The theological and political claims of Islam rest squarely on history. Islam will ultimately be victorious, so we are told, because modern Muslims are the direct heirs of a glorious vision for humanity mapped out by Muhammad, and those who conquered the great empires of Late Antiquity following him as their ‘excellent example’ (Qur’an 33:21) A lot will, therefore, depend on whether the history that is so deeply inspiring to the followers of Islam came down to us in an accurate and reliable way.
If it can be proved that it did not, the entire Islamic theological edifice can be called into question.
In his latest book Peter Townsend (author of ‘Questioning Islam’ and ‘Nothing to do with Islam?’) goes right back to the earliest years of the Muslim faith to ask some questions that are routinely ignored by those who are content to simply repeat the same old ‘certainties’ of standard Islamic history. The result of this research, drawing on the work of scholars from a wide range of disciplines, is a profile of the birth of Islam that is fresh, surprising and sometimes shocking.
Journeying to 7th century Arabia with Townsend as your guide will cause you to look at Islam, its truth-claims and its place in the world with new eyes.