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The Jewel of Medina
$24.95
Hardcover
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BOOK DETAILS

  • Hardcover
  • Oct.15.2008
  • 9780825305184

Sherry gives an overview of the book:

Born in seventh century Arabia and married at age nine, A'isha bint Abi Bakr would become the favorite wife of the Prophet Muhammad, and one of the most revered women in the Muslim faith. The Jewel of Medina illuminates the difficult path Aisha confronted making the transition from a girl whose destiny was determined by men to the beloved wife and confident of the founder of Islam, to a political leader and religious scholar in her own right. Extensively researched and elegantly crafted, The Jewel of Medina presents the beauty and harsh realities of life in an age long past, during a time of war, enlightenment, and upheaval. At once a love story, a history lesson, and a coming-of-age tale, The Jewel of Medina provides humanizing glimpses into the origins of the Islamic faith, and the nature of love, through the eyes of a truly unforgettable heroine.
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Born in seventh century Arabia and married at age nine, A'isha bint Abi Bakr would become the favorite wife of the Prophet Muhammad, and one of the most revered women in the Muslim faith. The Jewel of Medina illuminates the difficult path Aisha confronted making the transition from a girl whose destiny was determined by men to the beloved wife and confident of the founder of Islam, to a political leader and religious scholar in her own right.

Extensively researched and elegantly crafted, The Jewel of Medina presents the beauty and harsh realities of life in an age long past, during a time of war, enlightenment, and upheaval. At once a love story, a history lesson, and a coming-of-age tale, The Jewel of Medina provides humanizing glimpses into the origins of the Islamic faith, and the nature of love, through the eyes of a truly unforgettable heroine.

Read an excerpt »

Prologue from The Jewel of Medina by Sherry Jones. All content copyright Sherry Jones.

 

A Single Pointing Finger

Medina, January 627

Fourteen years old

Scandal blew in on the errant wind when I rode into Medina clutching Safwan's waist. My neighbors rushed into the street like storm waters flooding a wadi. Children stood in clusters to point and gawk. Their mothers snatched them to their skirts and pretended to avert their eyes. Men spat in the dust and muttered, judging. My father's mouth trembled like a tear on the brink.

What they saw: my wrapper fallen to my shoulders, unheeded. Loose hair lashing my face. The wife of God's Prophet entwined around another man. What they couldn't see: my girlhood dreams shattered at my feet, trampled by a truth as hard and blunt as horses' hooves.

I let my eyelids fall shut, avoiding my reflection in the stares of my umma, my community. I licked my cracked lips, tasting salt and the tang of my wretchedness. Pain wrung my stomach like strong hands squeezing water from laundry, only I was already dry. My tongue lolled like a sun baked lizard. I rested my cheek against Safwan's shoulder, but the horse's trot struck bone against bone.

"Al-zaniya!" someone cried. "Adulteress!"

I made slits with my eyes. Members of our umma either pointed fingers and shouted at me or spread their arms in welcome. I saw others, Hypocrites, jeering and showing their dirty teeth. The ansari, our Helpers, stood silent and wary. Thousands lined the street, sucking in our dust with their sharp breaths. Staring as if I were a caravan glittering with treasure instead of a sunburned fourteen-year-old girl.

The horse stopped, but I continued -- over its flank, headfirst and into the arms of Muhammad. Into my husband's control once more and sighing with relief. Trying to forge my own destiny had nearly destroyed me, but his love held the power to heal. His thick beard cushioned my cheek, caressed me with sandalwood. Miswak unfurled from his breath, clean and sharp as a kiss.

"Thank al-Lah you have made it home safely, my A'isha," he murmured.

The gathering crowd rumbled, prickling my spine. I lifted my heavy head to see. Umar, rolled in, thunder and scowl. He was Muhammad's advisor and friend, but no friend to women.

"Where, by al-Lah, have you been? Why were you alone with a man who is not your husband?"

His accusations whipped like the wind through the crowd, fanning sparks into flames.

"Al-zaniya!" someone cried again. I ducked as if the word were a hurled stone.

"It is no wonder that A'isha rhymes with fahisha -- whore!" People laughed, and soon they began to chant: "A'isha -- fahisha! A'isha -- fahisha!" Muhammad steered me through the crush toward the mosque entrance. As if in a mosaic their faces swirled before me: the jowly Hamal and his pale wife Fazia-turned-Jamila, screaming and plumcolored; the town gossip, Umm Ayman, pursing her wrinkled lips; Abu Ramzi, the jeweler, flashing golden rings on his waving fists. I'd expected murmurs when I returned, and lifted eyebrows -- but this? People who had known me all my life now wanted to tear me apart. And Safwan -- I turned my head to look for him, but he had disappeared. As always.

Rude fingers yanked my hair. I cried out and slapped them away, and a stream of spittle landed on my arm. Muhammad set me on my feet and faced the mob, then raised his hands into the air. Silence fell like a shroud, muffling even the glares.

"A'isha needs to rest," Muhammad said. His voice sounded as weary as I felt. "Please return to your homes."

He curled his arm around me and we du

sherry-jones's picture

Now published in 20 languages, "The Jewel of Medina" is an international best-seller not because of the controversy, but because of the lyrical writing inspired by pre-Islamic poetry -- A'isha was a poet -- and because of the beautiful, at times heart-breaking, love story between her and her husband, the inimitable Prophet of God.

About Sherry

I'm an internationally best-selling author of three published historical fiction novels, most recently FOUR SISTERS, ALL QUEENS, published May 2012 by Simon and Schuster's Gallery Books, about four sisters in 13th century Provence who became queens of France, England, Germany...

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Published Reviews

Nov.02.2009

(Starred Review) This able novel, sequel to Jones’s controversial bestseller The Jewel of Medina, continues to examine the history of Islam, a topic unfamiliar to most Americans. Jones imbues her 7th...

Mar.02.2011

"Above all, Jones narrates Islamic history as a love story. She makes it a story of choices, struggle and reform, rather than subjugation and mindless obedience."

Author's Publishing Notes

In hardback and e-book only now, but someday I do hope to see "The Jewel of Medina" in paperback.