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Misquoting Muhammad

The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet’s Legacy
Written by: Jonathan A.C. Brown
Narrated by: Paul Boehmer
Length: 15 hrs and 36 mins

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Publisher's Summary

Sometimes rumor, sometimes based on fact and often misunderstood, the tenets of Islamic law and dogma were not set in the religion's founding moments. They were developed, like in other world religions, over centuries by the clerical class of Muslim scholars.

Misquoting Muhammad takes listeners back in time through Islamic civilization and traces how and why such controversies developed, offering an inside view into how key and controversial aspects of Islam took shape. Misquoting Muhammad lays out how Muslim intellectuals have sought to balance reason and revelation, weigh science and religion, and negotiate the eternal truths of scripture amid shifting values.

©2014 Jonathan A. C. Brown (P)2017 Tantor

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  • Henry
  • 02-12-17

Fascinating and relevant

A great idea and a great book. This is perfect for anyone who actually wants to learn about Islam, rather than just confirm a positive or negative bias. I was very impressed that Brown was able to maintain an academic perspective through some of the more controversial subjects like jihad, gender, child marriage, apostasy, and reformation.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 29-08-18

Fantastic Book, Horrible Arabic Pronunciation

Brown's book is a well-researched introduction to and explication of the history of the Ahadeeth (Prophetic Traditions) and the challenges faced by Islamic scholars (and laymen) in interpreting and using them to help form and apply/practice Islamic Law.

While the narrator does a good job overall, his pronunciation of Arabic terms is cringe-worthy to anyone familiar with the Arabic language. It was so bad at times I almost stopped listening. Here are a few (transliterated) examples:

It's Muhammad not Mukhaamed
Maalik not Maleek
Waliullah not Waali Aalah
Qur'aan not Kooran
Ulemaa not Ooo Llama

And the list goes on.

It would have been much better to have used a narrator who had at least a basic understanding of Arabic pronunciation, especially in a book that uses so many Arabic terms on every page. Other than that it was a fantastic read (listen) that I recommend to anyone interested in the subject matter.

13 of 14 people found this review helpful

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  • Shaila Siraj
  • 28-08-18

An academic view on the controversies surrounding Hadith

The author is a formidable scholar in Islamic studies and presents objective criticisms surrounding specific Hadiths which may have particular consequences upon culture, social relations, and law.

Slightly difficult to follow in Audiobook format due to chapter sections jumping around chronologically, but informative and engaging nonetheless.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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  • Yasin M. Almadani
  • 17-12-18

Very Thoughtful and Honest

Religion is central to so many lives, yet people rarely explore the authenticity of the traditions they hold so dear. This book is a wonderful work on authenticity in Islam. It helped expand my horizons and put me on the path to a deeper, more progressive, more inclusive understanding of God’s universe.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 14-09-19

A research of great value.

I'm gonna be honest. It's not the casual easy read. Mr brown digs in too deep and doesn't spare the details. Sometimes it's not gonna be easy to get by the chapter. But that's what a research of great value is like. In the end you are left with immense satisfaction with what you have learned and a feeling that every bit was worth it. Thank you Mr. Brown for the great effort.

As for Paul (The performer) he did really well but his Arabic was often times not recognizable. I kept repeating parts trying to figure out what the word he's trying to say is.

Great work overall.

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Abdirahim Aden
  • 26-03-18

Balanced View of Scriptural History

Accurately depicts controversial aspects of scriptural interpretation and its evolutions. Argues that historical interpretation and understanding needs to be upheld even in the modern times insofar that they are set in stone. However, there are a lot of room for new understanding in issues of fiqh which alter with time and situation. Showed that renowned scholars of early Muslims differed on issues respectfully as long as it came from an opinion derived from evidenced scriptural understanding.

Most interestingly showed that early scholars not so critical of hadith that spoke of ample rewards and last days as they promoted better adherence by Muslims. Hadith scholars like Bukhari were not infallible in their Sahih collection but it was important to set it in stone so believers are not confused due to lack of knowledge. Hence Ahmed Ibn Hanbal preferred weak hadith over ones human intellectual opinion which fluctuates with the environment.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • sobir
  • 30-05-19

Great Insight

Great content, the only thing I would criticise would be the narrator to have been better on pronunciation of the Arabic other than that very insightful. Jonathan goes into breaking down the usual thrown at misunderstood reasons of peoples perception of Islam.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • London
  • 17-02-19

The use of hadith - a no holds barred journey

A very extensive journey through the use and applicability of the hadith. The book has tried to take an anthropological stance which is its strength and weakness. Strength because the book does not come across as a polemic from a partisan direction, weak because it then attempts to give equal legitimate weight to all sides, at least in their introduction and contending views are either put in the mouths of their historical detractors or voiced by an invisible third party arbiter based on a principle that has arisen out of the debate. I would have liked to have heard the explicit view of the author whether I agreed with it or not. I also felt at times that the content could have been trimmed without losing essential content or impact.
The references to similar debates and events that had taken place in the Christian world was a good mechanism especially as the Ummah had been compared to its sister commuties, the Christian and Jewish worlds. Like another reviewer the strained attempt to pronounce some of the Arabic words or names was at times distracting but not significantly so.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • A student of knowledge
  • 04-10-18

Excellent book, but pronunciation often wrong

The book is a brilliant tour of the Islamic interpretive tradition, examining the various ways scholars through the ages have dealt with the textual sources of Islam.
The only problem with this audio version is that most Arabic words and names are mispronounced.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • S. Mahroof
  • u.k.
  • 05-10-19

Outstanding

Jonathan Brown delivers an invaluable insight into the workings of the Muslim tradition. I can highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand how Muslim jurisprudence functions.

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  • Omar
  • 15-04-19

The Hanbali alternate universe

I definitely recommend reading this book, but I recommend thinking about it deeply.
My only complaint is that the narrator really needs to learn how to pronounce people's names.
Otherwise the book is a very interesting travel through the inter madhab rivalries of the 10th century. It isn't supposed to be that, but long irrelevant rivalries are suddenly resurrected in Johnathon Browns head as he brings context and history to problems that only exist if you are trying to maintain a hanbali epistemological world view.
He does a very good job of describing these problems in context, and has done a better job of teaching me the difference between the madhabs than most other people. But I can't help feel that Hanafis and Malikis, who he continually, perhaps unintentionally, refers to as non-sunni, can simply dismiss most if not all the hadith problems he refers to.
This book goes on my recommended reading list.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 09-04-19

Voice is terrible

The end of every sentence you’re hearing only mombling!! They don’t help you to understand the story. I bought the book on kindle and it was very interesting and useful

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  • kjhjf
  • 28-03-18

very good

This will change many minds on Islam in a good way. well researched, will recommend this book to everyone.