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The historical context of how Islam was transmitted during the revelations.
When we first convert to Islam or start learning about Islam we start with prayer, recitation, memorization, learning Arabic which are good things to learn. But we have to remember the revelation that came down in over 23 years in an Arabic-speaking country. For some time there was no revelation. When the revelations first came down people closest to Prophet Muhammad (salalahu alayhi wa salam) were the first to convert. They were mostly hidden conversions, they were taught about building their character, learning how to deal with those who were in opposition of them, learning patience and reliance on Allah alone.
One example is the story of Sumayyah (Radi Allahu Anhu) She was tortured to death, her husband was tortured to death and her son was tortured. If she had not built her character, her love, and understanding for Allah and the afterlife. Her torture would’ve been worse mentally. To see your husband and child being oppressed while not being able to do anything. Your belief in Allah has to be stronger and higher. When you have the belief that pleasing Allah is your ultimate goal nothing in this world would hurt you. When you have the understanding when there is opposition your character as a righteous person will shine through, nothing can affect you.
These three books I’m recommending are books that help you build your character, understanding, and see into the historical context of how the world was when Islam was first revealed. It is important to understand the context of the world when it pertains to revelation.
3 books to begin acquiring Islamic knowledge.
Noble Life of the Prophet
The noble of the life of the Prophet is a book that goes into details of the whole life of Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alayhi waSalaam) It starts from the way beginning from the mother Aminah and Father Abdullah to the revelations to the battles of Hunain all the way to his death. The amount of details in this book allows you to comprehend life during the time. It’s a three-volume seise, easy to read and understand.
Riyadus-Salihee is a six-volume set that helps build your character as a Muslim. In Chapter 16 the book explains how to stick to the Sunnah and its manners. It then provides Quranic verses relating to sticking to the Sunnah and explains how the meaning of the verse.
An Example: Say” if you really (love) Allah then follow me, Allah will love you and will forgive you of your sins.” ( Aal’Imraan: 31) Therefore, whoever claims to love Allah but does not follow the Messenger (Sallalahu Alayhi wa Salaam) is not truthful: he is rather a liar. The sign of loving Allah- the mighty and Sublime- is that you follow his Messenger. You should know that the level of your deficiency in following the Messenger will be the same level of your lacking in loving Allah…
This section helps to explain the importance of following the Sunnah as a means of loving Allah. If you don’t follow the Sunnah then you are not following Islam.
The History of Islam
History stands as the most effective and valuable source of putting nations on the course of progress and prosperity and saving them from the path of disgrace and degradation. At a time, when there is tough competition among the nations of the world to excel one another, the Muslims, despite having the most glorious history, appear to be detached and careless as regards their history. This book presents the true Islamic events and their actual causes before the English readers because the other books in the English language found on the Islamic history have been written by such authors and compilers who did no justice in presenting the true picture of the Islamic Era but their prejudice prevented them from doing so.
These are the three collections I would recommend to start with or something that is similar to these. You will need a Seerah of the Prophet (saw), History of what it was like living through the time the revelation was revealed will help you understand the meaning. Building your character is important to develop yourself as a person.