In this riveting novel, beloved international bestselling author Deepak Chopra captures the spellbinding life story of the great and often misunderstood Prophet.
Islam was born in a cradle of tribal turmoil, and the arrival of one God who vanquished hundreds of ancient Arabian gods changed the world forever. God reached down into the life of Muhammad, a settled husband and father, and spoke through him. Muhammad's divine and dangerous task was to convince his people to renounce their ancestral idols and superstitious veneration of multiple gods. From the first encounter, God did not leave Muhammad alone, his life was no longer his own, and with each revelation the creation of a new way of life formed and a religion was born.
Muhammad didn't see himself as the son of God or as one who achieved cosmic enlightenment. His relatives and neighbors didn't part the way when he walked down the parched dirt streets of Mecca. There was no mark of divinity. Orphaned by age six, Muhammad grew up surrounded by dozens of cousins and extended family to become a trusted merchant. Muhammad saw himself as an ordinary man and that is why what happened to him is so extraordinary.
Rooted in historical detail, Muhammad brings the Prophet to life through the eyes of those around him. A Christian hermit mystic foretells a special destiny, a pugnacious Bedouin wet nurse raises him in the desert, and a religious rebel in Mecca secretly takes the young orphan under his spiritual wing. Each voice, each chapter brings Muhammad and the creation of Islam into a new light. The angel Gabriel demands Muhammad to recite, the first convert risks his life to protect his newfound faith, and Muhammad's life is not a myth but an incredible true and surprisingly unknown story of a man and a moment that sparked a worldwide transformation.
DEEPAK CHOPRA is the author of more than fifty books translated into over thirty-five languages, including numerous New York Times bestsellers in both the fiction and nonfiction categories. Dr. Chopra is a fellow of the American College of Physicians, a member of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, Adjunct Professor at Kellogg School of Management and Senior Scientist with The Gallup Organization.Time magazine heralds Deepak Chopra as one of the top 100 heroes and icons of the century and credits him as ‘the poet-prophet of alternative medicine’.read more
I had read (pre-blogging) another book also titled “Muhammad” (but subtitled “A Biography of the Prophet), by Karen Armstrong. That one was first published in 1991, but I read it a few years later. While Armstrong did an excellent job of covering the history of this prophet, her book is very detailed and requires patience in reading. Armstrong (who is a former nun) has written several books discussing and/or comparing various religions, most recently “A Case for God” (2009) which has been sitting in my TBR pile.Deepak Chopra, on the other hand, is better known for his spirituality and self-help books. He has many of them, in fact. Before writing this novel based on Muhammad’s life, Chopra has previously written two other novels: ”Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment” and “Jesus: A Story of Enlightenment” (interesting that the subtitles for both books are the same).The Prophet Muhammad is considered to be the founder of the religion of Islam. Born around the year 570, he grew up and lived in Mecca, in what is now Saudi Arabia. Muslims believe that Muhammad is the last prophet of God (hence Chopra’s subtitle, “A Story of the Last Prophet”). Muslims also believe in other prophets, such as Jesus and Moses, but that Muhammad has the final word, so to say. Muhammad’s revelations by God ( Allah in the Arabic language) have been recorded in the Quran. Before God (Allah) reached out to Muhammad, many tribes in Arabia believed in hundreds of various gods. Muhammad was key in introducing the concept of One God to these tribes.Now to get on with Chopra’s “Muhammad”. What is this novel like? Each chapter is told from the point of view of someone who knew, or was acquainted, with Muhammad. There are 19 characters, therefore 19 chapters. These characters are widely diverse — they include Halimah, who was Muhammad’s wet nurse; Khadijah, who was Muhammad’s first wife; Ruqayah, his daughter; a man only known as a Jewish scribe; a beggar and so on.I am not sure that Chopra completely succeeds in varying dialect or voice among all the narrators, but the reader gets to see how each person lived, and how each is touched by Muhammad. The novel moves in roughly chronological order, so the reader sees how Muhammad grows and mature and finds God. The writing is somewhat plain and straightforward and not always smooth, but it isn’t dull and dry. Here is an example of Chopra’s writing (chapter 7), as told by A Wandering Mendicant (a beggar), about Muhammad and his first wife:“You should not suppose that Khadijah spotted Muhammad in the market place and felt herself swoon. Nor did he leave love poems pinned to her shutters comparing her almond eyes to a fawn in the moonlight. They were both sober people. She knew two things about Muhammad that anyone in business would be intrigued by. First, he was not all that experienced, having left Mecca on small caravans such as his uncle, Abu Talib, could afford. Second, he could be trusted.”This book has an afterword that briefly informs us about Islam after Muhammad’s death. This helps a reader not familiar with Islam understand where we are today regarding Islam. As Chopra points out:“Muhammad can be judged by the worst of his followers or the best. He can be blamed for planting the seeds of fanaticism and jihad or praised for bringing the word of God to a wasteland. In my walk with Muhammad I found that every preconception was unfair. What the Prophet bequeathed to the world is entangled with the best and worst in all of us.”One problem about this book: it brings up the question of which type of reader will enjoy this book and find it satisfying. It is labeled self-help/spirituality, which I feel does not fit. Yes, it does cover the spirituality of Muhammad and Islam, but someone hoping to gain an awakening from this book may be disappointed. It might fit better in the religion section of a bookstore, but this book is in novel form; my impression of those pursuing the religion section is that they are looking for non-fiction. This book could actually be considered historical fiction, but it is unlikely that it would end up in the general fiction section of a bookstore. Additionally, readers who are well-read in comparative religion may find this book somewhat simplistic (hence, for example, Karen Armstrong would be a better fit). I feel that, in general, “Muhammad” by Deepak Chopra would be a good fit for someone who does not knows much about Muhammad and/or Islam and needs a gentle introduction.read more
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Chopra, an iconic figure in American popular culture, proves with this biography of Muhammad that he is more than just a New Age talking head. Varying by chapter the narrative viewpoints and using actual characters from the life of Muhammad, such as Muhammad's first wife, Khadijah, and his daughter Fatima, Chopra tells the story of Muhammad's life in this "teaching novel." Similar volumes by Chopra have already profiled Buddha and Jesus. While technically this is fiction, several historical events-including ones dear to many Muslims' hearts-are related. The result is one of the most imaginative and touching biographies of Muhammad. For instance, in the prelude, inventively narrated by the Angel Gabriel, the angel bringing the revelation of the Qur'an to Muhammad, describes the illiterate caravan trader who had married his wealthy female boss. The next chapter, narrated by Muhammad's grandfather Abdul Muttalib, tells the legend of the Zamzam well, which Muslims visit to this day in their annual hajj pilgrimage. Chopra goes on to describe a people yearning for a message that would liberate them from polytheistic tribalism and the messenger, a trustworthy but frightened man who became a prophet. Chopra's grasp of Muhammad's mission and life is accessible and extends his range in a surprising direction; his popularization is welcome. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.