“Vital” –The New York Times Book Review

“Provocative…[Hazleton] paddles the river of doubt with energy and exuberance.” –The Seattle Times

A widely admired writer on religion celebrates agnosticism as the most vibrant, engaging—and ultimately the most honest—stance toward the mysteries of existence.

One in four Americans reject any affiliation with organized religion, and nearly half of those under thirty describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” But as the airwaves resound with the haranguing of preachers and pundits, who speaks for the millions who find no joy in whittling the wonder of existence to a simple yes/no choice?

Lesley Hazleton does. In this provocative, brilliant book, she gives voice to the case for agnosticism, breaks it free of its stereotypes as watered-down atheism or amorphous “seeking,” and celebrates it as a reasoned, revealing, and sustaining stance toward life. Stepping over the lines imposed by rigid conviction, she draws on philosophy, theology, psychology, science, and more to explore, with curiosity and passion, the vital role of mystery in a deceptively information-rich world; to ask what we mean by the search for meaning; to invoke the humbling yet elating perspective of infinity; to challenge received ideas about death; and to reconsider what “the soul” might be. Inspired and inspiring, Agnostic recasts the question of belief not as a problem to be solved but as an invitation to an ongoing, open-ended adventure of the mind.
  ※TED百萬點閱作家─海澤爾頓─歷史書寫的顛峰之作。
  ※Amazon亞馬遜4.5顆星好評,高掛「伊斯蘭」分類暢銷榜7年。
  
  穆罕默德突然逝世,誰能繼承他來領導新興的伊斯蘭世界?
  近親、愛妻、大臣、新舊追隨者,各有盤算。
  為信仰,為生存,也為名利權勢。
  先知尚未入土,危機已然爆發。
  
  繼任的哈里發接連遇刺,接班之爭淪為恐怖內戰。
  「穆斯林不讓穆斯林流血」的神聖禁忌被打破,
  連先知的子孫都慘遭毒手……
  
  西元632年,在經歷了將近二十年艱辛的佈道與抗爭之後,穆罕默德終於率領新興的穆斯林信眾返回麥加,為阿拉伯社會帶來繁榮與和平。但誰也想不到,正當伊斯蘭如旭日東升之際,六十三歲的穆罕默德突然倒下。難以置信的是,九位妻子沒有為他留下一名男嗣,他生前亦無指定繼承人。誰將在先知之後領導大家?無人知曉。有血緣之親的堂弟?最忠實可靠的老臣?富貴瀟灑的女婿?即使暫時取得共識,繼任的哈里發――即「穆罕默德的繼承人」――也無法服眾。野心勃勃、老奸巨猾的總督暗地裡伺機而動,圖謀大位……
  
  後宮遺孀較勁、部落首領鬥爭、新信仰與舊傳統的矛盾、貴族與平民的利益爭奪,星星野火悶燒不止。二十多年後,內戰終於爆發!第四任哈里發阿里,即穆罕默德的堂弟、養子、兼女婿,試圖力挽狂瀾卻無力回天,萬般無奈下與穆罕默德最寵愛的遺孀阿伊夏兵戎相見,為後續更血腥的屠殺寫下第一頁。先知的智慧與福音無法阻攔後人的貪欲與痴迷。
  
  西元680年,在今日伊拉克的卡爾巴拉,胡笙──阿里之子、穆罕默德的外孫,亦即他在人世間的唯一男性血親──也壯烈赴義。為追念先知的血脈、敬仰阿里與胡笙高貴的情操,他們的支持者成為什葉派的先驅。「什葉」,在阿拉伯文裡,即阿里的追隨者。
  
  《先知之後》共分三篇,分別以先知穆罕默德、阿里、胡笙為主角,旁及穆罕默德的近親、參與傳教事業的重要信徒,以及阿拉伯帝國興起之初的權臣與野心家。他們共同譜寫伊斯蘭歷史的早期篇章。
  
  作者萊思麗.海澤爾頓著作等身,但《先知之後》可謂其顛峰代表作。她廣泛參考多元的史料,大量引用阿拉伯文學中的詩歌與民謠,細心揣摩關鍵歷史人物的性格、思維與困境,在呈現客觀史實之外,更帶領讀者深入體察人物的內心世界,探索他們的悲喜哀樂、野心與信心、親痛仇快的人性弱點,與知其不可而為之的崇高美德。
  
  在縱覽歷史浮沉與人物哀歌之外,本書讀者亦可以思考:究竟什麼是宗教?屬靈的世界是否永遠不可能獨立於塵世俗務而存在?什麼是政治?好人是否終究不可能在充滿權謀算計的政治中生存?
  
