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Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet

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A fresh, evenhanded biography of the founder of Islam by the author of "A History of God." "Portrays Muhammad as a passionate, complex, fallible human being."-- "Publishers Weekly"


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A fresh, evenhanded biography of the founder of Islam by the author of "A History of God." "Portrays Muhammad as a passionate, complex, fallible human being."-- "Publishers Weekly"

30 review for Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet

  1. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I've been on a quest to read more about Islam, (so I will not be an absolute ignoramus about it, as Americans are often accused of being.). I've read a few books on the topic, but this is the first one I can honestly recommend. Karen Armstrong has not written a page-turner with this biography of Muhammad - in fact, I brought it with me for a long plane-flight, figuring only total boredom would force me to read it. But she has written a powerful biography that not only details Muhammad's long and I've been on a quest to read more about Islam, (so I will not be an absolute ignoramus about it, as Americans are often accused of being.). I've read a few books on the topic, but this is the first one I can honestly recommend. Karen Armstrong has not written a page-turner with this biography of Muhammad - in fact, I brought it with me for a long plane-flight, figuring only total boredom would force me to read it. But she has written a powerful biography that not only details Muhammad's long and very interesting career, it also reveals his beating heart, his absolute sincerity, and his humanity in both its frailty and its spiritual strength. I was genuinely touched by what I learned of Muhammad's spiritual visions, his kindness, his integrity, and especially his relationships with women. And, oh yes, I definitely did improve my knowledge of Islam, which Armstrong is able to unpack with great skill. It IS a bit tedious to plow through in places. But truly: if you want to understand the spiritual core of Islam - not the Islam that has been co-opted by terrorists - this is a great place to start.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Charlie

    A great biography of Muhammad (PBUH) that follows him throughout his life. If a person is used to some spellings of Arabic words, it will take time to learn other spellings. This book is a great companion to the Qur'an, and will allow the reader a greater understanding of the development of one of the world's greatest religions: Islam.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Rewgreen

    An insight for us ignorant westerners brought up on purely Christian doctrine as to what makes the other half of the world tick. This book eases the reader through the violent landscape of tribal Arabia to help us appreciate just why Muhammad is important, not only as the Muslim prophet, but as a complex, political character who could unite nations. Whether read on a secular or religious level the book entertains the reader with its exotic backdrops, entertaining cast and non-judgemental text. On An insight for us ignorant westerners brought up on purely Christian doctrine as to what makes the other half of the world tick. This book eases the reader through the violent landscape of tribal Arabia to help us appreciate just why Muhammad is important, not only as the Muslim prophet, but as a complex, political character who could unite nations. Whether read on a secular or religious level the book entertains the reader with its exotic backdrops, entertaining cast and non-judgemental text. One is left to form ones own opinions on the merits of Muhammad's life as the author adeptly records events without ever making the error of sounding like a dry, dusty, critical historian. All the details are in place, but in a format that reads like an adventure novel rather than a lecture, highly entertaining and fresh. Current events are touched upon in a sensitive, restrained fashion but really they are the one unnecessary aspect of the book. The storyline alone provides many answers as to just why fanatical adherents are willing to go to such extremes in the name of their prophet. One comes away from the book, if not fully understanding the Muslim mindset, then at least appreciating why the devotion is there. A wonderful, entertaining read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Alice

    I was doubtful at first -- Armstrong seemed to be biased too much in the other way (i.e. going out of her way to portray Islam in a good light to counteract what she perceives as centuries of Western ignorance and prejudice). She spent a good chapter at first excoriating the West for its reprehensible attitude toward Islam. But then the biography got really good. You know, once it actually started. Armstrong's descriptions of life, traditions, and politics in 7th century Arabia are fascinating. I was doubtful at first -- Armstrong seemed to be biased too much in the other way (i.e. going out of her way to portray Islam in a good light to counteract what she perceives as centuries of Western ignorance and prejudice). She spent a good chapter at first excoriating the West for its reprehensible attitude toward Islam. But then the biography got really good. You know, once it actually started. Armstrong's descriptions of life, traditions, and politics in 7th century Arabia are fascinating. Her narrative of the beginnings of Islam is quite compelling. And, of course, the characters are vivid: Muhammad, all of his wives (Khadija and Aisha were particularly interesting), Abu Bakr, Umar Uthman, Ali, and all of his enemies. It was an engrossing and informative read.

