40 Volumes of Muslim Women Scholars

EVERYTHING I HAVE BEEN SAYING IS TRUE! ]:< Men are insecure douches who have modified history in fear of women rightfully practicing the power given to them by God. Instead they’ve stolen this power from women and manifested it into their own tyranny.
Mohammad Akram Nadwi set out to collect dictionary entries for female scholars; originally, he suspected he’d be writing a single book, but uncovered 40 volumes worth of material.
FORTY VOLUMES. Insecure theologians have attempted to discreetly bury 40 volumes worth of women’s history.

The erosion of women’s religious education in recent times, Akram says, reflects “decline in every aspect of Islam.” Flabby leadership and a focus on politics rather than scholarship has left Muslims ignorant of their own history. Islam’s current cultural insecurity has been bad for both its scholarship and its women, Akram says. “Our traditions have grown weak, and when people are weak, they grow cautious. When they’re cautious, they don’t give their women freedoms.”

And yet,

When Akram lectures, he dryly notes, women are more excited by this history than men. To persuade reluctant Muslims to educate their girls, Akram employs a potent debating strategy: he compares the status quo to the age of al jahiliya, the Arabic term for the barbaric state of pre-Islamic Arabia. (Osama Bin Laden and Sayyid Qutb, the godfather of modern Islamic extremism, have employed the comparison to very different effect.) Barring Muslim women from education and religious authority, Akram argues, is akin to the pre-Islamic custom of burying girls alive. “I tell people, ‘God has given girls qualities and potential,’ ” he says. “If they aren’t allowed to develop them, if they aren’t provided with opportunities to study and learn, it’s basically a live burial.”

Unbelievable that he would need to persuade them at all. As I’ve said before, the fact that we have not heard of these women is due to active modification of history. It is purposeful, forged by men who fear loss of power and are insecure about their own masculinity.

From a Times article:

[…]Akram has found evidence of thousands of muhaddithat, or female experts in Hadith, the deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad. He has found accounts of women teaching men and women in mosques and madrassas, touring Arabia and the Levant on lecture circuits, issuing fatwas, and making Islamic law. Who knew that in the 15th century, Fatimayah al-Bataihiyyah taught Hadith in the Prophet’s mosque in Medina, and that the chief male scholars of the day, from as far afield as Fez, were her students? (Such was al-Bataihiyyah’s status that she taught at the grave of the Prophet, the mosque’s most prestigious spot.) Who knew that hundreds of girls in medieval Mauritania could recite al-Mudawwana, a key book of Islamic law, by heart? Or that Fatimah bint Muhammad bin Ahmad al-Samarqandi, a jurist in medieval Samarkand, used to issue fatwas and advised her far more famous husband on how to issue his?

21 thoughts on “40 Volumes of Muslim Women Scholars

  1. When Akram lectures, he dryly notes, women are more excited by this history than men. To persuade reluctant Muslims to educate their girlsIt's the same insecurity today! No matter how little progress women make in obtaining true equality, men will always feel it is too much.

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  2. Exactly. I bet before women were allowed to practice the vote here in the US and housewives were brutally beaten and drugged, men believed feminism was outdated too.

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  3. almostclever

    I've stopped deferring to men on religious matters, I only trust women – call it a consequence of patriarchy…. Damn if I could get my hands on those volumes, wouldn't that be something!? I would sit all day with my mocha, pouring through the thoughts of women, finding new inspiration and forms of rebellion.Most importantly though, finding truth.

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  4. Wow. It seems that women played a much larger role in the development of Islam than they did in Judaism and Christianity.I wish that white western non-Muslim "feminists" would think about this before they start their white-knighting shit regarding Muslim women.

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  5. I wish that white western non-Muslim "feminists" would think about this before they start their white-knighting shit regarding Muslim women. Yes. This reminds me of a letter I read from a Muslim feminist to white, non-Muslim western feminists. Unfortunately I cannot find the link.

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  6. The article says the scholar is Sunni–is there a difference in how Sunni and Shia relate to women? Or I guess my larger question is, how do they relate to the hadiths, especially the ones that forbid what God has made permissable? I've never been able to grasp the practical difference between the two branches (and Sunni and Shia Muslims I have asked have told me *completely* different things).

