BOOK REVIEW: After the Prophet by Lesley Hazleton

In Books

This book was fascinating. What’s more? It was not nearly as dry as I thought it would be.

Hazleton delivers the information with a narrative arc while chronicling the events that lead to the split between Sunni and Shia Islam.

I fully appreciated the light biographical references to the prophet Muhammad, substituted instead for a more robust illustration of Aisha and Ali. The author’s description of her as a coquettish, capricious and impetuous teenager is brilliant. If the research is pure, the descriptions are altogether plausible. This added a level of detail and interest I did not foresee.

Many people I have questioned about this topic often simplify the circumstances and the history. I now know why they do that. This is a complicated story and it is not easy to simplify once you begin to understand the history. I won’t spoil it for you, as Hazleton’s description is too well done.

Publisher’s Description:

In this gripping narrative history, Lesley Hazleton tells the tragic story at the heart of the ongoing rivalry between the Sunni and Shia branches of Islam, a rift that dominates the news now more than ever.

Even as Muhammad lay dying, the battle over who would take control of the new Islamic nation had begun, beginning a succession crisis marked by power grabs, assassination, political intrigue, and passionate faith. Soon Islam was embroiled in civil war, pitting its founder’s controversial wife Aisha against his son-in-law Ali, and shattering Muhammad’s ideal of unity.

Combining meticulous research with compelling storytelling, After the Prophet explores the volatile intersection of religion and politics, psychology and culture, and history and current events. It is an indispensable guide to the depth and power of the Shia–Sunni split.

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