A few of my 2017 readings

I have been a little busy over the past few months to maintain this blog unfortunately. I hope that I will be able to be more consistent in the year ahead.

I have read a large number of books over the past year, so let me share a couple of lines about 12 of them, one for every month, in no particular order.

Continue reading


Laughter and playfulness in Islam

The Place of Joy, Happiness, Laughter, Recreation and Relaxation in Islam

“For, to speak out once for all, man only plays when in the full meaning of the word he is a man, and he is only completely a man when he plays.” (J. C. Friedrich von Schiller, Letters upon the Aesthetic Education of Man, Letter XV, 9)


As a follow-up to the the entry entitled Self-Discipline in Islam, I was asked “what is the place of joy, laughter, and relaxation in Islam, in comparison to self-restraint, discipline and control?”

Continue reading

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 (as well as the entry Are Wahhabis Sunnis? Chechnya Conference and Saudi Anger), we got an overview of the life and thoughts of the founder of Wahhabism, Muhammad ibn Abdl-Wahhab, and his close ties with the Saudi family since his initial contact with them.

In Part 3, we want to provide an overview of the history of Saud family, because of the very close ties between Wahhabism and the Saudi regime.

Continue reading

Making Sense of Wahhabism – 2

Roots of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab

In part 1 and the entry entitled “Are Wahhabis Sunnis? Chechnya Conference and Saudi anger…“, we explained that the links and intermarriages between Saudis and Wahhabis run deep. We also explained that Saudis have a Jewish ancestry. (This in and of itself doesn’t mean much. What is significant however is the concealment of this ancestry and the fabrication of a different genealogy that is used publicly… as well as the real interests that are sought by Wahhabis and Saudis)

What is as interesting, but even less known, than the Jewish ancestry of Saudis, is that Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab’s ancestors were also Jews.

Continue reading

Making sense of Wahhabism – 1

Given the interest that the last entry generated, I decided to start writing some entries to talk about Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), ibn Taymiyyah, and explain what they believe by going through their own writings and those who adhere to their thought.

Continue reading

Are Wahhabis Sunnis? Chechnya Conference and Saudi anger…

More than 200 Muslim scholars came together in Grozni, Chechnya, for a conference on Islamic issues. They attended from Russia, Syria, Turkey, India, the UK, Lebanon, South Africa, Jordan… and Egypt had a very strong presence.

So what’s special about this, you may be wondering? This is perhaps one of the first times that mainstream Sunni scholars distanced themselves so clearly from Wahhabis, and everyone noticed… But to better understand the significance, here is the broader context to keep in mind…

Continue reading

Self-Discipline in Islam

“self-regulation failure is the major social pathology of our time.” (Baumeister, Willpower)

As it often happens during or around the month of Ramadan, I had a conversation with a colleague at work who was interested in understanding why Muslims fast. I explained to him that Muslims fast for a number of reasons, including:

  • Their belief that God has ordered them to fast;
  • It develops their compassion and empathy towards the less fortunate;
  • It improves self-control;
  • It is considered a great spiritual exercise of purification;
  • It is a reminder of the weakness and dependence of our selves on the continuous graces of God;
  • It has intellectual benefits, such as helping with focus and attention;
  • There are important health benefits;
  • Etc.

I did not know it at the time, but the point about self-discipline and control seems to have really spoken to him. As I was leaving work yesterday, we crossed paths again, near the door. He shared with me how our short conversation got him thinking about self-discipline, and its importance in our lives. He even showed me a book that he had started reading 4 days ago (The New Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? by Rick Warren), and he was interested in learning more about it, and as a result of our little chat, he ended up asking me whether any local imams gave talks about the topic from an Islamic perspective or even had programs to acquaint non Muslims to Islam…

The truth of the matter is that the topic is incredibly important, and yet our Islamic programs, libraries and institutions lack greatly in this respect. So I thought that I would at least jot down some preliminary thoughts about the topic of self-discipline or self-control in Islam for now – and hopefully this will be the seed for a book or a series of lectures one day…

Continue reading