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Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam

Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam

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Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi



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Interface Publications

revised 2nd edition (March 2013)
Mohammad Akram Nadwi

This book is an adaptation in English of the prefatory volume of a 40-volume biographical dictionary (in Arabic) of women scholars of the Prophet’s hadith. Learned women enjoyed high public standing and authority in the formative years of Islam. For centuries thereafter, women travelled intensively for religious knowledge and routinely attended the most prestigious mosques and madrasas across the Islamic world. Typical documents (like class registers and ijazahs from women authorizing men to teach) and the glowing testimonies about their women teachers from the most revered ulema are cited in detail. An overview chapter, with accompanying maps, traces the spread of centres of hadith learning for women, and their eventual decline. The information summarized here is essential to a balanced appreciation of the role of women in Islamic society.

“...read today, when many Muslim women still don’t dare pray in mosques, let alone lecture leaders in them, Akram’s entry for someone like Umm al-Darda, a prominent jurist in seventh-century Damascus, is startling. As a young woman, Umm al-Darda used to sit with male scholars in the mosque, talking shop... She went on to teach hadith and fiqh, or law, at the mosque, and even lectured in the men’s section; her students included the caliph...”  (New York Times)

“...replete with enlightening references... the standard introduction to the study of the women scholars of Islam.” (Muslim World Book Review)

Mohammad Akram Nadwi (alumnus of Nadwat al-Ulama, Lucknow) has written extensively in Arabic and Urdu on had?thfiqh, Islamic biography, and Arabic grammar; and recently in English: Madrasa Life (2007), Abu Hanifah (2010), two (of the five) volumes of al-Fiqh al-Islama (2007, 2012), and Abu l-Hasan 'Ali al-Nadwi (2013).

The cover shows the study journeys of Fatimah bt. Sa'd al-Khayr and her principal students. She moved from Valencia with her merchant-scholar father to China, then travelled back westward, settling longest in Baghdad. She taught thereafter in Cairo, where she died in 600 ah. (See ch. 3.)

5 Stars
Amazing Read!
Masha'Allah, this book is written by a true visionary and shows an accurate depiction of how important women's education really is in the Islamic world. As Muslims, everyone should know the history of all their elders, not just men. This book portrays a world where women contributed and were accepted as contributors to the Islamic sciences. I would definitely recommend this!
Did you find this helpful?  2 of 2 Found Helpful
Reviewed by:  from Naperville, Il. on 1/13/2013
5 Stars
This book was long overdue. Excellent work! A must read for brothers and sisters. Covers topics that are misunderstood about women in Islam and answers the westerners criticism in a scholarly manner.
Did you find this helpful? 
Reviewed by:  from Maryland. on 3/28/2013

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