International Women's Day 2013

Published Date: 
8 March 2013

Today, 8th of March is the International Women’s Day.  On this occasion, we like to share with you the results of important research we carried on Women of Science, Medicine and Politics in Muslim Heritage;  little known but a much relevant subject to today's issues. Please view all the sections in the link below:

Great Women of Science, Medicine and Politics in Muslim Heritage

While there are numerous works on the role of Muslim women in jurisprudence (fiqh) and literature and there are also studies on Muslim women in education and in medicine- although on a much smaller scale-, few sources mention the role of Muslim women in the development of science and technology. There are isolated references that mention some of the famous women who had a role in advancing science and who established charitable, educational and religious institutions. Some examples are: Zubayda who pioneered a most ambitious project of digging wells and building service stations all along the pilgrimage route from Baghdad to Mecca, Sutayta who was a mathematician and an expert witness in courts, Dhayfa Khatun who excelled in management and statesmanship, Fatima al-Fehri who founded the Qarawiyin mosque and university in Fez, and the astrolabe maker Al-'Ijliya, the rulers and queens Sitt al-Mulk, Shajarat al-Durr, Raziya of Delhi, and Amina of Zaria. In view of the growing importance of the subject of gender and women in society, this report presents what is currently known about some famous Muslim women, in the hope of initiating debate and starting the process of unearthing what could be a most significant find. Read More...

Womens Day Islam

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The female relatives of the khalifs and courtiers vied with each other in the patronage and cultivation of letters.

In the history of Islamic civilization, many hospitals were founded by women, either as wives, daughters or mothers of sultans. All health personnel were male at these hospitals. In the Ottoman period, the female patients were treated either at their homes or at the residences of the medical practitioners until the 19th century. This feature somewhat explains the rich varieties of females practicing medicine both in and outside the Ottoman palace. In this article, Professor Nil Sari, provides information on the various medical practices dedicated to female patients under the Ottomans.

Professor Nil Sari Akdeniz, the head of the History of Medicine and Ethics Department of Istanbul University at the Cerrahpasha Medical School since 1983, is a world famous historian of Islamic medicine in general and of medical knowledge and practices in the Ottoman Empire and in modern Turkey in particular. In the following unpublished interview, carried on by Dr Mehrunisha Suleman in Istanbul in 2004 on behalf of FSTC and updated in February 2009 by Professor Sari, she expounds her opinion on some issues relating to Muslim Heritage, science and Islam, and her passion as a historian of medicine.

The tradition of Islamic astronomy is the main topic of the following interview, in which Dr Rim Turkmani, an astrophysicist scholar, draws on her passion for Islamic science to present a survey on salient aspects of Islamic classical astronomy. At the end, she shows how this scientific tradition is still inspiring today. On that point, the attitude of openness, diversity and tolerance is highlighted.

In the following interview, Dr Zohor Idrisi sheds light on Islamic agriculture and the culinary art in Muslim heritage. She mentions the various factors that favorised the development of agriculture in the Islamic civilisation, such the use of astronomical knowledge, the availability of an efficient water management system, the introduction of new techniques in irrigation, the use of new varieties of crops and plants. The result was a real agricultural revolution marked by a high productivity, never reached before in history. The last part of the interview hits upon contemporary issues, like environment strategies and consumption habits that we have to learn from the standpoint of Islamic practices based on respect of nature, human wisdom and common sense.

Professor Emilie Savage-Smith expands in this remarkable interview on Islamic mecicine of which she draws a lively picture. Beginning with a general survey of the conditions of its inception and development in an intercultural context, she mentions representative names and treatises, then the various fields of expertise are scrutinized and the different innovations this tradition brought are highlighted, from the classification of diseases, their treatment, the use of surgery, the improvement of medical instruments, the foundation of hospitals. The answers of the expert are informative on specific areas of medical care such as ophthalmology, mental illness, the development of a real industry of drugs, the various ways of healing, including the use of music in the treatment of emotional and mental stress. The exploitation of this treasure of medical knowledge in Europe until the 17th century is also reminded.

Aise Asli Sancar, a renowned writer and lecturer on women's issues has said when she began investigating the subject of Ottoman women, she realized that they were much more complex and multifaceted than they are usually portrayed to be. Noting that Ottoman women were described as submissive and suppressed women entrapped in the harem, Sancar says the imperial harem was a more diverse and complex institution than she had formerly thought it to be. This is the main theme of her book: Ottoman Women: Myth and Reality reviewed in this article by Qaisra Shahraz, the well known writer and novelist. Suitable for all publics, the book, a well written and enjoyable to read piece, presents an engaging and appealing image of Ottoman women, far away from the clichés widely spread in the contemporary literature.