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Book Review 9: English Novels : Anwar al Awlaki On-Line

Book Review 9: English Novels

August 6, 2008 - الأربعاء 04 شعبان 1429 by Anwar alAwlaki  
Filed under Book Reviews

There was a particularly mean Prison Head who decided to ban me from having any Islamic books. I then asked if I would be allowed to have English novels. He agreed. I have never been fond of novels. Most of my reading has been in Arabic. When I have read English, it has been Non-fiction, mostly related to current affairs. But, because any book that I ordered would have to be subjected to review by the prison administration, I was worried that if I ordered any current affairs books, that they would be banned. And that might lead to a temporary, or even permanent, ban preventing me from having any English books after that.

Before going to jail, I had received one book that I was eager to read: Michael Scheuer’s Imperial Hubris, but this would be too much for them to allow. I did read it after my release and I strongly recommend it.

So, I asked my family to bring me Moby Dick by Herman Melville. This book was given to me as a gift by a friend of my father in the US when I was a child. I was very young at the time and it would have made no sense for me to read such a book. This book had stayed on my shelf for over 20 years because it was written in destiny that I would read it in jail. Now, I cannot say that it was a good novel; but in jail, anything is good. Even local government newspapers, which I would never contemplate wasting my time with, made interesting reading.

Following Moby Dick, I asked for more books without specifying which ones, so my parents brought me whatever was lying around in the house. This time it was King Lear by Shakespeare and Hard Times by Charles Dickens. Shakespeare was the worst thing I read during my entire stay in prison. I never liked him to start with. Probably the only reason he became so famous is because he was English and had the backing and promotion of the speakers of a global language. On the other hand, I read Hard Times thrice. So, I ordered more Charles Dickens and read Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and his masterpiece: David Copperfield. I read this one twice.

What fascinated me with these novels were the amazing characters Dickens created and the similarity of some of them to some people today. That made them very interesting. For example: the thick and boastful Mr. Josiah Bounderby of Coketown was similar to George W. Bush; Lucy’s father, Mr. Gradgrind, was similar to some Muslim parents who are programmed to think that only Medicine and Engineering are worthy professions for their children; the amazing cruelness of Stephen Blackpool was similar to some people who appear on the surface to be decent and kind human beings; and Uriah Heep was similar to some pitiful Muslims today.

Another novel was Thomas Hardy’s The Mayor of Casterbridge, which was an interesting imagination of the twists of destiny and the tragic ending for the evil and the favorable ending for the righteous.

Now, I want to stress that I do not encourage any serious Muslim brother or sister to waste time with novels. If it wasn’t for the fact that I was prevented from anything else, I wouldn’t have read them. And, I read them because apparently a person can begin forgetting his language, even if it is his mother tongue, if he does not use it for long time. There is even a joke that a man emigrated from an Arab country to America and did not learn English and ended up forgetting Arabic. Being in solitary confinement and not speaking English for a long time I needed refreshment.

So, there is some benefit in reading novels for those in the fields of public speaking and writing. And, once in while, there is a novel that is worth reading because of a pointed message that it tries to convey; such as the message in Animal Farm about communism, and the relevance of 1984 regarding how the West is treating Muslims today. But, for he who has the choice, there are better alternatives. There is so much out there to read. One should not spend the valuable time Allah has blessed them with on anything except that which will draw one closer to Allah.

I also read the memoirs of David Attenborough Life on Air. Having followed most of his documentaries, I felt it might be interesting to read about the experience of this Natural Scientist. I was disappointed to find out that such a person, one who has first hand knowledge and experience with some of the most amazing signs of Allah, is a person who believes in evolution and shows no signs of believing in a creator.

A final note: I believe that it is a problem to hear Muslim speakers extensively referring to disbelievers in their books or speeches. In fact, this may represent a problem with wala and bara (love and hate for the sake of Allah). If the quoting is relevant and beneficial and does not involve taking them as role models, then that is fine, such as al Bukhari quoting Heraclius’s conversation with Abu Sufyaan on Rasulullah or, in use of the abstract sciences and skills such as Salman al Farisi borrowing the idea of trenches from Persia. But, I believe that Muslims taking disbelieving ‘gurus’ and leaders as their shuyukh in fields such as management, time management or even learning from their success stories, leads to more harm than benefit.
Didn’t Ibn Abbass say to those referring to the people of the book: “How can they guide you when they themselves are misguided?”

And this is what Allah says about the disbelievers, including the brightest minds such as Plato, Einstein, Newton, and George Washington:

“They will further say: “Had we but listened or used our intelligence, we should not (now) be among the Companions of the Blazing Fire!”” (al Mulk: 10)

All of these great minds would stand in front of Allah and the creation and declare that they had no understanding and no minds.

So how can we learn from them?

Next: Food Reviews From Behind Bars


49 Responses to “Book Review 9: English Novels”
  1. HassanNo Gravatar says:

    Bismillaahi wass-salaatu wass-salaamu’alaa Rasoolillaah.

