Female Physicians and Medical Profession in the Islamic History

Female Physicians and Medical Profession

in the Islamic History*

Dr. Omaima Abou-Bakr**

Dr. Huda As-Saa’dy***

Research Objective

Someone may argue commenting on the idea tackled through this paper about the Female Muslim physicians saying: “You, women, are writing about something which never exist trying to bring it into the world.” This definitive phrase definitely summarizes the dilemma witnessed in the past and the modern age. In fact, it reflects the modern impression resulted from the lack of the historical data of this subject, as if the events or activities are not explicitly represented, emphasized and transmitted through many chains of narrations in the official chronicles, they are deemed as unimportant and not worthy of study and recording. This represents the biggest challenge for women (and the feminist historical school of thought in general) who were interested in studying the status of woman in the Muslim society and analyzing the cultural visions and discourses around her role in life. We believe in the necessity of this process as a way to trace the changes of the view about women and their work and participation in different life aspects, and also a way to compare it with the Islamic Teachings paradigm. In fact, we may aim for bringing into life something which never exist by activating the awareness of women, in particular, to boost their self-esteem by knowing that they participated in creating the past on different levels. Moreover, considering this historical and cultural dimension in studying the topic of women in Islam helps in paying the attention towards the development of social and cultural formation of the roles of women and men during different epochs and also towards the balances of power in the real world and in recording and recalling history.

Were there actually professional female physicians in the Islamic history?  Were there prominent female physicians and did they left a heritage which was transmitted to us? What does the answer to these questions mean to women in the current Muslim societies? We are trying, here, to achieve two goals: First, to re-create an image about women interested in different medical branches to emphasize and frame the topic. Second, to put this historical image in a new analytical frame apart from the orientalist hypothesis indicating that Muslim woman is suppressed in every age and place, due to the compelling religious reference.

Yet, before talking about women and their roles, we want to give the reader a brief account on the Islamic medicine, in general, besides demonstrating the most significant sources of research.

Studying Research Sources

We depend, in preparing this research, on a number of Arabic and foreign sources, references and journals and we intend only to demonstrate the most significant essential sources and references. The most significant sources are the Books of Classes (AṬabaqat) and the oldest book transmitted to us among them is AṬabaqat Al-Kaberah (The Major Ṭabaqat) of Ibn Sa’d (Died in 230 H/ 815 AD) through which he tackled the Arabic aristocratism and divided them into groups according to the class of each individual in the Muslim state, whether he is among the Companions (of the Prophet) or the successors. This writing is significant for our research because Ibn Sa’d dedicated a whole section to the famous female figures who were close to the Messenger and the Rightly Guided Caliphs. This section helped us in finding a good number of women who participated in the medical field. However, this was not easy, as the informations about women and the medical profession were scattered across the pages of this section in Ibn Sa’d’s book. In addition, this writing stopped at the beginning of the third Hijri century/ the eighth Georgian century, due to the death of the writer. Thus, we needed to search for other sources to fill the gap of the following epochs.

In addition to the book of Ibn Sa’d, there are other books of classes which really helped us during our research, such as the book of Usd Al-Ghabah Fi Ma’reat Al-aabah written by Ibn Al-Athir (D. 630 H/ 1232 AD) and the book of Al- Iṣaabah Fi Ma’refat Al-aabah written by Ibn Ḥajar Al-‘Asqalanī (D. 852 H/ 1448 AD). These two writings followed the same approach of Ibn Sa’d in his book, as each one of them dedicated a special section to famous female figures among the female companions and successors. Ibn Ḥajar has also another writing which is Al-Dhurar Al-Kaminah fi ‘A’yani Al-Mia’h At-Thaminah, which is regarded as the most famous biographical book of the ninth Hijri century/ fourteenth Georgian century. In general, biographical books tackle different figures among which are kings, Sultans, ministers, authors, military leaders, scholars, philosophers, poets, jurists (Fiqh scholars), literary figures and others who had a great influence in their societies. Through this writing, Ibn Ḥajar chose to present the biography of the figures of the eight Hijri century. He recorded the biography of five thousand two hundred and four of those living during this century among which are a number of female prominent figures. However, we did not find among the biographies of those females any indications that one of them participated in the medical field. Yet, we find sometimes through the biography of another person a reference to the role of a female physician who is his mother, sister or daughter.

For a comprehensive analysis of the books of classes and biographies focused on women, we had to search in the book of Tareekh Baghdad (The History of Bagdad) written by Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdady (D. 463 H/ 1073 AD) through which he dedicated a section to women who lived in Baghdad. By reading this book, we were hoping to find one of those Baghdadi women who participated in the medical profession. However, Al-Khateeb Al-Baghdady neglected the role of women in this field and focused only on their role in the political, religious and philanthropic life.

Furthermore, in order to cover the history of women in the Muslim society, we had to shed light on women of Al-Maghrib Al-Arabi and try to know their role in the medical field. There are a lot of biographical books dedicated to this region, as authors of Al-Maghrib Al-Arabi were mainly interested in collecting the biographies and stories of their Ashrāf (descendants of the Prophet Muhammad) and prominent figures; out of their interest in proving their Arabian linage due to the contact of the Arabs with the barbarians and Ṣaqlabīs. In addition, the book of Al-Isti’ab fi Ma’refat Al-Ṣḥaab written by Ibn Al-Bar (D. 463 H / 1073 AD) is among the most famous biographical books dedicated to that region. However, this book did not devote a special section to female prominent figures. Instead, the female biographies are included in the male biographies and are very few. By reflecting on these female biographies, we did not find any information indicating that any of them was a physician. Yet, the male biographies included two women worked in the medical field and gained a great fame across Andalusia and the Al-Maghrib Al-Arabi countries.

Beside the general books of classes and biographies, there are specialized books of classes interested in recording the history of the members of a certain profession or craft. For example, there are books specialized in the classes of physicians at the top of which are the book of ‘Uyoon Al-Abnaa’ fi Ṭabaqat Al-Aṭibaa’ (the eyes of sons in the physician classes) written by Ibn Abī Uṣaybi’ah (D. 668 H/ 1270 AD), and the book of Ṭabaqat Al-Aṭibaa’ wal Ḥukama’ written by Ibn Jaljal (Died at the end of the fourth Hijri / ninth Georgian century), and the book of Ikhbar Al-‘Ulamaa’ Bi Akhbar Al-Ḥukama’ written by Al-Qafṭī (D. 646 H / 1248 AD). Despite of the significance of these three books for the researcher interested in the medical field and physicians of the Muslim world, they totally neglect woman’s role in this field, as these three books did not include any physician woman except one of them which was mentioned by Ibn Abī Uṣaybi’ah in his biographies of selected (male) physicians. This reluctance from recording a comprehensive history of women has to be studied to reveal the reasons behind it. Was it an unintentional or intentional negligence and a trial to belittle woman’s role and her status in the society? In general, recording the history of physicians in the Muslim world started only in the medieval ages especially during the period witnessing the decline of the Muslim Ummah and the emancipation from the moral restrictions. This situation affected women condition; as the society set taboos around woman and isolated her as a way to protect her from facing any evils. Thus, her role recorded through the male’s writings during this period is very few if not rare[1]. There is another explanation mentioned by Ruth Roded, a female author, through her book[2], in this regard. She said that woman during the medieval Islamic ages was very influential in the political arena and participated in the affairs of the state, to the extent that some of them became state rulers. In fact, this political authority given to woman and her power over the state aroused the anger of some historians who excluded woman from their writings or limited their roles in different fields as a reaction of this new situation which they believed to be a violation of the Islamic traditions and teachings[3]. In this regard, we will present our comment in the last part of this study.

