After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam Info

Check out books about Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and get your questions answered fast. Take a look at hundreds of reviews and ratings for each book related to Religion & Spirituality. Want to see what people say about Lesley Hazleton and find the best shops to download After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam? This is the right place to be. Read&Download After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam by Lesley Hazleton Online


In this gripping narrative history, Lesley Hazleton tells the
tragic story at the heart of the ongoing rivalry between the Sunni and
Shia branches of Islam, a rift that dominates the news now more than
ever.
 
Even as Muhammad lay dying, the battle over who would
take control of the new Islamic nation had begun, beginning a
succession crisis marked by power grabs, assassination, political
intrigue, and passionate faith. Soon Islam was embroiled in civil
war, pitting its founder's controversial wife Aisha against his
son-in-law Ali, and shattering Muhammad’s ideal of
unity.
   
Combining meticulous research with
compelling storytelling, After the Prophet explores the volatile
intersection of religion and politics, psychology and culture, and
history and current events. It is an indispensable guide to the depth
and power of the Shia–Sunni split.


Average Ratings and Reviews
review-bg

4.33

6583 Ratings

5

4

3

2

1


Ratings and Reviews From Market


client-img 4.4
185
62
23
12
12
client-img 4.5
6
6
4
1
0
client-img 4.08
2728
2397
790
2
0

Reviews for After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam:

3

Dec 31, 2012

A gripping and well-written account, but rather markedly biased in favor of Shia ideology. I was surprised, for example, that while Hazleton provided several possible explanations for why Ali (R) was called Abu Turab, all of them were dramatic and spoke of loss and sorrow, and she didn't bother to include the account believed by most Sunni Muslims, which is found in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. The account holds that once, Ali (R) and Fatima (R) had a fight and he was so angry that he left A gripping and well-written account, but rather markedly biased in favor of Shia ideology. I was surprised, for example, that while Hazleton provided several possible explanations for why Ali (R) was called Abu Turab, all of them were dramatic and spoke of loss and sorrow, and she didn't bother to include the account believed by most Sunni Muslims, which is found in Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim. The account holds that once, Ali (R) and Fatima (R) had a fight and he was so angry that he left his home and spent that night in the masjid, the equivalent to sleeping on the couch, basically. Muhammad (S) asked after him and went to the masjid. He found him sleeping in the masjid, his cloak covered in dust, and he started laughing and brushing off the dirt, saying, "Wake up, Abu Turab (Father of the Dust)."

Eh. I would have enjoyed this book far more if it were better sourced, and not written like a salacious tell-all. Well, fine, a very intelligent, well written salacious tell-all. :P

(Oh, and it's impossible to read anything having to do with Hussein (R) and not weep. If you can manage it, you're a robot.) ...more
5

May 02, 2012

I always feel uncertain when reading history books specially Islamic history where there are so many contrasting versions of the events that defined pretty much who we are today. Lesley has taken a very sensitive topic, has considered both sides of the story to narrate and connected it very shrewdly to the modern day. It was a really interesting read for me personally because this was coming from a outsider looking into some of the darkest times of our history which we are not very comfortable I always feel uncertain when reading history books specially Islamic history where there are so many contrasting versions of the events that defined pretty much who we are today. Lesley has taken a very sensitive topic, has considered both sides of the story to narrate and connected it very shrewdly to the modern day. It was a really interesting read for me personally because this was coming from a outsider looking into some of the darkest times of our history which we are not very comfortable talking about. Although I was familiar with almost all the major events that led to the divide, I found myself chuckling at the spectacle; the big names being stripped of all the holiness and reverence and being presented as just silly little mortals with doubts, failures, weakness and everything human. I imagine if I was not so emotionally invested in subject of the book I would have grabbed some popcorns and a soda while reading it. The whole thing at times is so twisted and interesting that it almost feels like something out of a tragic Shakespearean play.

One cannot stop to wonder whether this divide between the two sects is ever going to be bridged, how this is going to further shape our history and how much more will this provide others the opportunities of exploitation.
...more
1

Oct 20, 2011

I confess that I started with Hazleton's work last year but couldn't get past the first 50 pages because of sheer distaste. In my humble view, it is not history, rather some kind of a hotch-potch for amusement of some people who could relate better with her style. I mean anyone even reading the start of third para on first page would understand the the kind of broad brush Hazleton is employing here:

"The very people who had once opposed Muhammad and plotted to kill him were now among his senior I confess that I started with Hazleton's work last year but couldn't get past the first 50 pages because of sheer distaste. In my humble view, it is not history, rather some kind of a hotch-potch for amusement of some people who could relate better with her style. I mean anyone even reading the start of third para on first page would understand the the kind of broad brush Hazleton is employing here:

"The very people who had once opposed Muhammad and plotted to kill him were now among his senior aides."

One wonders, is it so? Really? Who says it, any single reference? One doesn't even need to rebut such monolithic constructs. To me this was enough but I still forced myself to read a few more pages. In the end, for serious readers, its simply a waste of time. Of course, no disrespect intended to those who loved the book. I am still amazed what gives Hazleton the academic right to make such tasteless speculations, for instance,

"Perhaps, then, the multiply married Prophet was celibate."

And one is forced to give a shrug and throw the book away. As I said, its not history, its a comic book version of what Hazleton might have thought while going through various sources.

I can only recommend anyone who is interested in the history proper to get into some serious sources, rather than so-called 'stories' of historical conflicts. And I am not talking about traditional sources opinionated with various religious biases, rather modern sources such as Hodgson's Venture of Islam (Vol I/II) or Dabashi's Shiism, A Religion of Protest. Of course there are serious Sunni and Shia works like Abu Zuhra's or Musa Mosavi's. Juxtaposing such serious works with someone like Hazleton's would obviously clarify the weaknesses of latter, which albeit popularizing history builds a very simplistic view for naive and less informed readers. ...more
2

Dec 06, 2013

This is a review of literally the first 20 pages. I had read a few earlier reviews of the book so I might have read it with those specific opinions in my mind.

Lesley Hazelton also known to The Pakistani Upper Middle classes as that wonderful agnostic woman with a very nice British accent who occasionally praises Islam and The Prophet during multiple TED Talks. As she is agnostic and loves Islam this clearly means that our beliefs have some truth to them because obviously...... validation from This is a review of literally the first 20 pages. I had read a few earlier reviews of the book so I might have read it with those specific opinions in my mind.

Lesley Hazelton also known to The Pakistani Upper Middle classes as that wonderful agnostic woman with a very nice British accent who occasionally praises Islam and The Prophet during multiple TED Talks. As she is agnostic and loves Islam this clearly means that our beliefs have some truth to them because obviously...... validation from other people who sort of agree with us but don't entirely agree with us is like the best type of validation ever!

