After The Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shia-Sunni Split Author: Lesley Hazleton Publisher: Anchor; Pgs: 256 Historians have been tracing out the facts that led to the foundations of the split between the Muslims and the genesis of two major schools of thought in Islam; the Sunnis and Shias. The evolution and growth of these two schools has widened the gulf amongst them. When there are clashes amongst religious groups, there are communities that benefit from this attitude of the people belonging to the same religion but having different views. Lesley Hazleton, in her book, After the Prophet: The Epic story of Shia-Sunni Split in Islam, presents an account of different events that, according to her, are possibly responsible for the split between the Shia and Sunni schools of thought of Islam. The events starting from the life of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) of Mecca till the martyrdom of Hussein, the grandson of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) are described. To give authenticity to the reports, the writer has utilised pioneer historical works on Islamic history by Ibn Ishaq and Abu Jaffar al-Tabari. These two historians belonged to different schools of thought; Ibn Ishaq was of the Shia school whilst Al-Tabari belonged to the Sunni school of thought. The affair of the necklace, the people of the cloak, the episode of pen and paper, the battle of the camel, the secret letter, the night of shrieking and the happening of Karbala are some of the events included in the book. Though the incidents are presented well, Lesley Hazleton, like other western writers, refrains from accepting the migration of Muhammad (PBUH) of Mecca as a migration because she uses the word “flight” for his migration as does Michael H Hart in his best seller The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential People in History. Flight is escape, which is entirely different from the idea of migration. Lesley appreciates the features of the events where both schools — the Sunnis and the Shias — are united and castigates both school of thoughts where they have clashes and conflicts. The use of language for castigation and praise shows the writer’s capability of using language adequately, rhetorically and efficiently. As stated above, the writer uses the information presented by Al-Tabari in his historical books so the point of presenting invalid and wrong information does not arise. She makes some new points that are quite interesting and the way she develops questions catch the interest of the reader makes him/her more analytical in their approach. The book has been divided into three parts: Muhammad (PBUH), Ali and Hussein. The first part, ‘Muhammad’ (PBUH), reveals the affair of the necklace and the advice of Ali to the Holy Prophet (PBUH) made at that moment. This is the first point where the clash between the Sunnis and Shias started. “There are many women like her,” he said. “God has freed you from constraints. She is easily replaced.” This was the advice to the Prophet (PBUH) from his cousin, which made Hazrat Ayesha not talk to Ali for times to come, not even in the days when Muhammad (PBUH) was in his sickroom. Later, we are told the episode of the pen and paper when the Holy Prophet (PBUH) asked for a pen and paper so that he could write his will but it was never provided to him as the people around him were, perhaps, afraid that he would mention Ali as his heir in the will. Sunnis and Shias have different explanations for this incident. “Bring me writing materials that I may write something for you, after which you will not be led into error,” he said. With the selection of Abu Bakr, this part closes. The second part of the book is titled ‘Ali’ and this division presents a sketch of 25 years when Ali had to wait for his turn to be selected as the heir of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), as recounted by Hazleton. Two battles were also fought between Muslims and the murderers of Ali (Kawariji group) who considered that the demise of Ali, Amir Muawiyah and Amr bin Aas would end the marathon conflict for acquiring the throne of the Islamic empire. Abu Bakr was selected as the caliph of the Muslims in the shura that was placed just after the demise and before the burial of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and, according to the Shia accounts the “years of dust and thorns” started for Ali. For the next 25 years he waited for his turn and it was a rebellion against Usman, the third caliph, which ended with the murder of Usman and placing Ali by those rebels on the throne. Revenge, yes, the demand of revenge for the blood of Usman and delay in giving it became the reason behind two wars — the War of the Camel and the War of Siffin — which resulted in the killings of thousands of Muslims. At last, the Khwarij planned the assassination of Ali, the caliph, Amr bin Aas, the governor of Egypt, and Muawiyah bin Abu Sufyan, the governor of Syria, but Amr and Muawiyah survived and Ali could not endure. As a result of this, Hasan, the eldest son of Ali, did not try to get the throne and withdrew in favour of Muawiyah. Under the heading of ‘Hussein’ the third part starts. The incident of Karbala occurs and later on the philosophy behind this incident is utilised by Ali Shariati, an Iranian sociology professor in the 1970s against the monarchy in Iran. Hussein, the grandson of Muhammad (PBUH) of Mecca receives thousands of letters from the people of Kufa against the atrocities of Yazid, the new heir to the Muslim throne and the son of Muawiyah. Though Hussein is warned of the disloyalty of Kufis, yet he continues his travel with only 72 members of his family; at last he is deceived by the Kufis and receives martyrdom with members of his family. The writer, in the end, describes the 2006 attacks in Samarra, Iraq that were made against the Shia community just like the attacks of 2004 as she describes in the prologue and views that it has become difficult for Shias to keep their identity intact. Moreover, countries like the US and the UK have been exploiting these discrepancies between Shias and Sunnis to gain their own political and financial goals. Lesley Hazelton has successfully presented the events she collected from different historical books but she, at some points, seems to be supporting a particular point of view and she, for this purpose, uses language rhetorically. It is easy for a common reader to be influenced by the style in which these points are presented, but if the reader studies the book with some pre-knowledge on the topic, the biasness can be coped with critical analysis of historical accounts. The reviewer is an MPhil scholar at Air University, Islamabad.