Al Shifa bint Abdullah is what we would refer to in our time as a successful professional. She was a nurse and medical practitioner, teacher, and later worked in public administration. She also had a great impact on Islamic history as she also has narrated many Hadiths.


Al Shifa bint Abdullah was born in Mecca. Her real name was Layla but she was known as Al-Shifa (healing) because she worked as a medicine woman. She was one of the only literate people in the Mecca in the time of ignorance. Al Shifa embraced Islam before the migration to Medina and she was among the first to migrate. In Medina, Al Shifa used to teach reading and writing to the Muslims, among them Hafsah (RA), wife of the Prophet Mohammed ﷺ.

Upon becoming a Muslim, she asked Prophet Mohammed ﷺ if she could continue doing the preventative medicine that she had been doing before. “Oh Messenger of Allah, I used to do preventative medicine for ant bites during Jahiliyya, and I want to demonstrate it for you,” she said. “ So demonstrate it,” replied Prophet Mohammed ﷺ. So when she showed him, he told her to continue to do it and teach it to Hafsah (RA) and the other Muslim women.

Prophet Mohammed ﷺ used to visit her frequently in her home to get advice or medicine. In fact, Al Shifa was such a distinguished and intelligent woman that all the companions came to respect her. So much so that Umar made her an officer in the administration of the market place, making her the first Muslim woman to hold public office. She was also an advisor to Umar when he was a caliph. Al Shifa narrated many hadiths, as she dealt with the Prophet Mohammed ﷺ on countless occasions.

She passed away in 20 hijri during Umar’s time as caliph. As a Muslim woman, she is much admired for her work in health, education, and politics.



“The First Female Teacher In Islam: Al-Shifa Bint Abdullah.” 2 Nov. 2008. Web. <>.

“Muslim Women in History (” Web. 10 Jan. 2012. <>.
“ – Topics.” – Discover 1000 Years of Missing History. Web. 10 Jan. 2012. <>.

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