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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Inner Traditions; 5th Edition, Revised, Revised Edition 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: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #22,064 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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

4.5 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Kamran Pasha on Aug. 10 2003
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
This is the first time I read a book about Muhammad (pbuh). This book is rather comprehensive, chronologically covering the historical background up until the demise of Muhammad. This includes:
- overview of the Ka'ba, Mecca, and the Quraysh
- Muhammad prior to the First Revelation
- the early days of Islam in Mecca
- the migration to Medina
- the battles of Badr, Uhud, Trench
- the treaty of Hudaybiyah
- the spread of Islam
- the conquest of Mecca
- the return to Medina
The events were told entwined with the verses as they happened - providing a good brief background to the verses. The story-telling is nice and easy, sometimes direct and matter-of-factly yet heart-rendering. The language is a bit archaic, but understandable.
A bonus for me is that the book provides some understanding of the cultural practices of that time and place, as well as references such as the family tree of Muhammad, (consisting of key people), and the map of the Arabia during that time. So it greatly helps me comprehend some of the things that seem foreign, such as the practice of sending babies to suckling mothers. I still struggle to identify the many different characters especially when it comes to the customary "Abu" and "Umm" names, though :-)
In short, this is a very good book on the subject. It made me appreciate the wonders of the Prophet, his Companions, and their tireless struggles. I intend to read other books on the subject as well.
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Format: Paperback
The book, Muhammad, by Martin Lings is a lucid and awe inspiring insight into a culture, a people, their lifestyle, their growth and the development of the religion of Islam. This it does by tracing the life of one whose actions are so well intentioned, so meaningful, so thoughful. Their culture, their scribes, their oral traditions, their love for poetry, remind one of the more studied and familiar Shakespearian tradition, only this is non fiction. The book relates the trails and travails of the clans and tribal etiquette, from his grandfather's parents, their marriages, their journeys, their businesses, in a manner that their lives jump out at you.

Islam is the religion that he brought, those opposed to Islam should read this book so that that their opinions may be reworked to appreciate the reality of the man called Muhammad. saw. The Prophet May Allah be pleased with him, brought peace, negotiation, justice, a mandate for education, respect for women, love , brotherhood, and the deepest appreciation for our common humanity, all of which the book chronicles so well. His wars, were never senseless slaughter of women and children, he did not enforce his Islam, but allowed others to worship as they pleased. He was a strategic thinker, a planner and a slave of Allah. He loved people as his brothers, he was gentle with his wives, he leglislated with equity. He never professed greatness, he was such a simple man, unassuming, and he suffered like all of God's Prophets. However, he outshun them all. First because so much detail has been preserved as recorded by Lings, about his life, his family, their acceptance of Islam as a religion. Second, because when he died he was the most beloved by all the community, he was respected by world leaders of that day.
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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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