    Wass-salaamu’alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

    I had long been confused about Muslims quoting kaafirs on matters of wisdom. Confused because I personally thought it wrong, but I saw other Muslims – those who are probably a lot more knowledgeable than me, and are in touch with ‘ulamaa – do it extensively. There are entire websites that spread “wisdom” by quoting kaafirs. What’s worse is that they mix up those quotes with ahaadeeth, which I always found absolutely disgusting. Having not been in touch with a ‘aalim, I could never clarify the matter. Jazaak-Allaahu khairun for your words Shaikh. They’ve really helped.

    Wass-salaamu’alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatuh.

  2. MuslimNo Gravatar says:

    I agree, that those that are dubbed as luminaries in western philiosophy should not be taken as leader by the ummah,and further it is harder to get to the core of their work due to certain values they hold dear (e.g. material wealth).

    But with regard to taking them as ‘aimah – what do you propose as an alternative do we have to look to, in say, time management or entreprenuerialsim for instance?

    Is it a bad idea to educate yourself using western books on these subjects?

  3. Usman AkhtarNo Gravatar says:

    I have to say I’m very confused, and have a hard time agreeing that we shouldn’t learn from non-Muslims. Allah SWT created man, distinguishing him from all other creatures with the presence of the mind. So who is to tell us to NOT use that mind. If we only learned things from Muslims then where would we be? Would this website be in English, would we ever have any Muslims outside of Arabia, would any of our technologies advance in anyway shape or form. The first English translation of the Quran was by a Christian monk!

    I do agree with the premise that we shouldn’t worship these people who have worldly knowledge, and we should establish the fact that there is NO other knowledge that is more beneficial than Islamic knowledge. However I don’t see anywhere in Islam that says we shouldn’t seek knowledge from other people in the world. Whether it is from Muslims or non-Muslims, any knowledge they have is only what has been given to them by the grace of Allah SWT. It is His knowledge, not theirs that we are learning from. He is the Originator.

    And some hadeeth will show this also:

    a) Uthman ibn Affan RA said to learn from those who came before you. How many of us in the West go to a school? I hope the answer is everybody!!! And as a percentage how many of our teachers are Muslim. So should we become an illiterate society, because our teachers are not Muslim?!

    b) In times of war, the kuffar who were captured, were set free after serving the ransom of teaching 10 Muslim children. This was something incredibly wise, and shows how important knowledge is to seek, whether from a Muslim, or from a kaffir, who will kill you the next time you see him.

    c) I know I’m paraphrasing these but I am not Dr. Zakir Naik! I believe that it was RasoolAllah SAWS who said to adopt the truth where you see it. So if these “disgusting kaafirs” have some truth that is parallel with Islam (that is to say, to be a better person, to treat others, and get along with others), then why shouldn’t we learn from it?

    We shouldn’t worship those time management, and self-help gurus, but we should respect that most of what they are talking about is absolutely right, and absolutely Islamic, and quite frankly much of those “disgusting kaafirs” have helped more people than the huge percentage of the Muslim leaders in the world today. I really don’t need to go on a rant about the palaces of the Arab Kings, or King Fahd’s 7million dollar loss in a card game, or the UAE opening a bank in the occupied territories with Israel, or the ridiculous things happening in Dubai with underwater hotels, indoor ski resorts, and “Dubailand”, while Muslims are dying of starvation elsewhere.

    People like Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Zig Ziglar, Anthony Robbins, individually have helped millions, dedicating their lives to help people reach their goals and defeat evil desires like, drug/alcohol addiction, gambling, etc.

    Frankly, I wonder why Muslims aren’t doing the same.

    Even the Nation Of Islam, as deviant as they may be, had the most successful, drug rehabilitation program in NYC in the beginning of their days. They would take a drug addict off the street take him to one of their restaurants, and help him get up to his feet, treat him well with good manners, like their own brother, and he would be clean. Before long the same brother would be helping another drug addict come off the street.

    I wish Muslims were doing these things, and writing these books, and being a recognizable force of mercy and justice on this earth, but we just aren’t. These “disgusting kaafirs” have taken our jobs, while we bicker and argue with each other.

    Just A Thought

  4. MuslimahNo Gravatar says:

    MashAllah sheikh another great review full of excellent lessons.
    I wanted to share this with you guys because its such a beautiful reminder and at the same time its really scary. May protet us and guide us all. Ameen.

  5. Naveed AhmedNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamu Alaikum
    The sheikh is so right subhanAllah. For a long time, i adulated on the kuffar corporate leaders and personalities, but when Allah guided me and i realised that they are enemies of Allah, i thought how can one praise or follow/ape them! The fundamental emotion should be w.r.t love of Allah and then you judge the person based on that.

