The New York Times

The Roots of Islam

TWO NEW BOOKS, ABOUT THE QURAN AND MUHAMMAD, GO BACK TO THE SOURCES OF THE MUSLIM FAITH.

“God in the Qur’an”

By Jack Miles

241 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $26.95.

“Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires”

By Juan Cole

326 pages. Nation Books. $28.

Is Allah, the God of Muslims, a different deity from the one worshiped by Jews and Christians? Is he even perhaps a strange “moon god,” a relic from Arab paganism, as some anti-Islamic polemicists have argued?

What about Allah’s apostle, Muhammad? Was he a militant prophet who imposed his new religion by the sword, leaving a bellicose legacy that still drives today’s Muslim terrorists?

Two new books may help answer such questions, and also give a deeper understanding of Islam’s theology and history.

Jack Miles, a professor of religion at the University

This article originally appeared in .

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from The New York Times

The New York Times6 min read
Growing Up With Murder All Around
“An American Summer: Love and Death in Chicago” By Alex Kotlowitz 287 pages. Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. $27.95. On July 22, 2012, Darren Easterling was murdered in Park Forest, a mostly African-American suburb south of Chicago. Two days later, the loca
The New York Times5 min read
Sherwood Anderson's Revolutionary Small Town
How “Winesburg, Ohio” changed American literature. In the autumn of 1915, while living in a bohemian boardinghouse on Chicago’s Near North Side, Sherwood Anderson began work on a collection of tales describing the tortured lives of the inhabitants of
The New York Times4 min read
A Savagely Funny Writer Shows a Bleak Side
A man is falling from the sky, falling slowly, like a petal. He lands on the sands of an unknown desert with his torn parachute, more dead than alive. There is no sign of his American fighter plane, its American bombs. He is frighteningly calm. None