Although the famous American writer knew little about Islam, and had no contact with Muslims, he has written an interesting biography for non-Muslims. 'The aim of the writer has been to digest into an easy, perspicuous and flowing narrative the admitted facts concerning Mahomet, together with such legends and traditions as have been wrought into the whole system of Oriental literature; and at the same time to give such a summary of his faith as might be sufficient for the more general reader.'
According to Mohammed, the one true religion was revealed to five great prophets before him - Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses and Jesus. But each time their message was ignored and people chose to worship false gods instead. As the last and greatest prophet of the one and only God, it was his task to abolish all idolatry. For many years his mission seemed hopeless. As long as he remained in Mecca, he made few converts and had to endure dangers and persecution. But when the city of Medina offered him sanctuary, his small band of followers rapidly multiplied. Mohammed now led his armies out to do battle in the desert, spreading his religion at the point of the sword. This later part of his life, as told by Washington Irving, is as much about military conquest as spiritual teaching. For us today, the consequences are still unfolding: reason to reflect on the extraordinary career of one individual who joined conviction, resoluteness, courage and self-mastery in the pursuit of a religious vision.