In addition to these above-mentioned references, there are general books of history at the top of which is the book of Tareekh Al-Rusol wal Mulouk written by Al-Ṭabarī (D. 310 H/ 922 AD). Through this book, Al-Ṭabarī narrates the stories of mankind from Adam’s era till his age in a chronological order. This book provides us with a broad scientific material about the first and second Hijri century which helps us to know woman’s status, in general, in this society, through which we can understand the women’s participation in the community.

In another hand the books of Ḥisbah had represented a special significance because they are one of the important sources of the cultural legacy. They accurately describe the social, financial and professional life during the Islamic ages such as the book of Nihayt Al-Rutbah fi Ṭalab Al- Ḥisbah written by Ibn Bassam, the Muḥtasib, Nihayt Al-Rutbah fi Ṭalab Al- Ḥisbah written by Ibn Abdul-Rahman Al-Shirazī, and Al- Ḥisbah fil -Islam written by Ibn Taymiyyah. All these books provide us with extremely important and valuable information about the medical profession in Muslim society and the principles of its practice.

Beside all these sources, there is Al-Aṣfahanī‘s Kitab Al-Aghani (Book of Songs) which is a very interesting book, as it is a collection of music, songs and poems. The author of this book recorded the biography of the most famous singers, males and females, in early Islam and the Umayyad and Abbasid states. In this book we found that some famous female singers were working also in the medical field especially in female medicine (Obstetrics and midwifery).

So, despite of the abundance of the sources about medicine and physicians, we can say that the informations about woman’s role in the medical field are few and scattered. Thus, we have to exert a huge effort to collect these informations and try to deduce the hidden in order to obtain a real image of women’s role in the medical profession and to reach a conclusion, as much as possible, about their status and situations in this field and the social perspective towards them.

The Genesis of Islamic Medicine

Medical sciences gained a special interest in Islam, as the Messenger ﷺalways urged his companions to find cures using the known medical treatment and therapy methods, which encouraged Muslims to regard the science of bodies as important as the science of religions[4]. So they paid a great attention to medicine, competed to study its theories, laws and practical and theoretical fundamentals. Since early Islam till now, the Islamic state is rich in names of great physicians who dedicated their lives to their country and the whole world, and they are still known till now in the eastern and western medical media. While there were many famous male physicians, there were also Muslim female physicians who participated in the medical profession since early Islam, as they were part of its development. However, history did not pay much tribute to those female physicians, as it neglected their role and presence. Thus, we realized the necessity of highlighting the role of those female physicians   in the medical life in the Islamic state. But we’ll begin this study with a brief outline of the profession of medicine in the Muslim society.

Medicine, or the science of bodies, “The science of preserving health in time of wellbeing and restoring health in time of illness[5]” is one of the sciences that Muslims have given most of their care and attention. Muslim’s interest in this field of science has begun since the early Islam when the Messenger, as previously mentioned, used to urge Muslims to study and specialize in medicine. For studying this science in a thoroughly way, early Muslims started to read the Greek, Pharaonic, Indian and Babylonian medical legacy. In fact, the Greek medical legacy had the greatest influence on Muslim physicians, as the Greek civilization is one of the world’s richest civilizations in medicine[6]. Thus, Muslim physicians studied the Greek medical legacy by reading and translating it, and then adding to it the conclusion of their own experiences and scientific comments. Finally, they deduced new medical theories which the world still pays tribute to it till now[7].

Due to the importance of the Greek medical writings, the medical student had to start his path by reading its famous writings such as the books of Hippocrates and Galenus. Then, he should move on to the writings of famous Arab physicians. In fact, the students mainly depended on memorization by heart, as they believed that memorization is the way to preserve the scientific subject over the years in case of loss or damage of the books or the source[8]. There was no specific curriculum or certain books which the student should study to receive an accredited certificate. However, each professor, at his own discretion, used to give his student this certificate. In general, studying medicine did not require travelling far like in the case of studying religious sciences. This can be one of the factors which helped woman to enter this field in the Muslim society.

There were three main methods for a medical student to receive an accredited certificate to be a professional practitioner:

A-Studying medicine in hospitals: student received a practical training by spending his time with the patients; following up their different cases and illness. In addition to the practical study, there was a theoretical medical study inside the hospitals, as most of hospitals in the Muslim world included lecture halls and large libraries,

B-Studying medicine in specialized private schools.

 C-Private lessons: By receiving direct knowledge from a famous physician. The student here accompanied his tutor in the clinic, hospital and home visits to learn from him the method of examining the patient and diagnosis. The father was often the professor or the tutor of his son or daughter, as following the medical career path of the family was a tradition during the early and medieval Islamic ages[9].

Beside these main methods in studying medicine, there was the method of learning medicine through practical experience with no official studying or methodology. Goitien, through his book A Mediterranean Society, mentioned that a huge number of Jewish women chose the path of this kind of practical medicine. In fact, they did not receive education in schools or hospitals, but gained experience in this field by practicing. This kind of physicians were mainly among the poor and middle classes[10]. It is noted that this phenomenon had spread in the Arab Muslim society at that time, as the Jewish lived and worked inside the Arab Muslim states and under its sovereignty and its social and public professional system. Although many Muslim women in low classes chose this practical path, there are many evidences showing that a good number of female physicians had received their education from official institutions and were among the elites, such as the midwives who received their medical education from Az-Zahrawī, a famous Andalusian physician, and became his assistants[11].

After finishing the medical education by following any of the above methods, student used to practice his career directly in the hospitals and clinics or by going to patient’s houses. Only rich patient could afford to pay for the physician’s home visits, while members of middle and poor classes used to go to the hospital to receive their free treatment.

