The New Muslim Guide, by Fahd Salem Bahammam
When I asked my father-in-law what I should do to progress in my deen, he said something I’ll never forget: “Read as much as you can, be patient with yourself, and facilitate your Islam.” Alhamdulillah, I’ve found a book that helps me do just that.
The Confused Fumbling of a New Revert
Here’s a short list of the things that freaked me out about Islam shortly after I converted:
- The Arabic language
- The narrow views of extreme fundamentalists
- The sheer amount of work that went into learning and performing the salats
- Being told that if I didn’t do it exactly right, my prayer wouldn’t be heard
- All those men for all those years issuing all those rulings, some of which appeared to contradict each other
If I’d had this book at the time it would have saved me a good deal of confusion. I now see those months of fumbling around in my ignorance as a kind of test from Allah (swt), a preparation for acceptance of the ignorance that every one of us Muslims carries around with us whether we want to or not. But I continued to pray that Allah (swt) would show me the important things first; I could catch up on the rest later.
The Main Teachings, in a Nutshell
New Muslim Guide was one answer to this prayer. The author not only touches on why we need to make wudu, why we’re instructed to make pilgrimage (those of us who can), and why we need to develop sound characters, he puts it all in a nutshell and makes it easy to understand.
The theological explanations are brief and precise, for example, here is what the author has to say on why the justice of Allah (swt) proves the existence of an afterlife:
Many are those who spent all their lives oppressing others with impunity until they died; many are those who suffered a great deal of injustice and died without ever obtaining redress for the wrong done to them. This means that there has to be another life, other than the present life, where the righteous will be rewarded and the evildoers will be punished . . . (p. 81)
Notably absent are explanations of inessential and controversial rulings. What we have here is basic Islam— the direction, tools, and guidelines we should know early in the journey if we’re going to stay on the path and reach our goal.
Do What You Can, to the Best of Your Ability
One of the crises of my early faith was discovering all the ways I could mess up. If Allah (swt) won’t hear my prayer unless I do it right— and it will be a long time before I know how to do it right— why pray at all?
Fortunately a video lecture by Brother Nouman Ali Khan encouraged me to continue learning how to pray salat properly. His message could have been summed up like this: Don’t stop doing the things you can do just because of the things you can’t do.
Ignorance is a form of inability. Alhamdulillah we’re not required to know it all now but only to be sincere in our intentions and to keep striving to learn more.
Islam Was Always, Is Now, and Will Always Be Universally Relevant
The New Muslim Guide shows the universality and modern relevance of our religion by pointing out how Islam teaches us to care for animals and for weak, poor, and handicapped people and to be good stewards of the natural environment. It emphasizes that women’s rights must always be respected and that family life must be so nurtured as to ensure justice and equality for each member.
A Clear, Concise Book of Reference
Is this book a final authority? No, and neither does it claim to be. That esteemed honour belongs first to the Quran and second to the hadiths. But it certainly does facilitate my Islam but presenting in clear and concise form a reference work that covers much ground and is at the same time a pleasure to read.
The book’s final word includes this wonderful reminder to be always aware of Allah (swt):
“Neither the present book, nor any other book, will provide you with detailed information about situations and incidents you might come across. Therefore, in addition to seeking the opinion of religious scholars, you must try your best to be mindful of Allah as much as you can regarding the daily occurrences and relationships concerning which it is not possible to refer to scholars, as evidenced by the verse, “Be mindful of Allah as best you can.” [Quran, 64:16]
The book comes with a DVD, and free podcasts from it can be accessed here.
Warda Krimi is a Canadian journalist who reverted in 2010.