NPR

'Muhammad: Forty Introductions' Isn't Setting Out To Satisfy

Michael Muhammad Knight's new book on the religious figure is designed to seduce, educate, and irritate its audience into curiosity about Islam and Muhammad — and on all three fronts it succeeds.
Muhammad: Forty Introductions by Michael Muhammad Knight Source: Amr Alfiky

Michael Muhammad Knight's Muhammad: Forty Introductions asks two questions at the same time — or asks the same two questions 40 times.

One is explicit: How should we think about the prophet Muhammad? The other is implicit, but barely. How, Knight asks in each chapter, should I write an introduction? Or how do I decide where to start? How do I decide who to be?

That question is key to Knight's work. A convert to Islam, he has long written from — and for — the social and scholarly margins. His literary debut, a self-published punk, has become a cult classic. He's now a scholar and professor, and has written nonfiction about the Five-Percent Nation, Salafism, and meeting Muhammad's daughter while tripping on ayahuasca.

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

More from NPR

NPR6 min read
After Grim Deaths In The Borderlands, An Effort To Find Out Who Migrants Were
More than 200 migrants die attempting to cross the Southwest border each year. Slowly, scientists at a Texas laboratory are seeking the story of their bones.
NPR5 min read
2-Tiered Wages Under Fire: Workers Challenge Unequal Pay For Equal Work
For years after the Great Recession, employers were reluctant to boost wages. Now a tight labor market is giving workers the leverage they need to demand a larger slice of the nation's economic pie.
NPR5 min read
Who's On NPR?
Distinguishing whether content comes from NPR or others is not always easy. Here's a quick guide.