Anyways, the book starts brilliantly with a wonderful statement that makes you wonder whether Hazelton did her research from history books with those pop up pictures that depict events as really cute photos and occasionally have sound effects to them if you press the button on the side before writing this book. She says "It was as though nobody considered the possibility that he might die. Not even Muhammad himself" (Says who exactly? Also not true from my understanding but I might be wrong) anyways 10 pages later Hazelton says "It is clear Muhammad knew he would die". So which one is it? Did he not know he would die, or would he die?

Lets move on to the next paragraph "The very people who had once opposed Muhammad and plotted to kill him, were now his senior aides"
Could you please give us names? Who exactly? Umar (R)? Abu Bakr (R)? Ali (R)? Usman (R)?. These were some of his senior aides. His most trusted aides, and if one has to agree with that hyperbolic statement only one from that list actually plotted to kill him and that was Umar(R) before his conversion and well that plot actually led to his conversion but anyways a watered down,hyperbolic version of history is much more fun to read. (Also it wasn't exactly a plot more of an impulse reaction if you follow what traditions say)

In short if you want to read an accessible story book like version of events than yes by all means read this book. If you want a serious read, avoid it.

...more
4

Apr 29, 2018

“Man journeys in darkness, and his destiny journeys toward him,”

After the Prophet is a remarkable telling of the story of Islam—particularly the ongoing rivalry between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. It’s a tale of power, intrigue, rivalry, jealousy, politics, faith and human emotions told in a wonderfully novelistic style. After the Prophet is not a novel, it is “narrative history”, in a sense that it is not an authoritative historical account of events and is not focused on history “Man journeys in darkness, and his destiny journeys toward him,”

After the Prophet is a remarkable telling of the story of Islam—particularly the ongoing rivalry between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam. It’s a tale of power, intrigue, rivalry, jealousy, politics, faith and human emotions told in a wonderfully novelistic style. After the Prophet is not a novel, it is “narrative history”, in a sense that it is not an authoritative historical account of events and is not focused on history like battles & treaties, but the story of things that happened and of things that people say happened, told in a highly compelling way.

In 'After the Prophet', Hazleton tells us the story of the origin of the Sunni-Shia divide, covering roughly the period between the last days of Prophet’s reign to the battle of Karbala. In this chapter, Hazleton puts in historical perspective of many popular events/incidents argued between Sunni-Shia followers that happened before and just right after Prophet Muhammad. The book briefly covers the 30 year period of the rule of the 4 Rashiduns (Rightly guided Caliphs) namely Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman & Ali. The books covers all the major events that took place which caused and widened the rift between Sunnis & Shias. Each chapter tries to cover key events during the reign of one Rashidun, at a time, culminating into the battle of Karbala. The relations between Ali & other Rashiduns form the core of the story and the author does a terrific job of rounding out each historical figure's personality and putting them in the context of their time.

What I liked the most from Hazleton’s book is that she tries to present each event from as many perspectives as possible. This is especially important when you discuss the history of Sunni-Shia (and maybe history in general), because there are always multiple versions of an event. Even when there is one version that both sects agree, there are always multiple interpretations of said event and While Hazleton is careful to include competing interpretations of key events, she does not pick any side in the Sunni-Shia historical dispute. (though some may argue that she may seem slightly inclined towards one side.) The story of the assassination of Umar, Uthman & Ali, the Battle of Jamal, the Battle of Shiffin, and the Battle of Karbala, which are the main incidents told in 'After The Prophet' and are all complicated historical events with complicated background and aftermath Hazleton also explains the ramifications of these ancient events on the dynamics of the Middle East in our own time

On the downside, the story occasionally gets melodramatic. Readers unfamiliar with the history of Islam may get lost in all the similar-sounding names (A family tree would have helped). Though the book rightly remains focused on the Shia-Sunni divide, a short account of how Islam had spread under Muhammad might have made subsequent events clearer.

In the end, I think “After the Prophet” is a good starting point for people who wish to understand the historical context of Sunni and Shia split. You should not expect to learn what the teachings of the Sunni or Shia from this book. But you can expect to read different side of important historical events, different point of view from what you may have previously believed in. ...more
4

Apr 01, 2017

This is a subject I am not too familiar with. I am well versed on the gulf between Catholicism and Protestantism, but the politics of Islam is new information for me. I would assume this book would be of interest to those readers not familiar with the religion of Islam.

The split in the Islam world began as Muhammad lay dying. Apparently, the battle was between the family of the favorite wife, Aisha, against his son- in- law, philosopher/warrior Ali. Fifty years later, in what is modern day Iraq, This is a subject I am not too familiar with. I am well versed on the gulf between Catholicism and Protestantism, but the politics of Islam is new information for me. I would assume this book would be of interest to those readers not familiar with the religion of Islam.

The split in the Islam world began as Muhammad lay dying. Apparently, the battle was between the family of the favorite wife, Aisha, against his son- in- law, philosopher/warrior Ali. Fifty years later, in what is modern day Iraq, Ali is assassinated. Soldiers of the first Sunni dynasty led by Muawiya massacred seventy-two warriors led by Muhammad’s grandson Hussein at Karbala in 680 AD. Hussein’s ordeal at Karbala became a passion story at the the core of Shia Islam. It is part of the annual Ashura rites.

The book is well written and researched. Hazelton’s gripping prose provides insight into origins of the most volatile blend of politics and religion. The author balances past and present as she shows how these 7th century events are alive in the Middle East today. Hazelton states all would have been simple if Muhammad had had a son, but alas he did not.

This book will supply a starting point for readers attempting to understand a complex subject. Hazelton’s writing is biased toward the Shia. I wished she had presented a neutral telling of the facts and let me make up my own mind.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. The book is about seven and half hours long. Leslie Hazelton narrated her own book. She has a most interesting deep voice.
...more
2

May 13, 2013

While Hazleton's effort in making the complicated history of Islam more accessible to the non-muslin reader is commendable, as a Muslim the simplification is too much to accept. This is especially because while the author makes an effort to emote the emotions in her written intentions, the soul behind the history and what it means to a typical Shia/Sunni is lost.

Critically considering the information, while at-tabari seems to be heavily referenced, several Shia accounts ( from Nahjul Balagha- a While Hazleton's effort in making the complicated history of Islam more accessible to the non-muslin reader is commendable, as a Muslim the simplification is too much to accept. This is especially because while the author makes an effort to emote the emotions in her written intentions, the soul behind the history and what it means to a typical Shia/Sunni is lost.

Critically considering the information, while at-tabari seems to be heavily referenced, several Shia accounts ( from Nahjul Balagha- a collection if Ali's sermons and letters, sheik at-tusi, tabatabai, razi, mufeed, majlisi and many others) fail to be mentioned as a result of an ostensibly lazy research.

