- Hardcover: 288 pages
- Publisher: HarperOne; First edition (September 21, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0061782424
- ISBN-13: 978-0061782428
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 63 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #467,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Muhammad: A Story of the Last Prophet Hardcover – September 21, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
Chopra, an iconic figure in American popular culture, proves with this biography of Muhammad that he is more than just a New Age talking head. Varying by chapter the narrative viewpoints and using actual characters from the life of Muhammad, such as Muhammad's first wife, Khadijah, and his daughter Fatima, Chopra tells the story of Muhammad's life in this "teaching novel." Similar volumes by Chopra have already profiled Buddha and Jesus. While technically this is fiction, several historical events--including ones dear to many Muslims' hearts--are related. The result is one of the most imaginative and touching biographies of Muhammad. For instance, in the prelude, inventively narrated by the Angel Gabriel, the angel bringing the revelation of the Qur'an to Muhammad, describes the illiterate caravan trader who had married his wealthy female boss. The next chapter, narrated by Muhammad's grandfather Abdul Muttalib, tells the legend of the Zamzam well, which Muslims visit to this day in their annual hajj pilgrimage. Chopra goes on to describe a people yearning for a message that would liberate them from polytheistic tribalism and the messenger, a trustworthy but frightened man who became a prophet. Chopra's grasp of Muhammad's mission and life is accessible and extends his range in a surprising direction; his popularization is welcome. (Oct.) (c)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Although ostensibly a novel, Chopra bookends his story about the Muslim prophet with an author’s note and an afterword, offering the reader a history lesson while reflecting on the current relationship between Islam and the rest of the world. The novel emphasizes that of all the founders of the great world religions, Muhammad is the most like us. Muhammad, a merchant who marries a rich widow and routinely travels in caravans as part of his trade, lives a regular life until the day the archangel Gabriel appears and orders the reluctant 40-year-old Muhammad to recite. (To recite, Chopra reminds, is the root word of Koran.) Using multiple first-person narrators—slaves and merchants, hermits, and scribes—he portrays life (including its brutality) on the streets of Mecca. Each chapter is self-contained. Muhammad’s wife, Khadijah, laments there have been no warnings that this tumultuous, life-changing event is about to occur; Ali, the first convert, explains how the Prophet approached him. Compellingly told, this is not only good storytelling; it also helps readers, especially non-Muslims, better understand the complexities and contradictions surrounding Islam. --June Sawyers
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And as a Christian I'm sure glad that I am not! blamed for all the violent acts that some Christians are responsible for... like Timothy Mcvey ect ect ect...that would not be fair now would it?...we all as (Americans)! must not allow ourselves to be divided by ignorant people.... again this is a must! read for us all and it is writing beautifully in an easy to understand way, by a beautiful man (Deepak Chopra)....great work....thankyou.
However, I'm going to focus my review of this book on how it is as a spiritual novel, because I think it is first and foremost that. I think it is best read along with Chopra's Buddha and Jesus, which are my two favorite of his books. In these three fictional (but well-researched) accounts of the world's most well-known religious leaders, Chopra presents three very different spiritual journeys, but highlights common themes. Each feels himself as different from a young age. Each is a profound and devout seeker, and yet at some point is shocked and frightened by where his seeking leads him. Each grapples with his spiritual calling in a personal way, and then feels compelled - although for different reasons - to share what he has come to understand. And Chopra does a good job of placing each of them within the context of their respective historical times, thereby showing us how and why each of their teachings evolved into the religions that they did.
However, Chopra also recognizes the very key differences between these three individuals, or at least how they have come down to us through history. As he says "Muhammad didn't see himself like Jesus, called the son of God, or like Buddha, a prince who achieved sublime, cosmic enlightenment." Muhammad saw himself as an ordinary man, called upon by Allah through the angel Gabriel to 'recite' the teachings that became the Koran (or Qur'an.) He was, according to Islam "the last prophet." And this book does a good job of showing the relationship of Muhammad's teachings to the Jewish and Christian teachings of the time.
Chopra chooses to tell the story of Muhamad's life in a unique form - each chapter is told from the perspective of a different individual in his life, 19 in all. They range from his nurse-maid to family members, from slaves in Mecca to early converts, from his children to his worst enemy. This makes the novel read almost like 19 separate short-stories, which can feel disjointed at times, but the episodes they tell from Muhammad's life are sequential, so this provides a through-thread. In his introduction, Chopra states that he chose to do this in order to "lessen the impact of our modern-day judgments". As he puts it, "The first people to hear the Koran had as many reactions to it as you or I would if our best friend collared us with a tale about a midnight visit from an archangel."
For those looking for a more academic introduction to Muhammad and the teachings of Islam, Chopra does provide a basic life chronology, and an Afterword covering the 5 pillars and 6 core beliefs of Islam, along with other teachings. He also provides some more details on Muhammad's life, and how Islam evolved after his death.
Overall, I think this is an important book, if for no other reason than it will introduce many people for the first time to Muhammad and Islam. Of course, no one should read this and consider themselves fully informed about Islam. This book is one author's fictional take on Muhammad - although it is an author who has spent decades immersed in spiritual and religious studies. And as I said above, I actually think it has the most value when read as an account of one man's spiritual journey. Seekers will recognize the humanity of Chopra's Muhammad, his own spiritual longings and fears, and the complexities of his own reactions and those of people around him. To me, this seems to be Chopra's main goal in writing all three of these novels - Muhammad,Jesus, and Buddha - and I recommend all of them.