In fact, historians consider the tent of Rufaidah (Khimat Rufaidah), -one of the early female Muslims-, to be the first hospital in Islam where medical treatment was presented during times of war. After this initiative launched by a woman in the early Muslim society, Muslims turned their attention to hospitals and exerted efforts in its development and progress during the following ages. Ahmad Issa, a historian, mentioned, in his book Tareekh Al-Bimarstanat (The History of the Bimarestans), that a female physician known as the daughter of Shehab AdDeen As-Sa’egh played a pivotal role during her work at Dar As-Shifaa’ Al-Mansoury, the biggest hospital in medieval Egypt[12]. We will talk later about this female physician in detail.

Beside working in hospitals, woman worked also in clinics and offered home visits to treat her patients just like men. Aṭ- Ṭabarī mentioned, in his book Tareekh Ar-Rusul wal Mulūk (The History of Prophets and Kings), that Abu Al-Hasan, a therapist in Bab Al-Muaḥwel, said: “One day, a woman visited me and said: ‘I have been searching for someone to cure my wound, till this place was recommended for me. I want you to cure a wound on my shoulder. I said to her: ‘I am just an eye therapist. There is a female practitioner here for women who can treat wounds. You can wait for her.’ She waited and, when the female practitioner came, I accompanied her and advised the practitioner to take care of her. Then, she cured her wound and prescribed for her an ointment.[13]” “This place” mentioned by At-Tabarī is like a public clinic having many specializations including this female surgeon who worked at the same place with male physicians and who was recommended by males to those who need surgery. In addition, home visits by female physicians were numerous, as the midwives and obstetricians performed their operations at (patient’s) homes. In his book Al-Madkhal (The Introduction) which transmitted the history of some aspects of women’s life in the Mamluk Cairo in the thirteenth and fourteenth Georgian century, Ibn Al-Ḥaaj talked about how people were welcoming the midwives in their houses, and the preparations of the midwife for visiting the house of a pregnant woman and the obstetric operations and the postnatal care of the mother and newborn[14].

After mentioning places where the physician, male or female, used to operate, we want to present the medical treatment and therapy methods applicable during these ages. We noticed that historians did not provide us an exact description of the medical treatment methods during this specific period, may be because the treatment methods were not accurate. For example, Ibn Abī Uṣaybi’ah, the most renowned historian for his record of the history of physicians, did not provide us with an accurate description of the way of diagnosis and treatment of diseases or any details about preparing medications. Yet, we know from the books of Ḥisbah some surgical practices by physicians of the early and medieval Islamic ages at the top of which are the methods of cauterization, phlebotomy and cupping[15]. Beside these simple surgical procedures, the physicians of those ages carried out complex surgical operations such as the surgeries of abdomen, hernia, varicose veins, hemorrhoids and fistulas. They also carried out urologic, gynecological and pediatric surgeries as well as oncological, orthopedic and war surgeries[16]. Despite of the development and diversity of surgical methods, physicians of these ages preferred to avoid the surgical operations and instead they used to prescribe for their patients medications and drugs. In fact, woman played a pivotal role in the field of surgery. We will discuss later how surgeries, in general, unexpectedly were among the fields which witnessed female physicians’ contribution beside midwifery, obstetrics, eye therapy (Kaḥalah) and ophthalmology.

Regarding medications and drugs, physicians of those ages were interested in studying different types of drugs and tried to prepare different types of antidotes and medications. Indeed, Muslim physicians, during the seventh Hijri century / thirteenth Georgian century, succeeded in discovering and preparing three thousand types of medications which were new to physicians from other countries[17]. At that time, there were three social categories who participated in medications and drugs preparation:

  1. Syrupists: selling drugs which are liquids usually made of honey.
  2. herbalists: selling different medical tools as well as perfumes and spices.
  3. Specialist pharmacists: who are well acquainted with the manufacture and preservation of simple and compound medications and drugs [18].

It is certain that women worked in the field of pharmaceutics. We find brief information about women using drops or ointments, such as the previously mentioned physician in At-Tabari’s and Zainab bt. Bany Aud (later to be mentioned) which used to put kuḥl in the eyes of a person who suffers from ophthalmia. Moreover, sources mentioned that Ibn Sina used eye drops prepared by a woman expert in the medical industry[19]. We also read about Set Al-Sham Khatoun (D.616H), the sister of Toran Shah (The Ayyubid dynasty), who adopted and managed “inside her house the manufacture of syrups, powders and drugs to be distributed for free[20]“.

The medical profession in Muslim society was related to the position of the Muḥtasib who was an employee responsible for regulating and supervising public morals in the Islamic state; “enjoining good and forbidding evil.[21]” The Muḥtasib was assigned to supervise all professions in the society including the profession of medicine and pharmaceutics. He was also entitled to obtain the oath of the physician before receiving an accredited certificate to be a professional practitioner and assure the physician’s potential in diagnosing and treating illness. “He used to ask all physicians to follow the conditions of the physician Yūḥannā ibn Masawaiyh in his famous book Meḥnat Aṭ-Ṭabeeb (The Trial of the Physician). The one who meets all the conditions will be accepted. If not, he will be rejected and allowed to enrich his knowledge; by attending learning sessions and reading more books before having the license to treat people, to protect the patients from any possible harm[22]“. In fact, Muḥtasibs recorded, through their writings, the fundamentals of the profession of medicine, the conditions of its practice and their direct relationship with the physicians at the top of which are the chief of the physicians who was assigned by the Muḥtasib [23].

Although the Muḥtasib transmitted to us precise details about the profession of medicine, he mentioned nothing about woman as a physician. Most likely, when talking about the physician, he meant any person working in the medical field, whether a man or a woman. It is certain that there was a direct relationship between the Muḥtasib and the female physician, as he was entitled to supervise the profession of medicine with all its specifications including the field of obstetrics and gynecology which was full of female physicians, midwives and nurses.

Female physicians in the Islamic History

After studying the female physicians mentioned in different historical sources such as the books of classes, biographies and general history, we collected twenty-four women who participated in the medical and therapeutic field and who were included in the historical chronicles as physicians or women with worth remembering contributions. After arranging their data in a form of a table, we reached an image which reflects the nature and circumstances of this category of women in the early Islamic societies.

