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The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad by [Hazleton, Lesley]
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The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad Kindle Edition

4.1 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews

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Review


"A rich biography... Those who read it will come away well prepared to understand the prophet whose message, 14 centuries later, is the creed of more than a billion and a half people." -"The San Francisco Chronicle"
"This book offers a welcome chance to read [Muhammed's] life story in a more familiar and accessible form than the Islamic sources... "The First Muslim "succeeds. It makes its subject vivid and immediate." -Hari Kunzru, "The New York Times Book Review"
"Richly detailed and beautifully written... [Hazleton] is able to do with words what is almost never attempted in pictures... indispensable." -"The Seattle Times"
"Like her subject, Hazleton brilliantly navigates 'the vast and often terrifying arena in which politics and religion intersect, ' revealing the deep humanity of faith." -"More"" Magazine"
"The book's focus is an effort to portray the prophet's unique circumstances and recognizable humanity... Hazleton's biography covers the broad strokes of his life with fairness--she doesn't gloss over his more fallible moments--and insight." -"NPR"
"Hazleton is both a good storyteller and writer. Here she has brought to life a man about whom much has been written and whom millions revere, yet about whose actual life very little is known... A very readable book." -"The American Spectator"
"This story is deep with details not only of Muhammad's life journey, but with historic information about the culture of the times in Arabia... filled with rich color of the locations, culture, and people; it is a book plentiful with tales of Muhammad's life that follow logically from orphan to religious leader, but more than that, it enriches us with the detail of a time and place in history." -"The New York Journal of Books"
"[A] humane, audacious biography... An elegant narrative crafted for open-minded readers... a vivid canvas of Arabian life in the early seventh century." -"Ha'aretz"
"""A genuine attempt to try to understand the human experience Muhammad went through... Hazleton queries and questions in a way that will resonate with a non-academic audience trying to come to grips with the fastest growing religion on the planet. It is a welcome antidote to the barrage of hatred and distortion to which Islam has been subjected since the early Bush years"," ""an opportunity for balance to be restored and for those of us who don't subscribe to the extremes to regain the middle ground." -""Guernica""
"Hazleton... is in the revelation business: She's out to consider Muhammad as a mortal human, a man who lived and died and was vulnerable... A world-class history teacher who contextualizes the realities of [his] far-off times... [she] can effortlessly distill years of research into a few conversational sentences." -"The Stranger"
"A strikingly nuanced portrait of how Muhammad the man--fallible and complex--became Muhammad the prophet... With the insight of a psychologist and the details of a historian, Hazleton portrays a Muhammad both divinely inspired and deeply human." -"Spirituality and Health"
"Among the spate of recent biographies of the Prophet Muhammad, this one stands out. Hazleton, a former Jerusalem-based journalist and a psychologist, brings both of her professional skills to bear in this perceptive work, examining Muhammad's life within its historical context and offering insights into the struggles of the early Muslim community. Indeed, 'The First Muslim' might be considered a prequel to her celebrated 'After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split'. Hazleton's mining of the earliest biographies of Muhammad has yielded anecdotes that even scholarly Muslims may not know (although the absence of discussion of Muhammad's last sermon may be missed by some). 'The First Muslim' is a beautifully written and dynamic work that Muslims, those wanting to learn more about Islam, and lovers of the English language will enjoy." -- Asma Hasan, "Saudi Aramco World"
"Vivid and engaging... a fluid and captivating introduction that will be invaluable for those seeking a greater understanding of Islam's message and its messenger." -"Publishers Weekly"
"Winning... a level-headed, elegant look at the life of the prophet amid the making of a legend." -"Kirkus"
"Beautifully written, "The First Muslim "respectfully humanizes the inimitable prophet of Islam and sees him whole." -Cornel West, Professor, Union Theological Seminary, and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
"Hazleton sets her keen eye and her sculpted prose on one of the most fascinating and misunderstood figures in history. What she uncovers is a complex yet utterly relatable man whose personal trials and triumphs changed the course of history. This is a wonderful book." -Reza Aslan, author of "No God but God "and "How to Win a Cosmic War "
"Hazleton has done the seemingly impossible: rendered into human proportions a man who is more often the subject of pious veneration or political vitriol. This is the most readable, engaging study of Muhammad I have ever come across." -G. Willow Wilson, author of "Alif the Unseen "and "The Butterfly Mosque"
""The First Muslim "tells the mostly unknown story of the prophet Muhammad in a masterful, accessible, and engaging way. Hazleton's empathetic touch softens her rigorous scholarship and research as she crucially demystifies both the man himself and the birth of Islam. An absolute delight (and indispensable) for believers and non-believers alike." -Hooman Majd, author of "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ "and "The Ayatollahs' Democracy"


