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Women in Scholarship in the Medieval Muslim World


During Islam's golden age, women shined. Their brilliance and intelligence illuminated the path towards progress and enlightenment. Some of these women who left an indelible mark on the world:


Umm Ma'bad (7th century) - A companion of the Prophet Muhammad who was known for her knowledge of hadith and her hospitality.


Umm al-Darda (7th century) - One of the earliest female Muslim scholars, known for her knowledge of hadith and jurisprudence.


Layla, a companion of the Prophet (S), was a healer and practitioner of folk medicine. She also taught calligraphy to women. She began to be known as Al Shifa bint Abdullah.


Rabi'ah al-Adawiyya (8th century) - Mystic and scholar known for her poetry and teachings on Islamic spirituality.


Nafisa bint al-Hasan (8th century) - Scholar and teacher who held regular gatherings for women to study the Qur'an and hadith.


Fatima bint Muhammad al-Fihriya al-Qurashiya (9th century) - Mathematician and astronomer, she founded a mosque and madrassa in Fes, which evolved into the University of Al-Qarawiyyin.


Karima al-Marwaziyya (9th century) - Philosopher and scholar who wrote on logic, ethics, and theology.


Maryam al-Asturlabi (10th century) - Inventor and maker of astrolabes, a tool used for astronomy and navigation.


Fatima bint Sa'd al-Khayr (10th century) - Scholar of hadith and jurisprudence who taught both men and women.


Zaynab al-Ashhadi (10th century) - Mathematician who wrote on algebra and geometry and taught at the University of Al Quaraouiyine.


Labana of Baghdad (10th century) - Scribe and calligrapher who was renowned for her beautiful handwriting.


Zaynab al-Sharabiyya (10th century) - Mathematician who authored a book on arithmetic and geometry.


Tawaddud al-Sha'baniyya (10th century) - Mathematician who wrote on geometry and astronomy.


Al-Hasibah bint al-Abbas (10th century) - Mathematician who authored a book on arithmetic and algebra.


Lubna of Córdoba (10th century) - Secretary and scribe to the Caliph of Córdoba, renowned for her knowledge of poetry and literature.


Shuhda al-Katiba al-Andalusiyya (11th century) - Poet and scribe who worked in the royal library of Al-Andalus and composed works in Arabic and Hebrew.


Sitt al-Mulk (11th century) - Scholar and administrator who held high positions in the Fatimid Caliphate and founded a school for girls.


Samira al-Zayid al-Arabiya (12th century) - Physician who authored a medical text on women's health.


Fatima al-Samarqandiyya (12th century) - Astronomer and mathematician who wrote on astrolabes and calculated the movements of celestial bodies.


Umm al-Barakat al-Baghawiyya (12th-13th century) - Prominent scholar of hadith (traditions and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and authored a commentary on Sahih al-Bukhari.


Sutayta, a remarkable Seljuk scholar who thrived in multiple fields including Arabic literature, hadith, jurisprudence, and mathematics. She devised solutions to many equations cited by fellow mathematicians, showcasing her algebraic talent.


Aisha al-Ba'uniyya (15th-16th Century) - Mystic and scholar who authored several works on Islamic spirituality and Sufism.

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