Influential Muslim Women – A Reader

This reader gathers various SeekersGuidance resources on inspiring Muslim women, where Companions, scholars, or community leaders, both past and present.

Women Documented in the Qur’an

 Hawa, the First Woman

Sarah, Wife of Prophet Ibrahim

 Aasiyah, Wife of the Pharoah: A Brief Biography

Lady Asiya and the Mother of Musa

Lady Asiya – Her Life of Faith and Trials 

Bilkees, Queen of Sheba

Maryam, Mother of Isa: A Brief Biography

Lady Maryam – Her Virtue and Merit

Lady Maryam – Her Favor and Blessings

The One Who Complained (Al-Mumtahina)

Women from the Family of the Prophet

Khadija bint Khuwaylid: A Brief Biography

Lady Khadija – Before Revelation

Lady Khadija – After Revelation Until Her Passing

The High Rank of Sayyida Khadija

Lady Aisha: Most Knowledgable of All

Slander Against Lady Aisha

 The Love Between Lady Aisha and the Messenger of Allah

What Are Some Resources on the Life of the Mother of the Believers?

Fatima az-Zahra: Introduction and Virtues

Fatima az-Zahra – Prophetic Care and Concern

The Life of Umm Salama

Umm Salama – The Knowledgable Women’s Rights Activist ..

 Umm Ayman – The Prophet’s Mother After His Mother

Female Companions of the Prophet

 Sumayyah, the First Martyr 

Umm Ma’baad: Hadith Narrator

Fatima al-Fihri: The Visionary

Who Was the Companion Sayyida Furay’ah (Allah Be Pleased With Her)?

Khansa’ – The Poetess of Islam

Nusayba – Defender of the Prophet

Women Through the Ages

Amra bint Abdurrahman

Nafisa al-Tahira

Fatima al-Fihri

Maryam al-Istirlabiyya

Karima bint Ahmad

Fatima bint Saad al Khayr 

Razia Sultan

Al Adar Al Karima

Bibi Raji

Queen Aminatu 

Nana Asma’u 

Amina Assilmi

The Death of a Star – On the Passing of Aminah Assilmi

Women: Agents of Change – Dr. Ingrid Mattson 

“I Love Being a Woman!”

SeekersGuidance’s Female Teachers

Ustadha Shireen Ahmed

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Dr. Ingrid Mattson

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari

Shaykha Noura Shamma

Ustadha Mariam Bashar

Ustadha Nagheba Hayel

The Power Of Storytelling with Ustadha Mehded Maryam Sinclair 

Amina Assilmi –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 Amina Assilmi from the 14th century.

Amini Assilmi accepted Islam in 1977. She was an activist, educator, public speaker, and advocate. Her contributions to American Muslim society are vast.

Some she worked for the National Organisation for Women, where she advocated for rape to be listed as a war crime during the Bosnian war. They won their case, but when the awards ceremony came, the organisers did not want her on stage because of her hijab. Only after much negotiation was she allowed to dress as she chose.

She was also instrumental in the campaign to issue an Eid postage stamp. Postage stamps are a little portrait of American life, and having a postage stamp commemorating Eid was a great step for Muslims in America.

Amina was also a speaker, who spoke at many Islamic events, such as ISNA (the Islamic Society of North America). In addition to speaking, she was an instrumental part of the establishment of many of these organisations. She was also involved in early broadcasting media, such as Sound Vision.

All during her community involvement, she was suffering from a variety of diseases, including cancer. At one point, she was using a wheelchair, but later recovered and regained the ability to walk. She  also experienced many family struggles. However, eventually her family accepted Islam as well.

Amina died in 2005, and is very much missed by the American Muslim community. May Allah send us more leaders like her.

With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.

The Write Legacy: Interview with Dr Saadia Mian and Sr Ambareen Syed

Fatimah Gomez interviews two female Muslim authors, who were guest speakers at the recent Muslim Women’s Literary Conference. 

Dr. Saadia Mian

Fatimah: Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Saadia Mian, author of Crowning Venture, and a deeply inspiring person who also completed the memorisation of the Qur’an.

Dr. Saadia, you gave a beautiful uplifting talk about the journey of your book The Crowning Venture, and how this book has changed your life. I’d like to start off from the beginning— where did your writing journey essentially begin?

Dr. Saadia: Well to start with, I was writing on and off for the past five years, usually being inspired by the journeys that my medical career took me upon. I was always a reader, and this has enabled me to write even more.

