Great Women of Islam

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What has been the role of women in Islamic history? Who are the great women of Islam?

Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran:

مَنۡ عَمِلَ صَـٰلِحࣰا مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوۡ أُنثَىٰ وَهُوَ مُؤۡمِنࣱ فَلَنُحۡیِیَنَّهُۥ حَیَوٰةࣰ طَیِّبَةࣰۖ وَلَنَجۡزِیَنَّهُمۡ أَجۡرَهُم بِأَحۡسَنِ مَا كَانُوا۟ یَعۡمَلُونَ

Whoever does good, whether male or female, and is a believer, We will surely bless them with a good life, and We will certainly reward them according to the best of their deeds

(النحل: 97)

The Sahabiyat (Women Companions) were the noble women who were the contemporaries of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). They were the pure, virtuous crusaders of Islam, and were honoured during the very lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) with the prediction that they would live forever in Paradise in the hereafter.

Their achievements and influence are found in every sphere of that momentous period in the history of the world, which transformed the whole of humanity forever. They were as active in religion as in politics, as courageous in war as in the peaceful and persuasive propagation of the teachings of Islam. These noble, selfless and brave women could be found in the battlefields among the foremost ranks of those taking part in Jihad. They were to be found in the political arena, in the field of education, in the courts of Islamic jurisprudence, in the interpretation of Shariah The collective body of laws as revealed by Allah (SWT) in trade and commerce, in agriculture, in medicine and in nursing. These women have indicated the status, rights and importance of women in Islam.

shariah

In short, there was no sphere that did not benefit from their intellect, their wisdom and their gentle yet firm strength of character.

Among the many services that one can render to Islam, is to fight in the battlefields. Few, if any examples of such zeal, determination, perseverance and courage can be found in history except for the great women of Islam.

When the disbelievers attacked the Muslims during the Battle of Uhud, only a few devoted followers were left to fight with the Prophet (PBUH). At this critical stage, one of the great woman Companion Umm ‘Ammarah (RA) shielded him with her body and warded off the enemy with her sword as well as her bow and arrows.

When one of the disbelievers of the Quraish, Ibn Qamiah, got within striking distance of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), it was she who bore the brunt of his attack. She had a deep wound on her shoulder, yet she continued to attack him with her sword. But he was well protected and she could not make a dent in his armor. Later, she fought so courageously against Musailamah Al-Kaththab that she suffered a dozen wounds and lost an arm.

islamic battle

In the Battle of Ahzab (Battle of the Trench), the brave woman Companion Safiyyah (RA) displayed brilliant military strategy in handling the Jewish attack, and slew one of the Jews.

Whereas in the Battle of Hunain, Umm Sulaim (RA) set out to attack the enemy with her dagger.

As far as the Battle of Yarmouk is concerned, Asma’ bint Abu Bakr, Umm Aban, Umm Hakeem, Khawlah, Hind and the Mother of the Believers Juwairiyah (RA) displayed extraordinary valor. Asma bint Yazid (RA) killed nine enemy soldiers.

In the year 28AH ‘Umm Haram (RA) took part in the attack on Cyprus.

The Mother of the Believers ‘Aishah, Umm Sulaim and Umm Salit (RA) were among those who were very proficient at nursing the wounded.

The Sahabiyat (RA) and women in Islamic history usually accompanied the Prophet (PBUH) on his military expeditions and took part in battles both on land and at sea.

Standing side by side with the soldiers they would hand them arrows, and generally help to keep up the morale of the army. They also helped to carry the martyred and the wounded back to Madinah.

Umm ‘Atiyah (RA) took part in seven battles, and fought during the rule of the Caliph ‘Umar Farooq (RA), the women and even the children helped to bury the dead.

They spread the message of the new religion and through example converted many of the disbelievers to Islam. It was the great woman of Islam, Fatimah bint al-Khattab (RA) who converted her brother ‘Umar bin al-Khattab (RA); he was to become one of the bravest and most faithful of the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

It was Umm Sulaim (RA) who influenced Abu Talhah (RA), and it was Umm Hakim (RA) who convinced her husband,’Ikrimah to accept Islam. Umm Shriek al-Dawsiyah (RA) very discreetly worked among the women of the tribe of Quraish to spread Islam.

Another aspect of missionary work is to preserve the religion in its pristine form and protect it from any modifications, impurities and innovations that may creep in because of cultural or traditional practices already prevalent in society. This very important work of preserving the purity of Islam was performed by many of the great women of Islam and the Sahabiyat; most prominent among them was ‘A’ishah (RA).

In the year 35 AH, when Caliph ‘Uthman (RA) was martyred and there was chaos and confusion over who was next in the line of succession, it was she who brought unity into the ranks by influencing the Muslims of Basrah (Iraq) and Makkah.

