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  Bookends: Dan Davidson
 

Muhammad

Reviewed: September 6, 2005
By: Demi
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.

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