Finding and reading quality books on Islam

There’s tons of books to read and never enough time to read them all. So how does one decide what to read and what to skip? One of the best ways to choose the best books to read for the biggest value for your time is to ask scholars. Often they will tell you the best book in any given Islamic topic. They might even caution you against certain books that maybe misleading or harmful. There are also book recommendations from booksellers or librarians and these days there are also reader ratings on a bookseller’s web site. There are many ways to choose. The idea is to get a well rounded education on Islamic topics from a wide range of quality books by a variety of recommended authors.

Frequent bookstores and good libraries if you’re lucky enough to have good libraries where you live. Browsing through the many books is a joy in and of itself, but I digress. If you have good book recommendations from scholars, keep a running list of books to read and a record of the books you’ve already read on each topic. Read from a wide range of categories for Islamic topics such as Aqeedah, Quran/Tafseer, Hadith/Sunnah, Seerah, Fiqh etc. Furthermore, try to read from various authors’ works instead and where possible, read the same topic from at least two to three authors to get different perspectives on the topics.

Develop a good reading habit that you’re always reading one or two or more books at a time. Read in a way that you’re distilling the information contained within them to notes that you can actually read and refer to later on. Find a method that works for you for reading and getting the most out of the books you read and keep at it until it becomes a habit. If something is not working out, try an alternate method. If some book is too difficult to read, move on to the next one. There’s likely a better written book on the same topic.

And Allah knows best.

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Writing 300 Words Daily

I love to write and have loved to do so ever since I was a child. But writing is a skill that you have to keep fit by reading and writing a lot or you’ll lose it. Therefore, it is one of my personal goals this year to try and write 300 words daily in an effort to make my writing flow more easily. I used to be able to write easily but since I haven’t been writing as much over the last few years, my writing prowess seems to have dwindled somewhat, but Alhamdulillah not completely deteriorated.

Writing is not for everyone. But I feel that writing works for me. Alhamdulillah. I find that I like writing a lot specially when I use freestyle (like my blog entries). I think this is the same way with everything, not just work.

I have been able to write the required 300 words daily (and sometimes more) by writing about what I have learned and know enough to talk about. I use a couple of tools to help with the writing process. Firstly, I use Workflowy to brainstorm and come up with topics to write. Sometimes I’m very inspired to write, so I’ll write down all the topics I want to write about it in bullet form. Workflowy makes this super easy and non-distracting so I can quickly add a bunch of ideas as fast as I can type without having to open a word document or some other software. Secondly, I use Writer, which is a browser based online writing environment that has a customizable type-writer like interface (complete with the type writer sounds, if you like that) which is very conducive to writing. It maximizes so all the rest of the clutter on my laptop is faded out and out of the way. This way I can focus on the writing without having to get distracted by gazillions of web pages, notifications etc.

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Writing Habit

Ever since I was in middle school, I’ve liked writing. I’ve written in private journals and on my blog posts, on and off over the years. But I don’t get to write nearly as much as I would love to. Often times, the challenge is to come up with something that is interesting enough to write about. I guess you could think of it as a writer’s block. To fix this problem, I’ve brainstormed (into Workflowy) and come up with tons of ideas for articles and blog posts that are things I’ve wanted to write about but haven’t gotten around to doing so. So I should have plenty to write about for a while yet.

I’m trying to start writing regularly. This is to get my writing muscles flexing and to make writing a more natural thing for myself. As is usually the case for most people, I have a tendency to read way more than write. I’m trying to change that a bit and get into the habit of writing about 300 words daily. It seems like a good word count to write something meaningful within one sitting and on a daily basis: not too much and not too little. Other people may find it easy to try a smaller word count first and then build their way up gradually.

I encourage others to write as well, but I understand that it is not for everyone. Not everyone wants to sit down and put their thoughts in print, even if it’s just online. If one genuinely has something worthwhile to share with the world, writing is a pretty rewarding way to get your word out there. Writing online (for a blog or online publication) is a super easy way to write so it becomes available for the millions of readers on the Internet. So if you have stuff to say that you think can benefit others around the world, just set up a quick blog on wordpress.com or blogspot or some other free blog service and start writing.

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