Even-numbered (early seventh century) chapters

(Great Characters in Literature)

Abu Simbel

Abu Simbel (ah-BEW SIHM-behl), the leader of the seventh century Jahilia (pre-Islamic Arabia), who appears to Farishta in a dream in which Abu attempts to bargain with Mahound, offering to accept the new monotheism if Mahound will grant divine status to three local goddesses.

Mahound

Mahound (mah-HEWND), a pejorative Christian variation of Mohammad, who appears in Farishta’s dream in which Farishta, disguised as an angel, counsels him to accept Abu Simbel’s offer. Mahound finally concludes, however, that the concession is the work of the satanic Shaitan and the revelatory verses are satanic in origin. Mahound completes his conquest of Jahilia, ordering the closing of the brothel and the execution of its prostitutes.

Ayesha

Ayesha (i-EE-shah), a young woman who leads a group of pilgrims to the sea and finally to Mecca. An angel had told her that the sea would part. When it failed to do so, several of the pilgrims drowned.