  5. 4 out of 5

    مصطفي سليمان

    كتاب حلو قوي من كاتبة مستشرقة وان كنت بكره اللفظ دا بحسه مريب ومثير للشك بس ما علينا الكتاب بيتحدث عن السيرة العطرة للنبي وعن كل الاشاعات اللي بتقال وبترد عليه بسهولة كتاب تتعجب ان سيدة غربية تتوصل لتلك المعاني بينما العرب لامؤاخذة بيقراءو الفهرست وبس ودا اخرهم ف الدين والقنوات المريبة اللي شاغله بالها بدخول الحمام والخروج منه بينما اصلا مفيش حمام كتاب لابد ان تقرائه :)

  6. 4 out of 5

    Alanoud

    Very interesting !!! When I first started reading this book, I was sorta doubtful, putting in mind that; a book about the prophet or Islam written by a non-Muslim would be somehow biased, inaccurate or misleading. But to my surprise, this book was beyond my wildest expectations! Karen Armstrong was concerned enough to write a book about the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to clarify some of the most controversial and debatable issues about him and Islam a whole. Especially after the wake of September 11 a Very interesting !!! When I first started reading this book, I was sorta doubtful, putting in mind that; a book about the prophet or Islam written by a non-Muslim would be somehow biased, inaccurate or misleading. But to my surprise, this book was beyond my wildest expectations! Karen Armstrong was concerned enough to write a book about the prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to clarify some of the most controversial and debatable issues about him and Islam a whole. Especially after the wake of September 11 and all the Islamophobic attitudes which increasingly started to break out in the air. In her book, Armstrong does a very good job in introducing an analytical, well-written, decent biography about Muhammad (PBUH) with a cleverly clear emphasis on issues have been always subject to a great criticism by westerns such as the concept of jihad and war, his multi wives and hijab. She also portrays amazingly the ideology of Arabia in the 6th century before the Islam would be introduced and before the prophethood of Muhammad (PBUH), in order to show the massive complex challenges faced the prophet when he began to reform the social, political and economic systems. It was so interesting to read a biography about the prophet (PBUH) from a western and non-Muslim perspective. I loved the way her analysis went so profoundly to shed light on the different aspects of the prophet's life, and then relating them to today's misunderstood conceptions of Islam. For me, the most astonishing part was when she talked about the Qur'an. The way she talked about it was remarkably marvelous to the extent that I really couldn't believe that she is not a Muslim!!! She didn't only talk about the Qur'anic tolerable teachings but her deep analysis extended to consider the rich allusive language used and its spiritual effects on humans' consciousness. Armstrong seeks through her book to encourage a new understanding towards Islam taking Muhammad (PBUH) as a starting point. It was crystal clear also that she is trying to advance understanding and appreciating one another religion. Finally, although her research and study are notably valid as she refers to people such as Ibn Ishaq and Tabari, some of the events and facts were incorrect and inaccurately addressed.

  7. 5 out of 5

    David C. Mueller

    This is an important book about a Person Westerners need to know more about. The author has set an example of balanced scholarship and sensitivity that all religious scholars would be well served to emulate. In the book, the author not only chronicles the life of the Founder of Islam, but also documents the many false statements promulgated in the West for centuries about Muhammad and Islam. The author courageously explains such difficult subjects for Westerners such as the station of women in M This is an important book about a Person Westerners need to know more about. The author has set an example of balanced scholarship and sensitivity that all religious scholars would be well served to emulate. In the book, the author not only chronicles the life of the Founder of Islam, but also documents the many false statements promulgated in the West for centuries about Muhammad and Islam. The author courageously explains such difficult subjects for Westerners such as the station of women in Muhammad's day (along with what He did to elevate their status) as well as the concept of jihad (which is revealed to the reader to be much more that just "holy war"). I found the author's insights into Muhammad's politics fascinating and these insights did not quell the great respect I have for this Divine Revelator, but rather increased my astonishment at His social creativity in the hostile environment He found himself in. Finally, the book is written with sensitivity to Muslims and helped me understand some of the special challenges Muslims living in the West have. As a delightful bonus, the book is quite readable for a religious scholar's work.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deborah Blair

