The Heirs of Muhammad: Islam's First Century and the Origins of the Sunni-Shia Split

Barnaby Rogerson, Author . Overlook $27.95 (415p) ISBN 978-1-58567-896-9

When the prophet Muhammad died in 632, a tempest of political intrigue and deceit blew over Islam, transforming it forever. In this fast-paced and compelling tale, travel writer Rogerson (The Prophet Mohammad ) conducts us on a fascinating journey back to seventh-century Medina and the various schemes that led to the division of Islam into Shia and Sunni factions. The 50 years after Muhammad's death witnessed a succession of caliphs who attempted to carry the Prophet's message forward. Rogerson concentrates on the leaders who ruled in these years immediately after Muhammad's death and traces the split between Shiites and Sunnis to Ali, the Prophet's cousin and son-in-law, and Aisha, Muhammad's wife. Ali was assassinated in 661, after being passed over three times as a successor. For the Shia, the vision of Islam was compromised with Muhammad's death. The Sunnis, on the other hand, believe that the first four "Rightly Guided Caliphs" provided models of the ways that humankind should live. Rogerson provides portraits of all these leaders to illustrate their love of Muhammad and his message. Helpful tables of key characters in the Prophet's life and genealogies of Muhammad and the four caliphs round out Rogerson's charming and captivating chronicle. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 11/13/2006
Release date: 03/01/2007
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 415 pages - 978-1-59020-022-3
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