It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single worshipper in possession of a good conviction must be in want of a narrative. Consider the Divine Comedy, the Ramayana and The Conference of the Birds. These ancient compositions are literary masterpieces, but they also figure as works of significant religious worth. That we have imagined them as such suggests that the cornerstone of belief is premised on the idea that human beings are meaning-seeking creatures. To us, a profound narrative must surely denote divine authorship.

One can argue that it is this very quest for meaning that drove multitudes in medieval Arabia to embrace the coherent theology spoken through Muhammad, an unlettered man whose God-inspired poetic verses were first committed to print as the Qur’an by his trusted friend and Islam’s first caliph Abu Bakr before they were codified as a standard text on the instruction of Uthman ibn Affan, the third caliph.

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