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After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam (edition 2010)

by Lesley Hazleton

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Member:ilprinze
Title:After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam
Authors:Lesley Hazleton
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Rating:****1/2
Tags:Read in 2012

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After the Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split in Islam by Lesley Hazleton

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A fascinating insight into the last days of Mohammed and the next few generations after his death.

Lots of politics, scheming and of course plenty of violence: few of the Islamic leaders that came after Mohammed died in their beds.

My only criticism is that this book seems to be a bit biased towards the Shia viewpoint. Lots of time is spent on Ali and Hussein, and almost everything they do seems to be seen in a positive way. ( )
  Pondlife | Jul 14, 2012 |
Themes: religion, family, community, civil war, holy war

I may just revise the rating and make this one the first 5 star read of the year.

Puzzled by some of the anger and infighting in the Middle East? Have a hard time keeping groups straight? Wonder why they can't all just work things out? Turns out the seeds of that anger go way back. all the way back to the 7th century AD.

This remarkably written book traces the conflict between the Sunni and the Shi'a Muslims, how it began, and what the consequences are for today. While her focus is on the history, the implications for today are clear. With every development, she draws the modern parallels and explains how it would shape the future.

I really recommend this one. I admit to being one who just skims through the developments in the Middle East, tired of the fighting and the violence, and resigned to the fact that I don't understand it at all. Well, this was a good place to start. I'm still confused about a lot of the current figures, but this gives the reader a solid underpinning on the motives behind it all. ( )
3 vote cmbohn | Jan 23, 2012 |
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Regular readers will know that I'm already a big fan of religion journalist Lesley Hazleton, and especially after reading her bewitching Jezebel last year, in which through historical texts and contemporary journeys through the Holy Land she argued that who we've traditionally thought of as the "Whore of Babylon" was actually a tolerant, wise and popular leader in her day, forced by necessity into a villainous role by the war-mongering, monotheistic early Christians precisely in order to justify their monotheistic war-mongering. And now Hazleton has released her latest, After the Prophet, which does something pretty simple which is why I don't have a lot to say about it -- it tells in plain language the various Islamic legends of the 7th century that led to the split in their religion between so-called "Shia" and "Sunni" denominations, which Westerners can think of as the Muslim equivalent of the Protestant/Catholic split in Christianity (and which the Bush administration claimed didn't exist, which is why they argued that a transition in Iraq from a Sunni-led Saddam Hussein regime to a US-backed Shiite government would present no complications).

Yeah, as you can see, most of us could really benefit from learning a little more about this historic rift, especially since we currently have several hundreds of thousands of soldiers over there right now in the middle of all this in-fighting; and that's exactly what Hazleton's book does, is explain this rift in a way so that it's easy for Americans to follow along, but while still honoring the complexity of the story itself. It's fascinating and engaging, a balanced book which tries to be as fair as possible to both sides of the Shia/Sunni argument*, but is also a fairly straight-ahead book which is why I don't have a lot to say about it; despite the short review today, it comes highly recommended.

Out of 10: 9.3 ( )
1 vote jasonpettus | Nov 4, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385523939, Hardcover)

Book Description
Narrative history at its most compelling, After the Prophet relates the dramatic tragic story at the heart of the ongoing rivalry between Shia and Sunni Islam.

Even as Muhammad lay dying, the battle over his successor had begun. Pitting the family of his favorite wife, the controversial Aisha, against supporters of his son-in-law, the philosopher-warrior Ali, the struggle would reach its breaking point fifty years later in Iraq, when soldiers of the first Sunni dynasty massacred seventy-two warriors led by Muhammad's grandson Hussein at Karbala. Hussein's agonizing ordeal at Karbala was soon to become the Passion story at the core of Shia Islam.

Hazleton's vivid, gripping prose provides extraordinary insight into the origins of the world's most volatile blend of politics and religion. Balancing past and present, she shows how these seventh-century events are as alive in Middle Eastern hearts and minds today as though they had just happened, shaping modern headlines from Iran's Islamic Revolution to the civil war in Iraq.

After the Prophet is narrative nonfiction at its finest, and an emotional and political revelation for Western readers.

Balancing past and present, Hazelton shows how 7th-century events are alive in Middle Eastern hearts and minds today as though they had just happened, shaping modern headlines from Iran's Islamic Revolution to the civil war in Iraq.

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