  6. Naveed AhmedNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamu Alaikum
    To brother USMAN – A lot of the things that are passed away as inventions or discoveries by christians should in fact be attributed to the early Muslims. These christians learned everything from the early muslims and passed them off as their inventions – this includes first flight, columbus, watch, medical inventions etc. there is a good site called that i would recommend.

  7. Abu AhmedNo Gravatar says:

    Brother Usman

    When I read this particular book review, I knew that a post like yours would appear soon.

    Imam Anwar is not suggesting any prohibition in acquiring knowledge in the field of sciences i.e. IT, Chemistry etc. Muslims have acquired sciences throughout the history even from kuffar.

    But unfortunately some of us look up to the misguided kuffar on subjects like philosophy, linguistics, morality. These self help gurus for example in case of personal development, work with ideas which are man made and prone to be faulty and at times setting a direction which is in contrast to Islamic ideology. Contrary to this Islam is a deen which teaches us how to conduct ourselves from business to marriage, time management or work force management is all part it. Modern organizational behavior gives an insight through research which can be studied through the lens of Islamic Ideology. The idea is not to over bear ourselves with the teaching of the west. Why quote kuffar on subjects like honesty, hardwork, maritial life etc when the Seerah is full of divine rulings

    The worst I can recall was a Quranic Tafseer written by a pseudo modernist scholar explaining the verses with quotes from Greek and Kaafir philosophical scholars.

    Lastly, the concept that these kuffar helping Muslims is as absurd as the ancient concept of earth being flat. It is a nice PR tactic to bomb and maul a whole nation and then few goodies with red crosses painted on the chest walk in at our expense all filmed and dramatized on the media. Even if some these kuffar have done a selfless good deed it is too small against the barbaric crimes they have committed against the Ummah.

  8. HassanNo Gravatar says:

    Jazaak-Allaahu khairun brother Abu Alee for the link. Wass-salaamu’alaikum.

  9. MuhammadNo Gravatar says:

    I think you misunderstood the sheikh words. You can get knowledge from the kafir that benefits Islam.
    For example, you can get knowledge about science (if it does not conflict with islam) and use it to benefit muslim.
    But we don’t trust kafir knowledge about guidence as prophet says i leave behind two things Quran and sunnah, if you follow
    them you will never get astray. The most important thing that sheikh pointed out by not quoting and praising kafir is to
    have muslim identity, we need to preserve our identity.
    WE need to present examples of muslim doing good things. I am sure you will find lot of them if you look around.
    We need to give example of RassolAllah SAWs and sahaba in our everyday converstaion rather than quoting those kafir philosophers.
    We need to develop the love of muslims with eachother (not with kafir) and the way we can do it by saying good things
    about muslims. Becayse Kafir media is doing its utmost to present their way of life as the ideal one.

    p.s we are the best because we beleiev in the oneness of Allah and no action is better than saying ‘La illah ha il Allah’

  10. HassanNo Gravatar says:

    Bismillaahi wass-salaatu wass-salaamu’alaa Rasoolillaah.

    Here’s a note to Usman Akhtar:

    The only person who appears to be “bickering and arguing” here is you – nothing personal. And it is not understandable who or what you were quoting when you put the words “disgusting kaafirs” in quotes.

    “If we only learned things from Muslims then where would we be? Would this website be in English, would we ever have any Muslims outside of Arabia, would any of our technologies advance in anyway shape or form.”

    There have always been 24 hours in a day – during the time of Rasoolullaah Sallallaahu Ta’aala ‘alaihi wa Sallam, during the time of the ushaab, and afterwards. The more time one takes away for “technological advances”, the lesser time one has for ‘ibaadah and learning about Islaam. We weren’t sent to achieve technological advances, but to worship Allaah ‘Azza wa Jall. The ushaab didn’t need computers and ipods to learn the Qur`aan, nor the scholars who came afterwards, who wrote dozens of books within the span of a few years. Shaikh didn’t say that we must never learn from kaafirs nor that we must never quote them – which I believe is easy to see for anyone who has actually cared to read the article – but rather that we oughtn’t quote them extensively. And for needing to learn from non-Muslims to have Muslims outside of Arabia, you certainly have not an iota of knowledge about Islamic history.

    “I really don’t need to go on a rant about the palaces of the Arab Kings…”

    Didn’t you just do that?

    Wass-salaatu wass-salaamu’alaa Rasoolillaah. Walhumdulillaah.

  11. IbraheimNo Gravatar says:

    Brother Anwar,

    I agree with you all the way on why we should not waste our time with Kafirs teachings or writings. Here in the west we are forced to believe that people like Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are great people because they adopt poor children from all over the world and spoil them with there wealth even though they do not even have a grain of faith in their hearts. We are forced to believe that sports people like Alex Rodriguez is a role model for our kids even though he gets drunk and commits zina daily. We are forced to believe our leaders are generous and caring even though they are liars and thieves. We are even told that we have the greatest government (democracy) even though we are constantly embarrasing ourselves globally and have trillions of dollars in debt!

