finally gives an insight into the practical principles of Islam.
This book is an attempt to bring a clearer understanding of the concepts that are mentioned in the Quran which is very helpful for converts to Islam. It starts with the ways the Quran can be understood, and it comprises of two main parts: Understanding the Quran analytically and Reason in the view of the Quran. Very thorough and interesting work.
Have you ever wondered about your existence? Why have you been created? What is the purpose of your life? This book discusses the goal of life from the viewpoints of the Quran and various schools of thought. The topics discussed throughout this book include the goal of creation, the basis of individual and social ethics, faith, schools of thought and world vision, Islamic faith, and human perfection, and the summary of Islamic monotheism.
This book offers a timely presentation of the core spiritual and social values of Islam: peace, compassion, social justice, and respect for the other. Seizing this unique moment in history to reflect on the essence of his tradition, Seyyed Hossein Nasr seeks to "open a spiritual and intellectual space for mutual understanding." Exploring Islamic values in scripture, traditional sources, and history, he also shows their clear counterparts in the Jewish and Christian traditions, revealing the common ground of the Abrahamic faiths.
Why do we need religion? What is the benefit of believing in a particular religion? This book written by one of the most significant Muslim scholars offers an in-depth discussion on the philosophy behind the concept of religion and how it shapes our lives toward perfection and happiness.
10. What is Hajj (the holy pilgrimage) and Why Do We Perform It? By Salam Islam
The ritual of Hajj or the Islamic holy pilgrimage is one of the most important occasions in the Islamic calendar. During this period Muslims from all around the world gather in the holy city of Mecca to perform certain rituals. In this e-book, you will get familiar with the basic rituals that must be performed during Hajj and know more about the philosophy behind these rituals.
Hijab in Islam is a common term that represents a range of personal and social codes of behavior and addresses women specifically while requiring specific actions on the part of men as well. In this e-book Hijab and modesty in Islam will be explained through six facts that reveal different aspects and reasons regarding this concept.
What are the rules and regulations that Muslims should observe in their eating habits? This e-book provides the converts to Islam with a brief and straightforward guide to the kinds of foods and drinks Muslims are allowed to use and those that are forbidden to them.
Why do Muslims perform the prayer (Salat)? What are the spiritual and mental benefits of this action? What are the secrets that lie behind the disciplines of Salat? This book offers a great insight into one of the most important obligatory practices of Muslims, prayer (Salat), and help new Muslims and converts to Islam to have a better understanding of this action.
Written by one of the converts to Islam, this book illustrates common challenges and issues faced by converts, the reasoning behind the conversion, analysis from a Western view of many controversial or misunderstood topics in Islam, and basic information needed by new converts.
Please note that here we have attempted to name a few most significant books that can give you a better insight into the religion of Islam and help you in your path toward converting to Islam. However, there are many other helpful and great books that approach Islamic matters sophisticatedly many of which you can find in Salam Islam’ s library and other online Islamic libraries.
The issue of art and drawings in Islam is among those topics that have not been directly mentioned and ruled on in the Quran. Therefore, one might wonder if drawings in Islam is allowed (Halal) or not and if yes, then are all types of drawings permitted (Halal)?
There are a few traditions narrated about drawings in Islam that are usually used to answer this question. However, since the answer can be derived from the Quran, this text tries to answer the question based on the Quranic verses.
Now, you might be asking how it is possible to understand the ruling on drawing while there is no direct mention of it in the Quran. The answer is clear; the Quran provides us with a set of fixed frameworks that work as a criterion for us. And whenever we come to a question that we think was not an issue at the time of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), we can study it, based on the Islamic criteria and find the answer.
Drawings in Islam and all other types of art are considered as tools to make things more beautiful and to create a feeling of admiration in their audience. Allah (SWT) has created this universe most superbly and has ordered all His creatures to admire and praise Him for this beautification. After creating the human, He looked at his creation and admired His own creation: “He formed you and perfected your forms, and provided you with all the good things. That is Allah, your Lord! Blessed is Allah, Lord of all the worlds!” (40:64)
Apart from the whole magnificent scenery of the universe, created by Allah (SWT), there are also some verses of the Quran that indicate the importance of beauty in the eyes of our Creator. And that is why the Prophet (PBUH&HP)’s saying, “Indeed Allah is beautiful and likes beauty” has become so famous . The importance of beauty in the eyes of Allah is visible in different verses of the Quran:
“O Children of Adam! Put on your adornment on every occasion of prayer … Say, ‘Who has forbidden the adornment of Allah which He has brought forth for His servants, and the good things of [His] provision?’” (7:31-32)
Creativity is a blessing with which Allah (SWT) has provided human beings (not to mention all the artistic creations of other creatures). And therefore, human beings have always created new things using their creativity, the effect of which is evident in the history and the Quran, e.g., in building houses, castles, making clothes, or designing jewelry, etc.
