Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and the Women in His Life

        Dearest M, Where do we go from here? For the last year I have been writing you these letters like a distant admirer. But I don’t want to stay at a remove any longer. I want to be as close to you as I possibly can. And more than that: I [Read More…]

Feminine Symbols in Islam

    Islam and the Divine Feminine? Really? Yes, as improbable as it may seem, really. In our times we have become so accustomed to a male-dominated, authoritarian and repressive interpretation of Islam that has all but eliminated the feminine dimension from our spiritual life causing serious imbalances in our lives, our communities and our [Read More…]

If You Only Knew This About The Prophet

  This is the fifth in my series of 11 Love Letters to the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. Dearest M, Everyone who knew you agrees about one thing. “He had a smile of incomparable charm,” writes one Western scholar. She’s going by accounts from written sources, descriptions used by your earliest [Read More…]

Is Love Shelved Under “L”?

My heart knocked against my ribs as I took the stairs two at a time. “The library will be closing at 8 o’clock,” announced a crisp voice over the loudspeaker, though the area of London I was in is one of the least nominally English. Bearded men and women in hijabs speaking Urdu and Arabic [Read More…]

Sitting with Holy Women

We sat in our circle in a bright hall, the sunbeams highlighting dust motes in the air. Our teacher was beginning the invocation before we began our loud zhikr together. He said the familiar words to welcome all the prophets and saints into our remembrance, our hearts, our gathering. And for what felt like the [Read More…]

Of Saints and Matchmakers

As I was growing up, Islam’s benevolent female saints existed in my imagination as otherworldly matchmakers. Common features of my family’s infrequent summer holidays with relatives in Egypt were visits to mosques enclosing the shrines of Sayyida Zainab and Sayyida Nafisa, two descendants of the Prophet Muhammad who have come to be regarded as Cairo’s [Read More…]