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Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi

Buy it on Amazon

Heart’s been set on it for over a year. Can’t wait to get my hands on it inshaa’Allah. Love everything about it, even the cover is exactly the way I’d want a book like this to have! Simply beautiful mashaa’Allah tabarakAllah!

Wish the Kalamullah brothers would do something about it. It’d provide the literature online and give the Islamic feminist movement a black eye, which is unfortunately very strong these days in North America. Disgusts me to the core. Especially when they actually have a strong media presence. May Allah SWT protect us from them.Ameen.

For those who can’t buy it right now, the author gave a talk on it, and somebody generously compiled the notes, alhamdolilah.

So, Enjoy:

Al-Muhaddithat: Notes for a talk on the women scholars of Hadith by Mohammad Akram Nadwi

For most women, however, the pursuit of knowledge never replaced family obligations. Instead, women were expected to tackle the demands of family life and religious obligations along with meeting the wider obligations of society. I have found that, throughout Islamic history, the major cities used to have their share of women scholars engaged in teaching, learning and spreading Islamic religious sciences. There are also many examples when celebrated male

Islamic scholars turned to these muhaddithat for religious advice. Thumamah b. azn al-Qushayr‚ narrates how he met ‘Aishah and asked her about nabidh. `Aishah called a black girl and said: ‘Ask this girl, because she used to make nabidh for the Messenger of God.’ This hadith suggests that early scholars did not hesitate to accept knowledge even from a black slave girl if she knew what was relevant to the issue at hand. It is also a clear example of a scholarly contribution from a female from what we would now call a ‘marginalized’ group. [pp.5-6 of the pdf]

Elsewhere in the notes:

Women would usually start their scholarly careers within the family home, learning from family members who had already acquired knowledge of Islamic sciences. This practice meant that traditions of scholarship deepened and were preserved in families over generations. The advantage of such continuity was that the younger members of the family – including women–could be instructed in the high tradition of hadith from a very early age. Fatimah bint al-Mundhir b. al-Zubayr began the study of hadith under her grandmother Asma bint Abi Bakr al-Sadiq, and then continued with other scholars outside her family until she became one of the more famous traditionists of her generation. Many notable scholars – such as her own husband Hisham b. `Urwah b. al-Zubayr, and Muhammad b. Ishaq, the author of the well-known sirah – narrated on her authority.

On completion of training at home, women would venture out to seek knowledge from masters of `ilm. This was commended by `Aishah, who said that women should not let any obstacles impede their pursuit of knowledge, and she pointedly said: ‘How good were the women of Ansaar, whose modesty did not stop them attaining the understanding of religion.’

Later generations of Muslim women learnt hadith from male masters in their own towns and those travelling male scholars who visited their towns. While attending the lectures, they would pose questions and engage in discussions. Umm al-Fadl bint al-Harith narrates how, on the day of `Arafah, during the Prophet’s lifetime some people were discussing whether the Prophet was

fasting or not. Some claimed that he was fasting, some that he was not. Umm al-Fadl resolved the debate by sending the Prophet a bowl of milk, which he drank while mounted on his camel.

This settled the argument. The incident shows, and Hafiz Ibn Hajar cites this hadith to make just this point, that scholarly debate could take place between men and women even while fully observing the Shariah restrictions.


Note: Sadly it’s out of stock at Amazon for now (and has been for the longest time) but it’s the best place to buy books online if it’s your first time. I’ve bought countless textbooks online and the shipping is very reasonable compared to other online bookstores (but it depends on your location as well). In addition, it’s so far been excellent in terms of service, alhamdolilah.


Official Website: http://www.al-muhaddithat.org/


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