However, the Quran does not admire all types of art. For example, making sculptures or figures to worship and as idols are considered to be negative. For instance, Prophet Abraham (PBUH), facing his people who were worshiping lifeless and dumb idols, addresses his father and says: “What are these images to which you keep on clinging?” (21: 52)
While in another Surah of the Quran, making statues and sculptures and other pieces of art so far as they are useful for human beings are referred to as positive and admirable. An example is when The Jinn built those pieces of art under the observation of Prophet Solomon (PBUH): “They built for him as many temples as he wished, and figures, basins like cisterns, and caldrons fixed [in the ground] …” (34:13).
Besides, the main ruling on doing artworks can be derived from a Surah in the Quran called Surah Al-Shu’araa’ which means Poets.
In this Surah Allah (SWT) clearly describes the essence of forbidden (Haram) and allowed (Halal) art with a direct mention of poetry which was popular in Prophet (PBUH&HP)’s time:
“As for the poets, [only] the perverse follow them. Have you not regarded that they rove in every valley and that they say what they do not do? Barring those who have faith, do righteous deeds, and remember Allah much often, and vindicate themselves after they have been wronged. And the wrongdoers will soon know at what goal they will end up.” (26: 224-7)
In these verses, Allah (SWT) states that only perverse people would follow and admire the poets. And in describing the poets, it is mentioned that “they rove in every valley,” meaning that they make up things from their imagination. At the time of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), ‘most poetries were about the beauty of women, adultery, and pervert behaviors.’ However, Allah (SWT) does not forbid poetry completely; rather, He ‘makes the exception of faithful poets’ in the next verse. ‘Those who use their art as a tool to defend justice and to reveal oppression and injustice.’ 
From the above verses of the Quran, we can conclude that any form of art or any other tool is allowed (Halal) provided that they are used in the way of Allah, and if used in the way of Satan, they are considered to be forbidden (Haram). Therefore, it is of utmost importance to be familiar with the Islamic jurisprudence to distinguish the right from wrong from an Islamic viewpoint.
Another point that needs to be considered about different forms of art and drawing is that they should not go against the Islamic jurisprudence. Including erotic pictures or scenes in drawings or illustrations is one example of what makes this form of art forbidden. Therefore, as long as the drawing or making sculptures do not have any adverse harm for human soul and improvement, the ruling is as follows: “There is no harm at all in the sculpture, photography, and drawings of living beings whether or not they have a soul. Also, it is permissible to sell, buy, or keep pictures and statues. There is no objection to showing them in an exhibition as well” .
- Al-Kafi. Vol. 6, p. 438
- Tafseer-e Noor, Qara’ati, M. Vol. 6, p. 381
- Painting and sculpture
Homosexuality that means sexual or romantic attraction to the people of the same sex has been a controversial issue to psychiatrists since they have been expected to examine this sexual orientation and its relation to mental health.
It has also caused controversy in the religious communities as they have been condemned for being narrow-minded due to their denial of this so-called natural and instinctive phenomenon. Here, we attempt to explore Islamic view on Homosexuality and explain the philosophy behind Islam’s objection to this matter.
In the Quranic view, the family consists of a pair of male and female. This was indeed the basis of the creation of Adam and Eve. The couple who were the father and mother of the whole human race:
‘O mankind! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female, and made you nations and tribes that you may identify yourselves with one another.’ (49:13) .
Since family is of high importance in Islamic teachings, anything that damages this ‘Holy’ social unit is subject to criticism. Same-sex marriages contradict the law of creation which is based upon the continuation of the human race. Had homosexuality become popular, reproduction would stop.
It is also due to its social consequences that Islam warns us against homosexuality. A person once questioned Imam Sadeq(AS): “Why has Allah prohibited sodomy?”. The Imam (AS) replied: “Had sex with boys been lawful, the men would have become independent of women (and disinclined towards them) causing man's lineage to become terminated and natural heterosexual intercourse to come to an end, and this would have brought about great moral and social evils” .
