Monday, February 4, 2013

Lesley Hazleton's "The First Muslim"

Lesley Hazleton reported on the Middle East from Jerusalem for more than a dozen years, and has written for Time, the New York Times, The New York Review of Books, and Harper’s, among other publications.

She applied the “Page 99 Test” to her latest book, The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad, and reported the following:
Can I make it the page 89 test? It's the year 610, and Muhammad has just received the first revelation of the Quran -- five brief verses -- on a mountain just outside Mecca. Chapter Seven explores what happened on that mountain. Chapter Eight starts with these two paragraphs:
Then, for two years, nothing. Instead of the steady flow of revelation that one might expect -- the familiar cliches of the floodgates opened, of the life-giving waters of inspiration pouring out of him -- there were two years of silence, a frustratingly fallow period in which Muhammad struggled to come to terms with what had happened to him.

Inevitably, as a man doubly orphaned early in life, he experienced these two years as abandonment. The effects of such a childhood can never be altogether conquered. That sense of being cut off never disappears; it may be pushed deeper inside, but it is always there. A gate had been opened wide in the most momentous night of his life, but had then slammed tightly shut again. What had been granted him was now being withheld, and he felt a terrible loneliness, a despair of ever being able to connect again with that voice.
Learn more about the book and author at The First Muslim website and The Accidental Theologist blog.

Hazelton's last book, After the Prophet, was a finalist for the PEN-USA book award.

The Page 99 Test: After the Prophet.

Writers Read: Lesley Hazleton.

--Marshal Zeringue