Top 6 Books I Read in 2016

Top 6 Books I Read In 2016

At the start of 2016, I set a goal for myself to read 40 books. Alhamdulillah, by the end of 2016, I had read 43 books. books I readBoth meeting and surpassing the goal. As I did last year, I am going to list the top books I read this year and explain why they were so important.

Before that though, I want to share with you why I set this annual goal for myself. Reading is crucial for personal development. Every year that passes by without you reading a new book means your knowledge is outdated by a year. Reading the latest books and research keeps our knowledge up to date and relevant.

I personally read across all fields that I find relevant to my life. As you will see in this list, the genres vary from Islamic Studies to Business. The rule is simple: if it will benefit my life in any way, I will read it. I say this to encourage you all to set similar goals.

Personally, I use Goodreads to set the annual goal and keep track of it. It has proven to be a valuable tool and I may have missed my goal had I not been using it. Give it a try this year and set for yourself a goal to read at least 12 books this year. (one a month)

 Runner Ups

These are books which I benefited from in 2016, but didn’t leave the same impact as my top six:

  1. The Productive Muslim – Mohammed Faris (read my review here)
  2. The Fitrah Journal Volumes 1 & 2
  3. Al-Muhaddithat: Female Scholars of Islam – Muhammad Akram Nadwi
  4. The Art of War – Sun Tzu

6. Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

Just like last year, a Malcolm Gladwell book makes my top list. Although last year, David and Goliath was number one. Outliers focuses on theories of success and proposes that nobody is a success on their own. Each person is aided by factors like where they were born, the opportunities they received and the people they met.

It is a fascinating book that proposes many alternative views on how people get to the top. The most famous theory that it proposes is that it takes ten thousand hours of practice to become an expert at something. Its an interesting theory, and only time will tell how true it really is.

5. Elon Musk – Ashlee Vance

This book revived my desire to produce things that change the world. The biography of Elon Musk is really inspirational for entrepreneurs. It shows us the biography of someone who is still around and chasing high goals which others deem crazy.

That is the point though. Our goals need to be crazy if we want to accomplish anything. Crazy goals lead to amazing results, which can be seen in Elon Musk’s success with Tesla. The initial reason I purchased this book was my fascination with Tesla and SpaceX, but I didn’t expect to enjoy it so much, or be inspired by it as much as I was.

4. 1001 Inventions – Salim Al-Hassani

I purchased this book initially to teach my children. I did not expect to be so greatly inspired by its contents. If the biography of Elon Musk showed how people today are still inventing amazing things, 1001 inventions shows how many amazing things Muslims have invented throughout history.

These two books together have inspired me to revive this legacy of Muslim inventions. 1001 Inventions is beautifully written and illustrated, and I believe every Muslim school and home should own a copy of it.

3. The 10x Rule – Cardone Grant

This is the one audiobook I am adding to this list. The 10x Rule is a powerful book for entrepreneurs. The book focuses around one core concept: whatever works, do it ten times over. It is a short simple rule, but has the potential to change your business, and is explained very brilliantly in this book.

2. Lost Islamic History – Firas Alkhateeb

I love Islamic history and have read hundreds of history books throughout my life. Despite that, Lost Islamic History has stood out as one of the most beautifully written Islamic History books I have read. This book summarizes the entire history of Islam from the time of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) until today.

However, it doesn’t just focus on the politics, but includes the scientific history of each time period as well. This is a unique aspect which is missing in many history books, and which made it so special. If you read just one book on Islamic History this year, make sure it is this one.

1. Parent-Child Relations – Hisham Al-Talib

This was the first book I read in 2016, and I immediately knew nothing was going to top it as the best book of 2016. This book is a comprehensive, well researched 600+ page manual on parenting. I have never in my life read such a well researched and thorough parenting book, and it has been a real game changer for me. Every Muslim parent should own a copy of this book and study it thoroughly. It is that good and that important

These were my top six books I read for 2016. What were yours? Comment below!