"A rich biography... Those who read it will come away well prepared to understand the prophet whose message, 14 centuries later, is the creed of more than a billion and a half people." -"The San Francisco Chronicle"
"This book offers a welcome chance to read [Muhammed's] life story in a more familiar and accessible form than the Islamic sources... "The First Muslim "succeeds. It makes its subject vivid and immediate." -Hari Kunzru, "The New York Times Book Review"
"Richly detailed and beautifully written... [Hazleton] is able to do with words what is almost never attempted in pictures... indispensable." -"The Seattle Times"
"Like her subject, Hazleton brilliantly navigates 'the vast and often terrifying arena in which politics and religion intersect, ' revealing the deep humanity of faith." -"More Magazine"
"The book's focus is an effort to portray the prophet's unique circumstances and recognizable humanity... Hazleton's biography covers the broad strokes of his life with fairness--she doesn't gloss over his more fallible moments--and insight." -"NPR"
"Hazleton is both a good storyteller and writer. Here she has brought to life a man about whom much has been written and whom millions revere, yet about whose actual life very little is known... A very readable book." -"The American Spectator"
"This story is deep with details not only of Muhammad's life journey, but with historic information about the culture of the times in Arabia... filled with rich color of the locations, culture, and people; it is a book plentiful with tales of Muhammad's life that follow logically from orphan to religious leader, but more than that, it enriches us with the detail of a time and place in history." -"The New York Journal of Books"
"[A] humane, audacious biography... An elegant narrative crafted for open-minded readers... a vivid canvas of Arabian life in the early seventh century." -"Ha'aretz"
"""A genuine attempt to try to understand the human experience Muhammad went through... Hazleton queries and questions in a way that will resonate with a non-academic audience trying to come to grips with the fastest growing religion on the planet. It is a welcome antidote to the barrage of hatred and distortion to which Islam has been subjected since the early Bush years"," ""an opportunity for balance to be restored and for those of us who don't subscribe to the extremes to regain the middle ground." -""Guernica""
"Hazleton... is in the revelation business: She's out to consider Muhammad as a mortal human, a man who lived and died and was vulnerable... A world-class history teacher who contextualizes the realities of [his] far-off times... [she] can effortlessly distill years of research into a few conversational sentences." -"The Stranger"
"A strikingly nuanced portrait of how Muhammad the man--fallible and complex--became Muhammad the prophet... With the insight of a psychologist and the details of a historian, Hazleton portrays a Muhammad both divinely inspired and deeply human." -"Spirituality and Health"
"Among the spate of recent biographies of the Prophet Muhammad, this one stands out. Hazleton, a former Jerusalem-based journalist and a psychologist, brings both of her professional skills to bear in this perceptive work, examining Muhammad's life within its historical context and offering insights into the struggles of the early Muslim community. Indeed, 'The First Muslim' might be considered a prequel to her celebrated 'After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split'. Hazleton's mining of the earliest biographies of Muhammad has yielded anecdotes that even scholarly Muslims may not know (although the absence of discussion of Muhammad's last sermon may be missed by some). 'The First Muslim' is a beautifully written and dynamic work that Muslims, those wanting to learn more about Islam, and lovers of the English language will enjoy." -- Asma Hasan, "Saudi Aramco World"
"Vivid and engaging... a fluid and captivating introduction that will be invaluable for those seeking a greater understanding of Islam's message and its messenger." -"Publishers Weekly"
"Winning... a level-headed, elegant look at the life of the prophet amid the making of a legend." -"Kirkus"
"Beautifully written, "The First Muslim "respectfully humanizes the inimitable prophet of Islam and sees him whole." -Cornel West, Professor, Union Theological Seminary, and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
"Hazleton sets her keen eye and her sculpted prose on one of the most fascinating and misunderstood figures in history. What she uncovers is a complex yet utterly relatable man whose personal trials and triumphs changed the course of history. This is a wonderful book." -Reza Aslan, author of "No God but God "and "How to Win a Cosmic War "
"Hazleton has done the seemingly impossible: rendered into human proportions a man who is more often the subject of pious veneration or political vitriol. This is the most readable, engaging study of Muhammad I have ever come across." -G. Willow Wilson, author of "Alif the Unseen "and "The Butterfly Mosque"
""The First Muslim "tells the mostly unknown story of the prophet Muhammad in a masterful, accessible, and engaging way. Hazleton's empathetic touch softens her rigorous scholarship and research as she crucially demystifies both the man himself and the birth of Islam. An absolute delight (and indispensable) for believers and non-believers alike." -Hooman Majd, author of "The Ayatollah Begs to Differ "and "The Ayatollahs' Democracy"

