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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Hafsa bint Umar

Hafsa related the tradition that “the Messenger of God kissed his wives while fasting.”

(Jennifer Heath, The Scimitar and the Veil: Extraordinary Women of Islam (Mahwah: HiddenSpring 2004), 143.

Known For: “The Memorizer of the Qur’an”
Dates: Common Era 606-666 (CE)
Country: Saudi Arabia

About

Hafsa bint Umar was known for her memorization and preservation of the Qur’an after the Prophet Muhammad’s death.

Hafsa was the daughter of Umar ibn al-Khattab, a close family friend of the Prophet and the second caliph after the Prophet’s death. At the age of 18, after having been widowed by Kuhnays ibn Hudhafah, Hafsa was married to the Prophet Muhammad in 625CE. The marriage was a political move on the part of the Prophet, in order to strengthen ties with Hafsa’s father, Umar.  Hafsa became close to one of the Prophet’s other wives, A’isha. Hafsa was known for her ability to read and write.

When the Prophet died, Hafsa was made responsible for preserving the original writings of the Qur’an. She was responsible for these writings until they were taken by Uthman, the third Caliph. Although she was asked by A’isha to help defend Uthman and his caliphate as political tensions began to arise among the Muslim community, Hafsa declined and instead spent the rest of her life in fasting and prayer.

Sources

Karen Armstrong, Muhammad: a Biography of the Prophet. (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1992). 
[Al-Shati, Bint, Matti, Moose, D. Nicholas, Ranson],”Chapter 5: Hafsa Bint ‘Umar – ‘The Memorizer of the Qur’an” in The Wives of the Prophet(LOCATION?:Gorgias Press LLC, 2006), 99-111.

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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.