Introduction to Forgotten Heroines

Muslim women in the West today are in a seemingly unique position: often straddling two worlds, that of their family’s ethnic culture and that of their country of residence; struggling to both revive their faith and their intellect; managing a balancing act of family and career.

Often, we feel alone, stranded in circumstances for which there is no textbook manual on how to do it all right. Surely we can’t be the only generation of Muslim women to face such trials! And, in fact, we aren’t. Islamic history books are filled with stories of exemplary Muslim women, young and old, who navigated cultures spanning from Asia and Arabia to Europe.

These inspiring women came of age in environments eerily similar to our own: Fatimah bint Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), whose early teen years were spent struggling through the difficult first days of Islam in Makkah; and Ama bint Khalid, who grew up in the Christian country of Abyssinia during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). They dealt with feelings of isolation, cultural differences, and the struggles faced by the pioneers of a new way. They fell in love, fought in wars, and achieved heights of scholarship envied by men.

From the Sahaabiyaat (female Companions) to shaykhaat in our own times, Muslim women have always had powerful female figures to look up to and emulate. Unfortunately, however, these inspiring women have been forgotten and marginalized by their own people, to the detriment of all Muslims, both men and women.

This book, Forgotten Heroines, is presented very differently from most biographical books of Islamic figures. Rather than focusing solely on the dates, times, and a general scholarly overview of the individuals featured, Forgotten Heroines aims to draw direct parallels between the lives of notable women of Islamic history, and the social issues we face today. The goal of this approach is to bridge the perceived “generational gap” between the women of the past and the people of today – whereas in truth, the struggles that we face today are direct echoes of what they experienced before.

Now, we hope to revive and relive our neglected history. By bringing to light not only the exploits of these heroines, but their humanity as well, we aim to build a direct connection and sense of relevance between the current generations of Muslim women, and those who created legacies before us.

 

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at http://www.thesalafifeminist.blogspot.com