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Showing 1-10 of 190 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 257 reviews
on September 24, 2016
This is a highly engrossing book that is highly relevant to today’s world. The author is a journalist and as such writes in a highly readable style. The book reads more like a novel, rather than a textbook, but nonetheless covers the subject based on numerous sources, some of which go back to the 9th century. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of Islam and to all those interesting in understanding the roots of today’s Muslim fanaticism.

This book details the death of the prophet Mohammed and his initial successors, particularly that of his cousin and adopted son Ali. Ali, initially passed over for the leadership of Islam, eventually became its leader. However, the struggle for the leadership of Islam and Ali’s assassination set the stage for the eventual struggle between the Shia (followers of Ali) and the Sunni who believed that the leadership of Islam should not be through Mohammad’s kin. Ali’s son Hussein (also Mohammad’s grandson because Ali married one of Mohammad’s daughters) was likewise killed by the Sunni leadership, creating the basis for Shia martyrdom. The events surrounding the deaths of Ali and Hussein and the nature of how and why they died are highly relevant to today’s world as they created the basis both the Sunni fanaticism of groups like Al Qaida, and Shia fanaticism. The author is clear in explaining these connections, making this book important for understand the modern world.
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on August 26, 2015
Lesley Hazleton has done a marvelous job with debt, richness and detail in explaining the history of Islam in it's early days stemming from Prophet Mohammad down to the several Caliphs which followed him. The explanation in the Shia & Sunni split is very vivid and educational. It is always refreshing to read a historical investigation conducted by a fair minded and unbiased researcher such as Lesley Hazleton. I found this book to be outstanding and rich in detail. Her mentioning the late Dr. Ali Shariati's interpretation of progressive Islam was the icing on the cake. This is a must read book for those interested in this epic subject matter. Bravo!!!
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on October 6, 2016
Lesley Hazleton is truly a master of language, spoken and written. Just like The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad, Hazleton takes on a surprising, exciting, and even sacred journey that explores the politics and divinity of faith and religion by telling a truly "epic" story of this major religion's early days. I loved this book as well as all of her writing. The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad
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on October 23, 2016
Very well-written and overall historically accurate description of the Sunni-Shia split. Reads like a novel and doesn't take sides. One of the best and most readable books I've read on this topic.
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on March 1, 2017
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Although I knew how/why Sunni and Shia split took place, I never really knew the whole story. This book tells the story in great detail. Although there were times when I felt that the author was not a fan of Aisha and was definitely on team Ali, I have to give credit and thanks for a very well written and researched book.
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on May 31, 2016
Well written using easy English to describe the history causing the Sunni/Shia conflict that exists today in the Middle East. The conflict seems like a silly excuse for adults to continue to use to hate and fight each other. One would think that after so many years; a light bulb would go off in enough of their heads to see the damage being caused. But the continuing lack of education, indoctrination of children and just the lack of really wanting peace and prosperity for themselves baffles me. I do realize that the women wearing burkas is the choice of the women themselves. Again baffles me, but maybe living in that desert it is practical. They remind of the nuns that taught us in school and even they today have given up their habits(uniforms) and dress like normal people. Quick read and very worth it.
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on September 28, 2013
I just finished reading Lesley Hazleton's book After The Prophet and I am delighted. Most writers describing historic events do so in a very dry, sterile manner that is exhausting for the poor reader. Hazleton manages to go over the same material that has been endlessly researched and re-written and puts down her version that draws the reader directly into the story. She breathes life into her story, puts expressions and thoughts into the personalities . She analyses personalities and inter-relationships and even as she deals only with facts...the same facts as most other historians, she makes hers come to life such the readers feels emotions and get involved in the story while reading facts.

This book is about the period after the prophet Mohammed and the machinations that followed over the next several decades. Hazleton spares no one in her analyses of what might reasonably have gone through their minds, she stays faithful to the matters of historic record while conjecturing what people may have been planning as evidenced by their past and later actions. She deals with the fracturing relationships after the death of the prophet and how they degenerated into what we know today, as "The Shia-Sunni Divide".

In my opinion, thus book is a "must read" for any non-Muslim in order to even begin to understand how Shia and Sunni relate with one another; this is a book the policy-makers in the halls of Washington, should read before they deal with anything further, regarding Iran or the Middle East.

Most Muslims go through life knowing only what their peers and their faith-leaders tell them about the "other" sect. Sunnis believe in a whole lot of mythology about the Shia, that stirs up suspicions and antipathy towards the Shia. Shia, on the other hand, have little ability to help inform their Sunni brethren, about the origins and distinctions of the Shia sect.
Would that this book were read by members of both sects!

My congratulations to Hazleton for another excellent work, it is a real contribution to human understanding.
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on October 10, 2015
In this wonderfully written book where Lesley Hazleton stays true to actual history, while making the 1400 year old events read like a novel. These were extraordinary people in extraordinary times. However, in her careful touch, every characters comes alive with all their complexities of human emotions--generosities and jealousies, loyalty and ambition, humility and ego. While many of the character traits are universal and easy to relate to, the author provides backgrounds of the culture that are foreign to "western" or "modern" ones, making it easier to look at from the perspectives of the 7th century Arab culture.

There are no doubt hundreds of books of written on the subject, many written from a sectarian point of view, while a few scholarly book from a more neutral outlook (such as of Wilfred Madelung). This is one of the most accessible and easy to read addition to the latter collection of books.
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on July 23, 2013
I wanted to understand the beginnings of Shia Islam and every book I found in English was either horrendously boring, too politically charged, or both. This book was perfect for it. I couldn't put it down. Yes, this kind of narrative history has its weaknesses, but I haven't seen anything that works better as an introduction to the topic. History is about people's stories, after all.

My one complaint is that lending is disabled on the Kindle version. This is the kind of book that, if I owned it in print, I'd be giving out to my friends. It's hard enough to convince friends to try books you recommend even if you are shoving the book into their hands - I'm not sure I can convince anyone to pay $12 for it on my recommendation alone. Maybe I just need better friends.
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on November 12, 2014
This title was selected by our book club recently. Meeting next month to discuss. I expect it will generate a lively discussion. Hazelton's writing is spare and engaging rather than erudite and bland. While it appears to be well researched, at times the story takes on a soap opera air. But that's because the story of early Islam has more than its share of drama, intrigue, politics and familial rivalry. With the recent appearance of Sunni-backed ISIS/ISIL on the world scene, After the Prophet gives the reader considerable background on the earliest history of the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam and what drives their deep animosities and fundamentalist extremism. For readers looking for more understanding of the Koran and its teachings, this book does not satisfy those needs. But, if you want an overview of the early history of the emergence of the faith, it very much delivers.
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