    Comparative religions writer, Karen Armstrong's book, Mohammad, really helps us to understand the Prophet of Islam; I believe that this book is a must read for all Westerners who really care to know, in an unbiased way, the foundations of Islam. Because we often do NOT understand, in being "western" we can often cause more harm than good in the wrongful "opinions" that we believe and espouse. In working to help Christian and Jews of the west to understand people of Islam, I have often used this Comparative religions writer, Karen Armstrong's book, Mohammad, really helps us to understand the Prophet of Islam; I believe that this book is a must read for all Westerners who really care to know, in an unbiased way, the foundations of Islam. Because we often do NOT understand, in being "western" we can often cause more harm than good in the wrongful "opinions" that we believe and espouse. In working to help Christian and Jews of the west to understand people of Islam, I have often used this as a reference, a recommendation for church groups, and for people helping refugees and immigrants from Islamic countries integrate here in the west. Unlike many writers from the East, Armstrong tries to show us exactly who Mohammad was, his strengths, his weaknesses, and his actual life. She gives us background in the area, especially where Mecca is, and its historical background so we can understand Mohammad's early life and the importance of what this religion brought to the area when it came forth. Armstrong helps us to understand Mohammad's early life - His father dead before he was born, his mother dead by the time he was seven, being brought up as an orphan by his uncle, going to work for Kajika, a woman in her forties who had survived four husbands and was a major business person who employed and promoted many men in the trade business that she conducted - - - Kajika's marriage proposal to Mohammad, 16 years her junior and their 26 year marriage; Kajika's providing support for Mohammad's spiritual searching and then becoming the first convert to Islam after his remarkable interactions with the angel, Gabriel - - for the Islamics, Gibreal. The book then goes on to give us and account of his mistakes, his struggles, the wars, Kajka's eventual death and his eventual marrying of many women and why this occured, why it was important for women of the time, and how we can fully understand it. Armstrong then gives us a history of the rest of Mohammad's life and the after math after his death with the political and wars happening between his cousin, and named successor, Ali, married to Mohammad's daughter, Fatima - - and his youngest wife, Aisha that give us the present major factions of Islam, the Sunni and the Shi'ite. Over all this book is one of the best, non biased books to help all of us understand Islam and how it relates to Judaism and Christianity. It points out the many wrong stereotypes that we have came from the Roman Catholic church who felt so threatened by Islam's direct relationship with God, that even in Mohammad's time the Roman church was making up lies about Mohammad and Islam. For understanding Islam and women for westerners, I highly recommend, Nine parts of Desire: the Hidden World of Islamic Women by Geraldine Brooks who helps us to break down our sterotypes and see the problems of living within many cultures from the actual view point of the Islamic Women themselves who help us to understand where we do NOT understand them. In understanding what is going on in Afghanistan and in part the middle east right now - I also recommend Holy War, Unholy Victory: Eyewitness to the Cia's Secret War in Afghanistan for a real understanding of the roots of where we are right now with the Afghan war. Although it only covers up to the early nineties, it helps us understand the Soviet invasion of 1979, our creation of the Tailiban, and what is really going on right now. It takes away many of the false premises that we have been given for the current war.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Osman Ali

    أولا وقبل أي شيء "إنك لا تهدي من أحببت ولكن الله يهدي من يشاء" فاسأل الله أن يرزق كارين ارمسترونج النطق بالشهادتين. ببساطة لمن لا يعرفها هي مستشرقة بريطانية وراهبة سابقة ولكنها لا تتبع أي دين بالرغم من يقينها التام بوحدانية الله وتقديرها وتبجيلها لجميع أنبياءه ورسله ولاسيما خاتم الأنبياء والمرسلين صلى الله عليه وسلم والذي كتبت هذا الكتاب الرائع دفاعا عنه وعن سيرته العطرة بعد أزمة الرواية الشيطانية "آيات شيطانية" وبعد تجدد الأحقاد الغربية ضد الاسلام ونبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم والتي زكاها أيضا بعض ال أولا وقبل أي شيء "إنك لا تهدي من أحببت ولكن الله يهدي من يشاء" فاسأل الله أن يرزق كارين ارمسترونج النطق بالشهادتين. ببساطة لمن لا يعرفها هي مستشرقة بريطانية وراهبة سابقة ولكنها لا تتبع أي دين بالرغم من يقينها التام بوحدانية الله وتقديرها وتبجيلها لجميع أنبياءه ورسله ولاسيما خاتم الأنبياء والمرسلين صلى الله عليه وسلم والذي كتبت هذا الكتاب الرائع دفاعا عنه وعن سيرته العطرة بعد أزمة الرواية الشيطانية "آيات شيطانية" وبعد تجدد الأحقاد الغربية ضد الاسلام ونبيه صلى الله عليه وسلم والتي زكاها أيضا بعض الاصوات الحماسية الغير عقلانية لبعض المسلمين. كتاب رائع وان كان به اخطاء بسيطة او روايات مختلف عليها ولا تخلو منها كتب كثير من الدعاة والشيوخ المسلمين أيضا. الكتاب يخاطب العقل الغربي بصورة رائعة ويسلط الضوء على كلا الجانبين المادي والروحاني من حياة رسول الله ويشرح جميع الشبهات والافتراءات التي يحملها الغرب عليه صلى الله عليه وسلم وعلى الاسلام ككل وأيضا توضح اسباب تتطرف بعض المتحمسين من المسلمين والتي ترى أن الغرب سبب رئيسي فيما وصلوا اليه. أيضا الكتاب رائع ككتاب في السيرة النبوية العطرة ومن أمتع كتب السيرة التي قرأتها وهو كتاب السيرة الثاني الذي قرأته للكاتبة في السيرة - بالرغم من انه الأول من حيث النشر - أما الكتاب الآخر فهو محمد نبي لزماننا والذي كتبته أيضا دفعا عن الاسلام ونبيه الكريم عقب أحداث ١١ سبتمبر. وأخيرا أقول جزى الله كارين خيرا ولا خير أعظم من الاسلام.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed

