adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT
adbl_ms_membershipImage_includedwith_altText_B076FLV3HT

1 audiobook of your choice.
Stream or download thousands of included titles.
$14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $24.47

Buy for $24.47

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

In this gripping narrative history, Lesley Hazleton tells the tragic story at the heart of the ongoing rivalry between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam, a rift that dominates the news now more than ever.

Even as Muhammad lay dying, the battle over who would take control of the new Islamic nation had begun, sparking a succession crisis marked by power grabs, assassination, political intrigue, and passionate faith. Soon Islam was embroiled in civil war, pitting its founder's controversial wife, Aisha, against his son-in-law, Ali, and shattering Muhammad's ideal of unity.

Combining meticulous research with compelling storytelling, After the Prophet explores the volatile intersections of religion and politics, psychology and culture, and history and current events. It is an indispensable guide to the depth and power of the Shia-Sunni split.

©2009 Lesley Hazleton (P)2016 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

More from the same

Narrator

What listeners say about After the Prophet

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    617
  • 4 Stars
    191
  • 3 Stars
    58
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    8
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    565
  • 4 Stars
    165
  • 3 Stars
    50
  • 2 Stars
    11
  • 1 Stars
    7
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    576
  • 4 Stars
    152
  • 3 Stars
    48
  • 2 Stars
    9
  • 1 Stars
    8

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

Interesting narrative history

This is a subject I am not too familiar with. I am well versed on the gulf between Catholicism and Protestantism, but the politics of Islam is new information for me. I would assume this book would be of interest to those readers not familiar with the religion of Islam.

The split in the Islam world began as Muhammad lay dying. Apparently, the battle was between the family of the favorite wife, Aisha, against his son- in- law, philosopher/warrior Ali. Fifty years later, in what is modern day Iraq, Ali is assassinated. Soldiers of the first Sunni dynasty led by Muawiya massacred seventy-two warriors led by Muhammad’s grandson Hussein at Karbala in 680 AD. Hussein’s ordeal at Karbala became a passion story at the core of Shia Islam. It is part of the annual Ashura rites.

The book is well written and researched. Hazelton’s gripping prose provides insight into origins of the most volatile blend of politics and religion. The author balances past and present as she shows how these 7th century events are alive in the Middle East today. Hazelton states all would have been simple if Muhammad had had a son, but alas he did not.

This book will supply a starting point for readers attempting to understand a complex subject. Hazelton’s writing is biased toward the Shia. I wished she had presented a neutral telling of the facts and let me make up my own mind.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is about seven and half hours long. Leslie Hazelton narrated her own book. She has a most interesting deep voice.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Simply Fantastic

I came to this book with a cursory understanding of Sunni/Shia differences, as well as -- if I'm honest, a fairly meager understanding of the history of Islam. This book pulls off a major feat in being both informational and riveting. Totally riveting. Stay-up-far-longer-than-intended riveting.

At first, I was somewhat skeptical of the narrator. Meaning simply that I wasn't sure from the sample that I would enjoy her narration.) Well, I more than enjoyed it; I loved it. I can't think of a better narrator for this

I realize that I may come across as being hyperbolic, but this is simply one of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to -- in any genre. If you have the slightest bit of interest in learning more about Islam, about divisions within the religion, or even just if you're looking for a story that will command your full attention...well, then I would highly recommend listening to this audiobook.

23 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

A good novel - but poor history

As one who has translated many of the primary sources for this period (al-Waqidi, Ibn Hisham, etc.), I found this an engaging and entertaining story. But readers need to understand it is just that -- a story. It is not history. Hazleton has taken the Islamic equivalent of the "George Washington and the Cherry Tree" myth and then embellished it with an even more elaborate narrative of her own. That narrative includes projecting onto the young Aisha the sensibilities of an English boarding school girl. That bit makes me think of an Enid Blyton book -- "The Wife of the Prophet - 2nd Form at Malory Towers" Totally inappropriate for a 7th century Bedouin girl.

In the telling, Hazleton does provide some insight and interesting factoids that will be illuminating and instructive for most laymen. For example, she explains how the Quranic surah that requires four witnesses for an adultery conviction became a double-edged sword for women, making it nearly impossible to convict someone of rape -- and incredibly risky to make the accusation. The penalty for the crime was 100 lashes (not stoning as many seem to think) while the penalty for a "false" (i.e. one with fewer than 4 witnesses) accusation was 80. Either penalty was occasionally fatal. Hazleton also recounts the martyrdom of Ali, Hassan, and Hussein in a way that really captures the powerful emotional force of these stories -- not just for Shiites, but everyone who hears them. Good stuff.

