Seven English books to learn about Hajj

Seven English books to learn about Hajj
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Updated 21 June 2023
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Seven English books to learn about Hajj

Seven English books to learn about Hajj

 

DHAHRAN: Hajj pilgrims are flocking to the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

The first word that was revealed to the Prophet was “read.” Arab News has compiled a list of seven books that explain the rituals of both Hajj and Umrah in English. 

They are ideal for those embarking on the spiritual journey or others who wish to learn about the pilgrimage. 

All can be found at local bookstores or online, although prices may vary depending. 

1. “Explaining Issues of Hajj, Umrah and Ziyarah: In light of the Qur’an and Sunnah” by Shaykh Abdul Aziz Bin Baaz is a classic which has been translated from the original Arabic. Cost: SR15.

2. “Hajj & Umrah and Visitors”  by Abdullah ibn Sa’id ibn Jirash sheds light on things to do and why. Cost: SR30. 

3. “Hajj Made Simple” by Saniyasnain Khan is an informative guide for anyone traveling for Hajj and Umrah. Cost: SR19. 

4. “My Hajj Fun Book” by Tahera Kassamali is perfect for children who want to learn about Hajj. It’s a fun and informative introduction. Cost: SR9.

5. “Tell Me About Hajj” is an interactive book designed for children by Saniyasnain Khan. There are plenty of pictures to help lead the way. Cost: SR15. 

6. “Muhammad Hajj Guide” is a step-by-step pictorial guide by Husam Deeb Toglaw. Cost: SR45.

7. “Hajj And Umrah According to Sunnah,” compiled by Maulana Mukhtar Ahmed Nadvi, is another informative read. Cost: SR10.


Book Review: ‘Vanderbilt’ by Anderson Cooper

Book Review: ‘Vanderbilt’ by Anderson Cooper
Updated 13 June 2024
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Book Review: ‘Vanderbilt’ by Anderson Cooper

Book Review: ‘Vanderbilt’ by Anderson Cooper

Written during the pandemic in 2021, “Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty” looks at the Vanderbilt family, one of the most famous in US history, written by one of its own.

It was penned by journalist Anderson Cooper, formerly of CNN, and while many of us rifled through old archives while on lockdown in our own homes, Cooper attempted to piece together fragments of his own history — and US history.

The book begins with young Cornelius “the Commodore” Vanderbilt at the beginning of the 19th century. Through grit, and a pathological desire to acquire money at all costs, he was able to build two giant empires, one in shipping and another in railroads, that would make him the richest man in America. His staggering fortune was fought over by his heirs until well after his death in 1877.

His great-great-great-grandson is Cooper and this personal yet exhaustive book covers a vast amount of real estate — both in stories and locations — as historian Katherine Howe, his co-writer, and Cooper explore the story of the legendary family and its influence.

Cooper and Howe breathe life into the former’s ancestors who built the family’s vast empire, basked in the Commodore’s wealth and became synonymous with American capitalism and high society.

Moving from old Manhattan to the lavish Fifth Avenue, from the ornate summer palaces to the courts of Europe and modern-day New York, Cooper and Howe recount the triumphs and tragedies of this American dynasty. 

The vignettes are often fascinating and give context to tales often recounted, like that of Alva Belmont, who was married to a Vanderbilt before pivoting to a world of activism. In her heyday she hosted one of the most lavish gala balls of all time, held in 1883, which inspired many a TV series and fanciful gossip following her rivalry with the infamous Caroline Schermerhorn Astor.

The story looks at the melancholic life of Alva’s daughter, Consuelo, and at her eventual happy ending.

Cooper and Howe delve into corners of stories that are more or less unknown. I was particularly fascinated by the story of his relative who lived in a museum for years, before being eventually kicked out.

The stories link and go back and forth on the timeline, perhaps making it slightly confusing for the lay reader.

It does really require the reader to have some prior knowledge of the Vanderbilt family, with its many scandals and nuances.

The authors also go into detail about the lives, and deaths, of the many Vanderbilt men.

The last part of the book spends time exploring the late Gloria Vanderbilt, Cooper’s mother. These passages are the most emotional in the book.

Cooper, who is now a father, explains how writing the book helped to provide a historical context which his son can read about in later life to understand the story behind the stories, and tall tales, written about their family.


What We Are Reading Today: Dedicated to the Soul

What We Are Reading Today: Dedicated to the Soul
Updated 13 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: Dedicated to the Soul

What We Are Reading Today: Dedicated to the Soul

Authors: Ann Conrad Lammers, Thomas Fischer, & Medea Hoch 

“Dedicated to the Soul” brings together previously unpublished materials from Jung’s private archive, introducing her voice into the literature of the early psychoanalytical movement and revealing a vibrant inner life and a glowing presence that until now was known only to her family and a handful of patients, students, and friends.


Book Review: ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison

Book Review: ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison
Updated 12 June 2024
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Book Review: ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison

Book Review: ‘The Bluest Eye’ by Toni Morrison

“The Bluest Eye,” published in 1970, is the debut novel by acclaimed American author Toni Morrison. 

It tells the story of a young African-American girl called Pecola Breedlove who grows up during the Great Depression and longs to have blue eyes, which she sees as a symbol of beauty and worth.

The novel’s exploration of racism and internalized oppression is one of its most compelling aspects. 

Morrison illustrates how racist beauty standards become internalized, especially by young black girls such as Pecola. She portrays how the dominant white culture’s idealization of white, blue-eyed beauty creates a deep sense of shame and unworthiness in Pecola, who believes her blackness and brown eyes make her inherently ugly.

In the novel, Pecola’s mother Pauline has also adopted these white beauty standards, and in turn projects her own feelings of inadequacy on to her daughter, demonstrating how damaging ideals rooted in racism become embedded within a community over time.

Another aspect of the novel is the nuanced exploration of how economic and social marginalization exacerbates this racism.

Pecola’s family lives in poverty, which further contributes to their sense of debilitation and lack of agency.

“The Bluest Eye” serves as a searing indictment of racism’s corrosive effects, while also acknowledging the complex psychological and social factors at play. 

It received critical acclaim and is considered an important work of 20th-century American literature. Morrison’s vivid and poetic writing style is a hallmark of the novel.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Language of Mathematics’ by Raul Rojas

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Language of Mathematics’ by Raul Rojas
Updated 12 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Language of Mathematics’ by Raul Rojas

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Language of Mathematics’ by Raul Rojas

Galileo famously wrote that the book of nature is written in mathematical language.

“The Language of Mathematics” is a wide-ranging and beautifully illustrated collection of short, colorful histories of the most commonly used symbols in mathematics, providing readers with an engaging introduction to the origins, evolution, and conceptual meaning of each one.


What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Pocket Instructor: Writing’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Pocket Instructor: Writing’
Updated 11 June 2024
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What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Pocket Instructor: Writing’

What We Are Reading Today: ‘The Pocket Instructor: Writing’

Edited by Amanda Irwin Wilkins and Keith Shaw

“The Pocket Instructor: Writing” offers 50 practical exercises for teaching students the core elements of successful academic writing.

The exercises— created by faculty from a broad range of disciplines and institutions—are organized along the arc of a writing project, from brainstorming and asking analytical questions to drafting, revising, and sharing work with audiences outside traditional academia.