Item description for The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography by Barnaby Rogerson...
Overview In this fascinating and insightful biography, Barnaby Rogerson explores the life and times of Muhammad. Vividly describing the sixth-century Arabia where Muhammad was born, Rogerson charts his early years among the flocks, the caravans and the markets of his native Mecca; the night he received his religious vision; the perilous years of reciting the revelations in Mecca; his escape to Yathrib (Medina) and his subsequent battles. In his lifetime Muhammad established a new religion, Islam; a new state, the first united Arabia; and a new literary language-the classical Arabic of the Qur'an. A generation after his death, he would be acknowledged as the founder of a world empire and a new civilization. Any one of these achievements would be more than enough to permanently establish his genius, but Muhammad also managed to stay true to himself and retained to his last days the humility, courtesy and humanity that he had learned as an orphan and shepherd boy in central Arabia. If one looks for a parallel example in the history of Christianity, one would have to combine Paul the Apostle with the Emperor Constantine and Francis of Assisi. In a world where the understanding of religions is ever more essential, Barnaby Rogerson's book could not be better timed. A sharp, thoughtful, open-minded account, it brilliantly captures the historical resonance and spiritual significance of this leader, visionary and prophet.
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Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 1" Width: 5.75" Height: 9" Weight: 1.1 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 2003
ISBN 1587680297 ISBN13 9781587680298
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More About Barnaby Rogerson
Barnaby Rogerson is an author and publisher. Together with his partner Rose Baring, he runs Eland Books, which specializes in keeping the classics of travel literature in print. He is the author of acclaimed biographies of the Prophet Mohammed, and the Prophet's heirs, a history of "The Last Crusades" and travel guides to such places as Morocco, Cyprus and Istanbul. He writes frequently for "Vanity Fair," "Conde Nast Traveller "(UK), "Harper's Bazaar" and the "Times Literary Supplement.""
Reviews - What do customers think about The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography?
An antidote to "The Truth about Muhammed" Mar 1, 2007
I enjoyed this biography very much. I thought it struck a nice balance of respect and context driven history. The book is a nice antidote to the vitriole of "The Truth about Muhammed" by Robert Spencer on the one side, and the overly reverential view of Martin Lings biography of the Prophet (which non-Muslims might find hard to sympathize).
They both passed Palmyra Jan 15, 2006
Muhammad has never been treated as a whole person in West. In some way, implicitly or explicitly he has been judged by a Christian norm of how Jesus was and became. It is very seldom that people in general take "side" about Muhammad without being ideologically flawed in some way, either mega-conservative Christians or ultra-atheist ex-Muslims. Being myself of Christian background and Liberal Christian, I felt that I needed a book which was above all other books, that could grasp both the context in which Muhammad acted and also having him described as he would have wanted.
Rogerson begins by stressing that he wants to write in a new way about Muhammad. His style is colourful, analytical and heavy - but not always succesful. The first three chapters are a sort of an introduction of Arabia in 6th century, its neighbours, its religious and social system.
The analysis of Arabia's neighbours is fruitful. It seems that Arabia was demographically very heterogenous, geographically very economically important and Muhammad became very early an observant of this fact.
The author goes thru Muhammad's first revelations, the nature of the Cor'an, why the people found Muhammad's message threatening but also inspiring, his wars and his end of life. I think the chapter about wars is important cause it has in some way been the only feature that ordinary people know about and have misunderstood. It is easy here to judge Muhammad by 20th century standards. The same goes for Muhammad's wives - the polygyny notwithstanding - the marriage of 9-year-old Aisha to the 53-year-old prophet is difficult to understand.
Thru Rogerson's pen Muhammad becomes a strategic militant, a family father, a caring husband, a visionary, a man who dreamed of a united Arabia and foremost a inner seekers, who wished the best for his follower's spiritual state.
This book stands out in my reviews, which mostly are about Joseph Smith, the Latter-day Saint prophet (1805-1844). He started his prophetic call in Palmyra and he is my favourite prophet and muse - he really inspires me. When reading Rogerson, I refreshed my memory that Palmyra also was an ancient Roman city in Middle East, not that far from Tyros, and Muhammad passed by this grand city. In some way, I am not that off the track reading about Muhammad. Both him and Joseph became prophets!
