A Muslim scholar is rewriting history by revealing the extent of women’s influence on the formation of Sharia
Muhammad Akram Nadwi is a scholar who is well-versed in the fields of hadith and fiqh. He began working on the biographies of Muslim women who are the narrators and memorizers of hadith a decade ago; he believed that this would be extensive enough to an entire volume. Up until now he has compiled 8,000 names; their biographies take up 40 volumes. Of course, it was going to be difficult to find a publisher for such a vast project and he has succeeded in only having the preface published in English. "Al-Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam" (1) is the preface of this grand project.
The sheer number of women in such a work, which does not highlight the women at the forefront of Islamic history, but only those who were important in hadith and fiqh, is an eye-opener. The surprise that many felt after reading the introductory section of the book has been expressed by readers in both the US and Turkey. (2) At the present time Muslim women are caught in a dilemma between modernity and Islam; however within Islam there exists a strong support system that will help them in modern world. This support system not only helps them to make a place for themselves in society, but also forms a basis when faced by secular, feminist and Orientalist accusations of an adverse relationship between Islam and women.