The following table shows the names of those female physicians and the sources which recorded their history:

Table No. (1):

No. Female Physicians Sources
1 Rufaida Al-Aslamiah أسد الغابة لابن الأثير
الإصابة في تمييز الصحابة لابن حجر
2 Ar-Rabi’ bt. Ma’oodh Al-Anṣariah الإصابة في تمييز الصحابة لابن حجر
3 Umayyah bt. Qays Al-Ghafariah أسد الغابة لأبن الأثير
4 Salma Um Rafe’ الإصابة في تمييز الصحابة لابن حجر
5 Mo’adhah Al-Ghafariah أسد الغابة لابن الأثير
6 Ko’eybah Al-Aslamiah كتاب الطبقات الكبير لابن سعد
7 Lailah Al-Ghafariah الإصابة في تمييز الصحابة لابن حجر
8 Um Al-Alaa’ Al-Anṣariah أسد الغابة لابن كثير
9 Um ‘Atiah Al-Anṣariah أسد الغابة لابن كثير
كتاب الطبقات الكبيرة لابن سعد
10 Faridah Al-Kubra الأغاني للأصفهاني
11 Zainab, the physician of the family of Awd طبقات الأطباء لابن أبي أصيبعة
12 Kharqaa Al-‘Amiriah الأغاني للأصفهاني
13 Sallâmah Al-Qas الأغاني للأصفهاني
14 Ḥababah الأغاني للأصفهاني
15 Mutayam Al-Hashemiah الأغاني للأصفهاني
16 Roḥaṣ الأغاني للأصفهاني
17 Maḥbobah الأغاني للأصفهاني
18 Fadl, the freed-maid of Al-Mutawakkil الأغاني للأصفهاني
19 Um Osayah, the midwife حسن العقبي لابن الداية
20 Um Ahmad, the midwife تحفة الأحباب للسخاوي
21  The sister of Abu Bakr, and her daughter الاستيعاب لابن عبد البر
22 The freed-maid of Aby Abdullah Al-Kenan البيان المغربي لابن عذارى
23 Um Al-Hasan, the daughter of a judge الدرر الكامنة لابن حجر
24 Daughter of Shehab Ad-Deen As-Sa’egh خلاصة الأثر للمحبي

Table No. (2)

No. Female Physicians Date of Birth/Death Birthplace/ Residence
1 Rufaida Al-Aslamiah Prophet’s era Al-Madinah
2 Ar-Rabi’ bt. Ma’oodh Al-Anṣariah Prophet’s era Al-Madinah

Umayyah bt. Qays Al-Ghafariah

Prophet’s era Al-Madinah
4 Salma Um Rafe’ Prophet’s era Al-Madinah
5 Mo’adhah Al-Ghafariah Prophet’s era Al-Madinah
6 Ko’aybah Al-Aslamiah Prophet’s era Al-Madinah
7 Lailah Al-Ghafariah Prophet’s era Al-Madinah
8 Um Al-Alaa’ Al-Anṣariah Prophet’s era Al-Madinah
9 Um ‘Atiah Al-Anṣariah Prophet’s era Al-Madinah
10 Faridah Al-Kubra Umayyad era Hejaz then Levant
11 Zainab, the physician of the family of Awd Umayyad era Levant
12 Kharqaa’ Al-‘Amiriah Umayyad era Arab Peninsula
13 Sallâmah Al-Qas Umayyad era Al-Madinah- Levant
14 Ḥababah Died in 105 H Basrah
15 Mutayam Al-Hashemiah Died in 244 H Basrah
16 Roḥaṣ Died in 245 H Baghdad
17 Maḥbobah Died in 247 H Iraq
18 Fadl, the freed-maid  of Al-Mutawakkil Died in 257 H Baghdad
19 Um Asyah, the midwife Tulunids Egypt
20 Um Ahmad, the midwife Mamluk era Egypt
21 The daughter of Zahr, The sister of Abu Bakr, and her daughter Almohad Caliphate


22 The freed-maid  of Aby Abdullah Al-Kenan Died in the 5th Hijri century Al-Maghrib Al-‘Arabi
23 Um Al-Hasan, the daughter of a judge Contemporary: 750 H Al-Andalus
24 Daughter of Shehab Ad-Deen As-Sa’egh Contemporary: 1036 H Egypt

From the last table we notice that most of the female physicians belonged to the early Islamic age, the age of Messenger and companions. Eight women out of twenty-four lived during the age of the Messenger and companions, while the others lived during different Islamic later ages. We also notice from this table that with the exception of Al-Madinah, the place of residence of the early female physicians, no country or city exceeded the other in female physicians.

The presence of most of the female physicians during the early Islamic period proves that the Messenger and early Muslims encouraged woman’s engagement in this field. Thus, woman was distinguished in the medical industry and healing the wounded, but this declined gradually, as we could not, as noticed from the table, collect more than a name or two of the famous female physicians in each age of the following ages. However, we can say that the role of woman did not disappear in the real life as reflected in the historians’ writings about woman. In fact, we do not believe that the pattern of the declining recording, as noticed from the table, exactly reflects the reality. The early historians showed a great willingness in recording the history of a huge number of women; their achievements and all aspects of their lives, to set a paragon for women of next generations. While women of the next ages did not receive a fair share in the history due to the occurred change, as the society tended to isolate them and avoid talking about their achievements as a reaction against or out of fear of the moral indecency and chastity abandonment as mentioned before.

Table No. (3):

No. Female Physicians Specialization Social status
1 Rufaida Al-Eslamiah War Surgery Among early female Muslims and the owner of the first hospital in Islam
2 Ar-Rabi’ bt. Ma’oodh Al-Anṣariah War Surgery Among the first female Muslim who pledged allegiance to the Messenger under the tree
3 Umayyah bt. Qays Al-Ghafariah War Surgery Among the early female Muslims
4 Salma Um Rafe’ War Surgery Freed-woman-slave of the Messenger (ﷺ)
5 Mo’adhah Al-Ghafariah War Surgery Among the early female Muslims
6 Ko’aybah Al-Eslamiah War Surgery Among the early female Muslims
7 Lailah Al-Ghafariah War Surgery Among the early female Muslims
8 Um Al-Alaa’ Al-Anṣariah Nursing the patients (not determined) Among the first female Muslim who pledged allegiance to the Messenger
9 Um ‘Atiah Al-Anṣariah Kaalah (eye therapy) Among the early female Muslims
10 Faridah Al-Kubra  Obstetrician (Mualedah) – Gynecology A freed-maid
11 Zainab, the physician of the family of Awd Kaalah (eye therapy) A famous physician among the Arabs
12 Kharqaa Al-‘Amiriah Kaalah (eye therapy)  A poet and well acquainted with literature and singing
13 Sallâmah Al-Qas Obstetrician – Gynecology A Slave woman, a poet and a singer
14 Ḥababah Obstetrician – Gynecology Among the slave-women of the Umayyad Caliph
15 Mutayam Al-Hashemiah Obstetrician – Gynecology A freed-maid , a poet and well acquainted with literature
16 Roḥaṣ Obstetrician – Gynecology A freed-maid and a singer
17 Mahbouba Gynecology A freed-maid and a poet
18 Fadl, the freed-maid of Al-Mutawakkil Gynecology a freed-maid of Al-Mutawakkil, the Abbasid Caliph
19 Um Osayah, the midwife  Midwife (Qabilah)- Gynecology The family midwife of Khumarawayh
20 Um Ahmad, the midwife Midwife- Gynecology Renowned for her offering midwifery services for free
21 The daughter of Zahr, The sister of Abu Bakr, and her daughter Gynecology The sister of a famous male physician who treated the women of the Almohad Caliph.
22 The freed-maid of Aby Abdullah Al-Kenany Anthroposophy and anatomy A freed-maid
23 Um Al-Hasan, the daughter of a judge Different arts of medicine (undetermined) A daughter of a famous judge
24 Daughter of Shehab Ad-Deen As-Sa’egh (undetermined) The chief of the sheikhdom of medicine

