Theater of Cruelty

8000 learned Muslim women

Book rewrites the story: 15. July is the book that attracts worldwide attention: New documentation on 8000 women's contribution to Muslim countries through 1400 years.



[new book] While the debates in Scandinavia are raging about the lack of role of women in Islam, a sensational book will be published on 15 July that turns the story presentation upside down: Al-Muhaddithat – The Women Scholars of Islam (Interface Publications, Oxford).

Here, Indian-born Mohammad Akram Nadwi, a researcher at the Oxford Center for Islamic Studies, documents how over 8000 Muslim women have contributed as prayer leaders for men, fatwa creators, legal lyricists, teachers and lawyers. The overview applies to women from the 600 century and beyond on the 1900 century, from Morocco in the west to China in the east.

"When it comes to knowledge acquisition, there was no difference between the sexes. Academics sought knowledge from both male and female teachers, ”Nadwi told a responsive New York congregation earlier this year.

After seven years of study, he is now ready for documentation on women's contribution to Islam throughout history. The forthcoming English book is just a translation of the 300 pages long preface to his 40 volume in Arabic about the role of women. The Arabic original book is entitled Al-Muhadditât, which means female experts on hadiths, and is shaped like a biographical reference book.

Nadwi is an alim, a licensed teacher, who holds a doctorate in Arabic and is a specialist in Ilm ul-Rijal (the teachings of those who tell hadiths, the stories of Prophet Muhammad's life). He demonstrates that female scholars account for a quarter of Islam's hadith.

Women most reliable

Nadwi's English publishing company presents his new documentation of women's intellectual contributions as a criticism of Orientalist scholars in Western societies, who have not known or cared about the contributions of Muslim women, and of reactionary Muslims. A century ago, Hungarian scientist Ignar Goldziher estimated that 15 percent of medieval Muslim scholars were women. Nadwi is now documenting that female hadith scholars are considered more reliable than their male counterparts.

To The New York Times, Nadwi admits that at first he only thought he should find 20-30 women who have held leading positions in Muslim communities. In his Arabic encyclopedia, you will find information on, for example, Umm al-Darda, who was a lawyer in Damascus in the 800 century and who had the caliph in Damascus as a student. While Fatimayah al Bataihiyyah in the 1500 century taught hadiths in the Prophet's Mosque in Medina (present-day Saudi Arabia), the male scholars of the time came all the way from Fez in Morocco to be taught by her.

Nadwi's documentation is so extensive that his publishers in Beirut and Damascus are now struggling to publish all the 40 volumes in Arabic. ■


Muslim scholars

■ Aisha: Muhammad's wife who in the 600 century told 2210 hadith.

■ Afifah bin Ahmad Farifaniyyah: Persian Islamic scholar who taught Isfahan in the 1200 century.

■ Quraysh al-Qadir: Lawyer and teacher who in the 1600 century taught men in hadiths in Mecca.

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