    I've read several biographies of the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, but this one was unique. Karen is respectful and yet not reverential, and although she uses orthodox Muslim historical sources (Ibn Ishaq, Tabari, Muhammad Ibn Sa'd and al-Waqidi) her outsider approach produced some surprises in what I thought was a familiar topic. She tries to rationalize several incidents, sometimes ignoring the sources in the search for a more credible explanation. An early example is that the army of Abr I've read several biographies of the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, but this one was unique. Karen is respectful and yet not reverential, and although she uses orthodox Muslim historical sources (Ibn Ishaq, Tabari, Muhammad Ibn Sa'd and al-Waqidi) her outsider approach produced some surprises in what I thought was a familiar topic. She tries to rationalize several incidents, sometimes ignoring the sources in the search for a more credible explanation. An early example is that the army of Abraha the Abyssinian governor of southern Arabia which attempted to destroy the ka'bah on the year of the prophet's birth, relating that "at the very gates of the city it seems that his army was stricken by plague and forced to beat an ignominious defeat". This isn't a weakness though, as it provides historical context and forces an evaluation of the source - whether they could be romanticised, tweaked or exaggerated in retelling. She also strongly contextualizes many incidents, providing significant political background to the conflict with the Jewish tribes of Medina. One of the most interesting things about the narrative by far was the attention paid to the socioeconomic situation in Arabia through the time period, explaining it from several generations before the prophet's birth to his death in more detail than the original sources or any secondary ones I've yet come across. This brings an understanding of the power dynamics in the community, how various factors interplay with the newly founded religion of Islam and the complex motivations of different characters. She claims that the tribal solidarity ethic of nomadic Arabs was ill-suited to more cosmopolitan life when Quraysh settled in Mecca, and discussed the slow dissolution of society as the first generation to be born without the daily risk of desert life became mercantile and obsessed with financial profit, neglecting the weak and creating a rapidly-growing wealth and class divide which was new to Arabs. The youth, who felt growing malaise and a lack of belonging in this new Arabia, were naturally among the first to be attracted to Islam, given that social solidarity was one of the first messages preached. The main weaknesses of the book are poor transliteration and several infuriating contradictions of itself or its sources ("there is no evidence that Muhammad saw Islam as a universal religion" being one of the worst). But if you are already familiar with the source material, that isn't significantly detrimental to its enjoyability. Ultimately it ends on a positive note, balancing the just war theology with the strong evidence for a complementary paradigm of peace evidenced from the treaty of Hudaybiyah, the opening of Mecca and the subsequent reconciliation with and forgiveness of Quraysh. Written at the time of the Rushdie crisis, the opening chapter discusses the modern climate of fear and hatred towards Islam and Muslims together with historical trends in Eastern-Western relations, and calls for an attempt to come to mutual understanding and fight Western media and academic bias against Islam. I think she succeeded in presenting a sympathetic, accessible portrayal which is greatly relevant to our modern times, and therefore I happily recommend it.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    Written in the years following 9/11, this book has a clear goal of trying to convince Westerners that the origins of Islam include much that is appealing. Others may fault her for bias, but I think it is successful and honest at the same time. Armstrong does not conceal those acts of the Prophet that are hardest for moderns to understand (most notably, in my view, the execution of 700 men and the sale of their women and children into slavery because of an act of tribal perfidy); she does, howeve Written in the years following 9/11, this book has a clear goal of trying to convince Westerners that the origins of Islam include much that is appealing. Others may fault her for bias, but I think it is successful and honest at the same time. Armstrong does not conceal those acts of the Prophet that are hardest for moderns to understand (most notably, in my view, the execution of 700 men and the sale of their women and children into slavery because of an act of tribal perfidy); she does, however, point out that the thrust of Muhammad's teaching was toward a new kind of harmony within Arabia and for Arabs with their neighbors. She argues that Islam at its origins is an essentially pluralistic religion, requiring of its believers chiefly that they be monotheists and only secondarily adherence to the tenets of the Founder. This emphasis on the worship of the One God thus accords a great deal of respect to others who believe similarly but do not necessarily follow the Quran. It is hard to know how accurate her view is. Well, hard, that is, to those of us who are relatively ignorant of Islam. My own reaction to 9/11 was to read the Quran and books about the religion, including some works by the dean of Arab studies, Bernard Lewis. My only objection to Armstrong's treatment of the subject is her failure to account for the bloody missions seeking converts, but I may now remember my Lewis now as well as I ought. It is well to quote her at length from her closing, because it is where she is headed the whole way through: "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."

