Oxford UP came out this year with a new book on the personality of the Prophet (saw) by Tariq Ramadan, In the Footsteps of the Prophet.
This work is exceptional among the many English books on the life of Prophet Muhammad (saw). It is not a biography or a seerah. Unfortunately, many of the English seerah books are dry, academic and strictly factual, conveying little of the spirit and soul of the greatest man who ever lived. While there are a number of books that take a different approach in Arabic, they have not yet been translated. It is sometimes hard to foster deep love for the Prophet when all of the English seerah books focus on when, where, how.
This book takes a very different approach, not attempting to cover or even give an overview of the chronological events, but rather attempting to capture the spirit of the Prophet's life. Who was he, really? What made the companions love him more deeply than their own souls, and what can we do to foster that same love in ourselves?
I thought this book was a wonderful companion to someone who is reading the seerah, which is an essential component of our Muslim identity. It's my kind of armchair book: mesmerizing language, easy flow, thought-provoking notions. I might write a few posts on some of the ideas in the book.