I have been trying to get to Gaza for the last few years. I have no problem in getting into the West Bank part of Palestine. When I tell Israeli immigration at Ben Gurion airport the purpose of my visit is ‘to pray’ they hasten to cut the bureaucratic knots short to let me speed my way to Al Quds.

At dawn the view of Damascus was glorious. I loved to watch the sun rise whilst Kurdish pigeon fanciers flew their little flecks of silver over the green minarets that illuminated the city.

On a summer’s day last year, I entered the park and saw a group of young Muslim men, in their early to late twenties. One of them was listening to hip hop music on loud-speaker, while his friends were pre-occupied, watching something on a phone. What they were watching clearly excited them.

As a teenager I used to squabble with my sister over things we both wanted to possess. Sometimes, it would be as trivial as a small basket made up of palm tree leaves to keep dates, at others, it would be as loveable as a small plastic ‘camera’ through which you could see pictures of the Ka’aba, the black stone, the green dome and the mosque of the Prophet.

Official pre-modern histories of Islam typically tell the stories of prominent men and their lives. Unofficial chronicles and literary sources, however, muddy this picture for us – occasionally, they preserve for us accounts of prominent and not-so-prominent women who made a difference in the life of their communities and without whose contributions the Islamic tradition would not recognisably be the same.