  12. 4 out of 5

    Allyson Abu-hajar

    I had read this some time back, and just recently purchased my own copy. Karen Armstrong provides a great source of history during the time period and brings clarity to what transpired. I recommend this book to those interested in reverting to Islam, before reading the Quran; as well as, to non-Muslims, so they would have a better understanding of whom Muhammad (pbuh) actually was. In the beginning of this book, Karen does a great job of writing how other religious groups have suffered for their I had read this some time back, and just recently purchased my own copy. Karen Armstrong provides a great source of history during the time period and brings clarity to what transpired. I recommend this book to those interested in reverting to Islam, before reading the Quran; as well as, to non-Muslims, so they would have a better understanding of whom Muhammad (pbuh) actually was. In the beginning of this book, Karen does a great job of writing how other religious groups have suffered for their beliefs. Where the lies born of imagination, were spread about them that lead to fear mongering, and simply having a different faith, meant it was acceptable to discriminate, and even kill. Sadly, the same fear mongering about Muhammad (pbuh) from the middle ages, still echoes today and I often see it reiterated time and time again, it is very sad that in this day in age how much ignorance still exists regarding Muhammad (pbuh) and Islam . I thought this book was thought provoking as well as educational. Great read!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Larry

    As it is sub-titled this work is more a biography than a review of Muhammad's theology and yet it provides a deeper understanding of the social forces that gave rise to that theology. He was a man of exceptional insight and uncommon courage. The Arabian peninsula was a hard and unforegiving place where strength and power only barely insured survival. Its peoples lived on the edge of extinction constantly and many social mores were adaptations to those conditions, the infacide of daughters and th As it is sub-titled this work is more a biography than a review of Muhammad's theology and yet it provides a deeper understanding of the social forces that gave rise to that theology. He was a man of exceptional insight and uncommon courage. The Arabian peninsula was a hard and unforegiving place where strength and power only barely insured survival. Its peoples lived on the edge of extinction constantly and many social mores were adaptations to those conditions, the infacide of daughters and the practice of having multiple wives being examples. But Muhammad saw beyond tribal existance and its endless destructive warfare to an ummah, or brotherhood of believers, who looked to the welfare of all. His beliefs were grounded in the same history as Judaism and Christianity with funadamentally the same humanistic values. Yet for all this Muhammad only ever referred to himself as a Messinger for there was only one god, Allah, a lack of conceit missing in the other two sister religions.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Johannes Bertus

    In this book Armstrong cherry picks the worst bits of Christian history - Crusades, progroms, Jesus cursing his enemies - and then argues something along the lines of "Well, Muhammed wasn't quite as bad as that!" She seems to think this constitutes an apologia for Islam. There is actually a passage where she argues Muhammed's slaughter of Jews was acceptable because it wasn't as bad as Hitler's! A terribly dishonest book.

  15. 5 out of 5

    ayesha

    I have always heard good things about Karen Armstrong’s books; however, I was extremely disappointed in this biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Of course, as an outsider to Islam, Armstrong’s writings do not confirm or support Islam as the religion of God. Rather, most of the book is dedicated to proving what a genius the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to create such a religion. She attempts to connect many of the Islamic traditions with the old Arab pagan traditions. From an Anthrop I have always heard good things about Karen Armstrong’s books; however, I was extremely disappointed in this biography of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Of course, as an outsider to Islam, Armstrong’s writings do not confirm or support Islam as the religion of God. Rather, most of the book is dedicated to proving what a genius the Prophet (peace be upon him) was to create such a religion. She attempts to connect many of the Islamic traditions with the old Arab pagan traditions. From an Anthropological standpoint, I was disappointed in her treatment of the Arab society. Armstrong depicts Arab society as lacking in civilization and looking for religious enlightenment that the Christians had obtained. There are some positives to the book, not everything is negative. Armstrong does a decent job of detailing Christian abuse against the Muslims throughout history and points to Christianities blood soaked past. However, there are better biographies out there of the Prophet (peace be upon him).

  16. 4 out of 5

    Christian Layow

    This is an excellent book about the life and times of Muhammad. It is a short read, but gives those of us without much knowledge of Islam a great introduction to its beginnings. It is well written and comes with a glossary of Arabic terms and Arabic people that lived during those changing times. What we get is a man dedicated to changing a people of hostile habits into a people of peaceful existence. The degree to which he is humiliated, ridiculed and endangered and yet still works continually f This is an excellent book about the life and times of Muhammad. It is a short read, but gives those of us without much knowledge of Islam a great introduction to its beginnings. It is well written and comes with a glossary of Arabic terms and Arabic people that lived during those changing times. What we get is a man dedicated to changing a people of hostile habits into a people of peaceful existence. The degree to which he is humiliated, ridiculed and endangered and yet still works continually for peace is a sure sign of a man to be honored for centuries. It is important to know the conditions he was up against, to understand what he really accomplished. When he finally took Mecca with his followers, it was a peaceful return to his tribe and place that had not only expelled him, but became entrenched enemies of his cause. It may well have been a time that was due on that peninsula, but to know how Muhammad shaped that time and the perseverance required, is awe inspiring. We also learn that like any religion over time, the messages of the Koran, which was recited and written for those times, has been interpreted in different ways to further agendas much different then how Muhammad may have intended them.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Doha Osman

