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The Heirs Of The Prophet Muhammad: And the Roots of the Sunni-Shia Schism Paperback – 5 Oct 2006

4.2 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (5 Oct. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349117578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349117577
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 2.9 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 432,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

A natural storyteller, [Rogerson] achieves his purpose not by viewing the first great schism of Islam from the outside, but by immersing his readers in the master narrative of events as these came to be viewed ... An absorbing narrative that captures the epic quality of an era to which Muslims of all persuasions look for inspiration (SUNDAY TIMES)

THE HEIRS OF THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD vividly illustrates how the debates, the decisions and the sometimes bloody conflicts that resulted from trying to discern God's will in the absence of God's Prophet ultimately gave birth to the varied and wonderful trad (GUARDIAN)

Book Description

A wonderfully vivid history of Islam after Muhammad's death - and the sequel to Rogerson's acclaimed THE PROPHET MUHAMMAD

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The life of the Prophet Muhammad has always polarized opinion in the West. After 9/11 and 7/7 it has become increasingly difficult to find balanced accounts of Islam and its founder. Having read Robert Spencer's "The Truth About Muhammad", which was relentlessly hostile, I was looking for something rather more sympathetic about Muhammad's life. I found it in Barnaby Rogerson's book.

Rogerson is an excellent storyteller, a professional, in fact. In the preface, Rogerson tells how, when taking Western tourists around Roman sites in a Muslim country, he heard groups of men sitting around in cafes telling tales from the days of the Prophet as if they were fresh and new. "I was on the side of a good story," says Rogerson. "The life of the Prophet Muhammad is a story of overpowering pathos and beauty. It is history, tragedy and enlightenment compressed into one tale." And that's how Rogerson tells it.

He has the knack of taking the reader into the picture, of conjuring up the sights and sounds and smells of Arabia in the days of Muhammad. And he gives us a sense of the struggles that Muhammad and his early followers went through, of the Prophet's family, and of the harsh life of the Arabs in the desert. He tells it in the end as a tale of triumph over challenge, but never implies that victory was a foregone conclusion.

But - and it is a big but - I was conscious throughout that Rogerson had omitted much of the very difficult episodes of Muhammad's apparent cruelty that Spencer includes in his book. In fact, my first reaction to Rogerson's book was that he was a Romantic, that he had to some extent sentimentalized Muhammad's story and had evaded these difficult episodes.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I find it incredibly bizarre how few good, simple, well-written, easy-to-read biographies there are of the Prophet Muhammad in the English language. Martin Lings' biography is oft-cited by Muslims as the one to read but, truth be told, it doesn't read like a novel. A bit too scholarly - dry, overly detailed - I found it to be. In terms of language and readability, this one by Barnaby Rogerson is the best I have read so far. Not entirely brilliant but within it is a decent biography of the Prophet Muhammad. I recommend skipping - or skimming over - the second and third chapters on your first read as a lot of it is just boring, bloated, unnecessary history and geography about the old Arabia. The fourth chapter is where the biography really takes off. Sure the book is littered throughout with some strange claims but if you can get past that - and in the absence of other, better, biographies of the Prophet Muhammad in the English language - this is one of the easiest to read.
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Format: Hardcover
This exceptionally well written book tells of the divide between the Sunnis and the Shias in Islam. It takes side with neither camp (and though I found it to be slightly pro-Shia) it tries to give an objective account of what happened after the death of the Prophet. It talks reverently about all sides and where possible displays the argument from a variety of angles. Unlike most Islamic books the prose is majestic and is a reason in itself to read the book. It contains a wealth of knowledge and though written with non-Muslims in mind, I learnt an incredible amount even though I've been a Muslim my whole life (admittedly not the best of Muslims but a Muslim nonetheless). Heartily recommended.
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Format: Paperback
The only accurate biography about Muhammad and his followers is the very first text by Ibn Ishaq, his Sirat Rasul Allah, which is translated in English as The Life of Muhammad by Guillaume. Ishaq's original was censored by Ibn Hisham, but Tabari used Ishaq's original text for his own History.
Read them both, as well as the relevant hadith by Bukhari and Muslim.
Guillaume made the fatal mistake of using the title God for Allah. Allah is not Almighty God.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I wanted to get away from the bias and prejudice of the press and find a balanced account of where Islam comes from and what it is about. Barnaby Rogerson is a great story-teller and brings the story of Muhammad vividly to life. This is a must read for non-muslims who want to know more.
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Format: Paperback
The author of this curious book rightfully identifies that the phenomenal success of the Arab Conquest represents one of the great epics of history. Clearly he has a solid body of knowledge about the subject and writes in an engaging and, when the narrative reaches the glory days of the Conquest, exciting way.

But his fawning servility towards Islam, its Prophet and Caliphs undoes much of his good work and leaves a nasty taste in the reader's mind. For example, at one point he heaps praise on Muhammad for his religious philosophy of peace and tolerance but within a page is recounting with relish rather than irony Mohammad's sack of a merchant caravan the contents of which were stolen, the men murdered and the women enslaved as concubines (raped in other words). In another section he implies that the supernatural parts of Islamic history (visitations by angels, etc.) are actual historical fact.

If a book so docile and uncritical were written about the early days and personalities of the Christian Church it would be scorned by any critical reader and never see the light of day outside an SPCK bookshop. The author has done his subject and his readers no service in his scrupulous avoidance of the historical method and by implying that non-European cultures are too fragile to cope with such attention his work smacks of unwitting racism.
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