Synopses & Reviews
Who was Muhammad? What do Muslims believe about him? What have non-Muslims said about him? Why has he been such a controversial figure? Why have non-Muslims called him a charlatan, and oppurtunist? Why Muslims call him the 'perfect man'? Why have his sexuality and his military exploits attracted censure? Are the texts available for constructing his biography reliable or suspect? There are some of the questions and issues which Clinton Bennett explores in his book. His preference for a conservative evaluation of the historical record will not please everyone, nor will his sympathetic treatment of Salman Rushdie's novel The Satanic Verses. In his effort to gain an insider-like understanding of Muhammad, the author found himself discussing at length some contentious issues, such as whether or not Muhammad performed miracles. His encounters with Muslims suggested that whilst non-Muslims have tended to dismiss the miracle stories as pious fiction, Muslims accept their authenticity. The author, who develops what he calls and 'anthropological theology' to pursue his study, argues that our preconceptions about Muhammad, rather than our reserch methods, determine how we reply to the question. 'What do you thin of Muhammad?'. The book takes diversity of Muslim opinion seriously and explores what theologians, mystics, philosophers and politicians have said about Muhammad. In addition, the book, which combines textual and interpersonal research, concludes with an attempt to incorporate regard for Muhammad within the authors own Christian worldview. Clinton Bennett's overall approach ensures the book's usefulness as a guide to Islamic thought and history. Clinton Bennett, newly appointed Associate Professor of Religion and Baylor University, Texas, was Senior Lecturer in Religious Studies, and assistant chaplain, at Westminster College, Oxford. He has worked in Bangladesh, in Birmingham as a community development worker, and on the staff of the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland. he has also written Victorian Images of Islam (1992) and In Search of the Sacred: Athropology and the Study of Religions (1996) and is the editor of Discernment: An Ecumenical Journal of Inter-Religious Encounter. He is a Fellow of the Royal Asiatic Society and of the Royal Anthropological Institute.
This book argues that the historic reconstruction of Muhammad's biography does not explain why he has remained so important in the life of Muslims. Clinton Bennett asserts that Muslims were not upset by Rushdie's treatment of Muhammad because he was an important person in the 17th century, but because he remains an important force in their lives today. He goes on to explore different understandings of Muhammad: what what is known about the Muhammad of history by Muslims and non-Muslims; what is known about the Muhammad of faith by Muslims and non-Muslims; and what similarities and differences arise as a result of these starting points?
This study explores different understandings of the Prophet to understand why his name, memory, and example are universally revered by Muslims.