Should you read al-Muhaddithat: the women scholars in Islam?
This book is an adapted translation of the introduction to Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi’s fifty-six volume biographical dictionary of women scholars of hadeeth in Islamic history. It has fantastic insights about women’s roles in hadeeth studies, and in some places it reads like a book on usul al-hadeeth with 100% of the examples about women.
It is a scholarly book, and as such, it is name-heavy, date-heavy, book-title-heavy: it is all kinds of heavy, and it’s not for everyone. Personally, I read through the openings to each section and then skimmed through the evidence—a plethora of names, dates, and titles of different works.
Here is an example of a topic you’d find inside. (Swipe to see pictures of my copy.) One section in Chapter 3 is called Venues and describes the places where hadeeth classes were held. After mentioning that shops, gardens, and ribats were sometimes used as classrooms, Nadwi cites houses, mosques, and schools as the main places where hadeeth study took place. Then, Nadwi gives examples of scholars who studied in each of these places: when they studied, what they studied, and with who. For example:
In 685, Umm Muhammad Aminah bint al-Imam al-Zahid Taqi al-Din Abi Ishaq Ibrahim ibn Ali Ahmad ibn Fadl al-Wasitiyyah al-Dimashqiyyah studied al-Fawa’id al-Multafazah wa-l-Fawa’id al-Multaqatah with her father at their home in Damascus.
This section even includes a list of the twenty-four female teachers who taught a class in the home of Shaykh Muwaffaq al-Din in Damascus in 627. The class was on some of the hadeeths of al-Dibaji.
I hope this helps you decide if this is a book that you’re interested in reading, using for a project, keeping as a reference volume, or respectfully steering clear of. 🙂
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