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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Sayyida al-Hurra

Known For: Pirate Queen
Dates: Hijri 890 – Unknown (AH)
Common Era Ruled from: 1485-Unknown

Country: Morocco

About

A Moroccan of Andalusian origin, Sayyida al-Hurra belonged to a family of Andalusian nobles who fled to north Africa after the fall of Grenada in 1492. Marrying Sultan al-Mandri, they embarked on war against the Portuguese and she ascended to power while managing her husband’s affairs. After the death of her husband in 1515, al-Hurra, although already a prefect of Tetouán, she was bestowed with the title “al-Hurra” which denoted a woman wielding sovereign power. Subsequently, she had herself named governor of the city-state.

Following the death of her husband, she wed the King of Morocco, Ahmed al-Wattasi, but she requested that he travel from Fez to Tetouán for the wedding to indicate that she had no plans on abdicating her power following their marriage.

After making contact with the Turkish corsair Barbarossa, she assembled a fleet and began privateering in the western Mediterranean. It was in this endeavor that she earned for herself the title of undisputed Queen of the Pirates of the region. Perhaps using piracy to continue her first husband’s war against the Portugese, al-Hurra used piracy to wreak havoc on Portuguese shipping lines. Specifically, in 1520, her forces captured the wife of the Governor and damaged Portuguese colonial shipping.

She was deposed in 1542, by her son-in-law, ending 30 years of rule. She was stripped of her property and power and her subsequent fate is unknown.

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This search feature will enable you to find Muslim women chronologically by the Common Era century. 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 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.