Brief Description of the Man Who Was Prophet
1 medium build with barrel chest
2 likely had some problems with turning his neck
3 his profile exhibited a curving nose, a mark of distinction in the locality and times
4 married contentedly to a woman a generation older than himself
5 successful and well liked and respected in his area of commerce
Above all, he was a searcher, standing long nights in the cool desert air, on a local mountainside, in willing meditation.
God Spoke Through The Angel Gabriel
Mohammad was visited by the Angel of God, Gabriel (Jabril in Arabic), a sight and sound that overcame him with awe of the highest accord! He didn't merely swoon and melt to the ground, but he seems to have felt this mighty presence in every aspect of his body and consciousness.
Because Lesley Hazelton describes his physical characteristics, and his character traits, the history of his birth, and local cultural attitudes, it opened my heart and my vision to the idea of what the man who became the institution of, as we muslims call it - the perfection of the religion, was like as a human being.
Read The Book Yourself - It's Worth It
How the Angel's Visit Was Received
Additionally, as custom dictated for babes of the city, he was delivered to a bedoin country nursemaid for breastfeeding and for the first five years of his life, to live outside the polluted and dangerous city.
Soon he was reunited with his mother, but only for a short while, as his grandfather then claimed him. In this way Mohammad experienced one sort of abandonment after another, even as he gained the skills to survive and thrive in new circumstances, yet, the author supposes, he maintained a wariness, a failure to assume an automatic fit with his environment.
So this humble but successful man found himself ill prepared, to his mine, for the overwhelming event of the visitation, to hear Allah's instruction, to recite the verses Gabriel pronounced over him.
Author Bases Her Ideas on Early Writers
Being only too human myself I could conceive of the immensity of such a happening, with a tendency to want to flee from the stark strangeness of it all.
Perhaps that is what brought me such a feeling of relief, as I began to read this book - a notion that because I am no more prepared, surely greatly less so, to receive a Holy visitor, I can enter into the idea of what it was like for the man.
Neither am I ready to hear the spoken words of the Creator directed at me, but in contemplating Hazelton's ideas, I was able to enter into the conditional acceptance of our Prophet, peace be upon him (pbuh), having feelings and thoughts akin to those I might have held in similar circumstances.
My Reading of The Book
I was not a semi-orphaned child and was never retrieved by a parent figure who sought to impart to me the wisdom and craft of my culture, and my tribe's traditions. I am merely a human who seeks humility and truth and wisdom, and to learn something of my purpose on earth.
When I attended a book discussion group, intent on talking about this book, I was surprised by many comments made by people of my religion, and not so much by attendees who were not muslim and truly appreciated learning about the Prophet bpuh.
As I read the first part of The First Muslim I checked the first citations that told us who that person was: Qur'an 6:14, and found it did indeed made that claim, so I checked 6:163, and 39:12, with similar findings. Throughout the book I appreciated the author's citations and scholarly research that stood behind her presentation.
Some readers protest, saying that Adam was indeed the first muslim, and that all the prophets prior to Mohammad were also in submission to God (the meaning of muslim.
But reading those three verses, in an English translation of course, relieved me of any concerns that the title was a misnomer. (Islam teaches that all Prophets delivered the true religion, so in that sense they were all muslim. I accepted the Qur'an when I took my Shahada.
The Qur'an does say: Say "Should I take as my protector, anyone other than Allah, who is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. Who feeds all, and is fed by none?" Say "nay, I am commanded to be the first of those who submit to Allah in Islam and not of those who commit shirk."
Writer's Portrait of the Prophet Muhammad
I have a basic grasp of the fact that hugely traumatic events can alter our consciousness, and to me it is not too far flung to imagine that the Prophet pbuh was in such a state, during and following the encounter. It is the author's opinion and suggestion, however, and she is not stating her opinion as fact.
That allows me to conceive of the depth of psychic involvement in such a happening, therefore imagining the fright that might instill great and fearful thoughts into the human mind, when trying to reconcile the actual happenstance with all that he had previously experienced.
I find the concept of self-examination, as desirable, to be a prerequisite for accomplishing a valuable reading of this book, as opposed to a rigidity of mind, which may predispose a reader to finding fault with every turn of the page.
To me, Hazelton presents a neutral portrait of the figure of the humanity of the Prophet Muhammad pbuh, neither promoting him as the actual infallible standard bearer of Islam, nor firmly overturning conservatively held beliefs about the man, but conferring upon him the greatest respect.
I encourage my readers to read this book with a sense of the possibility, with a desire to come to an even greater understanding of the remarkable character and integrity of the Prophet of Islam bpuh.
Lesley Hazelton is The Accidental Theologist
- Author's Website
- Find more information about the author, who is a self-proclaimed agnostic.