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Prophetic fallacies

Two works by progressive Muslims—a life of the Prophet and an analysis of Arab identity—reveal contrasting approaches to the history of Islam

By Emran Mian   131

The Messenger by Tariq Ramadan (Penguin, £20) Being Arab by Samir Kassir (Verso, £10.99)

Tariq Ramadan, the leading Muslim scholar, thinks that Islamic law should be reinterpreted in the light of modern social conditions. There are two primary sources for Islamic law: the Koran, which was revealed to Muhammad, and the words and deeds of the Prophet himself, which are set out in a series of early biographies. Writing a new biography of Muhammad offers a reformist like Ramadan the opportunity to place Islamic precepts drawn from both sources in their historical context. It is, perhaps, the first step in…

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