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"If we are to avoid catastrophe, the Muslim and Western worlds must learn not merely to tolerate but to appreciate one another. A good place to start is with the figure of Muhammad: a complex man, who resists facile, ideologically driven categorization, who sometimes did things that were difficult or impossible for us to accept, but who had profound genius and founded a religion and cultural tradition that was not based on the sword but whose name--"Islam"--signified peace and reconciliation" --Karen Armstrong.
There is more historical data on Muhammad's life than on that of the founder of any other major faith and yet his story is little known. Karen Armstrong's work provides a realistic and healthy rebuttal to the many detractions against Islam's Prophet. Even the most stubborn skeptic of the supernatural would find it hard to disagree that Muhammad was a much better man than the times he lived in. He was, as the author demonstrates, a benevolent social reformer who tried to provide a better path forward than the eclectic paganism of his time and the lawless, dog eat dog system of tribal honor. For example, Muhammad made several social reforms that gave women many rights (rights that women in the west did not receive until the late eighteenth century).
Although Armstrong's study does not concern itself greatly with miracles or the supernatural aspects of the Prophet's life, revelations are mentioned but only in passing. The main bulk of the text concerns the intentions and deeds of the Prophet's life. Contrary to the claims of his detractors, Muhammad was a man who abhorred violence, taking to it only as a last resort and even then he did so under a system of rules, which were far more noble and lenient than the other tribes of his time.
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