Sunday, December 2, 2018

Mariam Baker on the Sacred Voices and Stories of Women

In this interview, Mariam Baker talks to Alexander “The Engineer” Lim, host of AuthorStory by, about her book, Sacred Voices: Stories from the Caravan of Women, written with and illustrated by Cynthia Dollard.

“Passion for love, harmony, beauty and peace.” ~Mariam Baker

Mariam has always yearned for peace, and over the years she has seen that people are more similar than different; and this was the inspiration for Sacred Voices. The book covers unheard oral tradition stories and poems spoken by women, such as, perhaps, a story or a lullaby a mother would tell her child, as well as recipes for dishes which women cooked. Mariam herself realized, early in her life, that the voices of female mystics and saints weren’t as accessible as those of their male counterparts, and this book attempts to bring these feminine voices out. Sacred Voices also speaks to Mariam’s efforts to bring about peace throughout the world and in humanity.

Sufism, according to Mariam, might be referred to as a mystical branch of Islam at present, but the tradition that Mariam follows extends far back before the Prophet Mohammed, and the tradition celebrates and honors the sacred throughout the world and the universe. Sufism thus attracts followers from other religions, as the tradition is universal in nature, particularly since it emphasizes one human tribe, one human unity which is moving to a realm of greater wisdom. Mariam notes that the Tree of Abraham is the underlying commonality amongst the traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, and she hopes that humanity is at a point of transition, where the voices of women, and the opportunities they have, are increasing. This unlocking of women’s status, Mariam notes, helps open up a larger creative foundational wisdom, where both right and left brains are used to solve problems. She also remarks that women cannot ignore their bodies, as they are the carriers of future humans, and that this can help bring about an awareness of all of us humans being interconnected with each other.

Mariam points out that Islam is presently a generally unknown quantity in the world, and because that is so, it is easy for others to blame it and its followers for a lot of things. She also remarks that similar biases also exist against women and “others.”

The book’s layout reflects Mariam’s and Cynthia’s desire to reflect the beauty of the stories within, and in addition to the stories poems and recipes are included to show the richness of women’s lives. Mariam gathered the material for the book throughout her travels, and she remarks that some of the women didn’t like to be identified, given the rifts within and without Islam itself. Her favorite interview was one she conducted with a woman whom she had known since the latter was a little girl, and the story of her journey moved her. The interviews which most touched her were the ones which she heard from two women who were refugees who moved from one place to another until they reached the United States.

Purchase from Amazon: Sacred Voices: Stories from the Caravan of Women by Mariam Baker and Cynthia Dollard

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