The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad

By Lesley Hazleton

The impressive lifetime of the fellow who based Islam, and the area he inhabited—and remade.

Lesley Hazleton's new book, Agnostic: A lively Manifesto, is out now from Riverhead Books.

Muhammad’s was once a lifetime of nearly remarkable old significance; but for the entire iconic energy of his identify, the intensely dramatic tale of the prophet of Islam isn't popular. In The First Muslim, Lesley Hazleton brings him vibrantly to lifestyles. Drawing on early eyewitness resources and on heritage, politics, faith, and psychology, she renders him as a guy in complete, in all his complexity and vitality.

Hazleton’s account follows the arc of Muhammad’s upward thrust from powerlessness to energy, from anonymity to renown, from insignificance to lasting value. How did a baby shunted to the margins turn out revolutionizing his global? How did a service provider come to problem the status quo with a brand new imaginative and prescient of social justice? How did the pariah hounded out of Mecca flip exile right into a new and positive starting? How did the outsider turn into the final word insider?

Impeccably researched and thrillingly readable, Hazleton’s narrative creates brilliant perception right into a guy navigating among idealism and pragmatism, religion and politics, nonviolence and violence, rejection and acclaim. The First Muslim illuminates not just an immensely major determine yet his lastingly suitable legacy.

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If people don’t become aware of it, animals do. They stand nonetheless, ears alert, vaguely conscious of whatever varied. mins go, even an hour, sooner than the sand underfoot starts off to hose down. it would be the merest trickle before everything, as if a person had emptied a pail at the flooring, yet then the trickle builds, tugging lightly at your ankles as a faint rumble echoes throughout the mountains. earlier than you relatively be aware of what's taking place, you discover you're stumbling in a present that turns out to have come from nowhere. Thrown off stability, you flail and fall, attempting to decide your self up basically to be knocked down back by way of the collection weight of tumbling sand-laden water sweeping down during the wadi, hammering at your shins. The roar of it really is on you currently, the bad sound of enormous stones grinding opposed to rock. Branches of broom and acacia and saltbush after which entire trees come hurtling at you, and there’s the flailing bulk of a drowning animal, legs akimbo, and also you can’t listen your individual voice crying for support as you fall time and again, stuck up within the chaotic momentum of water and particles. If a stone hits your head and also you lose realization, you could drown in exactly a couple of inches. The worst position to be in Mecca in any such flood was once at its lowest element, the place the entire wadis met, and that used to be precisely the place the Kaaba stood. so much flash floods have been quite shallow, yet as Muhammad begun his retreat on Mount Hira within the 12 months 605, a violent typhoon procedure to the south despatched a foaming mass of water hurtling towards the sanctuary. no one in Mecca on the time might keep in mind a flood of such importance. that they had taken precautionary measures, after all, construction a semi-circular wall upstream from the sanctuary to guard it. yet opposed to the fury of this a lot water, the wall gave means below the battering of boulders and particles. The torrent raced on into the Kaaba precinct, swirling round the totem stones and crashing into the sanctuary itself with such strength that it washed away the clay mortar and loosened its stone partitions until eventually they collapsed. by the point it had abated, the Kaaba was once rubble. there has been absolute confidence that it needed to rebuilt, and as speedy as attainable, prior to notice of its destruction unfold via all of Arabia and it was once taken as a foul omen, undermining the full raison d’être of Mecca. The Quraysh council selected a raised starting place in order that the door may stand above the hot height flood point, they usually took good thing about the chance to decide on a sturdier, extra enforcing layout: a tall, virtually cubic form. because it occurred, timbers were salvaged from a crimson Sea shipwreck attributable to an identical hurricane process that had produced the flood, and those have been now hauled as much as Mecca to function an excellent infrastructure. every person in Mecca was once concerned. due to the fact hard work at the new sanctuary was once basically a privilege, now not a chore, it was once conscientiously portioned out among many of the clans of the Quraysh, making sure that no unmarried extended family may perhaps declare that it were specially commemorated. And certainly all went easily until eventually the time got here to put the famed Black Stone again within the northeast nook.

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