    "The personality of Muhammad, it is most difficult to get into the whole truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes! There is Muhammad, the prophet. There is Muhammad, the warrior; Muhammad, the businessman; Muhammad, the statesman; Muhammad, the orator; Muhammad, the reformer; Muhammad, the refuge of orphans; Muhammad, the protector of slaves; Muhammad, the emancipator of women; Muhammad, the judge; Muhammad, the saint. All in all these magni "The personality of Muhammad, it is most difficult to get into the whole truth of it. Only a glimpse of it I can catch. What a dramatic succession of picturesque scenes! There is Muhammad, the prophet. There is Muhammad, the warrior; Muhammad, the businessman; Muhammad, the statesman; Muhammad, the orator; Muhammad, the reformer; Muhammad, the refuge of orphans; Muhammad, the protector of slaves; Muhammad, the emancipator of women; Muhammad, the judge; Muhammad, the saint. All in all these magnificent roles, in all these departments of human activities, he is alike a hero." -Prof. Ramakrishna Rao It's a great biography of our great leader (PBUH). It sums up the important historical events that lead to the developement of Islam in a simple and a comprehensible context. Plus, the objectivity of the writer is truly remarkable being a westerner herself. Definitely will read it more than once again.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Vikrant Rana

    This book reads like an apology coming from the west and particularly from the Christian world. Instead of reporting the Prophet's biography from an objective standpoint, an effort has been made at every page to compare the situation and resulting actions in the erstwhile Arabian peninsula with the ones that have been perpetrated by the Christian world over the course of history. I was hoping to get more insights into the current state of affairs in and around Islam and how they are rooted in th This book reads like an apology coming from the west and particularly from the Christian world. Instead of reporting the Prophet's biography from an objective standpoint, an effort has been made at every page to compare the situation and resulting actions in the erstwhile Arabian peninsula with the ones that have been perpetrated by the Christian world over the course of history. I was hoping to get more insights into the current state of affairs in and around Islam and how they are rooted in the very beginnings. It does give a glimpse into the initial phase, and that is why two stars in my review, but it falls very short of an authoritative and genuine piece of work on Prophet's life and times.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Sharabiani

    Muhammad: a biography of the prophet, Karen Armstrong عنوان: محمد (ص): زندگینامه پیامبر اسلام؛ نویسنده: کارن آرمسترانگ؛ مترجم: کیانوش حشمتی؛ تهران، حکمت، 1383؛ در 377 ص؛ کتابنامه از ص 365 تا ص 377؛ موضوع: سرگذشتنامه حضرت محمد (ص): پیامبر اسلام از سال 53 پیش از هجرت سال 11 هجری قمری قرن 20 م این کتاب به عربی نیز ترجمه شده، با عنوان: سیره النبی ؛ مترجم: محمد عنانی و فاطمه نصر؛ قاهره، سطور، 1376؛ در 415 ص 76 منتشر شده است

  20. 5 out of 5

    Yehia Hassan

    من أفضل ما كتب عن سيرة الرسول صلى الله عليه وسلم بأقلام أجنبية، وأعجبني فيه جدًا ملمح لم يتلفت إليه أحد من الكتاب المشرقيين، وهذه هي الميزة عندما تكتب إمرأة، كتبت أنه رغم هيبة الرسول وكونه حاكم خاض الحروب وكانت له سطوة على أعدائه، إلا أن أيا من نسائه لم تشعر يومًا أنها حائفة منه أو تترهب شراسة منه، أعجبني هذا الملمح جدًا

  21. 5 out of 5

    Gregory Milliron

    This is an excellent book. It is rare that a person who has influenced the development of nearly all modern civilizations on Earth, especially one from such an early part of history, receives such a thorough account of his life. History is fortunate to have non-scriptural accounts of the life of Muhammad; and, it is equally unfortunate that we do not possess similar accounts of Jesus of Nazareth. I find Karen Armstrongs prose mostly engaging and clear, and the organization of the book is sensibl This is an excellent book. It is rare that a person who has influenced the development of nearly all modern civilizations on Earth, especially one from such an early part of history, receives such a thorough account of his life. History is fortunate to have non-scriptural accounts of the life of Muhammad; and, it is equally unfortunate that we do not possess similar accounts of Jesus of Nazareth. I find Karen Armstrongs prose mostly engaging and clear, and the organization of the book is sensible. I do see how some readers might mistake Armstrong for a Muslim apologist, but only because modern ignorance of Muhammed's life, and Islam in general is so ubiquitous. Frankly, though, Armstrong is correct in assuming most readers of her text are in need of such fleshing out of some of the issues modern humans face in understanding Islam. I know many people who should read this book, and many, many more who will refuse to do so.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Lucas

