NPR

'Muhammad: Forty Introductions' Isn't Setting Out To Satisfy

Michael Muhammad Knight's new book on the religious figure is designed to seduce, educate, and irritate its audience into curiosity about Islam and Muhammad — and on all three fronts it succeeds.
Muhammad: Forty Introductions by Michael Muhammad Knight Source: Amr Alfiky

Michael Muhammad Knight's Muhammad: Forty Introductions asks two questions at the same time — or asks the same two questions 40 times.

One is explicit: How should we think about the prophet Muhammad? The other is implicit, but barely. How, Knight asks in each chapter, should I write an introduction? Or how do I decide where to start? How do I decide who to be?

That question is key to Knight's work. A convert to Islam, he has long written from — and for — the social and scholarly margins. His literary debut, a self-published punk, has become a cult classic. He's now a scholar and professor, and has written nonfiction about the Five-Percent Nation, Salafism, and meeting Muhammad's daughter while tripping on ayahuasca.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from NPR

NPR5 min readFood & Wine
50 Years After Apollo 11, Here's What (And How) Astronauts Are Eating
Ever since astronaut John Glenn's first bite of applesauce in 1962, eating in space has been a challenge. NPR talks to former NASA food scientists to see how cosmic cuisine has evolved over the years.
NPR2 min readPolitics
Some Title X Recipients Will Have More Time To Comply With New Abortion Rules
The rules block recipients of federal grants from referring patients for abortion. The Trump administration says groups working in "good faith" will have until Aug. 19 to provide written assurance.
NPR3 min read
At Whitney Museum Biennial, 8 Artists Withdraw In Protest Of Link To Tear Gas Sales
Artists are asking the New York City museum to pull their work from the high-profile show, protesting the Whitney's board vice chair Warren Kanders, who profits from the sale of tear gas and bullets.