Islamic History and the Women You Never Hear About: Zubaidah bint Ja’fr

She built a pilgrimage route to Mecca from Baghdad, constructed Mecca’s water supply, and financed the construction of several different cities. She was notorious for her generosity, and for the water supply in particular, a series of pools and wells along the route to Mecca. She was one of the wealthiest and most powerful women of her time, famous for her intelligence and altruism. The route she built was renamed after her in her honor.

The year she was born is unclear, but Zubaidah bint Ja’fr, her family, and her court and time period are the setting of One Thousand and One Nights. She lived in the late 8th and early 9th century.

Despite all this, there doesn’t seem to be much information about her; all sources are repetitive and brief on her account, instead focusing on male family members who were rulers and didn’t contribute to the empire half as much as she did. They mostly just went to war with each other and knocked each other off and such.

4 thoughts on “Islamic History and the Women You Never Hear About: Zubaidah bint Ja’fr

  1. "all sources are repetitive and brief on her account, instead focusing on male family members who were rulers and didn't contribute to the empire half as much as she did."Isn't that just so damn annoying? And so, so predictable? It galls me that women are so often erased from history, our greatest contributions turned into a footnote, our lives into an aside. And then people wonder why girls find it tough to find role models and inspiration.. Sigh.

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  2. almostclever

    And another great woman is lost to male-centric history… And how about our strong women today? How will Muslims remember them?They have been washed away. Reminds me of Eurocentric teaching in high school, where all we learned about was Columbus the hero, and the savages he met.. Who were they again?? Anyways… back to Columbus!!

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  3. I looked it up to find it was a real book! =PThe amount of time I spent in elementary school history lessons learning about Columbus was nothing short of annoying. I think it got to a point when I could recite his journal from memory. Bleh! Also, on top of that I remember an assignment in which we wrote from the perspectives of explorers from Europe, "great adventurers discovering vast lands." Never mind the perspectives of those who already lived there.

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