Conflicted

Untangling history’s greatest controversies

Every month, host Zach Cornwell takes a hard look at the historical conflicts that raise difficult questions, stoke controversy, and send our moral compasses spinning.

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The Prophet is dead. In 632 AD, the armies of Islam explode out of Arabia, led by a series of aggressive new Caliphs. The Prophet’s young widow Aisha struggles to understand her new role as “Mother of the Faithful”. Meanwhile, Ali, snubbed for the title of Caliph, grapples with his conflicting feelings of bitterness and commitment to the stability of the Muslim community. All the while, an ambitious new rival, Muawiya, schemes and cajoles his way to absolute control over the new Islamic Empire.

THE CAST:

Aisha – The Prophet’s widow. “Mother of the Faithful”. Brave, jealous, and calculating.

Muawiya – Rising star. “Son of the Liver Eater." A master politician, ruthless and cunning.

Ali – The Prophet’s son-in-law. “Lion of God”. The Fourth Caliph.

Abu Bakr – Aisha’s father; The Prophet’s oldest friend. The First Caliph.

Umar – Hothead, bruiser, warlord; The Second Caliph.

Uthman – “He of the Two Lights”; Corrupt and controversial. The Third Caliph.

Muhammed – The Prophet. A merchant-turned-messenger from God.

Fatima – Wife of Ali. Daughter of Muhammed. Mother to Hussein.

Hussein – Grandson of the Prophet. Murdered at Karbala. Martyr of the Shi’a faith.

SOURCES:

Humphreys, Steven. Mu’awiya ibn abi Sufyan: The Savior of the Caliphate. 2006.

Madelung, Wilferd. The Succession to Muhammad: A Study of the Early Caliphate. 1996.

Kennedy, Hugh. The Great Arab Conquests: How the Spread of Islam Changed the World We Live In. 2007.

Shah-Kazemi, Reza. Imam ‘Ali: From Concise History to Timeless Mystery. 2019.

Hazleton, Lesley. The First Muslim: The Story of Muhammed. 2013.

Hazleton, Lesley. After The Prophet: The Epic Story of the Shi’a-Sunni Split in Islam. 2009.

Louer, Laurence. Sunnis and Shi’a: A Political History. 2020.

Hoyland, Robert G. In God’s Path: The Arab Conquests and the Creation of an Islamic Empire. 2014.

Betts, Robert Brenton. The Sunni-Shi’a Divide. 2013.

Charles Rivers Editors. The History of the Sunni and Shia Split: Understanding the Divisions Within Islam.2014.

Armstrong, Karen Keishin. Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time. 2007.

Cole, Juan. Muhammed: Prophet of Peace Amid the Clash of Empires. 2018.

Safi, Omid. Memories of Muhammed. 2009.

Holland, Tom. The Shadow of the Sword: The Birth of Islam and the Rise of the Global Arab Empire. 2012.

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The Team

Zach Cornwell

Host, Producer, Writer
An advertising creative by trade and a history enthusiast at heart, Zach is the creator, writer, and producer of the show. Hailing from Dallas, TX, he’s most at ease with a book in one hand and a brisket taco in the other.