"How did this religion reach us?" book cover - Facebook.
CAIRO – 11 February 2019: The Cairo book fair is over. Among the countless new books that showed up this year was the eye-catching title; "How did this religion reach us?"
"How did this religion reach us?" is Alaa Abdel Hameed's first book; it is issued by the Egyptian publishing house Dawen Publishers.
The book is an anthology of articles that were originally published on ida2at.com website. Abdel Hameed started writing this series of articles by the end of 2016 under the name of "Religion as I understand it".
At the beginning of the book's preface the author states that he was hesitant to write these articles because we are living in an obviously tumultuous environment in which writing about religion means the risk of being judged by dozens of deeply rooted opposing beliefs. And as an Azhar University graduate, who studied sharia and law, he is quite aware of the growing chasm between Azhar and non-Azhar people.
But what made the author venture into writing the articles, and subsequently the book, is targeting people who are ready to listen and understand what he offers. He notes, "If people believe they have their own interpretation of religion and they have the right to express it, I should give voice to my views about religion as well."
Why read this book?
Let's face it; the attacks on the Sunnah are commonplace. Be these attacks on television, newspapers or social media, by intellects, or activists, either Muslims or non-Muslims.
These attacks are basically doubting the authenticity of hadith collections as well as questioning the logic behind them. These attacks are the roots of rejecting the sharia law, both inside and outside the Muslim world. They are also the roots of Quranism; the belief that the Quran is the one and only source of Islamic teachings; this belief rejects the prophetic hadiths.
Here comes the niche of "How did this religion reach us?" Throughout this book, Abdel Hameed traces the history of Sunnah and how it was, generation after generation, conveyed to us.
The book explains the epic journey underwent by the hadith scholars to accept or reject any saying or action claimed to be related to the Prophet (pbuh). It turns to be highly sophisticated in which the transmitters as well as the transmitted material are thoroughly scrutinized on scientific and logical bases.
This is definitely not the first book tackling this crucial subject, yet the unique thing about it is simplicity. It is not written for scholars, but rather for any reader who finds interest in this topic.
The most important quality of this book is that it is very placid. Out of all books I have read about Islam, this book does not play the role of defending Islam, or polishing its picture. It is not debating non-Muslims either. The author is simply stating facts in a narrative way, and leaving the reader to decide. For me, this is the perfect type of authoring.
The drawback of this book is that its title is a bit misleading. While you expect the book to answer your main existential questions about Islam as a whole, you will find the book focusing mainly on the Sunnah part of the religion.
This book is quite an informative page-turner that is suitable for everyone, but I believe it is particularly important for younger generations.