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New biography presents novel lifestyle of Muhammad

(RNS) — A brand new biography of the Prophet Muhammad takes a narrative-driven method to depicting the lifetime of Islam’s key determine. In his new e book, “Muhammad, the World-Changer: An Intimate Portrait” (out there Nov. 16), biographer Mohamad Jebara takes long-established sources and weaves them collectively for a recent telling of a well-known story.

Throughout Muhammad’s lifetime, his followers recorded the varied particulars and sayings of the prophet, and, within the centuries since, chains of narration or “isnad” have been handed down. Such retellings have been key for students in weighing the significance and veracity of every citation. Jebara, nonetheless, leaves such particulars to the endnotes. The result’s a biography that reads like a novel, as we see the prophet’s life, household and choices unfold.

Muhammad’s Jewish ancestry is revealed and given its prominence.


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“This e book focuses on the nuances of how Muhammad’s life formed his mindset and the way that mindset lies on the core of Islam,” Jebara informed RNS. “Exploring Muhammad’s dramatic private life story may help readers of all backgrounds achieve deeper entry to his exceptional message.”

The e book attracts on each Sunni and Shia historic sources — modern in itself — and likewise particulars Muhammad’s Jewish ancestry. Jebara believes these inclusions make the prophet’s story extra related to a contemporary reader’s expertise.

“(I) solid a much bigger web than most. I favor to take the perfect from every. My e book is an instance of what can come from fusing particulars from the varied faculties,” stated Jebara, who additionally emphasised within the e book Islamic reforms concerning points corresponding to slavery and the standing of ladies through the period of Jahiliyyah, or ignorance.

“Muhammad, the World-Changer: An Intimate Portrait” by Mohamad Jebara. Courtesy picture

Making Islam extra accessible to Western readers has lengthy been a core ardour for Jebara, a Canadian Imam who says many younger Muslims “see that a lot of the Muslim world stagnates in a darkish age of neo-Jahiliyyah, whereas a lot of the West is both Islamophobic or condescending to Muslims.”

The e book makes an attempt to border Quran verses inside their particular historic context. Islamophobic students have lengthy drawn a stark distinction between the verses of the Quran revealed in Mecca and people in Medina. In Medina, Muslims have been an oppressed minority. Conversely, in Mecca, the early Muslims fashioned an open neighborhood. The early Islamic neighborhood was invited there to make peace amongst varied Jewish tribes.   

Throughout the interval by which the early Muslims have been an oppressed minority in Mecca, a gaggle of Muslims moved to Abyssinia (modern-day Ethiopia and Eritrea). Typically a footnote in lots of texts of Islamic historical past, Jebara’s work resurrects the significance of this era, which challenges the Mecca-Medina dichotomy triumphed by Orientalist scholarship. It was right here that the primary mosque was constructed and the primary Muslim neighborhood freely worshipped. At the moment the Masjid Al-Sahaba in Massawa, Eritrea, claims to be on the location of that first mosque.

Jebara’s persistence as a scholar is revealed in his capacity to seek out moments from earlier durations of Islamic historical past which might be related for at this time. Jebara describes such passages as “hidden gems.” The writer factors out in his opening that these are like puzzle items.

“Muhammad purposely obscured himself as a result of he needed folks to concentrate on his message and to not obsess along with his particular person,” Jebara stated. Like his prophetic namesake, Jebara would favor to not dwell on his personal background, however his private story did contribute to his drive to provide this biography. By the age of 12, he had turn into a hafiz, or somebody who had memorized the complete Quran in Arabic.


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He spent years instructing and finding out Arabic within the Center East. As a lecturer, he has addressed everybody from college college students in Malaysia to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. In Canada, he is called the “biking cleric” for his lengthy charity bicycle rides throughout Canada.

“My e book tries to level to a more healthy means ahead, the place each Muslims and non-Muslims can admire Muhammad’s exceptional life and deep impression on the world. I hope readers uncover in my account a Muhammad who emerges very related to our fashionable lives.”

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