In this book, Annemarie Schimmel has discovered a treasure trove of ideas and imagery revealing the role of women in this religious tradition. Among the sources studied by this Islamic scholar are the Quran; the teachings of Muhammad; the edifying manuals for young girls; and the works of female calligraphers, poets, and scholars. Although the Quran lionizes the Virgin Mother of Jesus as a handmaiden of the Lord, it wasn't until the eighth century that women were singled out. The mystical branch of Islam, Sufism, contains great respect for pious, learned, and God-fearing women. Rabia-al Adawiyya moved this path from asceticism to an emphasis upon the absolute love of God. Schimmel unearths evidence that the soul is represented and personified as a woman, often one with great longing. Rumi even talks of the human being as a pregnant woman "who carries within her the mystery that grows ever larger and deeper with every step." Friends of the Most High are called "Brides of God." This is an important book in the continuing stream of resources on the sacred feminine.