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The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  1,701 Ratings  ·  253 Reviews
The extraordinary life of the man who founded Islam, and the world he inhabited--and remade.
Muhammad's 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 so
ebook, 320 pages
Published January 1st 2013 by Riverhead Books
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Dominic M From the Quran - Translation Sahih International.

39:11 Say, [O Muhammad], "Indeed, I have been commanded to worship Allah , [being] sincere to Him in…more
From the Quran - Translation Sahih International.

39:11 Say, [O Muhammad], "Indeed, I have been commanded to worship Allah , [being] sincere to Him in religion.
39:12 And I have been commanded to be the first [among you] of the Muslims."

6:14 Say, "Is it other than Allah I should take as a protector, Creator of the heavens and the earth, while it is He who feeds and is not fed?" Say, [O Muhammad], "Indeed, I have been commanded to be the first [among you] who submit [to Allah ] and [was commanded], 'Do not ever be of the polytheists.' "(less)
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Community Reviews

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Mar 01, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-on-kindle
Extremely disappointing book!

Anyone looking for a quality biography of Prophet Muhammad should read 'Muhammad: Man and Prophet' by Adil Salahi.

I have read 'After the Prophet' by Lesley and although it had provided good insights on the divide between Sunni & Shia, her over-analyses of every thing was a let down for me. It frustrated me because I don't know how a person living in the 21st century can tell us what people born in the 7th century were thinking.

Lesley doesn't change her style in
Muhammad Ali
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a muslim I found the book an excellent analysis. The one thing the book did do is make me as a muslim look at the view of the Prophet which is force fed to us from birth, and which itself is never challenged. But the only reasonable thing a 21st century Muslim with a critical thinking faculty can and should do is to research the unsavoury stuff for themselves. It's unforgivable to imply that her Jewishness coloured the entire narrative. She provides references for everything (all except the p ...more
Jun 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is extremely well written, and well researched. Lesley Hazleton, says it best by taking an un-biased and demystified approach to the story of Muhammad (PBUH), it makes his story all the more amazing. The only trouble I have with this book is it is impossible to completely demystify something that would be beyond our understanding, and as must as she tries to give an unbiased account, hindsight and experiences do creeping, especially in the later chapters. In fairness there is no way to ...more
May 17, 2013 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I really wanted to read this book, but I found her writing style so frustrating that I abandoned it after 50 pages. The author continually speculated on Muhammad's state of mind, which I found very frustrating. I would prefer being told the events in a readable manner and I'll come to my own conclusions.
Mar 17, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
although the first chapters, revealing prophet Muhammad's life before moving to Madinah seems somewhat sympathetic, it was surely surprising when the book suddenly changed into a more distanced approach on the prophet which was extremely uncomfortable for myself. somehow it doesn't follow the early chapters, that a man so humbled by his situation would take drastic measures unless something logical is behind it. but maybe because she is of the same ancestry of the very people prophet Muhammad de ...more
Erdal Bodur
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am a translator and I was offered to translate this book by my publisher into Turkish. Being an agnostic like the author herself I had very limited knowledge about Muslim religion and the prophet Mohammed. I obviously had to read the book before I decide whether to undertake the task or not, so I did then I also read the After the Prophet also from Lesley Hazleton and decided to go ahead with the project. It took me about 6 months to finish the translation as it also involved reading Kor'an fr ...more
Feb 20, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, religion
Leslie Hazelton's After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam is the best recounting of the Sunni - Shia split that I've read. For this reason, I put The First Muslim on my reading list, where it sat for months until now. Hazelton, again, clearly presents complex material and unfamiliar (to me) history. This book has more interpretation and speculation than its predecessor.

Through the story of Muhammad the story of the development of Islam is told. Some of it is a tale of
Arvind Munshi
Dec 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book starts on a unbiased note portraying Muhammad as a seeker, who tries to fill the vacuum created by the loss of his parents by praying to God, spends nights on Mt. Hira in meditation and contemplation, comes back with some revelations for his own good and for others.

The exile to Medina has been excellently written, the circumstances so evident and the journey well depicted.