However, this book fails to adequately explain that all these stories, however much they have influenced both Shia and Sunni, are much closer to legend than history. Hazleton's primary source is al-Tabari, who was writing nearly 250 years after the events took place. His patrons were Abbasids, who had overthrown the Omayyads. This is like getting a history of the Obama administration from someone in the Trump administration. To top it off, these accounts were passed along by word of mouth -- sometimes through a dozen different transmitters, before they were even written down, making them incredibly unreliable. Even after the accounts were written down, early chroniclers continued to embellish them. For example, accounts from the 10th century al-Tabari include all kinds of details that don't exist in the 9th century sources and the 9th century sources have details that don't exist in the 8th century sources. And of course Hazleton has added her own layer of embellishment -- attributing motivations and emotions to Aisha and others that are never described in the primary sources. So at many points along the line, a lot of this stuff was just been fabricated. This book needs to acknowledge that a lot more clearly.

Some of the reviews here, e.g. "This should be mandatory reading for the U.S. State Dept." are troubling. They underscore the misconception that the book is obligated to dispel, but fails to. That is that it is a story -- a good story, engagingly told. But it is just a story, not history.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Gripping tale told extremely well

Absolutely loved it! Extremely detailed and gripping. I couldn't put it down. At the end of it, I was not sure if it was biased. The book spends a lot of time on Shia thought, not so much on sunni ideology. Absolutely loved it none the less. If you are unfamiliar with the history of these events, this is the book to read/listen to.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

great explanation

fantastic story and explanation of the split, especially foe those who are not familiar with Islam

7 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Must read for those interested in Islamic history.

Fantastic read. Wonderful prose. Detailed history. Hazleton makes the complex history easy to understand and captivates the reader. A very even handed historical approach in my opinion. It sheds light on the core history of any Sunni - Shia tensions.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

Understanding

This book provides a good start for understanding the split that exist in Islam, I would highly recommend reading and listening to this book.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

How had it come to this?

'The shock wave was deafening. In the first few seconds after the blast, the millions of pilgrims stood rooted to the spot. Everyone knew what had happened, yet none seemed able to acknowledge it, as though it were too much for the mind to process. And then as their ears began to recover, the screaming began. . . . There were nine explosions in all, thirty minutes of car bombs, suicide bombs, grenades, and mortar fire. Then there was just the terrible stench of burned flesh and singed dust, and the shrieking of ambulance sirens.'

Lesley Hazleton is describing the March 4, 2004 terrorist attack by Al Qaeda Sunni terrorists on Shia pilgrims to the holy city of Karbala in Iraq to commemorate the holy day of Ashura, to pay homage to the martyrdom of Muhammad's grandson Hussein and his other male descendants, who'd been massacred there 14 centuries earlier by fellow Muslims. What happened in 680 AD, less than 50 years after Muhammad died, and what happened in 2004, provoked the same question: How had it come to this? The answer is what Hazleton explores in her excellent book After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam (2009).

Her book tries to explain what happened in 680 and its persisting ramifications. This is important to understand today because what happened to Hussein and his family and followers in Karbala in 680--history to Sunni Muslims, sacred history to Shia Muslims--is the foundation of their persisting division. 'It has not just endured but gathered emotive force to become an ever widening spiral in which past and present, faith and politics, personal identity and national redemption are inextricably intertwined.'

It is, Hazleton says, an epic story. 'If there is a single moment when it all began, it was that of Muhammad's death.' Human nature being what it is, it is tragic but not so surprising that despite having been 'the prophet of unity who spoke of one people and one God,' when he died without a son Muhammad was followed by what would become the 'terrible, unending, bloody legacy of division between Sunni and Shia.' Muhammad's multiple widows and their fathers, his son-in-law Ali and his two sons, various clan and tribal leaders, all involved in a struggle for power and control of the faith and the people . . . Hazleton makes us care about the people involved in the history, especially Muhammad's favorite new wife Aisha, his cousin and son-in-law Ali, and his grandson Hussein, and writes so well about things she knows so well that her history is entertaining, moving, and absorbing.