Readers should know that the accounts presented in the book are not without the author's opinionated deductions on what actually took place and they shouldn't be surprised to have Shias and Sunnis disagree to some, if not most deductive claims made by the author.

In conclusion, the book presents an accessible account of what seemed to happened and for someone who simply wants to know about the sunni-shia split without delving too deep into its details, this book is good introduction as seen from the eyes of a impassioned third person. ...more
3

Nov 18, 2014

This book, in its initial pages is extremely abhorrent, however as it progresses the reader is forced to make peace with the narrative. Doesn't necessarily mean one has to acknowledge everything written in the book as the truth but one eventually subsides personal beliefs and emotions somewhat, for the sake of reading it. Let me make my statement loud and clear for what it's worth. This isn't a history book, although it does pretend to be one. This is biased historical narrative mixed with This book, in its initial pages is extremely abhorrent, however as it progresses the reader is forced to make peace with the narrative. Doesn't necessarily mean one has to acknowledge everything written in the book as the truth but one eventually subsides personal beliefs and emotions somewhat, for the sake of reading it. Let me make my statement loud and clear for what it's worth. This isn't a history book, although it does pretend to be one. This is biased historical narrative mixed with neutral elements and author's own elderly, deliberate opinions that makes one wonder who gives her the authority to opine about the so called "history" even if one does come to terms with the kind of brand involved? There is a clear, ridiculously biased narrative that cleverly builds itself through out the course of the book. Over illuminating some people, shadowing others, and all based on author's on liberties without considering one bit about the audience. I was hoping if the book is on SHIAS & SUNNIS, the revered personalities from the Sunni side would also, equally, be threaded in a consistent narrative. But right from the beginning this wasn't the case. And it wasn't even subtle!

The Author introduces one extremely revered personality from the Sunni side as follows:
".....Despite his smallpox scarred cheeks, people still talked admiringly of his golden complexion and his flashing smile-flashing not with whiteness but with the fine gold wire bound around his teeth for decoration"

Another personality is introduced as follows:
"...He had protruding stomach, bulging eyes and feet swollen by gout, but as though in compensation for his physical shortcomings, he was possessed of an extraordinary subtlety of mind"

At one point the Author "Opines" about the Prophet (SAW) as follows:
"...It was as though nobody had considered the possibility that he might die, not even Muhammad himself"

AND

"Perhaps then, the multiply married prophet was celibate"

So there goes the quality of the work right out of the window. The sources provided at the end are mostly from Tabari or Shia scholars.

Now for those who are wondering why have given it a 3 star rating, which in GR language means..."liked it". Well, this isn't the first time I had to listen to or read nonsensical narrative on the subject. And of course one tends to keep composed and try to read with objectivity and neutrality, as a student, as somebody trying to learn a thing or two. Having that subsided, I did learn the complete side of the SHIA story as a whole in one book. Well the fundamentals at least. There were things I didn't know why they were as they were, and also I had never read the issue in a chronological order. So that I think is the reason why I ended up liking it. As an introduction to the SHIA narrative, told in a "lavish" manner. Now, having said that, this shouldn't automatically make me some kind of a rejectionist, as I am not going to reflect over the events per se. I have certain beliefs and let's leave it at that.
I cannot call it an academic work, I cannot call it a quality narrative either. What I do give this book however is, it's short, moves briskly and most importantly it spurs curiosity! This isn't a book that is whole in itself and cannot be left alone. I definitely want to dig deep now, probably read Hodgson's work now.

Anybody wants to know what a "quality" history book is supposed to be like, please read SALADIN by Anne-Marrie-Ed, Paighambar-e-Islam by Muhammad Hamidullah.
On this particular subject, I would ask if anyone has better suggestions please share :) ...more
4

Jun 09, 2016

Surprisingly, this book is an easy read. This is the first reason why I give 4 star.

I read this book out of long time curiosity. My history lesson for early Islam era was only from school, and I was not satisfied with only dates, and not much explanations of events or culture, even a high-school level explanations. This book gives me enough explanations that I had sought. This is the second reason.

But this book is not a comprehensive history, it is only focus to relevant issues with the Surprisingly, this book is an easy read. This is the first reason why I give 4 star.

I read this book out of long time curiosity. My history lesson for early Islam era was only from school, and I was not satisfied with only dates, and not much explanations of events or culture, even a high-school level explanations. This book gives me enough explanations that I had sought. This is the second reason.

But this book is not a comprehensive history, it is only focus to relevant issues with the Sunni-Shia split. There are many things that not covered in this book. Fortunately I found what I sought, and not much more. So, my rating is very personal.

Reading other reviews of this book, some reviewers mentioned this book is in favor of Shia side. For me, it is an advantage because my Muslim friends are Sunni, so this book offers a different POV. And thanks to this book, my friends don't have to telling the history, only gives different perspective from Sunni side.

...more
3

Sep 06, 2012

A book which, if you are a sunni, pushes you to read early Islamic history more objectively and question the political intrigues and conspiracies of that period. However, the narrative is heavily biased towards shias and there is a lot of pick and choose material by the Jewish political writer, Lesley Hazleton to support, manipulate or simply make the historical book more readable.
Lesley Hazleton, presents three major split points between shia and sunnis. The first was the rivalry between Hazrat A book which, if you are a sunni, pushes you to read early Islamic history more objectively and question the political intrigues and conspiracies of that period. However, the narrative is heavily biased towards shias and there is a lot of pick and choose material by the Jewish political writer, Lesley Hazleton to support, manipulate or simply make the historical book more readable.
Lesley Hazleton, presents three major split points between shia and sunnis. The first was the rivalry between Hazrat Ali and Hazrat Ayesha after the incident where Hazrat Ayesha lost her necklace and was accused by some citizens of Medina of adultery. Hazrat Ali did not support Hazrat Ayesha and was on the other side when the issue was reported to Prophet Mohammad. The second event was the martyrdom of Hazrat Usman and the battle of Jamal. The third event was that of Karbala.
The two heavily sourced muslim references used in this book are 1. Ibn Ishaq biography of Prophet Mohammad and 2. Ibn Jarir Tubri accounts of Prophet Mohammad's S.A.W. life.
Apparently, Tubri is accused of secretly hiding his shia beliefs by some sunnis, but his authority is accepted by both sunnis and shias. Lesley pointed out that the Tubri's book is surprisingly a very postmodern text which repeats events and accounts by different sources.
A comparison to Imam Hussain's sacrifice to passion of Christ is also made and in the end there is reference to the bombing of some Imam's shrine in Iraq by sunnis. Also, there is a comparison of Arab religious leaders with German millitary leaders in the medieval age.
The bibliography reveals majority of the sources referred are those from non muslim writers. Considering the degree in politics and her jewish heritage, I thought some time whether I am reading a propaganda book by the jewish establishment. However, the book also made me consider converting to shia sect. So a controversial book but very interesting and it makes you realize, a lot of early Islamic history is not told to born muslims, because it is very bloody, violent and has dirty politics. ...more
3

Apr 13, 2012

This is really worth a read for anyone starting out in the complex task of understanding the Shia Sunni split. It will help you as long as you, and from you I'm assuming muslim from either sect, especially sunni, try to take it with a pinch of salt. Meaning, take your biases and existing beliefs and store them away somewhere sound proof while you read Hazelton's straight off the bat, chronological account of how it all happened.

