Wednesday, November 2, 2016

27 Life Changing Books

I have written a lot about a friend, late Dr Farhan Mujib, on this blog. Once, while browsing books in a section of the Maulana Azad Library of the Aligarh Muslim University, he said that Maripat don't you think that one I shall get a book that will change my life. He had spoken the truth. I was always looking for such a book. I did not know that the same was the case with him.

Only much later I realized that the most relevant book in that category is the Noble Qur'an. I also did not know that any other book will be far behind of the divine revelation. These two points must be kept in mind before exploring the type of lists that this blog post is about.

Such lists are not entirely useless. These do serve a purpose but your grounding in Islam must be strong enough before you can take optimum advantage of such offerings.

For the moment I offer my views of the books in the linked list - 27 books that can change your life for ever.

 'The Road' by Cormac McCarthy

 This book at the moment has 4223 customer reviews on Amazon. That says a lot about a book. It is a Pulitzer Prize winning book that also was classified as a notable book by the New York Times. It is about how a father an son duo face life in war ravaged America when the civilization is destroyed and lawless bands prowl.

America is just five centuries old for us and it has gathered in that small duration of time enormous amount of experience that it aspires to dominate the human social psyche. Hence every experience from there is supposed to be ultimate and the last word in that walk of life about which they choose to talk. Muslim experience never comes to their radar, same for Indian experience or Asian experience. Even European experience is a second grade loser. They certainly assert universality for their experience combined with superiority. their universality is tempered by the fact that they borrowed orientalist mindset about the Muslim world from Europe. Their superiority is their own biased construct.

Moreover the US is superpower in an advance state of decline. Keeping that in mind we can always have a look at their experience. They had no right to dominate the world for half a century but the fact remains that they did. Even today we do not have a substitute for what they have been. For a 2006 book the present novel is hugely successful. On my part I do not wish to change my life for ever on the basis of a depressing narrative of devastation even if it full of love's dedication and the narrative is lyrical.

The Tao of Pooh by Benjamin Hoff

This one has more than five hundred Amazon reviews. Not bad at all. Tao of Something can be taken as a synonymous of Secrets of Something. It is about Chinese wisdom. As seen by the west. You see the west is so magnanimous. They are ready to take wisdom even if it lies with Asia, including China. Of course Islam is a big no.

So what is the wisdom here?

Well there are calculating people amongst us. Like the Rabbit.
Then there are Piglets amongst us who hesitate. You see what a disarming and charming way to call you a pig.
Then there Eeyores who fret.
Owls amongst us pontificate.

But the day is saved by Winnie-the-Pooh who just is.

So just be.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy 

In War and Peace Leo Tolstoy destroyed the historical process for us.

Whatever you do historically it becomes irrelevant very soon.

In Anna Karenina he makes an argument for being moral and better person. 

We know Immanuel Kant told us that morality is good in itself.

But this does not take us much farther. Purposeless morality is blind. You need Islam to give direction to your life.

Nonchalant About World

Are you nonchalant about the worldly blessings?

To some extant I am. But it is very difficult to be that.
Mostly people are not.

What is the ideal or the optimal or the practical or the pragmatic level of nonchalance? My personal impression is that tis can be decided experimentally.
Make effort for worldly blessings and then see how much He gives you.

Theologically we know the answer. Apart from a place to live, clothes to wear and a dry bread to eat a believer has no rights. That, of course, is scary. It is more so because we simply do not pay due attention to demands that Islam makes on our attitudes. I, for one, feel ever so lonely in these matters.