Leading the prayers and calling the Adhan, or the call for prayer, is another important aspect of religious life. Although women cannot lead men in prayers, they can do so with assemblies of women. Many women contemporaries of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) performed this task as well.

‘A’ishah, Umm Sulaim, Umm Waraqah and Sa’dah bint Qamamah (RA) were some of the most prominent among these.

In fact, Umm Waraqah (RA) turned her house into a place of prayer for women; the Adhan (The call to prayer given 5 times during the day) was given there by a lady Mu’adhdhin (The Mu’adhdhin’s duty is to give the Adhan) for the women’s congregation, and Umm (RA) performed the duties of the Imam in leading the prayers.

All the Mothers of the Believers were of very noble character and conduct and pleased Allah so much that He sent special greetings for Khadijah (RA).

‘A’ishah (RA) had a brilliant mind and a remarkable memory, and had the distinction of being the source of many Ahadith (Prophetic narrations) because of her long association with the Prophet (PBUH). Her knowledge of the many branches of religion like Tafsir legislation, her wisdom in interpretation, her mastery of the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) all these qualities made her one of the most remarkable personalities of the time and an important woman of Islamic history.

Women Companions were very active in religion as well as in politics and business. They were courageous in the battlefield and provided services like giving medical aid to the soldiers, nursing the wounded, and providing food and water to the needy in a manner which has no parallel in history.

They spread the message of Islam and it is proved by many instances that their conduct converted many disbelievers to Islam.

There are many more stories like this that will encourage the Muslim sisters to acquire more knowledge about such great women. The book The Great Women of Islam by Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar is the perfect collection of such honourable and brave women of Islam. 

Great women of islam book

This book is about the life stories of the Mothers of the Believers and sixteen women Companions of the Prophet (PBUH). They were those pure and virtuous women of Islam who were honoured during the very lifetime of the Prophet (PBUH) with the prediction that they would live forever in Paradise in the hereafter. The book not only contains short biographies and stories on the great women of Islam but also the contributions made in different fields and their role in Islamic history.

Extract 01: Let’s take a look at the political achievements made by the women of Islamic history.

Political Achievements

The Sahabiyat (Women Companions) played a prominent role in politics as well. Caliph ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) so valued Shifa’ bint ‘Abdullah (may Allah be pleased with her) for her political intelligence and insight that he very often consulted with her. He often gave her the responsibility of running the affairs of state relating to trade and commerce. Before the Hijrah (migration) of Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) to Madinah, the disbelievers wanted to lay siege to his house, it was Ruqayyah bint Saifee (May Allah be pleased with her) who warned him. The Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) then secretly left for Madinah, leaving ‘Ali (May Allah be pleased with him) asleep in his place. Vast political rights are granted to women in Islam. 

“If you have guaranteed sanctuary and safety to a person, then we stand by you.”

This is the law of Islam that the Imam (The Imam leads the prayer in the congregation) or leader has to stand by the guarantee offered by the woman.

great women of islam

Similarly the book covers the contributions of the women in education, industry, trade, religion and more. Take a look at the table of contents to get a better idea of the subject matter of the book.

Table of Contents

Publisher’s Note………………………………………………………………………………. 7

Exploits and Achievements of the Sahabiyat (Women Companions)…………. 8

Religious Achievements…………………………………………………… 8

Political Achievements……………………………………………………… 9

Education, Knowledge and the Fine Arts………………………………………………….. 9

Industry, Trade and Commerce……………………………………………………………………. 10

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (May Allah be pleased with her)……………………….. 12

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (May Allah be pleased with her)………………….. 12

Saudah bint Zam‘ah (May Allah be pleased with her)……………………………… 19

Saudah bint Zam‘ah (May Allah be pleased with her)………………… 19

‘A’ishah bint Abu Bakr (May Allah be pleased with her)      24

*Complete table of contents is mentioned at the end of the blog

It’s clear from the table of contents that the book covers each matter extensively giving a complete picture of the history of Islam from the lense of the women. No doubt the book will be extremely inspirational for not only women but men too. Reading about the great women of Islam is a must for all. Below we have included another short extract from the biography of Sayyida Khadijah (RA).

great women of Islam

Extract 02: A glimpse into the life of Sayyida Khadijah (RA).

Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (May Allah be pleased with her)

The strength of character and noble qualities of Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) earned her the honor of being greeted by Allah (SWT) through His Angel Jibril (Peace be upon him).

The epitome of faithfulness, integrity, truth, modesty, good manners and nobility; generous, wise and understanding, nurtured in an atmosphere of wealth and luxury, she was the first person to have an abiding faith in the utterances of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) and to accept Islam as her religion and her way of life. She was blessed with the distinction of having been greeted with Salam by Allah (SWT) and the Angel Jibril (Peace be upon him) and was the first wife of the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) and he did not marry again during her lifetime. They lived together in peace and harmony for more than 24 years. It was in her house that the Prophet (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him) received the revelations of Allah (SWT), through the Angel Jibril (Peace be upon him). 

