Reviewed: September 6, 2005
Publisher: Simon & Shuster
42 pages, $31.50
Children’s author/artist Demi has taken
on the difficult task of creating a book about a main character who cannot,
according to the tenets of his own faith, be depicted. Accordingly, the Prophet
Muhammad appears in this book only as a golden silhouette. The rest of the
art, intricate, detailed and brightly coloured as it may be, is based on a
style called Persian miniature. This seems somewhat flat to the modern eye,
but it nonetheless attractive and in keeping with the subject matter.
The text is a readable biography of
the Prophet, who was born in 570 AD (or CE, if you like) and began receiving
the visions and revelations that would lead to the writing of the Koran (or
Qu’ran) when he was forty years old. This book emphasizes the continuity of
the Islamic tradition with the Christian and Jewish theology, which came earlier,
setting Muhammad (there are many variant spellings of this name) as the last
in a line of prophets which includes Jesus and stretches back to Adam.
Demi has rather glossed over the history
of Islamic conquest by which the religion spread through the Middle East,
depicting all of it as a defensive response to outside aggression, but one
would expect a certain amount of laundering in any book of this sort. A history
of Christianity for kids would just as likely skip past a few things.
This book is a good starting point
for an investigation of the varieties of religious experience. It makes a
number of things seem less strange and since familiarity tends to moderate
the fear that can lead to intolerance, this is probably a good thing.