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.
When my nephew was about two years old, he experienced his first meet up with a cockroach. My sister and I found him sitting very close to a cockroach, looking at it, smiling and enjoying his discovery. As soon as we saw the cockroach, we started screaming out of fear of the cockroach. In a way that the poor little kid ran away and started crying. From then on, whenever he saw a cockroach, his first reaction towards the poor insect was to start screaming and running away.
We, unwantedly, passed on our fear and hatred of the insect to that little kid. This hatred was shaped in us when we were kids and is passed on to next generations. Hostile actions are being shaped against cockroaches. Different poisons are made to destroy them. And still, they are the biggest enemies of people of some nation. The same story exists with British people and their spider enemies.
We never even start asking ourselves, if we can have a different attitude towards these insects. In our understanding, they are dirty, aggravating creatures that should be destroyed. Yet, it has happened to me to watch some well-made documentary films about insects. And think to myself why I am so ignorant and hostile towards these beautiful creatures of God.
Prejudice, as described in Merriam Webster dictionary, is a “preconceived judgment or opinion; an irrational attitude of hostility directed against an individual, a group, a race, or their supposed characteristics.”  Prejudice is usually based on ignorance. For example, using the following phrases: ‘all men, all women, all Christians, all Muslims, all uneducated people, all youths, all poor people, all rich people, all Americans, all Arabs, etc.’ are signs of having prejudice toward a specific gender, religion, social level, or nationality.
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) says: “Avoid prejudice, as it begins with ignorance and ends up in regression.” 
In this article, we are going to analyze prejudice in Islam. And find out how much the definition of Merriam Webster dictionary is compatible with Islam’s view towards prejudice.
Imam Ali (AS) states that one of the main reasons for prejudice is “ignorance”. He explains that “As for Satan, he felt proud over Adam because of his origin and taunted him about his creation since he said, "I am of fire while you are of clay." And in the same way “the rich among the prosperous communities have been feeling vanity because of their riches, as (Allah) said: And said they: "We are more (than you) in wealth and in children, and we shall not be chastised." (Qur'an, 34:35)” 
In the Arabic text, the word that is used for “vanity” is Al-asbiyyah and Al-Lijajah, which means prejudice in Islam. Indeed, most of the times it is vanity and pride that makes people think they are better than others. As a result, they classify people and discriminate between different groups of people.
Prejudice in the following cases is blamed according to Islamic teachings:
“Among His (Allah) signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the difference of your languages and colors. There are indeed signs in that for those who know.” (30:22)
“Do not marry idolatresses until they embrace faith. A faithful slave girl is better than an idolatress, though she should impress you. And do not marry [your daughters] to idolaters until they embrace faith. A faithful slave is better than an idolater, though he should impress you.” (2: 221)
This verse emphasizes on the fact that the only thing that elevates people in the eyes of God and should be noticed in human classification is one’s faith and wariness of God. “Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you.” (49:13): unlike many people who may choose their spouse based on appearance, wealth, education, family lineage, etc.
“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. Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you. Indeed Allah is all-knowing, all-aware.” (49: 13)
As it is clear in the above verses, that differences in nationality, race, color, or social class should not make a group of people feel that they are superior to others and that they have the right to insult or assault them.
Since prejudice is followed by mocking, insulting and humiliating others, Allah clearly detains people of such acts; “O you who have faith! Let not any people ridicule another people: it may be that they are better than they are, nor let women [ridicule] women: it may be that they are better than they are. And do not defame one another, nor insult one another by [calling] nicknames. How evil are profane names subsequent to faith! As for those who are not penitent [of their past conduct]—such are the wrongdoers.” (49: 11) and He emphasizes that “Indeed the noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the most Godwary among you.” (49:13)
From definitions that we usually read about prejudice, we may think that prejudice in Islam is always an indecent attitude. But, in Islamic teachings, prejudice is not always a negative manner. Rather, in some cases, it is known to be admirable.
As Imam Ali (AS) points out, people should have prejudice for “good qualities and in praise-worthy habits like the protection of the neighbor, the fulfillment of agreements, obedience to the virtuous, opposition to the haughty, extending generosity to others, abstention from rebellion, keeping aloof from blood-shed, doing justice to people, suppressing anger and avoiding trouble on the earth.” 
With what we have discussed so far, we realize that prejudice comes from ignorance. And every one of us may have a negative prejudice against some people. Simply because we do not bother to gain more knowledge about other people, other religions, other cultures, etc. If we try to know other humans better and try to put ourselves in their conditions and empathize with them, and do not judge them based on what we’ve heard about them, but expand our knowledge by the sufficient studies, then there is a chance that we can help each other in the way of growth and improvement.
Throughout the history of humankind, strong women have always been a source of inspiration and growth. Women who, alongside men, brought significant changes to the world, making it a better place to live and to prosper. One of the most prominent and praised women in the history of Islam is Lady Khadija (AS), Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) wife and companion, who had a vital role in the spread of Islam. She was one of those women whose influence and exceptional characteristics still resonates throughout the ages and among many generations after her.