We notice from the previous table that women generally specialized in three fields: war surgery, midwifery and gynecology, Kaalah (eye therapy) and ophthalmology. There are seven female physicians out of twenty-four who specialized in war surgery, while eleven of them specialized in gynecology and obstetrics. Whereas two only worked in the field of ophthalmology and the specialization of four female physicians was not determined. Each one of these specializations depended on woman for treating patients and relieving their pains. Among the significant practices performed by women in the field of war surgery were wound cleansing and stopping the bleeding. To stop the bleeding female physicians used to apply direct pressure on the wound with a burnt wool, and they also applied the method of Cauterization[24].

In addition, women, with a lot of expertise and skill, used to extract the arrows from the war wounded although it was a very exhausting operation. Sources narrated the wisdom and expertise of Rufaida Al-Aslamiah when treating the wound of Sa’d b. Mo’adh inflicted by an arrow in his chest. She stopped the bleeding without extracting the arrow from his chest. In fact, she knew that if she withdrew or extracted the arrow, he would suffer from a non-stop bleeding in the cut[25].

Regarding gynecology and obstetrics, some sources provide us with a description of the practices operated by the female specialists in this field. For example, Ibn Ad-Dayah, in his book Al-Mokafa’ah wa Ḥusn Al-‘Uqba (Reward and Beneficial Consequences), described  the efforts of the midwife of Khumarawayh family in washing the external birth canal of the pregnant and waiting for her travail then sitting her on the labor chair by which the operation is performed easily[26]. Furthermore, the midwives also performed complex operations such as removal of stone surgery to women which is to be discussed in detail later. Midwives received a professional training under the supervision of senior male physicians like Az-Zahrawī and also were taught how to use the surgical tools[27]. Regarding Kaalah and ophthalmology, the sources did not mention that the two female physicians had participated in eye surgical operations. Yet, they had treated their patients using eye drops which they became famous of their production[28].

When moving to the second part of the table presenting the social status of the female physician, we will notice that most of the female physicians belonged in a way or another to the class of rulers or elites. This proves that the historians were interested only in the history of famous women. Thus, we can say that there were surely a large number of female physicians who were not recorded in the books of history because they did not belong to the “high classes” but were dealing with “public”. To prove this, there are only three female physicians, out of twenty-four, who had no relations with the men of the state or the elites, but they gained their fame from their expertise; and they are Zainab Al-Awadiah, Kharqaa Al-‘Aamreah and Um Ahmad, the midwife.

In addition, it is obvious from the previous table that there were many women-slaves who were specialized in the field of gynecology. This refutes the stereotype of the woman-slave as a symbol of entertainment and pleasure only. In fact, most of the midwives were well acquainted with literature and arts. A good example of this is the maid of the physician Aby Abdullah Al-Kenany described by ibn ‘Adhara: “No one of her time exceeds her in her light soul, fast movement, soft affection, fine voice, breathtaking singing, perfect writing, beautiful handwriting, creativity in literature, testimony. She also has no flaws in her writings and singing because she is well acquainted with her (Arabic) grammar, language, and prosody beside medicine, anthroposophy, anatomy and other fields which her contemporary scholars abandoned.[29]” This means that she distinguished herself in the field of the language sciences, literature, poetry beside the medical sciences and anatomy.

Women and public work

After presenting and analyzing the content of the tables, we want to shed light on some relevant issues in general. For example, we notice that the participation of female companions during the era of the Messenger (ﷺ) in the field of nursing and medical care was connected to the battlefields and invasions. They joined the army as fighters, water carriers and doctors[30]; they fighted the enemies, and gave the fighters a helping hand in the battles by supplying arrows, and serving drinking water. They also used to sing heroic poems to encourage fighters during the battlefield. Moreover, they treated the wounded or even participated in burial process and corpses transference at the end. This means that those female companions were sincere fighters who participated in all the stages and fields of Jihad; from its beginning till the end. They were anywhere multitasks; participating in any available activity helping the Ummah in its combat and exerting their effort to support Muslims. During this early stage, they were not excluded intentionally or even had a limited contribution by depending on any kind of justification. Yet, the Muslim society benefited from their diverse potentials and their ability to carry many burdens such as immigration, frequent travelling, invasion and others. From this regard and through this equality, we first heard about the female physicians in the Islamic history. This issue is very significant because it is obvious that there was no decisive separation, limitation or restriction, during this stage, between the public and private field which can lead to regard any transference from one scope to another as a violation. Yet, we notice that there was no polarization which later helped in giving the superiority to the external public work and allocating it for a certain social category, to be over what was latter called the hidden private field which was specified for another category. The intersection between the private and public, during this stage, reflects that the only standard followed to evaluate the works as a whole is the “perfection” in work.

Now we will deal with some models and examples mentioned in the biographies of those early female Muslims, and their significance and certain details concerning their work and the social view towards them. For example, Ibn Al-Atheer transmitted to us on the authority of Um ‘Alaa Al-Anṣariah, one of the women who pledged allegiance (to the Messenger), that when ‘Uthman b. Madh’oun, a companion, stayed with them, among those migrants who stayed in the houses of the Ansar$, he got sick and “We nursed him. When he died, we shrouded him in his clothes.” It is obvious here that the narrator reporting the events inside the house concerning the illness, nursing, death and burial is Um ‘Alaa whose speaking in the plural form reflect her cooperation maybe with other female dwellers in “nursing” ‘Uthman. This reflects that women, during that time, were familiar with practicing medical therapy and illness treatment. In conclusion, nursing, during that time has not the same concept with our modern view which places nursing in the second rank in the field of medical therapy to distinguish it from medical practices. Yet, this term means that it was the highest levels of medical treatment known at that time by using all available methods, medications and potentials. Here our first impression when reading these sources is that medical treatment, in the early Muslim society, was deemed as among women specialization or among the scope of their arts and potentials. In addition, the majority of women served in the battlefield by healing the wounded, extracting the arrows, stopping the bleeding and sometimes operating amputation, and cauterization, and using Henna and ointments for ulcers treatment beside other practices as previously mentioned in the table analysis about the medicine of war wounds. In conclusion, the early female Muslim fighters served in various roles. They served in the frontlines by supplying direct aid in the battlefield facing the horses, sword duel, and arrows and bows. They also participated in carrying those who suffer from severe wounds and bleeding to medical tents. In addition, they transferred corpses by camels to be buried.

