Top positive review
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Engrossing and highly relevant for the 21st century
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.