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.
According to what has been said in the first part of this article, the income one earns is either Halal (gained through lawful ways), which can be freely spent, or Haram (gained through foul means), or sometimes of doubtful origins (mixed up of both Haram and Halal), which must be seriously avoided. Now you might wonder what some of the precise examples of unlawful earning are in today’s world.
Translated as usury, Riba refers to unfair, exploitative interests made in business. The unjust interest gained from the repayment of a loan or the simultaneous exchange of unequal commodities are the two common examples of usury. “There is the principle of the relationship between one's efforts and the amassing of wealth and the importance of participating in the risk of losing one's wealth as well as increasing it in any economic transaction. That is why Riba or interest is forbidden in Islamic Law”  [i].
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) has said: “The worst unlawful earning is the income a governor gains through bribery” . When some people bribe to gain what they want easily, the others who avoid giving bribes for any reason will face many difficulties to obtain what they are entitled to. Also, the bribe receivers will not fulfill what they are required to do by law unless they are bribed.
So, if bribery spreads among people, especially government officials, in a society, it will definitely lead to an increase of corruption within the community [ii].
One of the great sins in Islam is cheating in selling things, which could be of two kinds; selling something at a higher price than its real value, especially when there is a shortage of that product in the market, and also selling short measures to consumers [iii]. The loss of public trust and financial corruption are among the most devastating results of this sin.
There are also other examples for selling short measures, one of the most common of which happens in offices when employees are not conscientious enough to fulfill their job commitments and responsibilities. So, the income they earn is Haram.
Any income one gains through the role she/he has in producing, distributing, or consuming alcoholic beverages and also drug is considered Haram:
“They ask you about wine and gambling. Say, "In them is a great sin and [yet, some] benefit for people. But their sin is greater than their benefit…"” (2:219)
Muslims believe there is no harming nor reciprocating harm in Islam. So, they seriously avoid anything that inflicts harm upon them or their fellow brothers.
Based on the verse above, the money one earns through gambling is Haram, too[iv].
That is because Islam highly recommends earning the livelihood through productive jobs and encourages hard work and striving to earn money rather than becoming wealthy or losing all one’s money overnight.
The income one may earn by singing or playing a song which is typical of or suitable for frivolous gatherings, and carouses are also unlawful (Haram) [v].
“Indeed those who want indecency to spread among the faithful—there is a painful punishment for them in the world and the Hereafter, and Allah knows, and you do not know” (24:19)
There are numerous instances of indecency in the world we are living today, from the provocative pictures of countless celebrities anyone can find in media, on the internet, etc. to the films that encourage immorality, and to sexual exploitation of women and so forth and so on. In fact, Islam has been sent to spread and complement the best of morality .
Therefore, the income earned through any attempt to spread any immorality or indecency in the society is certainly Haram.
Magic and fortune telling are believed to be destructive in the Islamic teachings, since according to the Quran: “Your omen is with Allah” (27:47), so, we should not put our trust in anyone except Him. Islam considers magic an act of devil and a great sin which has to be avoided [vi].
What has been mentioned above are among the most common examples of unlawful income. There are other instances as well which you can ask a proficient Islamic jurist or scholar about. On top of that, human’s common sense and reason can indicate what is exactly unlawful (Haram) and should be avoided.
This article is to give you some hints so that you become more cautious about your income in order to lead a decent and virtuous life.
[i] “Those who exact usury will not stand but like one deranged by the Devil’s touch. That is because they say, ‘Trade is just like usury.’ While Allah has allowed trade and forbidden usury” (2:275).
[ii] “Do not eat up your wealth among yourselves wrongfully, nor proffer it to the judges in order to eat up a part of the people’s wealth sinfully, while you know [that it is immoral to do so]” (2:188).
[iii] “‘O my people! Observe fully the measure and the balance, with justice, and do not cheat the people of their goods, and do not act wickedly on the earth, causing corruption’” (11:85).
[iv] “O you who have faith! Indeed wine, gambling, idols, and the divining arrows are abominations of Satan’s doing, so avoid them, so that you may be felicitous” (5:90).
[v] “Among the people is he who buys diversionary talk that he may lead [people] astray from Allah’s way without any knowledge, and he takes it in derision. For such there is a humiliating punishment” (31:6).
[vi] “…and Solomon was not faithless but it was the devils who were faithless—teaching the people magic and what was sent down to the two angels at Babylon, ... They would learn that which would harm them and bring them no benefit; though they certainly knew that anyone who buys it has no share in the Hereafter. Surely, evil is that for which they sold their souls, had they known!” (2:102).