    Brother Usman,
    I understand your point of view but do not agree. Prophet Muhammed has said that whoever imitates a people is one of them so we should not imitate anyone except the good examples we have in our religion. As far as the education system goes here in the west I can testify that it is all about money and not much about education. On top of that there is nothing but sin awaiting a young man/women who goes to ANY school here in the west. In grade school they teach the kids about folk heroes and teach the kids to dance and teach the kids to play musical instruments and teach the kids to be outgoing and NEVER shy about anything. In Jr. High they teach the kids about sex and then about how the world came to be with no Lord (big bang theory), then in High School kids learn to smoke weed, get drunk, commit zina and lie, cheat and steal. Then in college it is a continuation of high school but only much worse. Even if a good muslim attends school in the west he will be surrounded by fitnah night and day and sooner or later he may slip up (may Allah keep us on the straight path). Furthermore Muahmmed has told this ummah to do business with the Kafir but NEVER to trust them. Allah chooses whoever he wills when it comes to teaching him things that we did not learn before. If that person takes credit for it on his own and disbelieves in Allah then a great and painful torment awaits him. In other words brother just because they have better technology does not make them better than us. How many times has Allah granted victory to a lesser people only because they had faith and feared there Lord?

    In the end all the muslims need to do is look into our history for role models. Abu Bakr, Umar, Hamzah, Khalid Ibn Walied etc etc etc. All of these men are worthy of being role models. But the biggest role model we have is the one who taught all of they above…Muhammed (peace be upon him). May Allah protect us all.

    Salam Alaykum,

  12. abu nabilNo Gravatar says:

    asalamu alaikum ya sheikh

    asalamu alaikum brohers and sisters

    to usman akhtar

    “I really don’t need to go on a rant about the palaces of the Arab Kings…”

    do you still consider them as muslims?

    these are the exact type of individuals that we need to refrain qouting from them, or taking them as role model

    by the way why you did you not mention people such as Ibn Rushd,Ibn Khaldūn etc….

  13. amaalNo Gravatar says:

    aslamu aleykum wrwb
    to brother usman, i think what you need to do is open your eyes look the world & see if is the “kufaar” helping the muslim ummah or destroying muslims they trying to eliminate us from our existence.if you live in the west, see what they teach our children,there was a debate the city i live last year, whether they should teach second grade about gay lesbian. that is just minor,please excuse my language. so brother don’t tell us if they helping they sure didn’t help you and 1 more thing read the islamic history you will see “kufaar” stole every idea from us the ummah, including the scienc.guess who teach them how to brush they teeth yeah (ISLAM)plus the knowledge you learned from the “disgusting kufaars” are not going to benefit you
    from the sakaratul mowd,the punishment grave, & day of resurrection. may allah swt guide all of us to the straight path allhuma ameen

  14. Jihad_4lifeNo Gravatar says:

    Asalam Alaikum

    Brother Anwar Awlaki I hope you don’t
    Mind helping me write my essays about King Lear in my english class this year.

  15. Usman AkhtarNo Gravatar says:

    I should’ve clarified that his argument wasn’t against Imam Anwar Awlaki, in any way shape or form, or any person who had commented before me, but rather at the extreme attitude that can be found sometimes by ignorant Muslims that you shouldn’t learn from a kaffir. That disgusting kaffir thing isn’t directed at anybody here, but at that generally backwards attitude. I just wanted to bring it up, because the attitude is present. When i said I was very confused, i meant it with me in my general life, with the people around me with this problem.

    What I really wanted to point out is that Muslims have become the students at the back of the class in this age. Sure islam is way more important to pursue as a science, but we should also be ahead in all of the worldly sciences too, especially with all of the scientific knowledge giving hints to us in hadeeth and quran. Why don’t we have more Nobel prizes, if the sciences that the kuffar have gotten nobel prizes for was based on the foundation we laid for them? Why are we in such a state now, when we were so ahead before? Evolution is an issue, why don’t we have muslim scientists, (not harun yahya, real scientists) refuting the issue. If there are some I don’t know about then please link them for me!

    If you read carefully you won’t see anything in my comments that is against any of what Imam Anwar Awlaki said. Didn’t I say that all of this knowledge is completely secondary to the Islamic sciences? However if it is beneficial we should use it, and in fact we should be the ones teaching it. And didn’t I say that we shouldn’t worship those self-help gurus? How did I in anyway compromise what he said, I was merely proving his point by showing how behind we have gotten in both of those sciences. And YES!!! I will argue that Muslims have made the foundation for sciences in the whole world of the modern age!!! We discovered heart circulation 300years earlier than Harvey. The churches of the renaissance were based on our knowledge of our architecture. Even after the devils Ferdinand and Isabella persecuted the Muslims in Andalusia, they buried themselves in graves within Alhambra. The building of the Muslims was so beautiful that they wanted to be buried inside it, despite it being the icon of Muslim superiority in power. They may have conquered us by war, but we conquered to an extent their way of life. I don’t need to go to the military technology of Salahuddin Ayoubi RA, do i? And afterwards Colombus came on a Muslim ship, with a Muslim astrolabe, and “discovered” America.

    All I am saying is where have we gone now? I did make a rant about the crazy expenditure of Muslims, but isn’t it true? All I did was do my best to give a wake-up call, what are we doing? Anthony Robbins has this thing every Thanksgiving where he gives 3 million people a free thanksgiving dinner. That’s a single man, who is making that choice without knowing islam. But then in the muslim world, we are too busy making indoor ski resorts. Do you see the problem I see?

    BTW I am really looking forward to the Prison Food Review – I’m wither going to laugh like crazy or throw up!!!!

  16. Usman AkhtarNo Gravatar says:

    I also wanted to say that there are Muslims out there doing amazing things from free medical clinics, to overall islamic relief, but we need to be more active, and we need to have higher numbers!! It needs to be systemized throughout all of the masajid and islamic community centers, then we can recruit people like an army, and help others across the world, solving their problems, and winning them naturally to the way of Islam. That’s how islam was one in the big scale in Andalusia.

  17. Usman AkhtarNo Gravatar says:

    @brother naveed thanks for the link, i tried to click on the link you sent me but i think you mispelled it, alhamdulillah i got on the site, it’s really good mashallah – thanks for the heads up, ill put it on an islamic toolbar i authored you can check it out here

    BTW everybody here should check out this link:

  18. Kashif AminNo Gravatar says:

    JazakAllah to the Imam for another thought-provoking article. I think all the comments here have contributed valid points to this discussion. My own position on this issue is actually summed up neatly in the Imam’s article itself. I would also like to add though that whilst seeking knowledge of dunya and sciences is justified (especially if it is for the assistance of Islam and the Ummah), the only ‘true’ knowledge is LaaIllaha IllAllah.

  19. JameelNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatulahi wa barakatuhu

    Dear Ummah,

    I think seeking Islamic knowledge is of paramount importance followed the duniya. And as long as the duniya knowledge does not contradict with Islam it’s all good insha’Allah.

    May Allah Azza Wa Jall cleanse our hearts of all hatred, envy and jealousy Ameen!

    With Duas

  20. mukhtaarNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamou alaykoum, may Allah reward you shaikh anwar for that review because i face people like brother Usman Ahkthar who tend to measure things from techonlogical progress view. They tend to explain most of the problems of the ummah with technology and science. Being a software developper i dont see how java language or the .net framework could resolve any problem in our society. Not because programming is useless because it is with the help of Allah and then programming that we are viewing this webpage but what i am saying is that as muslims we should realize that any problem that we face is because Allah is testing and therefore the only way to succeed is not in winning nobel prizes but going back to the commands of Allah. And i dont recall competing with the kuffar in technology and science is part of the commands of Allah.
    History shows that bright scientists gathered around books in cordoba couldnt save andalusia from king ferdinand and it was the same with baghdad at the tartar invasion. Why didnt the sahabah say to the persian or the latins when they invaded their land “allright lets compete now in technology”?
    With regards to charity and relief organizations and individuals, Brother i kinda believe ur knowledge is limited about their real purposes. Maybe its because u live in the west and u follow their work from cnn or bbc but let me tell you brother that i will rather see all african muslims die because of hunger and famine than to submit to them. And me being african in africa, i surely know what i am talking about. They bring us some trucks full of rice and sugar and with them two-sided offer, christianity first and if u dont like it then at least full submission to democracy and full submission therefore to the governemnts placed by them over us. And i am not even talking about how much they convinced ignorant muslims into accepting christianity in return for an european passport or believing that the way of the white kaafir is the ideal way (democracy or communism before) and how many times they injected people with HIV or other substances which made our women sterile and the fact that they are forcing upon us contraceptive methods and shunning of polygamy and all that for our socalled benefit.
    Brother hunger is preferred to us than leaving our religion for the sake of rice.
    And for the fact that they are called “disgusting kuffar” thats because of their disbelief in Allah not because we tasted them we aint cannibals around here. And Allah said that they are impure in the Qur’an.
    Wassalamu alaykum.

  21. AbuRakeemNo Gravatar says:

    Asalamu alaikum sheikh. Wow.. u had quite a selection of books. Initially I had Quran (Alhamdulillah.. as it was last ten night of Ramadan!! Was like itikaaf, Alahdmulillah) Then after I got upgraded to the suite model, my family managed to get The Sealed Nectar (definitly reccomended to everyone), and after that, the condensed Sahih Bukhari.. What a treat! We also had Riyadh ul Salaheen in arabic, which we went thru.. and after I got Fortification of a Muslim.. Im so looking forward to your food reviews!! YUMMMY!!! ;-) Don’t forget about the Eid treats.

