Muslim Women: Past and Present

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Throughout the ages, from the earliest days of Islam to contemporary times today, Muslim women have been and continue to be active leaders in their communities and countries across the world. This directory is a growing archive of leading Muslim women scholars, activists, writers, politicians, artists, religious and spiritual leaders, civil society leaders and more. Please contribute to this archive by suggesting Muslim women to be featured through our recommendation form.

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Chand Bibi

Chand Bibi appeared with a veil on her head. She got guns to be brought to bear on the assailants, and stones to be hurled at them, so that they were repulsed in several repeated attacks. During the night, she stood by the workmen and caused the breach to be filled up nine feet, before daylight, with wood, stones and carcasses.

—Abul Fazl

Known For: Invincible Lady of Ahmadnagar
Dates: 957-1007 Hijri
1550-1599 CE

Country: India

About

Known as the “Invincible Lady of Ahmadnagar,” Chand Bibi was married to the Sultan of Bejapur, Ali Adil Shah, who she counseled on issues related to the government and military. Unfortunately, however, her evident power was viewed with distrust by the men of her husband’s court, and her husband was murdered. She later became the guardian of his nephew and heir.

Pushed out of Bejapur four years later by this distrustful coterie, Chand returned to her home of Ahmadnagar where her brother was ruler. At the time, the Mughals were looking to expand their power into Ahmadnagar territory. Following the cowardice and the failed political maneuverings of others around her and the death of her brother in 1594, Chand Bibi decided to defend Ahmadnagar against the Mughal onslaught.

According to the writer Abu Fazl, “Chand Bibi appeared with a veil on her head. She got guns to be brought to bear on the assailants, and stones to be hurled at them, so that they were repulsed in several repeated attacks. During the night, she stood by the workmen and caused the breach to be filled up nine feet, before daylight, with wood, stones and carcasses.”

Thanks to Chand’s leadership and courage, the Mughal army’s efforts failed. According to the peace treaty, Chand Bibi was named regent over Bahadur Shah, the ruler, but the men who had left Chand Bibi to defend Ahmadgar returned. Rejecting the terms of the treaty, they resumed hostilities. Yet Chand resumed command and triumphed again.

Unfortunately, Chand’s valet believed her negotiations with the Mughals constituted treachery. He roused a mob who proceeded to murder her. Chand’s outraged men hacked the murderers to death and vowed to continue to fight against the Mughals. Yet without her leadership, they fell to the Mughal force.

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This search feature will enable you to find Muslim women by their Country. We are actively building the archive of Muslim women leaders from the past, as well as from today, and we would welcome your recommendations of women to feature. Please complete our “Recommend Muslim Women” form and check the site again in the near future as we actively expand this section of the portal with your suggestions.
This search feature will enable you to find Muslim women leaders by entering the keyword(s) of your choice. If you cannot find a particular woman that you are looking for, please let us know by completing our “Recommend Muslim Women” form and check the site again in the near future as we actively expand this section of the portal with your suggestions.