The powerful word “Iqra”
“Recite: In the name of thy Lord who created man from a clot. Recite: And thy Lord is the Most Generous Who taught by the pen, taught man that which he knew not.” (Quran, 96:1-5)
This first command from Allah began with the powerful word “Iqra” which means many things. In this context the most popular translations are “to read” and “to recite”. Perhaps what Allah’s word, the holy Quran, is saying is that we should read (or educate ourselves) in a way that we can internalize the information found in a book or absorbed from a scholar that is so powerful that we can recite it (or educate others) with perfection.
The command of “Iqra” is a center-pin for all of Islamic knowledge and many books about Islam and Muslims can express clearly that the Quran teaches us intensely to seek knowledge and educate. The instructions from Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphasized that education is extremely important to a Muslim. In fact, when aggressive tribes of Arabs would attack the first Muslims, the price for being set free was to teach a Muslim how to read. A famous Muslim Arab expression (incorrectly labeled as a Hadith) is “Seek Knowledge even if you must go to China.”
As Islam spread throughout the world and great scholars arose such as Ibn Kathir, Imam Muslim, Imam Bukhari; they continued this drive toward developing the intellect of the individual. This ushered in the Golden Age of Islamic Achievement as Muslims wrote books, developed and educated others on all the sciences. Muslims invented, discovered, applied and developed scientific concepts that are still a part of scientific infrastructure today. All of these achievements were because of the drive in Islam to learn more and to teach others.
Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “The more knowledge you have, the greater will be your fear of Allah. Without knowledge action is useless and knowledge without action is futile. Knowledge is the life of the mind. When a noble man learns knowledge he becomes humble, [whereas] when an ignoble person gains knowledge, he [becomes] conceited. When knowledge is limited – it leads to error.”
For many, this means that even though we must fill our mind with knowledge from Islamic books and secular knowledge, that we must balance that knowledge with humility. We must keep in heart the dedication toward Allah and not use the Islamic places as places of vain talk; but centers of cooperative learning. We should treat the Islamic bookstores as essential parts of every Muslim’s life rather than an exclusive club. Further, we must hold closely to the Noble Quran to balance our knowledge of the world with taqwa of Allah so that we may not become arrogant in knowledge. No matter how much we learn as a whole of humanity, our knowledge can never exceed the wisdom of the almighty and sublime Allah.
When reading the translation of the meaning of the Holy Quran in English by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, a Muslim should consider the words of prominent Muslim American author Reza Aslan as he described the Quran from a very literal perspective:
“As a text, the Quran is more than the foundation of the Islamic religion; it is the source of Arabic grammar. It is to Arabic what Homer is to Greek, what Chaucer is to English: a snapshot of an evolving language, frozen forever in time” ― Reza Aslan, No god but God: The Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam
Of course, a Muslim American will also want to spend his time with the Holy Quran by reflecting on how the principles of Justice, Equity and Liberty were a great influence to John Locke as he penned the natural rights of man for preservation of life, liberty, property and intellect. These principles outlined by Locke are not only found in the holy book of Islam, and in the maqasid (objectives of Islam) but also within the foundational documents of America as the Founding Fathers were students of Locke’s theories.
A Muslim American should absorb this information but not become arrogant from it. He or she should be empowered with the knowledge and humbled that Allah planned better than anyone to have the principles of Islamic thought woven into the foundation of America even though none of the founders were Muslim.
For Those Who are New Muslims or not Yet Muslim
Salaam Alaikum, this means “Peace be with you” and it is the most common way that Muslims greet one another. We greet you in this way to acknowledge the interest that you have in Islam. Muslims believe that all of creation is formed as “Muslim” meaning “in submission to the will of God” and that you, as a human created by God, were originally formed as a Muslim. We greet you in the honorable way that Allah has created you and in recognition of the perfection that you are meant to achieve.
One of the most common questions that our non-Muslim customers ask is: What is the name of the Muslim holy book of Islam? We can definitely understand the confusion since there is so much misinformation out there. So many people who talk about Islam but are not Muslim often refer to it as the Muslim Bible or the Muslim holy book. Even those who have heard the correct name will write it as Koran or even Coran because of the way the translations are passed around in Spanish speaking countries. The proper name is Qur’an and it is a title that literally means “The Recitation.”
This means that the Quran in printed form is merely a representation of the words of Allah and the REAL Quran is what is recited. As Muslims, especially running an online Islamic bookstore, we definitely understand this because the impact of the recited Arabic Quran can never match the English translation of the Quran for sheer emotional power. The beauty of its recitation is so great that many people have begun studying Islam or even converted upon hearing it. One can read hundreds of Islamic books and still not find an explanation for why the power of Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an, is so intense when recited.
The books of Hadith (teachings) of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) explain that when the Quran was first revealed, the angel Gabriel came to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and said the first word of the Quran “Iqra” which means “Recite” and shares the same root word that forms “Quran”. As Muslims, this tells us that the command to recite was to bring out what Allah was putting into him and to bring the Quran into existence.
We invite you to not only read one of the many Quran translations that we have available, but also to listen to the Quran being recited in the traditional Arabic. There are many beautiful recitations available on YouTube and in the future we will make some available here on the website.
We invite you to learn more about Islam and to contact us for some free Islamic books by mail.
Our animated and documentary styled DVDs are also a great way to learn about Islam from a perspective that does not require any prior knowledge. Unfortunately, many Muslim authors do assume that they are talking to an audience which is full of educated Muslims; so a few books may be confusing without base knowledge.
For those new to Islam, we suggest a copy of the English translation of the meaning of the holy Quran and a seerah (biography of the Prophet) like The Sealed Nectar. We also suggest books about how to pray salat properly and some good books about the basics of Islam such as What Islam is All About by Yahiya Emerick or Islam: Beliefs and Teachings by Ghulam Sarwar. Both of these give a comprehensive education about both the spiritual and physical aspects of Islam as well as steps for the rituals of prayer, fasting, charity and hajj. Sarwar’s book also provides easy transliteration of short surah of the Qur’an to make it easy to recite properly for new Muslims eager to get the reward for perfecting salat.
We invite anyone to come to our showroom to look through the books, read a few passages and make an informed buying decision. Come visit our bookstore in Charlotte, NC. Check out the “About Us” page to find our contact information.
Books For Kids
Muslim American online bookstore would not be complete if we forgot about our young Muslims! A passion for reading is started at a very early age and we would like to encourage all kids to read! We have brought together a variety of children’s books, games and DVD movies to help teach kids about Islam.
We have books for early readers that can help kids develop basic Muslim social skills and teach the foundations of Islamic life such as salat, fasting, charity and belief. We have books about the Prophets of Allah for kids so they will develop a good understanding of how to relate to Christians and Jews in American society since we share so many figures in society.
We also have books for later readers and families to share the storytelling experience together. Linda “Ilham” Barto’s book Where the Ghost Camel Grins is an excellent example. Stories with Islamic principles and morals are told in a fantasy setting with memorable characters and beautiful illustrations.
The children’s games are available to teach various Islamic skills and knowledge to our next generation.
The animated DVDs we offer are lovely stories of Islamic history that the whole family will love. Children will grow to love the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Salman the Persian and the great characters of the Sahaba the way most grow to love fictional cartoon characters.
Order today and start your children on the path to righteousness with Islamic knowledge through books and DVDs here at Muslim American’s online Islamic bookstore.