Amina Assilmi

Mumtaz Mahal –15 Centuries of Female Scholarship

In this series, Shaykha Tamara Gray narrates the stories of great Muslim women through the centuries, who excelled in fields of Islamic knowledge, science, and philanthropy. This segment features Mumtaz Mahal from the 11th century.

Mumtaz Mahal is best-known for being buried in the Taj Mahal tomb, one of the Seven Wonders of the World. However, little attention is given to her full and active life.

At a time when the sanctity of marriage was overrun with political ambition and greed, Mumtaz Mahal was married to the emperor, Shah Jahan in a love marriage. She was a very devout woman, and would perform many night prayers, seeking good for her husband and for her people. It is said that she was able to ease her husband onto the straight path through her piety.mumtaz mahal

Mumtaz would travel with him on his military expeditions and on his Hajj pilgrimage, and he trusted her so much that he gave her the Imperial Seal.  She gave birth to 14 children, although 7 of them died in stillbirth or while still young.  Throughout this time, she remained an active part of court, and was particularly concerned about gardening and beautifying the palace. She was also interested in watching sports, and was a balanced and well-rounded woman.

She died giving birth to her 14th child, which caused Shah Jahan to go into grieving for a full year. When he emerged, his hair had turned white, and he had a bent back. Their daughter, Jahanara,  stood by his side and nursed him  until he was healthy enough to return to rule the country.  Over the next 23 years he built the Taj Mahal as a final resting place for his late wife, in an attempt to display what she had meant to him and to the world.

With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.