Daughters of the Desert | Meghan Nuttall Sayres

Daughters of the Desert

How would the most cherished stories of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam be different if women were the active central figures?

This ground-breaking collection of short stories brings to life the women—daring, brave, thoughtful, and wise—who played important and exciting roles in the early days of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Join Esther as she stands against injustice and her king to save her people, Aisha as she leads hundreds of men into terrifying battle, and Mary as she and Elizabeth dream of the new lives growing inside them. How must Sarah have felt, turning Hagar out into the desert? And how must Hagar have felt, traveling from the safety and security of Abraham’s land toward an uncertain future? These stories invite us to come to know and appreciate the struggles and triumphs of these women—mothers, daughters, believers and seekers.

If women had been scribes in the ancient cities of Jerusalem, Mecca and Antioch, we would probably know a lot more about the women of our religious traditions.

Women played key roles in the development of each of the Abrahamic faiths–Judaism, Christianity, and Islam–from their very beginnings.

Daughters of the Desert–ideal for readers of all ages–breathes new life into the old tales of our female ancestors in faith.

Set in the Holy Lands, Daughters of the Desert, is about ancient women–daring, thoughtful, and wise–who played exciting roles in the early days of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Most of the women included in this collection are decedents of Abraham, Sarah and Hagar. The stories highlight women in crucial moments or circumstances of their lives, which in many cases mark pivotal points in their respective religions.

Daughters became a spiritual adventure for its authors. Their research, conversations and meditations pushed them beyond the Christian traditions in which they were raised; enlarged and enriched their views of the different faiths they explored.


Stories of Remarkable Women from Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Traditions

5.5 x 8.5, 160 pp,

Hardcover and paperback

Order At:

Your favorite local bookseller with IndieBound






Praise for Daughters of the Desert

“Recovery of the wisdom of women in the great Abrahamic religions is long overdue. Daughters of the Desert is a knock-out contribution to that project. Read the stories, fill your heart, share the wealth with others. This book deserves to become a classic of twenty-first century spiritual reading. Cherish it.”
—Mitch Finley, author of Prayer for People Who Think Too Much and The Joy of Being Catholic

“These engaging stories of women, some of whom are important to all three religions, and some known only to one, help build bridges of understanding between religions and demonstrate the importance of religion in our lives.”
—Dr. Freda Crane, member, Islamic Society of North America

“How refreshing to find the stories of Jewish, Christian and Muslim traditions. They are like water in the desert offering new voices and new hope to our generation.”
—Rabbi Sandy Eisenberg Sasso, author of Cain & Abel: Finding the Fruits of Peace and But God Remembered: Stories of Women from Creation to the Promised Land

“Some stories speak powerful narratives. Others point to new understandings of our world. Still others ask questions of justice, mercy, and devotion within communities. Daughters of the Desert speaks and points and questions in all three ways, with stories about women from three spiritual traditions. Their ancient journeys—Jewish, Christian, and Muslim—startlingly and wonderfully like our own, call us to and encourage us in our own paths to God.”
—Gary Schmidt, author of Winter: The Spiritual Biography of the Season and William Bradford: Plymouth’s Faithful Pilgrim


Co – Authors

Claire Rudolf Murphy: clairerudolfmurphy.com

Mary Cronk Farrell: marycronkfarrell.com

Sarah Conover: sarahconover.com

Betsy Wharton


Excerpts and Related Reading

Related Reading On Abrahamic Faiths
“Jewish, Christian and Muslim people agree that God is One–Creator of the Universe. We have much in common and on which we agree–and much that we disagree about–and that causes us too often to look at each other with suspicion and mistrust. Abraham, the friend of God, is spiritually the shared ancestor of half the people alive today…In the story of Abraham we can find justification for continued suspicion and mistrust, or we can find Abraham the point of contact, the cornerstone for a new relationship.”
–Sheila Musaji, Editor, The American Muslim, www. AmericanMuslim.org, “The Legacy of Abraham,” Nov-Dec, 2002.

“Whether the idea comes to us in a vision…or as in the final step in a series of rational thoughts on the subject of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam in the world of the 21st century, whether in prayer or meditation, in discourse or dialogue, no one who considers the subject for long can fail to come to the conclusion that sincere men and women–Jews, Christians and Muslims–must find fresh ways to bridge the ancient divisions and modern hatreds and to link our three religions together more closely, while each remains itself, losing nothing of its essence but gaining strength from its links to others.”
–Thomas Cahill, LIFE Magazine, HOLY LANDS: One Place Three Faiths, Vol. 2, No. 8, November 25, 2002.

“I had been coming to Jerusalem often in recent years…My experience in that region persuaded me that it is possible–maybe even necessary–to gain insight into a contemporary situation by turning away from the present and looking back to its historical source. Especially in matters of faith, even the modern act is informed by centuries of intermingled belief, blood and misunderstanding.

And in that conflagration, as it has for four millennia, one name echoes behind every conversation. One figure stands at the dawn of every subsequent endeavor. One individual holds the breath of the past–and perhaps the dimensions of the future–in his life story. Abraham.”
–Bruce Feiler, Abraham: A Journey to the Heart of Three Faiths,
William Morrow , 2002.


Links to Interfaith/Religious Organizations:



Community of Sant Egidio (worldwide ecumenical community):


U.S. Inter-religious Committee for Peace in the Middle East

16020 94th Avenue, NW
Stanwood, WA 98292
Tel/Fax: (360) 652 4285
E mail: usicpme@aol.com
Executive Director
Ronald J. Young

If you wish to order Daughters of the Desert please support your independent bookseller at Indiebound.com. Home delivery available. Skylightpaths.com

Click here for images of the setting for the story, “Weaving a Church,” featuring Lydia and St. Paul.

Stories by Meghan Nuttall Sayres

(click on each to read)

Crumbs from the Table: A Story of Eleni (Christian)

Weaving a Church: A Story of Lydia (Christian)

A Faith Blossoms: A Story of Khadija (Muslim)

The Merchant Boys’ Prank: A Story of Zarah (Muslim)