The First Muslim: Book summary and reviews of The First Muslim by Lesley Hazleton

The First Muslim

The Story of Muhammad

by Lesley Hazleton

The First Muslim
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2013
    336 pages
    Genre: Biographies & Memoirs

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Book Summary

Muhammad's was a life of almost unparalleled historical importance; yet for all the iconic power of his name, the intensely dramatic story of the prophet of Islam is not well known. In The First Muslim, Lesley Hazleton brings him vibrantly to life. Drawing on early eyewitness sources and on history, politics, religion, and psychology, she renders him as a man in full, in all his complexity and vitality.

Hazleton's account follows the arc of Muhammad's rise from powerlessness to power, from anonymity to renown, from insignificance to lasting significance. How did a child shunted to the margins end up revolutionizing his world? How did a merchant come to challenge the established order with a new vision of social justice? How did the pariah hounded out of Mecca turn exile into a new and victorious beginning? How did the outsider become the ultimate insider?

Impeccably researched and thrillingly readable, Hazleton's narrative creates vivid insight into a man navigating between idealism and pragmatism, faith and politics, nonviolence and violence, rejection and acclaim. The First Muslim illuminates not only an immensely significant figure but his lastingly relevant legacy.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Vivid and engaging... a fluid and captivating introduction that will be invaluable for those seeking a greater understanding of Islam's message and its messenger." – Publishers Weekly

"Winning... a level-headed, elegant look at the life of the prophet amid the making of a legend." – Kirkus

"Beautifully written, The First Muslim respectfully humanizes the inimitable prophet of Islam and sees him whole." – Cornel West, Professor, Union Theological Seminary, and Professor Emeritus, Princeton University

"Hazleton sets her keen eye and her sculpted prose on one of the most fascinating and misunderstood figures in history. What she uncovers is a complex yet utterly relatable man whose personal trials and triumphs changed the course of history. This is a wonderful book." – Reza Aslan, author of No God but God and How to Win a Cosmic War

"Hazleton has done the seemingly impossible: rendered into human proportions a man who is more often the subject of pious veneration or political vitriol. This is the most readable, engaging study of Muhammad I have ever come across." - G. Willow Wilson, author of Alif the Unseen and The Butterfly Mosque

"The First Muslim tells the mostly unknown story of the prophet Muhammad in a masterful, accessible, and engaging way.  Hazleton's empathetic touch softens her rigorous scholarship and research as she crucially demystifies both the man himself and the birth of Islam. An absolute delight (and indispensable) for believers and non-believers alike." – Hooman Majd, author of The Ayatollah Begs to Differ and The Ayatollahs' Democracy

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Author Information

Lesley Hazleton Author Biography

Photo: Olivier D'hose

Lesley Hazleton is an award-winning writer whose work focuses on the intersection of religion, history, and politics. She reported on the Middle East from Jerusalem for more than a dozen years, and has written for Time, The New York Times, The New York Review of Books, Harper's, The Nation, and The New Republic, among others. Her book After the Prophet was a finalist for a PEN Center USA Literary Award, and she is the recipient of The Stranger's Genius in Literature Award. Hazleton lives in Seattle.

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