507: How much do you really know about the life of Prophet Muhammad?

All this week, we’re inviting you to help us explore this timely question: How do we find spiritual truth—when “history” keeps changing on us?
    On Monday, we kicked off a provocative series about hot movies this summer.
    On Wednesday, you’ll meet Dr. Pamela Eisenbaum, author of “Paul Was Not a Christian”—a different interpretation of the life of this major New Testament figure.
    And, TODAY, we invite you to learn a bit about the life of the Prophet Muhammad, the founder of Islam who received the Quran—a historic event celebrated by the world’s 1-billion-plus Muslims in this fasting month of Ramadan. (Visit our SharingRamadan page for short, inspirational stories from the lives of ordinary Muslim men and women today.)

Consider These “Images of Muhammad”
By Tarif Khalidi

    Most non-Muslims know very little about the life of this major figure in world religion. He was born in the year 570 CE. He worked as a merchant. At age 40, he received his heavenly revelation of the Quran in the month of Ramadan. He preached what he described as a finally perfected faith flowing from Judaism and Christianity. In fact, the Quran has long passages about biblical figures familiar to Jews and Christians. Muslims regard the movement of Prophet Muhammad and his followers to Medina in 622, an emigration called the Hijra, as the 1st year in the new Islamic calendar.
    That’s a simple summary of a very complex life.
    Now, a fascinating new book by Dr. Tarif Khalidi, professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the American University of Beirut, paints a far larger portrait of this enormously important man. It’s not a chronological history of the man. It’s a look at his image, his message and his significance within Islam.
    Dr. Khalidi writes as a scholar who is trying to explain his lifetime of research into the prophet’s life to general readers. The book is subtitled, “Narratives of the Prophet in Islam Across the Centuries,” and it’s a great choice for curious readers who really want to dig into the influence and legacy of the prophet—as well as the many-faceted interpretations of his life down through the centuries.
    Perhaps the best way to illustrate the refreshing insights you’ll find between these covers is to share with you a list of 15 “personal likes and dislikes, tastes and distastes” of Prophet Muhammad based upon the Hadith—the various collected sayings of the prophet that form an enormous body of sacred literature in Islam.
    So, how much of this do you know about the Prophet Muhammad?
    (Dr. Khalidi points out that the Hadith, unlike the Quran, are generally open to some interpretation. What do you think about this list, which is part of his new book?)

    1.) He liked sweets and honey.
    2.) He liked horses and little children.
    3.) He liked bread dipped in vinegar.
    4.) He disliked false wigs and very bushy beards.
    5.) He disliked the torture of humans and domestic animals.
    6.) He disliked leaving any food behind in a bowl or plate.
    7.) He disliked voracious eaters.
    8.) He disliked gold and silver rings and bowls; also silk.
    9.) He disliked purple garments.
    10.) He disliked long garments that trail behind their wearer.
    11.) He disliked idle chatter by the wayside.
    12.) He disliked certain ugly or blasphemous names and gave their owners new ones; and he disliked certain titles.
    13.) He disliked snakes and lizards.

    14.) He disliked poetry.
    15.) He disliked cursing, swearing, and swaggering.

    Now, this is the kind of intriguing character sketch that makes me want to know a whole lot more about this man. How about you?
    Anything in this list that surprises you? Or perhaps you disagree with some of Dr. Khalidi’s assertions? Email us and let us know what you think. And, please visit SharingRamadan to enjoy the profiles in that seasonal section.

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    (Originally published at https://readthespirit.com/)

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