Customer Review

69 of 71 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best resource out there, August 29, 2007
By 
This review is from: The Life of Muhammad (Hardcover)
Ibn Ishaq was the earliest, and probably the most thorough, of Islam's historians. He never claimed that everything he heard was the perfect, absolute fact; rather, he very frankly writes "so-and-so said this, but so-and-so said that." Most of the discrepancies he cites are minor, and the vast majority of the incidents he cites are surprisingly consistent with what other Muslim historians say.

Later, Ibn Hisham produced a "rescinded" version of Ibn Ishaq's work, including in his work an introduction that explains frankly that he cut parts that others might find offensive. It is actually this work that survives -- to date no complete copy of Ibn Ishaq's orginial work has been found.

Meanwhile, however, other Muslim historians commented on Ibn Ishaq's work (before it was rescinded and lost) and quoted from it extensively. Guilliaume has taken these pieces and added them back in, and has indicated clearly what has been added, diligently citing the source of the addition in each case.

While this book is not exactly light reading, it is fascinating, and essential for understanding the context of the Quran. The Quran and the Life of Muhammad should be read side by side to really get an understanding of how Islam developed over the course of Muhammad's life.

Don't be put off by the extremely thorough names -- clan and lineage was an integral part of life in sixth-century Arabia so a person's name often is listed as "A son of B son of C son of D son of E of the clan F." It's even worse when they list four or five people that way, taking up two-thirds of a paragraph before getting to a verb, but just skip over this and read the great stories. This is a fascinating read and a fabulous academic resource.

If you want something a little easier to read, get Martin Lings' book: Muhammad, His Life Based on the Earliest Sources. A work of impeccable scholarship, this book is shorter, easier to read, and, while it is largely based on Ibn Ishaq, it also includes some other sources considered authentic by Islamic scholars. Lings won awards in Pakistan and Egypt for the book, which is in its third printing and is sold all over the Muslim world.

Again, the frustrating thing about any book on the life of Muhammad will be keeping track of who's who -- there are so many characters and many of them share the same name, so you have to make an effort to keep track of which Abdullah and which Sa'd they are talking about. (For example, at one point both of Muhammad's personal bodyguards were named Sa'd.) To add further confusion, the most polite way to address someone in Arabic is "Father of so-and-so" or "Mother of so-and-so" but Martin Lings is pretty good about using one form or the other consistently throughout the book. Also, there is a helpful index in the back of both Guillaume's and Lings' book for when you can't remember who's who.

Either of these books is essential reading if you are studying the Quran or Islam.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No

[Add comment]
Post a comment
To insert a product link use the format: [[ASIN:ASIN product-title]] (What's this?)
Amazon will display this name with all your submissions, including reviews and discussion posts. (Learn more)
Name:
Badge:
This badge will be assigned to you and will appear along with your name.
There was an error. Please try again.
Please see the full guidelines here.

Official Comment

As a representative of this product you can post one Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
The following name and badge will be shown with this comment:
 (edit name)
After clicking the Post button you will be asked to create your public name, which will be shown with all your contributions.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.  Learn more
Otherwise, you can still post a regular comment on this review.

Is this your product?

If you are the author, artist, manufacturer or an official representative of this product, you can post an Official Comment on this review. It will appear immediately below the review wherever it is displayed.   Learn more
 
System timed out

We were unable to verify whether you represent the product. Please try again later, or retry now. Otherwise you can post a regular comment.

Since you previously posted an Official Comment, this comment will appear in the comment section below. You also have the option to edit your Official Comment.   Learn more
The maximum number of Official Comments have been posted. This comment will appear in the comment section below.   Learn more
Prompts for sign-in
 

Comments


Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 8, 2014 7:31:20 AM PST
That was a beautifully detailed review.
Thank you.
‹ Previous 1 Next ›

Review Details

Item

4.0 out of 5 stars (39 customer reviews)
5 star:
 (23)
4 star:
 (5)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (5)
1 star:
 (3)
 
 
 
$45.00 $36.01
Add to cart Add to wishlist
Reviewer


Top Reviewer Ranking: 14,408,071