  22. sinfuloneNo Gravatar says:

    i think what Anwar Awlaki meant is not to take kaafir’s ilm as aprimary source. we can take what doesn’tcontradict Islam , leave the rest. the problem is majority even doesn’t know what contradicts Islam. this is in a science issues. but what concernes spirituality we don’t need anything from them.

  23. Janna JNo Gravatar says:

    As salamu alaikum~
    Shiekh Al Awlaki, please continue with this website, I so enjoy reading what you have to say. I feel like you are around the corner at the masjid, not thousands of miles away. May Allah reward you greatly in this life and the next.

  24. Al-AnsarriyahNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamu Alikum Warahmatullahi, Wabarakatu,

    JazakaAllah khair for all the blogs. I found this one a bit funny, at the same time raising great points.

    p.s we miss you at Dar -ul hijrah, we’ll never have a great Imam such as yourself.

  25. Abu AbdullahNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamu alaikum shaykh,

    JazakAllahu khayran for this. What you said is true. I’m currently doing my MBA and in most of my classes you hear the professors sing praises of Bill Gates of Microsoft and Steve Jobs of Apple. I recently saw a movie titled “Pirates of the Silicon Valley”, which is based on the lives of both Jobs and Gates. I was disgusted to find out about their lives and the kind of people they were and turned the movie off mid way. You’re right that just because they are “sucessful” in the duniya or are “management gurus” doesn’t mean that they should be taken as role models or we should emulate them in all aspects of life. SubhanAllah I remembered a statement of yours from one of your tapes that when you learn about the lives of the shahaba, you get more and more impressed by their actions and love them even more whereas when you learn more about the lives of these non muslims, you feel disgusted by their personalities.

  26. Nasra MohamedNo Gravatar says:

    Assalam Aleikum,

    Have you completed your talks for sayyidna uthman & Ali,I cannot find these in the stores here in the UAE???
    If u have how can we purchase the same.
    U Jazaka Allah kheiran

  27. Nacho LibreNo Gravatar says:


    i notice that beloved shaykh anwar read a number of those book multiple times (and they are very big books). i suspect it is for more than just re-learning english.

    king lear, by the way, is the story of a pagan king who is already somewhat crazed because of his immense power, but loses the remains of his sanity because he couldn’t get the love of his daughters.

    and Allah knows best.

  28. Kashif AminNo Gravatar says:

    Asalaamu Alaykum,
    It was mentioned above somewhere about the good deeds of non-believers. Now, I am not an Alim nor am I qualified to make Tafsir of Qur’an, but I think the answer to this issue lies in Surat Muhammed Ayat 1-4. The commentry on these ayat state that the non-believers will be rewarded for their good deeds in the Dunya, but not in Al Alkhirah. AllahuAlim.

  29. HaniffNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamu alaikum,

    Alhamdulillah, Jazak Allahu khairan shaikh Anwar. my family and i really enjoy learning from your lectures.

    i think that some people that left some comments didn’t read your article properly and it’s kinda funny that the article is talking about reading. i agree to the fact that we shouldn’t wasting our time with nonsense reading.

    for those people who said the shaikh was implying that we should not take knowledge from any nonmuslims, i really think you should re-read the article because he does recomend a book by a non muslim in the begining of his article.

    shaikh anwar said we shouldn’t waste our time with nonsense like novels and things that will not benefit us. ALLAH (SWT) said that the kufar on the day of judgement will say if they had only used their brains they wouldn’t be in the fire.

    honestly, have you guys ever really pondered on some of these novels, philosophy books. these people are clearly misguided. it’s like they can’t even see two feet in front of themselves. i think under all the sophisticated argument they use a five year old child could have a better argument.

    muslim people claim they are coming to the west to benefit the muslims but they stay in the west and work for the kufar systems, you know why, because they get paid. plain and simple. who wants to go back to their country and live in a shack after getting the “honor” of the phd.

    really when you think about it. the knowledge the kufar has today is from the muslims. they talk about the greeks and this and that. really it was the muslims who laid the foundations for the achievement that we see today in the world. the non muslims took the knowledge and corrupted it. look at the science of medicine in america. we are supposed to be the leaders in that. the american people are blessed by that!, oops, i meant the ones that have the money to pay for it.

    we don’t need to go to them because in every field you can think about today the muslims are among the leaders in them and that is a fact. like i said before we say we are doing it to benefit the muslims but that’s not true.

    islamic education is looked down upon as a lesser kind of education, not as important. like who really needs it. you know it’s really just for the masjid. we can become just like the christians and jews who look upon their religion as a burden. it’s holding them back for enjoying democracy.

    we should take only the knowledge that will benefit us, such as medicine, agriculture etc.. we don’t need to make these people our shayukh.

    well this is just the taughts that were running throught my head.

    wassalamu alaikum.

