MUHAMMED: The Messenger of God by Betty Kelen

MUHAMMED: The Messenger of God

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Betty Kelen cautions the reader not to compare the animosities between Muhammed and the rabbis of Medina to those existing between the Jews and Arabs today. In the holy wars and massacres against Jews, Christians and pagan Arabs, ""he was behaving like a man of his time--taking strong measures to correct as speedily as possible people's wrong attitudes about God."" Similarly the teachings of Muhammed are placed in the perspective of life, events and traditions in 7th century Arabia. Muhammed is presented as a resourceful leader, a genius, a man who, though active, determined and capable of ruthlessness and savagery in battle, was not bloodthirsty but had rather a sweet, often gentle, nature. We see him as a more mortal figure than earlier great prophets such as Moses, Jesus and Buddha. Various versions are given of Muhammed's Call, including that of medical men who have pointed to its similarities to an epileptic fit. Kelen however designates elements more likely to be seen in a mystical experience. Muhammed gave his people a moral and ethical framework for their lives--sometimes perhaps by creating expedient ""divine messages"" to suit the occasion. As in her excellent biographies of Confucius and Gautama Buddha, the author conveys her interpretation quietly but forthrightly, with respect for both subject and reader. While Kelen concedes that Islam as it is known today is far too complex to be described in this volume, she has successfully imparted some of its culture and a basis for increased understanding of its development, mysticism and philosophy.

Pub Date: April 1st, 1975
Publisher: Nelson