By Asma Sayeed, Cambridge University Press, paperback, 234 pages
Asma Sayeed's book explores the history of women as religious scholars from the first decades of Islam through the early Ottoman period (seventh to the seventeenth centuries).
Focusing on women's engagement with ḥadīth, this book analyzes dramatic chronological patterns in women's ḥadīth participation in terms of developments in Muslim social, intellectual, and legal history.
Drawing on primary and secondary sources, this work uncovers the historical forces that shaped Muslim women's public participation in religious learning. In the process, it challenges two opposing views: that Muslim women have been historically marginalized in religious education, and alternately that they have been consistently empowered thanks to early role models such as 'Ā'isha bint Abī Bakr, the wife of the Prophet Muḥammad (SAW).
This book is a must-read for those interested in the history of Muslim women as well as in debates about their rights in the modern world. The intersections of this history with topics in Muslim education, the development of Sunnī orthodoxies, Islamic law, and ḥadīth studies make this work an important contribution to the social and intellectual history of the early and classical eras of Islam.
About the author:
Asma Sayeed’s primary research interests are in early and classical Muslim social history, the history of Muslim education, the intersections of law and social history, and women and gender studies.
She received her PhD from the Department of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University. She was previously the Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies at Lafayette College (Easton, PA), where she taught courses in Islam and World Religions. She has published on topics related to Muslim women and their religious participation in journals such as Studia Islamica and Islamic Law and Society and has contributed a number of encyclopedia articles on women’s history in early and classical Islam.
In 2010, she undertook archival research in Syria on Muslim women’s education in the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods under the auspices of a Fulbright fellowship. Her current project relates to Muslim education and in particular to an examination of texts and textual practices in diverse regional and historical contexts.
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