For almost a decade I have felt a growing mandate to demystify the women married to Muhammad. At this time, more than ever, we need to know about the cultural origins of our sisters on the other side of the globe. These untranslated women, who stood in the first light of Islam, have buried stories. Here are several: Khadija is a wealthy businesswoman who hires young Muhammad; Hafsa is saved from divorce by Angel Gabriel, Zaynab, a married first cousin, experiences a moment of passion with Muhammad, Umm Salama saves a vital peace treaty and Aisha tells of death of the Prophet. These are stories known in the Arab-speaking world. My book of poems and history is called Married to Muhammad: Untold History of the Prophet’s Wives. I am fortunate to have good resources: rudimentary Qu’ranic Arabic study; scholarly guidance, travel in the Middle East, and three decades as a seeker on the path of American Sufism.
The project was conceived after an inspired time with Moroccan Sufi women, sharing their bold, joyful gatherings. I began to research the Prophet’s wives, and was drawn into the historically based poem. I respectfully endeavor to glimpse and share the lives of these amazing and powerful women who witnessed Muhammad’s daily life at a time when “Islam” meant peaceful surrender of one’s heart to God.