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Middle Eastern

Memories of Muhammad: Why the Prophet Matters

Omid Safi.
Publisher HarperOne  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 9.25 x 6.25 x 1.05 inches
ISBN 9780061231346
Pages/Publication Date 346/2009
Daedalus Item Code 13803
This item is not available.
Who was Muhammad? What do we know historically, and does that differ from how he is seen by his followers and venerated today? This biography by leading Muslim-American scholar Omid Safi presents Muhammad as a lens through which to view both the genesis of Islamic religion and the grand sweep of Islamic history, spotlighting the spread of Islam, holy wars, the status of women, the significance of Jerusalem, and current tensions with Jews, Hindus, and Christians. Safi also provides a rare glimpse into how Muslims spiritually connect to God through their Prophet, in the mosque, in the home, and even in cyberspace.

"Safi recognizes that in painting a portrait of the prophet Muhammad, he does not begin with a blank canvas. Indeed, he begins by confronting the negative images of Muhammad within the Western tradition—from Dante's horrifying portrayal of the prophet's damned soul to the mocking caricatures proffered by twenty-first-century Danish cartoonists. Safi invites his readers to lay aside the prejudices fostered by such images as they join in a fresh investigation of Islam's Prophet. That investigation—based on the Qur'an and on Ibn Ishaq's eighth-century biography, supplemented by other ancient and modern sources—uncovers a complex personality: a towering spiritual leader who dramatically challenged traditional Arab polytheism and a resourceful political strategist who appealed to the socially marginal while outmaneuvering the powerful elite. As he fills in the historical picture with accounts of important figures close to Muhammad—Khadijn, Ali, Hossein—Safi must delve into the tensions that developed among Muhammad's followers, pitting the Shi'a against the Sunni, radical against moderate. Because of the persistence of these tensions, Safi despairs of delivering a single definitive understanding of the prophet. However, his depiction of a profoundly humane and compassionate visionary offers a much-needed corrective to the darker perspective promulgated by some Islamic extremists."—Booklist (starred review)

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