Does the Quran have any direct verses about books? Can the Quran guide us on what kinds of books to read? How can a book that was revealed about 1400 years ago tell us about which book genres are useful and which are not?
In this text, we will study the status of reading books in the Quran and in Islamic teachings.
The first thing about books is the fact that the Quran, the miracle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) is a book. Therefore, there is no doubt that there are no problems with reading books in Islam. But, the question that if there is any limitations in reading different types of books is considerable.
The word book has been used a lot in the Quran and has been used for three different meanings. Yet, all of them are used for a thing that records concepts and meanings and transfers them to the audience. In all different meanings of the book, it has been mentioned as a medium. The three different types of books mentioned in the Quran are as follows:
1- The books that contain religious rules and laws. 
2- The books that record the deeds and actions of people. 
3- The book in which all the events and details of this universe have been written and is kept by Allah. 
Writing books is also an important point in the eyes of the Quran, as books are crucial means of conveying messages and transferring history to the next generations. They are also great means of spreading knowledge, wisdom, science, etc. the status of books and writing are so high in the eyes of Allah (SWT) that there is a chapter in the Quran called “Pen” (Qalam) in which Allah (SWT) swears by pens and what is written by it. 
However, it is also very important that the written content should be useful, based on truth, and produced for the growth and improvement of human beings:
“So woe to them who write the Book with their hands and then say, ‘This is from Allah,’ that they may sell it for a paltry gain. So woe to them for what their hands have written, and woe to them for what they earn!” (2: 79)
This can be a very important lesson and point to all of those who use their writing talent and produce written material for their audience. The above verse shows how enormous the effect of written products are on the readers.
Reading is also a very important point that is mentioned in the Quran. The most unique verse of the Quran that shows the importance of reading is, according to some Islamic scholars, the first verse of the Quran that was revealed to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP):
“Read in the Name of your Lord who created; Created man from a clinging mass. Read, and your Lord is the most generous, who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know.” (96: 1-5)
The above few verses show how learning knowledge and wisdom is connected to writing and reading. It is by writing that human beings transfer their thoughts and learnings to others, and it is by reading those writings that people learn from others. It is by reading that people think, contemplate, and come up with new ideas which lead to more learning, wisdom, discovery and inventions. Therefore, Allah compares those who seek knowledge and those who do not and asks us:
“… Say, ‘Are those who know equal to those who do not know?’ Only those who possess intellect take admonition.” (39:9)
Despite the importance of gaining knowledge through reading in Islam [i], still we might ask if all the books available in the market are useful, worth reading and lawful (Halal) to read in Islam.
The point is that the Quran does not mention all different book genres and does not discuss each genre in detail. But, it provides specific frameworks that work as a type of criterion. Knowing the criterion helps us to distinguish which books are useful for us and which ones can harm our soul and spirituality.
For example, the Quran is not against stories or novels since the Quran itself is full of amazing stories, some of which are examples or stories . Allah (SWT) claims that He is the best storyteller when He says:
“We will recount to you the best of narratives in what We have revealed to you of this Quran, and indeed prior to it you were among those who are unaware [of it].” (12: 3)
Reading such books will result in many positive effects on our mind and soul. As Imam Ali (AS) says, “The greatest peace is obtained by reading books”. Also, at the times of difficulties and hardships, sometimes one finds no remedy other than taking refuge in books, perhaps to find a way out; As Imam Sadiq (AS) puts, “There will be chaotic days when people would not find peace unless within their books” .
However, this does not mean that reading all types of storybooks, novels or myths are useful. Allah mentions in the Quran that real believers are those who “avoid vain talk” (23: 3). Therefore, books in which we can find parts that would waste our time or those that contain stories, chapters, or lines that may harm human soul and spirituality are not recommended to read. Apart from the books that may harm our soul, reading and learning can be considered as a sign of a Muslim.
[i] “Seeking knowledge is an obligation upon Muslims.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH&HP) .
- The Quran (38:29)
- The Quran (45:29)
- The Quran (10:61)
- The Quran (68:1)
- The Quran (39:27)
- Ghurar al-Hikam wa Durar al-Kalim, Hadith no.8126.
- Muhammad ibn Ya'qub al-Kulayni, al-Kafi, vol.1, p.52.
