Culture, Religion, Sex & Gender

NYT on Female Hadith Scholars

Turns out there have been a lot more female poskim in Islam than previously thought. Looks like they’re giving Bruriah, Asenath Barzani and Ray Frank a run for their money. Time for us to catch up, no?

Mohammad Akram Nadwi, a 43-year-old Sunni alim, or religious scholar, has rediscovered a long-lost tradition of Muslim women teaching the Koran, transmitting hadith (deeds and sayings of the Prophet Muhammad) and even making Islamic law as jurists.
Akram embarked eight years ago on a single-volume biographical dictionary of female hadith scholars, a project that took him trawling through biographical dictionaries, classical texts, madrasa chronicles and letters for relevant citations. “I thought I’d find maybe 20 or 30 women,” he says. To date, he has found 8,000 of them, dating back 1,400 years, and his
dictionary now fills 40 volumes. It’s so long that his usual publishers, in Damascus and Beirut, have balked at the project, though an English translation of his preface — itself almost 400 pages long — will come out in England this summer. (Akram has talked with Prince Turki al-Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former ambassador to the United States, about the possibility of publishing the entire work through his Riyadh-based foundation.)
The dictionary’s diverse entries include a 10th-century Baghdad-born jurist who traveled through Syria and Egypt, teaching other women; a female scholar — or muhaddithat — in 12th-century Egypt whose male students marveled at her mastery of a “camel load” of texts; and a 15th-century woman who taught hadith at the Prophet’s grave in Medina, one of the most
important spots in Islam. One seventh-century Medina woman who reached the academic rank of jurist issued key fatwas on hajj rituals and commerce; another female jurist living in medieval Aleppo not only issued fatwas but also advised her far more famous husband on how to issue his.

Full story here.
(Hat tip to Uri!)

2 thoughts on “NYT on Female Hadith Scholars

  1. Perhaps not primarily poskim, but there were a large number of tzaddikot, who had their own chassidim, gave brachot, accepted kvitlach, poskined, taught, etc… There was Odel, daughter of the BESHT (1700-1766), her daughter, Faga, mother of Rebbe Nahman (1772-1810), Malka, wife of the Belzer Rebbe (1779-1845), Rachel daughter of R’ Yitzchak Meir and grand-daughter of R’ Avraham Joshua Heschel, Rav of Apta (1745-1825), and the Tzaddeket of Sutchava (????-1852). There are more, but I don’t feel like typing that much.
    Chassidism had female leaders. The question shouldn’t be one of “catching up,” but of giving the female leaders of the past there due, and allowing for more to rise up today.

  2. Chassidism had female leaders.
    no – it had female *saints*. everyone can make a female saint, but female Jurists are exceptional. Hats off to the muslims!

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