From getting the kids ready for school, to leading armies, women can do it all. We’re proud to see more women making history than ever. Women are leaders, teachers, and pioneers–and they always have been. In this blog, we want to highlight women from early and modern Muslim history who impacted their communities, advanced knowledge, and changed the world.
We know that well-behaved women rarely make history. So, here are five Muslim women from history who stepped outside the box, and accomplished amazing things.
Qawiyya Black ~ Rayhana Collection
(March 3, 1917 – August 5, 1952)
Sameera Moussa was an Egyptian Nuclear Scientist who worked for peace, and advocated the use of nuclear technology for medicine instead of war. Moussa was a leader and achiever. She was the first female-faculty member, and the first woman to receive a PhD at Cairo University.
Moussa was also a flagbearer of peace and responsibility. She organised the first ever Atomic Energy for Peace Conference, encouraging prominent scientists to advocate for nuclear responsibility, and for the advancement of nuclear-based medicine.
Sameera Moussa was invited to tour nuclear facilities in the United States in recognition of her research. She was even offered employment and citizenship in the United States. But, she refused, saying “Egypt, my dear homeland, is waiting for me.”
(800 a.d. - 880 a.d.)
Fatma Al-Fihri founded the world’s oldest university, The University of Al-Qarawiyyin in Fez, Morocco. The university that Al-Fihri established has been in use since 859 A.D. While Europe was in the midst of the Dark Ages, an era when science, literature, and knowledge was being lost, Al-Qarawiyyin was leading the way in sciences, maths and philosophy through it’s Islam-centric approach to teaching.
According to historic sources, Al-Fihri funded the university with money inherited from her father, Mohammed Al-Fihri, a successful Fez merchant.
(1485 a.d. - 1561 a.d.)
Sayyida Al-Hurra, a Moroccan Andulasian, was a famous pirate of the Western Mediterranean. Before her life as a pirate, Sayyita Al-Hurra was queen of the Moroccan city of Tetouan. When Portuguese imperialists captured the Granada region, Sayyida Al-Hurra was forced to flee. To avenge herself, she turned to a life of piracy. She became allies with the famous Turkish corsair Barbarossa, and assembled a fleet of her own. She used piracy to wreak devastation on Portuguese shipping lines, and was eventually known by the title “Queen of Pirates.”
Lubna of Cordoba
Lubna was originally born as a slave of Spanish origin in the Umayyad palace of Cordoba, in Southern Spain. Thanks to her unmatched intelligence, hard-work, and social prowess, Lubna rose through the ranks of the palace. Lubna worked as palace secretary for the Umayyad palace in the late 10th century. She was in charge of its royal library, which reportedly contained more than 500,000 books. Lubna was in charge of writing, copying, and translating manuscripts. She also contributed commentaries and annotations, contributing to the golden age of knowledge during the Caliphates.
Khadija Bint Khuwaylid
(555 a.d. - 1619 a.d.)
Khadijah was the first wife of the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), and the first Woman of Islam. She belonged to a family of successful merchants and caravan traders in the area of Mecca. Industrious, and smart, Khadijah took over the family business after her father died. Khadijah grew the business, and eventually hired an agent named Mohammad–an honest and courteous employee who Khadijah trusted to help run trade routes. It was Khadijah that eventually proposed marriage to Mohammad.
When Mohammad received a message from God via the Angel Gabriel, Khadijah was the first to believe Mohammad. As he left the business to preach the good news full time, Khadijah continued to support him, and was the first person to enter Islam. Today, many refer to Khadijah by the title of “Mother of Believers.”