The First Muslim Book Summary By Lesley Hazleton

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The First Muslim is a captivating account of the incredible story of the prophet Muhammad.

It takes readers back before his birth and details his whole journey throughout life, from God's revelation to him as a prophet to how he spread Islam and how it was received by those around him.

It's an invaluable book for those who want to understand more about the roots of Islam and the very beginnings of its establishment on the world stage.

Through vivid accounts, this book brings us closer to understanding what it must have been like for Muhammad and provide us with a richer perspective on this incredibly enlightening religious figure.

The First Muslim Book

Book Name: The First Muslim (The Story of Muhammad)

Author(s): Lesley Hazleton

Rating: 4.2/5

Reading Time: 16 Minutes

Categories: Book Summaries

Author Bio

Lesley Hazleton is a highly-regarded Middle East expert whose works have been widely praised.

Her book, The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammad, offers an engaging and profoundly personal portrait of the Prophet Muhammad that has resonated with both faithful adherents and skeptics alike.

With thoughtful and captivating prose, she brings to life the beginnings of a religion now followed by more than one billion people across the world.

Her work has earned Lesley numerous awards, including her previous work After the Prophet being selected as a finalist for the 2010 PEN nonfiction award.

Learning From Muhammad: How An Orphaned Outsider Became A Prophet And Changed History


Muhammad is an icon of history, a religious figure whose life has been studied for centuries and who many regard as a prophet.

But it’s important to remember that he was also a regular person who experienced life in all its highs and lows.

In The First Muslim, readers have an opportunity to get to know Muhammad on an intimate level – both his struggles before and after God’s revelations as well as the moments that shaped him into the great religious leader he became.

We learn about Muhammad’s mid-life crisis, the importance of patience, and how religion and politics have always gone hand in hand since ancient times.

The First Muslim gives us each the chance to humanize Muhammad, understanding his motivations and goals in order to gain insight on one of history’s most important figures.

Fate Plays A Crucial Role In Muhammad’S Life Story

The story of Muhammad starts with a vow made by his grandfather, Abd al-Muttalib.

He was the chief of the Hashim clan, a respected part of the Quraysh tribe that controlled Mecca back then.

He discovered a fresh water spring called Zamzam which many believed to be sacred, and because his fellow members of the tribe envied him for that, he had to promise that if he had ten sons, he would sacrifice one of them on the banks of this source.

As fate would have it, Abd al-Muttalib got blessed with ten wonderful sons and in order to decide which one should be sacrificed, he threw arrows near a sacred stone called Hubal.

One arrow bore his favorite son’s name – Abdullah – who later became Muhammad’s father.

The arrow closest to the stone sealed Abdullah’s fate so Abd al-Muttalib prepared to keep his word and offer up his son as sacrifice.

Luckily though, tribal members said there could be another way and offered for him speak to a priestess from Medina.

After some discussion it was decided instead of sacrificing Abdullah an equivalent offering should be sacrificed – this ended up being 100 camels!

In response to this miracle occurring, Abdullah later married Amina and they conceived Muhammad on the same night…

And that’s how Muhammad’s story began!

From Outsider To Prophet: How Life In The Desert Shaped Muhammad’S Spiritual Journey

Muhammad’s formative years were spent in the vast and empty desert wilderness, as is common in many spiritual and mystical traditions.

He was born in the city of Mecca to a widowed mother who had no funds to offer a wet nurse.

But luckily, a woman named Halima came from the bedouin tribe and offered to foster him.

The time spent with Halima proved prosperous—even in times of drought, Muhammad’s presence enabled her family’s cattle to produce an abundant supply of rich dairy.

Things took a miraculous turn when Muhammad was five years old; he experienced two angels descending from the sky to take out his heart, cleanse it by removing the mark of the devil, before returning it back into his body.

Fearing he had been taken by an evil jinn, Halima brought him back to Mecca.

From there—as a fatherless child—Muhammad lived an unassuming life until his 40th year when all changed.

The miracle that brought him back to Mecca at a young age heightened his sense awareness and spirituality and allowed him access to another world beyond our present reality—one filled with divine wisdom and divine power that would set him on an incredible journey ahead!

How Khadija’S Faith And Support Led To The Founding Of Islam

Founding Of Islam

God revealed himself to Muhammad one fateful day while the latter was standing in a small cave on Mount Hira, just outside of Mecca, praying and meditating.

The year was 610 and it was during the month of Ramadan.

The angel Gabriel appeared before Muhammad and told him that he had been chosen to be God’s messenger.

He spoke of how God had created man from a clot of blood and said that the Lord’s word would educate man about the one, true God.

After Muhammad repeated what Gabriel had said, the angel vanished.

Muhammad, shaken up by his experience, sought refuge with his wife Khadija where he gradually revealed what had happened to him.

His words were placed upon parchment to create the first words ever written within the Qur’an; words that would go on to become holy text of Islam itself.

Khadija knew at once that their lives were forever changed – her terse, quiet husband had emerged as a powerful orator filled with inspiring words from God.

It was clear then: Muhammad was named God’s messenger and things would never be the same again.

The Dark Night Of The Soul: How Muhammad’S Test Of Patience Prepared Him For His Mission

When it came to faith, Muhammad was put to the ultimate test.

After receiving the first revelation on a mountain, he was crippled by doubt and had to endure a two year period of immense loneliness, suffering and depression as God remained silent.

