5 Trailblazing Muslim Women Who Influenced Islamic History

People might be aware of modern inspiring Muslim women. There are lots of female Muslim names that are taking action to make the world a better place, with their notable contributions in the arts, science, sports and politics. 

Some of those names may be familiar to us. As Muslim women leaders goes, we have Benazir Bhutto, the first women in Pakistan to lead a political party and the first prime minister of Pakistan; Halimah Yacob, the first female president of Singapore, and Megawati Sukarnoputri, the first female president of Indonesia. We also have Muslim women who are in sports and making history through their hard work, determination and persistence, like Aries Susanti Rahayu, a speed climber from Indonesia; Sarah Attar, a track and field athlete from Saudi Arabia; and Stephanie Kurlow from Australia as the world’s first hijabi ballerina.

During the time of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, many women within the early Islamic period were widely important in different leadership areas too. The following is a brief account of some of these women — the most inspiring women from Islamic history with their sacrifice, love, faith, devotion and intelligence, and had a big contribution to the legacy of Islam. 

Khadija bint Khuwaylid

Born in 555 AD, Khadija bint al-Khuwaylid was the first wife of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, the first woman believer of Islam, aslo known as the “mother of believers.” Khadija is remembered as a powerful woman in her own right and and a great example of the power and respect that is owed to Muslim women. She was born to a father who was a successful merchant and she inherited her father’s skills at a time in history when society was male-dominated and dangerous. Upon her father’s death, she took over the business and traded goods through the primary commerce centers at that time. According to the documentary The Life of Muhammad, Khadija was known for breaking stereotypes in that era, 1,400 years ago, because she was the one who proposed to the Prophet. Until now, she remains one of the most powerful and inspiring figures in Islamic history. 

Aisha bint Abu Bakr 

Aisha is remembered as the youngest wife of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and was a scholar. She also played a major role in the politics of her times. Aisha led an army against the fourth caliph Ali ibn Abi Talib in the Battle of the Camel in 656 CE. After this loss on the battlefield, Aisha retreated to her home. She started translating and narrating hadiths and spreading the Islamic word. Aisha is known to have narrated 2,210 hadiths about various topics including those about inheritance and pilgrimage. After the death of the Prophet, her relevance in the Islamic community increased manyfold.

Sumayyah bint Khayyat

Sumayyah remains one of the most tragic and yet inspiring examples of the powerful women in Islamic history.  She is known as the first martyr of Islam and was one of the first who openly defied the Quraysh leaders of the time. Born a slave but freed later in life, Sumayyah married Yasir Ibn Amir and was one of the first families to convert to Islam. The leading Quraysh tribes kidnapped and tortured Summayah and forced her to renounce her faith in Islam and reject the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, but Sumayyah refused to back down in the face of tyranny and injustice. She didn’t want to disavow her belief in Islam. Because of her devotion to Allah and Islam, she was then murdered by Abu Jahal, a Meccan and Quraysh leader. 

Nusaybah bint Ka’ab

Nusaybah bint Ka’ab Al Maziniyyah was one of those who embraced Islam in the early days of revelation. She believed that a woman had the same duty in defending the new religion as a man. Nusaybah gained a reputation as the most distinguished woman who took part in the Battle of Uhud, but her participation in battles did not end with that battle. She was present on a number of occasions, including the Treaty of Aqabah, Hudaybiyah, as well as the battles of Khaybar, and Hunayn. She was revered by Abu Bakr Al Siddique as well as Umar bin Al-Khattab who continuously praised her struggle and courage. Under the leadership of Abu Bakr, Nusaybah fought brilliantly at Al-Yamamah and had multiple injuries and also lost her hand! Nusaybah is very inspiring for us because her courage on the battlefield was also matched by her steadfastness in faith.

Khawlah Bint Al-Azwar

Khawlah was the daughter of one of the chiefs of Bani Asad tribe and companion of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. Her family was among the first converts to Islam. Khawlah’s father, Al-Azwar, trained her in all arts of swordsmanship and she became a perfect knight. It’s no wonder that Khawlah was described as one of the greatest female warriors in history and was once compared to Khalid Bin Walid by opponents on the battlefield. Khawlah became a legend during her life and remains a legend till this day. She set an example to men and women alike that one should fight for what they believe in.

These Muslim women’s legacy and devotion continue to inspire and touch the hearts and lives of Muslims to this day. The example they have left behind for mankind remains timeless.

Written by: Hessy Trishandiani