Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Lesley Hazleton

Lesley Hazleton's new book is The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad.

From a Q & A at her website:

What inspired you to write The First Muslim?

Basically, frustration! I’d read several biographies of Muhammad as background for my previous book, After the Prophet, but though they seemed to tell me a lot about him, they left me with little real sense of the man himself. There was a certain dutiful aspect to them, and this made them kind of… soporific. Which seemed to me a terrible thing to do to such a remarkable life.

There was a terrific story to be told here: the journey from neglected orphan to acclaimed leader—from marginalized outsider to the ultimate insider—made all the more dramatic by the tension between idealism and pragmatism, faith, and politics. I wanted to be able to see Muhammad as a complex, multidimensional human being, instead of the two-dimensional figure created by reverence on the one hand and prejudice on the other. I wanted the vibrancy and vitality of a real life lived.

But of course I was also impelled by a certain dismay at how little most of us in the West know about Muhammad, especially when Islam is so often in the headlines and there are so many competing claims to “the truth about Islam.” This one man radically changed his world—indeed he’s still changing ours—so it seemed to me vitally important that we be able to get beyond stereotypes and see who he really was.

What are some of the biggest misconceptions about Muhammad?

Let’s take just the two most obvious stereotypes: the lecherous polygamist, and the...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at The Accidental Theologist blog.

The Page 99 Test: After the Prophet.

--Marshal Zeringue