Welcome to By the Chapter. This week’s featured book is Mother of the Believers: A Novel of the Birth of Islam by Kamran Pasha. I am hosting By The Chapter this week with Marcia from The Printed Page. By the Chapter is a regular feature at The Printed Page, so stop over there to see the other good books Marcia will be discussing.
If you’re not familiar with Mother of the Believers: A Novel of the Birth of Islam here’s a little background on the book from FSB Associates:
Deep in the desert of seventh century Arabia, a new prophet named Muhammad has arisen. After he beholds a beautiful woman in a vision and resolves to marry her, the girl’s father quickly arranges the wedding. Aisha becomes the youngest of Muhammad’s twelve wives and her feisty nature and fierce intelligence establishes her as his favorite. But when Aisha is accused of adultery by her rivals, she loses the Prophet’s favor—and must fight to prove her innocence.
Pardoned by her husband after a divine revelation clears her name, Aisha earns the reluctant respect of Muslim men when their settlement in Medina is attacked and she becomes a pivotal player on the battlefield. Muhammad’s religious movement sweeps through Arabia and unifies the warring tribes, transforming him from prophet to statesman. But soon after the height of her husband’s triumph—the conquest of the holy city of Mecca—Muhammad falls ill and dies in Aisha’s arms.
A widow at age nineteen, Aisha fights to create a role for herself in the new Muslim empire—becoming an advisor to the Caliph of Islam, a legislator advocating for the rights of women and minorities, a teacher, and ultimately a warrior and military commander. She soon becomes one of the most powerful women in the Middle East, but her passionate nature leads to tragedy when her opposition to the Caliph plunges the Islamic world into civil war. The women of Islam view her as a hero, but Aisha is filled with uncertainty and regret whenever she considers her legacy.
I don’t have too much to say since, I’m at the point where I won’t know what I think until I finish reading the book. Pasha doesn’t really delve into any of the personal aspects of his characters lives or display much of day to day life among the Muslims; and he has such a huge cast of characters that I don’t feel that I know anybody beyond a thumb nail sketch. I feel that way about Muhammad and especially about Aisha, the titular character if the novel. Throughout the novel Aisha has been defined strictly through her love of the prophet and her realtionship to him. Her family life and her relationships with other people have not been explored enough for me. Her personality is shown or maybe has been formed in relationship to what’s going n with ther husband- her anger an temper flare up and she lashes out and makes unwise choices that have consequences for her and the community community at large. She doesn’t seem to learn from her mistakes and becomes increasingly vengeful as she grows older. I would like for there to be other aspects of her character , and see what she does with her time besides waiting for Muhammad, but except for a few small moments here and there, I have no indication that she does anything else.
I’m also finding that I need more from the story that the wars and the religion. I almost feel like the author is writing a different book than what is mentioned in the blurb. I have to admit that I’m waiting to see if this last 100 pages or so is going to turn my thinking around.
This week’s reading scheduling:
Monday: Marcia from The Printed Page
Tuesday: Nicole from Linus’s Blanket
Wednesday: Marcia from The Printed Page
Thursday: Nicole from Linus’s Blanket
Friday: Marcia from The Printed Page/Nicole from Linus’s Blanket