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“I’ve learned that you cannot really argue with such people, who are usually just interested in hearing themselves speak rather than in engaging in dialogue”

He has also received similar e-mails from “anti-Muslim bigots” who have called him an apologist for presenting a positive image of Islam and the Prophet.

But Pasha, a Hollywood-based writer-director, is unperturbed. “I’ve learned that you cannot really argue with such people, who are usually just interested in hearing themselves speak rather than in engaging in dialogue,” he says, before adding, “Thankfully, they are a small minority.”

The reason behind such e-mails is Pasha’s Mother of the Believers (Simon & Schuster), the first-ever novel on the extraordinary life of Aisha, the wife of the Prophet who after becoming a young widow helped usher Islam into the world. The novel, since being published in the United States, has drawn much critical acclaim.

“Muslims have e-mailed me their gratitude that I have written a novel that presents the birth of Islam in a beautiful and positive light. And people of other faiths have thanked me for sharing my insight into Islam and how the mainstream Muslim community differs from the ugly vision of the extremists and terrorists,”  says Pasha.

At 527 pages, it is not slim, but Pakistan-born Pasha says the book, though officially not yet released in India, is being read in India. Pasha, who has written TV series like Kings and Bionic Woman for NBC, and Showtime Network’s Golden Globe nominated Sleeper Cell, in an extensive note at the very beginning makes it clear that the book has nothing to do with actual history, and even gives a list of books on Islam that should be read for historical facts should anyone be interested.

Did he do it because he was overly cautious about handling a potentially-controversial subject — well, he does not think so.

“As a practicing Muslim myself, I would take offence if someone presented a fictionalised account of Prophet Muhammad’s life and pretended it was an accurate history book. The underlying subject matter of the birth of Islam is very important to me as a believer, and I do not wish to muddy sacred waters. I have written this novel in order to present to the world a glimpse into the Muslim soul, why Islam matters and has grown into a global religion. I want to do what history books often fail to accomplish, to bring life to the world of Prophet Muhammad and explain his remarkable legacy to a modern audience.”
Pasha, who is already writing his next novel, started researching the subject after getting fascinated by Aisha’s life story.

“Aisha was Prophet Muhammad’s youngest and most beloved wife. Her story single-handedly challenges every stereotype about Muslim women. She was a scholar, a poet, a historian and a military leader who commanded armies. In many ways, Aisha represents the feminist roots of Islam and Muslim women continue to revere her example as an empowered female archetype. And Aisha is portrayed in Islamic history as very much a flesh-and-blood human being with passions, jealousies and faults, and yet she was the one who was closest to Prophet Muhammad. In fact, he died in her arms. So her character presents an incredible basis for story telling,” he explains. 

While the book is already being translated into Turkish, Pasha is looking to have Arabic, Persian and Urdu translations as well so that it can reach across the Muslim world.
“My book seeks to present Islam as I and most other Muslims view it — a religion of peace, compassion and justice. I think most Muslims are tired of having a tiny group of extremists hijack our faith and present their crimes as normative for the community.  And this book is a chance to set the record straight and show people why Islam has succeeded as a religion over the past 1,400 years, and why it will continue to do so,” says Pasha passionately, hoping that his book will play a role in the current debate about Islam.

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