A provocative new interpretation of the origins of Islam that focuses on Muhammad's vision of peace, by the preeminent Middle East expert and blogger of Informed Comment Master storyteller and history professor Juan Cole weaves a vibrant historical narrative with rich textual analysis to bring to life the fascinating and complex world in which the Prophet Muhammad lived and taught. Cole examines the roots of Islam by going back to its origin story--that of an orphan boy in search of meaning, community, and sanctuary, a young merchant committed to living in a peaceful society and a prophet who wanted to spread his vision of peace while respecting tribal mores and tradition. He shows how Muslims non-violently resisted the pressures from the pagan elite, and describes the ways in which peacemaking informed the lives of many of the prophets described in the Qur'an. In this fresh, deeply researched exploration of Muhammad's life and times, Cole delivers a portrait of an era of breathtaking geopolitical shifts as titanic forces from Rome to Persia battled for the soul of the Middle East. Skillfully countering the established Western narrative of Islam as a religion of violence and war, Juan Cole presents a history that is both eye-opening and utterly original.