In what follows, we will look at the life of Lady Khadija (AS), this distinguished personality.
Known as Khadīja al-Kubrā (AS) and Umm al-Mu' minīn (the Mother of Believers), Lady Khadija (AS) was born fifteen years before Am Al-Fil [i]. Therefore, her birth date is approximately 555 A.D. Her father, a famous figure in the Quraysh tribe in Mecca, was Khuwaylid b. Asad b. Abd al-Uzza b. Qusayy  and her mother was Fatima bt. Za'ida . According to some sources, Lady Khadija (AS) had a distant relation in lineage with Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and their roots went back to the same ancestors .
The available information concerning Lady Khadija (AS) before marrying Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) is limited and scarce. Nevertheless, she was known to be a wealthy merchant who employed others to work for her and benefited from a part of the profit . Due to her ancestral nobility, she was of high social status and respected among her people. As Ibn Sayyid al-Nas said: "She was an honorable and wise lady, and God granted her with His blessing." 
According to some sources, before meeting Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in person and starting a business relation with him, Lady Khadija (AS) had heard about his trustworthiness and honesty. Therefore, she asked Muhammad (PBUH&HP) to join her and help her in expanding her business .
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) went at least five business trips for Lady Khadija (AS), the most important of which that led to their marriage was the business trip to Sham. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) went back from this trip with the good news of their financial success and profit, which impressed Lady Khadija (AS) and made her decide to choose him as the head of one of the greatest caravans traveling to Sham. The result of these trips and Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) impressive actions, was Lady Khadija's (AS) fondness toward this honest man . After that, she proposed marriage to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) .
Despite the disputes over Lady Khadija's (AS) marriage before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), which claim her to be a widow, many authentic sources believe that Lady Khadija (AS) did not marry anyone before the Prophet (PBUH&HP) and it was her first marriage . This is also proved by looking at the cultural and intellectual status of Lady Khadija (AS) in Hijaz, which made it improbable for her to marry anyone from lower-status tribes .
While receiving many proposals for marriage from the heads of Quraysh, offering her vast amounts of money and wealth, she refused all and instead fell in love with the honesty and righteousness of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). The news of this proposal shocked Lady Khadija's (AS) family and relatives, who couldn't believe her to be willing to marry a man with lower financial status and younger than herself .
The proposal and marriage ceremony of these two significant figures, who made an example of their marriage to the generations that followed them, was held two months after the business trip to Sham, which was mentioned above . According to many sources, at the time of their marriage, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) was twenty-five, and Lady Khadija (AS), forty years old . After their marriage, she dedicated all her wealth to her husband and left the management of her business to him. Lady Khadija (AS) was the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP), and during her life, he did not marry another woman.
There seems to be disagreement in the number of Lady Khadija (AS) and Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) children. The number ranges from six to eight, among which they include two sons and four daughters . Some historians believe that Lady Fatima (AS) was the only daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and Khadija (AS) and the other daughters were their adopted children .
After receiving the call to prophethood in the Hira cave, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) first told Khadija (AS) and Imam Ali (AS) about his prophetic mission. She totally trusted her husband to be an honest man and believed in his great cause; therefore, she was the first woman who accepted Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) invitation to Islam and became a devout Muslim. Imam Ali (AS) and Lady Khadija (AS) were also the first ones who performed prayer (Salat) alongside Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in the mosque .
As a wife, Lady Khadija (AS) always supported Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in fulfilling his extraordinarily challenging and demanding mission of guiding people toward the path of Allah. At the times when people hurt the Prophet (PBUH&HP) with their offenses and unfair accusations, Khadija (AS) was there to soothe him, wipe his sadness away and give him hope to endure the hardships of this holy mission. She also financially supported Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) when they were suffering from unfair economic sanctions in the Shaib al-Abi Talib . Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) always appreciated Lady Khadija's (AS) unbounded help and support and said: "No money was profitable for me the way the wealth of Khadija (a) was." 
Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) always loved and praised Lady Khadija (AS) for her great and exemplary personality. He used to consider her among the four praised women of all time, including Asiya [ii], Mary, and Lady Fatima (AS) . She was not only a prominent and influential figure of her own time but also set an example for the generations that followed her. Her power in merchandise and business at one point, her courage, and insight in choosing a perfect husband by herself and her devotion to her married life at another, made her an ideal role model for the women all around the world.
As it was mentioned above, Lady Khadija (AS) was a well-known woman before her marriage to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP). She was famous for her knowledge and sagacity, which manifested in her thriving business, whose fame reached all over the Hijaz. Despite the patriarchal society of her time, she had managed to establish herself as a powerful businesswoman who won the respect of great heads of the tribes and men who considered women inferior to themselves .
While having an active and productive role in society, Lady Khadija (AS) always preserved her modesty and presented a modest manner in her interactions with men. Doing so, rather than being praised for her physical beauty, she was honored and respected for her insight and chastity, which encouraged many of the powerful men of her time to ask her hand in marriage. Yet, since she was more interested in finding an honest and virtuous man to marry, rather than a merely wealthy man, she refused all her suitors. Finally, she found these features in Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and chose him as her perfect match.
