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Mental Health Reading: Muhammad How He Can Make You Extraordinary By Hesham al-Awadi

If you happen to be a devout Muslim and respond that you have already read the traditional biographies of the prophet and will not find anything new there, you’re right if you’re looking only for a narrative retelling of events. But if it’s about a different retelling of the same story, which sheds new light, then reading a single biography will not be enough. You must constantly read in search of further perspectives, because each age will rewrite Muhammad’s biography from the perspective of its own interests and concerns. – page 189

The author tells the story of Muhammad peace be upon him, unlike traditional biographies, by relating it to our modern-day lives. It seems to be more so a self-development guide, though the author has ‘tried to make this book a unique mix of these two genres (biography of the Prophet and a self-development guide)’.

About Hesham al-Awadi

‘Hesham al-Awadi is a Professor of History at the American University of Kuwait. He was lecturer in Modern Middle East Politics at the institute of Arab and Islamic Studies at Exeter University and Visiting Scholar at George Washington University’ 

The Professor is also known for his detailed lectures (that are available online). Some of which are listed: Children around the Prophet, Life of Imam Bukhari, The four great imams, Women inspired by the Beloved, and Yusuf AS. May Allah pleased with his efforts.

Contents of the book

‘Muhammad How He Can Make You Extraordinary’ is about 200 pages in length, and it was published July 2016.

The book is divided into eight chapters. Each chapter tells an important part of the Messenger’s life, peace be upon him, and then focuses on ways the reader can practically benefit from what he has just read. The chapters are as follows.

  1. Muhammad’s childhood
  2. Muhammad’s family
  3. Muhammad’s environment
  4. Muhammad’s adolescence
  5. Muhammad as a young adult
  6. Muhammad in his 40s
  7. Muhammad in his 50s

How does one read this book?

As this book is unlike traditional biographies, I have briefly summed the author’s explanation on how to read his book (which can be found within the introduction of the book).

Each chapter begins with a visual illustration that briefs the reader, and sums up the main ideas of what he is about to read. Each chapter ends with a table of practical lessons relating to what reader has just read. Throughout the book’s text, the author frequently pauses its narrative to either highlight additional information, mention important points derived from the main narrative, and/or ‘offers direct input by way of advice on a variety of questions, based on the lessons we can learn from the life of the Prophet Muhammad’.

My thoughts on book

Meant for readers from all levels of life, the book is very informal and calm. Its use of easy-read English, helpful suggestions and illustrations make a pleasurable read for anyone.

The author chose to avoid the usual style of language, many would expect in a typical biography of Muhammad, for a more approachable and familiar type of style. However unorthodox this seems, one cannot argue with its results.

Unlike traditional biographies, the author focuses heavily on the Messenger’s early life, peace be upon him. That is before the age of forty, such as: his childhood, teenage years, as a young adult, and well into his adulthood. This is perhaps the most significant aspect of the book. Today, many young Muslims in the English-speaking world struggle to feel a personal connection to the Messenger peace be upon him. I feel this book is well suited to help such Muslims.

It should be noted; the book is very concise. It is not as rich in detail as typical biographies come. Nevertheless, every Muslim who wants to be inspired, and improve themselves, would do well reading the book. At the very least it serves as reminder that Muhammad is a Prophet for every age.