Book Review

THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS 58 BOOK REVIEW “MUHAMMAD” By Michael Cook Publisher: Oxford University Press Price : £ 1.95 (paper back) p. 94 This forms the latest publication in “Past Masters” series produced by Oxford University Press. The other titles already printed include Jesus, Buddha, Confucius, Darwin, Aristotle and some other famous historians, philosophers, scientists, physicists, humanists, political revolutionaries etc. These books attempt to give an objective and readable account of the lives, teachings and works of the great men of the past. The author of “Muhammad” is Michael Cook, a lecturer at the School of Oriental and African Studies, in the University of London who is also the author or editor of several books on the history of the Middle East. In this book the writer has presented a critical, though sometimes sceptical view of Islam most especially when he compares the teachings of Quran with those of the Bible. References from the Holy Quran are quoted liberally yet often taken out of context and in many instances failing to differenciate between metaphorical and literal expressions so frequently used in the holy scripture of Islam. For example, in trying to establish an analogy between the Christian concept of a human God, who according to the Bible need- ed rest after the labour of creation, the author declares that “Muha- mmad’s God in some respects illustrates this trend.” He adds: “Admittedly the Koran still speaks freely of God’s ‘hand’ and refers to Him sitting on His throne”. No doubt, it is a pity that Cook has failed to realise that these are metaphoric expressions which denote the power and the domain of God and not that He is a physical Being Who has a specially designed seat from where He administers the affairs of the universe. Shirk, associating someone else with God, is a major sin in Islam: Surely, Allah will not forgive that any partner be associated with Him. (Quran 4.99) And to assume that “certainly on the one occasion when Muhammad temporarily yielded to the temptation to allow the pagan gods a place in his religion, the move was in human terms a dramatic success” is only the invention of the fertile 59 THE REVIEW OF RELIGIONS imagination of the mind of the author. No such compromise was ever envisaged by the monotheist Prophet. Nothing can be more absurd than to assert that in Quranic elements the Jewish influence is prominent and that they are definitely Christian in origin. The Quran affirms the truth of previous revelations. But it points out that previous revelations have suffered from interpolations and perver- sions. This must also be taken into consideration before making such a sweeping statement. Unfortunately the factual basis of the book leaves much to be desired. M.A. Saqi #***##*###*************# AN ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE PROMISED MESSIAH (PEACE BE ON HIM) Harken, all ye people. This is a prophecy of Him Who has created heaven and earth. He will spread this Community of His in all countries and will make it supreme over all, through reason and arguments. The days are coming, indeed they are near, when this will be the only religion which will be held in honour. God will bestow extraordinary blessings on this religion and Movement. He will frustrate everyone who seeks to destroy it. This supremacy will last till the Judgement Day. Remember, that no one will descend from heaven. All our opponents who are alive today will die and no one will see Jesus son of Mary descending from heaven. Then their next generation will pass away and no one of them will see this spectacle. Then the generation next after that will pass away without seeing the son of Mary descending from heaven. Then God will make them an- xious that though the time of the supremacy of the cross had passed away and the world had undergone great changes yet the son of Mary had not descended from heaven. Then the wise people will suddenly discard this belief. The third century after today will not yet have come to a close when those who hold this belief, whether Muslims or Christians, will lose all hope and will give up this belief in disgust. There will then be only one religion that will prevail in the world and only one leader. I have come only to sow the seed, which has been sown by my hand. Now it will sprout and grow and flourish and no one can arrest its growth. (Tazkaratush Shadatain, pp. 64-5).