[Dec’13 Book] Al-Muhaddithat: The Woman Scholars in Islam


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This book was bought on the day I graduated from University of Manchester, specifically on the 17th of July 2009.

 I have attempted to read it once, sometime after that, before did not manage to finish it. So the book I picked to read in this month is this book.

The reason?

I have thousands of questions with regards to the role of women according to Islam.

Yes, I know many of the basic stuff – Women most important roles are as mothers, raising the next generation.  But I also know that Islam has never limited the women to just that. Women have to, and have been in the past, playing important roles in the society, at large.

Then, the questions that often come into my mind is, how did they balance their family life with the outside work?

Did they have what we term nowadays as work-life balance?

I really need to know the practical side of it.

This book from the synopsis, is supposed to give me the overview of the muhaddithat – the female narrators of hadith. FYI, hadith is the record of sayings and deeds by the Prophet, which is a huge and very important part of Islam as it determines the shariah.

In short, these women were scholars of their time, those who worked as judges, ones who people referred to and learned from about this important part of Islam. In many cases, they hold important position in governments during their times due to their knowledge.

Now, imagine a scholar in our times. I could not picture any other than those sitting in academia. And guess what, these people also have work-life balance issues! Is it partly because everything is institutionalized? 

But why I am looking up to them?

These women lived  in  the Islamic empire, closer to the time of the Prophet and his esteemed and rightly-guided companions (i.e. walking on the path of truth). By looking at their practices, I hope what I am going to find is something of truth, or as closest as possible.

So I am reading this book hoping to find answers. How did they do it? How did they marry these two personal and professional spheres of life? Where are the lost female scholars of Islam? What happened?

Even it is going to be a glimpse, I’d be very grateful. 

I’ll be back with my findings, soon, in God’s will.

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Hadith (Arabic: حديث‎, /ˈhædɪθ/[1] or /hɑːˈdiːθ/[2]) in religious use is often translated as ‘tradition’, meaning a report of the deeds and sayings of Muhammad. Hadiths may originate from other important characters of the earliest years of Islam such as the companions of Muhammad or Shia Imams as well. These reports form the basis of Islamic law, the Quran’s interpretation (tafsir), and early Islamic history. Each hadith is composed of two parts, a chain of authorities reporting the hadith (isnad) and the text (matn).[3][4]

Hadiths are regarded by traditional Islamic schools of jurisprudence as important tools for understanding the Quran and in matters of jurisprudence.[5]Hadith were evaluated and gathered into large collections during the 8th and 9th centuries. These works are referred to in matters of Islamic law andhistory to this day. [Quote from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith]

Other reviews on the book:

http://antjeschrupp.com/2012/01/06/weibliche-gelehrte-im-islam/

http://www.patheos.com/blogs/mmw/2012/02/on-female-not-feminist-scholars-reviewing-al-muhaddithat/

 

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This entry is part of my ‘Read-a-Book-a-Month’ attempt.

 

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