Regular visitors to the website will have no doubt noticed that we love to celebrate the achievement of Muslim women here at Ummahsonic. That’s why this International Women’s Day we thought we would delve into the lives of some truly inspiring Muslim women from history…
Firstly, let’s look at Fatima al-Fihri, an Arab Muslim born in 800 AD. Having received a formal education and studied the Islamic jurisprudence Fiqh along with the Hadith (records and writings of the prophet Muhammed), she used her inheritance to found the world’s first ever university. Fatima was the first person to pioneer a model of higher learning that is still used all over the world today.
Initially founded as a mosque, the University of Al-Qarawiynn, which became a place of worship and education. Still in operation today, the University is the oldest continually operating educational institution in the world and also hosts one of the largest mosques in North Africa. Indeed, the library contains over 4000 manuscripts – including a 9th-century Qur’an and the earliest collection of hadiths known to man – one truly amazing legacy!
From education through to medication, Rufaida As-Alamia was the first female Muslim nurse and surgeon. One of the earliest people to accept Islam in Medina, Rufaida initially gained fame for her contribution to welcoming the prophet, Muhammad (PBUH) on his arrival in Madinah. A kind, empathetic nurse and amazing organiser, Rufaida was born into a family already very involved in the medical community – which is where she learned most of her initial medical training. Rufaida initially obtained clinical experience from her father. Devoting herself to nursing and taking care of sick people, Rufaida became an expert healer. She practised her skills in field hospitals in her tent during many battles. She provided care to injured soldiers during battle, as well as providing shelter from the wind and heat of the desert for those who were dying, and training women to continue her work.
Rufaida implemented her clinical skills and medical experience into developing the first ever documented mobile care units that were able to meet the medical needs of the community. The majority of her work was primarily focused on hygiene and stabilising patients prior to further and more invasive medical procedures.
Finally, let’s take a look at Mariam Al-liliyah, a 10th-century astronomer from Syria. Working under the Emir of Aleppo, Mariam developed and manufactured astrolabes (an astronomical and navigational instrument) to great success. She was actually the first Muslim to have helped build an astrolabe in the Islamic world in the eighth century and is credited with designing and advancing the instrument.
Although little is known about her outside of her work, she was named an extraordinary woman by 1001 Inventions, and Henry E. Holt named the main-belt asteroid after her. In fact, Mariam even inspired a character in the 2015 critically acclaimed book Binti… pretty cool!
So, there we have it, three amazing Muslim women from history who still inspire us today. Let us know which one inspires you the most.