Ramadan Mubarak!

In Aotearoa New Zealand, Ramadan started Friday 19 June. What does this mean for our Muslim community? Ramadan is a time of spiritual reflection and worship during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar, in which participating Muslims refrain from eating and drinking during daylight hours. The dates of Ramadan vary, moving backwards by about eleven days each year depending on the moon.

Muslims believe Ramadan to be the month in which the first verses of the Qur’an were revealed to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. Ramadan is thought to establish a link between themselves and God through prayer, charity, good deeds, kindness and helping others. The elderly, the chronically ill, and the mentally ill are exempt from fasting, although the first two groups must endeavor to feed the poor in place of their missed fasting.

At the end of Ramadan, Eid-ul-Fitr celebrates the conclusion of the month of dawn-to-sunset fasting. Eid is an Arabic word meaning “festivity”, while Fitr means “breaking the fast”.

Since it is a festival of giving and sharing, Muslims prepare special foods and buy gifts for their family and friends and for giving to the poor and needy who cannot afford it; this can involve buying new clothes, shoes and other items of need.

Have you visited our Popular Topics pages on beliefs? On the page we have for Islam you will find a cross-section of what the library holds on this religion, some quick links into our online databases and the library’s catalogue, and links to websites on Islam selected by our subject librarians. The Dewey Decimal call number for Islam as a subject is 297.

Some books on Islam recently added to our collection are

Syndetics book coverThe handy Islam answer book / John Renard, Ph.D.
“In an age of continued Middle East volatility, religious extremists, and terrorist threats, the mere mention of Islam and Muslims too often provokes misunderstanding and even rancor. Often overlooked are the important links between the Qur’an and the Bible. Also ignored are the significant historical overlap between Islamic interpretation of history with those of Christianity and Judaism, including the monotheistic belief in a single God. Islam is too often confusing and even opaque to those unfamiliar with it. The Handy Islam Answer Book , is clearly and eloquently written by John Renard, Ph.D., a scholar of Islam with more than 40 years of research and teaching experience. He provides detailed descriptions of the history, beliefs, symbols, rituals, observations, customs, leaders, and organization of the world’s second largest religion. Renard explains the significance of the Five Pillars, Muhammad, various sects, the Qur’an, Islamic law, and much more. This engaging primer is a resource for reliable information about Islam and Muslims and it brings an understanding of the shared humanity that joins Muslims and non-Muslims far more deeply than cultural or religious differences separate them. Truly a must-have reference for our changing and trying times, this user-friendly guide answers nearly 800 questions and offers fun facts that cover Islamic history, religious practices, and Muslim cultural perspectives, including … * When did Islam begin? * Why is Mecca a holy city for Muslims? * Do Muslims worship Muhammad? * What was the fate of Medieval Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land? * What do Muslims mean by the term “Allah”? * What does the crescent moon and star symbol mean to Muslims? * What is the Muslim “call to prayer”? Is it similar to “church bells”? * Do Muslims believe that God “tests” people? * Does Muhammad play a role in Islamic spirituality in a manner similar to Jesus’ role in Christianity? * Is jihad a legal concept for Muslims? * Is it true that Muhammad both preached and engaged in military campaigns? * Do Muslims, Christians, and Jews worship the “same God”? * Why do Jews, Christians, and Muslims all claim parts of Israel/Palestine as “Holy Land”? * Why do some people, such as the Taliban, not want girls to get an education? * Does Islam require wearing face veils? * Does Islam have theologians like Augustine and Thomas Aquinas and the other great Christian thinkers? * Is there any similarity between Muslim and Christian art? Muslims are diverse, and they have a vast spectrum of views about Islam. The Handy Islam Answer Book aims for understanding, which is the first step to uniting, instead of dividing. This helpful books provides a historic timeline, a glossary of commonly used terms, a genealogy from Adam to Muhammad and beyond, a calendar of major observances, and a bibliography help further exploration of one of the world’s great religions.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMy way : a Muslim woman’s journey / Mona Siddiqui.
“Polarized debates about ‘Islam’ and ‘the West’ are now so ubiquitous that it is easy to forget how damaging they can be. The vast majority of Muslims do not wish to see Islam used as a divisive force within the largely secular societies in which they live. How then can Muslim stereotyping be challenged? Mona Siddiqui is one of the foremost Western authorities on the reconciliation of 21st-century life and Islamic custom. In this new and searching book, she applies a uniquely probing intelligence, as well as a female sensibility, to crucial issues of faith and identity (such as wearing the veil) within society at large. While speaking from within a particular tradition, she touches on matters of universal concern. Who are we? How do we cope with growing older? What kind of world will we leave to our children? Placing her rich personal journey in a wider context, the author is able to explore love and sex, multiculturalism and diversity, and ageing and death through the prism of her experience as both a Muslim and a modern woman. Her book shows why she is one of the most vital thinkers of our age.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverIznik : the artistry of Ottoman ceramics / Walter B. Denny.
“Covering both Iznik pi├Ęces de forme and the famous Iznik tiles that decorate Ottoman imperial monuments, Iznik integrates the entire spectrum of Iznik production, both tiles and wares, and the broader artistic tradition in which it originated. Walter B. Denny begins with a description of the particular nature of Islamic art under the Ottoman empire, as well as the methods of the craftsmen who worked under the imperial auspices. He then examines the links between the court style of Istanbul and the ceramic ateliers in Iznik itself, and the crucial role of the dominant styles of the golden age of Iznik ceramics and their most famous creators, Shah Kulu and Kara Memi. The book showcases the array of motifs floral, vegetal and figurative used on Iznik wares, looks at the relationship between non-Muslim communities and the Ottoman empire, and closes with an examination of the rich stylistic heritage that Iznik ceramics have given to Western art. Lavishly illustrated in full colour throughout, this is a panoramic overview of a spectacular and refined artform.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverArt of Islam [electronic resource] / Gaston Migeon.
“Islamic art is not the art of a nation or of a people, but that of a religion: Islam. Spreading from the Arabian Peninsula, the proselyte believers conquered, in a few centuries, a territory spreading from the Atlantic to the Indian Ocean. Multicultural and multi-ethnical, this polymorphic and highly spiritual art, in which all representation of Man and God were prohibited, developed canons and various motives of great decorative value. Thorough and inventive, these artists expressed their beliefs by creating monumental masterpieces such as the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the Taj Mahal in Agra and the Alhambra in Granada, architectural works in which one recognises the stylisation of motives of the Muslim ceramics. Lively and coloured, Islamic art mirrors the richness of these people whose common denominator was the belief in one singular truth: the absolute necessity of creating works whose beauty equaled their respect for God.” (Syndetics summary)

