Born in 570 CE, he spent six decades spreading his message of peace and compassion. Yet for many people today, their knowledge of Muhammad is rife with misconceptions and misinformation, often fueled by bigotry. Armstrong sets the record straight, shattering the myth that Islam is a religion of cruelty and violence. One of the world's leading religious experts, Armstrong is a deeply respected voice in the continuous struggle for interfaith understanding. Her cogent assessment of Muhammad's genius and insightful summary of his authentic beliefs are priceless in this modern world troubled by religious extremism and intolerance.
©2006 Karen Armstrong; (P)2007 RECORDED BOOKS
If you'd like to get to the root of Muhammad, then Karen's book is the perfect introduction. She smoothly separates the religious from the secular as well as his economic from political strife in Mecca and Medina. She deftly brings in the Quran where the Surahs intersect with his life transitions. It was eye opening to see how inclusive and revolutionary Islam was when Muhammad was alive. He would be labeled today a radical feminist. It is also saddening how after the leader dies the spiritual movement assumes the role of religious power and control limiting the blessedness of what could be so much more.
Full of lessons how to live life, how to become a good human being, presents true shape of Islam. Telling right meaning of words like Jihad and other many things which even today's many Muslims don't know. When Prophet P.B.U.H conquered Mecca he forgives all who hurt Him, who force Him to migrate Medina from Mecca . He didn't force anyone to convert to Islam as some of scholars of today misguiding there disciples that converting other to Islam forcefully is good thing. Worth to listen by both Non-Muslims who want to know about Islam and for Muslims who are misguided my illiterate, greedy scholars. Congratulations to Karen Armstrong for this great work. God bless her.
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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.
Don't be afraid to broaden your mind,,,give this book a try!
This account sticks to its knitting in the sense that it does not go far and wide into other contexts, such as vast historical panoramas, and it takes Muhammad as it finds him within his own times, place and cultural context. Of course his influence and impact on those things were vast, but we go into the narrative step by step, from the relative smallness of his beginnings through the daunting challenges at each turn, each level oif personal maturity and achievement, and the devising of solutions (or to take him on his own terms, the imparting of revelations) that worked, such as they did, within that time and place. The author has an even-handed, reasonably sympathetic stance in this work; it is not a polemic trying to aggressively adversely confront all of this. For example, the reality of the polygamy (and the respective characters and behaviors of his wives) is merely explained calmly as a part of the sequence of events, in its local context of the customs of the time and place. Those customs in the area of Mecca are explained well, helping to give meaning and context to Muhammad's actions and character.
I knew nothing about Islam before I started this book. It was a great intro into the subject. The author does a very good job giving a prespective on some of the subjects the modern West finds very foreign. Highly recommended.
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