- ibid, p.83.
Many of us experience situations in our daily life when we get oppressed by other people, or we witness an act of injustice. We might prefer to keep silent to prevent the probable consequences, not realizing that this may keep us away from immediate harm, but it will be followed by greater consequences and damages later on.
One may ask how keeping silent against oppression and injustice will harm us later on? And what would have happened if Imam Hussain (AS) paid allegiance to Yazid, instead of putting himself and his family in such a horrible situation?
This article tries to explain the importance of standing against oppression and injustice by learning lessons from Imam Hussain (AS)’s uprising.
As we know, Imam Hassan (AS) remained silent and signed a peace treaty with the ruler of his time, Muawiaya. The main reason was that although Muawiaya had started to bring some changes in some of the rules of Islam, he still preserved his Islamic attitudes in public. Therefore, being in peace with him did not lead to so much damage to religion. But his son Yazid had no intention even to present an Islamic behavior in the Islamic society. Yet, Muawiaya chose him as the ruler after himself.
If Imam Hussain (AS) kept silence and paid allegiance to Yazid, it would have meant that he approved of his behavior. As a result, all the rulings and laws of Islam that the Prophet (PBUH&HP) had suffered to teach people for a more prosperous life would gradually disappear over time.
As Yazid forced Imam Hussain (AS) to pay allegiance to him, he notified his reasons for which he could not accept Yazid’s ruling over the Islamic society. The most important reason was that he was not behaving as a Muslim and had stood up against Allah’s orders.
It is clearly mentioned in the Quran that it is prohibited for Muslims to accept the ruling of a non-Muslim or a non-believer:
“O! You who have faith! Do not take those who take your religion in derision and play, from among those who were given the Book before you, and the infidels, as friends, and be wary of Allah, should you be faithful.” (5: 57)
However, Imam Hussain (AS) did not mean to start a war, and therefore, he took his family and left Medina for Mecca. Yazid knew that Imam had a significant impact on Muslims’ decisions and was afraid that Imam’s decision would spread among the Muslims and lead to their uprising against him. Thus, he sent his people to bring the Imam (AS) and to take his allegiance.
Imam left Medina for Kufah and then to Karbala. He was surrounded by the massive army of Yazid and had to choose. Should he have paid allegiance by force and teach a lesson to people that all he did to stand against oppression and injustice was wrong? Or should he have done what he did?
Based on his ideology and belief, and the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) that he had grown up with, Imam Hussain (AS) chose never to surrender against the injustice acts of Yazid. He, therefore, did not give up his duty to stand against injustice and along with his companions and sons, defended his household until they were all martyred.
The beauty and magnificence of his free spirit and his uprising started to spread throughout the world after his martyrdom.
He reached his goal to conserve the true religion of Islam and the pathway to prosperity by unveiling the real character and aims of those who desired to rule over the nation.
After the event of Karbala, his message on ‘standing against injustice and being free-spirited’ spread all over the world. He became a symbol for all those who care about their spirit, don’t want to accept oppression, tyranny, and injustice for the sake of their benefits in the short life of this world; people like Gandhi, the great leader of India.
From Imam Hussain's (AS) lifestyle, we learn that neglecting some mistakes may bring significant harm to society and, consequently, to our lives. Therefore, we should be wise and realize in our daily life to speak justice where oppression is taking place. That might be in our relations with our family members, our colleagues, or on a larger scale with those in power.
“Prophets and Imams (PBUT) are vivid examples and leaders that true believers should practically follow and not just worship. The example of Imam Hussain (AS) teaches us the lesson of standing against tyranny and injustice, the movement of honorable believers who preferred martyrdom to humiliation, and who have shown us what it means not to surrender.” 
Judaism in Islam is considered as one of the most significant monotheistic religions, and many verses of Quran are dedicated to describing the fate of the followers of this religion. In different verses of the Holy Quran, when Allah wants to mention people of Moses, He calls them “Children of Israel” (Bani-Israel). The reason for which is that they were the generation of Prophet Jacob or Israel (PBUH), who at the time of Prophet Joseph (PBUH), migrated to Egypt and settled there for years .
After Pharaohs gained power in Egypt, they started violence against the immigrant generation of Israel by “slaughtering their sons and sparing their women” (28: 4).
