Recommended Wartime Reading
by Stephen Schwartz
The Koran, translated by N. J. Dawood. The clearest and best translation. Take it slow — don't expect to skim or finish it in one night. Read and think about each line.
Children of Abraham: An Introduction to Islam for Jews, by Khalid Duran. A simple and useful survey by a firm opponent of fundamentalism.
The Sabres of Paradise, by Lesley Blanch. Vivid account of a legitimate jihad — the 19th-century struggle of Muslims in the Caucasus against Russian imperialism.
Blanquerna and The Book of the Lover and the Beloved, by Raimon Llull. Difficult to find, but an extraordinary work. One of the greatest classics of Spanish Catholic mysticism, it shows the explicit influence of Sufism, or Islamic mysticism.
The Tarjuman Al-Ashwaq (Interpreter of Desires): A Collection of Mystical Odes, by Muhyiddin Ibn Al-Arabi. One of the greatest classics of Sufism. Easier for people with a background in poetry to understand, but rewarding in any event. Once again, don't expect to finish it in one sitting. And don't discard it as incomprehensible because the style is unfamiliar or seems exotic. Arabic and Islamic literature represents a different tradition from our own, but a great one.