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Descriptions du produit


Part One


Chapter One

If he weren’t standing lonely vigil on the mountain, you might say
that there was no sign of anything unusual about him. The earliest
sources describe him with infuriating vagueness for those of us
who need images. “He was neither tall nor short,” they say. “Neither
dark nor fair.” “Neither thin nor stout.” But here and there, specific
details slip through, and when they do, they are surprising. Surely a
man spending night after night in solitary meditation would be a
gaunt, ascetic figure, yet far from being pale and wan, he had round,
rosy cheeks and a ruddy complexion. He was stockily built, almost
barrel-chested, which may partly account for his distinctive gait, always
“leaning forward slightly as though he were hurrying toward something.”
And he must have had a stiff neck, because people would
remember that when he turned to look at you, he turned his whole
body instead of just his head. The only sense in which he was conventionally
handsome was his profile: the swooping hawk nose long considered
a sign of nobility in the Middle East.

On the surface, you might conclude that he was an average Meccan.
At forty years old, the son of a man he had never seen, he had
made a far better life for himself than had ever seemed possible.
The child born an outsider within his own society had finally won
acceptance, and carved out a good life despite the odds against him.
He was comfortably off, a happily married business agent with the
respect of his peers. If he was not one of the movers and shakers of his
prosperous city, that was precisely why people trusted him to represent
their interests. They saw him as a man with no axe of his own to
grind, a man who would consider an offer or a dispute on its merits
and decide accordingly. He had found a secure niche in the world, and
had earned every right, in middle age, to sit back and enjoy his rise to
respectability. So what was he doing alone up here on one of the
mountains that ringed the sleeping city below? Why would a happily
married man isolate himself this way, standing in meditation through
the night?

There was a hint, perhaps, in his clothing. By now he could certainly
have afforded the elaborate embroidered silks of the wealthy,
but his clothing was low-key. His sandals were worn, the leather
thongs sun-bleached paler than his skin. His homespun robe would
be almost threadbare if it hadn’t been so carefully patched, and it was
hardly enough to shield him against the night-time cold of the high
desert. Yet something about the way he stood on the mountainside
made the cold irrelevant. Tilted slightly forward as though leaning
into the wind, his stance seemed that of someone who existed at an
angle to the earth.

Certainly a man could see the world in a different way up here. He
could find peace in the silence, with just the soughing of the wind over
the rock for company, far from the feuds and gossip of the city with its
arguments over money and power. Here, a man was merely a speck in
the mountain landscape, his mind free to think and reflect, and then
finally to stop thinking, stop reflecting, and submit itself to the

Look closer and you might detect the shadow of loneliness in the
corners of his eyes, something lingering there of the outsider he had
once been, as though he were haunted by the awareness that at any
moment everything he’d worked so long and hard for could be taken
away. You might see a hint of that same mix of vulnerability and resoluteness
in his mouth, the full lips slightly parted as he whispered into
the darkness. And then perhaps you’d ask why contentment was not
enough. Did the fact that it had been so hard-earned make him unable
to accept it as a given, never to be secure in his right to it? But then
what would? What was he searching for? Was it a certain peace within
himself, perhaps? Or was it something more—a glimpse, maybe just
an intimation, of something larger?

One thing is certain: by Muhammad’s own account, he was completely
unprepared for the enormity of what he would experience on
this particular night in the year 610.

Revue de presse

"A rich biography… Those who read it will come away well prepared to understand the prophet whose message, 14 centuries later, is the creed of more than a billion and a half people.” –The San Francisco Chronicle

"This book offers a welcome chance to read [Muhammed's] life story in a more familiar and accessible form than the Islamic sources… The First Muslim succeeds. It makes its subject vivid and immediate." –Hari Kunzru, The New York Times Book Review

"Richly detailed and beautifully written... [Hazleton] is able to do with words what is almost never attempted in pictures... indispensable." –The Seattle Times

"Like her subject, Hazleton brilliantly navigates 'the vast and often terrifying arena in which politics and religion intersect,' revealing the deep humanity of faith." –More Magazine

"The book's focus is an effort to portray the prophet's unique circumstances and recognizable humanity… Hazleton's biography covers the broad strokes of his life with fairness—she doesn't gloss over his more fallible moments—and insight." –NPR

"Hazleton is both a good storyteller and writer. Here she has brought to life a man about whom much has been written and whom millions revere, yet about whose actual life very little is known… A very readable book." –The American Spectator