There is so much more to be learnt from this amazing piece of work by Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar. Read the Great Women of Islam and let us know what you think in the comments below.

Interested in similar books? Take a look at the suggestions below.

*Complete table of contents

Hafsah bint ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with her)………………………….. 34

Hafsah bint ‘Umar (May Allah be pleased with her)…………. 34

Zainab bint Khuzaymah (May Allah be pleased with her)………………………… 40

Zainab bint Khuzaymah (May Allah be pleased with her)…………… 40

Umm Salamah bint Abu Umayyah (May Allah be pleased with her)………… 42

Umm Salamah bint Abu Umayyah (May Allah be pleased with her)…….42

Zainab bint Jahsh (May Allah be pleased with her)…………………………………… 51

Zainab bint Jahsh (May Allah be pleased with her)…………………. 51

Juwairiyah bint Harith (May Allah be pleased with her)……………………..57

Juwairiyah bint Harith (May Allah be pleased with her)………………. 57

Safiyyah bint Huyayy (May Allah be pleased with her)…………………………60

Safiyyah bint Huyayy (May Allah be pleased with her)……………… 60

Umm Habibah Ramlah bint Abi Sufyan (May Allah be pleased with her)… 64

Umm Habibah Ramlah bint Abi Sufyan (May Allah be pleased with her)… 64

Maimoonah bint Harith Al-Hilaliyah (May Allah be pleased with her)…….. 70

Maimoonah bint Harith Al-Hilaliyah (May Allah be pleased with her)……. 70

Women Companions Who were Given the Good News of Paradise…….. 74

Fatimah (May Allah be pleased with her) bint Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him)….. 74

Fatimah (May Allah be pleased with her) bint Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon him)…………………………………. 74

Fatimah bint Asad (May Allah be pleased with her)…………… 82

Fatimah bint Asad (May Allah be pleased with her)……………… 82

Umm Rumman (May Allah be pleased with her)………. 86

Umm Rumman (May Allah be pleased with her)………………………….. 86

Sumayyah bint Khabbat (May Allah be pleased with her)…………..90

Sumayyah bint Khabbat (May Allah be pleased with her)……………………… 90

Umm Haram bint Milhan (May Allah be pleased with her)………………… 92

Umm Haram bint Milhan (May Allah be pleased with her)……………….. 92

Asma’ bint Abu Bakr Siddeeq (May Allah be pleased with her)………………… 94

Asma’ bint Abu Bakr Siddeeq (May Allah be pleased with her)………………. 94

Umm Sulaim bint Milhan Al-Ansariyah (May Allah be pleased with her).. 98

Umm Sulaim bint Milhan Al-Ansariyah (May Allah be pleased with her)… 98

Umm ‘Ammarah Nusaybah (May Allah be pleased with her)… 102

Umm ‘Ammarah Nusaybah (May Allah be pleased with her)………………… 102

Ar-Rubai‘ bint Mu’awwith (May Allah be pleased with her)….. 106

Ar-Rubai’ bint Mu’awwith (May Allah be pleased with her)…………. 106

Faree‘ah bint Malik (May Allah be pleased with her)………………… 109

Faree‘ah bint Malik (May Allah be pleased with her)…………………………. 109

Umm Hisham bint Harithah bin Nu‘man (May Allah be pleased with her). 112

Umm Hisham bint Harithah bin Nu‘man (May Allah be pleased with her)………….. 112

Umm Salamah Asma’ bint Yazid bin Sakan Al-Ansariyah (May Allah be pleased with her)……….. 115

Umm Salamah Asma’ bint Yazid bin Sakan Al-Ansari yah (May Allah be pleased with her)……………………………………………………….. 115

Umm Sa‘d Kabshah bint Rafi‘ Al-Ansariyah (May Allah be pleased with her)………………………………………………… 118

Umm Sa‘d Kabshah bint Rafi‘ Al-Ansariyah (May Allah be pleased with her)……… 118

Umm Munthir Salama bint Qais (May Allah be pleased with her)…………. 122

Umm Munthir Salama bint Qais (May Allah be pleased with her)……. 122

Umm Waraqah bint ‘Abdullah bin Harith Al-Ansariyah (May Allah be pleased with her)…………. 125

Umm Waraqah bint ‘Abdullah bin Harith al-Ansariyah (May Allah be pleased with her) 125

Umm Aiman bint Tha‘labah (May Allah be pleased with her)…………. 127

Umm Aiman bint Tha‘labah (May Allah be pleased with her)  127

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