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Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources Paperback – Oct 6 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; 5 edition (Oct. 6 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594771537
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594771538
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.8 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 458 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


“This work is widely recognized as the most readable account of the life of the Prophet to date.” (Times of London)

"Lings provides a wealth of detail on the life of Muhammad, the time and place of many Koranic revelations, and the foundation of Islam, all based exclusively on 8th- and 9th-century Arabic biographical sources and collections of the sayings attributed to Muhammad. General readers will find a well-written, straightforward chronological narrative; Muslim readers will appreciate the favorable treatment of Muhammad; while specialists will find a faithful and convenient rendering of source material." (Joseph Gardner, California State Univ. Lib., Northridge Library Journal)

“For those interested in Islam . . . it is mesmerizing.” (Parabola)

About the Author

Martin Lings (1909-2005) was a renowned British scholar with degrees in English and Arabic from London University and Oxford University. At Oxford, he studied English under C. S. Lewis, who later became a close friend. Lings taught at several European universities and the University of Cairo and served as the keeper of Oriental manuscripts for the British Museum and the British Library. His friendship and similar beliefs with philosophers René Guénon and Frithjof Schuon inspired Lings to convert to Islam. He went on to become an influential member of Western Muslim society, participating in several international Islamic councils and conferences, including acting as consultant to the World of Islam Festival Trust. He is the author of twelve books on religion and spirituality.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
It would seem that Muhammad is gradually succumbing to the same fate as Jesus, in that each generation feels an urgent need to reinterpret him in light of their own understanding. Quite a few biographies of the prophet are already on the market, from such diverse writers as the military man John Glubb to the atheist Maxime Rodinson.
This one is different. As the title indicates, it is a life of Muhammad based on the earliest sources. The "sources" in question here are the sirat, or biographies of the prophet, which were written a couple of centuries after his death. These original biographies were compiled based on the traditions handed down regarding what the prophet did, much the same as the hadith are a transmission of what the prophet said. The contents of these biographies are canonical; their position in Islam is somewhat analogous to works of the fathers of the church in Christianity.
Which explains the air of piety about this book, which unfortunately may throw some readers off. What this book achieves, and achieves greatly in my opinion, is a reflection of how the Muslim world traditionally thinks of Muhammad. It does not attempt to break new ground or provide new interpretations of Muhammad's life and mission; rather it assists the Western reader in understanding the traditional interpretation of his life and mission. I would recommend this book highly to anyone interested in understanding Islamic belief and the position that Muhammad occupies in traditional Islamic values; I have come across no other book in English that conveys it as well as this one does.
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Format: Paperback
When I first read this wonderful book by Martin Lings, I felt something I've never experienced before in biographies of early Islam -- a sense that I was actually there, experiencing the drama, tragedy and triumph of the early Muslim community. Lings is an incredibly gifted storyteller who makes you feel like you are an active witness to events unfolding right now, rather than reading 1400-year old stories.
Some reviewers have criticized this book because it tells the story of the Prophet's life story without "critical" analysis. What these reviewers are really complaining about is that the book does not start off under the presumption that the Prophet was false in his claim to be the Messenger of God. This is a book that presents the earliest accounts of the Prophet's life, which were passed along by devout Muslims who believed in his Divine inspiration. These early accounts DO contain stories of remarkable miracles and list countless examples of the Prophet's piety and idealism. And, of course, if the Prophet was who he claimed to be, these stories are perfectly plausible as historical events.
But if you are a non-Muslim bent on denigrating the Prophet, you have to presume that these stories are myths and hagiographies, because they do not fit into your predetermined worldview. So anyone who accepts them either is an apologist or deluded, and any book presenting these accounts without rejecting them as human inventions must be "uncritical." The truth is that you will approach the Prophet exactly the way you have already decided you want to -- as a believer or an unbeliever regarding his fundamental mission.
But as you read this wonderful tale of a remarkable man who single-handedly changed human history, you must ask yourself -- what if, as one billion human beings already know in their hearts, the story is actually true...?
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Format: Paperback
I read Martin Lings' wonderful biography of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam --may Allah bless him and give him peace) for the first time when I was a teenager from the local library; what attracted me then was the caption on the cover which said, "based on the earliest Islamic sources". I loved the book the very first time I read it and since then I have read it a few times and bought my own copy. It is a book I always recommend to anyone interested in Islam as I believe it is the best introduction one can have to Islam. After all, if one does not know the Messenger, how can one ever accept the Message?
This book is wonderfully written and although the English is slightly archaic, I think that in this instance it actually adds to the books qualities, as such noble language is totally concommitant with the grandeur and theme of the book. The quality of the language used is indeed one aspect of this book which sets it apart from other biographies of the Beloved of Allah (may Allah bless him and give him peace) written in English and for that alone it is superior to the others.
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