Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Review: The Absolute Essentials of Islam by Faraz Rabbani

The Absolute Essentials of Islam: Faith, Prayer, and the Path of Salvation According to the Hanafi School by Faraz Fareed Rabbani. ISBN 0972835849. 49 pp. Softcover.

One of the saddest things I’ve seen is the misinformation and/or unwisely sequenced information “new” Muslims sometimes endure in the United States. And when I say new, it could be somebody who is the first person in his family to have accepted Islam or someone whose family includes Muslims and who has never learned anything about Islam and wants to learn and practice more. The dangers of misinformation about Islam are obvious-“You must cut yourself off from your non-Muslim spouse or relatives.” “You must dress a certain way.” “You must get married now.” Yet, improperly sequenced information is nearly as dangerous. By this I mean asking a new Muslim to take on too many hardships before he or she is able to do so. If the Muslim does have a “haram” business, don’t ask him to reach for the higher ledge until he’s found some firm footholds in the basics. Don’t talk to him about fana and `irfan before he can at least understand al-Fatiha.

I attended a lecture by Dr. Jeffrey Lang in West Lafayette, IN some years ago. Using chalk, he drew a line dividing the chalkboard in half and said this side is “constrained” by la ilaha illa Allah. He then divided this in half again and said that this quadrant is “constrained” by wa Muhammadun rasuul Allah. All Muslims can agree that these are valid constraints, and of course we would probably add some more regarding the Qur’an, the Last Day, prayer, zakaa, etc. But he went on to say that when we add invalid constraints, such as “Muslims must do hajj every year,” then some people might then not want to be Muslims who, if they had correct information, would be Muslims.

This lengthy introduction is my way of emphasizing the importance of this book. It functions like the “Quick Start Guide” to the newest gadget you have purchased. A new Muslim can take this book and get started with Islam. The book covers basic beliefs and the rituals which become obligatory immediately upon becoming a Muslim. Of course, things are not covered in detail, but the new Muslim could then focus his/her learning efforts in that direction.

Ideally, this book could serve as the outline for a class at a masjid for “new” Muslims.

I purchased this book from

Last updated August 21, 2006.

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