A complex but readable reinterpretation of Muhammad’s role as a warrior prophet.



Renowned military historian Hayward explores the war campaigns of the Prophet Muhammad in this sprawling historical study.

Perhaps no two people have influenced the world quite like Jesus and the Prophet Muhammad. And while their religious teachings are similar, Muhammad diverges in his dual role as a “warrior-prophet” who “fought militarily to fulfil [sic] the mission that he believed God had given him.” Central to Hayward’s impetus in writing this book is his belief that contemporary scholarship has inadequately addressed Muhammad’s militarism. Most studies on the prophet, for example, are written by theologians and religious scholars who fail to approach the topic with the methodology of trained historians and thus focus on issues of fiqh (jurisprudence). According to the author, many scholars are also plagued by “present-centeredness” and operate under modern assumptions that condemn warfare or rely on Western tropes that portray “Muhammad as a general” based on contemporary understandings of military organization. Eschewing these historiographic trends that attempt to speak to 21st-century issues, Hayward emphasizes the religious and military context in which Muhammad acted. Divided into three sections, the book begins by placing Muhammad in a historical context in which the “ordinariness of raiding” was the “norm.” A similar contextual approach guides the book’s subsequent sections: “Pitched Battles and Attacks on Settlements” and “Muhammad’s War With the Jews.” Arguing against allegations that Muhammad was antisemitic, the book notes that Jews were “under his sworn protection,” were given “certain freedoms,” and that there were even Jewish “strong warriors” serving as auxiliaries in his Khaybar campaign. Though Hayward is a self-described “committed Muslim,” he is uninterested in presenting religious history or defending Muhammad’s military competence. Instead, as a professor of strategic thought at Rabdan Academy in the United Arab Emirates and author of multiple books on military history, he seeks to further readers’ understanding of “the historical Muhammad” whose military actions are filtered through a seventh-century Arabic mindset. At more than 450 dense pages, the book may be overwhelming to those unfamiliar with Islamic history, though ample reading aids (from maps and charts to timelines and a glossary) are provided. With almost 1,500 endnotes, this is a remarkably well-researched book that has a solid grasp on both contemporary scholarship as well as Arabic primary sources.

A complex but readable reinterpretation of Muhammad’s role as a warrior prophet.

Pub Date: Aug. 1, 2022

ISBN: 9781800119802

Page Count: 457

Publisher: Claritas Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 3, 2023

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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