Understanding Islam is a translation of Ijtihad (Striving) written in Urdu by Nazir Ahmad (1836–1912). The original work grew out of a response to the question, ‘Why am I a Muslim?’ which had obsessed the author. Marked by clear thinking, a commonsensical approach, erudition and social awareness, Ijtihad was written in a conversational style. Nazir Ahmad also critically examined questions that he felt had perhaps been inadequately understood by his co-religionists, and suggested areas where a change in their outlook might be conducive to the true spirit of Islam.
Written in the form of a dialogue between a student and a teacher, this book is a valuable introduction and guide to the essence of one of the world’s major religions. It will appeal to the faithful through its clear and lucid explanations, and by clearing some of their doubts. For those of other faiths wishing to learn more about Islam, it imparts information on such questions as the oneness of God, prophethood, the twelve imams, the aim of the revelation in the Qur’an, and the role and duties of maulvis.
Mohammed Zakir’s translation is true to the original, and retains its flavour. This work, a succinct introduction to Islam, will find a place in courses of theology and philosophy, as well as Islamic history. If we agree with Eliot that religion is a cornerstone of culture, this book should also find its way into cultural discourses, especially on Islam and Islamic cultures.
Nazir Ahmad (1830–1912) was a leading Urdu writer who was also a social and religious reformer, and a prominent scholar. He was a pioneer of Urdu literature and published books in varied genres. His Mirat-ul-Uroos, published in 1869, is considered to be the first novel in Urdu. Ahmad came from a distinguished family of religious scholars, maulavis and muftis of Bijnor and Delhi.
Mohammed Zakir was born in Delhi and educated at St. Stephen’s College, Sri Ram College of Commerce and Zakir Husain Delhi College, University of Delhi. He retired as Professor of Urdu after four decades of service in the Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. His main interests have been translation, literary criticism and Urdu linguistics.
Nazir Ahmad’s Introductory Remarks
1. Islamic Beliefs
2. Knowing God
3. Oneness of the Creator
4. Polytheism: Attributing Partners to God
5. Existence of God
6. Conveniences in Islam and Inconveniences in Other Religions
7. Oneness of God is the Essence of Religion
8. Sense of Good and Bad is Natural
10. Truthfulness of the Prophet of Islam
11. Miracles and Prophecies
12. The Real Aim of the Revelation of the Qur’an
13. An Advice to the Maulvis of Today
15. Other Religions and the Doctrines of Islam
16. Reforming the Conditions of Muslims
17. Religion and this World are not Inconsistent
Select Glossary and Notes