Early Women Islamic Scholars
She was a great scholar of fiqh. The intellectual scholars of Madina like Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abdallah ibn Umar, Salman ibn Yasar, Abbad ibn Walid and Nafi’ use to go to her to learn from her. (tahdhib at tahdhib vol.12 p 444)
Some Sahabah and learned scholars among the tabi’een used to come to her to learn various aspects of Islamic jurisprudence from her in Basrah. She also narrated many ahadith of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. Imam Nawawi said, “She was a scholarly Sahabiyah and one of those who went on jihad with Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam.” (taghib al asma was sifaat vol w p 364)
She was the daughter of a great Sahabi. She was very learned in Islamic sciences to the point that Imam Malik, Hakim ibn Utaybah and Ayyub as Sakhtiyani, the famous jurists and scholars of ahadith were her pupils.
Known for her commitment to Islam, she would frequently fast, and it is reported that she performed hajj over 30 times. A large number of pupils came to her from different places to learn from her. The scholar Imam Shafi, is said to have learned and been taught from her. Imam Shafi thought so much of her that he stated in his will that he wanted his funeral procession to pass by her home – and when it passed by her home she prayed the funeral prayer. She died during the month of Ramadan whilst reciting the Quran in 208H. (wafayat al-a’yan vol 2 p 169)
Regarded as an authority of hadith and fiqh, she was the grand daughter of one of the famous companions, Asad ibn Zararah Ansari (radhiAllahu anhu). The scholar, Imam Bukhari said that she was like the secretary for Aisha (radhiAllahu anha), the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)’s wife, and one of her best students. People who sent Aisha gifts/presents and letters, would send it through her.
Imam Ahmad said, “She was an eminent theologian and a great scholar. She was tutored in the lap of ‘A’isha (radhi Allahu anha), narrated many ahadith from her and she is very reliable, had an excellent memory and is one whose narration can be accepted.” Ibn Habban says the same about her. The scholar Ibn Hajr Askalani said that she was one of the scholars of the early Muslims as she was an authority on the hadith transmitted by Aisha (radhiAllahu anha). The scholar Ibn Hibban said she was the best person who had knowledge of the hadith of Aisha (radhiAllahu anhu). The scholar, Imam Zuhri said that when he wanted to learn hadith he would go to Umrah, saying that when he would meet her he found her in a ‘deep sea of knowledge’.
‘Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, the great Umayyad Khalif, who is rightly described by historians as one who was of the caliber of the khulafa ar rashidun, respected her narrations to the point that he asked Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Hazm to record them. Great scholars like Abu Bakr ibn Hazm and Yahya ibn Sa’id, who were great jurists, went to her to learn hadith.
The chief Judge of Madinah, Umrah’s nephew, was asked to collect hadiths with the following order from the Caliph (ruler) of their time, “Umrah’s ahadith are to be despatched to the Caliph in black and white”. The scholar, Imam Malik said that Umrah would correct the mistakes her nephew, the Chief Judge of Madinah, would make. The scholar Imam Dhahabi classified her as a Jurist. She died aged 77.
Like her mother, she was also an expert in jurisprudence. Ibn Abdul Barr said, “She was a theologian of greater status than others of her contemporaries.” (al isti’ab fi asma’ al as hab)
She was the wife of the famous sahabi Abu Darda’ and was learned in the sciences of hadith. Imam Bukhari referred to her as an authority in sahih al Bukhari: “Umm darda used to sit in tashahhud in her prayers like a man ( in worship) and she was an expert theologian.” Ibn Adbul Barr calls her “an excellent scholar among women, and a woman intellectual, being at the same time extremely religious and pious.” (al isti’ab fi asma’ al as hab)
Her learning was so deep that she discussed a juristic point with ‘Umar and ‘A’isha radi Allahu anha for a long time and they also could not change or challenge her views. Imam Nawawi said, “She was one of those who migrated in the early days, and possessed great intellect and excellence.” (tahdhib at tahdhib vol.2 p 353)
She was the mother of the famous sahabi Anas. She was a highly respected Sahabiyah. Ibn Hajar says, “Her laudable qualities are too many to mention and she was very famous.” Imam an Nawawi calls her an excellent scholar among the Sahabiyah.” (tahdhib at tahdhib vol.2 p 363)
The grand daughter of Abu Bakr (radhi Allahu anhu), she was taught by the Prophet(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)’s wife Aisha (radhi Allahu anha). Abu Zahra, the early Muslim said, “Aisha was cited because of her authentic knowledge.” Aisha was also graced with physical beauty. Once Caliph Hisham invited her to his court where she engaged dialogue with eminent scholars of different fields. The Caliph was so impressed with her knowledge that he gave her a gift of 100,000 dirhams.
