Consistency of Behavior Rules for Women on the Hajj: Pre-1800 Perspectives in Islamic Thought

Before 1800, there were no major schools of Islamic thought that specifically relaxed behavior rules for women on the Hajj pilgrimage. The Hajj, one of the Five Pillars of Islam, is a sacred journey to Mecca that holds specific rituals and requirements for both men and women. These requirements, including dress code, modesty, and behavior, are generally consistent across different schools of Islamic thought.

While there may have been variations in interpretations and practices among individuals or local customs, there were no widely recognized or official schools of thought that relaxed behavior rules specifically for women during the Hajj. The principles of modesty, respect, and adherence to Islamic teachings were generally upheld by both men and women participating in the pilgrimage, regardless of specific cultural or regional variations.

Unveiling the Stories of Resilience: Muslim Women Before 1800

In the annals of history, the voices and experiences of Muslim women are often obscured, overshadowed by dominant narratives. Yet the stories of Muslim women before 1800 are a testament to their resilience, intellect, and contributions to society. In this article, we embark on a journey through time to uncover the fascinating lives of Muslim women who defied societal norms, shattered stereotypes, and left an indelible mark on their communities. Join us as we uncover the hidden stories of these remarkable women, whose stories deserve to be celebrated and remembered.

Women in Early Islamic History

The early years of Islam witnessed the emergence of trailblazing women who played a pivotal role in shaping the faith and its community. We explore the lives of figures such as Khadijah, the Prophet Muhammad’s wife and a successful businesswoman, and Aisha, an influential scholar and political leader. Their leadership, intellectual prowess, and unwavering devotion set a precedent for future generations of Muslim women.

Queens and Rulers

Muslim women held positions of power and authority as queens and rulers in various regions. We explore the reigns of figures such as Sultana Razia of Delhi, who defied societal norms to become the first female ruler of the Delhi Sultanate, and Queen Arwa al-Sulayhi, who ruled Yemen with wisdom and diplomacy. These women navigated political complexities, administered justice, and left lasting legacies.

Scholars and intellectuals

Muslim women throughout history have made significant contributions to science, literature, and intellectual discourse. We uncover the works of such figures as Fatima al-Fihri, who founded the world’s oldest continuously operating university, the University of Al Quaraouiyine in Morocco, and the renowned poet Rabi’a al-Adawiyya, whose mystical poetry continues to inspire. Their intellectual pursuits defied societal expectations and paved the way for future generations of Muslim women scholars.

Artists and patrons of the arts

Muslim women have also excelled as artists, musicians, and patrons of the arts. We explore the creative genius of figures such as Sultan Raziyya, a skilled calligrapher and patron of architecture, and Shahzia Sikander, a contemporary artist known for her groundbreaking work. Their artistic expressions challenged conventions and enriched the cultural heritage of Muslim societies.

Social Reformers and Activists

Muslim women before 1800 were active in social reform movements, championing causes such as education, women’s rights, and philanthropy. We explore the lives of figures such as Nana Asma’u, an advocate for female education in 19th-century West Africa, and Malika al-Fassi, a Moroccan activist who fought for women’s rights. Their tireless efforts paved the way for social progress and empowerment.

Overcoming Barriers: The Challenges Faced by Muslim Women Scholars in their Pursuit of Knowledge

Throughout history, Muslim women scholars have faced many challenges in their intellectual pursuits.

Societal Expectations and Gender Bias

Muslim societies, like many others, had traditional gender norms and expectations that limited women’s access to education and intellectual pursuits. Women were often expected to prioritize domestic responsibilities over academic pursuits, creating barriers to their educational and intellectual development.

Limited access to education

Access to education was a significant challenge for Muslim women scholars. Many educational institutions were exclusively for men, and opportunities for women to receive formal education were limited. This lack of access hindered their ability to acquire broad knowledge and engage in scholarly discourse.