  30. abdullahNo Gravatar says:

    Asalamu alaikum

    sometimes this so call self-help books who promote enterpaunership are nothing more than satanic kabalist ideology wraped in self-help, they teach such things as law of attraction, meditation as if somehow you making contact with Jinns. these are evil and the take the will of Allah out of the way and make it seem as if we control our destiny and will. other than that normal business management books, organization building books are okey.

    these authors are as ausman akhtar mention Dale Carnegie, Norman Vincent Peale, Zig Ziglar, Anthony Robbins,
    and brother you got it wrong, they help not millions nobody except themselves. if anything they create people are attached to matarial world and never reach there goals, so they are even more depresed because they tray so hard to make their own will.
    abulraheem green on his coca cola muslim video kinda talks about these people.

    wa salaam
    jaza’akAllah khair ya sheikh anwar for sharing this intersting topic.

  31. MuradNo Gravatar says:

    bareek allah feeik sheikh

    It’s true how weird when you’re locked up you compare things with the kuffar, also how any thing is interesting to read, sheesh I found my self reading labels of things. Subhanallah how we take time for granted and even the simplest things as having privacy.

  32. MaryamNo Gravatar says:

    Salam aleikum my brothers and sisters,

    Just in regards to the comments posted on acquiring knowledge and wisdom from the kuffar.

    Rasoul (saws) stated that “Wisdom belongs to the Muslim.”

    As knowledge is a stem of wisdom, and it belongs to the Muslim, then if a kuffar states a thing that may appear as wise, that comment would first belong to the Muslim.

    And Allah knows best

  33. Green ChildNo Gravatar says:

    I have read some of these self-help books, and to call them satanic, is a little extreme in my opinion. To me they just use diff terminology than us. What they call goals, we call intentions. They say you should have faith in God – we say you should have faith in allah. Tony Robbins talks about a pain and pleasure principle where you should attribute pain to all of the bad habits you have, and pleasure to all of the good habits you want to make. Allah SWT has made this for us, in his blessed book. He manifest jannah for the good, and jahanam for those who are bad.

    Reading one book, doesn’t mean you have read them all. Yes our role models should be the sahaba and Rasool Allah Sallallahu Alayhi wassalam, but that’s not to say that all of these people are complete devils. even tony robbins in his books acknowledges and thanks his “creator” – he’s already half way there, all we have to do is get him to commit to Rasoolallah Sallallhu Alayhi wassalam, and there we go inshallah

  34. JaleelNo Gravatar says:

    Sheikh – there are many ‘i am ever so ‘umble’ Uriah Heeps in this ummah. One of the most apt examples I have heard for a long time!!!

  35. Naveed AhmedNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamu Alaikum All
    And do you know why Muslims are not contributing to worldly knowledge these days – because they have left the deen of Allah and His messenger sal Allahu alaihi wassalam. When we have muslims committing shirk, bidaah and not following the prophet sal Allahu alaihi wassalam, how can you expect Allah to bless them and reward them and help them in their endaevours?!! The sahabah and tabayen fared so well because they clung on to the deen in its pristine form.
    Brothers and sisters, unless and until we return to Islam in its totality we will continue to be humiliated by the enemies of Allah.
    The water has reached upto the head!!

  36. AbdullahNo Gravatar says:

    السلام عليكم

    May Allah Bless you Shiekh Anwar and reward you for your efforts,i ask you for more lectures Shiekh we are in need of weekley uptades Sheikh,i mean if we look at the media we see weekly shows of songs etc so why cant it be the opposite !!

    and to everyone who commented on this site including me and the visitors who are reading the comments and who came across this comment please please spread this site to all the people you know and take part in propogating Islam…May Allah Bless you.

  37. thinkerNo Gravatar says:

    i was thoroughly enjoying reading about your experience in prison..sadly you have stopped writing about it? i think it would be a good idea of you could send more about your experience, JA

  38. J. Y.No Gravatar says:


    I enjoyed and benefitted from all the reviews. I had sent an e-mail from this site asking about the source of the quote of Ibn ‘Abbaas [ra] in the above review of English novels. In case it did not reach you, please reply after reading this comment. Jazaak-Allaahu-khairan.

  39. Tara DNo Gravatar says:

    Salaam Aleykum,
    If you, or any others who have posted comments here are interested, I highly recommend Thoreau’s “Walden”, it is plain to see that he is one of those people who knows his society is corrupt and finds the truth in the natural world and in following his own heart and conscience.
    I also recommend “Les Miserables” by Victor Hugo- one of the most heart-wrenching novels of human existance and the path of a good man in the midst of deep and constant evil.

