By Hamza Yusuf & Zaid Shakir, the aim of this concise guidebook is to provide a blueprint for the spiritual transformation and improvement of the reader. Being based on classical Islamic teaching, it comprises the Sufi path of transformation, as described in the book:
“The path for us in these Western lands is twofold: The first is inner transformation through spiritual struggle with the soul. The second is outer transformation through struggle with the vices and degrading aspects of society – this means toward the realization of social justice and a culture that embodies moral comportment, protects children, and enhances family and community life.
The majority of this book pertains to the first path – the path to ‘taqwa’. The first four chapters elucidate a simple yet effective means to transform our inner world. The final chapter affirms the necessity of civic involvement and productive work in the outer world. Both these paths are in accordance with the aims and the purpose of Allah’s creation. According to Raghib al-Isbahani, there are two main reasons why Allah created human beings. The first is to worship Allah, which is only completed with inner purity:
‘They were commanded to worship Allah with purity, making the religion solely for Him.’ (Quran 98:5)
The second reason is to cultivate the world:
‘He brought you forth from the earth and has caused you to cultivate it.’ (Quran 11:61)”
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf converted from Christianity to Islam at an early age, which set him on a course of study in the Arab Emirates, Algeria, Morocco, Spain and Mauritania. He became fluent in Arabic and an expert and scholar in Quranic Recitation, Rhetoric, Poetry, Islamic Law, Islamic Theology and other classical Islamic disciplines. Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Shaykh Zaid Shakir are founding directors of Zaytuna College, Berkeley, California.