In the biography of Um Zyad Al-Aslamiah, a female fighter, she narrated that she accompanied a group of women and they “had medicine for the wounded”. This means that they carried special medications and drugs prepared and prescribed by them for wounds treatment and pain relief. This reminds us of Salma, known as Um Rafe’, the freed-maid of the Messenger of Allah, whom the Messenger used to visit to heal his ulcers by Henna. Since the early stages, female Muslims participated in medication preparation for medical treatment and therapy. Later on, we heard about other female physicians who used medical drops, Kuhl or ointments.

Therefore, it is not surprising, then, that Rufaidah Al-Aslamiah established, during the era of the Messenger, the first clinic or hospital in Islam which was known as “Khimat Rufaidah” (The tent of Rufaidah). It was established inside the Mosque of the Messenger, where she used to treat both men and women in times of war and peace. For example, when Sa’d b. Moa’dh, was shot by an arrow in the Battle of the ditch (Ghazwat Al-Khandaq), the Messenger ordered his companions saying: “Transfer him to the tent of Rufaidah.” Then, Rufaidah provided him with medical care by cauterizing his wound to stop the bleeding, and the Messenger visited him every day. Rufaidah also accompanied Muslims during their expeditions for this purpose with a group of female companions who received a training in direct aid and treatment. Our interest here is to know the significance of this recorded event which did not surprise or be disapproved by the early Muslims: This was the role of the woman as a physician in the Muslim society at that time and her professional excellence exceeding Muslim men; to the extent that she reached the positions of supervision and management even through this primary simple form (according to our current time)! Rufaidah and her team of devoted female believers were an integral part of the public work for the Ummah, serving its men and women. We should not neglect the degree of confidence which allowed this woman to participate in such critical matter; a matter of life and death for Muslims, such as fighters treatment. It is obvious that the standard or the rule set by the Messenger in his early society is to evaluate the professional experience and potential.

Professional Muslim Woman

By the decline of women’s effective role in the battlefield and fighting, we find that they were mentioned after that in the field of midwifery (obstetrics and gynecology) and ophthalmology. We will see the first usage of the word “female physician” in the sources when mentioning Zainab, the daughter of Abdel Mon’em At-Tanjaly. The Historian Ibn Ḥajar saw that the ultimate way of introducing him is by mentioning that he is the father of the “female physician and writer” who seems to be with fame and reputation. On the other hand, the historian praised the maid of the physician Aby Abdullah Al-Kenany and paid tribute to her “knowledge in medicine, anthroposophy, anatomy and other fields which her contemporary scholars abandoned.”

That’s how knowledge and culture in medical treatment encouraged women to participate in the practical field of therapy and medical treatment especially, as we mentioned before, in the fields of midwifery and ophthalmology. The historian, through his biography of Zainab Al-Awadiah, asserts that she was “well acquainted with the medical practices” from one side and “treatment” from the other side; meaning that she combined between both knowledge and application. Similar to Rufaidah, the recorded event proved that Zainab was a public physician who treated men and women without facing any condemnation or blame. Aṭ- Ṭabarī referred to a “female practitioner ” who treated the wound of a woman in her shoulder and prescribed for her an ointment. This means that there were groups of women till that time who participated in wounds healing although Muslim women were no more allowed to serve in battlefields.

We notice that the affairs of midwifery and gynecology were regarded as a branch or an “art” (according to the term used in the sources) among the arts of medicine practiced at that time. When the term of “Qabilah” (midwife) or “Mualedah” (obstetrician) changed to be “Dayah“, we heard about historians in the field of medical historiography who hold this name, such as “Ibn Ad-Dayah” who composed the book of Ahkbar Al-Atebaa’ (The News of the Physicians). This means that it was a known official profession and a socially recognized one, as some persons are named after the professions of their mothers, sisters or daughters for example. In this arena, we notice the usage of the term “both of them treated” referring to the job of the daughter of Al-Hafedh Aby Bakr b. Zahr and her daughter who both used to treat the family of Al-Mansour and help them in the delivery process. Moreover, the duties and training of female therapists for women, in obstetrics and other fields, also included the treatment of other cases such as bladder, urinary tract and stone extraction. Thus, they were multitasking physicians[31].

Information transmitted to us about the midwives till the Mamluk age indicates that it was a paid job. The exception, mentioned in the book of As-Sakhawi about Um Ahmad, a midwife who lived in Muqatam in Egypt, that she offered her medical services as a midwife for free, asserts the applicable principle which is professionality and also grasp the attention towards As-Sakhawi’s surprise from this abnormal situation for a woman to work in this profession with no fees. Midwives applied known methods and special tools which they used in all places such as the labor chair, as mentioned before, which is mentioned also in a narration for Um Aasyah, the midwife of the family of Khumarawayh ibn Tulun. She narrated her first experience in this field and used expressions such as “skill and gentleness”[32] referring to the excellence and accuracy needed in this medical practice. She also explained how she put her hand on the abdomen of a pregnant to induce labor beside other operations. This proves that this job was regarded as a profession which requires an amount of skill and expertise.

On the other hand, the daughter of Shehab Ad-Deen As-Sa’egh, who was her father’s successor in leading the medical duties in the Dar Ash-Shefaa’ Al-Mansoury, was an example for a female physician whose activity was not limited to medical practices only but she became the chief of the physicians in her country. In fact, “Sheikhdom” is similar to the current syndicates. This means that she became the head of the medical syndicate; supervising the practitioners and bearing the responsibility before the Muḥtasib, whose work is to follow up the professionals, as we mentioned before. Thus, it was a scientific and leading position at the same time which requires knowledge of “medical industry” and the rules and ethics of practicing the profession and supervising the physicians.

Historical Discourse

Accordingly, it is obvious that women did not face any surprise or condemnation due to their presence and participation in different fields of medical treatment starting from nursing and supplying urgent aid till ophthalmology, surgery, treatment and midwifery, and also their contributions in any public level ranging from the physicians’ seminars attendance, to the practice and experience, and to the supervision and professionality. Even if we say that the ancient historians did not allocate more scopes and special biographies for women working in this field, but at least, there is no, in these few chronicles, an explicit tone showing disapproval in the historical discourse itself. We even do not notice from the narration style, for example, any surprise which we may currently feel when hearing about a female physician who asked her patient to lay on his back to treat his eyes from ophthalmia (The event narrated about Zainab Al-Awadiah). It seems that the narrator did not feel that this event needs further explanation or justification within its normal professional context. We will re-discuss this point, in particular, when comparing the ancients’ narration method with some modern narrators.