Then after so many years, during which Bani-Israel were waiting for a deliverer, Moses was appointed to save them and deliver them from Egypt to the holy land: “O my people, enter the Holy Land which Allah has ordained for you, and do not turn your backs, or you will become losers’” (5: 21). They did not accept to enter the holy land as they were afraid of the people of that land. Therefore, they lost their opportunity and were wandering in the deserts for years. There was no promise that if children of Israel do not act according to God’s orders, they will still inherit the holy land.
“We dispersed them into communities around the earth: some of them were righteous, and some of them otherwise, and We tested them with good and bad [times] so that they may come back” (7: 168).
Like any other monotheistic religion that has good or bad followers, the followers of Judaism are either virtuous or sinful according to the above verse of the Holy Quran.
The bad Jews, mainly known to be Zionists, are those who are committing great sins and have huge racist beliefs. Since they believe they are the higher race and others are somehow their properties. Zionism is not a religion, but a political branch that tries to gain power using any tools, even the religion of Jews.
The Holy Quran introduces all prophets as Muslims . Quran strongly defends Jewish believers like the believers of other religions; “Indeed the faithful, the Jews, the Christians and the Sabaeans - those of them who have faith in Allah and the Last Day and act righteously—they shall have their reward from their Lord, and they will have no fear, nor will they grieve” (2: 62).
Quran confirms the book of Moses and says: “We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light” (5:44). And in another verse, it says: “Yet before it, the Book of Moses was a guide and mercy, and this is a Book in the Arabic language, which confirms it…” (46: 12).
Although Quran confirms that all the prophets were from God and they had the same message, the problem, according to the Quran, is that the book of Moses was distorted by those ignorant and arrogant followers of him.
Accordingly, Islam was sent down to the followers of all prophets and the people of all nations and lands as a final and most complete religion, which was fundamentally the same as their religion. But all true believers and true followers of prophets should now be united in the way of worshipping One God and follow the book of Muhammad (PBUH), who has been mentioned in their books (7: 156-7).
God also warns Muslims that when they wish to convey His messages to the followers of other prophets, they should be respectful towards them: “Do not argue with the People of the Book except in a manner which is best, except such of them as are wrongdoers, and say, ‘We believe in what has been sent down to us and in what has been sent down to you; our God and your God is one [and the same], and to Him do we submit’” (29: 46).
As mentioned in the article on monotheism, from the Islamic point of view, the followers of other religions should realize the perfectness of Islam “despite the distorted image of Islam” in today’s world. They need to reach complete faith based on a firm understanding of Islam as the last and the complete way of life .
Since Jews were waiting for the last prophet and when some of them found him rise from among Arabs and not from amongst themselves, they denied him, since they had this thought that Islam must belong to a specific land or specific people, and it cannot be a complete universal religion for all lands at all times.
God mentions the rabbis with so much respect in the Quran and expects them to enlighten their people in worshipping one God and not to be fighting against each other while they worship the same God: “We sent down the Torah containing guidance and light. The prophets, who had submitted, judged by it for the Jews, and so did the rabbis and the scribes, as they were charged to preserve the Book of Allah and were witnesses to it...” (5: 44).
Going through the story of Prophet Moses (PBUH) and explaining it in details in the Quran had two major reasons:
1. Since when Muhammad was assigned as a prophet, Jews annoyed him in every possible way, God kept sending revelations regarding their past actions and their behavior towards Prophet Moses from whom they had seen many miracles.
2. The story of Jewish people and how they saw the miracles of their prophet and yet, they kept denying him, is repeatedly explained in the Quran, to be a lesson for Muslims. Muslims should remember that they had hard times, too, like the Jews, and they should not become arrogant because the last prophet was raised amongst them. Muslims should not make complaints against God’s orders, and by remembering the history of Jews, they should keep in mind that if they decline Allah’s commands, they will lose their opportunities since blessing is given to those who are God-wary:
“If the people of the towns had been faithful and God-wary, We would have opened to them blessings from the heaven and the earth. But they denied; so We seized them because of what they used to earn” (7: 96).
- The Quran, Yousof (12), 93
- The Quran, Al-Shourea (42), 13
- jews in Islam