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  如《舊約》全書般的詳細,如《甄嬛傳》般的可讀性。在宛如咀嚼小說的過程中,消化了伊斯蘭世界的歷史恩怨。――公孫策,《黎民恨:王莽篡漢到光武中興的人心離變》、《大唐風:帝國盛極而衰 詩人隨波浮沉》等書作者

  《先知之後》是非虛構歷史寫作登峰造極之作,戲劇張力十足的悲劇不僅情感充沛,而且具有深刻的政治意涵――亞瑪遜書評

  精彩萬分!這是一個關於人性弱點、政治鬥爭、以及最深刻的信仰的故事。海澤爾頓一方面展現了學者的嚴謹性,一方面也顯示出她對書中主角――那些與我們並沒有不同且深深左右這個世界的穆斯林――的關愛。――《達拉斯晨報》

  《先知之後》不僅清楚地說明了伊斯蘭大分裂的事實,更善用代代相傳的口述傳說,刻畫出卡爾巴拉事件背後慘痛的犧牲與偉大的情懷――《西雅圖時報》

  帶著人溺己溺的同情心,海澤爾頓成功地述說了什葉與遜尼如何分裂的史詩故事。隨著作者文筆的遊走,西方讀者將對伊斯蘭早期深刻的大分裂的敬意將油然而生。――韋佛‧麥德隆(Wilferd Madelung),牛津大學阿拉伯語教授,《穆罕默德的繼承人》作者

  我很遺憾海澤爾頓沒早一點把這本書寫出來,讓唐納‧倫斯斐、保羅‧伍夫維茲等人魯莽地入侵伊拉克之前好好看一看,以致於他們對穆斯林的宗教背景一無所知。但其他讀者就能好整以暇地透過海澤爾頓書中有血有肉的人物、生動活潑的文筆、扣人心弦的故事,瞭解什葉、遜尼大分裂的起源與影響――強納森‧魯班,《我的聖地》作者

  小布希總統很可能根本不知道穆斯林分為什葉與遜尼兩派。但有了海澤爾頓這本令人欲罷不能的書,沒人可以再說不瞭解這個分裂的實情與意義了。――艾倫‧伍夫(Alan Wolfe),《自由主義的未來》作者
“Vital” –The New York Times Book Review

“Provocative…[Hazleton] paddles the river of doubt with energy and exuberance.” –The Seattle Times

A widely admired writer on religion celebrates agnosticism as the most vibrant, engaging—and ultimately the most honest—stance toward the mysteries of existence.

One in four Americans reject any affiliation with organized religion, and nearly half of those under thirty describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” But as the airwaves resound with the haranguing of preachers and pundits, who speaks for the millions who find no joy in whittling the wonder of existence to a simple yes/no choice?

Lesley Hazleton does. In this provocative, brilliant book, she gives voice to the case for agnosticism, breaks it free of its stereotypes as watered-down atheism or amorphous “seeking,” and celebrates it as a reasoned, revealing, and sustaining stance toward life. Stepping over the lines imposed by rigid conviction, she draws on philosophy, theology, psychology, science, and more to explore, with curiosity and passion, the vital role of mystery in a deceptively information-rich world; to ask what we mean by the search for meaning; to invoke the humbling yet elating perspective of infinity; to challenge received ideas about death; and to reconsider what “the soul” might be. Inspired and inspiring, Agnostic recasts the question of belief not as a problem to be solved but as an invitation to an ongoing, open-ended adventure of the mind.
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