However, I found, at times, the liberty the author takes in This is really worth a read for anyone starting out in the complex task of understanding the Shia Sunni split. It will help you as long as you, and from you I'm assuming muslim from either sect, especially sunni, try to take it with a pinch of salt. Meaning, take your biases and existing beliefs and store them away somewhere sound proof while you read Hazelton's straight off the bat, chronological account of how it all happened. 

However, I found, at times, the liberty the author takes in analyzing historical events and the intentions of key players who formed islamic history , too much of a Freudian analysis and can be wearisome . Nonetheless I'd still recommend it to anyone who wants to understand how the events unfold, esp chronologically. She's drawn most of her research from al-Tabari, a renowned Sunni scholar. If anything, her book for me is impetus to read Tabari and similar works, a mammoth task in itself (there are 39 volumes of his English translation of his "history of prophets and kings". I really doubt that would be in electronic form.but if someone finds something, pls let me know?)
I highly recommend it as one of the books explaining factually the birth of the Sunni Shia split and how it evolved over the years. However the conclusion which is a fleeting analysis in more recent world events is inadequate. 

...more
5

Oct 17, 2012

Finally, a book which explains all the conflict between Sunni and Shias in great detail. I really enjoyed Lesly's style and prose as she explained the great story as told by Muslims resources in a wonderful lucid way. For me the most interesting character was Mauwiya and the legacy he has managed to leave for the rest of the Ummah. I particularly enjoyed the way Lesley was able to draw comparisons history with current events. I would recommend this book to all Muslims whether Sunni or Shia as it Finally, a book which explains all the conflict between Sunni and Shias in great detail. I really enjoyed Lesly's style and prose as she explained the great story as told by Muslims resources in a wonderful lucid way. For me the most interesting character was Mauwiya and the legacy he has managed to leave for the rest of the Ummah. I particularly enjoyed the way Lesley was able to draw comparisons history with current events. I would recommend this book to all Muslims whether Sunni or Shia as it will clear a lot of fog. Unfortunately for us Muslims, the fear of upsetting our brothers is so extreme that any mention of these events are scandalous at the least leaving this delicate job of explaining history to non-Muslims like Lesley. Most of the history has been picked up from the great work of Al-Tabari which makes it pretty believable. ...more
2

Oct 10, 2018

Though I don’t consider myself as someone qualified enough to review the content of this book however I do feel that the sources used for this book are bias and one-sided.

Whatever happened after Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) death is something which till date Muslims have not been able to comprehend. Each of the sect have different versions of it and none can’t be denied because Arabic is a very strange language as every word have a different context, at times multiple meanings and understanding Though I don’t consider myself as someone qualified enough to review the content of this book however I do feel that the sources used for this book are bias and one-sided.

Whatever happened after Holy Prophet’s (PBUH) death is something which till date Muslims have not been able to comprehend. Each of the sect have different versions of it and none can’t be denied because Arabic is a very strange language as every word have a different context, at times multiple meanings and understanding according to the situation.

If we look at it from the historical perspective, the people of Iraq at that point in time also played a role which was very shady because they never stood against the tyrants or gave support to those who did. They pledged with Hazrat Ali (RA) yet disobeyed him, then pledged with Imam Hassan (RA) and turned on him. Wrote letters to Imam Hussain (RA) for his support and never showed up when their strength was required to fight.

The tragedy of Karbala was magnificent and no human can negate its significance and sacrifice. The split between Shia and Sunni as of today is more on political grounds than on practices and theology. ...more
5

Apr 05, 2012

One of the best written account of Shia-Sunni divide in Islam. Written in an engaging manner, the book absorbs you completely and you don't feel stranger to history. You are introduced to the characters of Islamic history as someone from amongst them. You tend to understand the nuances like natives and suddenly seemingly trivial expressions start making sense! A must read for those who want to understand schism in today's Middle East.
5

Sep 24, 2009

(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Regular readers will know that I'm already a big fan of religion journalist Lesley Hazleton, and especially after reading her bewitching Jezebel last year, in which through historical texts and contemporary journeys through the Holy Land she argued that who we've traditionally thought of as the (Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Regular readers will know that I'm already a big fan of religion journalist Lesley Hazleton, and especially after reading her bewitching Jezebel last year, in which through historical texts and contemporary journeys through the Holy Land she argued that who we've traditionally thought of as the "Whore of Babylon" was actually a tolerant, wise and popular leader in her day, forced by necessity into a villainous role by the war-mongering, monotheistic early Christians precisely in order to justify their monotheistic war-mongering. And now Hazleton has released her latest, After the Prophet, which does something pretty simple which is why I don't have a lot to say about it -- it tells in plain language the various Islamic legends of the 7th century that led to the split in their religion between so-called "Shia" and "Sunni" denominations, which Westerners can think of as the Muslim equivalent of the Protestant/Catholic split in Christianity (and which the Bush administration claimed didn't exist, which is why they argued that a transition in Iraq from a Sunni-led Saddam Hussein regime to a US-backed Shiite government would present no complications).

Yeah, as you can see, most of us could really benefit from learning a little more about this historic rift, especially since we currently have several hundreds of thousands of soldiers over there right now in the middle of all this in-fighting; and that's exactly what Hazleton's book does, is explain this rift in a way so that it's easy for Americans to follow along, but while still honoring the complexity of the story itself. It's fascinating and engaging, a balanced book which tries to be as fair as possible to both sides of the Shia/Sunni argument*, but is also a fairly straight-ahead book which is why I don't have a lot to say about it; despite the short review today, it comes highly recommended.

Out of 10: 9.3

*Now, that said, it did seem to me that Hazleton at least slightly favors the Shiites over the Sunnis; but I don't know if that's because she actually did so, or because I as an individual read both sides and just personally favored the Shia argument over the Sunni one. And what a strange realization to make, by the way, as an American who was raised as a Bible-thumping Southern Baptist; that if I were to convert to Islam tomorrow, I would almost undoubtedly be a Shiite Muslim instead of a Sunni**.