- S.Hussain Nasr, A Young Muslim’s Guide to Islam, p.58
- al-Jame al-Saqir, vol. 2, p. 45
- Allama al-Hilli, Nahj al-haqq wa kashf al-sidq, p. 495
- Kanz-ol-a’maal, 13th vol. p.151, Hadith #36472
In a world that we are faced with many unexpected and horrifyingly inhuman incidents on a daily basis, one might wonder, how is it possible to be Happy? How can we attain inner peace? Are we born to suffer or to enjoy our lives? Security, justice, and welfare are three basic needs of every human being to have a better and happier life in Islam [xii]. However, providing these three factors is partly the responsibility of the government and the authorities of the society. And it partly depends on each individual.
In a previous article, we considered the ways that can help us overcome depression, anxiety, and stress in detail. Here we want to explore Islamic guidelines for a happier life.
One of the first factors in feeling happy in life is to be healthy. Many of us don’t even think about this blessing. When we lose it or find our physical strength not to be as before, then we realize how precious it was.
Islam recommends us to take care of our bodily health through having a healthy diet, eating less, observing personal hygiene, having enough sleep [iii], keeping a regular plan for visiting doctors and going for a checkup [iv], etc.
To have a happier life, you should balance your time between the activities that you do as your responsibility (e.g., your job, your housework, etc.) and the time that you need to rest and have fun [v].
Enjoying from lawful (Halal) fun is highly recommended in Islam. Since it is an opportunity to gather strength and energy to go back to our daily activities [vi]. As a result, we would become more satisfied and happy with our life.
Some recommended fun activities in Islam are horse-riding, shooting, swimming, knitting, telling jokes, traveling [xiii], etc.
Sometimes even looking at a beautiful scene or breathing a pleasant smell can cheer us up. So, for example, dedicating a time to explore nature can be a good idea to revive ourselves and bring hope and happiness to our life [vii]. According to Imam Kazim (AS): “Three things enlighten the eye: looking at greenery, flowing water, and a beautiful face” . Obviously, here “enlightening the eye” means freshening the soul and revitalizing the mind.
One of the places in which one can find his/her inner peace and feel happy and relaxed is the family. One of the main reasons that marriage is so much recommended in Islam [viii] is because of this relaxing effect that it will have on both husband and wife. Talking to the spouse and sharing feelings with each other can relieve the soul from everyday stresses and misfortunes.
Seeing a familiar and friendly face is always heart-warming. So, it is a good idea to visit your relatives or invite them to your house, for example, once a week. When you talk to your friends and family and spend time with them, even for a few hours, you will forget about your everyday issues. Even better, you may find solutions to your problems by sharing them with your relatives and friends.
This was among one of the most common manners of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) [xi] as well as the twelve Imams. Once, Imam Ali (AS) appeared to be depressed. A person enquired the reason, and he answered: “It’s been seven days that I did not have any guests in my house”.
Positivity and kindness act like a boomerang. You spread the goodness and in return, receive goodness. As Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) puts: “When goodness resides in you, your heart finds assurance. But, when sin enters your soul, your heart becomes full of doubt and restlessness”. Usually, when we do a good thing, we feel better about ourselves, and that makes us happier with our life. We feel useful and as a result more hopeful.
Moreover, being good-tempered and having a positive attitude toward other people is another characteristic that in the long run, will help us experience a happier life [xiii]. Sometimes, when we let go of grudges and empty our heart and mind from the anger and hatred we feel, we experience a feeling of blissful peace and relief [xiv].
Also, avoiding some immoral behaviors such as lying, backbiting, unlawful (Haram) relationships, not controlling the glance when seeing a non-Mahram, etc. will bring us a life of positivity and peacefulness [xv].
Another way to reach happiness and satisfaction is to talk to the creator of the world, the merciful Allah. Worshiping and praying Allah is always recommended in times of hardships [ix]. Since it will remind us of the One who is present all the time and we can rely on, no matter how big our problem is. So, this feeling of security will relieve our soul from any anxiety, and we will become happier and feel more at peace.