"A rich biography Those who read it will come away well prepared to understand the prophet whose message, 14 centuries later, is the creed of more than a billion and a halfpeople. The San Francisco Chronicle
"This book offers a welcome chance to read [Muhammed's] life story in a more familiar and accessible form than the Islamic sources The First Muslim succeeds. It makes its subject vivid and immediate." Hari Kunzru, The New York Times Book Review
"Richly detailed and beautifully written... [Hazleton] is able to do with words what is almost never attempted in pictures... indispensable." The Seattle Times
"Like her subject, Hazleton brilliantly navigates 'the vast and often terrifying arena in which politics and religion intersect, ' revealing the deep humanity of faith." More Magazine
"The book's focus is an effort to portray the prophet's unique circumstances and recognizable humanity Hazleton's biography covers the broad strokes of his life with fairness she doesn't gloss over his more fallible moments and insight." NPR
"Hazleton is both a good storyteller and writer. Here she has brought to life a man about whom much has been written and whom millions revere, yet about whose actual life very little is known A very readable book." The American Spectator
"This story is deep with details not only of Muhammad's life journey, but with historic information about the culture of the times in Arabia... filled with rich color of the locations, culture, and people; it is a book plentiful with tales of Muhammad's life that follow logically from orphan to religious leader, but more than that, it enriches us with the detail of a time and place in history." The New York Journal of Books
[A] humane, audacious biography An elegant narrative crafted for open-minded readers a vivid canvas of Arabian life in the early seventh century. Ha aretz
"A genuine attempt to try to understand the human experience Muhammad went through Hazleton queries and questions in a way that will resonate with a non-academic audience trying to come to grips with the fastest growing religion on the planet. It is a welcome antidote to the barrage of hatred and distortion to which Islam has been subjected since the early Bush years, an opportunity for balance to be restored and for those of us who don t subscribe to the extremes to regain the middle ground. Guernica
"Hazleton... is in the revelation business: She's out to consider Muhammad as a mortal human, a man who lived and died and was vulnerable... A world-class history teacher who contextualizes the realities of [his] far-off times... [she] can effortlessly distill years of research into a few conversational sentences." The Stranger
"A strikingly nuanced portrait of how Muhammad the man fallible and complex became Muhammad the prophet With the insight of a psychologist and the details of a historian, Hazleton portrays a Muhammad both divinely inspired and deeply human." Spirituality and Health
"Among the spate of recent biographies of the Prophet Muhammad, this one stands out. Hazleton, a former Jerusalem-based journalist and a psychologist, brings both of her professional skills to bear in this perceptive work, examining Muhammad s life within its historical context and offering insights into the struggles of the early Muslim community. Indeed, 'The First Muslim' might be considered a prequel to her celebrated 'After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split'. Hazleton s mining of the earliest biographies of Muhammad has yielded anecdotes that even scholarly Muslims may not know (although the absence of discussion of Muhammad s last sermon may be missed by some). 'The First Muslim' is a beautifully written and dynamic work that Muslims, those wanting to learn more about Islam, and lovers of the English language will enjoy." Asma Hasan, Saudi Aramco World
"Vivid and engaging... a fluid and captivating introduction that will be invaluable for those seeking a greater understanding of Islam's message and its messenger." Publishers Weekly
"Winning... a level-headed, elegant look at the life of the prophet amid the making of a legend." Kirkus
Beautifully written, The First Muslim respectfully humanizes the inimitable prophet of Islam and sees him whole." Cornel West, Professor, Union Theological Seminary, and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University
Hazleton sets her keen eye and her sculpted prose on one of the most fascinating and misunderstood figures in history. What she uncovers is a complex yet utterly relatable man whose personal trials and triumphs changed the course of history. This is a wonderful book. Reza Aslan, author of No God but God and How to Win a Cosmic War
"Hazleton has done the seemingly impossible: rendered into human proportions a man who is more often the subject of pious veneration or political vitriol. This is the most readable, engaging study of Muhammad I have ever come across." G. Willow Wilson, author of Alif the Unseen and The Butterfly Mosque
"The First Muslim tells the mostly unknown story of the prophet Muhammad in a masterful, accessible, and engaging way. Hazleton's empathetic touch softens her rigorous scholarship and research as she crucially demystifies both the man himself and the birth of Islam. An absolute delight (and indispensable) for believers and non-believers alike." Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ and The Ayatollahs' Democracy"

