28 May 2015

Tom Holland, Mak Chishty and more

Tom Holland’s frank and forensic analysis of debates (past and present) within Islam is now available online. He doesn’t shy away from finding connections between episodes in the life of Muhammad and the barbaric actions of today’s extremists.

However he points out that those who insist on the most ruthless and rigid interpretation of Islam (whether they are Salafists or counterjihadists) as the truest, most original form of the faith, overlook just how little evidence there is for some of the more troubling aspects of Muhammad’s biography.

.... It’s commonplace to hear that shortcomings in other cultures (homophobia for example) are in fact the fault of the West, a legacy of colonialism. Tom Holland offers an interesting variation on this theme when he argues that Western ideas about the nature of history and biography may have encouraged a more literal understanding of the recorded career of Mohammed; he compares this with the more symbolic or mystical approach to the Prophet’s life which apparently prevailed in earlier years. [Harry’s Place] Read more