**Oh, who are we kidding? If I did convert, I would probably actually be a mystical, poetry-spouting Sufi Muslim, the third wing of Islam that gets almost no play at all. What a fascinating book this was! ...more
4

Dec 08, 2009

NO SPOILERS:

On completion: Much of what we know about Muhammad and those closest to him was passed down from generation to generation verbally. This book presents their lives in the same manner. The author relates these very same tales to the reader. This is captivating story telling for adults. You learn history in an engaging manner through tales such as The Affair of the Necklace, People of the Cloak, The Episode of the Pen and Paper and more. This book covers primarily the 50 years 630-380 NO SPOILERS:

On completion: Much of what we know about Muhammad and those closest to him was passed down from generation to generation verbally. This book presents their lives in the same manner. The author relates these very same tales to the reader. This is captivating story telling for adults. You learn history in an engaging manner through tales such as The Affair of the Necklace, People of the Cloak, The Episode of the Pen and Paper and more. This book covers primarily the 50 years 630-380 up to the Karbala Massacre. There is a twofold shift in the book, geographically from Arabia to Iraq and the Middle East and from a narrative of tales to a discussion of politics. You learn about the subtleties of the Arabic language and how a spoken work can be interpreted in several ways. The author clearly has a thorough grasp of the subject. The main focus of the book is to explain the history that lies behind the Shia-Sunni split. The focus is less on current events, although there is some discussion on how the split played a role in the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and the Iran-Iraq wars of the 1980s. The similarity between particular historical events and Saddam Hussein's deeds are also pointed out. There is discussion of later day Sunni (Ibn Taymia) and Shia (Ali Shariati) proponents. The beginnings of Islamic fundamentalism is also covered.

From my point of view, the text became harder to follow as it progressed to the modern day issues. Politics became the central theme. It became less engaging to me, probably because I was having a harder time grasping all the details. I think I would need to read the book several times to suck up all that is presented. So while this is not a criticism of the book, I want to make clear that the focu changes from tales to a discussion of politics. To understand the Shia-Sunni split you have to understand the role politics came to play. In the beginning, for Muhammad the spiritual and the political were one.

One other issue troubles me. I wonder where the author's sentiments lie. Does she have a preference fo one side or the other? I clearly feel a stronger liking for Shia rather than Sunni beliefs. I started out not even knowing the differences between the two. I now favor one side! This worries me. Have both sides been presented to me in a balanced impartial manner?

I highly recommend this book to those of you interested in understanding the similarities and differences between Schiism and Sunni beliefs. You have to be genuinely interested in and curiousaboutn the subject to enjoy the entire book. I am happy I read it from cover to cover. I probably should immediately start over and read it again to grasp all the innuendos. I also recommend this book to those of you who are interested in the tales that tell the earliest history of Islam. You can stop when you find your interst sagging. You will have at least learned a bit about an interesting subject - the birth of Islam. Futhermore it is startling to see the clear similarities between Islam, Judaism and Christianity in the seventh century.


**************************************************

Through page 37: I have to share my thoughts with you! Reading a book is fun, but sharing it with others is perhaps even more fun. You learn about the personalities and little quirks of the main protagonists - Muhammad, Aisha, Khadija, Ali and more. Each one is fascinating. I was going to include an excerpt about Ali, but then I ran into this about Muhammad, the Prophet himself:

Sure enough, the man who remained without sons of his own soon had two adored grandsons, Hassan and Hussein. Only a year apart, they instantly became the apples of their grandfather's eye. It is said there is no love purer than that of a grandparent for a grandchild, and Muhammad was clearly as doting and proud a grandfather as ever lived. He would bounce the young boys on his lap for hours at a time, kissing and hugging them. Would even happily abandon all the decorum and dignity of his position as the Messenger of God to get down on all fours and let them ride him like a horse, kicking his sides with their heels and shrieking in delight. These two boys were the future of Islam, as the Shia would see it - and by fathering them, Ali, the one man after Muhammad most loyal to Khadija, had made that future possible. (page 37)

Did you know that Muhammad was monogamously married to Khadija until her death. She was his first wife. After her death he married Aisha, and after her he accumulated nine other wives. None of these produced offspring with Muhammad, although several had children from previous marriages. Aisha was a virgin. When Muhammad gave his daughter to Ali, his first cousin and adopten son, he demanded that they too have a monogamous marriage. This was not typical of the times, not at all. Marriage was a political instrument, and of course a means of producing offspring.

I will not say any more, but I hope I have enticed you enough so you choose to pick up this book. I want you to have the experience of learning the facts from an author who has a knack for telling a story. A story? No, this isn't a story. This is history.

***********************************
Through page 25 of 212: No, I haven't read much, but the relaxed narrative style of this non-fiction book is simply delightful. Even if I were to stop now, which I have no intention of doing, I would have learned a lot. What I want to say here is that this book does not present the facts in a dry, boring manner. This is non-fiction that reads like a story. Tell me, does this sound like non-fiction? I will give you an excerpt:

...it is enough to know that it was the kind of necklace a young girl would wear, and treasure more than if it had been made of diamonds because it had been Muhammad's gift to her on her wedding day. (Aisha's lost necklace)

Its loss and the ensuing scandal would be known as the Affair of the Necklace, the kind of folksy title that speaks of oral history, which is how all history began before the age of the printing press and mass literacy. The People of the Cloak, The Episode of Pen and Paper, The Battle of the Camel, The Secret Letter, The Night of Shrieking-all these and more would be the building blocks of early Islamic history. This is history told as story, which of course it always is, but rarely in such vivid and intimate detail.

For the first hundred years of Islam, these stories lived not on the page but on the tongues of those who told them and in the ears and hearts of those who heard them and remembered them to tell again, the details gathering impact as the years unfolded. (page 18)

And then the story continues about how this necklace gets lost, but you must read the book yourself to find out.

This quote begins with a bit of the story which helps explain the antipathy between Aisha and Ali. The antipathy between these two lies at the bottom of the Islamic Sunni-Shia split. The topic is fascinating, and the way it is told is captivating - at least so far!

I assume you do know that the split is fundamentally a split between the followers of Aisha, Muhammad's youngest and favorite wife, and the followers who supported Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law, married to his first wife's oldest daughter Fatima. Muhammad had no living sons to suceed him. Neither did he designate who would suceed him after his death. He didn't want to proclaim a successor because he had finally suceeded in uniting the Islamic people. He had finally suceeded even in bringing the aristocratic Quraysh clan of Mecca into his fold, despite his teachings being clearly egalitarian. He had stopped intertribal warfare. He had expelled pagan gods. He had founded the world's third great monotheistic faith. Perhaps he simply couldn't face the ruckus that would unfold if he were to name his successor. History is fascinating, but it must be told in a manner so we don't yawn and fall asleep. ...more
5

Apr 13, 2013

Lesley Hazleton takes up the ambitious task of trying to explain without bias the 'Shia-Sunni Split' in a historical context and that too in under 300 pages.

