The Gems in Our Own Home

By Khalid Baig
Posted: 11 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1422, 3 June 2001

Title: Gems of Wisdom Heart of Gold
Inspiration from the past for the people of the future
Author: Javed Mohammed
Publisher: Pyramid Connections, California, USA
Year: 2000
Price: $14.95
145 pages.

Javed Mohammed has a story to tell. There was once an African farmer who had heard how others had made fortunes finding diamonds. In his quest to become rich he sold his farm and spent his life looking for diamonds. Meanwhile, the person he sold the farm to, was one day passing by a stream on his land where he saw something sparkle. When he put his hand in the water it appeared to be a translucent rock. He took the rock and put it on the mantelpiece. One day a geologist was visiting the new owner and asked if he could examine the rock. It turned out that this was the largest uncut diamond that had ever been found.

This book has the noble goal of bringing inspirational Islamic literature to the American mainstream.

Similar is the case of Muslims who maybe searching for wisdom elsewhere when they have it right with them in the Qur'an, the Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and sayings of great Muslim sages. This book takes some of those gems of wisdom and presents them for an English speaking audience. It contains quotes from the Qur'an, the Hadith literature, the sayings of the Righteous Caliphs, and great Muslim scholars. It contains such gems as the long hadith in which a conversation of the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam with a bedouin is recorded. It contains brief questions and simple but profound answers like the following: "'I would like to be the most learned of men.' 'Fear Allah and you will be the most learned of men.' 'I wish to be the richest man in the world.' 'Be contented and you will be the richest man in the world.'…'What extinguishes Hell's fire on the Day of Judgment?' 'Patience in adversity and misfortunes.'" (p. 53-55)

Here are some other samplers. Sayyidna Umar, Radi-Allahu anhu: "He who has no idea of evil can easily fall into its trap." "Be grateful to him who points out your defects." "Do not be mislead by someone's reputation." "Less concern for material well-being enables one to lead a free life."

Sayyidna Ali, Radi-Allahu anhu: "Praise that is more than deserved is flattery, while less than is deserved indicates incapacity of expression or else jealousy." "Remember enjoyments pass while consequences remain." "How many lessons there are and how little they are taken!"

This book has the noble goal of bringing inspirational Islamic literature to the American mainstream. However as a first attempt it has its flaws. The mixing of other sayings from Jimmy Carter or Marian Wright Edelman or others -- like the ones you can find in Reader's Digest or on Cyber-Street -- was unnecessary and takes something from the value of this book. They give the unfortunate, unwarranted, and the unintended message that the gems of wisdom from the Islamic world cannot stand on their own.

Similarly, the appendices (except Appendix D) also do not add anything to the value of the book. There the author has taken upon himself the gigantic task of analyzing the Prophet's speeches for style. This is a task for which he is clearly not qualified and the very idea that a Prophet's speech should be used just as an example for a Toastmaster's presentation is repelling. It is like visiting the Masjid Al-Haram to highlight its architectural features.

In addition the lack of proper benedictions also needs to be addressed.

If these defects are removed, this book could be a commendable addition to the Islamic literature produced in the West and as one commentator says, it could be a bridge between America and Islam.