Kamran Pasha Interview
April 14, 2009
the author of Mother of the Believers
It was a privilege to interview Kamran Pasha, the author of Mother of the Believers, a novel about Aisha, the favorite wife of the Prophet Muhammad. I found it a superb, readable introduction to the history of Islam.
You've said Mother of the Believers might shock some readers. Did you learn anything in your research that shocked you?
I wasn't really shocked, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how open the early Muslim historians were in talking about the flaws and fallibility of the founding Islamic community. For me, the fact that the Muslim sources did not try to idolize the Prophet's followers strengthens my personal faith in the authenticity of the underlying message of Islam - only God is perfect.
Your novel features several strong and assertive women characters, including Aisha. Do you think Islam represented a step forward or backward for women?
Islam represented a quantum leap forward in women's rights, not just in Arabia but throughout the world. Islam established women's rights to inheritance and property 1,200 years before the Christian world. American and European women did not get many of the rights that Muslim women took for granted until the 19th century. The issue of misogyny in modern Muslim countries is very real, but it finds its origins in culture rather than religion. We have an analogous problem in the US with regard to racism. Racial bigotry is a real problem in much of America, and has often been linked to religion by groups like the Ku Klux Klan, but its origin comes out of the cultural legacy of slavery, not Christianity. Sexism in Muslim countries similarly exists because of culture and history, not because of Islam.
Some of the differences between Muhammad and Jesus are obvious; for example, Muslims believe Muhammad was not divine, while Christians worship Jesus as the son of God. Do you see similarities between the two, aside from the fact that each founded a new religion?
Both Jesus and Prophet Muhammad preached love for the One God and love for humanity. They both had a universal message for all mankind, unlike other religions that were aimed at specific tribes and nations. The major differences between their roles arose because Jesus did not have the responsibility of creating law and order in his society. Jesus preached in a world where there were established laws and courts, and Roman soldiers that policed the streets, so he could focus on teaching. Prophet Muhammad had the added burden of organizing the Arab tribes who were in constant state of war. He had to create a government where none existed, introduce and enforce laws, and establish order by militarily defeating the armed thugs of Arabia. Therefore, the Prophet had to preach a spiritual message while also engaging in legislation, statesmanship and warfare. In that respect, Prophet Muhammad is more like Moses, who was a religious, political and military leader.
Review of Mother of the Believers by Kamran Pasha
See listing for Mother of the Believers at Powell's Books
See listing for Mother of the Believers at Amazon.com
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