However, in Medina, things take U-turn and Muhammad starts rationalizing gory episodes, where I think the author see
Jul 05, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I got this book for free in exchange for an honest review. What I liked most about this book is that it's in English, because that is the first language that I speak and most of all the first language that I think in. That said, this book is very refreshing for the insights of Muhammad's early life, at his peak and until his very death. A very apt biography of one of the most influential man in Muslim dom. My thoughts is that all historical facts in this book FEELS pretty accurate (my opinion fr ...more
Mostafa Mostafa
Nov 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
actually am not sure if its a 4 or 4.5 star book..
regardless of that, Hazleton provides a book that sweeps away hundred of years away to an age of deserts and camels.
for a while, you forget this is a religious biography, for it loses the complexity of religious themes, and it seems that its like any other non fiction book..
from a muslim's point of view, i guess Hazelton showed the Prophet as he really human as he is..with all his manners and peacefullness...a man with the most peacef
Having recently read Zealot, written by a non-Christian author about Jesus, I felt it was only fair that I also read The First Muslim by a non-Muslim author about Mohammed.

You need to be on the outside looking in if you want to write a unbiased biography of a religious figure. Both books were good and gave me unexpected insights into each religion and sometimes all religions.

I knew next to nothing about the origins of Islam. The First Muslim has educated me about the tenets of that religion and
Jun 21, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I made it a little past halfway with this book. It was well written. It's very readable, almost novel-like. I picked it up because I knew little to nothing about the life of Muhammad. Perhaps if I already had some knowledge of him, I would have finished it. But I was looking for a readable history of his life. Throughout this book, there were many "Muhammad felt...", "...he was thinking..." or "his reasoning was..." Being new to Muhammad, I wanted fact. What I got was a lot of assuming what Muha ...more
Dec 20, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition

This is one of those few books that I won't finish. All of the touchy freely about 3 times an orphan, all of the silly baseless questions and second guessing. This is just foolishness which I have no patience for.
Ahmad Tekriti
Apr 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm always wondering about the struggles that faced prophets in their life . why did Mohammad said : " I'm just on of you " ? Are the straggles that he faced is similar to us ? Did he try to kill himself ? why did he mediate at Hiraa ? what khadija think about him when go for a meditation at night ? why did he left makka after he won the revolution ? why he left his wives and sleep alone in the mosque ? did he felt that people are depending on him ?

This book gave many insight about some of thes
Liz Janet
An accessible introduction to the life of the prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, but beware, it is mostly interpretation, as well, most books about the prophet are, considering he lived more than a millennial ago.
I am going to recommend her TED Talks because they are quite good.
The Doubt essential to faith
On Reading the Koran
Moon Rose
In the wilderness of Mount Hira, deep in the deserted region of its steppe, in a self-imposed isolation and solitary meditation, God revealed Himself to Muhammad in the most unlikely state, appearing in an apparition, not of the usual vision of Light and Peace, but of the Form that can make human senses tremble in fear, different from the Spirit of God that descended like a dove to Jesus Christ and the Spirit of Oneness in Nature that Buddha realized, it signals the beginning of what would place ...more
The First Muslim is a beautifully written and very readable account of the life of the prophet Muhammad and the rise of Islam. The author incorporates ideas about the importance of clan, lineage, home, retaliation, honor and faith in ancient Arabic culture, the remnants of which are influencing the Middle East today. In this non typical biography, she uses history, philosophy, sociology and even modern day psychology to interpret the mass of information that has accumulated about Muhammad over t ...more
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a non-Muslim I was interested in learning more about Islamic origins and history. Being that this is the first book of Hazelton that I just read, the author has an immediate and captivating style that is reflective of the characters and of her own questions and rationalisations.

In terms of content, I feel that she does have the right to have her agnostic Jewish background colour her views (what book doesn't have bias?), but she does paint the Jews in the Muhammadan narrative quite favourably.
William Crosby
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a fast and fascinating read. And this comes from somebody who does not like to read biographies.

The book is written as a (mostly) seamless story which is more than just a biography. So that the flow is not disturbed, all notes are at the end.

It does a magnificent job including diverse aspects of culture to further understand Muhammad's life.
Adham Kamar aldeen
The perfect book to see the "human" beyond the legend !!
Sana Khan
Oct 13, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The reason I got this book was because I wanted to read something unbiased and objective with regards to Muhammads life. We've all read about him, what he has done, what he has conquered - his hadeeths, about his actions - but despite knowing all this, I felt I still knew very little of him. What I really wanted was a fresh vantage point - to be honest I wasnt very interested in dates of conquests and battles, I was more interested in the man, his thoughts and behavior, his character - his chara ...more
Mar 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book isn't so much a biography, as a study or a critique about the stories abounding about The Prophet.
Hazleton has presented this with reference to Chistianity - drawing parallel as well as contrast, as suitable - to explain the man who was the Prophet. This book presumes the Biblical knowledge and hence saves up on space; but, it would make it a little difficult for non-Christian readers.
Hazleton has attempted to humanise Muhammad, stripping him from all the 'drama' and magic, leaving beh
Mar 22, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014
I picked this up because I'd heard Lesley Hazleton speak after the publication of her book on the succession after Muhammad's death, and because i wanted a refresher to Karen Armstrong's "Muhammad: A Prophet for our Time," which I'd read a couple of years ago.