Worship, work and war : beliefs books

A new biography of the Devil, a nearly infallible history of the Christian church and disappearing religions of the Middle East all feature in this month’s recent arrivals, together with an insightful ‘pilgrimage’ to Mecca.

Syndetics book coverThe great and holy war : how World War I changed religion for ever, by Philip Jenkins.
With the 100th anniversary of World War One upon us, the time is ripe for a fresh look at how religion created and prolonged the First World War, and the lasting impact it had on world religions. The war was fought by the world’s leading Christian nations who conveyed messages in the language of holy war or apocalypse. Belief in angels and the supernatural was a driving force and paved the way for modern views of religion and violence. He argues that we cannot understand our 21st century context without understanding the impact of the First World War on religion.

Syndetics book coverWork & worship : religious diversity at workplaces in New Zealand, by Edwina Pio.
Many NZ work-places are coming to terms with greater inclusiveness in some areas but what about religious diversity? Dr Pio notes that religion sometimes gets left out of diversity policies in organisations. Focusing on five minority religions: Hindus, Indian Christians, Muslims, Sikhs and Zoroastrians, she offers insights to organisations with minority religions in their workforces, asking questions such as – do we have a policy on diversity? How is it defined? Does it include religion? Should policy extend to dress code and food?

Syndetics book coverHeirs to forgotten kingdoms : journeys into the disappearing religions of the Middle East, by Gerard Russell ; foreword by Rory Stewart.
The Middle East is home to many faiths, some which represent the last traces of civilizations of the past such as Persia or Babylon. Former diplomat Gerard Russell lived alongside the Mandaeans and Ezidis of Iraq, the Zoroastrians of Iran, the Copts of Egypt, and others which are threatened by extinction in the face of globalization or other phenomena. He includes the historical development of each discussed as well as contemporary characteristics.

Syndetics book coverWhat is veiling? by Sahar Amer.
“Ranging from simple head scarf to full-body burqa, the veil is worn by vast numbers of Muslim women around the world. What Is Veiling? explains one of the most visible, controversial, and least understood emblems of Islam. Sahar Amer’s evenhanded approach is anchored in sharp cultural insight and rich historical context. Addressing the significance of veiling in the religious, cultural, political, and social lives of Muslims, past and present, she examines the complex roles the practice has played in history, religion, conservative and progressive perspectives, politics and regionalism, society and economics, feminism, fashion, and art.” (Syndetics summary)

Syndetics book coverMecca : the sacred city, by Ziauddin Sardar.
Mecca is the birthplace of Muhammad, the direction towards which Muslims turn when they pray and the site of pilgrimage which draws about three million Muslims every year. The author traces its history, from its origins to its beginnings as a religious centre of a world empire. He includes stories of his own and others pilgrimages to peel back the layers and mystery to present a warmth and fascination with the place. This is a blend of history, narrative and memoir, and worth exploring irrespective of one’s faith.

Syndetics book coverThe sacred history : how angels, mystics and higher intelligence made our world, by Jonathan Black.
The Sacred History tells the story of angels, from Creation, to Evolution through to the supernatural in the modern world. It tells of how people and peoples have been helped by angels together with traditional stories of Krishna, Moses, Buddha, Elijah, Mary and Jesus, Mohammed, or Joan of Arc, plus explores stories from African, Native American and Celtic traditions. “This is the angelic version of events.” (Syndetics)

Syndetics book coverHappiness is a state of mind : how to create space for happiness in your life, by His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa with Kate Adams.
Can we really decide to be happy? We spend our lives searching for happiness – that one dream we think will finally make things better – the perfect home, job, family, relationship. His Holiness the Gyalwang Drukpa gives the tools to calm anxiety, let go of expectations and embrace life as it is.

Syndetics book coverThe devil : a new biography, by Philip C. Almond.
The devil has many names and guises across religions – from Lucifer, or Beelzebub, the Adversary to Shaitan. Philip C Almond explores the figure of the devil from the first centuries of the Christian era through the rise of classical demonology and witchcraft persecutions to the modern perspectives of Hell. The devil remains a rich subject in religion, art, or literature.

Syndetics book coverA nearly infallible history of Christianity, by Nick Page.
Another welcome addition from popular author Nick Page who manages to combine historical research with story-telling and a bit of savvy speculation. From Abelard to Zwingli, he guides the reader through the creeds, architecture, and church backgrounds in a thoroughly readable way. The church continues to survive across 2,000 years of heroes, villains, misfits, and internal strife.