The Prophet PBUH was surrounded by women throughout his life on earth. No, not just by his wives. “Women Around the Messenger” seeks to re-introduce us to the various women who were pivotal in the spread of Islam.
Most books on the great women in Islam focus on the Prophetʼs wives and daughters. This book records down more than that. It neatly categorizes the women of the Prophet into four distinct groups: the mother figures in his life, his wives, his daughters and the female Companions (Sahabah). The narration, and the women, are predominantly arranged in such a way that the reader could absorb the timeline of events easily and appreciate the fact that contributions by the women were part and parcel, and not the exception, in the making of Islamic history.
Of course, “Women Around the Messenger” contains the almost-mandatory stories on the popular female icons in Islamic lore, such as the Prophetʼs most beloved wife Sayyidatina Khadeejah, and his favourite daughter, Sayyidatina Fatimah Az-Zahra. These stories may already be well known and oft-repeated, but the author took the pain (or rather, the pleasure) of describing the importance of these women in his life, and how the Prophet himself embraced his role as a husband and a father.
Additionally, the book also sheds light on the lesser known personalities, such as Sayyidatina Nusaybah bint Kaʼb, the lady who fought in the Battle of Uhud, and Sayyidatina Umm Maʼbad, whose hospitality the Prophet enjoyed when he took a rest at her camp in the desert, during his journey to Medina. To me, these small half-hidden stories are the gems that the book offers its readers, missing pieces of history re-discovered. It is difficult to encounter these lesser known women in other books, where they are denied even a single page, and hence missing the opportunity of reading more about the Prophet through their eyes.
Though the author can be somewhat bland in describing the womenʼs piety (yes, of course they were all noble and occupied themselves in worshipping Allah), the womenʼs individual personalities and lifestyles still manage to shine through the authorʼs words. Comparing the ladies to each other, one may savour the relief that there is diversity in becoming an “Ideal Muslimah” that is loved by Allah and His prophet.
After all that has been written, now is the part where some quibbling is, in my opinion, necessary. “Women Around the Messenger” was originally written in Arabic. However, despite being a revised edition, this book is still in need of another round of copyediting work and translation fine-tuning. Hopefully the publisher will be able to review this book again in order to make reading a more pleasurable experience.
All in all, this is a commendable book to invest in, and is especially empowering for young ladies who could find in the women, whose lives were touched by the Prophet, role models in every sense.
Rating by Reviewer: 3 out 5 ( Recommended for Reading )