Books, etc



If you wish to learn more about the Quran or related topics we strongly recommend starting with the books and films listed here (more will be added!). We will list only the books or films we have read or watched and can personally recommend. You are welcome to send your own preferred list for review and inclusion.


The Life and Times of Muhammad:

This book by Sir John Glubb, orientalist and former commander of the Jordanian army, is one of the best written in English about the Prophet and his times. The book starts with a good introduction to Arabia and its people at the time. Having explained the background, the author proceeds with the difficult formative years at Mecca, the Hijra to Medina and foundation of the community. The basic doctrines of Islam are discussed and so are the secular aspects of state building. The last two chapters discuss the Islamic conquests and the expansion of Islam as a religion.

This is not a textbook. The style is easy to read rather than academic. The author, having learned Arabic well, has used original sources for his material and the depth of his understanding shows. It is also one of few on Islam that are balanced. Sir John is not a Muslim but has lived in Jordan, learned Arabic, understood Muslims and liked living among them. His admiration of the Prophet is obvious, but so is his admiration of one his enemies.

If you want a religious text, this is not the book. If you want a basic understanding of the early history of Islam, you will not find a better choice.

The Message:

This is an epic film about the early period of Islam. Directed by Moustapha Akkad and starring Anthony Quinn and Irene Papas, the 220 minute film is historically accurate as well as being a huge production. It is probably best described as a documentary that is enacted rather than told.

The film starts with the prophet's preaching in Mecca, the early years, the Hijra, war with the unbelievers, the conquest and return to Mecca and finally the messages sent to the great rulers of middle-eastern empires.

If you are after a classic Hollywood drama, look elsewhere. If you seek an illustrated history of the early Islam this film is hard to beat.

The DVD is region-free, so it can be played in almost all players in all regions.