Bint Al Shat’ia was an Islamic scholar, intellectual, journalist, author, professor and a unique pioneer in the women’s liberation movement in the Arab World. She held several high-ranking positions for decades among many renowned scholars in the Islamic and Arab world. She was also on of the few Muslim women of this century to participate in Quran exogenesis (interpretation and explanation). Her work had feminist themes and she as a passionate supporter of women’s rights, though she did not consider herself to be a feminist.
*Even though Bint Al Shati’a has already passed away, I included her with the [now] group because she lived in this century*
Aishah Mohammed, or Bint Al Shati’a as she is widely known, was born on November 1913 in Northern Egypt in a city called Damietta. By the age of five, she had the Quran memorized and she also memorized many other books of tradition and poetry. Her father was a scholar at Al Azhar and along with the help of her grandfather, she was able to convince him to let her go to school. She attended elementary school and then the Teacher’s School in Tanta. She moved to Cairo in 1929 and worked as a clerk in a girl’s faculty in Giza before eventually getting her bachelors in Arabic from Cairo University (used to be King Fuad I University) where she also got her masters 1941 and doctorate in 1950. She married her teacher at Cairo University, Sheik Amin el-Khouli.
Bint Al Shati’a continued to focus on literary, Quranic and Islamic Studies for the next 20 years. Her various jobs include working as an Arabic lecturer at Cairo University, an Arabic supervisor in the Egyptian Ministry of Education which she started in 1943, and then a lecturer and later assistant professor at Ain Shams University in 1951. By 1962, she was promoted to president of the Arabic and Islamic Studies Department at Ain Shams. Her other positions include being a delegated professor for supervising master and doctorate degree theses at Al Azhar University, being a visiting professor in the Sudan branch of Cairo University in Khartoum, and being the professor of the Holy Quran Explanation and Higher Education Affairs in the Faculty of Law in Fes, Morocco at Al-Qarawiyin University. She was also a visiting professor at Beirut University, Emirates University, and the Faculty of Education in Riyadh.
Bint Al Shati’a was also an accomplished writer and had several published books and articles. She used to publish under the name Bint Al Shati’a (which means daughter of the riverbank and refers back to her childhood growing up near the Nile) because traditions at the time did not allow girl’s names to be shown in the public. Bint Al Shati’a’s articles were about different social, literary and intellectual causes and they were published in “Al Ahram” (The Pyramids) and “Al Nahdha Al-Nisa’aiya” (The Feminine Resistance). From one of her articles, “The Problem of the Peasant”, which discussed the disadvantages of Egyptian peasants, she later published a relevant book called The Egyptian Countryside.
Her fictional works include:
Lady of the Manor (1944) (true life novel)
The Reversion of Pharaoh (1949) (true life novel)
Views of their Lives (1953) (biographical collection)
The River bank’s Secret (1958) (collection of short stories)
Ala Al Jisr: Rihla Bayn Al Haya Wa Al Mawt (1968) (On the Bridge: A Journey between Life and Death) (This is her autobiography which up to the point of her husbands death in 1966)
She authored over 60 theses, 40 of which became well known books including:
The Rhetorical Explanation of the Holy Quran (1962)
New Values for the Old and Contemporary Arabic Literature (1969)
With the Islam’s Prophet (ﷺ (1970
Isra’iliyat in the ideational Invasion (1975)
The Miracles Land (1977)
Tarajim Sayidat Bayt Al Nubooah (Biographies of the Prophet’s ﷺ Honorable Women) (This is a very famous biographical works that discusses the detailed aspects of these women’s life and their relationships with the Prophet ﷺ. This book has five different volumes which are: The Prophet’s ﷺ Mother, The Prophets ﷺ Honorable Wives, The Prophet’s ﷺ Honorable Daughters, Zainab Bint Khuzaimah, The Heroine of Karbala, and Sukaina Bint Al Husayn.)
A Perusal in the Documents of Bahaism (1986) (this book contained documents about the religion known as Bahai and its relationship with International Zionism)
She earned many awards over the years including:
Decoration of Intellectual Qualification (Morocco, 1961)
The Literature’s Award of Kuwait (1988)
King Faisal’s Award for Literature and Islamic Studies (Saudi Arabia, 1994)
Bint Al Shati’a passed away from a heart attack on December 1, 1988 at the age of 85. She donated her entire personal library for research purposes and there is a statue built in her honor in Cairo. May Allah have mercy on her.
*Do you notice that the people who have been really successful throughout Islamic history are those that have memorized the Quran by age 10? And again, its education, education, education! The pursuit of knowledge is the most Islamic way to live your life.
“A Brilliant Female Scholar in the Islamic World.” North Africa Times 3 May 2008, Http://www.alarab.co.uk/Previouspages/North%20Africa%20Times/2008/04/27-04/NAT242704.pdf ed.: n. pag. Print.
Mariam. “Bint Al-Shati’ an Outspoken Female in a Conservative Society – Waleg.com.”Waleg.com. N.p., 12 Aug. 2010. Web. 23 July 2012. <http://www.waleg.com/archives/020865.html>.
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