Aisha Khaja: Dr. Shabir, the question today is: can learning and especially reading a book–not necessarily religious–be considered an act of worship in Islam?
Dr. Shabir Ally: Someone would say, yes, if they define worship in a very broad manner, meaning anything that serves God in some way, either directly or indirectly. But a more strict definition of worship, involving acts that people characterize usually as worship, then we would say, no.
But, at the same time, I would say that I would encourage Muslims toread widely. Read both the Muslim literature and also literature written by non-Muslims, especially nonfiction materials that will educate us in a wide variety of fields.
We need to have a broader understanding. And all of that, is actually directly in the service of God. And of course, during the month of Ramadan now, we want to focus on the Quran itself as a book revealed especially during this month.
But at other times, definitely, we should be reading other books as well.
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