Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet

Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet

3.7 11
by Karen Armstrong

ISBN-10: 0062508865

ISBN-13: 9780062508867

Pub. Date: 09/28/1993

Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers

This vivid and detailed biography strips away centuries of distortion and myth and presents a balanced view of the man whose religion continues to dramatically affect the course of history.


This vivid and detailed biography strips away centuries of distortion and myth and presents a balanced view of the man whose religion continues to dramatically affect the course of history.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
6.08(w) x 9.32(h) x 0.84(d)

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments viii
Introduction 9(7)
Maps, genealogical charts
1 Muhammad the Enemy
2 Muhammad the Man of al-Llah
3 Jahiliyah
4 Revelation
5 The Warner
6 The Satanic Verses
7 Hijra: A New Direction
8 Holy War
9 Holy Peace
10 Death of the Prophet?
Notes 267(11)
Select Bibliography 278(3)
Index 281

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Muhammad: A Biography of the Prophet 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
everyone else thats reviewed it seems to enjoy talking smack about islam and reading books about the few negative verses in the quran. if you read this book with a truly open mind its great
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was divided between rating this book a 5 because of the style that I found very interesting or a 3 for its historiography. Karen Armstrong writes a biography of Muhammad that bucks the trend of today (2006) to criticize Muhammad and writes a fairly unbiased biography showing some of his warts and blemishes, but also what she apparently believes is sheer genius and inspiration. Armstrong is somewhat of a mystic herself, and writes from that point of view than from a Christian or Islamic POV. Her many stories about how early Muslims converted after hearing the 'beauty of the Qur'an' (consistently misspelled Qu'ran in my copy) hit home with me. A few weeks ago I was listening to a recording of the recitation of the Qur'an to brush up on my Arabic when my wife walked through the room. She paused, then staid 'That's beautiful! What is it?' It is particularly difficult to recommend a biography of Muhammad to the general American reader during this time of spreading Islamophobia. Books do take a point of view, but the same book about Muhammad is likely to be condemned by both sides of the debate for bias toward the other side. Armstrong has written an interesting book for the general American reader that can hardly be accused of anti-Islamic bias. I personally felt that it leaned a little too far toward mysticism, and I would bet the author could write a very interesting book on Sufiism. Recommending a book with a different POV and stronger on facts and stories of Muhammad's life, I'd lean toward Muhammad Haykal's The Life of Muhammad. The author is Egyptian, eastern in POV but attempting to be western in viewpoint. This book was written in the 1950's, so missing the current trend of Islamism, but it tends to be apologetic. There are many comparisons of incidents in Christianity contained in the book. Of course the oldest and most authoritative biography is Sirat Rasul Allah by ibn Is.haq translated by A. Guillaume and available in an inexpensive edition of about 800 pages. Written about 750 AD, the most obvious difficulty is the writing style and the fact that most of us are totally unfamiliar with the nature of medieval Arab historiography. As was common then, many stories are told in two or three versions with no real clue as to which is the most reliable. We would tend to believe that which is most realistic or best fits our prejudices from a 21st century POV, but is a 21st century POV fair for an 8th century book? Another difficulty is that most of us are unaware of the circumstances under which the book was written (the period when the Umayyad Caliphate had just given way to the Abbasid Caliphate) or what that means for the POV and prejudices of ibn Ishaq himself. But Armstrong's book contains a fair, fairly complete, but brief biography of Muhammad and is a good bet for the first attempt to understand the prophet's life and trials.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Anyone who has the slightest interest in Religion, or Islam should read this book. It is analytical and well stated. As a student of comparative religion I find this book very useful and utmost inspiring. It cleared alot of misconceptions about Prophet Muhammad and Islam which people percieve today. Being Born a Hindu, I was always told to stay aloof from Islam or anything related to something Islamic. And Also, Being Born a Hindu I found much of my inspiration from the Bhagavad Gita which is said to house the basic fundamentals in all religions. When I read this book, I could see Prophet Muhammad as an example to the Instructions Lord Krishna gave on the battlefield. Lord Krishna had said it, and Prophet Muhammad had shown it. It just gives me another reason to believe that all come from the same source, no matter whether Hindu, or Muslim.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The author is not a muslim, she is not writing the book to plce Islam above other religions, but rather to give a more accurate view of the Prophet's teachings and what Islam is based on. We read this book in my 'History of Islam' class and it was very informative for the students to say the least. Those who say Armstrong is to apologetic in her portrayal of Muhammad should note the propaganda against Islam that has been spreading.
Guest More than 1 year ago
While Karen Armstrong's book is clearly intended for readers with a limited knowledge and understanding of Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), it is a good place to start for readers seeking background information on Muhammad as a historical figure and great leader, and she makes several important points about the bias shown towards him and his acheivements in the present day. Of course depending on the source, bias can be found either way. Of course, Ibn Warraq's book 'Why I Am Not A Muslim' is completely written against Islam, taking any potential 'bad' part of the religion and highligting it, while ignoring the inherent beauty and tolerance that the Prophet fought to instill. For a less biased look at Islam and a more in-depth analysis, I recommend books by Seyyed Hossein Nasr and Khaled Abou El-Fadl. For readers wishing to touch the tip of the iceberg and learn about the life of this incomparable man, Karen Armstrong's book will suffice.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How can people say that this book is biased, when as a reader, we interperet the information biasedly I believe that Armstrong did a good job writing this book. She didnt twist the truth to make it more or less friendly to the readers. She gave a clear and honest description on the Prophet's (peace be upon him) life. She also incorperated many fitting quotes from the Holy Quran into her writing. I esp. enjoyed the of the Prophet(pbuh) that she included at the beginining of the book. It makes it easier as a reader to understand the realtions of the family. Good book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
A well written book to read. Armstrong is completely unbiased. Very informative about Muslims and their believes in this day and age. Highly recommended.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Nuff said. Anyone seeking an objective, analytical approach to the life of the Prophet of Islam has come to the wrong place. Ancient histories of dubious credibility are distilled and presented as simple fact. The more controversial questions concerning the evolution of Islamic practice during Muhammad's life are mostly ignored and when not, are glossed over with a rosy wash. Finally, if the author had controlled her desire to enter into irrelevant hostile commentary on Western civilization, she could have saved us half the length of the book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
There is no balance in this book. The overriding message here is that the west, Christians, Jews and non-Muslims in general have all misunderstood Muhammad owing to their prejudices and misperception. Throughout the book the author heaps criticism on Muhammad's critics, specifically those who are Christians, even the ones who have studied Muhammad not from the point of view of Christianity but of modern, enlightened, rational, scientific inquiry. One gets the impression that the book, which evidently targets a Christian reading audience (I am not a Christian myself), tries to stop Christians from raising valid questoins about Muhammad and Islam by trying to make them feel guilty about themselves. To paraphrase: Judge not lest ye be judged yourselves. Indeed the book begins with the author drawing a parallel between the present-day assassination threats against Salman Rushdie for offending Muslim sensibilities in his book 'The Satanic Verses' with a thirteenth century Talmud-burning campaign by King Louise of France. On the other hand, as far as Muhammad is concerned, the author tries to justify everything including the earliest known genocide of Jews in Arabia. Here is an example from page 208 of the book: 'The massacre of [the large Jewish tribe] of Qurayzah is a reminder of the desperate conditions of Arabia during Muhammad's lifetime. Of couse we are right to condemn it without reservre, but it was not as great a crimes as it would be today.'
Guest More than 1 year ago
I would recommend this book to the reader. It is a bit too apologetic, however. I would ask that to get a more rounded picture, ``Why I am not a Muslim'' by Ibn Warraq should be consulted.