Dave's Reviews > After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam

After the Prophet by Lesley Hazleton
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's review
Dec 15, 10

bookshelves: history, read-in-2010, religion
Read from December 05 to 13, 2010

It took me a while to accept Hazleton's book for what it is--a complicated history in easily accessible form. Keeping that in mind, Hazleton writes a great book, especially for the less-informed Western audience (among whom I count myself). However, I can't help but be a little disappointed with Hazleton's sourcing methodology, or rather lack thereof. As a history buff, I expect dedicated foot-noting and direct attribution of source material. Although Hazleton gives a delightful bibliography at the end of the book, that bibliography doesn't help me find the sources she used during her discussion of particular historical events. To me, that's sloppy scholarship and writing. There's also something to be said against the distinct Shi'a bias that Hazleton's writing has, though that bias seems unsurprising given her background. Hazleton repeatedly sympathizes with the Shi'a interpretation of history, and only throws the Sunni interpretation a neutrally worded bone now and then. What that shows me, then, is that even a British woman writing 1400-some years after the fact can't help but be drawn into the dynamic power struggle that continues to shape events today. A good read, a bad source. That about sums it up.
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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Jenny (new)

Jenny I am only about half way through as I put the book down and have found it hard to go back to, preferring a lighter read at the moment. I too found her writing sympathising with the Shi'a interpretation of events. I was hoping that this changes but I get the impression from your comment that it does not. I am slightly surprised from some of the other comments regarding this book that people have found Hazelton's writing impartial.

Qaarib Kazmi For the complete sorces read "Sucession to Muhammad" by Wilfered madlung. But like you said that its easy to read that's why the sources are not mentioned along the text as quoting text's directly from sources makes it rather difficult to form a narrative and hence difficult to read. Also when you say shia bias, that Lexly has tried to uncover the truth and that is tilting towards the shia's as also pointed out by Madlung. As lezly says in her book that no body denies these events, the difference is in the interpretation. But interpretation can only so far. When you find in history that a certain somebody crashed into the house of the daughter of the prophet and injured her there is little left for interpretation.

Qaarib Kazmi Also I am surprised that people are calling her shia biased. Most of the sources she has used are sunni sources. She has merely narated the facts and if they are tilted towards the shia's then dosen't it occur to you that it might be really true.

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