Let’s repeat the question: what is the reason behind the gradual decline of the historiography of women in the Islamic culture? Does it really mean that they were totally deprived from participation in the public life? As we mentioned before, it is not necessarily to conclude the total disappearance of women from the medical field. Because when we find a brief account about only one or two female physicians who worked in a hospital, this does not mean that they appeared suddenly, it certainly reflects the presence of a certain context which allowed them to participate and practice in this specific historical moment. Thus, the main dilemma is the lack of historical documentation.

We have discussed before opinions showing: (A) that most of the historians in the medical field, were interested in recording the history of the physicians of high classes or those who built a relation with men of the state and the elites, (B) or that they were interested in thoroughly discuss the history of early female companions or their successors only as a paragon and moral model to be followed in an age witnessing a spread in immoralities, (C) or that this negligence was a reaction to limit the influence of women in all different aspects of life and refraining from admitting and emphasizing this fact through official chronicles. This last opinion is related to an explanation offered by Leila Ahmed, a female author, who added an analytical dimension to this topic when grasping our attention towards the fact that, after the early Muslim society, women no longer produced “a direct written subject[33] to be a part of the cultural legacy due to the deterioration of the concept of gender equality, the unfair distribution of power and the control of the decision making process within women-men relationship system itself. In other words, this factor has social and cultural negative impact on women’s life, the opportunities in the field of education, career and achieving a dignified just family life[34].

Thus, this opinion shows the spread of an implicit concept, across the Islamic history, about woman’s inferiority and the development of certain cultural hypotheses and visions against the liberty values and original system of equality adopted by the message of Islam and the Messenger (ﷺ). For example, Leila Ahmed refers to the intellectual equation, sneaked into many books of history, between “woman” and “matter” without regarding woman as a human being[35]. Within the context of this analysis, we want to grasp the attention towards the fact that only what was implicitly expressed sometimes in the ancients’ discourse is explicitly expressed through modern discourse and actual events. Although the ancients failed to avoid talking about woman’s influence and excellence in a science or professional field, they did not add footnotes (or they did not adopt, in their writings, the way of narrating quotes) about concepts around woman’s “nature” and her sensitive “emotions” hindering the way of logical and rational thinking. In addition, they never tackled the issue of standardized stereotyping of women’s minor potentials[36]. Exemplifying such kind of discourse, some modern publications discuss the psychological and mental / behavioral differences between man and woman in the “Religion of Islam” to prove the deficiency in her thinking and her “sensitive emotions and inability to refute arguments”. They also try to prove that “woman’s control over the external world is limited because she does not have the spirit of steadiness, strength and determination in any significant domain.” Therefore, it was “necessary for each gender to reflect on his own nature, especially regarding ‘jobs which woman was deprived from because of her nature’ “[37] This discourse intended to justify the domination of men in the public career life which gained a value higher than anything done by women, and also gained a more complex dimension presented as too difficult for her. There is another example mentioned in a modern essay entitled “Dour Al-Mar’ah Al-Muslimah fil eb wal Musawah” (Muslim Woman’s role in medicine and treatment)[38]. When talking about Um Senan Al-Aslamiah, a female fighter and companion whom the prophet allowed to join the army in the battlefield whether with her tribe or a group accompanied the Messenger and his wife Um Salamah, the writer begins with a brief comment explaining: “Woman served in the army with the permission of the Messenger (ﷺ), and her husband or guardian and the army leader only if she could assign someone to manage the household affairs in her absence, and accompany a group of women, as it is impermissible to be alone.” We wonder how he deduced all these pre-conditions from this specific     incident? Why we need nowadays to discuss these cautions, conditions, justifications and concepts which were not found in the ancient history? In fact, the historical discourse encountered some changes which affects the cultural vision and the social view; affecting people’s actual life and their scope of permissible and impermissible. Here, we recall the words of Malak Hifni Nasif (Bahithat al-Badiyah (The Desert Researcher), 1886- 1919) saying: “If I accompanied Christopher Columbus in his journey, it would not be impossible for me to discover America too[39]. She also said: “I do not think that the origin of job distribution between men and women is based on something else than by choice. In another words, if Adam chose to cook and wash while Eve chose to secure a source of livelihood, this would be an applied system nowadays.[40]


In conclusion, it is clear that the comprehensive image of women in the former Muslim societies was more complex than we imagine. In fact, the moral system of Islam and its custom (U’rf) did not prevent women’s contribution in the field of teaching as Hadith scholars, or religious sciences as scholars; Muftis, Jurists and Sufis, or management and social work as Sheikhs of Rubaṭ, Mosques and Quran schools, or medical treatment as physicians. However, the historical portrayal is not fair. Even when the historian felt disgraced from praising woman’s success in her work, the balance of power and controlling the decision-making concerning critical issues has not been totally balanced but in favor of one category only. It also lasts in a kind of discourse, we hear sometimes, which fabricates tales about woman’s character and belittles her human nature without taking into consideration her surrounding conditions or only affirms rights theoretically without the interest of their practical application and paving the way towards them.

Translated by

Rehab Jamal Bakri****


* أميمة أبو بكر، هدى السعدي (2004). النساء ومهنة الطب في المجتمعات الإسلامية (ق 7م- ق 17م). ط. 2. القاهرة: مؤسسة المرأة والذاكرة. (سلسلة أوراق الذاكرة؛ 1). 36 ص.

**  A professor in the Department of English Language and Literature at Cairo University and a co-founder in the Women and Memory Forum (WMF)

 ***A professor in the Islamic History at the American University.

[1] Huda Lutfi, «Al-Sakhawi Kitab al-Nisa as a Source for the Social and Economic History of Muslim Women during the Fifteenth Century A.D»., The Muslim World, LXX1 (1981), p. 105.

[2] 2Ruth Roded, Women in Islamic Biographical Collections from Ibn Sa’d to Who’s Who, (Boulder & London: Lynne Rienner Publishers, (1994), p. 121.

[4] ابن القيم الجوزية،الطب النبوي، تحقيق محمد فتحي أبو بكر، (القاهرة: الدار المصرية اللبنانية، 1994)، ط 2.

[5] ابن أبي أصيبعة، موفق الدين أبو العباس أحمد بن القاسم بن خليفة بن يونس السعدي الخزرجي، عيون الأبناء في طبقات الأطباء، شرح وتحقيق د. نزار رضا، (بيروت: دار مكتبة الحياة، بدون تاريخ)، ص 7.

[6] Muhamed Zubayr Siddiqi, Studies in Arabic and Persian Medical Literature, (Calcutta, 1959), see the Introduction.

[7] Michael Dols, Medieval Islamic Medicine, (California: University of California Press, 1984), the Introduction.

[8] Ibid, p. 30.