Fatimah: From what you mentioned during your talk, writing The Crowning Venture was something very personal and involved you telling your reader many personal experiences that you went through along your journey in memorising the Qur’an. Can you tell us how you were so motivated write about these experiences, no matter how personal they were?

Dr. Saadia: Well you see, I realised that if I didn’t let people know and understand the beauty of the journey that comes with learning the Qur’an, nobody would ever know how journey is. I always ask myself, “Is this a message that will help others?” And with this mindset, we as writers have to be willing to write freely from our hearts and not be afraid of what others think of our writing or how they will respond.

Fatimah: And who would you say motivated you the most along your writing journey?

Dr. Saadia: Well, I had amazing editors that really pushed me to write what I wanted to convey to my readers without worrying about anything. They always supported me and encouraged me to write now and they would be able to edit everything later accordingly.

Fatimah: Many of us struggle with articulating the seriousness of our writing. How would you say is a good easy to show others how serious you are with your writing?

Dr. Saadia: I would say just keep on writing, push aside your fears and get your feelings out with your words. Eventually people will come to realise how passionate you are.

Fatimah: And what would be one piece of advice you’d like to leave us with?

Dr. Saadia: The best thing that I can tell you is to find people who are willing to support you and who you can lean on throughout your writing journey. This path of writing isn’t meant to be travelled alone.

Fatimah: Thank you Dr. Saadia, for giving us this amazing opportunity of benefiting from your experience and words.

Dr. Saadia: You’re very welcome.

You can find out more about The Crowning Venture here. 

Sr. Ambareen Syed

Fatimah: Here we also have with us Sister Ambareen Syed, author of the Henrietta Gee series and mother of six beautiful children.

Tell us, Sister Ambareen, where did you first discover your passion for writing?

Sr. Ambareen: Well, ever since I was young, I was always a big reader. I loved reading sci-fi books and when I started to hit my teen years, I started entering contests with my manuscripts and won them, which encouraged me forward along my writing journey.

Fatimah: And what inspired you to write the Henrietta Gee series?

Sr. Ambareen: It began with storytelling. I used to create stories of this girl named Henrietta and tell them to my kids. They always begged me for more stories and this encouraged me to write them down. Eventually, these stories grew into the Henrietta Gee series.

Fatimah: Amazing. It’s always beautiful seeing inspiration coming from your own children.

Sr. Ambareen. (Laughs.) Yes, definitely.

Fatimah: How would you advise Muslim writers of today to embed the spiritual perspective into their writing?

Sr. Ambareen: Firstly, we must understand that other people will always connect differently to our writing, compared to how we do. But it’s also important that we take advantage of this opportunity of literacy that has been presented to us and use this, striving to uplift our society with our works.

It also comes back to your intention. You have to think of your intention before you write, think about what kind of feelings you want to leave your readers with. What kind of lesson do you want them to think about and take to heart. This makes a difference in our manuscripts because it gives a meaning to our words, creating a message for our readers.

Fatimah: Very important. I know a lot of young writers out there today who are passionate about their work but don’t feel encouraged enough to stay motivated along the journey of literacy. What would you like to tell them to encourage them forward?

Sr. Ambareen: Keep writing. Just keep along at it, don’t even bother to edit your ideas. You want to let the creative process and ideas flow out first, and then later you can hard-core edit everything.

Fatimah: Well thank you so much Sister Ambareen. I’m so glad that you were able to share some of your time with us and hopefully, have motivated and inspired others with your words. Until next time.

Sr. Ambareen: Alhamdulillah, it was my pleasure.

You can find out more about the Henrietta Gee series here. 

Fatimah Gomez is 15 years old, and the second eldest  of five. She’s currently in high school and has had a passion for writing since age 9. Recently, she completed her first book for Muslim youth, which she intends to publish soon. She enjoys playing and watching soccer, training for taekwondo, jdm cars, discovering the beauty in art and poetry and connecting with Allah’s creation.

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.

Urgent: Help Us Raise $200,000 for Women’s Islamic Scholarship!

Less than two days remain to raise USD 200,000 for women’s Islamic scholarship! Watch Shaykh Faraz Rabbani’s appeal below.

Supporting Women Scholars Is A Necessity

SeekersGuidance Global Islamic Seminary recognises the urgency of preserving and promoting female scholarship. Women have always been key to the preservation of the Prophetic Call—including the contributions of jurists, historians, and protectors of the traditions of our beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. It is imperative that we support female scholarly voices who are experts on dealing with women’s issues in Fiqh, Islamic social sciences, and more.

In our societies, there is a lack of institutions and institutional funding for women’s scholarship. Reviving Women’s Islamic Scholarship is our effort at addressing this issue.

