Real Face of Karen Armstrong the Orientalist


Karen Armstrong is an eminent and erudite Orientalist of this modem age. She is the author of many scholarly books on comparative religions. She had studied Islam very deeply. She is the person of part and parcel. She had written two famous books on Sirah.

  1. i) Muhammad (PBUH): A Biography of the Prophet
  2. ii) Muhammad (PBUH): Prophet for Our Time

She remarks about her writing on Sirah, “I wrote this biography of Muhammad (PBUH) just ten years ago at the time of Salman Rushdie’s crises. For some lime 1had been disturb by the prejudice against Islam that Iso frequently encountered, even in the most liberal and tolerant circles. After the horrific event of the twentieth century, to cultivate or distorted and inaccurate view of the religion followed by the 1.2 billion Muslims who make up a fifth of the world population”

Karen Armstrong Further states, “I wrote the book because it seemed piety that Rushdie’s account of Muhammad (PBUH) was the only one of that most western people were likely to read. Even though l could understand what Rushdie was trying to do in his novel, it seemed important that the true story of the Prophet should also be available, because he was one of the most remarkable human beings who ever lived.”

In her book ‘Muhammad (PBUH) a Biography of the Prophet’, she has produced the first chapter tilled ‘Muhammad (PBUH)the Enemy’. There are some reservations about this title. Why she has selected this title? Are there special motives behind it? In this chapter, she has discussed lie long history of conflict and confrontation between Christianity and Islam. She has tried her best to refute all types of misconception and blasphemies about Muhammad (PBUH) and Karen admits that Muhammad had great spiritual as well as political gills, the two do not always go together and he was convinced that all religious people have a responsibility to create a good and just society. She has discussed the religious, social, and political conditions of the

Arabia in Jahiliyah. She has made a critical study of Satanic Verses and refuted the viewpoint of the Orientalists, there are some flaws and shortcomings in her work, if we overlook these, this work of

Karen is of very importance. “The Quran is the Holy word of God and its authority remains absolute. But Muslims know that jt is always not easy to interpret. ‘His biographers told the story of his life; they tried to explain some of the passages in the Quran by reproducing the historical context in which these particular revelations had come down to Muhammad”.

She proposed that if we are to avoid catastrophe, the Muslim and Western worlds must learn not merely to tolerate but to appreciate one another. A good place to start is with the figure of Muhammad: a complex man, who resists facile, ideologically driven categorization, who sometimes did things that were difficult or impossible for us to accept, but who had profound genius and founded a religion and cultural tradition that was not based on the sword but whose name ‘Islam’-signifies peace and reconciliation.

A thorough study of Karen’s writings shows that there are some times that echoed the past misunderstandings. But in the very body of her works, her approach seems to be balanced. Karen states, Even though Islam is the third religion of Abraham and more in tune with our own

Judaeo-Christian tradition. She believes that Muhammad had conceived strikingly similar visions of a transcendent and ultimate reality.

“Muhammad was not a man of violence. We must approach his life in a balanced way, in order to appreciate his considerable achievements. As a paradigmatic personality, Muhammad has an important lesson not only for Muslims but also for Western people”