The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad
by Lesley Hazleton
**The extraordinary life of the man who founded Islam, and the world he inhabitedand remade.
Lesley Hazleton’s new book, *Agnostic: A Spirited Manifesto*, is out now from Riverhead Books.**
Muhammads was a life of almost unparalleled historical importance; yet for all the iconic power of his name, the intensely dramatic story of the prophet of Islam is not well known. In *The First Muslim*, Lesley Hazleton brings him vibrantly to life. Drawing on early eyewitness sources and on history, politics, religion, and psychology, she renders him as a man in full, in all his complexity and vitality.
Hazletons account follows the arc of Muhammads rise from powerlessness to power, from anonymity to renown, from insignificance to lasting significance. How did a child shunted to the margins end up revolutionizing his world? How did a merchant come to challenge the established order with a new vision of social justice? How did the pariah hounded out of Mecca turn exile into a new and victorious beginning? How did the outsider become the ultimate insider?
Impeccably researched and thrillingly readable, Hazletons narrative creates vivid insight into a man navigating between idealism and pragmatism, faith and politics, nonviolence and violence, rejection and acclaim. *The First Muslim *illuminates not only an immensely significant figure but his lastingly relevant legacy.
### From Booklist
It is surprising how little most people know about the life of the prophet Muhammad. Hazleton sets out to rectify that in this eminently readable biography. Relying on two biographies from the eighth and ninth centuries, as well as other sources, she presents Muhammads life as both history and story. It begins with a moving scene: Muhammad alone in the barren mountains, at night, praying and waiting. Who he is and how he came to be there are revealed in chapters that show him as an orphan in need of protection, as a young camel driver appreciated for his fairness, as a prophet touched by Allah, and as a political leader driven to bring the message to all those with ears to listen. The beauty of Hazletons book is that she portrays Muhammad throughout his life as a living, breathing man with the hopes, fears, struggles, and the monumental blessing and burden of knowing he has received divine knowledge. Does she delve into psychology to bring about a fully realized portrait? Yes, but respectfully so, posing more questions than she answers. A highly readable, insightful biography. –Ilene Cooper
“This book offers a welcome chance to read [Muhammad’s] life story in a more familiar and accessible form than the Islamic sources . . . The First Muslim succeeds. It makes its subject vivid and immediate.” —New York Times
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