Eleni Zaras, who has has a BA in the History of Art from the University of Michigan and a masters degree in History at the Universite Paris Diderot, just reviewed my recent book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace amid a Clash of Empires (New York: Bold Type Books, 2018) at the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs. Do click to see the whole review, but here are some excerpted passages, below:
- “Using the “rich vein of peace [that] runs through the Qur’an” as a common thread, the book traces the life of Muhammad, the mounting pressure in the Hejaz region as a result of Roman and Sasanian wars and the spread of Islam up until the end of the prophet’s life . . .
Muhammad and his growing number of followers were “explicitly allied” to the Romans and the West, Cole argues. Muhammad’s message, which focused on settling local tribal disputes as well as building peace between Jews and Christians, believed that “political peace would come with the restoration of the Pax Romana” . . .
The Qur’an and teachings of Muhammad, Cole demonstrates, are in direct conversation with the religious and political thinkers of the Roman Empire and responded directly to the challenges of its day. He argues that “[t]he Qur’an sought to play down creedal formulas in favor of a political community of vaguely defined monotheists who could confront external attacks together.” …
“This comparative approach offers ‘a reinterpretation of early Islam as a movement strongly inflected with values of peacemaking that was reacting against the slaughter of the decades-long war and attendant religious strife.’ Cole’s approach challenges not only American and European studies on Islam but also Muslim historiographical tradition. . .”
Read the whole thing.