Monday, June 25, 2012

Book Review: Muhammad, Prophet of God by Daniel C. Peterson

I have been wanting for a while to read something that would give a good basic introduction to either Islam or the history of its founding so that I could better understand the religion. So when I recently came across this book I jumped at the chance to read it.

Daniel C. Peterson is a professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic at BYU and his book Muhammad, Prophet of God came highly recommended and I was not disappointed. The book is basically short biography written for a general (American) audience, with perhaps a slight bent towards an LDS audience, though that would not be an obvious fact. It is obvious that Dr. Peterson wanted to give a fair telling of the prophet's life. This is perhaps due to the fact that he spends so much of his time writing and defending the prophet Joseph Smith that he felt that the founding prophet of Islam should also get a telling of his story. In this respect Dr. Peterson is successful. The book comes across as honest and true to a believer's perspective. There is no obvious attempt to question or discuss theological differences but rather an attempt to explain them in such a way that his intended audience would understand the origins of Islam.

The book reads almost like a novel so if the reader is not knowledgeable about the history and geography of Arabia they can still follow and understand what is happening. There is sufficient background information given that the prophet's life can be put into context, though the reader is not inundated with more facts and information than can be handled. This is not perhaps a book for an intense study of Muhammad or of Islam, but it is a good place to start.

Dr. Peterson does cover some of the things that would be considered controversial about Islam and Muhammad specifically, but while he notes them and recognizes (mostly in footnotes) the differing opinions among scholars he does not try to debate theology or history. As I noted, the book is written so that a believer would find it acceptable (though you can always find that one who doesn't) so it easily blends stories of faith and miraculous events with more "established" and "recorded" events in a way that the narrative is not interrupted with a discussion of an explanation for these supernatural events. It is presented merely as is without trying to beat some theological drum. This does not mean that Dr. Peterson ignores or buries what some would claim to be the more controversial aspects of Muhammad's life, but seamlessly weaves them into the narrative.

If the reader is looking for a book that is heavily bent one way or the other (pro- or con-) this is not it. If the reader is looking for an easily accessible introduction to the life of Muhammad that presents matters of faith in an honest way then this is it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Prophecy Servant of God
` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
word Atmak not necessarily means ‘whom I uphold’ but is infact a name

the writing of Atmak is אתמך
the writing of Ahmad is אחמד

Isaiah 42:1
God says
“Behold, 'My Servant' (pronounced as Abd-ee), ‘whom I uphold’ (pronounced as Atmak);

God mentioning about the coming of His servant
Behold My Servant Ahmad (Isaiah 42:1) - so who is this Ahmad as in God'servant?

He is none other than
Abd-Allah Ahmad (Servant of God, Ahmad) - Prophet Muhammad s.a.w