Review – "Untold" by Tamam Kahn

"Untold" book cover

Untold: A History of the Wives of the Prophet Muhammad
by Tamam Kahn

I opened Tamam Kahn’s new book, Untold, with much anticipation. As I have been studying and practicing Islam for many years now I have read some accounts of the wives of the prophet Muhammad (saw). But these have always concentrated on Khadija (ra) and Aisha (ra), and usually as part of various biographies of  Rasul Allah (saw), not standing on their own. So I eagerly awaited a copy of this book to learn and gain insight into the women who were closest to him (saw), indeed the only people who were most aware of the intimate details of his life. Who were they? What did they think? What influence might they have had on the day-to-day life which we follow so rigorously from the Hadith? What were they and he (saw) like as people?

What I found did not disappoint me. Kahn has created a rich story of these women. This is not to say that all my questions were answered, but that the book brings you into the lives of each of these women in a way that connects with them in the heart. As I read I realized that Kahn has, in this book, created a space where the women can speak for themselves. I felt more and more that I was looking into their lives through Kahn’s own heart felt connection with them.

Tamam Kahn

The vehicle for this kind of connection is the mix of prose and poetry that is used in the book. Where biographical accounts are given, they are given in prose. This adds to the authenticity and scholarship.

Where Kahn is speculating on the emotive presence of the wives she turns to poetry in order to delve deeply into the heart. This method gives life to the intuitive creativity that carries so much of what is truly unique and worthy

in these accounts. Kahn has joined with them in their own questioning and wondering about their lives. This is a beautiful account not only of the wives of the prophet (saw) but, in my opinion, of Kahn’s own journey into discovering them and, thereby, discovering something of herself.

I highly recommend this book for those who are interested in the stories of the wives of prophet Muhammad (saw) presented in a very personal, heart felt way.

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