Ron Messier’s debut novel, The Mapmaker and the Pope, is one of intrigue, adventure, and discovery. It takes the reader along with the protagonist Hakeem on a journey throughout most of the tenth-century Muslim world. As a student in Baghdad, Hakeem is lured, after the murder of a friend, into the current political/religious rivalries among competing caliphates. He becomes a spy for the Fatimids at the same time he is recording his journeys and producing his map of the known world. His encounter with the young Christian monk, Gerbert d’Aurillac, who will become Pope Sylvester II and who is bent upon mapping the sky as Hakeem is doing with the earth, is fascinating. As the two become fast friends, they enhance not only their learning, but also their awareness of how much their faiths have in common. No one is better positioned to tell their story than Dr. Ron Messier, a scholar, archaeologist, and Christian, who has spent a lifetime studying and teaching Muslim history and culture. Readers have much to learn from this intriguing novel. Award Winning Author, June Hall McCash
What others have said about Jesus: One Man, Two Faiths:
Although a scholarly work, the book clearly desires to replace endless debate with fruitful conversation: “Praying together would carry with it a willingness to dialogue, to dialogue with self, to dialogue with the other, and possibly to dialogue with the Spirit of God.” Messier’s writing will be impressively accessible to the layperson and tries to illuminate a theologically defensible path to détente between two rival faiths. (This second edition helpfully includes more material on Judaism, as well.) Full review. Kirkus Reviews
“The need to know one another and to respect one another as well as the ability to coexist peacefully in a pluralistic world has become imperative. Ron Messier expresses this connection between Muslims and Christians through the live of Jesus (peace be upon Him).” Dr. Awadh Binhazim
“He (Ron Messier) skillfully uses his knowledge and experience to clarify who Jesus is to the descendants of Abraham and how we share much in our understanding of Jesus. It is a must read for everyone in these troubled times.” The Rev. James K. Polk Van Zandt
“His (Ron Messier’s) command of Christian and Islamic teachings is strong, and his ability to facilitate dialogue between these two faiths is masterful. Read, share, and talk about this book.” Rabbi Rami Shapiro
Set along the Sahara’s edge, Sijilmasa was an African El Dorado, a legendary city of gold. But unlike El Dorado, Sijilmasa was a real city, the pivot in the gold trade between ancient Ghana and the Mediterranean world. Following its emergence as an independent city-state controlling a monopoly on gold during its first 250 years, Sijilmasa was incorporated into empire—Almoravid, Almohad, and onward—leading to the “last civilized place” becoming the cradle of today’s Moroccan dynasty, the Alaouites. Sijilmasa’s millennium of greatness ebbed with periods of war, renewal, and abandonment. Today, its ruins lie adjacent to and under the modern town of Rissani, bypassed by time.
WINNER OF L. CARL BROWN AIMS BOOK PRIZE FOR 2016, AWARDED FOR BEST BOOK IN NORTH AFRICAN STUDIES.
This is a French translation of The Last Civilized Place: Sijilmasa and its Saharan Destiny.
“With trenchant analysis, Messier explains in vivid prose how and why the Almoravids forged a vast empire, which was tied to understandings of what it meant in those times to be a Muslim, as well as intertwined interpretations of jihad and notions of tribal solidarity.” Professor Julia Clancy-Smith
“Historically minded travelers to Spain and Morocco would do well to carry this important work in their backpacks to enrich their journey in the footsteps of the Almoravids, their allies, and their opponents whose exploits shaped those lands and whose legacies are still everywhere apparent.” Professor Kenneth J. Perkins.
“In this book, Ronald Messier leads us on a wonderful journey across the Sahara desert to the heartlands of Morocco and Muslim Spain…Messier has discovered a new voice as a master storyteller.” Professor Said Ennahid