Book Description

The extraordinary life of the man who founded Islam, and the world he inhabited - and remade.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2450 KB
  • Print Length: 337 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Books; Main edition (4 April 2013)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B00BM9QDAO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars 41 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #143,557 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My sincere thanks to Lesley Hazleton for writing about the Prophet in a respectful way and explaining issues intelligently and within their context. This is such a departure from the mocking of the Prophet and Islam that many people indulge in taking information out of context to serve their own nafarious agendas. The narrative in this book is written with sensitivity. intelligence and reverence that is not often seen from most Western authors tackling this particular topic area.Ms. Hazleton deserves great credit for producing a lovely piece of historical narrative. Highly recommended.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a Muslim I found the book a refreshing counter analysis to the impeccable version of history which is force fed to the Islamic community from birth. Muslims are only really allowed to absorb accounts which demand perfection from the prophet and all the other players in this narrative, including Aisha and ABu Bakr. But in her own words 'the purity of perfection denies the complexity or reality of a life lived', and thus 'to idealize someone in this way is to dehumanize him'. Which I can admit, is what we as a community have done. She really is an exquisite wordsmith. And she is bang on the mark in this respect. For the first time this book allowed me as a Muslim to view the arc of Islamic history in a different way, and to go out and study Ibn Ishaq's work (something that 99.99% would not be aware of let alone have read). With a 21st century critical head on, not completely devoid of emotion and spirituality, but without the blindness, with the same sane rationality that I would apply to every other area of my life.I found myself shocked and saying 'no,no' to the accounts revealed in the book. But the book also prompted me to research the unsavoury stuff for myself. To actually follow up on the questions that I have always harboured about the things that didn't make sense and which no one seem to have any real answers for. As I have read in other reviews, it's unforgivable to imply that her Jewishness coloured the entire narrative. Hazleton provides references for everything (all except the presumption of what was going through the prophets mind, which was sometimes over stretched even for artistic license). And if I were to point a criticism it would possibly be that there was considerable reliance on Ibn Ishaq as a source. But I don't have a real problem with that.Read more ›
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A respectful (but not reverent) attempt to re-tell this story of a human being (not legend or saint) and capture the complexities innate in his "humanness". The author successfully manages to balance historical records, psychology, anthropology and a necessary application of imagination to paint a vivid picture and create a highly enjoyable reading experience. This book is especially recommended to all who have read her earlier book titled "After the Prophet".
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Put in a style you'll either accept or find irksome. To classical Muslim understanding this is somewhat dismissive and almost pedestrian in its re-telling of the life of one of history's most important figures' but perhaps it is meant as such.
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Format: Paperback
This book is extremely well written, and well researched. Lesley Hazleton, says it best by taking an un-biased and demystified approach to the story of Muhammad (PBUH), it makes his story all the more amazing. The only trouble I have with this book is it is impossible to completely demystify something that would be beyond our understanding, and as must as she tries to give an unbiased account, hindsight and experiences do creeping, especially in the later chapters. In fairness there is no way to know many of these things so much of it has to be taken on faith, like how much of Muhammad's (PBUH) decisions were his doing and how much were part of the revelations.

The book is divided into 3 sections The Orphan focuses on the early history of the region, the clans the hereditary positioning and Muhammad's (PBUH) life just past the age of 40 when he started to receive his Revelations. The second is Exile, which deals with his the early reactions first trying to insult and ignore him to forcing him into exile, to raising an army of followers and his eventual return. The final section is The Leader, having returned as a conqueror but not accepting any of the accolades or comforts that go with the rank. Instead choosing benevolence and a sparse lifestyle till he left and his final days.

This is a great book for facts and dates but as I said something need to be taken on faith. There are things that are just explainable. E.g. how does a simple man with no formal education or even experience in the area outfox the top political and military minds of his time, or create the verses that out shine the greatest poets of the time. All in all a very informative book but something are just a matter of faith.
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Format: Paperback
Subtitled, ‘The Story of Muhammad’, this scholarly and meticulously researched book provides answers to many common questions about the Islamic prophet. As an agnostic (It’s impossible for humanity ever to truly ‘know’ whether God exists or not, since such a power must, by definition, be far beyond our comprehension) I have an interest in the driving forces behind religion. This book gave me information I hadn’t previously accessed and repudiated certain rumours I’d heard, whilst portraying this man and the religion he represents in a way that both confirmed and illuminated some of my preformed impressions.
The author consulted many Muslim scholars and original works in order to come to some understanding of the man, his times and society, and the truths and myths surrounding his life and the subsequent compilation of the Qur’an. I’ve read the Qur’an, the Bible, and other religious tracts: I prefer to be informed.
This biography is well written and manages to keep a relatively neutral viewpoint most of the time. Writing about a man who has followers eager to kill anyone daring to disagree with their particular interpretation of the many myths, legends and facts is fraught with danger, so I applaud the author for her courage and her ability to present information without overt opinion, bias or fear of consequences.
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