I read Deepak Chopra’s book on Muhammad in the same light that I read his fictional accounts of Jesus, as the son of God, and Buddha, as one who achieved cosmic enlightenment… for insights into the men that founded our world’s largest religious forces. All three novels describe the lives of these religious leaders, show how they were guided to higher consciousness and how they changed the world around them in doing so.
Having little knowledge of Islam, I was fascinated by Chopra’s depiction of the Arabian culture and polytheism of the time and how Muhammad brought monotheism and a guidebook for the chaotic Arabian culture to follow – the Koran (which was supposedly revealed to him through Allah and the Angel Gabriel).
Muhammad’s story is told through many voices, from his wet nurse to his dire enemy, each writing a chapter, depicting how his early life was filled with portents and omens that he would be a “prophet.” Muhammad is described as reflective, humble, loving and in search of answers to life’s great mysteries. We, the readers, are led to cheer for Muhammad and hope he escapes the persecution that surrounds him as he reveals his instructions from the Angel Gabriel.
However, in this time of terrorism, it is disturbing to read of the “holy wars” which God later instructs the Muslims to wage in order for Islam to spread. Chopra ends the book with the dark underside of Muhammad’s mission… using warfare to spread the new faith.
Chopra puts Islam into the context of Muhammad’s time, the sixth and seventh centuries, when the Arabs were cut off from their past monotheism as the descendants of Abraham, and from other monotheists, the Christians and Jews. As the “Last Prophet,” Muhammad ends tribal turmoil by uniting the Arabs under one God. His transformation from an ordinary man, an illiterate one whose “recitations” while in a trance state are recorded as the Koran, to the founder of our globe’s largest religion, is one that is both intriguing and surprising.
This book is a good starting point to learn more about Islam and other religions, so as to better understand the beliefs of those inhabiting our same world.