The 3-star-note is because I wanted a more detailed analysis of sources in the text itself rather than in an appendix and also the fact that the author is not using the historical overview in a more academic way. He should have changed style in this case. He is also using current name on states such as Iraq about the same areas in those days. The many stories rest unconfirmed and thus the biography doesn't become fairly sustained.
What a disappointment Aug 20, 2005
If this book is one of the better biographies of Muhammad, as one reviewer says, then we are in sad shape, indeed, in understanding both Muhammad and early Islam.
This is not to argue with accuracy of the facts (to the extent they are known) of Muhammad's life, as offered by Rogerson. But legends, tales and traditions that have little or no grounding in historical fact are offered up as if they are absolutely, provably known. Time after time, the author simply doesn't differentiate between fact and speculation.
Even worse, the author breezily tells us that it was fine that Muhammad's third wife was 9 years old (he was 53) because, after all, they were deeply in love! And when Muhammad was attracted to his step-son's wife, the step-son was more than happy to divorce her so Dad could move in. Gimmee a break. But that's how Rogerson writes. I do think such a style is called "mindless apologetics".
Islam, and Muhammad's role in establishing Islam, are simply too important for us now to have books like this trotted out as helpful. Can't someone give us better?
An entertaining biography of the Prophet Jul 23, 2005
I very much enjoyed reading this book. It is well written and informative. It has greatly increased my knowledge of the life of the prophet Muhammad. I highly recommend it. I did, however, feel that at times, the author, when describing several events, would make unwarranted excuses for certain acts of excessive violence displayed by the Prophet. For example, rather than simply describing the Muslim siege of the Beni Quraysh fortress and the subsequent beheadings of its 700 male inhabitants under Muhammad's approval, the author conveniently intervenes on behalf of the Prophet, by reasoning that Muhammad essentially was left with no other alternative. In my opinion it was unquestionably a barbaric act and I felt sadness for those men who lost their lives as I read about the executions. The author disguises his Islamic interpretation of the event as a historical fact. He suggests that such a gruesome act of brutality was perhaps necessary in that, presumably, The Beni Qurayzah, had they not been attacked, would have followed the example of the two other exiled Jewish Tribes who apparently participated in the failed siege of Medina in 627 A.D. Clearly, however, the reason why they were involved was because they sought to regain their respective territories, which had been confiscated from them.
The author also makes the spurious assertion that the gospels were written over a century after Jesus' death. Most biblical scholars are in agreement that the four canonical gospel accounts were written in the first century, the time period in which Jesus lived. The oldest extant New Testament manuscript is a fragment of the gospel of John, which was discovered in Egypt. The date of composition most commonly assigned to it is 125 A.D. There is a consensus among Biblical scholars however, that the original manuscript of the gospel of John would have been produced sometime between 90-100 A.D. It is also important to note that of the four canonical gospels, scholars agree that the Gospel of John was the last to have been written, the Gospel of Mark being slightly more ancient (60-70 A.D.)
I highly recommend the book and I do consider certain aspects of Muhammad's character to be admirable (He accorded specific rights to women, forbade female infanticide, pardoned a sorcerer who cast a spell on him, forgave a woman who attempted to poison him, etc). He was not consistent in his uprightness, however. There are other events (including one which involves a poet who becomes a victim of his wrath) that I will not mention. It is a good book, and anyone interested in learning about the man who founded the Islamic faith, should certainly read this book.
Enjoyable, BUT....... Apr 18, 2005
Mr. Rogerson has written an excellent portrait of the Prophet, woven into the lives and times of Arabia in the 7th Century. While extremely readable, unfortunately it contains certain glaring inaccuracies. To name but a few: * He misquotes the first revealtion to the Prophet as being from Surah Ignaa (page 89). It should be Surah Alaq. * On page 91 he refers to Kadir, when it should be Layl-atul -Qadr. * On page 114 he refers to the Prophet's "daughter" Aisha. Hazrat Aisha was his wife. -Sami T. Ahmad.