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Recommended Readings

Official chronicles of Islam that document its growth as a world religion and civilization contain accounts of key figures (besides the Prophet Muhammad) who shaped the Islamic tradition in seminal ways. The overwhelming majority of the historical sources which deal with the formative period in particular would have us believe that the history of Islam was primarily molded by Muslim men and it is mainly their deeds and accomplishments that are worthy of documentation. If we move outside of the domain of official histories and chronicles and turn our attention to biographical and prosopographical literature for example, this image can be substantially revised. In sira and tabaqat works, for example, there is plentiful mention of well-known Sahabiyyat (women Companions of the Prophet) who played prominent roles in the history of early Islam. A number of Muslim scholars have gratefully recorded their names and recorded their achievements as major contributions to the formation of Islamic thought and practices.These sources are therefore important for providing a corrective to much of what is still conventionally attributed to Muslim women as a totality in certain circles, particularly in the West - a general lack of agency, invisibility, and marginalization within the key events of Islamic history and its intellectual heritage.This persistent and erroneous image has been challenged and considerably overturned by rigorous scholarship in recent times that has often made use of early biographical works, as well as Qur’an commentaries, hadith literature, adab works and other sources to retrieve the life-stories of women who over time progressively became relegated to the sidelines of official history.

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