We recently asked our Productive Muslimah fans what books they recommend for a productive Muslimah. I am always asked: how do I get inspired with ideas? Where do I get energy to come up with something new to contribute? The secret lies in constantly reading books, and lots of them! My ideal home would be in a library where I could be surrounded by knowledge. I can think of nothing better than indulging in a world of books, and quite often, I can be found spending hours browsing through the bookstore or library, flicking my way through the latest books to add to my bookshelf.
Reading has always been a favourite hobby for me – whether it’s novels (to boost creative thinking and writing skills), biographies, non-fiction or history. Whenever I am waiting in queues or travelling, I like to steal a few moments to read. Islam emphasises the obligation to gain knowledge on both men and women, but in today’s society where some women are being deprived of education – books are even more important especially as women are the first school for their children. The saying that books can stretch your mind and make you see things in a different perspective is very true, and gaining knowledge on almost every area you want to excel or improve in is essential.
The books listed below are, what we think, the essentials for a Muslimah. If you are seeking to sincerely become more productive as a mother, wife, daughter or sister – start with getting these on your bookshelf:
1. In the Early Hours, Reflections on Spiritual Development, Khurram Murad
Every Muslimah must start off with focussing on how to improve herself and there’s no better book for personal development than Khurram Murad’s In the Early Hours. It’s a treasure trove on how to develop your character and begin self-purification, highlighting practical exercises you can undertake on the journey of personal development. It also beautifully incorporates advice from the Qur’an and ahadith in short chapters as well as focussing on your relationship with Allah, your parents, your family, your friends and your community as a whole. I highly recommend you re-read this book every time you need an imaan boost!
2. The Ideal Muslimah, Dr Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi
Ultimately, as Muslimahs striving for Jannah we need to look at the best examples and advice. The Ideal Muslimah book signposts what a productive Muslimah should be like in her interactions with others, and outlines her responsibilities and her rights. What I particularly love about this book is that is comes in a lovely gold cover (I know you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover!) and it really is a goldmine of great advice which thoroughly covers all the aspects of a Muslim woman’s role – a Muslimah and her relationship with Allah, a Muslimah as wife, a Muslimah as a daughter, a Muslimah as a mother, and so on. It also makes a lovely gift for a sister who is just embarking on her journey into Islam. The author also has a similar book for brothers, called The Ideal Muslim.
3. Great Women of Islam, Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar
Who better to emulate than the greatest women, who were around the Prophet Muhammad and received glad tidings of Paradise? These women excelled in various areas, from being acclaimed poets to being successful businesswomen such as the Prophet’s wife Khadijah . This book provides an excellent overview of women from our rich history that serve as role models, redefining the misunderstood role of women as contributors to society – not only at home, but also in the wider community. For those looking to go into more depth, check out Al-Muhadiddat by Shaykh Akram Nadwi, which unveils the legacy of female scholars.
4. The Muslim Family series, Muhammad Al-Jibaly
One of the most important chapters of a woman’s life is when she completes half her deen by getting married. The Muslim Family series is a wonderful collection, starting with a beautiful set of advice on how to find a suitable spouse, the qualities to look for and how to follow Islamic etiquette in the marriage process. It then goes onto cover marital rights and responsibilities, as well as the topic of intimacy, which can be rare to read about. The final book in the series, ‘Our Precious Sprouts’, describes the Islamic steps to follow when bringing a child into the world. A great series for every Muslimah seeking to be a good wife and mother.
5. Heaven Under Your Feet, Umm Hasan Bint Salim
One of the special roles women have been given in Islam is the role of being a mother. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad said “Paradise lies at the feet of your mother” [Sunan an-Nasa’i], so how important it is that there should be a book under such a title! This book is by far one of the best books in outlining the rewards and blessings in every stage of being a mother, the early trimesters of pregnancy to having a baby. It also offers practical advice on what to expect during pregnancy and a very realistic look at how a woman’s life changes when she eventually becomes a mother. It is the perfect little book to give away as gifts for soon-to-be mums.
6. Toxic Childhood, Sue Palmer
Although Sue Palmer isn’t Muslim, her book Toxic Childhood tackles many of the challenges parents face in raising children today in a world full of gadgets, consumerist culture and fast-food. Sue’s in-depth research comes with practical tips on bringing up children in a modern world, and how to detox your child from harmful ways of living. It is a must-read for every parent who wants to give their child a holistic and meaningful childhood free from the ills of society. She even provides a helpful list of tasks your children should be able to do by a certain age so they learn to take responsibility. Much of this book is practical and based on research, and I have found that some of the advice is in line with Islamic teachings, such as eating wholesome food together as a family.
7. Enjoy Your Life, Dr. Muhammad Abd Al-Rahman Al-Arifi
Enjoy Your Life is a beautiful book packed with words of wisdom and advice to help you achieve your full potential in life. There are so many snippets of useful, motivational reminders, that it often feels like it’s an elderly father who is speaking to you through the book! To harness your talent, time and energy for a fruitful life, this is the handbook to turn to after the Qur’an and Prophetic teachings.
8. Family Building in Islam, Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari
The author of this short, excellent book is a much admired teacher of mine who founded a parenting company called Amana Parenting. In it you’ll find useful tips on how to build a family unit that is strong and able to deal with contemporary challenges faced by modern Muslim families. It’s great because it has some great interactive exercises, which are backed with Islamic references. To read more from Amana Parenting visit the website at: http://www.amanaparenting.
9. The Ideal Muslim Society, Dr Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi
This another fantastic guide from Dr Al-Hashimi. I believe that every Productive Muslimah should strive to contribute to the Ummah in a positive way – there is no better book which provides a comprehensive overview of how beautiful the true Islamic home and society would look like, if we followed the rules and guidelines given to us in the Qur’an and Sunnah. The Ideal Muslim Society is a must-read for everyone who desires to raise their children in a good Islamic society where they can teach them about their responsibilities towards others and how to benefit the world.
10. Disturber of the Hearts, Ibn Al-Jawzi
This short book is a must for when your imaan is low or when you find yourself falling into sin. Place this book on your bedside table so you can peruse it regularly. Often, we fall into the trap of belittling our sins or forgetting our accountability, which can affect all areas of our life, including how productive we are in all the roles of a Muslim woman. These reminders, ahadith and sayings of the noble companions will penetrate your heart and shake your soul. It is a must to remind ourselves of what we are ultimately working for – the Pleasure of Allah, and His Pleasure only.
So there you have it! The must-reads for every ProductiveMuslimah. Get your slippers out, make a warm cuppa and put your feet up whilst you indulge in one of these great books! Let me know below what books are on your shelf!