Muhammad was born in 570 CE, and over the following sixty years built a thriving spiritual community, laying the foundations of a religion that changed the course of world history. There is more historical data on his life than on that of the founder of any other major faith, and yet his story is little known.
Karen Armstrong's immaculately researched new biography of Muhammad will enable readers to understand the true origins and spirituality of a faith that is all too often misrepresented as cruel, intolerant, and inherently violent. An acclaimed authority on religious and spiritual issues, Armstrong offers a balanced, in-depth portrait, revealing the man at the heart of Islam by dismantling centuries of misconceptions. Armstrong demonstrates that Muhammad's lifea pivot point in historyhas genuine relevance to the global crises we face today.
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Armstrong's second biography of Islam's prophet is lucid and stylish, never condescending. It puts the best face possible on its subject. The Muhammad it projects gave his followers "a mission: to create a just and decent society, in which all members were treated with respect." Moreover, Armstrong's Muhammad behaved justly and decently while he lived, though perhaps a bit according to the stringent standards of Arab culture at the time. He taught tolerance toward Jews and Christians. Never mind--Armstrong doesn't--about denials of civil equality to non-Muslims and fulminations about them as "infidels." The Jewish clan whose men were exterminated after a particular battle? It wasn't that they were Jews but that they were traitors, and it wasn't Muhammad who decided they should be executed. The fact that, after declaring that Muslim men could have no more than four wives, Muhammad himself exceeded the limit? Hey, a leader has to make alliances with other groups. A nicely written book, but don't let it be the only biography of Muhammad you read. Ray OlsonCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved