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Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Book review of Muhammad - Prophet of our time by Karen Armstrong

Whenever I have read or heard Ms Armstrong talking about Islam I have found her opinion to be fair and balanced. Which is not something that you can say about many who write about Islam. When I saw this book I wondered what she had wrote in it.

She explains the sira quite well and brings to life stories more than they should be. Alarm bells started ringing when he reported a false story that the orientalists have cooked up and are passing onto each other.

One of the stories that has no origin in any history book is a false story of his proposed marriage to woman years before his first marriage. I have seen this story in more than one book and neither book quoted a source.

The most alarming about this book is the various attacks on the companions which include wife beating and striking themselves when he passed away. All these were not sourced, neither are there any records for these events in the books of history.

The fabricated story which is famously known as the "satanic verses" this is a fabricated story which was made up by heretics. More than ten scholars confirm this here she expands on this story in the most bizarre manner possible. This part can only be seen as a piece of creative writing because its simply not true.

Although she explains the marriage to Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) in a simple manner, "There was no impropriety in Muhammad's betrol to Aisha. Marriages conducted in absentia to seal alliance were often contracted at this time..." "This practice continued in Europe well into the early modern period. There was no question of consummating the marriage until Aisha reached puberty." Page 105.

Her attacks upon the companions are the most worrying thing about this book yet she does not attack the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) with the same vigour. She is explains his actions in a good manner with the major exception of the "satanic verses." She also emphasises on his excellent characteristics but the attacks on the companions really takes me away from this book.

At this point I begun to incline to the sira book by Barnaby Rogerson because overall that book has the normal orientalist arguements which many can see through but parts of this book are much worse.

I was expecting this book to be much better than it turned out to be. To say it was disappointment is a major understatement but inshallah some people may benefit from this review. I would really like to find a book of sira so I can recommend it to non-Muslims to read, search continues. If you want to read it then borrow the book don't buy it.

Short survival guide to books by orientalists - if you find a story that does not seem correct then follow these steps.

1. Do they source?
2. Is it a sound narration or a weak one or even a fabricated story
3. What is the source? Is it Primary or secondary?
4. Check the source
5. Ask a scholar about it


  1. BismillaharRahmanirRahim

    as-salaamu 'alaikum Arfan! Can you tell us who published this book and who the editors are? Also who did the forward and research? The book should say all of this somewhere.


  2. Anonymous3:40 am

    as-salaam alaikum
    Reading books by non-Muslims (even well meaning ones) or Muslim non-scholars should be given a wide berth

    Allahu a'lam