Female Scholars In The 5th Century:The Teachers of As-Samaanee and Ibn Asaakir

No civilization since the history of mankind ever saw women playing great roles in the acquisition and dissemination of knowledge as that of Islaam. The various verses of the Quraan and the ahaadeeth of the Messenger (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) concerning the virtues of seeking knowledge and the excellence of the learned in this world and the hereafter was a major propellant. In this virtuous endeavour, the women of the fifth century of Islaam like their predecessors played major roles.

Have a glimpse: The Teachers of As-Samaanee AI-Imaam al-Haafidh Abu Saeed AbdulKareem bin Muhammad bin Mansur As-Samaanee was a great scholar of hadeeth in the fifth century of Islaam. Ibn Ammaad describes him thus; "The author of many works, a man of great worth and an extensive traveler.  He compiled a work on his teachers in ten large volumes." He continues, "He was elegant, erudite, widely traveled, truthful, reliable, pious and well mannered with beautiful works." He thereafter mentioned a number of his works. Ibn Najjaar narrated that, lithe number (in the compendium of those from whom he learnt) was seven thousand teachers."(Shadharaatudh-Dhahab 4/205-6).

In the compendium of his teachers, he mentioned those of whom were females in a separate section arranging their names alphabetically and listed sixty-nine female scholars of hadeeth. He mentioned them with their enviable attributes  their knowledge, worship and piety. Amongst them were: Ummul-Bahaa "Faatimah bint Abil-Fadl al-Asbahaaniyyah (RAH) He says, "I wrote from her at Isfahaan and she lived long such that her peers died and she remained the one who narrated from the eminent Scholars (who had died). Of what I learnt from her are the narrations of Abu-Zafr bin Muhammad bin al-Alaa by her narrations from Abil-Fadl Ar-Raazee from Abul-Qaasim bin Fanaakee from him (Abu-Zafr) in three Volumes. I also learnt from her eight volumes from the book Fawaaidullyaar from the fourteenth to the twenty-first volume and the seventeenth volume of Fawaaid of AbeeBakr al-Maqruee that she learnt from Ibn Taahir ath-Thaqafee (who learnt it) from him (Maqruee).

AI-Imaam as-Samaanee (RAH) also said, "She was referred to as the one who narrated lots of ahaadeeth with their chains of narration. She narrated from lots of Scholars. II She died in the year 539AH. Ummul-Khayr An-Neesaabooriyyah (RAH) Describing his teacher al-Imaam As-Samaanee (RAH) says, "A Pious Woman from the people of the Quraan and Righteousness.She taught the Quraan to her neighbours." He (RAH) continues, "Her father lived in the caravan inn of the Persians (a large courtyard that provides accommodation for caravans) which was attached to Abul-Husayn Muhammad Abdil-Gaafir bin Muhammad al-Faarisee.

So, she learnt from him Saheeh Muslim of Muslim bin al-Hajjaaj,and the Gareebul-Hadeeth of Abu Sulaymaan a1-Khataabee. I learnt from her in Neesaaboor among others, AI-Arbaeen of Al-Hasan bin Sufyaan from her narration from Abdul-Gaafir from Ibn Hamdaan from him (AI-Hasan), and a part of Amaalee of Abu Ahmad al-Haafidh from her narration from Abdul-Gaafir from him (Abu Ahmad), and two volumes from thenarrations of Abdaan al-Jawaaliqee - the fourth and fifth from her narrations from Abdul-Gaafir from Ismaaeel bin Abdullaah bin Mikyaal from him (Abdain)." She died 533 AH. Zaynab al-Asbahaaniyyah (RAH) Concerning her al-Imaam As-Samaanee said, "She was a Pious and Modest Woman." He added that she was among those their fathers took to Asfahaan to learn hadeeth.

Ummul-Bahaa al-Asbahaaniyyah (RAH) He said about her, "She was a pious and benevolent woman and was among the Scholars of the Quraan. She taught the children Quraan. " The Teachers of Ibn Asaakir AI Haafidh Abu al-Qaasim Ali bn Hassan bn Hibatullah bn Hussein bn Asaakir Ad-Dimashqee was one of the most eminent Scholars of Islaam with a record of one of most voluminous and beneficial compilations since the history of Islaam - "The History of Damascus" (in 74 Volumes) concerning which Haafidh Abu Muhammad AI-Mundhiri (RAH) said: "I am certain that he (lbn Asaakir) intended compiling this work of his from the time he reached the age of understanding and from that time he must have began gathering substance for it. Otherwise, life is too short for one to start such a work after reaching fame. "Imaam Abu AI-Mawaahib said:"... I didnt see anyone equal to him (Ibn Asaakir) nor anyone who had the knowledge he had including his steadfastness such that for 40 years he performed Salaah in the first row except if he had any valid excuse, and he made Itikaaf in Ramadaan and in the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah for 40 years. "Ash-Shaykh Mashhoor Hasan Aal-Salmaan writes: "That was al-Haafidh Ibn Asaakir the most reliable narrator of ahaadeeth in his time and with the largest number of narrations so much that he was nick named Haafidhul-Ummah .

He had learnt hadeeth from one thousand two hundred male scholars of hadeeth and some eighty female scholars of hadeeth and he wrote a book on their biography (the women). Has mankind ever heard in any generation and has any community of people ever had it that a scholar would learn from eighty women? Many of them he would not have also met and the man (Ibn Asaakir) did not leave the eastern part of the Muslim World. He never stepped his feet on the lands of Egypt, nor North Africa nor Andalusia (Spain) which overflowed with the people of Knowledge and Intelligence amongst the women. "firlaayatun-Nisaa bil-Hadeethin-Nabawee 34). Between As-Sanaanee and Ibn Asaakir Shaykh Abdul-Wahaab bn Ameen says:" I was once walking with Haafidh Ibn Asaakir and Haafidh As-Samaanee in the search of knowledge when we met a certain Shaykh.

So Haafidh As-Samaani stopped that Shaykh so as to hear a certain book of Hadeeth from him. When he searched his bag for that particular book he could not find it and this saddened him. So Haafidh Ibn Asaakir asked him which book it was. He replied: Kitaabul Bathi Wanushoor of Ibn Abi Dawood. So Ibn Asaakir said to him: "Do not fear and he then recited the entire book from his memory."!! This narration proves that both As-Samaanee and Ibn Asaakir lived in the same generation and were colleagues. As such they would have learnt from same teachers and also each of them would have learnt from those from whom the other did not. It is also an indication of the number of the female scholars at the time the fifth century of Islaam and their intellectual opulence.


This article was culled from the publications of Deen Communication Limited

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