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Women who Studied and Taught Saheeh Muslim

By Bintus Sabeel on . Posted in Women Scholars

saheehm

Today, as my eyes were scanning through the various books on an Islamic bookshelf, I happened to pick up a copy of Saheeh Muslim. It is the second most authentic Hadeeth collection after Saheeh Al-Bukhari and was written by the illustrious scholar, Abu'l-Husain 'Asakir-ud-Din Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naisaburi.

Imaam Muslim was from Nishapur - a place, as we will come to learn, where some of the most prominent female scholars who studied and taught the Saheeh of Imaam Muslim resided. Nishapur (or Nishabur) is a city in the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran and is situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains, near the regional capital of Mashhad.

nishapur

In a short biography of Imaam Muslim (which can be accessed here) it is written:

Imam Muslim compiled many books and treatises on Hadith, the most important of his works is the compilation of the Hadith collection Al-Jami’ As-Sahih, which is famous by the name of Sahih Muslim. Some scholars of Hadith opine that in some respects it is the best and most authentic collection of Ahadith. Imam Muslim laboriously collected 3,00,000 Ahadith, but after a critical study, he selected only 4,000 Ahadith for this collection.”

Yes, it’s true. Saheeh Muslim is easily accessible today because of the hard, persevering and difficult work of the many scholars that are mentioned in the various chains of narrations of each and every single Hadeeth. One can only imagine the difficult and arduous journeys undertaken by the Muhaddithoon and the rigorous effort they put into checking and ensuring the reliability of the narrators contained in the chains of narration. In fact, many a times, just for one Hadeeth they travelled far and wide. Sadly, many of us don’t realise the amount of effort, time and energy Imaam Muslim must have invested into collecting so many Ahaadeeth for his compilation.

We can still hope

madiinah67

As I continued to read and turn the pages of this esteemed and noble book it hit me that this is a book which actually contains words that flowed from the mouth of the Last Messenger of Allah; a man who never lied, never betrayed anyone, and uniquely didn’t speak from his own desire, as Allah (Almighty) clearly states:

{Nor does He speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired.} (53:3-4)

What a blessed tongue and what a blessed book indeed! May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

It was at that moment, when picking up Saheeh Muslim, that I felt a kind of sadness, as well as a hope deep down within my heart. Yes, when I remembered that the majority of our Masaajid and Muslims’ homes are devoid of the teaching of such texts to Muslim women by Muslim women, sadness, worry and pain filled my heart. It’s so sad that the scholars before us put so much effort into compiling these treasures and many of us don’t even wish to study the likes of such books in our entire lifetime.

But as I remembered the slow, but steadily increasing awareness and understanding of the Deen creeping into the hearts of the believing female slaves of Allah, I felt hope…hope that we may once again become women of knowledge, knowledge imbued with an ardent desire to implement the divine injunctions contained therein. For me, that will be Paradise in this life, but obviously not in the full sense of the word, and Allah Willing, the beginning of the blessed journey towards Paradise as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “...He who treads the path in search of knowledge, Allâh will make easy the path leading to Paradise for him...” (Saheeh Muslim, 6518)

Why are we in this state?

qmiswaakOne problem lies in the fact that we are suffering from a lack of will-power, resulting in a lack of consistency, or, worse still, we are all-together disenchanted with the notion of seeking knowledge even if we have the time. Some just want to “chill” and spend life lounging around or doing things which will result in transitory and immediate benefits, while others have just not realized their potential and self-worth and may have slackened over time. Hence, not being focused, procrastination, laziness and a lack of will-power are some of the essential reasons why we have lagged behind in this matter; we no longer have the same will-power and stamina to even study beginner texts, such as al-Bayqooniyyah, the forty Hadeeth of Imaam an-Nawawi, ‘Umdatul Ahkaam and Bulooghul Maraam, yet alone extensive and advanced texts, such as Saheeh Muslim, Saheeh Bukhari or al-Muwatta’. Many of us barely pick up the Qur’aan with the excuse that we have no time… so what then about the books which record the words of our Prophet (peace be upon him), like Saheeh Muslim. It’s true that it’s not a small matter to learn, study and especially memorize such a lengthy text as Saheeh Muslim. It takes months upon months, in fact years to do so. But a love for the words of Allah’s Messenger, a realization that although we can’t meet him in this life and that we can’t sit in his company, we can still read his words, is enough of an incentive to push us into investing those spare precious moments that we do have into studying his words.

