Those acquainted with the book will wonder why it has taken so long for a story so graphically told, characters so roundly formed, written in language so accessible to all, to be transferred into an audio book. We have to thank Meem Audio and Sean Barrett for their endeavours and accomplishment of this.
Lings' sources have been the words of men and women who heard Muhammad (may God's peace and blessings be upon him) speak and witnessed his life. He translated these works from the original Arabic, many for the first time, using his unusual gift for narrative in a style, which is fresh and direct.
The reading by Sean Barrett, although it loses some of the intricate detail, as one would expect from an abridged version, is fluent, lucid and retains one's attention throughout.
He begins with the story of Abraham, quoting from the Book of Genesis, and follows the fortunes of Hagar, his second wife, from the expulsion from Canaan with her son Ishmael, to the finding of Zamzam and the establishment of the holy centre in the Valley of Becca (later to become known the world over as Mecca). We are given a brief chronology of the noble ancestry of Muhammad (may God's peace and blessings be upon him), taken through his childhood to the eminent position he held as 'Al Amin' (the Trustworthy), in Meccan society before receiving Prophethood. The trials and tribulations of the early Meccan period followed by the triumphs of the first Islamic state in Medina are told in a manner, which engage the emotions of the listener. The work ends recounting the death of the 'beloved of God' in Medina.
Sean Barrett reads with good pronunciation of Arabic. The tone and tempo vary appropriately with the different events being told, giving a sense of urgency at times such as battles and comfortable wellbeing at others. The story is easy to follow partly because of Barrett's clear voice but mostly because of the simplicity of the narrative. It comes as no surprise that the author approved the abridgement, which remains true to the story.
At the end of the reading I found myself so involved that I did not want it to finish for fear of losing the connection that the work had helped me to establish with Muhammad (may God's peace and blessings be upon him). This should prompt many to pick up the book to get additional details and richness that by necessity must be edited out of a six-hour reading of the story of the life of the greatest man to have lived on this earth.