She reached out a hand to brush against one of the pale green spiky-leafed branches. ‘This is tamarisk. It thrives on the salty ground here. This path was the one Jesus took.’I love the story told of Aisha bint Abu Bakr that she was asked to veil her face by some prominent person or other and told him, ‘By God’s grace I have beauty and by God’s grace I shall show it’. She was a remarkable woman of her time, a prominent public figure all her life. Her father, Abu Bakr became the first Caliph of Islam following the death of the Prophet Muhammad and she was to live through the first four Caliphates before dying in Medina at the ripe old age of 65.
I was surprised. ‘You believe in him?’
‘We believe he was a prophet. He’s revered in Islam. The Prophet Mohammed took the last word of God from Gabriel, but we believe in the same one God. Many of our names come from the Bible. Daoud is David, Issa is Jesus, Sara is Sarah and so on.’
She grinned at me. ‘It means healthy and alive. It was the name of the wife of the Prophet Mohammed. His favourite wife. Aisha bint Abu Bakr.’
Olives, Page 53
I find people often surprised that Muslims revere Jesus and consider him to be an important prophet of God, in fact you’ll probably find yourself dealing with a stronger negative reaction if you take Jesus’ name in vain among people in the Middle East than you would back in secular old Europe.
And all those images and statues of Mary, wearing the veil that people are so intent on demonising and banning...