  40. Tara DNo Gravatar says:

    just for a wonderful taste of Thoreau, he wrote:
    “There is never an instant’s truce between virtue and vice… The laws of the universe are not indifferent, but are forever on the side of the most sensitive… We are conscious of an animal in us, which awakens in proportion as our higher nature slumbers… If I knew so wise a man as could teach me purity I would go seek him forthwith… The generative energy which, when we are loose, dissipates and makes us unclean, when we are continent invigorates and inspires us. Chastity is the flowering of man; and what are called Genius, Heroism, Holiness and the like, are but various fruits which succeed it. Man flows at once to God when the channel of purity is open. ”

  41. سليمانNo Gravatar says:

    السلام عليكم ورحمه الله وبركاته
    سبحان الله وبحمده
    سبحان الله العظيم
    لاحول ولاقوة الا لابالله
    آمنت بالله وتوكلت عليه
    اللهم صلي على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه أجمعين

    ماأجمل أن ينطق لسانك بالعربيه وماأجمل الكتابة والقراءه بالعربيه

  42. rinaNo Gravatar says:

    mashallah good read and reminder.jzk

  43. DCSeeker71No Gravatar says:

    In most respects I would agree that novels are a waste of time. In fact they are almost like movies. To be sure however, some novelists have a gift Allah bestowed upon them in which they can create characters of such depth they do begin to resemble real people. Historically this has been important as in the case of those who have written quasi-historical accounts of history; such as Russian writers commenting on the gulags of the communist state. They can help you better understand history and indeed they document history? How important is this? It depends. If you are interested in introducing ideas (Islam) to a culture it helps to know where they have been. Just my opinion, of course Allah knows best.

  44. soweNo Gravatar says:

    There are Muslims who do a very good job in the field of time managment. Br. salman ahmar is one of them. And what he teaches is geared towards Islam but in a very indirect way. please check out, but you probably won’t get the idea until you take the course.

  45. Zainul AbideenNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamu Alaikum,May Alklah bless you dear Sheikh for educating us & leading us to the truth,Does anyone have a list of scholars,web sites etc. whom we should refraim taking our deen from(hypocrates…Jazza-kallah-May Allah protect us all.

  46. Saeed OsmanNo Gravatar says:

    When I began to wake up to the Truth of Islam and the Omnipotence of Allah, it came natural to me to doubt the scholarship of most kufaar. I am a Western-trained lawyer (used to be; I wish I had studied fiqh…). Allah Grants what He Wills to a people, however, the area of health is particularly important here. Most Muslims who are locked into certain medications have little knowledge about the underlying composition of WHAT THEY THROW DOWN THEIR THROATS! When you read ar-Rasool’s dua’a (SAWS) about His Being as-Shaafi’, and the Aya where Sayyidna Ibrahim asserts that when he is ill, Allah Cures him… when you consider the “generality” of the honey Verse in an-Nahl (no specific illnesses listed), and that Allah Gave Mariam dates to ease her pain, and His Curing the pain of Sayyidna Ayub with a cold drink and wash/rinse, and the many, many aspects of Islamic medicine based in sound Islamic thought and principles (the Primary one being we ask none but Allah), we are demonstrating a dangerous tendancy to easily violate the Verses of Allah about not trusting Kufaar and taking the as awliyah. My comment is based in the fact that Allah cured my diabetic symptoms when I began to make dhikr in earnest, think back on my vain life and make ‘istihfaar, and then return to salaat in earnest. I left my medicines permanently and got physically stronger as a reward. Wa Allah al-’Aleem. The Western scholarship on diabetes makes a static assumption, as does most Western medicine, about what the human body aught be doing at a particular time in a person’s life. All Western medicine holds the many, many variables at the Command of Allah frozen so that a particular variable (here, blood sugar) can be studied.
    An analogy: take your TV to be fixed. It is a Sony. Question the tech about the references he uses and then see how comfortable you are with leaving that mere object in the hands of a person who feels he can do without the “guidance” (manuals) of Sony Corp… Modern science feels they can do without the Guidance of Allah (Qur’an, Sunnah, dhikr, and prayer). To me, it is a matter of loyalty and Islamic common sense. May Allah Heal all Muslims and make us thoughtful and thankful for His Healing.

  47. SaifaNo Gravatar says:

    Assalamu 3alaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.

    Jazakallah khair, sheikh Awlaki, for sharing this with us!

    “Now, I want to stress that I do not encourage any serious Muslim brother or sister to waste time with novels… But, for he who has the choice, there are better alternatives. There is so much out there to read. One should not spend the valuable time Allah has blessed them with on anything except that which will draw one closer to Allah.”

    I agree completely. We need to stop reading novels of the kuffar, and watching noneducational TV shows that have no benefit for us. One should spend their time reading books on the Sahaba, and fiqh, etc. And listen/watch Islamic/Educational things.

  48. rumaythaNo Gravatar says:

    *Now, I want to stress that I do not encourage any serious Muslim brother or sister to waste time with novels… But, for he who has the choice, there are better alternatives. There is so much out there to read. One should not spend the valuable time Allah has blessed them with on anything except that which will draw one closer to Allah*
    what about reading books written by *the thousand splendid suns* by Khaled Hosseini or the kite runer by the same author?
    it aint a sin right??
    cuz m fighting w. dad dat i wanna read..but after reading this post my dad doesnt permit me read nothing!!
    salam alaikum

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