“The Prophet Muhammad is a hero for all mankind. In his lifetime he established a new religion, Islam; a new state, the first united Arabia; and a new literary language, the classical Arabic of the Qur’an, believed to be the word of God revealed to Muhammad by he Archangel Gabriel. A generation after his death he would be acknowledged as the founder of a world empire and a new civilisation.”
This is what the back cover of The Prophet Muhammad: A Biography by Barnaby Rogerson read and I immediately knew I wanted to read this book. Ofcourse, a lot of people raise their eyebrows when they find out that I like reading about Islam and Islamic History in books written by non-muslim writers and I am also often criticised for not reading proper text but if I am reading these books, does it mean I am not referring to the holy scripture or books written by some of the most authentic muslim writers? Definitely, no.
So, anyway, back to the topic. Rogerson, as I have stated above, is a non-muslim and is by no means a religious scholar. He is a story teller and as he says in the preface, he has written this book for the love of the Prophet (SAW), with utmost respect. He moves on to say that he would like to remain a non-muslim but he “was on the side of a good story.” He adds that “The life of the Prophet Muhammad is a story of overpowering pathos and beauty. It is history, tragedy and enlightenment compressed into one tale.” [This would remind you of the Prophet’s (SAW) uncle Abu Talib, who despite loving his nephew and protecting him in every sense was never able to enter Islam because of his stubbornness] Rogerson has written the book with a lot of affection and never while reading the book you would feel its been written by a non-muslim.
I bought this book nearly 4 years back and have already read it thrice. Its a small hardly 250 pages book and thats where the problem lies. Rogerson has tried to cover almost all aspects of the Prophet’s (SAW) life, which means you either need to have some real good knowledge about certain incidents or refer to the lenghty bibliography to truly understand the context. In addition to this, there might be a few incidents talked about in the book which are a little different from what we believe in.
If you havent read any biography of this great man, this one should be a great starting point. If you have already read plenty, this would only intrigue you to know further.