    Armstrong bends over backward to make Muhammad into something other than a bloodthirsty warlord, but her apologetics are hilariously inadequate. She sounds like a defense attorney defending her client against charges of war crimes far more than she sounds like a historian. This book is only interesting for seeing what contortions moderate Muslims have to go through to believe that their prophet is actually a praiseworthy man. She would have done more good for the world if she had taken on Muhamm Armstrong bends over backward to make Muhammad into something other than a bloodthirsty warlord, but her apologetics are hilariously inadequate. She sounds like a defense attorney defending her client against charges of war crimes far more than she sounds like a historian. This book is only interesting for seeing what contortions moderate Muslims have to go through to believe that their prophet is actually a praiseworthy man. She would have done more good for the world if she had taken on Muhammad's brutality and challenged Muslims instead of pandering to them.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Diana Nassar

    An excellent, detailed, readable, unbiased, accurate, and intelligently-written biography of the prophet. Clever comparisons with Christianity and Judaism for some incidents. Fresh views and explanations for some of the famous misconceptions. Great effort from a Non-Muslim and a Westerner! Definitely one of the best Sirah and biography books I have ever read. I utterly recommend the book.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Varmint

    really just worthless as history. manages to tell the life story of the prophet mohammed without using the words "beheading" or "slaveowner" or "massacre". this is a spectacular waste of time.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jud Barry

    Armstrong apparently wrote this book in the wake of the Salman Rushdie "Satanic Verses" fatwah/furore--it is thus an attempt to help Western readers approach an understanding of Islam by providing them with the historical context both to Muhammad's life and to his revelations. It is a sympathetic biography, but it is also an objective one. There is no interest in whitewashing or sanitizing the record of events so as to soothe Western sensibilities; there is however an overriding concern to situat Armstrong apparently wrote this book in the wake of the Salman Rushdie "Satanic Verses" fatwah/furore--it is thus an attempt to help Western readers approach an understanding of Islam by providing them with the historical context both to Muhammad's life and to his revelations. It is a sympathetic biography, but it is also an objective one. There is no interest in whitewashing or sanitizing the record of events so as to soothe Western sensibilities; there is however an overriding concern to situate these events in the particularities of the time and the place. As far as the record itself is concerned, it is interesting to learn that the Islamic historiographical tradition concerning Muhammad is to collect all the accounts, even if they differ, provided they come from a reliable source that can be traced back to the events at hand. Having personally experienced--as a Westerner steeped in Christian culture--the difficulty of approaching the Qur'an (in fact, I gave up the attempt), I highly recommend this book for the deep context it provides, and would counsel readers to allow Armstrong to set the stage before taking the plunge into the Islamic scriptures. Without an understanding of the religious and cultural realities of the 7th-8th century Arabian peninsula, it seems to me to be impossible for a Western person also to understand the purpose, process, and impact of Muhammad's accomplishments, not to mention their abiding importance in today's world. Speaking of which, we have now moved to another phase of Islamofurore in the West: that of ISIS and its attempt to restore the caliphate. It would be a very useful colloquium to combine a reading of this book with Graeme Wood's piece about ISIS in the Atlantic.

  26. 4 out of 5

    June

    It seems like it's always going to be tricky to find a good starter book on such a controversial figure as Muhammad. Armstrong is neither a Christian nor a Muslim (although a theist of an uncommitted sort I think) so I thought her popular biography might be a reasonable starting point. I think it was. There was some cheap (inaccurate) jibes at Christianity every now and again (for instance noting that Muhammad was so 'real', experiencing and showing emotions like grieving a dead friend, playing It seems like it's always going to be tricky to find a good starter book on such a controversial figure as Muhammad. Armstrong is neither a Christian nor a Muslim (although a theist of an uncommitted sort I think) so I thought her popular biography might be a reasonable starting point. I think it was. There was some cheap (inaccurate) jibes at Christianity every now and again (for instance noting that Muhammad was so 'real', experiencing and showing emotions like grieving a dead friend, playing with children etc... and then suggesting that Jesus lacked these qualities/experiences). However, overall I did feel that the book gave me a good insight into the context for the start of Islam and its early years, throughout Muhammad's life. It did explain quite well why the start of Islam did involve so much bloodshed and war (the primitive tribal context, more akin to the early years of Judaism fighting other tribes). Muhammad came across as a wise leader and clever strategist. It was helpful to think of comparing him to say David rather than Jesus. It basically charted the shift of the people of the Arabian peninsular from polytheism to monotheism. It was interesting to note as well the extent to which the Arab people were (according to Armstrong) so desperate for a prophet of their own, to match the Jewish and Christian faiths. And interesting to see where/how they'd already come across versions (usually rather odd ones) of Judaism and Christianity. This explains, for example, why Muslims often think the Trinity is God, Mary and Jesus - they'd got this idea from a Christian group who, unsurprisingly, had overstated the divinity of Mary. Long review - lots learnt! Lots more to learn...

