Untold: A History of the Wives of Prophet Muhammad will be released Fall 2010 as a Monkfish Books in paperback, available in bookstores and on Amazon at that time. ”Untold” is a biographical narrative based on actual historical material with 70 poems embedded in the prose. <> <> <> <>
from the opening poem: who do you think you are:
…I am a pilgrim, a pen with child’s heart,
following the foremothers through
doors shut on centuries of stolen words, across
floors now hushed in Saudi cement, down
steps to the cellar filled with the Hijaz story-jars.
Unsealed, the jars open their mouths,
speak to me. I listen…..
Note from the author: Untold has been out in Limited Edition Hardcover for almost three months. I am starting to get used to having a book in my life. There are readings, most recently in Colorado: Denver, Fort Collins, and Boulder. I presented at Patrick D’Silva’s Islamic Studies class at Naropa University in Boulder, and the “Allen Ginsberg Library” there ordered the book. That was a great delight for me, as I feel this book belongs in libraries, where curious students can investigate the nearly 20 pages of end notes and learn about these brave women, nearly unknown except in Muslim communitites. I read in Cambridge for 70 people last weekend, and prepare to go to Arcata, California in a couple weeks. Before that, a by-invitation reading in Petaluma. The “galleys” are here, and look like my book on a diet, slim and marked with black letters, as in the photo. I begin to contact bookstores for fall and winter readings. I am working up enthusiasm for “the business of books.” Remembering that “author” has to do with “authentic.”
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 but not in the West. 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.
Comments from Distinguished Readers:
“Your book fills a great need, and does so with beauty.” Pir Zia Inayat Khan
<>”Untold is a riveting hen-house of delight, a book based on subjects our society finds endlessly confusing — marriage, matriarchy, and Muhammad. Finally, we get to meet the first women of Islam. Tamam, thank you for doing this brave book.” ~ Coleman Barks, author, The Essential Rumi.
<>”This book is a movement to remind us that the prophetic experience and revolution are inner as well as outer, and beyond time or place. The women on these pages have as much to tell us now as they did then. Tamam has created a new genre of Islamic literature. Through her poetry she draws us to the Mothers of Islam by illustrating, exemplifying, and embodying actual human beings. Her vibrant words provide a doorway to the Wives of the Prophet.” ~ Arthur F. Buehler (A.M., Ph.D. Harvard) Senior Lecturer, Islamic Studies, Victoria University, Wellington, New Zealand (2004–present),
<>”Untold takes us on Taman Kahn’s moving, personal journey of discovery, to unveil the hidden history of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad. The book frees the authentic voice of these women, who came from many different backgrounds and who played an essential role in the origins of Islam. Ms Kahn steers a middle course between Western religious prejudice and uncritical hagiography by finding the poetry hidden between the lines of reported history, itself written mostly by men. As such, this book is part of a larger movement that seeks to reclaim the voices of women prophets and saints of all traditions.” ~ Saadi, Dr Neil Douglas-Klotz, author of The Sufi Book of Life and co-author of The Tent of Abraham.
<>”Swimming amid “the names of God,” Tamam Kahn has written a brilliant and illuminating book, equally awesome in the depth of its research, the grace of its prose, and the beauty of its poetic voices. Untold should be read with joy by any reader who hopes to transcend current stereotypes about Islam. It is a bridge between worlds.” ~ Alicia Ostriker, poet and critic, author of The Volcano Sequence, and of Feminist Revision and the Bible, The Nakedness of the Fathers: Biblical Visions and Revisions and Professor Emerita of English at Rutgers University.
“In a sustained act of spirited research and imagination, Tamam Kahn brings Muhammad’s wives and daughters out of the shadows and into the light. The women of ‘Untold’ have at last found their perfect teller, in voices so gemlike and clear that one wants to chant them aloud, dance to them, celebrate with them.” ~ Lesley Hazleton, author, After the Prophet: The epic Story of the Shia Sunni Split in Islam.
Notes from generous readers!
“When I read the book, it made me so happy, because what you did was so brave – I’m sure I could never have done it. But seeing you read from this book gives me a dose of courage that I now have under my belt – for later …It opened a door onto my imagination about the women around the Prophet (saws) which brought them to life in a way that no standard biographical information had. With your poetry, I realized that I too, could simply imagine them as flesh and blood women, with feelings of jealousy and grief and courage and fierceness and impatience. …I thank you for opening that door for me.” Salama Wendy McLaughlin, Host, KWMR Sufi Radio
“The prose was like sipping a sweet mint tea; delicious – then a poem would drop in like an ice cube, bringing crystal clarity and emotion, changing the experience but not the taste.” ~ Dechen
“I am amazed at your scholarship and courage to put this information out to the world. Saadi used the adjective “brave” and I agree. The poetry is lovely and helps me see what it was like to be the wife of a controversial figure. Thank you for helping me SEE. ~ Fadhilla
“I received Tamam’s beautiful book, Untold, yesterday. It is a real gem! What a treasure.” ~ Arlene
“Your wonderful UNTOLD is now in the woods of Maine. I will spread your words.” ~Henry
“The personal entwined with the historical narrative to hold the poems is so wonderful. I didn’t know how starving I was for this until you let me taste!” ~ Basira