The New York Times

The Roots of Islam

TWO NEW BOOKS, ABOUT THE QURAN AND MUHAMMAD, GO BACK TO THE SOURCES OF THE MUSLIM FAITH.

“God in the Qur’an”

By Jack Miles

241 pages. Alfred A. Knopf. $26.95.

“Muhammad: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires”

By Juan Cole

326 pages. Nation Books. $28.

Is Allah, the God of Muslims, a different deity from the one worshiped by Jews and Christians? Is he even perhaps a strange “moon god,” a relic from Arab paganism, as some anti-Islamic polemicists have argued?

What about Allah’s apostle, Muhammad? Was he a militant prophet who imposed his new religion by the sword, leaving a bellicose legacy that still drives today’s Muslim terrorists?

Two new books may help answer such questions, and also give a deeper understanding of Islam’s theology and history.

Jack Miles, a professor of religion at the University

This article originally appeared in .

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