From my list on making you realize you don’t know what religion is.
Who am I?
In the 1980s, I was living in Spain, teaching high school. On weekends and vacations, I traveled throughout the country, fascinated with the remnants of its flourishing medieval civilization, where Jews, Christians, and Muslims mingled. When I later became a historian, I focused on the rich history of Jewish-Christian-Muslim contact in Spain and throughout the Mediterranean. I also wanted to understand conflict and prejudice, particularly the historical roots of antisemitism and islamophobia in Europe. I have increasingly realized that classical religious texts need to be reread and contextualized and that we need to rethink our ideas about religion and religious conflict.
John's book list on making you realize you don’t know what religion is
Why did John love this book?
While Boyarin challenges what we thought we knew about Judaism and Christianity, Fred Donner does the same for the history of the origins of Islam. Most of what we know, or think we know, about Muhammad comes from the hadiths (traditions), sayings, and deeds of the prophet that were transmitted orally and put down in writing two centuries after the prophet’s death. Leaving aside hadith and the traditional biographies of the prophet, Donner looks at what we can say about Muhammad and his first followers based on the Quran alone. While the terms “Islam” and “Muslim” are present in the Quran, Islam is not a "religion" apart from other monotheisms.
On the contrary, Muhammad had no intention of founding a new "religion," but saw himself as the successor to earlier prophets, from Adam to Jesus and the apostles, who all preached the same message: condemnation of idolatry, declaration of unity…