Social Stigma and Opposition

Muslim women scholars often faced social stigma and opposition from conservative elements within their communities. Their pursuit of knowledge and engagement in intellectual discourse challenged traditional gender roles and norms, resulting in criticism and opposition. They had to navigate social pressures and overcome stereotypes to establish themselves as respected scholars.

Lack of recognition and representation

Muslim women scholars often faced challenges in gaining recognition for their intellectual contributions. Their works and achievements were often overlooked or marginalized in historical accounts, perpetuating a lack of representation and recognition. This erasure limited their opportunities for collaboration, mentorship, and the dissemination of their ideas.

Balancing Multiple Roles

Women scholars had to navigate the complexities of balancing their intellectual pursuits with societal expectations of family and domestic responsibilities. Juggling roles as scholars, wives, mothers, and caregivers required immense dedication, time management, and support systems.


Women in Islam have played diverse and influential roles throughout history, defying stereotypes and contributing to the development and enrichment of Islamic societies. While women’s experiences vary in different contexts and time periods, certain common threads emerge when examining their status within the framework of Islam.

As a religion, Islam emphasizes the inherent equality and dignity of all human beings, regardless of gender. The Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad promote justice, respect, and fairness for both men and women. However, social and cultural factors have sometimes led to the marginalization or misinterpretation of women’s rights within certain Muslim communities.

Throughout the centuries, Muslim women have demonstrated resilience, intelligence, and leadership in various spheres of life. From notable historical figures such as Khadijah, Aisha, and Fatima to contemporary trailblazers in academia, the arts, politics, and activism, Muslim women have made significant contributions to their communities and the wider world.

It is important to recognize that interpretations of Islamic teachings can vary, and cultural practices sometimes overshadow the true principles of the faith. There is ongoing dialogue and efforts within Muslim communities to address gender issues, promote gender equality, and challenge discriminatory practices.

The empowerment of women in Islam requires a multifaceted approach that includes education, legal reform, and the dismantling of patriarchal structures. By embracing the Qur’anic principles of justice, equality, and compassion, and by challenging cultural biases and patriarchal interpretations, Muslim communities can create spaces where women can fully exercise their rights, participate in all aspects of society, and contribute their unique talents and perspectives.


What was the role of women in early Islamic society?

In its earliest laws, Islam recognized women as an independent being with rights and responsibilities. It allowed her to keep her family name after marriage. She could own property and dispose of it at will without consultation or permission from husband or guardian.

Are women allowed in Mecca?

Women are also allowed — indeed, required, just like every other physically and financially able Muslim is — to perform the hajj. However, they have to be accompanied by an appropriate male guardian (called a mahram).

Who can a woman go to hajj with?

According to the rules and regulation set forth by the Saudi government, a woman who is above an age of 45 is allowed to go on a religious journey of Hajj with fellow pilgrims.

What did Muslims do for women’s rights?

Religious scholars largely agree that at the onset of Islam in the early 600s CE, the Prophet Muhammed expanded women’s rights to include inheritance, property and marriage rights. It was a revolutionary move at a moment when women held few, if any, rights.

What are the rules of Hajj?

The Hajj is a real pilgrimage – a journey, with rites and rituals to be done along the way. You begin at a place just outside Mecca called the Miqat, or entry station to the Hajj. There you bathe, put on the Ihram (the special white clothes), make the intention for Umra and begin reciting the Talbiya Du’a (prayer).

Can a woman enter a mosque?

A Muslim woman is free to enter Masjid for prayers. It is her option to exercise her right to avail such facilities as available for prayers in Masjid,” the statement said, adding that previous fatwas barring the entry of women in mosques must be “ignored”.

How can I stop my period during Hajj?

Conclusion: Norethisterone is an effective for prolongation of menstrual bleeding in special events like Hajj and Umrah. Best results are achieved when it is started 15 to 10 days before next menstrual cycle and given in 15mg to 20 mg daily dosage.

What is a female Haji called?

Hajj (حَجّ) and haji (حاجي) are transliterations of Arabic words that mean “pilgrimage” and “one who has completed the Hajj to Mecca,” respectively. The term hajah or hajjah (حجة) is the female version of haji.

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