When she made a vow of marriage to the honest Muhammad (PBUH&HP), she knew that her life with this man would be different. When Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) mission began, she realized how much he was under pressure and needed her companionship and support. People didn't believe in him, didn't listen to him, and refused to be guided through the words of Allah, especially in the first years of his invitation to Islam. Yet, at home, he had someone who was always by his side, wipe his sadness away, and had faith in his call. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) never loved any woman as Lady Khadija (AS), and never forgot about her love and sacrifices, always remembering her as a unique and precious person in his life .
Lady Khadija (AS), this honorable woman, passed away in the month of Ramadan ten years after Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) call to prophethood in 619 A.D. She was 65 years old at the time of her demise , . She was buried by Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) in al-Ma'lat Cemetery, on the slopes of Mount Al-Hajun in Mecca. This sorrow was shortly followed by the demise of Abu-Talib, Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH&HP) uncle. These tragic incidents afflicted Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) with deep grief to the extent that he named that year as "the year of sorrow and pain (Am al-Huzn) .
[i] Literally meaning the year of the Elephant, it is the year in which Abraha, the king of Yemen, started a huge military expedition toward Mecca to destroy Ka'ba. As he had an army with war elephants, the year turned to be known as the year of the Elephant.
[ii] Pharaoh's wife at the time of Prophet Moses (PBUH)
- Ibn Athīr al-Jazarī, ʿAlī b. Muḥammad. Usd al-ghāba fī maʿrifat al-ṣaḥāba. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1409 AH. Vol.6, p.87.
- Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, Yūsuf b. Abd Allah. Al-Istīʿāb fī maʿrifat al-aṣḥāb. Edited by ʿAlī Muḥammad al-Bajāwī.
- Abu l-Faraj al-Isfahani, Maqatil al-talibiyyin, p.29.
- Ibn Kathīr al-Dimashqī, Ismāʿīl b. ʿUmar. Al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya. Beirut: Dār al-Fikr, 1407AH-1986. Vol. 2, p. 293.
- Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, Abū l-Fatḥ Muḥammad. ʿUyūn al-athar fī funūn al-maghāzī wa l-shamāʾil wa l-sayr.
- Abd al-Malik Ibn Hisham, Sirat Ibn Hisham, Edited by Mustafa Saqa. Beirut: Dar Ahya al-Tarath al-Arabi, vol.1, pp.187-188.
- ibid, vol.1, pp.199-200.
- Ibn Sayyid al-Nās, Abū l-Fatḥ Muḥammad. ʿUyūn al-athar fī funūn al-maghāzī wa l-shamāʾil wa l-sayr. Vol.1, p.63.
- Ibn Shahrāshūb, Muḥammad b. ʿAlī. Manāqib Āl Abī Ṭālib. Qom: ʿAllāma, 1379 AH. Vol. 1, p. 159.
- ʿĀmilī, Jaʿfar Murtaḍā al-. Al-Ṣaḥīḥ min sīrat al-Nabīyy l-aʿẓam. Beirut: Dār al-Hādī, 1415 Ah. Vol. 2, p. 123.
- Abd al-Malik Ibn Hisham, Sirat Ibn Hisham, vol.1, p. 189.
- Maqrizi, Ahmad Ibn Ali, Imta al-Asma, Dar al-Kutub al-Ilmiyah, 1999. Vol.1, p.17.
- Muhammad Ibn Sa'ad, Al-Tabaqat al-Kabir (The Book of the Major Classes), vol.8, p.17.
- Ziriklī, Khayr al-dīn al-. Al-Aʿlām Qāmūs trājm l-ashhar al-rijal wa l-nisāʾ min al-ʿArab wa l-mustaʿribīn wa l-mustashriqīn.
- ʿĀmilī, al-Ṣaḥīḥ min sīrat al-Nabī, vol. 2, p. 207-220.
- Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 3, p. 1089.
- Shaykh Tabarsi, I'lam al-Wara bi A'lam al-Huda, vol.1, p.125.
- Majlisī, Muḥammad Bāqir al-. Biḥār al-anwār al-jāmiʿa li-durar akhbār al-aʾimmat al-aṭhār.
- Ibn Kathīr, al-Bidāya wa l-nihāya, vol. 2, p. 129.
- Abu l-Hasan 'Ali b. Muhammad Julabi, Manaqib al-Imam Ali b. Abi Talib, vol.2, p.422.
- Sayyid Ali b. Tawus al-Husayni al-Hilli, Al-Tara'if fi ma'rifat madhahib al-tawa'if, vol.1, p.291.
- Ibn ʿAbd al-Barr, al-Istīʿāb, vol. 4, p. 1817.
- Ṭabarī, Muḥammad b. Jarīr al-. Tārīkh al-Ṭabarī. Edited by Muḥammad Ibrāhim.
- Maqrizī, Imtāʿ al-asmāʾ, vol. 1, p. 45.