Book Review: “Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources” by Martin Lings

Books on Islam are expensive. In learning any biographical material about Muhammad, one will invariably hear mention of the first-known biography of Muhammad, The Life of the Prophet by Ibn Ishaq. Of course, that resource no longer exists in its original form, and what we have comes to us through Ibn Ishaq’s student, Ibn Hisham. If you want an English translation of Ibn Hisham’s The Life of the Prophet, you’ll have to open your wallets and pay… $76! Or pay the expense and time to become fluent in classical Arabic and get the Arabic edition for upwards of $25. And while I would like to do both of those things, I’m also starting from a beginner’s place and partly just need an orientation into the early sources. After all, there’s more than Ibn Ishaq out there.

Any search for information around Muhammad’s biography will bring up results including Muhammad: His Life Based on the Early Sources, by Martin Lings. And hey, it’s affordable! So I bought the ebook early on to orient myself in an Islamic view of Muhammad and…

My bad. Metaphorically, I walked into a restaurant for a culinary lesson. Instead, they served me a sausage and now I’m demanding to know “But how was this sausage made?!”

Review in short: This books is a reassuring resource for the pious, but has no other value.

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Caution: Bad Source on Wikipedia

While I’ve relied on Wikipedia articles for reasons I have already stated, ALWAYS remember that Wikipedia is only as good as its citations. Be aware that the articles surrounding Muhammad’s ministry are inundated with a particular source:

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