[9] Dols, Medicine, pp. 36- 38

[10] S. D. Goitien, A Mediterranean Society, vol. 1, (California: University of California Press, 1971), p. 128.

Goitien discussed in detail the female practitioners and explained how the female physician was a respected and lovable person in the society who had a positive influence on the poor classes to which she belonged and served. He presented her as a physician who was loved and pampered; reflecting her special status among the members of society.

[11] عبد العزيز اللبيدي، تاريخ الجراحة عند العرب، (عمّان: دار الكرمل للنشر والتوزيع، 1992)، ص 182.

[12] Ahmad Issa, Histoire des Bimaristans a I’Epoque Islamique, (Le Caire: Imprimerie Paul Barbey, 1928), p. 165.

Ahmad Issa, through his book, presented a comprehensive analysis on the history of hospitals in Islam; its launch, development, work system and significance as an educational and therapeutic hub.

[13] أبو جعفر محمد بن جرير الطبري، تاريخ الرسل والملوك، (بيروت: مطبعة عز الدين، 1992)، ج 10، ص 383- 384.

[14] أبو عبد الله محمد بن محمد بن محمد الصدري الخامس المالكي، ابن الحاج، المدخل، (المطبعة المصرية بالأزهر، 1929)، ص 281-

Despite the argumentative view of Ibn Al-Ḥaaj about many of the practices during his age including that of the midwives, the book is a rich historical source which narrates the lifestyle of the Mamluk Cairene society.

[15] محمد بن أحمد بن بسام، نهاية الرتبة في طلب الحسبة، تحقيق حسام الدين السامرائي، (بغداد: مطبعة العارف، 1968)، ص 108- 118.

[16] اللبيدي، تاريخ الجراحة عند العرب، ص 155- 234

[17] Amin A. Khayrallah, Outline of Arabic Contribution to Medicine, (Beirut: American Press, 1946), p. 150.

[18] Sami Khalaf Hamarnah, Health Science in Early Islam, (Texas: Zahra Publications, 1984), vol. 1, pp. 119- 120.

[19] أسعد داغر، حضارة العرب، (مصر، 1918)، ص 192.

[20] صلاح الدين خليل بن أيبك الصفدي، الوافي بالوفيات، (إستانبول: مطبعة الدولة، 1931)، ج 15، ص 119.

[21] أبو العباس أحمد بن تيمية، الحسبة في الإسلام، (مطبعة المؤيد، 1900).

[22] ابن بسام، نهاية الرتبة في طلب الحسبة، ص 108.

[23] Hamarnah, Health Sciences, vol. 1, pp. 119- 120

[24] اللبيدي، تاريخ الجراحة عند العرب، ص 228.

[25] أحمد بن علي بن حجر العسقلاني، الإصابة في تمييز الصحابة، تحقيق على محمد البجاوي، (مصر: مكتبة نهضة مصر، بدون تاريخ)، ق 4، ص 1838.

[26] أحمد بن يوسف الكاتب ابن الداية، كتاب المكافأة وحسن العقبى، تحقيق محمود شاكر، (طبعة؟، 1940)، ص 137- 140.

Ibn Ad-Dayah described, through his book, this labor chair and mentioned that it was among the important supplies for delivery in the early and medieval Islamic ages, as each Dayah or midwife owned this chair and they used to send it to the pregnant woman before their arrival.

[27] Sami Khalaf Hamarnah and Glenn Sonnedecker, A Pharmaceutical View of Abulcasis al-Zahrawi in Moorish Shpin, (Leiden: Brill, 1963), pp. 52- 54.

[28] ابن أبي أصبعية، عيون الأبناء، ص 181.

أبو الفرج الأصفهاني، الأغاني، شرحه وكتب هوامشه عبد علي مهنا وسمير رجب، (بيروت: دار الكتب العلمية، 1992)، ط 2، ص 41- 47.

[29][29] أبو العباس بن عذارى، البيان المغربي في أخبار الأندلس والمغرب، تحقيق لافي بروفنشال، (باريس: بولس جنتر، 1930)، ص 308.

[30] We found that the word “آسي” (Aasy) in Lisan Al-‘Arab means a physician, a term used in many sources referring to those fighters and companions.

(A note by the translator) Local inhabitants of Al-Madinah who supported the Prophet Muhammad. $

[31] اللبيدي، تاريخ الجراحة عند العرب، ص 182.

[32] ابن الداية ،كتاب المكافأة وحسن العقبى، ص 137- 140.

[33] Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender in Islam: Historical Roots of a Modern Debate, (Cairo: AUC Press, 1993), p. 82.

[34] kindly refer to the following two books presenting and setting theories of modern tendencies in the historical studies about re-reading history from a female perspective.

Ann- Louise Shapiro, Feminists Revision History (Rutgers, 1994); Joan Wallach Scott, Gender and the Politics of History (Columbia UP, 1988).

[35] Leila Ahmed, Women and Gender, p. 85

[36] I suggest the readers to refer to the essay of Dr. Huda As-Sudah:

«النماذج النمطية للمرأة في الإعلام وأثرها على وعي النساء» في هاجر 5/6، (القاهرة: دار نصوص، 1998)، ص 45- 56.

It is a significant study about the concept of stereotyping and its usage to present: ” the relationship of unbalanced power between two groups of people, as stereotyping becomes higher in the weakest or the inferior group, and transfers what is historical or communal into natural and eternal characteristics” (P. 49) in fact, this is similar to this publication introduced herein.

[37] عبد المنعم سيد حسن، طبيعة المرأة في الكتاب والسنة، (القاهرة: مكتبة النهضة المصرية، 1985)، ص 59، 86.

[38]The professor Sa’īd Daywah’chī mentioned some names of female physicians in a summarized essay submitted to the Conference on Islamic Medicine held in Kuwait (1981). Yet, he did not analyze the social historical context of the contemporary period of those female physicians.

[39]. ملك حفني ناصف، النسائيات، الطبعة الثالثة، (القاهرة: ملتقى المرأة والذاكرة، 1998)، ص 135.

[40] Ibid, p. 134.

**** Egyptian Researcher and Translator.

عن رحاب جمال بكري

شاهد أيضاً

Al-Muḥaddithāt in the Islamic History

By: Prof. Omaima Abou-Bakr

Translated by: Rehab Jamal Bakri

Did women work during the early Islamic centuries in the field of religious teaching, following the footsteps of the contemporary scholars and jurists? Did they taught students, males and females, and transmitted to them a beneficial knowledge?

اترك تعليقاً

لن يتم نشر عنوان بريدك الإلكتروني. الحقول الإلزامية مشار إليها بـ *

هذا الموقع يستخدم Akismet للحدّ من التعليقات المزعجة والغير مرغوبة. تعرّف على كيفية معالجة بيانات تعليقك.