Sunday, June 20, 2010

Muhammad and the Believers: At the Origins of Islam

Book by Fred. M. Donner
* Hardcover: 304 pages
* Publisher: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press (May 15, 2010)
* ISBN-10: 0674050975
* ISBN-13: 978-0674050976

( Blogger's disclaimer: I haven't read this book and even if I had would be in no position to comment at all. This is placed here not as recommendation yet only for discussion and perhaps some expert comment from those with some background who may agree or refute what this book may have to offer? By the way, a variety of items are featured on this blog that in no way are officially recommended yet posted because they may help further the needed dialogue for understanding. )

Review from Publishers Weekly (not necessarily my favorite origin for reviews :)

A University of Chicago professor in Near Eastern history, Donner (Narratives of Islamic Origins) presents the intriguing view that the early Islamic movement, as presided over by Muhammad, actively included Jews and Christians in the flock as part of a general monotheistic community. It was only later, after Muhammad's death, that a new generation of Muslims began ritualizing Islam with its own distinctive practices, such as the hajj (pilgrimage) and the five daily prayers. Though Donner isn't entirely persuasive (and surely many Muslims would be stunned by some of his assertions), he raises many original points, gleaning evidence from everything from coinage to original source documents. Questioning longstanding stereotypes, he argues (and proves) that Muslims are not, by nature, anti-Jewish and also that, based on archeological evidence, Muslims did not routinely tear down churches. The early Muslims, though brutal in war, created a sophisticated and organized civil system. For those curious about Islam's beginnings, no book is as original and as evenhanded as this succinct read. (May) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Other Reviews:

Donner is one of the leading scholars of early Islam in the world. No other book I know of distills the often highly arcane and dispersed stuff of scholarship on the first century of Islamic history into such an accessible narrative account that, in addition, offers a compelling new interpretation on the formation of Islamic confessional identity. A tremendous achievement.

--Ahmet Karamustafa, Washington University in St. Louis

This is an invaluable book. Not only does it provide a sane and lucid guide to the origins of Islam, a topic that is currently more mired in controversy than any other in the entire field of ancient history, but it is also a stimulating and original work of scholarship in its own right.
--Tom Holland, author of Millennium

Possibly Related, Parallel or Opposing books?

Variant Readings Of The Quran: A Critical St... by Ahmad Ali Al-Imam
4.5 out of 5 stars (Amazon rating)
A Critical Study of their Historical and Linguistic Origins : Revised Edition (Ahmad 'Ali al-Imam) - ISBN: 1565644204 ...

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