Dear Sisters, we must aim high and sow the seeds of success when and whenever we can, even if that’s just a little bit every day, or even if that’s on a weekly basis consistently. When we lag and fall behind, we must wake up and start running again, keeping our aim in front of us and we must not give up hope. If we do so, we will fail to lead fruitful lives and instead find ourselves aimless, suffering from weak faith and losing hope in the face of day-to-day issues and problems. For, how can we be refined when we haven’t studied the different ways by which we can change ourselves for the better? How can we implement knowledge when we are ignorant of it? How can we progress when we don’t consistently go through a program of study? How can we teach our children and families when we are ourselves oblivious to the teachings and canons of our Deen?

It doesn’t mean you have to be a full-time student of knowledge

I do not intend to promote any kind of feminism or ideology that seeks to change the natural roles designated and specified for women by Islaam in their homes and within their societies. What I am saying is that we, as Muslim women, should aim high, hoping and supplicating to uplift ignorance from ourselves, and in turn from others, while we continue on with our daily routines and busy schedules without forsaking our duties, roles and obligations as Muslim women. Yes, we are the daughters, sisters and mothers of this Ummah, we are the flowers from which come forth wondrous petals, and we are the sprouting trees that bear or will bear fruits for this Ummah. Hence, it is of utmost importance that we nourish, sustain and look after our spiritual well-being, our health and our knowledge in order to be pro-active and productive and give back wholesome fruits to our community which it is clearly in dire need of today.

***

I said to her: “There are amazing books to study, like Saheeh Muslim, so let’s aim high!”

She answered with a sigh,

“It’s too long and hard, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that.”

She then continued to sip her tea as she sadly looked right down towards her lap.

“Plus I’m too bogged down,”

She said, as she looked up with a frown.

“I don’t even know Arabic, and don’t even have time to read the Qur’aan.

Days go by and I just can’t get around to even reading a line!”

I asked her, “Do you know about the women scholars, like Fatimah bint ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq?

- The woman who had studied and taught Saheeh Muslim.

She had great persistence and patience,

Even within the difficult world women face,

Within life’s difficult maze,

She figured her way through, as she held on to the Qur’aan,

Learnt the words of the Prophet,

And made life come alive,

Even through such strife.”

Feeling defensive, she retorted:

“Well that was the past, today’s different…” And then I knew

Why they were different.

 

IT’S BECAUSE we always leave it for another day

That just may…come upon us one day.

We merely make excuses, without working towards any goal, any way,

THAT’S why many years down the line,

After much time,

With regards to our deen, we’re kind of in the same state,

No change, and all we can do is cry over our fate.

Sister! Wait.

Don’t be in a hurry, be patient.

Knowledge comes to those who await its treasures,

Which flow forth without measure.

Begin your path towards knowledge,

Even if it’s just a little a day,

To learn the Prophets words and his blessed way.

The Key is Arabic

madinahbooksThere is hope. All of this is easy if we learn Arabic. Many of us are disabled from truly seeking knowledge even within the confines of our homes if we do not know Arabic as the medium to understand the various knowledge-based multimedia online is in the Arabic language. In all honesty, the mediums for studying today are more easily accessible than ever before, there are so many videos online (click here to access them). One of the main keys is to learn Arabic, after which a wealth of knowledge will come your way, IF you are consistent, organized and persevering in your pursuit of it. For example, weekly lessons in Hadeeth and Fiqh from the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Masjid in Madinah are uploaded regularly here and here but…in Arabic. Dear sister, the beginning may seem difficult but persistence and perseverance is the key; once we have Arabic in our hearts and minds we, as Muslim women can implement Allah’s words:

{And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and perform As-Salât (Iqâmat­as­Salât), and give Zakât and obey Allâh and his Messenger...} [33:33]

Without having to forsake the pursuit of knowledge, as we continue on with our busy schedules and tasks, over time we will achieve.