She presents many key events fundamental to the division that have over time become stories with their own titles, including:

--The Episode of the Necklace
--The Episode of the Pen and Paper
--The Secret Letter
--The Day at the Palace
--The Battle of the Camel

She presents interesting details like about the origin of the hijab or the origin of Islamic fundamentalism. Or like Arabic being 'a subtle and sinuous language' in which the same word can mean different things, depending on context, like jihad, which can mean an internal or external fight or struggle, and fitna, which can mean trial, temptation, intrigue, discord, or civil war, and always implies chaos.

She incorporates cool quotations, like this one from a Muslim chieftain who didn't want to participate in the Battle of the Camel: 'I would rather be a castrated slave herding nanny goats with lopsided udders than shoot a single arrow at either of these two sides.' Or this one from a sociology scholar who partly inspired the Iranian Revolution: 'Religion is an amazing phenomenon that plays contradictory roles in peoples' lives: destroy or revitalize, put to sleep or awaken, enslave or emancipate, teach docility or revolt.'

She herself writes plenty of neat lines, like 'There is nobody as righteous or as blind to reason as the reformed sinner,' or 'As with Yazid in the 7th century, so with George Bush in the 21st, history is often made by the heedless.'

She reads her book perfectly, with a deep, husky, ironic, and compassionate voice and manner. She assumes no accents and doesn't try to sound like a man or a woman, and instead just naturally sounds wise, savory, and androgynous.

The book is illuminating and fascinating, especially to someone like ignorant me who hadn't known what happened after Muhammad died, or who Aisha, Ali, and Hussein were (or why their names are so popular). I have heard that Hazleton is biased against Sunni Islam in favor of Shia, but, although she does stress the nobility of Ali and Hussein, she also admires the chutzpah of Aisha and respects the cunning of Muawiya (the 5th Caliph) and sees the whole vast tragedy with sympathetic and objective eyes. Anyone interested in the history of Islam and the division between Sunni and Shia or in compact, potent, informative, and well-written history whose personages and events connect with our own lives today, should like this book.

6 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars

Unfortunately Misguided

this book gives such an inconsistent account of the events that it becomes very hard to recommend. The events for the most part with I'll say one egregious omission with regards to Imam Hassan (A.S), is accurate enough that I think it's very useful for people who are new to this history but for people like myself it's inconsistencies become extremely apparent.

how do you constantly claim that Aisha is the prophet's (S.A.W.A.W) favorite wife in one chapter and make a big deal out of her being some sort of tragic figure and then claim that actually The Prophet was only Monogamous with Khadeeja (A.S) until her death and who to him was irreplaceable. how do you consolidate these 2 statements?

how do you hold up Aisha's account of Imam Ali (A.S) telling The Prophet to divorce Aisha as a true statement of what actually happened when this book has shown time and time again how unreliable her narration is. Even the author claims that this is very uncharacteristic of Imam Ali. Such a questionable statement is remarked more to force some sort of narrative that seems to twist the truth and it all feels incredibly forced.

although I have to say up until now I was still okay with the book but then the author brings up Imam Hassan (A.S) and frankly speaking I lost all my patience after that. she glossed over so many details of the peace treaty and to even insinuate that Imam Hassan was a feeble man who didn't want to fight is downright INSULTING. This very book cites Imam Hassan as a ready warrior in the battle of the Camel and Siffin but then all of a sudden Imam Ali dies and suddenly Imam Hassan is a feeble man who wanted peace because of the money???? How did Imam Hassan live after he was given this tidy sum? did he live in a Palace of decadence? No he didn't! he lived a quiet retired life tending to his closest companions. never mind that the author never even mentions any of the other conditions of the treaty besides the succession after Mua'wiya.

My breaking point though has to be the mere audacity of claiming Imam Hussain (A.S) was against this treaty. If that was the case than why is it that Imam Hussain waited an entire 10 years after Imam Hassan had been killed to wage a war? Imam Hussain waited for Mua'wiya to die precisely because after the succession did not revert back to the Ahlulbayt the peace treaty was totally and completely broken.

So I'll say this book is fine for newcomers and I appreciate the retelling of the tragedy of Hussain (A.S) but I can't recommend it for people who want a more thorough look into the history instead of a more novelised story version of it.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars

Not Balance

Overall story and the subject is good and the way it’s been told is great .but my taking to this work is not well balanced, She is basically telling the (Shea) part of the story most of time .

2 people found this helpful