Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction, Paperback

Muhammad: A Very Short Introduction Paperback

Part of the Very Short Introductions series

3 out of 5 (2 ratings)


As the founder of Islam Muhammad is one of the most influential figures in history.

The furor surrounding the Satanic Verses and the Danish cartoon crisis reminded the world of the tremendous importance of the prophet of Islam, Muhammad. Learning about his life and understanding its importance, however, has always proven difficult. Our knowledge of Muhammad comes from the biography of him written by his followers, but Western historians have questioned the reliability of this story in their quest to uncover the 'historical Muhammad'.

As modern controversies have shown, whatever the truth about Muhammad's life, his persona has taken on numerous shapes and played a crucial role in Muslim life and civilization.

This Very Short Introduction provides an introduction to the major aspects of Muhammad's life and its importance, providing both the Muslim and Western historical perspectives. It also explains the prominent roles that Muhammad's persona has played in the Islamic world, from the medieval to the modern period. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160 pages, 10 black and white halftones
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: History of religion
  • ISBN: 9780199559282



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Review by

In this "Very Short Introduction," author Jonathan A.C. Brown presents in three chapters Muhammad's life as understood by most Muslims, a commentary on historical representations of Muhammad, and the Prophet's influence on Islamic civilization since his death.My library recently received the Muslim Journeys Bookshelf grant, twenty-five titles of both fiction and nonfiction. I am leading five related book discussions, and wanted to make myself more familiar with the basics of Islam, so I chose this book to give me an introduction. Unfortunately, while I'm a bit more familiar with the religious understanding of Muhammad, I'm ultimately more confused. The second chapter was less a historical explanation than it was a rebuttal of various interpretations. I was really hoping for at least an outline of what history is known, but for the most part Brown will mention an historical view and then proceed to explain why it's not an argument against Muhammad - all well and good, but very hard to follow when I don't know what the known history is to start with. The first chapter was useful information, but I think I'll have to follow up with the bibliography to really get the information I was looking for.

Review by

This brief introduction to the life and influence of Muhammad is part of the publisher’s <i>Very Short Introduction</i> series. It’s intended to be an introduction to Muhammad’s life from a Muslim perspective for a non-Muslim audience. The author should have explicitly stated in the book that he is an adherent of Islam. While this could be inferred from his preface, this should be communicated more clearly to readers.The first chapter comprises about half of the book and it summarizes the <i>Sira</i>, a Muslim biography of Muhammad. Chapter three explains the importance of Muhammad to Muslims throughout history. The second chapter is the weakest in the book. Brown addresses questions of historical reliability and briefly mentions the work of some scholars who have questioned the historicity of various accounts of Muhammad’s life. Readers should keep in mind that Brown writes from a faith perspective when weighing his assessments of the strengths or weaknesses of the critics’ arguments.

Also by Jonathan A. C. Brown