School of Religion

Dr. Juan Cole, University of Michigan, will be making a presentation on his recent book, Muhammad: Prophet of Peace amid the Clash of Empires, online Tuesday, October 6th, 5:30pm via Facebook Live at  This lecture organized by Muslim Societies-Global Perspectives is co-sponsored by the School of Religion, Department of History, and Office of Faith and Spiritual Life. Poster attached.

In the midst of the dramatic seventh-century war between two empires, Muhammad was a spiritual seeker in search of community and sanctuary. Many observers stereotype Islam and its scripture as inherently extreme or violent – a narrative that has overshadowed the truth of its roots. In this masterfully told account, preeminent Middle East expert Juan Cole takes us back to Islam’s – and the Prophet Muhammad’s – origin story. Cole shows how Muhammad came of age in an era of unparalleled violence. The eastern Roman Empire and the Sasanian Empire of Iran fought savagely throughout the Near East and Asia Minor. Muhammad’s profound distress at the carnage of his times led him to envision an alternative movement, one firmly grounded in peace. The religion Muhammad founded, Islam, spread widely during his lifetime, relying on soft power instead of military might, and sought armistices even when militarily attacked. Cole sheds light on this forgotten history, reminding us that in the Qur’an, the legacy of that spiritual message endures. 

Juan Cole, PhD, is an American academic and commentator on the modern Middle East and South Asia. He is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan. Since 2002, he has written a weblog, Informed Comment, which is also syndicated on  He is the author of numerous books, including ‘Modernity & the Millenium’, ‘Colonialism and Revolution in the Middle East’, and ‘Engaging the Muslim World’.