AQD101 Joy Jots: Book Review by Ribaat Student
With weekly lessons that help strengthen the heart and rediscover the joy of life, Joy Jots: Exercises for a Happy Heart by Tamara Gray is a wonderful guide to keeping on the path of Islam and establishing a closer relationship to Allah swt. Made up of 52 practical lessons and exercises, the book helps the reader not only learn how to adopt good practices, but assists them with putting the knowledge to use by keeping track and holding accountability for oneself. Each essay is grounded in the sunnah, pulling from Quran verses and hadiths in order to imbed its advice with proof and practicality. By giving us examples of how the Prophet (s) and his sahaba applied certain characteristics and attributes, the books gives us real-world examples of how we can strip our hearts from evil diseases like envy or anger, and replace it with joy and happiness. Not only do we learn how to be content with ourselves, but we learn to find joy in our religion and with Allah (swt).
As humans, we are susceptible to impurities of the heart. In the modern world, which has changed so much from the time period of the Prophet (s), it is difficult to make comparisons with our lives and those of the companions of the Prophet (s). This book does an amazing job of highlighting similarities between the problems of the sahaba and the common problems we face in todays society. For example, in the chapter titled, “Week 17: Mary, the Chosen”, the author describes how Mary (as) had courage in her dealing with the angel Jibreel. This particular chapter spoke to me, since just like the author, I was raised in a Christian household. We learned as children that the greatest of women in religion was due to the men that surrounded them, that it was the men who elevated them to greatness. However this chapter teaches that it was Mary herself who was great, which is why she was the one blessed with Isa (peace be upon them both).
Mary (as) had an unparalleled love for Allah (swt) and was completely and utterly devoted to his greatness. She had a strong faith, and it was seen in her devout following of his orders. It was not the fact that she was pregnant that made her a great woman, for she was amazing prior to that. She has no love for materialism, and was true and just even in the face of horrid slander and hypocrisy. She is a strong woman of the faith, and we should constantly strive to emulate her character.
This book is one I would highly recommend to absolutely anyone, for even non-Muslims would benefit from the advice and exercises highlighted in this book. However, I will particularly recommend this for Muslim women, as it is a deeply researched piece of Islamic text from a woman’s point of view, and thus it highlights a plethora of daily problems that females face. There is not a lot of female Islamic scholars out there to give advice from a woman’s perspective, and I think this book would be helpful to any Muslimah sister who stumbles upon it.
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