Unfortunately, less than half of the funds have been donated so far – a sad reminder of how little support is available for female seekers. This campaign is Zakat eligible and we urgently need your help in order to make it a success.

Your charity and Zakat donations can help as follows:

  • Helper – $30 can help buy groceries
  • Supporter – $50 can help buy study materials
  • Sponsor – $250 can buy key reference books
  • Champion – $500 can help pay for tuition and tutoring
  • Companion – $1,000 can help pay for essential family expenditure
  • Protector – $5,000 can help pay rent for more than one month
  • Leader – $10,000 can help provide long term security

How You Can Help:

  • DONATE – Spend your charity and Zakat in this urgent and worthy cause. Give generously, and be assured that even the smallest donation—with sincerity—can amount to great impact.
  • SHARE – Please share this campaign with family, friends, and your community. Ask those you know—with your own personal appeal—to support this campaign.
  • MAKE DU’A – Success is only from Allah Most High, so your dua’s are of immense value. May Allah reward you with that for which you ask and even more, Ameen.

Click here to view the campaign and to donate!

What is the Muslim Women’s Literary Conference?

On October 27th, 2018, Daybreak Press held its 4th Annual Muslim Women’s Literary Conference. Fatimah Gomez was an attendee and gives us an overview of the conference.

The Muslim Women’s Literary Conference, which took place in Toronto, Canada at a college chapel, was a golden opportunity. It was hosted by Daybreak Press, an independent publishing company that strives to empower and raise the voices of Muslim women from all over the world.

Daybreak Press lets women recognise their identities by taking a firm hold of their own narrative. The organisation is part of Rabata, a larger, academic-focused organisation that aims to provide an uplifting and spiritual experience of Islamic education for women.

There were many speakers from diverse backgrounds, who spoke about the importance of using words to convey a heartfelt message. Discussions explored the topic of serving others with the fruits of our lives and religion through our own words. As Shaykha Tamara Grey, the founder of Rabata said, we are very fortunate to have the ability to showcase the beautiful writing that Muslim women have to offer through a platform as large and easily accessible as Daybreak Press. As we have seen in our history, few literary works and manuscripts written by women have survived.

Ustadha Shehnaz Karim, who has studied under various scholars of Syria, spoke about writing through a spiritual lens, whether for ourselves or for others. This is a way of connecting with God and finding inspiration along our spiritual journey to Him. “The written word is something holy,” she said.

Because of that, how we convey our messages to others is very important, lets them know who we are. She said that writing can be a means of prayer, writing to Allah when we’re not ready to openly talk to Him. Instead, we can choose to freely express ourselves through written words, and this creates meaning and a beautiful and sincere connection with our Lord. When we reflect on what we have written, we are ultimately discovering who we are, through a mirror of our own words.

When it comes to self-identity within today’s societies, it’s very important as Muslims to see ourselves and our identities reflected in literature. This helps us initially recognise who we are, which later leads to a stronger image of who Muslims are.

Sister Ambareen Syed, a writer and mother of six, mentioned that beautiful virtues are universally recognised by readers. And when our audiences are ready to hear the virtues of our religion through written works, we must be ready to step forward and be willing to articulate the golden image of Islam. She explained that we can do so by replicating a prophetic model in our texts, through characters and ways of beliefs. With this in mind, we are striving to uplift and elevate our society by the power of our own words alone.

It is vital to make a sound intention before writing, because without it, the writing loses its purpose. If one has the ability and gift to touch their readers and communicate a message that remains true to their identity, then they must pick up the pen and write, taking this priceless opportunity to send their message to our readers. As Muslims, we are people of faith and we strive to close the gap of misunderstanding by realising the true identities of who we are and letting the world hear our articulations. We must write to provide a voice for ourselves and others, because if we don’t, nobody else will.

Fatimah Gomez is 15 years old, and the second eldest of five. She’s currently in high school and has had a passion for writing since age 9. Recently, she completed her first book for Muslim youth, which she intends to publish soon. She enjoys playing and watching soccer, training for taekwondo, jdm cars, discovering the beauty in art and poetry and connecting with Allah’s creation.

Asma Ibret –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 Asma Ibret from the 12th century.

Asma Ibret was an artist and a calligrapher in the Ottoman times. She studied with the most famous teacher in her time. She must have begun while she was quite young, as she finished her first work at the age of 15. It was a beautiful calligraphic description of the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace. The piece had been commissioned by someone who gave it as a gift to the Sultan. The Sultan found it so beautiful, and so expressive of the beauty of the Prophet, that he gave Asma a prize. From there, he employed her on a daily salary.