It is quite safe to say she has done quite well.

With a theme as sensitive as this, she takes care to present both (and often all) sides of the story while mostly managing to make no assertions about the actual facts, leaving such judgments to the reader.

She takes the reader right into these historical stories and breathes life into the Lesley Hazleton takes up the ambitious task of trying to explain without bias the 'Shia-Sunni Split' in a historical context and that too in under 300 pages.

It is quite safe to say she has done quite well.

With a theme as sensitive as this, she takes care to present both (and often all) sides of the story while mostly managing to make no assertions about the actual facts, leaving such judgments to the reader.

She takes the reader right into these historical stories and breathes life into the elusive 'plastic saints' who us normal people rarely relate to and makes them real flesh and blood. This makes the differences much more understandable and inevitably human.

Having studied in Pakistani schools, the version of Islamic history we were taught was a watered-down, ridiculous and factually incoherent collection of myths which left many of us with more questions than answers. This book was the cliched 'breath of fresh air'. Perhaps the divide would not be so important if the population was not 'quarantined' from their history for their 'own protection'. Rewriting history is a dangerous business with unfavorable outcomes, almost always.

Keeping in mind all the good things about this book, it must also be pointed out that if you are a Muslim who is easily offended you will have to muster some courage to go through the entire book. There are things that will offend both Shias and Sunnis equally; but that is a price that must be paid.

I also felt that it was ever so slightly tilted towards the Shia narrative; even though I admit it is quite impossible to remain absolutely impartial.

All in all, a must read for Muslims hoping to understand the differences that shape their societies, while being an insightful and gripping book for those simply trying to understand one of history's bloodiest feuds. ...more
5

Feb 06, 2013

"In The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran", Hooman Majd describes the Rosah which are annually performed by Iran's Shi'a to commemorate the Battle of Karbala. These are retellings or recreations of events that continue to inspire many. People cry and shiver in sadness at these performances year after year as they remember and relive the suffering of the Prophet's grandson and his supporters. If you don't know the background of the Sunni-Shi'a split, it seems to be a strange "In The Ayatollah Begs to Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran", Hooman Majd describes the Rosah which are annually performed by Iran's Shi'a to commemorate the Battle of Karbala. These are retellings or recreations of events that continue to inspire many. People cry and shiver in sadness at these performances year after year as they remember and relive the suffering of the Prophet's grandson and his supporters. If you don't know the background of the Sunni-Shi'a split, it seems to be a strange custom.

The reasons cannot be told in sound bites. Their sadness results from the disrespectful treatment of the Prophet's family for two generations, and the complex series of events that culminates in extreme cruelty at Karbala.

Leslie Hazelton makes the history and its participants come alive. She gives the people character and shading so that you can understand what they do and possibly why. Barnaby Rogerson in The "Heirs of Muhammad Islam's First Century and the Origins of the Sunni-Shia Split" tells the same story but not in a way that helped me to understand the passion of the Shi'a. Now, through Hazelton, I finally understand the split and passion of the Shi'a and why, even today, why this story remains so stirring.

This telling of the story is favorable to Ali and his children and suggests there is an alternative Sunni interpretation.

This is an excellent book and I highly recommend it for anyone who wants to understand how this split occurred. ...more
2

Oct 29, 2014

I read this book with sheer amusement, skipping paragraphs of author’s own imagination and plastering the page with sticky notes to acknowledge a huge lack of scholarly research. There is no doubt that some bits in the book corroborate with the events I read in other objective accounts but overall this book is an oversimplification coated with creative writing.

Chapter 1 on Muhammad’s wives: “Certainly any of the wives crowded around Muhammad’s sickbed would have given her eyeteeth – all her I read this book with sheer amusement, skipping paragraphs of author’s own imagination and plastering the page with sticky notes to acknowledge a huge lack of scholarly research. There is no doubt that some bits in the book corroborate with the events I read in other objective accounts but overall this book is an oversimplification coated with creative writing.

Chapter 1 on Muhammad’s wives: “Certainly any of the wives crowded around Muhammad’s sickbed would have given her eyeteeth – all her teeth, in fact – to have had children by him….So every one of them surely did her utmost to become pregnant by him, and none more than Aisha…” usage of words here such as “would have” definitely helped clarify the author’s own elaboration but then “surely did” places this entire paragraph under scrutiny.

In the same chapter Lesley suggests bluntly, “The Quran was the last and final word of God, they said. There could be no more prophets after Muhammad, no male kin who could assert special insight or closeness to the divine will, as the Shia would claim. This is why Khadija’s two infant boys had to die; they could not live lest they inherit the prophetic gene.” Some bold assertions!

On page 16 Lesley Hazleton declared (to my relief) that she is a novelist. “Words are always subject to interpretation. Thoughts can only be imagined, and that is the work of novelists. We rely on the basic stuff of history…..”

I can quote paragraphs after paragraphs of misinformation, offensive and oversimplified information but I will have to quote almost the entire book. I think there is no harm in reading this book as a naïve introduction (taking it with a grain of salt, let’s make that a bag of salt). For a thorough and well-researched account, a good place to start is Reza Aslan’s “No god but God and Tamim Ansary’s Destiny disrupted.


...more
4

Jun 27, 2015

This book was completely an amazing journey since the beginning , i know that in some parts it felt like lesely wasn't seeking for the truth but for the better plot , but i cant blame her she is a novelist and she seemed really blunt after all , and I've got to admit it getting to the core and to the thoughts of the characters made this book not only a historical epic speech but a novel for all times that digs deep in its readers life
“nobody in the West should forget that what unites the two This book was completely an amazing journey since the beginning , i know that in some parts it felt like lesely wasn't seeking for the truth but for the better plot , but i cant blame her she is a novelist and she seemed really blunt after all , and I've got to admit it getting to the core and to the thoughts of the characters made this book not only a historical epic speech but a novel for all times that digs deep in its readers life
“nobody in the West should forget that what unites the two main branches of Islam is far greater that what divides them, and that the vast majority of all Muslims still cherish the ideal of unity preached by Muhammad himself—an ideal the more deeply held for being so deeply broken” ...more
1

Oct 30, 2013

If you’ve got this book in your hand right now, CHUCK IT OUT THE WINDOW!!

I read this book for its high-ratings and was careless to not inspect the author's lack of qualifications to cover such a highly controversial & contested historical event. Unfortunately, it seems that this book will continue to receive high ratings (4.3/5 at the time of writing this), mostly due to the majority of reviewers being non-Muslims who are most likely unfamiliar with the topic and have possibly been If you’ve got this book in your hand right now, CHUCK IT OUT THE WINDOW!!