"This story is deep with details not only of Muhammad's life journey, but with historic information about the culture of the times in Arabia... filled with rich color of the locations, culture, and people; it is a book plentiful with tales of Muhammad's life that follow logically from orphan to religious leader, but more than that, it enriches us with the detail of a time and place in history." –The New York Journal of Books

“[A] humane, audacious biography… An elegant narrative crafted for open-minded readers… a vivid canvas of Arabian life in the early seventh century.” –Ha’aretz

"A genuine attempt to try to understand the human experience Muhammad went through…  Hazleton queries and questions in a way that will resonate with a non-academic audience trying to come to grips with the fastest growing religion on the planet. It is a welcome antidote to the barrage of hatred and distortion to which Islam has been subjected since the early Bush years, an opportunity for balance to be restored and for those of us who don’t subscribe to the extremes to regain the middle ground.” –Guernica

"Hazleton... is in the revelation business: She's out to consider Muhammad as a mortal human, a man who lived and died and was vulnerable... A world-class history teacher who contextualizes the realities of [his] far-off times... [she] can effortlessly distill years of research into a few conversational sentences." –The Stranger

"A strikingly nuanced portrait of how Muhammad the man—fallible and complex—became Muhammad the prophet… With the insight of a psychologist and the details of a historian, Hazleton portrays a Muhammad both divinely inspired and deeply human." –Spirituality and Health

"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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Détails sur le produit

  • Relié: 336 pages
  • Editeur : Riverhead Hardcover (24 janvier 2013)
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ISBN-10: 1594487286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594487286
  • Dimensions du produit: 16,1 x 2,8 x 23,5 cm
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.0 étoiles sur 5  Voir tous les commentaires (1 commentaire client)
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: 42.245 en Livres anglais et étrangers (Voir les 100 premiers en Livres anglais et étrangers)
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1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile  Par Riazul Quadir le 18 août 2013
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
This historically rich and readable account of Mohammad (The Prophet of Islam) is all the more commendable and credible because it comes from a "Jewish Agnostic". Ms. Hazelton has been true to the tradition of a real historian, who is in fact a 'truth-seeker". She has tried to present Mohammad the man, as well as the Prophet and political leader that he eventually became. She provides a psychological profile of a human being, himself driven (like other great moral leader) by his own thirst for the truth. Only when the Western reader can set aside his 1000 year old prejudices - deeply embedded in the Euro-centric traditions - can he benefit from this wonderful piece of writing...
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33 internautes sur 39 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Bringing the Sacred to Earth 27 janvier 2013
Par Zachary Hayden - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
The First Muslim is beautiful. It's sympathetic but not pious, elegant but not soporific, and honest but not incomplete. Lesley Hazleton has accomplished what she set out to do in this biography by, "seeing Muhammad whole." This is the first biography I have read of Muhammad (saw) that actually gets into what was probably, or at least possibly, in his head. By examining the night on Mt. Hira which created the Muhammad (saw) that we know today, she has uncovered the self-conscious personality of a "triply orphaned" prophet that radically changed his world. She explores his life through the personalities that surrounded him such as Khadijah who comforted the man who many venerate today after his experience with the angel on Mt. Hira. She is honest and does not ignore more controversial events of the prophet's (saw) life. She does not shy away from presenting alternative accounts of events in his life, which noone can be certain of one way or the other. In short, this should become THE standard biography of the man so misunderstood here in the West. It makes the sacred reachable, even relatable, and gives the reader the possibility of understanding this orphaned and widowed prophet without orthodox veneration or political slander.

After reading The First Muslim one should read her history of early Islam, After the Prophet. It continues the journey after his death and follows the lives of many of his companions until their deaths.
54 internautes sur 66 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
The First Muslim - A beautifully written book 24 janvier 2013
Par Rizwan Nasar - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle
I just finished Lesley's biography of Prophet Mohammed PBUH. It is a beautifully written book. I know some Muslims may have problems with few of the narratives. It took me good four months to finish this book because I took my time to check... other sources where I had problems with what she wrote. I come to a conclusion that history that is over 1400 years old has many versions. It is how you have been told and brought up... Is how you see things. In these troubled times of prophet's cartoons, videos and bigoted mentalities of Terry Jones and Daniel Pipes this book will be a ray of light. It shows our prophet in a very positive way. She calls him PBUH, the greatest man to walk the earth. I just hope the Muslim communities look at this book and read it with an open mind and heart. I know for sure non-Muslims will see him in an all new and positive way InshAllah. The book will officially be launched on January 22. Do go even out of your way (if you have to)... to read it! You will really enjoy it.

