Life Behind the Veil

The wives of the Prophet Muhammad were vibrant, outspoken women. His first, Khadija, ran a prosperous trading business and at one point was Muhammad's employer. A'isha, the Prophet's favorite, was at various times a judge, a political activist and a warrior. Among Muhammad's 11 other wives and concubines were a leatherworker, an imam and an advocate of the downtrodden, revered in her day as the "Mother of the Poor."

Some women hold relatively high positions in Muslim countries today. But if the wives of Muhammad lived in parts of the contemporary Islamic world, they might be paying a high price for...

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