Her works still exists today in museums and private collections around the world. Her final work, done at the age of 28, lives in the home of a Saudi family, and is a beautiful copy of the Qur’an.asma ibret

Asma used her art to honour the Prophet, as well as the Book of Allah. She was given the honorific title of “Ibret,” meaning an exemplary. She is an amazing role model for young artists and creatives of today.

With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.

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.

Queen Aminatu –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 Queen Aminatu from the 10th century.

Queen Aminatu ruled a place called Zaria, which is now a province of Nigeria. Queen Aminatu’s mother ascended the throne when Aminatu was 16. She learned to ride horseback for military campaign, to wield weapons, and military strategy. When her mother and brother died, Aminatu took the reign at age 34.

Leading Zaria was very difficult at the time, because there was a lot of tribal unrest and very little unity. Queen Aminatu is credited as being the first ruler to unite the area and bring peace and security to the land. She did this not through just the military expeditions that she led, but also through her strategy. When settling up a military camp, she would build a clay wall around the boundaries of the camp. After the military left, cities would form within those protective walls.

The political stability that Queen Aminatu’s leadership, allowed the opportunity for safer trade and new imported goods, including the cola nuts which came from Sudan. She is known as being a fierce leader, who bought peace to the Hausa land, bringing safety and economic prosperity. She ruled Zaria for a total of 34 years.

With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.

Our Lady Fatima al Zahra

Sister Nurulain Wolhuter has written a moving, concise, and loving portrait in praise of our Lady Fatima al Zahra, highlighting her flawless and noble character.

She is Fatima al Batul, al Zahra, the radiant Lady of Paradise, the daughter of the Beloved, Allah bless him and give him peace. She is the mother of the prophetic progeny, Allah be pleased with her. She is also called al Siddiqa, the truthful; al Tahira, the pure; and al Zakiyya, the flawless.

She has become my mother, due to the love between her and the followers of her beloved father. Through her I have come to know him more intimately, and to strive to tread his path more faithfully, Allah bless him and give him peace. Encountering her changed my life from one dominated by worldly things to one focused on the hereafter. Her way is a sword of protection and a rope of victory. It is my bastion in times of difficulty and my strength in times of need.

The Essence of the Sunna

She is our role-model as Muslim women. Our beloved Prophet said: “Fatima is part of me. So whoever angers her, angers me.” (Bukhari) Al Habib Muhammad al Saqqaf says this means Fatima is a piece of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, not separate from him. So, if a Muslim woman emulates Fatima, she is emulating “the essence of the Sunnah” of Allah’s Messenger. (Our Liege Lady Fatimah the Resplendent)

Our lady Fatima was known for her utmost modesty. She covered herself completely. Her outer clothes were the abaya, a loose long dress; the khimar, a garment covering the head and upper body; and the niqab, a face veil. She always wore black. On the day of judgment she will receive the highest of commendations for her modesty.

It is narrated that our master Ali, Allah be pleased with him, said he heard the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, say that on the day of judgment an announcer will call upon the people to lower their gazes until Fatima has passed. (Hakim)

Worldly Matters Were Meaningless to Her

However, our lady was also the bearer of other noble attributes, such as asceticism and generosity, to which men, as well as women, should aspire. Fatima is called al Batul because she was devoted to worship, and this to the extent that all worldly matters were meaningless to her. She lived in the simplest of houses, with the barest of essentials.

Her bed was a thin mat and her only covering was a short blanket that, if it covered her feet, left her upper body open and, if it covered her upper body, left her feet exposed. Her beloved father, Allah bless him and give him peace, encouraged her to abstain from worldly things. Once he refused to enter her house because he saw a colorful decorated curtain on her door, saying “I am not interested in worldly things.” Fatima immediately dispensed with it. (Bukhari)

Our lady Fatima was generous to the point of self-sacrifice. She and her family once fasted for three days, breaking their fast on water, because they gave the only food they had to the needy. Allah Most High praised this nobility of spirit in the holy Qur’an:

They fulfill their vows. They fear a day of widespread woes. They give food to the poor, the orphan, and the captive, though they love it themselves, saying, ‘We feed you for the sake of God alone: We seek neither recompense nor thanks from you. We fear the Day of our Lord – a woefully grim Day. (Sura al Insan 76:7-10)

So our lady Fatima is truly a part of her beloved father. She has bequeathed us the best, and most faithful, way of following him, Allah bless him and give him peace. May Allah grant us the grace to emulate even the smallest part of her pure and flawless way.