The above narration explains that sodomy, or homosexuality, makes men needless of women sexually and vice versa! So the doer of sodomy no longer desires to marry the opposite sex. This is seen as a serious threat to the continuation of the human race. Since it is through the opposite-sex marriages that the human race will continue.
Homosexuality is addressed in the Quran through a well-known story called the story of the ‘People of Lot’. This story is cited in the Quran seven times. And it shows the importance of these people and the acts that they were punished for. ‘People of Lot’ are known as a nation that was thoroughly destroyed by God owing to their lustful acts :
"And Lot, when he said to his people, ‘What! Do you commit an outrage none in the world ever committed before you?! Most surely you come to males in lust besides females; nay you are an extravagant people’"(7:80-81).
In the above verse, the Prophet Lot (PBUH) condemns his people for their sexual desires towards men instead of women. Elsewhere in the Quran, he recalls:
‘O my people, these are my daughters: they are purer for you. Be wary of Allah … Is there not a right-minded man among you?’ (11:78)
One of the important aspects of Lot’s story is their punishment. According to Islamic teachings, homosexuality is a sin greater than adultery. So its punishment is more severe.
It is also admitted in the Islamic narrations that when people commit sins that have not been committed before, their punishment will also be unprecedented. The Quran describes People of Lot’s chastisement and remarks that the whole nation was massacred except the Prophet Lot (PBUH) and his true followers:
‘O Lot, we are messengers of your Lord. They will never get at you. Set out with your family in a watch of the night; and none of you shall turn round, except your wife…..So when Our edict came, We made its topmost part its nethermost, and We rained on it stones of laminar shale’(11:82-83)
In today’s liberal societies people are educated the way that they perceive homosexuality as an 'inborn’ tendency and only a variation of human sexual orientation . In other words, the fact that one is born either male or female does not say anything about his or her sexual orientation. They might be Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or Transgender! (LGBT) or it may happen that they are sexually straight!
Homosexuality has caused the field of psychiatry such a controversy that even after decades of studies on the issue one single position cannot be found in their findings. Homosexuality used to be identified as a mental disorder for the most of the 20th century. Even so, since 1970 there started a high scientific attempt to declassify homosexuality as a disorder. As a result of almost fifty years of attempts, we can see that since the late 20th-century homosexuality started to become legal in a few liberal countries (mainly Europe and America). And the same-sex marriages started to become recognized as a social norm.
Yet, there are still studies that argue against prior studies. They state that there is a misconception as to the definition of homosexuality in some of the major studies on the issue. Meaning, in the definition of a homosexual person they included any person who had had a same-sex sexual experience as an adult. But, some of the subjects that were engaged in homosexual behavior were not even attracted to the people of their own sex. It is also suggested that ‘homosexual people are at a substantially higher risk for some forms of emotional problems. These include suicidality, major depression, and anxiety disorder’ .
Despite the current professional position on homosexuality, same-sex orientation is still understood as immorality and as a rebellion against God by most nations and cultures throughout the world. The table of the LGBT rights according to different countries and territories is the evidence for this claim .
It has to be noted, however, that the fact that an individual has homosexual desires does not make him or her criminal according to Islamic law! This tendency is either a psychological or a physiological disorder that has to be cured. And as long as the person does not commit homosexual acts, he is not subject to any divine punishment.
The aim of this article was to explore the Islamic view on Homosexuality. We found that Islam objects to homosexuality for several reasons. Most importantly, Islam regards the same-sex union as a threat to the continuation of the human race.
Also, since the family in Islam is seen as a holy unit and it consists of a male and a female, again homosexual orientation goes against Islamic values and teachings and threatens human survival. We also examined if the same-sex sexual orientation is a disorder. Despite the high controversy of the issue, there is a kind of consensus that homosexual people are at a higher risk for emotional problems such as suicidality, major depression, and anxiety disorder.
To conclude, despite recent attempts of declassifying homosexuality as a disorder and the legitimization of the same sex union and marriages in some liberal societies, as statics show still the majority of countries and cultures understand homosexual acts as immorality and as a rebellion against social norms and religions that threatens human survival.
- Qari translation of the Quran, available at
- Wasa`il ash-Shia, vol. 14, pg. 252.
- Qur’anic references to the People of Lot: 7:80–84, 11:77–83, 21:74, 22:43, 26:165–175, 27:56–59, and 29:27–33).
- Rizvi, Sayyid Muhammad, Marriage and Moral in Islam, available at
- Bailey, J. Michael, ‘Homosexuality and Mental Illness’, available at
- See the chart at