Inspiration or Literality? Reflections on Transformative Literature

Inspiration or Literality? Reflections on Transformative Literature

Review Essay

Inspiration or Literality? Reflections on Transformative Literature

Author(s): Omar Suleiman & Suma Din & Ibn Daud & A. Helwa & Salatu E. Sule & Farah Dualeh

Reviewed by: Ruqaiyah Hibell



ANGELS IN YOUR PRESENCE, by Omar Suleiman. Markfield: Kube Publishing Ltd. 2021, 139pp. ISBN: 9781847741509.

A HANDBOOK OF SPIRITUAL MEDICINE, by Ibn Daud. Leicester: Ibn Daud Books, 2021, 278pp. ISBN: 9781838049218.

TURNING THE TIDE: REAWAKENING THE WOMAN’S HEART AND SOUL, by Suma Din. Markfield: The Islamic Foundation, 2021, 229pp. ISBN: 9780860377580.

SECRETS OF DIVINE LOVE, by A. Helwa. Capistrano Beach, CA: Naulit House Publishing, 2020, 346pp. ISBN: 9781734231205.

LOVE’S SECRET: A JOURNEY TO THE BEYOND (No author listed). Cambridge: Quilliam Press, 2022, 204pp. ISBN: 9781872038254.

ONE BREATH AT A TIME: FINDING SOLACE IN FAITH, by Salatu E. Sule. Markfield: Kube Publishing, 2021, 148pp. ISBN: 9781847741677.

TAKING CONTROL: A MUSLIM WOMAN’S GUIDE TO SURVIVING INFERTILITY, by Farah Dualeh. New Jersey: Tughra Books, 2022, 152pp. ISBN: 9781597849494.


Books that purport to offer help on self-improvement and personal growth have circulated since time immemorial. It is not necessarily straightforward to classify a book as self-help material when people gain inspiration or motivation for change from a wide variety of different genres of literature. The market for purposefully designed self-help texts is saturated, with over 150 titles released each week. The self-help industry churns out colossal amounts of information each year on self-improvement centred on improving the body, mind, skills, parenting, health, employment, wealth, relationships, spirituality, etc. In 2019, this huge market exceeded $11 billion per year in the US alone. This may be less indicative of its success as a source of personal development, as a large volume of what constitutes contemporary self-help material represents awed attempts to jump on the bandwagon of ancient teachings and wisdom and loot and exploit the marketable elements, often for considerable financial gain by offering facile profundities and simplistic mantras estranged from the faith, discipline and commitment that is usually required by spiritual development.

Novel ways of seeking self-improvement are commercially attractive and financially lucrative. Writers continually look for innovative approaches to motivate personal transformation which may appeal to readers. The readers’ motivation to follow the suggestions or advice provided in any self- improvement book may last as long as interest in that book continues, rather on a par with New Year resolutions that fade as a distant memory long before the end of January. Failure to improve can mean that the seeker continues to trawl through the vast market of self-help texts trying to locate the Holy Grail that offers meaningful, lasting change.

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