Posted by Ismail Kamdar

Ismail Kamdar is the Founder of Islamic Self Help, author of over a dozen books, faculty manager of IOU, and a freelance writer.


I am shocked that the Ustaadh would put ‘Lost Islamic History’ as number 2 despite its serious flaws. I remember, excitedly, pre-ordering the book before it came out but after reading parts of it I threw it away.
One flaw is that there are no references, so how can we verify any statement the author makes?
The author also, supports Sufism and calls Ibn Taymiyyah a Sufi.
He also makes seriously wrong claims about Al-Mujaddid Muhammad ibn Abdul-Wahhab. I can’t remember exactly but I think he states that the shaykh declared takfeer on anyone who disagreed with him and would kill them. The shaykhs own writings refute such an allegation thus showing the authors own lack of research.
If that was not enough the author also criticises the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him)! Namely, Uthmaan and Muaawiyah.
Any book that makes you hate the companions or look down on a single one does not deserve to be on a top 6 list.
All of these objections I write from my memory. All of this from reading parts of the book. Had I read the whole book, I probably would have come across much more objections. And I wasn’t even searching for anything objectionable in the first place.
One may argue that the book is good for researchers. But, once again, without references, it is just the say-so of the author.

As for the book ‘The Productive Muslim’, this was an excellent book. The first 40 pages alone literally changed my life; I actually became more productive.

Abū Fulān Al Isbānī

As salāmu 3alaīcum

So you don’t like the book because it speaks truth against the heads of your wahhabi sect?

Ibn taymiyya initiated in the qadiriyya sufi tariqa according to his student ibn ‘abd al Hadi

Wa alaykum as-salaam,

I didn’t like the book because there were no references.
I also didn’t like it because it spoke ill of the companions.
And i didn’t like it because the author accused scholars of what their own writings free them of (i gave the example of Ibn Abdul-Wahhab and Ibn Taymiyyah because that was all i could remember).
And it promotes Sufism.

I only wrote my comment because i was wondering why the our Ustaadh put this book up so high despite it containing things which are taught against in the Islamic Online University of which he is the head tutorial assistant and i am a student.

Jazak’Allahu Khairan ! May Allah grant me to read of them all..

Barakallahu Feek

Thanks for sharing

I wanted to ask you Shaikh…..we have indeed produced many inventions and scientific discoveries in the past. But how come we haven’t produced any in the last 500 years?

We dont have any thing recent…why is that and how can we change that?

Ismail Kamdar

This is a good question, but one with a very long answer. The past 500 years have been the stagnation and decline period of the ummah in every sphere including science. The ummah rested on its laurels for too long and as a result, it was all snatched away.

However, I strongly believe that things are changing. The current generation of Muslims include many young people who are passionate about technology and invention, and I have strong hope that we will see many new inventions by Muslims in the coming decades.

What we can do:
1) Raise our kids in a way that those among them who have these gifts can excel in these fields.
2) Teach these parts of history to our kids from a young age to connect them to their legacy.
3) Invest in Muslim Start Ups and help them raise funds.
4) Offer constructive assistance to Muslim Start Ups, instead of harsh criticism (which seems to be the norm)
5) Make dua 🙂

Do an extended article on how you manage to read 40+ books in a year. I can read only maybe 1 or 2 books in an entire year.

Ismail Kamdar

This is a good idea. I’ll work on it later this week.

Interesting list. I have only read Outliers from your list but have a few of them already on my wishlist. I will look to this list as recommendations during the year in in shaa Allah. I do set reading goals myself, and encourage others especially the youth to do so.

Alieu Bangura

Excellent Shaykh Ismail, Please share with us on how you are able to read those amount of books. Your reading times, habits and how you motivate yourself. JazakAllah khair.

Sham-un Ghazi Ibrahim

Assalamu alaikum wr. wb.
Maashaa Allah.
May Allah increase you in beneficial knowledge and wisdom, and bless you for sharing with us what is beneficial to us.
Jazaakallaahu khair.
One of your numerous students, .Semester six-IOU.

Leave a Reply