We bring to you a few selective female figures of our Islamic history who, untainted by the patriarchy and cultures that stifle women today, exercised the rights that Islam had granted her.
Nusayba bint Ka’ab
Known by her nickname Umm Umarah, she was a female warrior who courageously defended the Prophet (S.A.W) in several battles and about whom the Prophet said, “Whenever I looked to the right or left, I saw her fighting in front of me.” This was with reference to the battle at Uhud. The Prophet (S.A.W) would inquire, “From where can anyone get courage like you, O Umm Umarah?”
Rufayda bint Sa’ad
The first female nurse in Islamic history, she was also known as Rufayda al-Aslamiyyah. Having received medical knowledge from her father, she became an expert in the medical field and began extended it to her women companions to become nurses as well and trained them too. Known as a kind, empathetic healer, as well as a compassionate social worker who took care of orphans, the handicapped and the poor, the Prophet (S.A.W) would order the wounded and dying to be sent to her tent specifically during battles.
Several Muslim societies today won’t even let women into the masjid yet she was a cleaner of the masjid who beautified and maintained the Prophet (S.A.W)’s blessed mosque.
When she passed away, the Prophet (S.A.W) was upset because nobody had informed him of it. “Why did you not inform me?” he asked his companions. He then asked to see her grave and prayed his own individual Salat-ul-Janaazah over her grave.
Umm Sa’d Jamilah bint As’ad Ansariyyah
A noble teacher of Islam who, according to ibn Athir, had memorized the Qur’an and used to give regular lessons to Dawud ibn Husayn, a companion of the Prophet (S.A.W).
Wife of Abdullah ibn Masud
She was a businesswomen and the main breadwinner of her family who made handicrafts by her own hands and sold her goods in the marketplace.
Aisha bint Abu Bakr
Considered a “Muftiyah” meaning a female Mufti, she was consulted about the Shariah from women and men all over the Islamic world, she would perform ijtihad and issue fatawa. At several instances she even corrected the fatawa of other sahaba since she was privy to a lot of Ahadith that others had not heard because of her close relationship with the Prophet (S.A.W).
She would take classes in the male section of the Masjid and her lecture was attended by men and women, Imams, jurists, and Hadith scholars as she was a prominent female scholar and jurist of Islam in the 7th century.
Nafisa bint al-Hasan
She was a female scholar who taught Hadith to Imam ash-Shafi’i and is a classic example of women scholars who played a pivotal role in the lives of many of the ulama we look up to.
Founder the world’s very first university, University of al-Qarawiyyin, which still stands today as one of the most prominent institutions of Islamic learning.
Written by : Zarafshan Shiraz