The sister of the scholar Muhammad ibn Sireen, she had memorized the Quran by the age of 12, and by the age 14 she was well versed in the exegesis (explanation) of the Quranic verses. She became famous for her beautiful recitation of the Quran. Her recitation was of such a high standard that when her brother had difficulty with recitation he would ask her to correct him.
The sister of al-Mazni, a noted student of Imam Shafi, she was a highly placed scholar of Islamic Jurisprudence. It is said that because of her knowledge her opinions were highly respected including the difference of opinion she had with Imam Shafi regarding the zakat which was to be paid on minerals.
The sister of the Muslim General Salahuddin al Ayubbi, she was well educated and established a great institution for religious learning near Damascus. She established a waqf (trust) in the form of an endownment of a very large property which met the expenses that were generated by the institution.
Seven centuries had passed since the Zubaydah canal which brought water to Makkah from outlying springs. The passage by now had reached a bad state of repair, with the wells and springs having dried up and the canal now being full of sand and stones. It was 965 AH (1557 AD) when a Turkish princess Fatimah, daughter of the Uthmani ruler Sultan Salim came along. She took on the task of rebuilding the ‘Zubaydah canal’. The rebuilding of the canal was extremely difficult ad involved Egyptian, Syrian and Yemeni engineers and masons. On the canal’s route, there was a large rock 50 feet wide and 2000 feet long which looked as if it was going to stop the efforts. The chief of the project lost heart in fear of not being able to overcome it. Fatimah refused to accept this as a permanent obstacle. In this time period dynamite did not exist, rather the only way to cut through such large rocks would be to heat them up with coal to high degrees and then to cut the stones with sharp tools. It took hundreds of workers, who burnt millions of tons of fuel. In 979 AH (1571 AD) the rock was conquered. Soon afterwards water again began to flow to Makkah on the repaired Zubaydah canal. The event was celebrated with a great feast. Due to her commitment to rebuilding the canal, Fatimah was nicknamed ‘Zubaydah Thani’ (Zubaydah the second).
A descendant of the famous conqueror Amir Taymur, she was a master of calligraphy with no one else in her time being able to match her skills of calligraphy of the Quran. It was said that in 1045 AH, she sent a gift of the Quran written by her calligraphy to the then ruler, which he most appreciated.
Imam Bukhaari, Abu Abdillah Muhammad Ibn Ismail Ibn Ibrahim Ibn Al-Mughirah Ibn Bardizbah Al-Bukhari, was born in 194 AH/810 CE in Bukhara in the territory of Khurasan (West Turkistan). Imam Bukhaari was one of the greatest compilers of ahadith. His father died while he was still in his infancy and his upbringing was left entirely to his mother, who looked after his health and education very carefully and spared nothing in order to provide him with the best education.
Historians relate a remarkable incident that occurred during the Imam’s childhood. He became blind at a young age. He had recourse to many famous and skilled doctors of his time but their treatments made no difference. His mother was a pious worshipper and a righteous woman. She cried to Allah the Almighty for help for her child and begged for the restoration of his eyesight. Because of the endless prayers of his mother and her nights spent weeping, the Imam’s sight was miraculously restored. The Imam’s mother was informed by means of a dream in which the Prophet Ibrahim (alaihissalam) had appeared and said: “Allah has restored the sight of your son because of your intense and beautiful invocations.” In the morning, as Imam Bukhari got up from his bed, his eyesight was fully restored. [From the biography of Imam Bukhari (ra) located in the beginning of Sahih Al Bukhari 9 Volume English Translation. Additional details were provided by Shaykh al-Hadith Allama Ghulam Rasul Sa`idi]