The Scimitar and the Veil: Extraordinary Women of Islam

The Scimitar and the Veil: Extraordinary Women of Islam

by Jennifer Heath
     
 

It is often said that two-thirds of the religion of Islam was handed down by women and one-third was shaped by women. "Of worldly things," the Prophet Muhammad said, "women and fragrance are made dear to me and the comfort of my eyes is made in prayer."

Muhammad was born to a widowed mother, tended by a female slave, and fostered by a Bedouin woman. Throughout… See more details below

Overview

It is often said that two-thirds of the religion of Islam was handed down by women and one-third was shaped by women. "Of worldly things," the Prophet Muhammad said, "women and fragrance are made dear to me and the comfort of my eyes is made in prayer."

Muhammad was born to a widowed mother, tended by a female slave, and fostered by a Bedouin woman. Throughout his life, women were among his closest friends and companions, and they fought by his side for Islam. His marriage to Khadija, a wealthy businesswoman from Mecca, was long, fruitful and faithful. She was the first to convert to Islam, and she bore Muhammad four daughters whom he greatly adored. He relied on one of his later wives, Umm Salamah, for sage military and political advice, and he experienced Revelations in the presence of his wife Aisha. It is no exaggeration to say that the community of Muslims worldwide originated with women.

The Scimitar and the Veil is the first popular history and overview of Muslim women and their great accomplishments. It portrays over fifty extraordinary Muslim women, from the birth of Islam in the 7th century CE through the 19th century, including women who played a crucial role in Muhammad's life, as well as scholars of the Hadith, saints and mystics, queens and warriors, rebels and concubines, and outstanding poets, musicians, and storytellers.

Based on sources ranging from Swahili lore to Persian pageant plays to Muslim feminist writings to the explorations of Western scholars of Islam, The Scimitar and the Veil is written in a poetic, energetic, contemporary and sometimes humorous style that will appeal to a broad range of readings. Jennifer Heath has collected and crafted a great treasure of knowledge about the women of Islam into one fascinating provocative, and beautiful book.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In this sympathetic presentation, Heath (The Echoing Green: The Garden in Myth and Memory) introduces a bevy of Islamic women, from the Prophet Mohammed's household through 19th-century poets, queens, slaves, concubines, and mystics. She hopes thereby to rehabilitate or redeem the image of Islamic culture, and its women in particular, for Western readers. While successful at placing the women in historical and cultural context and distinguishing among between Arabic, Turkish, Asian, and African Muslim women, she is less successful at channeling these women, i.e., finding "the kernel around which the fruit of the story could swell and ripen." Instead of offering a "parched recitation of events," she often paints rosy pictures. For example, the controversial Khurrem, wife of Suleyman the Great, is portrayed as a loving, devoted wife and not the originator of vicious court intrigues. Overall, Heath lacks a certain critical eye that might pose a problem for those well versed in these characters. For more scholarly critiques of the culture of Islam, academic libraries should still rely on books by Karen Armstrong or Edward Said. Nevertheless, this is a worthy addition to libraries serving general readers.-Sandra Collins, Univ. of Pittsburgh Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
2940044431676
Publisher:
Jennifer Heath
Publication date:
04/06/2013
Sold by:
Smashwords
Format:
NOOK Book
File size:
1 MB

What People are saying about this

Daisy Khan
The Scimitar and the Veil is a delightful read! Jennifer Heath has drawn a discerning historical portrait of women in Islam, rich with the teachers, rulers, rebels and seductresses whose legacies of empowerment continue to shape the lives of Muslim women today. What better way to silence the uninformed cries against Islam than to let the bold and sparkling lives of powerful Muslim women speak for themselves.
Executive Director, ASMA Society (American Sufi Muslim Association)
Michael Wolfe
If you thought you knew what being a Muslim woman was all about, read again! [Scimitar & the Veil] takes the reader, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, into mind-expanding territory.
author of Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith
Alex Kronemer
Jennifer Heath smashes the stereotype that Muslim women only exist as second class citizens. The Scimitar and the Veil tells the amazing stories of just some of the extraordinary women who shaped Islamic history, beginning with the women who deeply influenced the life of Muhammad and profoundly impacted the early development of the religion. If you want to better understand the lives of Muslim women in all their incredible complexity and diversity, read this book.
producer of the PBS documentary Muhammad: Legacy of a Prophet

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