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The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad
19 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
An important direction for Muhammad biographies... 12 mars 2013
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur
Format: Relié
Lesley Hazleton, a self-professed agnostic Jew with an interest in the Abrahamic faiths (think a less spiritually-inclined Karen Armstrong with more focus on politics than piety), presents the most refreshing and possibly important take on Muhammad I have read to date. Quoting a British historian that to write well about an historical figure requires both empathy and imagination, Hazleton acknowledges reconstructing the life of a religious figure says as much about Muhammad as it does the author. Writers, historians, and theologians constantly create narratives (consciously or subconsciously) that strive to be informative and relevant to particular audiences and this book was no different.

By stripping Muhammad of the "purity of perfection" his followers have caged him in, Hazleton shows how we can better appreciate his value as arguably the most human and realistic of all the major religious figures. And what a story! Hazleton fully appreciates this is a riveting story of the meek overcoming the mighty, social justice overcoming tyranny, with drama and action to boot. Some details, particularly in Medina, I had never read before in such detail such as political relationships with Ibn Ubayy, the particular origin of the term "hypocrites"(munaafiq) and, during the siege of Medina, the triple cross Muhammad put into motion, a truly brilliant war tactic.

Muhammad as a politician and warrior may cut a different figure than Muhammad the preacher, but he is no less a fascinating figure. Hazleton avoids the dichotomy some historians (and even devoted Muslims) fall for, how a more docile preacher Muhammad at Mecca can be reconciled with political and military leader Muhammad at Medina. Perhaps the discomfort Muslims face is the fact that they are trying to conform his life to something Jesus-esque. Any mention of marriages, warfare, politicking, or the sort seems at odd and somehow morally reprehensible in comparison to Jesus' non-violent (though short-lived) campaign. But, in all fairness, Jesus didn't accomplish as much in life as he apparently did in death. What would eventually become Christianity and its subsequent adoption by large populations could not have been achieved without some form of governmental support (political, military, and/or financial), including missionary work. It is a reality of our past that certain ideas (even noble ones) could not have gained ground & exerted as much influence (positive and/or negative) as they have without force via government enforcement or military means (e.g., the clichéd "freedom isn't free"). That isn't to say violence should always be accepted, but that it is often a means to end (pacifism does not always deliver peace).

The more relevant question (and realistic one) is when use of force is justified to promulgate or preserve such ideas, be they religious or political in origin. Would moral and ethical debates have "won over" the Nazis? Could African slavery have been abolished and the Union salvaged without violence? Were the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki justified, even if it did save lives? These are difficult questions that may not have clear (if any) answers and that is exactly what Hazleton seeks to showcase with Muhammad. I'm almost reminded of Lincoln, specifically his decisive yet controversial wartime actions such as the suspension of habeas corpus, martial law, and almost dictatorial curbing of speech, actions which would make the Patriot Act and Bush Administration look tame in comparison. These actions could arguably have rendered him the most reviled president in American history, but history has largely vindicated him as taking extraordinary yet necessary measures under extraordinary circumstances. Hazleton doesn't try to sugarcoat Muhammad's military decisions, such as his controversial expulsion of certain Jewish tribes and execution of certain leaders in Medina, but, in keeping with her more realistic portrayal, elaborates the significance of Muhammad's actions in the context of his circumstances and in achieving his long-term goals, allowing the audience to come to its own normative conclusions.

What I also liked about Hazleton's approach is she herself acknowledges that the early historical sources for Muhammad's life (e.g. ibn Ishaq and al-Tabari) often filtered or characterized Muhammad's life retrospectively based on certain agendas and the circumstances in which the historians were living. For example, the mythological stories of Muhammad's prophethood being foreshadowed (birth mark being found by monks as a boy travelling to Damascus; glowing of his mother during pregnancy) or details of the Night Journey could be attributed to historians (or their sources) emulating their sister-faiths' emphasis on miraculous burning bushes and water-walking feats (which themselves were probably based on competition with mythologies of their respective eras). She tends to apply psychology and logic to a lot of descriptions, while also acknowledging these same historians' relative objectivity for their time in describing surprising incidents such as the Satanic Verses or Muhammad's near-suicide after the first revelation. These very human reactions and honest mistakes, Hazleton posits, far from casting doubting on Muhammad's message, should only reaffirm to believers that, if he was a fraud, such stories would never have been admitted to or covered up.

