Mona Siddiqui in The Independent:
There aren't many books on Islam where the Prophet Muhammad and Martin Scorsese appear together. But Jonathan Brown's book is about recounting history, multiple interpretations and making sense of legacies; religious traditions and Hollywood films have these tensions in common. Both want to convey particular stories to a diverse range of audiences, and to convince them of certain metaphysical truths.
Brown's inspiration for the book comes from the New Testament scholar Bart Ehrman's bestselling Misquoting Jesus, a work which looks at the accidental or intentional textual variations of the Bible. Brown explains that his own focus is more on the challenges of interpreting the Prophet's legacy rather than “unveiling Islamic origins”. He explores the rich interpretative history of Islam and how the faithful continue to be challenged. Much of what Brown is really exploring is the status of the sayings or traditions of the Prophet – hadiths. These were compiled in their thousands and form the basis of much of Islamic dogmatic, legal and theological thinking from the earliest times. They are second only to the Koran as a source of authority. But how many of them are reliable, and why do Muslims continue to be guided by them when so many are disputed even rejected by scholars? The book tries to get to the bottom of these debates.