And remember: something is always better than nothing.

The Women Scholars Who Studied and Taught Saheeh Muslim

The examples of the women before us should push us to return to their way. For, there was a time when women would engross themselves in the mustakhraj of Saheeh Muslim – the narration of its texts by a different route with higher isnaad (Chain of Narration). What follows are the names of just a few of these flowers, who fragranced forth knowledge that we are in dire need of and lacking today. Their biographies have been organised chronologically.

Fatimah bint al-Ustadh Abu ‘Ali al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq (rahimahaAllah)

shineflowerThe renowned scholar Fatimah bint al-Ustadh Abu ‘Ali al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq (d. 480), wife of Abu l-Qasim al-Qushayri, heard the whole Sahih Abi ‘Awanah (mustakhraj of Saheeh Muslim) and then later transmitted it. The great scholar Ibn Hajar, in the account of his teacher Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Latif al-Takriti says, after mentioning his high isnaad for Saheeh Abu ‘Awanah to ‘Abd al-Raheem ibn al-Hafiz Abi Sa’d ibn al-Sam’aanee:

‘He heard it from Abu l-Barakkat al-Furaawi, who heard it from Fatimah bint ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq, who heard it from Abu Nu’aym ‘Abd al-Malik ibn al Hasan al-Isfrayini, who heard it from Abu ‘Awanah.’

Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“In the fifth century, women from non-Arab countries excelled the Arabs in the field of teaching and narrating hadeeth. For example, in Nishapur Fatimah bint Abee ‘Alee al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq (d. 480) taught major books of hadeeth including the Musnad of Aboo ‘Awaanah …”

Not only did she know Saheeh Muslim, she also had a strong connection with the Book of Allah, just as every Muslim woman should have. Al-Sayrafeenee said:

‘She knew the Book of Allah by heart, recited it day and night and knew its meaning.’

This brought about in her refined character, which she was known for. Al-Sam’aani said about her:

‘She was the pride of the women of her time, no one similar to her has been seen in her good character; she was a scholar of the Book of Allah and virtuous.’

Fatimah bint ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq died 480 years after the Hijrah. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.

Umm al-Khayr Fatimah bint Abi l-Hasan ‘Ali (rahimahaAllah)

The renowned Nishapuri scholar, Fatimah bint Abi l-Hasan Ali ibn al-Muzaffar ibn Hasan ibn Za’bal al-Baghdaadiyyah studied Saheeh Muslim with its most famous teacher of her time, Abu l Husayn ‘Abd al-Ghaafir al-Faarisi. She became famous for being qualified to teach Saheeh Muslim and had also studied K. Gharib al-Hadeeth of Aboo Sulaymaan al-Khattabi with Aboo l-Husayn ‘Abd al-Ghaafir al-Faarisi. And was also an expert in Qur’anic reading.

Fatimah bint Abi l-Hasan Ali died 532 years after the Hijrah, a female scholar who was famous for her knowledge of Saheeh. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.

Zaynab bint ‘Umar ibn Kindi (rahimahaAllah)

floweryellowwhitepinkAnother popular teacher of Saheeh Muslim was Zaynab bint ‘Umar ibn Kindi (rahimahaAllah).

Muhammad Ibn Qawaalij, a teacher of Haafidh ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalaani studied the whole of Saheeh Muslim with her. Zaynab narrated it from al-Mu’ayyad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Toosi, who narrated it from Faqeeh al-Haram Aboo ‘Abdillah Muhammad ibn al-Fadl al-Fooraawi, from Abool-Husayn ‘Abd al-Ghaafir ibn Husayn al-Faarisi, from Aboo Muhammad ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Amrooyah al-Juloodi, from Ibraheem ibn Muhammad ibn Sufyan, from its author Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj.

She had also studied the book in theology: ‘K. al-Tawheed’ by Aboo Bakr Muhammad ibn Ishaaq ibn Khuzaymah (d. 331) under Aboo Rawh ‘Abd al-Mu’izz ibn Muhammad al-Haraawee, with his sanad going back to Ibn Khuzaymah.

