The Lives of Muhammad
This event includes a book signing
October 10, 2014
Harvard Book Store
1256 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138
This event is free; no tickets are required.
Harvard Book Store welcomes Associate Professor of Religion at Boston University KECIA ALI for a discussion of her book The Lives of Muhammad.
Recent outbursts sparked by a viral video and controversial cartoons powerfully illustrate the passions and sensitivities that continue to surround the depiction of the seventh-century founder of Islam. The Lives of Muhammad delves into the many ways the Prophet’s life story has been told from the earliest days of Islam to the present, by both Muslims and non-Muslims. Emphasizing the major transformations since the nineteenth century, Kecia Ali shows that far from being mutually opposed, these various perspectives have become increasingly interdependent.
Since the nineteenth century, two separate streams of writing, one hagiographic and the other polemical, have merged into a single, contentious story about the life of Muhammad. Protestant missionaries, European Orientalists, Indian and Egyptian modernists, and American voices across the spectrum, including preachers, scholars, Islamophobes, journalists, academics, and new-age gurus, debated Muhammad’s character and the facts of his life. In the process, texts written symbolically came to be read literally. Muhammad’s accomplishments as a religious and political leader, his military encounters with Meccans and Medinan Jews, and—a subject of perennial interest—his relationships with women, including his young wife Aisha, are among the key subjects writers engaged, repurposing early materials for new circumstances.
Many of the ideas about Muhammad that Muslims embrace today—Muhammad the social reformer, Muhammad the consummate leader, Muhammad the ideal husband—arose in tandem and in tension with Western depictions. These were in turn shaped by new ideas about religion, sexuality, and human accomplishments.
Walking from the Harvard Square T station: 2 minutes
As you exit the station, reverse your direction and walk east along Mass. Ave. in front of the Cambridge Savings Bank. Cross Dunster St. and proceed along Mass. Ave for three more blocks. You will pass Au Bon Pain, JP Licks, and TD Bank. Harvard Book Store is located at the corner of Mass. Ave. and Plympton St.
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