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Karen Armstrong is a best-selling author New Introduction to bring the book up to date with the current situation 'Respectful without being reverential, knowledgeable without being pedantic and, above all, readable' Economist 'This book is a significant help to understanding the religious experience of Islam and of the fascinating life of Muhammad in particular' Glasgow Herald 'Not just a sympathetic book that would dispel the misconceptions and misgivings of its western readers, but also a book that is of considerable importance to Muslims' Muslim News

About the Author

Karen Armstrong spent seven years as a Roman Catholic nun, an experience she recollected in her best-selling autobiography, Through the Narrow Gate. She is the author of the world-wide bestseller, A History of God (which has now appeared in more than thirty languages), the acclaimed History of Jerusalem and, most recently, Buddha in the Weidenfeld & Nicolson Lives series. She is a teacher at the Leo Baeck College for the Study of Judaism and, in 1999, she received the Muslim Public Affairs Council Media Award.


This portrayal of the prophet of Islam and the setting from which he emerged will captivate and enlighten general readers with a newfound understanding of modern events in the Middle East. Armstrong, a former Roman Catholic nun, has shown much insight and sensitivity in her well-researched biography. She interweaves sections on the Western response to Islam and the controversy over Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses ( LJ 12/88) within her detailed account of Muhammad and the monumental, unifying religion that he introduced to the backward tribal Arabia of the seventh century. The book was first published in Great Britain in 1991 under the title Muhammad: A Western Attempt To Understand Islam . Highly recommended.-- Paula I. Nielson, Loyola Marymount Univ. Lib., Los Angeles

In a meticulous quest for the historical Muhammad, Armstrong first traces the West's long history of hostility toward Islam, which it has stigmatized as a ``religion of the sword.'' This sympathetic, engrossing biography portrays Muhammad (ca. 570-632) as a passionate, complex, fallible human being--a charismatic leader possessed of political as well as spiritual gifts, and a prophet whose monotheistic vision intuitively answered the deepest longings of his people. Armstrong ( The Gospel According to Woman ) refutes the Western image of Muhammad as an impostor who used religion as a means to power, an attitude encapsulated in a psychotic dream episode in Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses. Denying that Islam preaches total intransigence, she finds in the Prophet's teachings a theology of peace and tolerance. The ``holy war'' urged by the Koran, in Armstrong's reading, alludes to each Muslim's duty to fight for a just, decent society. She draws significant parallels between the spiritual aspirations of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. (May)

Respectful, knowledgeable, and, above all, readable. It succeeds because [Armstrong] brings Muhammad to life as a fully rounded human being.--The Economist
Karen Armstrong s sympathetic profile paints a portrait of a very human prophet--Wall Street Journal
Karen Armstrong's sympathetic profile paints a portrait of a very human prophet--Wall Street Journal
A good glimpse of how the vast majority of the world's Muslims understand their prophet.--New York Times

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