Muhammad, the World-Changer: An Intimate Portrait

St. Martin’s Essentials. Nov. 2021. 368p. ISBN 9781250239648. $29.99. REL
In this book, Jebara, a historian of Islamic art, narrates the life of Prophet Muhmmad from just before the Prophet’s birth to after his death. There are already several biographies of Muhammad to choose from, but Jebara’s distinguishes itself by trying to provide a more personal and more intimate profile of Islam’s prophet. It does this by describing thoughts and conversations that might have been had by the Prophet Muhammad and the people around him. Jebara’s narrative enhances readers’ (and his own) personal connection with the Prophet by reading like a novel rather than a history text; for instance, there are no footnotes in the main body. In an effort to create a historically accurate portrait of Muhammad, Jebara had to synthesize accounts of his life from different (sometimes contradictory) sources, leading to inconsistencies, and some aspects of Jebara’s narrative lack adequate historical support. Jebara tries to straddle the line between historical reporting and storytelling and sometimes fills in details. In the end, the work reveals as much about the author as it does about its subject.
VERDICT An excellent account of Jebara’s personal understanding of the Prophet Muhammad that could inspire readers to undertake their own similar journey.
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