I read this book for its high-ratings and was careless to not inspect the author's lack of qualifications to cover such a highly controversial & contested historical event. Unfortunately, it seems that this book will continue to receive high ratings (4.3/5 at the time of writing this), mostly due to the majority of reviewers being non-Muslims who are most likely unfamiliar with the topic and have possibly been captivated by its gripping narrative - which is built on a foundation of thrill rather than authenticity. I am not surprised that the majority of those who are blasting this book are Muslims; both Shia and Sunni.

I disliked this book for many reasons. Actually, I HATED this book. Hate is a big dark awful word that I avoid like the plague, but this is one of those situations where it is unquestionably warranted. Here are three problems that make this book more harmful than good to your understanding of the Muslim schism:

Boo #1 - Historically inaccurate. Although the author confesses that she draws heavily on Al-Tabari, in fact almost all of her quotations as she professes at the end, what she does not so clearly state is that his work is a collection of narrations compiled centuries after the event. In Al-Tabari’s own words “I have merely reported it [the events] as it was reported to me”. In Ansary’s Destiny Disrupted, the author notes that “Tabari doesn't say which version is true; he just puts them out there for you the reader to decide”. Therefore his work is essentially a collection of narrations, some of which were accurate, while others were not - not surprisingly the majority of them. Or in other words, he was mostly concerned with the collection rather than the authentication of these happenings. You have to go no further than the introduction of his book to see this.

"I shall likewise mention those (narrators) who came after them, giving additional information about them. I do this so that it can be clarified whose transmission (of traditions) is praised and whose information is transmitted, whose transmission is to be rejected and whose transmission is to be disregarded…The reader should know that with respect to all I have mentioned and made it a condition to set down in this book of mine, I rely upon traditions and reports which have been transmitted and which I attribute to their transmitters. I rely only very rarely upon (my own) rationality and internal thought processes. For no knowledge of the history of men of the past and of recent men and events is attainable by those who were not able to observe them and did not live in their time, except through information and transmission produced by informants and transmitters. This knowledge cannot be brought out by reason or produced by internal thought processes. This book of mine may contain some information mentioned by me on the authority of certain men of the past, which the reader may disapprove of and the listener may find detestable, because he can find nothing sound and no real meaning in it. In such cases, he should know that it is not my fault that such information comes to him, but the fault of someone who transmitted it to me. I have merely reported it as it was reported to me."

Notably, Al-Tabari maintained a thorough list of transmitters for each narratio; termed Isnad in Arabic. It is this quality that made his work a major primary source for later historians. Big Islamic scholars would later take on his work and authenticate each of the narrations based on a number of checks including the reliability of the narrator; again, something Al-Tabari himself recommended at the beginning of his book. Sunni & Shia scholars would later authenticate these narrations and publish their own seminal works; Al-Bukhary(sunni), Al-Muslim(sunni), Al-Kafi(shia), ... etc. She did not take any of these in consideration. She certainly should have, when many of the Al-Tabari’s narrations would later be discredited to be no more than gossip.

Unfortunately, Hazleton was not interested in the authenticity of the historical events she wove her narrative around, instead, she was more concerned with writing an “epic story” as the title of the book suggests. In fact, she at times compiled multiple details from different narrations together, some of which contradicted each other. Poor Al-Tabiri, he is probably rolling in his grave right now. But as long as the narrative is gripping, who cares about the rest? Well, it should matter to everyone who is reading this book as a historical review of the Islamic schism.

Boo #2 - Inaccurate. These included theological rules and other minor details that were rather annoying and revealing of her "grasp" of Islamic jurisprudence and history. There are many, but two demonstrate this effectively:

P.43 for a theological fallacy: “unless a woman could produce four witnesses to her rape - a virtual impossibility - she would be considered guilty of slander and adultery”. For rape, only her account is sufficient; at least across all the 4 Sunni Schools. This, of course, comes with the necessary logical and convincing proof of course, equal to those sought across most western legal systems.
P. 83 for a historical fallacy: “Each of the six wanted the leadership for himself”. In fact it was only Ali and Othman who wanted the leadership across the majority of historical accounts.

Boo #3 - Gossipy. Every once in a while, in an attempt to add thickness and complexity to the historical plot, Hazelton would either inject numerous inner thoughts to the characters or possible alternative motives. I am not sure if Al-Tabari produced a collection of works that was dedicated to this sort of historical psychic analysis. Basically, i doubt there is any historical backing to most of it. These might seem innocuous to non-Muslims, but those familiar with the characters notice the effects of these insinuations, most of which are usually confusing, but at times contradicting with the character’s earlier actions and overall historical position.

P.49 - “What if it really was to write his will? What if it was not in their favor? What if it named Ali as his successor, not Abu Bakr or Omar or another of his close companions? ..”
This page, in particular, was comprised almost entirely of rhetorical questions like the previous two lines. I kid you not. Grab the book and check it for yourself. While you are at it, check out page 178.
P.128 “Had the letter that so incensed the rebels been planted by Marwan on Muawiya’s orders? Had Muawiya deliberately withheld the enforcements requested by the besieged Caliph?” Hazleton would close these question with different forms of “Whether there was any truth to such rumors would always remain unclear, and that was the way [Muawiya] liked it.”

Unfortunately, the book is historically inaccurate, conflated, and at times insultingly gossipy. Instead of rescuing every nuance in a historically significant thread of events, she devours its authenticity and obfuscates its major characters. You’ll notice these inaccuracies as soon as you have a chitchat with someone who is familiar with this topic.

Overall, this book is very problematic. Definitely not the right tool for understanding an issue that is already problematic to its crux. ...more
4

Feb 14, 2012

This being the first book I've read on the history of Islam, I can't really comment on the accuracy of Lesley Hazleton's work. It is, however, a very engaging work, which cuts out much of the potential confusion of having many characters with similar names and gets to the point.

The split between the Sunni (literally, those who follow the 'sunna', or reports of how the Prophet Muhammad lived his life) and Shia (literally, 'Shiat Ali', or followers of Ali, Muhammad's adopted son) is one which, as This being the first book I've read on the history of Islam, I can't really comment on the accuracy of Lesley Hazleton's work. It is, however, a very engaging work, which cuts out much of the potential confusion of having many characters with similar names and gets to the point.

The split between the Sunni (literally, those who follow the 'sunna', or reports of how the Prophet Muhammad lived his life) and Shia (literally, 'Shiat Ali', or followers of Ali, Muhammad's adopted son) is one which, as Hazleton points out, has become more pronounced, more entrenched and more hateful as time has gone on, and particularly in the last hundred years, as non-Muslims became involved in the politics of the Middle East. The author does a very good job of knitting together the stories passed down from the seventh century and those immediately following it, and modern Sunni-Shia tensions.

