Friday, September 16, 2016

An Extraordinary Life

Bringing along Tariq Ramadan's The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad was one of the most fruitful choices I've ever made in a long career as a reader of what to read and when to read it. In a quite unexpected synchronicity it dovetailed beautifully with Ustad Haron's various post-prayer talks on all things Islamic as these often made incidents from the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) their centre. The Ustad tells the stories in a lovely personalised style, as if the various characters are coming alive for him like figures from endlessly recapitulated legend, in contrast to Prof Ramadan's urbanely academic recounting, but both derive movingly resonant ideas from that astonishing life.

I remember first reading about the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a detailed way in Karen Armstrong's sympathetic and insightful biography and realising just how remarkable the events surrounding him were. It struck me then as one of the sadder aspects of the way the world works that the story in many parts of that world had been deliberately neglected or distorted. So much has been lost that is precious as a result - but the great thing is that the story is available to those who want to benefit from it and is in good hands, considering the value and understanding brought to it by the likes of Ms Armstrong, Tariq Ramadan and our beloved ustad.

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