Information on women traditionists of the ninth century is given in a work by Muhammad ibn ‘Abdir-Rahmaan as-Sakhaawee (830-897/1427-1429), called adDaw al-Laami‘, which is a biographical dictionary of eminent persons of the ninth century. A further source is the Mu‘jam ash-Shuyookh of ‘Abdul-‘Azeez ibn ‘Umar ibn Fahd (812-871/1409-1466), compiled in 861 AH and devoted to the biographical notices of more than 1,100 of the author’s teachers, including over 130 women scholars under whom he had studied. Some of these women were acclaimed as among the most precise and scholarly traditionists of their time, and trained many of the great scholars of the following generation. Umm Haanee Maryam (778-871/1376-1466), for instance, learnt the Qur’an by heart when still a child, acquired all the Islamic sciences then being taught, including theology, law, history, and grammar, and then travelled to pursue hadeeth with the best traditionists of her time in Cairo and Makkah. She was also celebrated for her mastery of calligraphy, her command of the Arabic language, and her natural aptitude for poetry, as well as her strict observance of the duties of religion. Her son, who became a noted scholar of the tenth century, showed the greatest veneration for her, and constantly waited on her towards the end of her life. She pursued an intensive programme of lecturing in the great colleges of Cairo, giving ijazaahs to many scholars. Ibn Fahd himself studied several technical works on hadeeth under her.
Her Syrian contemporary, Baa’ee Khaatoon bint Abil-Hasan (d. 1459), studied traditions with Aboo Bakr al-Mizzee and numerous other traditionists, and secured the ijaazahs of a large number of masters of hadeeth, both men and women. She later delivered lectures on the hadeeth in Syria and Cairo. We are told that she took especial delight in teaching. ‘Aa’ishah bint Ibraaheem (1358-1438), known in academic circles as Ibnat ash-Sharaa’ihee, also studied traditions in Damascus and Cairo and elsewhere, and delivered lectures which the eminent scholars of the day regularly attended. Umm al-Khayr Sa‘eedah of Makkah (d. 850/1446) received instruction in hadeeth from numerous traditionists in different cities, gaining an equally enviable reputation as a scholar.
So far as may be gathered from the sources, the involvement of women in hadeeth scholarship, and in the Islamic disciplines generally, seems to have declined considerably from the tenth century of the Hijrah (15th Century CE) onwards. Books such as an-Noor as-Saafir of al-‘Aydaroos, the Khulaasat alAkhbaar of al-Muhibbee, and the as-Suhub al-Waabilah of Muhammad ibn ‘Abdillaah, which are biographical dictionaries of eminent persons of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries of the Hijrah respectively, contain the names of barely a dozen eminent women traditionists. But it would be wrong to conclude from this that after the tenth century, women lost interest in the subject. Some women traditionists, who gained good reputations in the ninth century, lived well into the tenth, and continued their services to the Sunnah. Asmaa bint KamaaludDeen (d. 904/1498) wielded great influence with the sultans and their officials, to whom she often made recommendations, which they always accepted. She lectured on hadeeth, and trained women in various Islamic sciences. ‘Aa’ishah bint Muhammad (d. 906/1500), who married the famous judge Muslihud-Deen, taught traditions to many students, and was appointed professor at the Saalihiyyah College in Damascus. Faatimah bint Yoosuf of Aleppo (1465-1519), was known as one of the excellent scholars of her time. Ummul-Khayr granted an ijaazah to a pilgrim at Makkah in the year 1531.
The last woman traditionist of the first rank who is known to us was Faatimah al-Fudayliyyah (d. 1831), also known as ash-Shaykhah al-Fudayliyyah. She was born before the end of the twelfth Islamic century (18th century CE), and soon excelled in the art of calligraphy and the various Islamic sciences. She had a special interest in hadeeth and read extensively on the subject. Faatimah received the diplomas of a good many scholars, and acquired a reputation as an important traditionist in her own right. Towards the end of her life, she settled at Makkah, where she founded a well-stocked public library. In the City many eminent traditionists attended her lectures and received certificates from her. Among them, one could mention in particular Shaykh ‘Umar al-Hanafee and Shaykh Muhammad Saalih ash-Shaafi‘ee.
Throughout the history of feminine scholarship in Islam it is clear that the women involved did not confine their study to a personal interest in traditions, or to the private coaching of a few individuals, but took their seats as students as well as teachers in public educational institutions, along with their brothers in faith. The colophons of many manuscripts show them both as students attending large general classes, and also as teachers, delivering regular courses of lectures.
Various notes on the manuscript of the Kitaab al-Kifaayah of al-Khateeb al-Baghdaadee, and of a collection of various treatises on hadeeth, show Ni‘mah bint‘Alee, Umm Ahmad Zaynab bint al-Makkee, and other women traditionists delivering lectures on these two books, sometimes independently, and sometimes jointly with male traditionists, in major colleges such as the ‘Azeeziyya Madrasah, and the Diya’iyyah Madrasah, to regular classes of students. Some of these lectures were attended by Ahmad, son of the famous general SalaahudDeen.
 Hadith Literature, pp. 150-1.
 Hadith Literature, p. 150.
 Hadith Literature, pp. 152-3.
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