Zaynab bint ‘Umar ibn Kindi passed away 699 years after the Hijrah. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.

Safiyyah bint Ahmad ibn Qudaamah (rahimahaAllah)

Among the teachers of Saheeh Muslim in the eighth century was Safiyyah bint Ahmad ibn Qudaamah. She died 714 years after the Hijrah. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.

‘Aa’ishah bint Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi al-Maqdisiyyah (rahimahaAllah)

‘Aa’ishah bint Muhammad, also known as ‘Aa’ishah al-Maqdisiyyah, was a Syrian woman from Damascus, distinguished for her high Isnaad. She narrated the whole of Saheeh Muslim from her teacher Sharaf al-Deen ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan, from Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi, from Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Harraani , whom she had directly heard all of it from. She was no ordinary teacher; Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“Fatimah bint Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi and her sister ‘Aa’ishah, taught and narrated a huge number of small and large books…”

Haafidh Ibn Naasir ad-Deen Dimashqee says in his note on ‘Aa’ishah bint ‘Abd al-Haadi:

‘She was appointed to the post of teacher of hadeeth in the grand mosque of Banoo Umayyah.’

Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“The one who narrated the whole Saheeh al-Bukhaari with the highest isnaad among men and women was ‘Aa’ishah bint ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi (d. 816) from Damascus, the last student of al-Hajjaar in the world.”

This is because A’ishah bint ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi (rahimahaAllah) was the last surviving student of the great scholar al-Hajjaar (rahimahullah); therefore, the isnaad through her is of a very high degree. For example, the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “None from those who pledged allegiance under the tree will enter the Fire” is narrated through the following chain of narration:

aishah_al_hadi

Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“In our time, if scholars narrate the Saheeh of al-Bukhaari through ‘Aa’ishah al-Maqdisiyyah (d. 816), then between them and Imaam al-Bukhaari there will be one less narrator than though any other isnaad.”

Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) says in his account of ‘Aa’ishah al-Haadi (rahimahaAllah):

‘She was the last person who narrated Saheeh al-Bukhaari with high isnaad by her hearing [it]; and it is a wonderful coincidence that Sitt al-Wuzaraa’ was the last woman in the world among all those who narrated from al-Zabeedee and she died in 716, while this ‘Aa’ishah is similar to her dying in 816 and she had above [Sitt al-Wuzaraa’] this quality that even from among the men who heard from al-Hajjaar, the colleague of Sitt al-Wuzaraa’, none remained in the world other than herself. Between the death of ‘Aa’ishah and Sitt al-Wuzaraa’ the difference is exactly one hundred years.’

Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“Aa’ishah bint Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi al-Maqdisiyyah, the great Muhaddithah of her time, studied with Ahmad ibn Abi Taalib al-Hajjaar:

  • Saheeh al-Bukhari,
  • K. Dhamm al-kalaam of al-Harawi,
  • Juz’ Abee l-Jahm,
  • Amaalee Ibn al-Nasri,
  • Musnad ‘Umar of al-Ajjaaf,
  • Al-Arba’oon al-Aajurriyyah,
  • Musnad ‘Abd ibn Humayd.

With Qaadi Sharaf al-Deen ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Abdillah ibn al-Haafidh ‘Abd al-Ghani:

  • Saheeh Muslim

With ‘Abd al-Qaadir ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn al-Mu’azzam ‘Isa al-Ayyoobi:

  • The whole of the Seerah by Ibn Ishaaq in the rescension of Ibn Hishaam, and
  • Juzz al-Bitaaqah. ”

‘Aa’ishah al-Maqdisiyyah died 816 years after the Hijrah. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.

***

I end with the supplication that we, the Muslim Women, once again pick up this noble book containing the Prophetic Narrations of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and bring the following statement of Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi, which is in the past tense:

‘Saheeh Muslim has also been widely taught by the muhaddithaat.”

Into the present tense:

“Saheeh Muslim is being widely taught by the muhaddithaat.”

Aameen!

*Download the PDF from here.

 

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