While her application of logic and psychology to certain incidents can often be insightful, Hazleton's reliance on a sort of pseudo-psychological analysis of history can make it difficult to know when she is reciting historical sources, her opinion of the source, and/or a creative take on history. For example, Hazleton characterizes Muhammad's animosity with certain Jewish tribes of Medina (Banu Nadir, Qaynuqa, and Qurayza) as unrequited acceptance in addition to the more convincing political power struggle it probably was. It seems at odds with Hazleton's own narrative of Muhammad's previous overtures (including Jews as part of the ummah; praying towards Jerusalem) and subsequent actions (terms offered to Jewish tribes at Khaybar; insistence on respecting Christians and Jews during the Hajj). While Jewish rejection of him as a prophet was likely a disappointment for Muhammad, it seems odd why this should be any more egregious than Meccan rejection and hostility. It seems too much of an imaginative leap to suggest Muhammad's actions against distinct Jewish tribes, rivals themselves, during wartime should be seen as possibly planting the seeds of anti-Semitism manifested in the 20th century.

Another story I would take exception to related by Hazleton, although only briefly, is Muhammad's marriage to his adopted son's ex-wife. The idea Muhammad would physically desire her is not in line with his behavior in general nor Hazleton's own narrative. Following a quarter-century monogamous marriage to an elderly, wealthier, widowed businesswoman named Khadija (who was the mother of all his children), Muhammad, in his twilight years, married primarily elderly women, widows, and/or daughters of key figures in the community in cementing community cohesiveness to replace the older tribal allegiances he was breaking. Thus, it would take only a few historical sources and not much imagination to see why he was keen in arranging the marriage of a prominent Meccan aristocrat named Zaynab with Zayd, his former slave-turned-adopted-son of African heritage. In his eagerness to break down pre-existing racial and tribal barriers, Muhammad was perhaps guilty of overlooking the pair's compatibility and, as damage control, married Zaynab after her divorce from Zayd as a consolation to her and Zaynab's family and key ally of Muhammad. To be fair, perhaps I am bringing my own bias, but this version is equally empathetic and imaginative in light of historical sources as Hazleton's.

Needless to say, I was happy to have an honest and interesting take on Muhammad's life, one that doesn't come off as either viscerally hostile or apologetic. Her closing remarks acknowledge this as a "very different way of thinking about Muhammad" for Muslims, one that I certainly am thankful for. Islam as a religion has, unfortunately, often distorted Muhammad's life into fantasies, mythological acts, and adherence to (IMO) often archaic customs that bore little significance to his mission beyond being conventions of his era. Lost in all this is the complexity of a life lived that is difficult not to find captivating, regardless of your beliefs or lack thereof.

"I am no more than man; when I order you anything respecting religion, receive it; and when I order you anything about the affairs of the world, then I am nothing more than man." ~ Muhammad
8 internautes sur 8 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
A very clear and readable biography 2 janvier 2014
Par John Cady - Publié sur
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
Seems to me to be an unbiassed historical account of the prophet's life.
As an atheist who is interested in all religions, I found it a great introduction to Islam.
17 internautes sur 22 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
Novelist Treatment But With Increasing Bias 10 mai 2013
Par W. Chambers - Publié sur
Format: Relié Achat vérifié
I really enjoyed this book until I got to the middle, after the Battle of Uhud, and then the book really went off the rails in a disturbing way. Before then she did a great job of talking about Muhammad as a man in a particular social and psychological situation - an orphan in the Arabian peninsula - which was very effective especially in making him more real and relatable to a modern audience. She was also respectful of his spirituality being an agnostic Jew herself. But in describing the period of his being in Medina she started talking more and more about him being a manipulative politician, his labeling of people opposed to him in arbitrary ways, questioning whether certain historical events happened (not just "miracle" type events), and giving her own motivations for his actions - all of this without any evidence. As other reviewers have said, she tells his life in a very dramatic way but when her apparent prejudices get in the way she is just dramatizing her own opinions about his life.

The worst part which made me stop reading - is that she questioned Muhammad's treatment of the one Jewish tribe that had gone over to the enemy really suggesting that he and the Quran itself had some overall issue with all the Jews. There is plenty of evidence in Muhammad life and in the Quran that that is simply not the case. As another reviewer noted, there is evidence which she conveniently ignores that one of the Jewish was working against Muhammad and with his enemies for a long time even though they were part of the agreement he had worked out with all tribes on Medina. There were some other examples of this subjective, non-scholarly and actually offensive perspective of the author in the book. These points were contradicted in much better biographies of Muhammad by Karen Armstrong and Tariq Ramadans and contradict even-handed, non-Muslim teachers I have had on the subject.
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