Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet

Karen Armstrong, Author HarperOne $23 (290p) ISBN 978-0-06-250014-4
In a meticulous quest for the historical Muhammad, Armstrong first traces the West's long history of hostility toward Islam, which it has stigmatized as a ``religion of the sword.'' This sympathetic, engrossing biography portrays Muhammad (ca. 570-632) as a passionate, complex, fallible human being--a charismatic leader possessed of political as well as spiritual gifts, and a prophet whose monotheistic vision intuitively answered the deepest longings of his people. Armstrong ( The Gospel According to Woman ) refutes the Western image of Muhammad as an impostor who used religion as a means to power, an attitude encapsulated in a psychotic dream episode in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. Denying that Islam preaches total intransigence, she finds in the Prophet's teachings a theology of peace and tolerance. The ``holy war'' urged by the Koran, in Armstrong's reading, alludes to each Muslim's duty to fight for a just, decent society. She draws significant parallels between the spiritual aspirations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (May)
Reviewed on: 03/30/1992
Release date: 04/01/1992
Genre: Nonfiction
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