This long and difficult trial is referred to by Christian Saint John of the Cross as “the dark night of the soul”.

But Muhammad slowly but surely proved his faith by withstanding such an extreme test.

After reassuring himself with further revelations from God, he embraced this new faith, even glorifying nature through Sura 91 in which God teaches him about preserving his surroundings.

Even more challenging trials were ahead for Muhammad, yet despite this he remained resilient as he cultivated patience.

He learned not to rush any mission or take on task lightly simply for immediate gain; instead he took time to understand each new divine message before attempting repeat it – a noble lesson that paid off in the end!

No matter how severe things became, there’s no denying that Muhammad’s faith was seriously tested but ultimately rose up to the challenge.

How Muhammad Fought Tribe Customs To Launch His Prophetic Ministry

The divine message of Muhammad created a division among his Tribe as soon as he spread it.

When Muhammad was asked to share what God had revealed him though the angel Gabriel, he invited some members of his Hashim clan to have a meal and recite the revelations.

His uncle Abu-Lahab rose from his seat and left the gathering, which came off as an embarrassment in those times.

Despite that setback, Muhammad persisted with another meal the next day and recited his revelations uninterruptedly this time.

After finishing the recitation, he asked for help from those present with spreading this new faith.

Only his cousin, Ali – son of Hashim’s chief – agreed to help him out, which caused disillusion amongst other older membes that were supposed to obey their father first according to tribal rules.

As a result of this claim by Muhammad , only few younger followers embraced the new faith which shattered any hopes of unified progress.

How Standing Up For God’s Word Led To Muhammad’s Exile From Mecca

Muhammad's Exile From Mecca

Muhammad’s message of God’s word faced several difficulties.

Even some powerful people in society weren’t too thrilled when he began spreading his message at the Kaaba, Mecca’s most important site.

Things started to get really complicated when Muhammad’s teachings became more political and framed corruption and wealth as something oppressive to the poor and ostracized people of society.

His ideas were extremely popular among young people, who felt their voices had been disregarded by those in power.

This caused huge issues between Muhammad and the Meccan leaders, led by two of the city’s most influential clans; the Makhzum and Umayyads.

To show their disapproval with Muhammad’s views, they ordered abu-Talib, chief of the Hashim clan and Muhammad’s uncle, to expel him from the family.

When abu-Talib refused out of loyalty to his own nephew, it resulted in all members of his clan being cut off from doing business with others or arranging marriages- partial exclusion from Meccan society.

Comparatively, some other clans refused to join in on this boycott as a result of familial bonds built over hundreds of years between clans.

How Muhammad United Tribes And Healed Rifts In Medina

Muhammad was desperately in search of support for his beliefs, yet met with much hostility and opposition in Mecca.

He soon realized that he needed to look elsewhere, and that’s when he found the backing he needed in Medina.

Here, he was approached by six pilgrims from the city who had heard him preaching and were convinced by his ideas.

Their faith paved the way for 72 clan leaders from Medina to swear their allegiance to Muhammad, forming a military bond between his own tribe and those of Medina.

This was an important step forward as it allowed Muhammad and his followers to join these tribes, even if that meant uprooting themselves out of their traditional tribal land.

Unfortunately, some family members were caught by Meccans on their way out of town and forced to return; Umm Salama was one such person who didn’t manage to escape until her family finally let her rejoin Muhammad later on in Medina.

Despite all obstacles, the displaced Medinans formed deep bonds within the new community at hand, which ultimately healed rifts between them before long.

Muhammad Reunites Cities And Founds Islam Through A Pilgrimage And Military Action


Muhammad used an ingenious approach to establish peace between the cities of Mecca and Medina – a pilgrimage to Mecca.

With an unarmed entourage, Muhammad made his way from Medina towards Mecca.

The Meccans were barred by their own laws from impeding the path of the pilgrim, so they had no choice but to accept him and a truce for the next 10 years was agreed upon.

By allowing people in both cities to choose either to follow Muhammad or their own leaders, this marked a decisive shift toward recognizing Muhammad as the leader of his faith.

But there still remained one more battle for full victory.

A chance skirmish arose between two bedouin tribes protected by Mecca and Medina respectively, and this was seen as an opportunity by Muhammad who took it and marched on Mecca with an army of his own.

On January 11, 630 they overpowered the city from four directions with little resistance until finally Mekka was in Muhammad’s hands.

Finally unified under his rule, Muhammad became recognised as the leader of Islam in that region.

Wrap Up

The First Muslim by Karen Armstrong is a thought-provoking book that delves deep into the life and teachings of Muhammad, an ascetic saint who defied odds and ultimately founded a new faith.

Through her in-depth exploration of his struggles as an orphan and his exile from his own people because of his message, Armstrong portrays Muhammad as a compassionate yet determined figure whose tremendous courage led to the establishment of this revolutionary religion.

The key takeaway? As Islam continues to be maligned in today’s society, it is vital that we remember Muhammad’s story and take lessons from it; ultimately it serves to remind us what can be achieved through faith, human resilience, hope, kindness and a never-give-up attitude.

Arturo Miller

Hi, I am Arturo Miller, the Chief Editor of this blog. I'm a passionate reader, learner and blogger. Motivated by the desire to help others reach their fullest potential, I draw from my own experiences and insights to curate blogs.

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