Today is International Women’s Day! Each year on the 8th March, the world celebrates the global movement for women’s rights. This year’s campaign theme is #PressforProgress, and as SuperSisters, we pledge alongside millions to continue to press forward and champion our rights as women and girls! 👧💪
Although we’ve still got a long way to go to achieve gender equality in every society, we can’t forget the inspiring and supergirl powers of Muslimahs throughout history.
Below are our top 12 picks of true superheros in girl form.
How many of them have you heard of before?
The Sufi Princess turned Pacifist War Hero
Noor Inayat Khan (1914-1944)
Khan was Britain’s first Muslim war hero and a Sufi princess. She worked as a spy in Paris and single-handedly ran a cell of agents that helped defeat the Nazis! Kahn believed in religious tolerance, non-violence and despised fascism and dictatorial rule. Although she was eventually captured by the Gestapo and tortured, she refused to reveal any information until her death. Her final words before she was shot was simply ‘Liberte’ #truehero
Check out the awesome statue of her in Gordon Square Gardens in London!
The Founder of the World’s first University
Fatima al-Fihri (800-880 est.)
Fatima al-Fihri was the daughter of a merchant and founded the first university in the world, The University of Al Quaraouiyine in Fes, Morocco. After inheriting a large fortune following the death of her father and brothers, she dedicated all of her wealth to benefiting their community. Fatima was extremely devout and vowed to fast daily from the first day of construction until the university was finished. She ended up fasting for two years – can you imagine doing that?! The university has remained in operation since it opened in 859.c. In her honour, we should never take for granted the education we are lucky to receive, whether from its from school, community libraries or university. #whatalegend
The Civil Rights Activist
Ella Little-Collins (1914 – 1996)
Ella was an African American civil rights activist who ran the Organisation of Afro-American Unity which provided scholarships for students wanting to study in Egypt. She was the half sister of Malcolm X and played an important role in his conversion and life. Malcolm said of her in his Autobiography that she was “the first really proud black woman I had ever seen”. She was “plainly proud of her very black skin”. Shout out to our Afro-Caribbean Supersisters! ✊
The Woman Warrior
Khawla bint Al Azwar (7th Century)
Khawlah was a formidable Muslim Arab soldier from the 7th Century who lead both male and female soldiers into battle as a commander. She was a kick-ass leader in battles of the Muslim conquests in parts of what are known today as Syria, Jordan and Palestine. She fought beside her brother Diraar, but when he was suddenly captured by the Byzantine forces, she took a male knight’s armour and weapons and covered her identity with a green shawl. In true Mulan style, she led her army against the Byzantines to victory! #girlsdoitbetter
The Algerian Pièce de Résistance
Lalla Fatma N’Soumer (1830-1863)
Lalla was a Berber woman who assisted in leading a resistance against the French Occupation in Algeria. During the famous battle of Oued Sebaou, Lalla was only 24 and like her predecessor Khawlah, headed an army of men and women, leading her people to victory! Not only that, but she also directed her father’s Qur’anic school after his death, caring for children and the poor #blessed
The West African Poet Princess
Nānā Asmā’u (1793-1864)
Nana Asma’u was a West African princess, poet, teacher, and a daughter of the founder of the Sokoto Caliphate, Usman dan Fodio. She was extremely well-educated and pioneered women’s religious education in the region. She played a major role in the political, cultural and intellectual developments in West Africa. On top of that she was fluent in four languages and wrote over 70 works in history, theology, law and the role of women in Islam! She was one of the most influential women in 19th Century West Africa #mashallah
The Slave turned Mother of the Prophet
Umm Ayman (7th Century)
Umm Ayman, or Barakah, was born a slave and bought by the Prophet’s father and went on to become a second mother to the Prophet, particularly after his own mother died when he was six. She knew him from birth to his death, was one of the first converts to Islam, and remained a trusted confidant of the Prophet throughout his life.
The First Lady
Khadija bint Khuwaylid
Khadija was the Prophet’s devoted first wife and first convert to Islam. Not only was she 15 years his senior (marrying him when she was 40 and he 25), but she was a wealthy businesswoman who was very skilled in trade. This total boss-lady hired the Prophet to work for her and became one of the most influential women in Islam. Some even say she was the one to propose to him! So ladies, if you want something – never let socially constructed gender roles hold you back!
The Superstar Scholar
Ashia was one of the Prophet’s wives who possessed genius qualities. This brainbox became the go-to gal for knowledge and advice following the death of her husband. She was an incredible teacher and managed to interpret 2210 hadiths over her lifetime!
The First Female Martyr
Sumayyah Bint Khabbat
Sumayyah was the first member of the Prophet’s Ummah to become a female martyr. Although she was tortured for being a Muslim so much so it led to her death, her strength is admirable. She lived every inch her authentic self and is one of the strongest women of her day – we each have the strength of Sumayyah inside of us! #MuslimahSuperStrength #AlwaysBeYou
The Super Surgeon
Rufaidah bint Sa’ad
Rufaidah was the first Muslim nurse and female surgeon in Islam! Paving the way for a long line of female healers, we credit her pioneering role in influencing our supersister doctors out there! Her kind soul also helped children, orphans, the disabled and the poor #HeartOfGold
Women’s Rights Advocate
Nusayba bint Ka’b Al-Ansariyah
Nusayba was an early convert to Islam and one of the Prophet’s companions. She is best known as being one of the very first women’s rights advocates, asking the Prophet directly why God only addresses men in the Quran. Following on from her questioning, a special Aya was revealed to the Prophet that stated the equality of men and women. So always remember Nusayba’s bravery and never shy away from speaking out when you feel as though the world is treating you unfairly – be curious, ask challenging questions and be the change you want to see! #MuslimWomenTalkBack
Which of these women inspire you the most to be a supergirl supersister?
Don’t forget to tell us about other badass Muslimahs we’ve missed on this list in the comments! #girlpower
Have a happy International Women’s day!
💟 💁 💘💪 💗 🙌 💖 👸 ☮