Discovering Islam: Making Sense of Muslim History and by Akbar S. Ahmed

By Akbar S. Ahmed

Now reissued with a brand new creation, Discovering Islam is a vintage account of ways the historical past of Islam and its kinfolk with the West have formed Islamic society this present day. Islam is usually caricatured as competitive and enthusiast. Written within the culture of Ibn Khaldun, this readable and wide-ranging booklet balances that snapshot, uncovers the roots of Islamic discontent and celebrates the assets of its power. From the 4 ''ideal Caliphs'' who succeeded the Prophet to the refugee camps of Peshawar, an aim photo emerges of the most positive aspects of Muslim background and the compulsions of Muslim society.

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Makkah, where Muhammad was born in 570, was the proud heart of a fiercely inturned Arab tribal society. Arabs prided themselves on their ancestry, nasab. For them the Arab was the noblest of nations (afkhar al-umam). Among 17 Genealogical chart: the Prophet’s kin. ) MUSLIM IDEAL the Arabs the Quraysh considered themselves the aristocrats. The Quraysh, divided into numerous competing clans—our story in chapters 2 and 3 concerns the rivalry between the Hashims and the Umayyads—dominated Makkah. Like recently urbanized groups they held their desert cousins, the Bedouin, in contempt.

His grandfather, in whose charge he was left, died when he was eight. His last public address at Arafat advises Muslims to ‘treat your women well and be kind to them’. ’ In early Islamic history Khadijah and Aishah, his wives, and Fatimah, his daughter, play important roles. The Prophet’s kindness to women forms the content of many stories. One concerns his wife, Maria, the Christian Coptic slave girl, sent to him by the head of the Coptic church in Cairo. His attentiveness towards her had provoked his other wives into arguments and bad temper.

But by now the women had 22 MUSLIM IDEAL learnt a lesson. They promised there would be harmony in the home if he came back. Another man in those times and in that society would have been excused for taking the cane to his wives. The Prophet’s gentleness presupposed a forgiving and tolerant nature. This is confirmed by historical—and momentous—examples. Hind, the implacable foe of Islam as we saw above, in a gesture of hatred and contempt ate the raw liver of Hamzah, a hero of Badr and brother of the Prophet’s father (see genealogical chart).

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