She has also done an exceptional job of bringing to the reader's attention the origins of Wahhabi Islam, the branch which set itself aside as the pure, or fundamental, branch, which has since spawned the Saud ruling family of Saudi Arabia as well as Al-Qaeda. There is one report in particular that brings to one's attention the misguided morality of early Wahhabis, when a group of them invaded a village, tricked a man into claiming to be an apostate (someone who has turned their back on Islam and is therefore seen as worse than a non-believer who has never been a part of the religion), and set about killing him in a date orchard. As they were about to bring their swords down upon him a date fell from its branch and one of the Wahabs picked it up and ate it. The others turned on him furiously to order him to find the owner and pay him. In doing so, one drew his sword, accidentally killing a cow that was standing close behind him, and he too was forced to find the farmer to pay for this 'theft'. The farmer thus paid, the men set about executing the apostate, having previously forced him to watch as they murdered his wife and unborn child in a most brutal manner.

Such stories go a long way to understanding the different forces pressing in on early Islam and, when twinned with current tensions, particularly in Iraq, make the various fractures and their results easier to understand.

Hazleton does appear to have more sympathy for the Shia over the Sunni, though this may be justified. For this reader's liking she has too much time for Ali, a man who hated civil war but led his armies into three of them. There is also an overall feeling that the treatment given to Muhammad's proud and often vicious ninth wife, Aisha, lacks balance, though of all the historical characters I have encountered thus far Aisha does appear to be one of the most complex, and the difficulty of balancing her story is far from unforgivable.

In all a very good piece of work and one that has left me interested and looking for more on the subject. ...more
0

Feb 05, 2018

There is always a kind of uncertainty while reading any historical book and I had a lot of question marks while reading this one, especially because of my modest knowledge in this particular subject so I can’t rate it based on the information it holds, but as for the whole book, I found the story telling of the historical events smooth and enjoyable.
4

Jan 03, 2013

*The review is solely based on my religious beliefs. May differ from yours which I respect and do not wish to discuss save only from what you have to say about the book.

I was an emotional b*tch while reading this in public transport. I understand that religion can be really sentimental and plays the chord of your heart like no other but I'd really like to get over my sentiments to make most out of the rational part. So, it was pretty hard for me to not remain teary eyed in the initial chapters *The review is solely based on my religious beliefs. May differ from yours which I respect and do not wish to discuss save only from what you have to say about the book.

I was an emotional b*tch while reading this in public transport. I understand that religion can be really sentimental and plays the chord of your heart like no other but I'd really like to get over my sentiments to make most out of the rational part. So, it was pretty hard for me to not remain teary eyed in the initial chapters on the beloved Prophet Muhammad (May thousands of blessings be upon him).
The split of Sunni-Shia is a subject which isn't a new one and though many stories and facts are heard about it, no single reason is ever drawn. After reading this book, I can say it was all due to the result of an over possessiveness of a jealous wife and the devotees of the Prophet.
The book is a somewhat biased factual record of the history and if there was anything, it inspires in your life all the goodness that is in Islam and gets to the bottom of certain laws and events which always were doubtful or needed explanation on the subject. The fact is much more blood could've been saved to run a gush in the battle fields had the Prophet decided whose side he was on (according to the book). Much as was the Prophet unable to decide whether to be biased towards his loving wife or his own blood, Muslims too are torn between their love for the Mothers of the Faithful and the Ahl-e-bait.
The external factors and much of the incidents were a real eye opener and the split's lineage to the current political situation of the middle east with reference to Sunni- Shia split was very knowledgeable too but though I thought it to be unbiased, in the end almost all of the accounts are from the Shia texts leaving little room for the Sunni's less than no accounts of the events whatsoever. The book is a summarized version of the events as it happened so many of the details are voluntarily omitted.
Not a minute while reading this book did I ever yawn or got bored of the text, interesting and full of zest as it was, kept me on the toes. ...more
3

Jun 29, 2019

A nice and straightforward read for whose who want to understand the Shia-Sunni split.

The Affair of the Necklace, the Pen and Paper Episode, Muhammad's succession, Ali and Aisha's clashes that would culminate with the Battle of the Camel, the emergence of the Kharijites, and all the way up to Hussein's death (a event which 'soars beyond history into metahistory') here's indeed a fascinating account of a fast-paced and gripping succession of events, those consequences still resonate in today's A nice and straightforward read for whose who want to understand the Shia-Sunni split.

The Affair of the Necklace, the Pen and Paper Episode, Muhammad's succession, Ali and Aisha's clashes that would culminate with the Battle of the Camel, the emergence of the Kharijites, and all the way up to Hussein's death (a event which 'soars beyond history into metahistory') here's indeed a fascinating account of a fast-paced and gripping succession of events, those consequences still resonate in today's world.

Now, as it says on the tin, 'After the Prophet' is an 'epic story' (emphasis on 'epic') that is, it reads like a novel. Nothing wrong with that, as it makes it all the more lively and accessible. The point is, to succeed, such approach had its requirements that could be pointed at as the book's weaknesses.

First, characterisation was inevitable so as to make the people involved more engaging; and doing so the author could be accused of (consciously or not) displaying some bias. For example, Aisha comes across as a bitchy teenager growing up a self-entitled and not very nice type of woman, whereas Ali is the portrait of the faithful and dignified man whose strong sense of honour and piety will cost him more than once... Then, because for it all to flow smoothly, the plot had obviously to be trimmed and simplified. Here's a 'story', not a 'History', so there's no place for scholarly quarrels; which, here again, inevitably leads the author to make some biased retelling. For instance, Fatima being badly hurt by Omar is told like if it was an acknowledged historical fact, or, again, she offers only one explanation for the motive behind Omar's assassination... All in all, I had the feeling she was more sympathetic to Shia than Sunni, and it shows in a certain unbalance. It didn't bother me, though (I am not Muslim, so either way...) but be aware...

Having said that, is it an issue? Well, when it comes to understand the roots of the Shia-Sunni split, she acknowledges it herself:

'There can be no resolution to such an argument. Everyone claimed to know the answer -everyone still does- but the early biographies and histories report what people did and what they said, not what they thought or intended. And the crux of the argument hinges not on what happened but on what it meant.'

In other words, there is no escaping a bias when dealing with such events, and Lesley Hazleton cannot but have her own too. However, there is no denying her book is enthralling and good enough as a fast-paced story of the Rashidun. As such, it deserves a worthy read. ...more

Best Books from your Favorite Authors & Publishers

compare-icon compare-icon
Thousands of books

Take your time and choose the perfect book.

review-icon review-icon
Read Reviews

Read ratings and reviews to make sure you are on the right path.

vendor-icon vendor-icon
Multiple Stores

Check price from multiple stores for a better shopping experience.

gift-icon

Enjoy Result