Both books cover the same turf. The First Muslim is a little more imaginative as the author sketches thoughts and conversations that could have happened, I suppose, but are really informed figments. She also describes events that are proba
Inzemamul Haque
The author is very critical in her approach to find the truth in history especially when there are incidences of miracles. The author looks unbiased throughout the book.

If the reader is Muslim, he or she may feel at very few (almost rare) places that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is shown in bad light. But this paragraph from the author herself says it all.
"Neither Gandhi nor Machiavelli could have done better. Muhammad had reversed the terms of engagement, turning apparent weakness into strength
Aug 03, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Extremely interesting!

Written almost like a novel, very fluent and in a language that very often made me feel like I was there, it is nevertheless an apparently well researched biography, based on facts, of the Prophet Muhammad’s life, starting from his parents to his death (and a bit beyond).
Not having known much at all about his life, I was intrigued by the legends and myths as much as by the hard facts that Lesley Hazleton shares in this book. The reader follows an orphan through a rather di
Nov 28, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's worth noting at the beginning of this review that my understanding of the life of Muhammad was pretty rudimentary before this book. I really enjoyed the way the author tried to bring the human aspect of the Prophet to life, especially in his early years, sifting through some of the miracle stories to more humble beginnings. This isn't exactly a biography, because while it pulls mostly from the writings of ibn-Ishaq and al-Tabari, both of those were written many years after the death of Muha ...more
Betule Sairafi
Jul 26, 2016 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Muslims and ex-Muslims who haven't read enough
God damn.

The beginning sounds exactly like the kind of fantasy I've always loved reading - in pre-technological times, a poor, nobody farmboy becomes the Chosen One and has to fight to prevail. This time with Arabic flavoring! Mohammad was exactly like Rand al'Thor or even Harry Potter.

It was also good for me to read. Growing up Muslim, I learned most of this stuff as a kid, and didn't even know I knew it. Revisiting it as an adult really... puts things into perspective. It's kind of annoying wh
Komal Rauf
Dec 19, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well researched historical account on a very difficult personality which the author has with factually, sensitively and with great respect. A definite read for anyone interested in understanding the core of Islam beyond hearsay.
Dec 09, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Took some notes for book club - posted below.

Page 60 – interesting bit about how sophisticated the caravan trade was administration, diplomacy etc.
Fascinating story of his background
• granddad almost sacrificing Muhammad’s dad, but alas then dad dies anyway before meeting Muhammad
• living with wet nurse and Bedouin upbringing, until clearly no money and returned to mother, who dies taking him on caravan trail
• brought up by uncle

Enjoying listening to Serial, both examples of investigative journ
Muhammad Karim
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I recommend reading this book in addition to other biographies of the Prophet(SAW) to get a more wholesome understanding of him. It was by turns both enlightening and at times, for me, taking conjecture a little too far in assessing the humanity of the Prophet (SAW). There are things I disagree with in the book and other things I absolutely love, which is why I recommend it. There are a lot of questions I need to answer for myself which will require further reading.

Books I recommend reading in a
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Goodreads Librari...: Page numbering for 978-1-59448-728-6 3 16 Aug 03, 2015 04:19PM  
I find the title a bit misleading 11 28 Aug 29, 2013 07:39AM  
Aslan Media Book ...: Humanizing a Prophet 2 30 May 17, 2013 10:41PM  
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1. My new book 'Jezebel: the untold story of the bible's harlot queen' is just out (Doubleday). Yes, she was framed. No, she was no harlot. Yes, she was magnificent.

2. Won't bore you with the whole bio -- it's in the 'About the Author' page on For now: British-born, lived for a long time in the Middle East, now live in the very Pacific Northwest.

3. Favorite drink is grappa.
More about Lesley Hazleton...

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“Those who are comfortably established in life tend to have no need to ask what it means.” 7 likes
“Those who are comfortably established in life tend to have no need to ask what it means. They are the insiders, and for them, how things are is how they should be. The status quo is so much a given that it goes not just unquestioned but unseen, and the blind eye is always turned. It is those whose place is uncertain, and who are thus uneasy in their existence, who need to ask why. And who often come up with radically new answers.” 6 likes
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