Book review: The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad
Author: Dr Tariq Ramadan
Publisher: Penguin Books (Also published by Oxford as “In the Footsteps of the Prophet”)
Price: 299 INR
The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad, has been written in the early hours of dawn’s meditative silence and solitude. ‘The Messenger’ is the biography of The Last Prophet of God: Muhammad (Peace and Mercy of the One be upon him). It is divided into 15 chapters and spread over 242 pages. There are countless biographies of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Mercy of the One be upon him) already written in almost all living languages. And each biography deals with the different dimensions of his personality. The main focus of this book revolves around two dimensions of the last Messenger: as a man his humanity and as a Prophet, his exemplary.
Books which tell us what Islam did for the whole humanity in the past, are considered to be the best books because they remind us of our greatness and glory. Books, like this one, which tell us what Islam has to offer humanity today, are indeed the great books because they give us strength and hope to achieve our lost glory. These books encourage us to make efforts to show the whole world the eminence of Islam.
Writing this book, the author claims, has been an experience of a journey, beyond time and space. And it can surely be the same experience for its readers.
The author introduces Islam in a beautiful and unique way. According to author, the word Islam is not merely an idea of submission but also contains the twofold meaning of “peace” and “wholehearted self-giving”
One among the primary objective of this book is to make the Messenger’s life a mirror through which the readers- facing the challenges of our time- can explore their hearts and minds and achieve an understanding of questions of being, and meaning, as well as broader ethical and social concerns. This book is written in a phenomenal way: after narrating the incidents that took place in the life of the Prophet, the author reveals practical lessons and deep spiritual meanings, which are extremely essential to solve the problems world experience today. The narrative of this book is beautifully interwoven with reflections and meditations. A reader can get insight into the Islam’s spiritual and universal teachings that make this book a living introduction to Islam.
God has promised to continue to raise the prestige and stature of His beloved Prophet, and this book is one of the signs of God keeping this promise. If in any language, a person has been praised in its most beautiful style and eloquence- be it in poetry or prose, it is none but the Prophet of Islam. Dr Ramadan’s book is a clear proof of this argument.
This book is filled with signs and visions. Signs that teach us the presence of the divine at the heart of the trail which have an essential role in the experience of faith and shapes the mode of being with oneself and with God.
In some of the classification of genres, the best poetry is said to be ‘the beautiful poetry’ and the best narration is called ‘the brilliant prose’. I call this book both ‘beautiful’ and ‘brilliant’. The message of this book is artistically woven. Its exquisite style of narration is embodied with intense emotions and spiritual guidance in such an aesthetic eloquence that once you start reading, its profound and stimulating rhythm engages all your senses- even your soul, and you pray this mystical sensation never ends!
(Reviewer is the member of Kashmir Book Club, an initiative to revive reading culture in Kashmir)