The Wives of the Prophet

Reprinted by permission from Safed and Keturah, William E. Barton, John Knox Press, Richmond, Virginia.


I and Keturah we were invited to a Reception. And Keturah inquired of me, saying, Which dress shall I wear? Shall it be my New one or my Blue one or the One I wore Last?

And I said, Let it be the Blue one.

And she said, I will wear All Three.

For this is our Little Joke; and her New Blue Last-Worn Dress looketh good unto me when Keturah hath it on.

And I said, There will be no woman there so fair as thou. For her Cheeks were red, and she stepped off as if she were Sixteen.

And she said, O my lord, there is nothing more pleasing unto a woman than to look well in the eyes of the man whom she doth love. Nevertheless, I cannot for get the years or the gray hair which the years have brought. God grant I may always look well in thine eyes.

And I said, Sure thing.

And I said, There was once a Prophet named Mohammed; and there are those who think that he was a False Prophet, but that concerneth not my story. And he had a wife whose name was Kadijah. And it came to pass after long years that she died. And he despaired of filling her place with any one woman, and he married many wives. And one of them was his Favorite, and her name was Ayesha.

And it came to pass that Ayesha inquired of Mohammed, saying, Am I not very beautiful? And he said, Yea.

And she inquired, Dost thou not love me? And he answered, Yea.

And she said, Am not I thy Favorite? And Mohammed looked around to be sure that none of his other wives were listening in, and he answered, Yea.

And she inquired yet further, Dost thou not love me more than thou lovest any of thine other wives?

And again he looked around, and he answered softly, Yea.

And if Ayesha had been wise she would have stopped there. But there was one question which she wanted to ask more than all, and she made the mistake of asking it.

And she said, O Mohammed, thou great and noble man, dost thou not love me more than thou didst love Kadijah? For she grew old and had wrinkles and gray hair, and I am young and fair. And Mohammed answered with a Great Oath, and he said,

Nay, by Allah! For she it was who first believed in me!

And I said unto Keturah, Though all the fair women in the world were placed in line, and I were led admiring down the length of it, yet would 1 find no one among them all who could create for me the memories of our struggles and anxieties and economies and our meager triumphs and our sweet and holy joys. Thou in thy New Blue Last-Worn Dress art unto thy husband the fairest among women.

And Keturah said nothing, but she found my hand as we walked away together, and she gave it a little squeeze.


Reprinted by permission from Safed and Keturah, William E. Barton, John Knox Press, Richmond, Virginia.


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February 1974

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