Asma Sayeed's book explores the history of women as religious scholars from the first decades of Islam through the early Ottoman period. Focusing on women's engagement with hadith, this book analyzes dramatic chronological patterns in women's hadith participation in terms of developments in Muslim social, intellectual and legal history. It challenges two opposing views: that Muslim women have been historically marginalized in religious education, and alternately that they have been consistently empowered thanks to early role models such as 'A'isha bint Abi Bakr, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad. This book is a must-read for those interested in the history of Muslim women as well as in debates about their rights in the modern world. The intersections of this history with topics in Muslim education, the development of Sunni orthodoxies, Islamic law and hadith studies make this work an important contribution to Muslim social and intellectual history of the early and classical eras.
Asma Sayeed is Assistant Professor of Islamic Studies in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Cultures at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has published articles in Studia Islamic and Islamic Law and Society and has contributed a number of encyclopedia articles on women's history in early and classical Islam.