Amina Assilmi

Nana Asma’u –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 Nana Asma’u from the 13th century.

Nana Asma’u was a scholar, poet, and pedagogue who changed the environment of the Sokoto Capliphate where she lived. She uplifted the people around her and ensured that the women were educated in matters of religion, education, health and other sciences.Nana Asma'u

She was a deeply spiritual woman. It is said that she possessed karama, or miracles associated with the pious. She corresponded regularly with the scholars of her time, and was fluent in four languages. She would write her poetry in the language of the people she was writing for, many of which were intended for curriculum purposes.

Her educational movement was her response to the overwhelming amount of people in the villages who were uneducated. She developed a creative method to reach them, which was to prepare “team teachers.”  These teachers would come to her to learn her system. She would teach them her curriculum, dress them in her signature uniform, and send them out to the villages to educate the residents.

Nana Asma’u was a deeply concerned leader, who revolutionized the education system of her time. She is a great example for all teachers and educators, as well as anyone who would is concerned about the next generation.

With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.