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan Devy

    for me, as moslem, I almost didn't find any new story about our Prophet in this book, but Karen Armstrong had elaborate the life of Mohammad meticulously and in such a way which I believe everyone could digest the message my Highlight in this book is about Mohammad's polygamy surprisingly, Armstrong described those marriages ( Mohammad married about 13 moslem women and a jew woman during that era ) were intended to bring unity in scattered Islamic tribes, by marrying women from those tribes event for me, as moslem, I almost didn't find any new story about our Prophet in this book, but Karen Armstrong had elaborate the life of Mohammad meticulously and in such a way which I believe everyone could digest the message my Highlight in this book is about Mohammad's polygamy surprisingly, Armstrong described those marriages ( Mohammad married about 13 moslem women and a jew woman during that era ) were intended to bring unity in scattered Islamic tribes, by marrying women from those tribes eventually Mohammad gained trust from them, especially from his closest friends ; Abu Bakr and Umar bin Khatab. So those marriages were not for sexual intention, but rather for good causes. however, polygamy is still hard to accept till this day, that's why we have to understand the reason of this and be wise, because as mentioned in Holy Qoran, God had known that men could never be just among his wives. some people interpreted this verse as the prohibition of polygamy, but some others interpreted this as a warning from God about the problems cause by polygamy. this is a very insightful book, I never found a book about our prophet (writen by non-moslem) as detail as this, Armstrong had done such wonderful research for this

  28. 5 out of 5

    Nazim Suzaly

    Ok im gonna write a review asap for this book while my thoughts on it is still fresh. I never read a biography of the prophet before so this would be my first and especially from a westerner POV and a non-muslim. She addresses on why a lot of westerners view on Islam as a very extremist and aggressive religion only linked with terrorism nowadays when the prophet himself always wanted peace and tried to avoid violence as much as possible. I personally think Karen did a great job explaining Islam an Ok im gonna write a review asap for this book while my thoughts on it is still fresh. I never read a biography of the prophet before so this would be my first and especially from a westerner POV and a non-muslim. She addresses on why a lot of westerners view on Islam as a very extremist and aggressive religion only linked with terrorism nowadays when the prophet himself always wanted peace and tried to avoid violence as much as possible. I personally think Karen did a great job explaining Islam and the prophet by using a lot of sources so that the readers would not get lost and understand as easily as possible from a general perspective. Not only does she tell the tale of the prophet but also explains the history on the muslim tradition that is practiced nowadays from the origins of the Hijab to the reasoning of the harsh penalty of the Hudud. The book might be a little bit draggy in the early chapters since she explains a few history of other religions for comparison as well as the western view on Islam nowadays. But I personally believe this book is a good read to understand Islam and their love towards their prophet let it be for a muslim or even a non-muslim. I don't see any favoritism in her writings.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Kkraemer

    I am appalled at my ignorance, and I have learned much from reading Karen Armstrong's biography of the Prophet. I found that having a Catholic guide to this complex man, his times, and his teachings helped me understand both how his message is similar to and different from the teachings of the Judeo=Christian tradition. That being said, this is a difficult book to read. It's written in a somewhat ecclesiastical style, each sentence (verse?) introducing a new character, a new action, a new respons I am appalled at my ignorance, and I have learned much from reading Karen Armstrong's biography of the Prophet. I found that having a Catholic guide to this complex man, his times, and his teachings helped me understand both how his message is similar to and different from the teachings of the Judeo=Christian tradition. That being said, this is a difficult book to read. It's written in a somewhat ecclesiastical style, each sentence (verse?) introducing a new character, a new action, a new response. This made it seem like a list of things that happened, and it was difficult to get a sense of time or importance as I read. Every once in awhile, though, Armstrong would stop the action to explain an important point or to ponder an important Truth. This helped immensely. I learned a lot and am glad that I read this book. It helps explain much about the things that have been happening in our current world.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Su

    So far it is utterly fascinating to read a biography of the Prophet with a more in-depth examination to determine his place in history as a man and political leader, not necessarily a religious figure. The general criticism so far seems that she is overly sympathetic to Muhammed. Just because she is positive about Islam and Muhammed, doesn't mean she is necessarily biased. As I understand it, it is just a biography by a biographer who over the course of her research has come to admire her subjec So far it is utterly fascinating to read a biography of the Prophet with a more in-depth examination to determine his place in history as a man and political leader, not necessarily a religious figure. The general criticism so far seems that she is overly sympathetic to Muhammed. Just because she is positive about Islam and Muhammed, doesn't mean she is necessarily biased. As I understand it, it is just a biography by a biographer who over the course of her research has come to admire her subject. She is not a muslim and yet her depiction of Muhammed and Islam's place in the world, corresponds closely to how many Muslims the world over experience their religion. It can also serve as a historical reminder of the gulf between the Prophet's intentions and some of the misguided ways in which some of his followers practice his teachings today. So far, so informative.

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