Islam’s First Cougar?
Copyright © by Len Holman, 10/15/10
She was about 15 years his senior, a rich and comely widow with ambition and character who knew good from evil and a good man from a bad one. He was a bachelor, a man of upright character and noble mien, an impeccable reputation for honesty and a deep sense that the society of his time was corrupt and in need of cleansing. They had a destiny to fulfill together, but she was the one who made the first move.
She had inherited a thriving and lucrative business and—despite her gender in a harshly patriarchal society—was intent was intent on growing it. She had a head for business and a keen eye for good help. He was recommended to her by a relative for his character—at least that’s what the histories say—and she hired him to make a caravan trip to Damascus with goods for sale and paid him well for his trouble. She sent her servant along to report on him, as any good business person would do, ostensibly to see how he conducted her business and what indications of his character there were. Not only did he sell the goods for a very handsome profit, but exhibited such excellence of character that everyone around him noticed it and remarked on it. When the woman received the news and counted her money, and took a second and third look at the young man, she began to rethink her own position on marriage. She had been widowed twice and had not—at least up to this point—even considered remarrying. But here was a young man who was so handsome and noble and pure of character, she began to have second thoughts. And there was one other thing: she had been told that he was going to be the savior of the people, the last Prophet.
Handsome, lithe, noble, kind, and the man who would be the final prophet of God—a young man in his prime with the wisdom of age in his manner and the glow of youth on his face: how could she resist? So Kadija married Muhammad and by all accounts, the marriage was a success, producing children and a peaceful house, not to mention the raw material for American foreign and domestic policy fights, point-scoring, and culture clashes.
Muhammad had a habit of going off to meditate and Kadija left him to his own devices, serving her husband’s needs in every way. The marriage was not just one of the joining of hearts and minds, but also a joining of the flesh. It was in a cave on the Mount of Light that the Angel Gabriel came to Mohammad and told him of God’s plan. And what did the “seal of the prophets” do? He ran home and threw himself into Kadija’s arms and told her he thought he was losing his mind. She comforted him, telling him he was ok, since God would not speak to a lesser man than he. She, after all, had a big investment in this man, and being the strong and vibrant woman she was, she wasn’t about to give that up. After that, Gabriel began to give Muhammad the Qur’an over a period of years, and the last prophet began his mission, suffering humiliation, privation and pain, but never wavering in his conviction. His wife, too, suffered, eventually using up her entire fortune in helping the new faith get off the ground. She died before Muhammad achieved God’s goals, but he never forgot her or her family and friends and made his wife Aisha, jealous with his constant references to Kadija’s character and help.
Today, the term “cougar” has a salacious and pejorative connotation, indicating an older woman as preying on younger men for the purposes of sexual satisfaction. Kadija certainly had sex with Muhammad, certainly loved him in a carnal way, but why him? Why didn’t she just go about her business and make money and lead a celibate life? Is it a coincidence that Muhammad was a fine specimen of young manhood, or that Kadija was a ripe woman of beauty and wealth? Or maybe it was Allah’s plan for this all to occur, but where in the literature on the Prophet is the mention of the sensual side of this union?
If Americans are considered prudish by certain nations—like the French who were punished by God by losing the Louisianan Territory, and about whom the British derisively said that they were ones who made love with their mouths—then Islam must take a place at the top of that list. Kadija is spoken of as a dedicated, humble and devoted lover of the True Faith, with no mention of the carnality a 40-ish woman can bring to bear on the world around her. With nary a mention of Muhammad’s desire for her flesh. This, to me, is both insulting and unbelievable. It’s unbelievable that two people in their sexual prime would have enough sex to produce a half a dozen children, but the literature of Islam treats the kids like Immaculate Conceptions. A beautiful and wealthy woman, a young man—between getting verses of the Qur’an—had plenty of time for sex. And it’s insulting for Muslim women everywhere to be denied the sensuality of the human condition and have this partly-carnal, completely human part of the Prophet’s relationship ignored, to be totally replaced by things like duty, honor, obedience, service and loyalty to the husband and to the faith. I guess these things are OK, if not taken to extremes—not that a religion would do such a thing—but accounts of Kadija’s life leave out the humanity and, well, FUN.
Any point of view, be it religious, social, political, scientific, or psychological taken to the extreme that leaves out the joy, the actual life of it, is zealotry, and zealotry leads to intolerance, rigidity, and the darkness of soul from which there is often no return. There is no real difference in substance between the sterile, joyless, and sexless nature of zealous Islam and that of zealous Christianity. We have a history of intolerance with ourselves and others about sex, sexual behavior, sexual feelings, sexual speech, and sexual depictions. Asians have no such prohibitions, and have produced both beautiful works of art and some of the most arousing sexual art in the world. Pillow books, shuga, etc, have been collected for a very long time, and by and large, the civilizations which produced them have obsessed about other things, like oil rights, land, religion, and tribal rights.
Perhaps if Islam put a bit more emphasis on the joys of sex when recounting their founding members’ lives, there would be less intensity of hatred, more fun found in living, and fewer fatwas issued.
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