On the contrary, some activities may momentarily make us feel happy. Since they don’t have any benefit for our mind and soul, they will finally make us even sadder and more depressed. These are:
1. Occupying yourself with pointless activities and debauchery
2. Repeating the same mistake or sin (no matter how fun it may seem) over and over again
3. Engaging in aimless talks and conversations
4. Keeping company with corrupt and indecent people
5. Being irresponsible toward your commitments
6. Losing opportunities and wasting time 
7. Being highly concerned about financial issues [x]
These and many other guidelines help us in reaching a peaceful life. However, we should note that being happy is not a sudden revelation, but a gradual process. It takes time and effort and requires determination. It is the result of so many factors such as physical health, marriage, keeping company with nature, traveling, having fun, praying, having a good job, etc. Many of these factors have been highly recommended in Islamic sources and narrations (Hadith), as prerequisites for a happier life. Happiness does not come around easily and suddenly; it is on us to bring it around.
[i] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) said: “Two blessings are unknown among people: safety and health” .
Imam Sajjad (AS) said: “ O’ Allah, hearts don’t find peace except with your remembrance and souls don’t reach peacefulness except with seeing you” 
[iii] Imam Reza (AS) said: “[Enough and on-time] sleep, strengthens the body” .
Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “Sleep brings peace to the body, speaking brings peace to the soul, and silence brings peace to mind” 
[iv] Imam Ali (AS) said: “Whoever conceals his/her illness from a doctor, has betrayed his/her body” .
[v] Imam Kazim (AS) said: “ Try to divide your daily routine into four parts: one for supplicating to Allah, one for providing life expenses, one for keeping company with reliable and pure-hearted friends, and one part for enjoying from lawful (Halal) fun” .
[vi] Imam Ali (AS): “ The times of joy and cheerfulness are best opportunities for revitalizing body and soul” .
[vii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “Looking at nature would bring happiness, joy, and liveliness.”
[viii] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “There is no dearer and more valuable foundation in Islam for Allah, other than marriage [and family]” 
[ix] “O you who have faith! Take recourse in patience and prayer…” (2:153)
[x] Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “ I looked for the peace of heart and found it in having less money” .
Imam Ali (AS) said: “Whoever contents with what he/she has, will reach comfort and harmony, and have a better life” 
[xi] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Make every day a new day if you can. Meaning that, give presents to each other and make bonds with each other, for the sake of Allah.”
[xii] Imam Sadeq (AS) said: “ There are three things that every person needs to have; these are security, justice and welfare” 
[xiii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “ In order to reach greatness, travel outside your homeland, since there are five advantages of it: ‘ relieving sadness, gaining money and knowledge, getting familiar with [other] lifestyles and having the chance to accompany with great figures” .
[xiii] Imam Ali (AS) said: “ Being optimistic toward others, results in the peace of heart and decency of religion” 
[xiv] Imam Ali (AS) said: “ The one who is good-tempered, will have a better and more decent life” 
[xv] Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Truthfulness brings peace and lying brings stress and anxiety” .
Imam Ali (AS): “The one who lowers his/her gaze [in front of a non-Mahram] will find peace in his/her heart” .
- Fattal Neyshaburi, Rawdat al-wa'izin wa basirat al-mutta'izin, p.472.
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol.59, p.141.
- Ali ib Abi Talib, Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, p. 484.
- Ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-'uqul, p.409.
- Ali ib Abi Talib, Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, p. 319.
- Shaikh al-Hur al-Aamili, Wasā'il al-Shīʿa, vol.20, p.60.
- Javadi al-Amoli, Mafatih al-Hayat, pp. 135-137.
- Bihar al-Anvar, p.103.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol. 12, p.174.
- Muhammad b. 'Ali b. Shahrashub, Manaqib Al Abi Talib, vol.2, p.73.
- Qadi Nu'man, Da'a'im al-Islam, vol.2, p.326.
- ibn Shu'ba al-Harrani, Tuhaf al-'uqul, p.320.
- Usul al-Kafi, vol.8, p.19.
- Al-Shaykh al-Saduq, Kitab man la yahduruh al-faqih, vol.4, p.402, Hadith no. 5865.
- Bihar al-Anvar, vol. 91, p. 151.
- Mustadrak al-Wasail, vol.8, p.115.
- Ibn Abi al-Hadid, An Interpretation of Nahj al-Balaghah, vol.20, p.299, Hadith no. 415.
- Ali ib Abi Talib, Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, p.253, Hadith no. 5322
- Ali ib Abi Talib, Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, p.299, Hadith no. 6774.
- Abu l-Qasim Payandeh, Nahj al-fasaha, p.548, Hadith no.1864.
- Ali ib Abi Talib, Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, p. 260, Hadith no.5555.