Women and learning in Islam

The female relatives of the khalifs and courtiers vied with each other in the patronage and cultivation of letters.

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Quoted from S.P. Scott in the History of the Moorish Empire in Europe; 3 vols; J.B. Lippincott Company, 1904.p.447-48;

…the eminent rank attained by many women in the literary profession. The female relatives of the khalifs and courtiers vied with each other in the patronage and cultivation of letters. Ayesha, the daughter of Prince Ahmed, excelled in rhyme and oratory; her speeches aroused the tumultuous enthusiasm of the grave philosophers of Cordoba, her library was one of the finest and most complete in the kingdom.

Valada, a princess of the Almohads, whose personal charms were not inferior to her talents, was renowned for her knowledge of poetry and rhetoric; her conversation was remarkable for its depth and brilliancy; and, in the academic contests of the capital which attracted the learned and the eloquent from every quarter of the Peninsula, she never failed, whether in prose or in poetical composition, to distance all competitors.

Algasania and Safia, both of Seville, were also distinguished for poetical and oratorical genius; the latter was unsurpassed for the beauty and perfection of her calligraphy; the splendid illuminations of her manuscripts were the despair of most accomplished artists of the age. The literary attainments of Miriam, the gifted daughter of Al-Faisuli, were famous throughout the Peninsula, the caustic wit and satire of her epigrams were said to have been unrivalled.

Umm-al-Saad was famous for her familiarity with Muslim tradition. Labana of Cordoba was thoroughly versed in the exact sciences; her talents were equal to the solution of the most complex geometrical and algebraic problems, and her vast acquaintance with general literature obtained her the important employment of private secretary to the Khalif al-Hakem II.

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