Reviewed by Theresa Corbin
“Being Muslim: A Practical Guide is a new book written to help people learn how to live and practice the faith of Islam-to learn what Muslims believe, how to pray and fast, and how to perform the Islamic devotions appropriately.”
This is a book I really could have used in 2001 when I took my first shaky steps into Islam. As the author, Asad Tarsin, writes, when he was approached by a convert and asked for resources, he realized there really wasn’t much out there for the new adult Muslim.
Back in my day, all that was available for the convert were children’s books and very hard to read books written by people who were painfully un-familiar with the English language but giving it their best intentions. I learned how to pray from the people around me and I stumbled through learning in those first few years, and took cultural practices as Islam itself. I had to relearn a lot.
But today the Muslim converts learning the rites, rights, and rituals of Islam have a new book to look to for guidance. Being Muslim is a phenomenal and easy to follow guide to living Islam, written with the new Muslim in mind.
As I read Being Muslim, I was touched by the eloquent way Tarsin describes iman (faith). I was moved by the effort to make things easy on the new Muslim. I was excited to see an author who really cares about the psychological and spiritual well being of the new Muslim, instead of the same old wanting to impress a culture upon them. Being Muslim is a breath of fresh air in the sparse cannon of guides to practicing Islam.
The book’s guide to the five pillars of worship is in-depth but not overwrought with indecipherable, technical jargon. And what potentially unfamiliar (Arabic) terms are used, they are thoroughly explained in the text and in the back of the book. The author does not patronize the reader, as is the case with some books that attempt to teach the new Muslim.
Being Muslim discuses the new Muslim’s relationship with God, his or her spiritual refinement, and the manners for which a Muslim should strive. The chapter that discuss these aspect of Islamic lifestyle are the brightest points of the book. These are topics that so many other books, videos, pamphlets, lectures leave out, and, to me, are the most important part of the new Muslims’ journey and education.
This book has a little bit of everything the new Muslim needs to know, including a brief overview of the Prophet Muhammad’s (PBUH) life, how the Quran was revealed, how the Quran can and should be a part of the new Muslim’s life and more.
I recommend, as the author does, that this book be read by the new Muslim and referenced regularly. If you are new to Islam, do not expect to simply read this book and have it down. Because of the wealth and depth of information, it is a book that must be returned to time and again to better understand the path it lays out and to internalize the wisdom it offers.
As someone who has been studying Islam in depth since 1999 and who converted in 2001, I thought I would not gain much from reading a guide for new Muslims. But I found myself reaffirmed in my faith and relearning things I had long forgotten. I recommend even the been-in-Islam-for-awhile Muslim purchase this book. Being Muslim would even be a good read for the person born into a Muslim family who is trying to become more religious and a better practising Muslim.
Anyone who wants to better understand Islam would do well to purchase this book. So get over to beingmuslim.org and purchase a copy today. It is well worth it!! Being Muslim: A Practical Guide by Asad Tarsin. <– just click there!
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