Umm Waraqa

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Umm Waraqah bint 'Abd Allah b. Al-harith was a contemporary of Islamic prophet Muhammad. She knew the entire Qur'an. Because of this, Muhammad appointed her to lead a group of men and women in prayer. The example of Umm Waraqah is based on a hadith found to be solid, transmitted through ibn Sa'd al-Baghdadi.[1]

Because of the strength of the evidence, the example of Umm Waraqah serves as the basis for the opinion among some Islamic jurists that women are permitted to not only lead other women in prayer, but that they may also lead mixed-sex congregations. This is for instance a minority opinion in the Hanbali tradition.[2]

Because Umm Waraqah was one of very few people to have memorized the entire Qur'an, she was one of its few oral transmitters before it was recorded in writing.[3]

Umm Waraqah also presents a unique challenge to the notion of Jihad as a violent struggle or Holy War. Instead, The Prophet, according to Ibn Sa'd's narrative, denoted her "the Martyred Woman" (al-Shahida) even though he did not allow her to accompany him into battle during the Battle of Badr. Instead, Umm Waraqah's gateway to martyrdom was her faithful struggle in continuing to lead prayer in her household. It was during this that she achieved martyrdom, when, "two servants, a male and a female who were under her charge, murdered her during 'Umar's Caliphate and fled." [4] [5]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ibn Sa'd: Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, vol. 8, p. 335.
  2. ^ See Christopher Melchert, “Whether to keep women out of the mosque: a survey of medieval Islamic Law.” In Authority, Privacy and Public Order in Islam. Proceedings of the 22nd Congress of L’Union Européenne des Arabisants et Islamisants, eds. B. Michalak-Pikulska and A. Pikulski (Leuven, 2006), 59-69.
  3. ^ See Wiebke Walter: Women in Islam, Markus Wiener Publishing, 1981, p. 111.
  4. ^ Ibn Sa'd: Kitab al-Tabaqat al-Kabir, vol. 8, p. 335.
  5. ^ Asma Afsaruddin, "Reconstituting Women's Lives: Gender and teh Poetics of Narrative in Medieval Biographical Collections," The Muslim World 92 (Fall 2002): 462.