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  7. They've told you completely different things because the division is a cultural difference that has morphed into a spiritual one, as I'm sure you've probably heard. The differences consequently are not consistent. They are also not consistent because within the sects, there are other sects. Sunni Islam splits into 5 I believe, and within Shia Islam I think there may be 3. (The largest one [Twelvers] kind of consumes the others.)Sunni are more orthodox theoretically in their approach to hadiths, yet in practice they have been severely oppressive to Shia–and to women–which the Prophet would never stand for. The Prophet himself advised against the formation of sects at all while he was still alive.But on the other hand the origin of the Shia was in protest to the newly elected leader after the death of the Prophet, because they believed only God can appoint a leader. They have reason to believe Ali should have been the leader, as before his death, they heard Muhammad (P) appoint him. But they also believe God chooses leaders through bloodline, which I find absurd, because you don't have to be related to the Prophet to be close to God. As a matter of fact, Islam is so against priesthood that anyone can perform ceremonies such as marriage–you don't need a religious leader, as long as the person performing it is pious. No one is to have any more ritualistic spiritual power than anyone else. It is true that the prophets have actually been pretty closely related to each other though. That might be where the emphasis comes from.They both construct their traditions through hadith, but if I remember correctly, they have slightly a different selections, crediting some and discrediting others.I've only heard Sunnis forbid what God has made permissible, but that is because I'm around Sunnis most of the time. I'm certain Shia probably do it as well. Because I reject that sects are valid in the first place and don't belong to any, I haven't studied into them as much as I have into other (what I consider real) aspects of (actual) religion. So I'm probably telling you things you've already heard or are completely unhelpful.

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  8. "So I'm probably telling you things you've already heard or are completely unhelpful."Not entirely. I don't know if you've heard but you're kind of smart, and I've never heard a breakdown from somebody who didn't belong to one sect or the other (possibly I don't talk to enough Muslims).I do enjoy reading you talk about Islam, though. Are there any books you recommend written by other people?

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  9. Depends on the topic. Do you mean Islamic sects? I'm pretty tough on books dealing with history, because nonfiction is not exactly my favorite genre. So I wouldn't necessarily recommend any of the snoozefests I've read in which the author drones on and on… But, if you are interested, The Formation of Islam: Religion and Society in the Near East, 600–1800 by Jonathan Berkeley will give you the history, and for a contemporary comparison of Islamic sects you can try Imams and Emirs: State, Religion and Sects in Islam by Faud I. Khuri. The latter is less dense but unfortunately also less detailed.

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  10. Ibtisaam

    “The aim of undoing injustices suffered by women (wherever they are suffered) is acceptable to Muslims. But it is entangled in the theoretical underpinning of feminist critique, which is not acceptable but which nevertheless invades Muslim minds.”
    Sh. Nadwi addresses the “feminist agenda” and the issue of hijaab, p. XIII – XXI, al-Muhaddithat

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    1. Yes, I know, I’ve READ it, and the introduction to the volumes has been reviewed in various feminist spaces including MMW. What the hell is your point? We’ll use his information, but as long as he’s male can can stfu about that specific area of research and it’s totally irrelevant.

      You’re pathetic spending time here. Get a life.

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    1. Showing passive aggression to conveniently and falsely appear virtuous is to be banned.

      See you never. Flaunt your hypocrisy and show off your “piety” elsewhere. I have no patience for those who seek out argument by coolly dropping quotes and then pretend to be religiously wise.

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  11. Salaam Nahida, I was wondering: how possible to you think it is to go from this research and expand it to include authoritative works by Muslim women? I mean do you think – given how female Muslim scholars have been hidden away for so long – we may one day move on from biographical accounts to tafaseer written by premodern women? Or commentaries on Hadith, etc? Would love to hear your thoughts. It’s been on my mind for a long time.

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    1. Wa salaam. How did I not see this comment until like a year later? I absolutely believe it is possible–it’s already happening without the biographical accounts.

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