Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Ramadan Challenge Day 27 - Teachers of Hazm Adh-Dhahiree

I have learnt much to my excitement how throughout Islamic history, extremely famous scholars of hadith and fiqh have been under the training of female teachers or have greatly revered a female teacher. This again brings me back to the emphasis on education and how as I learnt from Nana Asma'u's story that education unless passed on is barren.

Today I am going to talk about a famous male scholar and personality Ibn Hazm Adh-Dhahiree. Why a man in my Ramadan Challenge series? Well one of the most famous aspects of this man's history is that he was trained in the harem by female teachers.

Ibn Hazm who lived between November 7, 994 – August 15, 1064 was born in Cordoba, in Spain and sometimes even known as the Andulusia al-Zahiri. A prominent 11th century philosopher, litterateur, psychologist, historian, jurist and theologian of his time he produced 400 works of which 40 have survived. These range from topics such as Islamic jurisprudence, logic, history, ethics, comparative religion, and theology, as well as The Ring of the Dove, on the art of love.
His student, Sa'ed al-Tulaituli, described him as "the most knowledgeable man in al-Andalus" (Spain).1 Al-Dhahabi says about him that he was the "end of intelligence, the sharpest mind, and recipient of abundant knowledge."2 Abuzahra describes the varieties of Ibn Hazm's knowledge saying: "In the history before Ibn Hazm there had not been a scholar who had such knowledge as he did." (Quoted from KSU website)
Ibn Hazm had a very wealthy upbrining in his father's palace in Cordoba. Here he spent his childhood years secluded in the "harem" (female quarters) where he was surrounded by and given his training by educated female slaves (al-jawari). He was surrounded by highly educated and intellectual female slaves (al-jawari) who were responsible for bringing him up. Here he was taught the Qur'an, poetry, and penmanship. This was a time when all of Andulusia had highly educated women teachers and poets. It was only once he was older and had crossed childhood, that his father passed him on to other educators.

The most important views of Ibn Hazm on education and with very important issues, such as the role of freedom of the mind when acquiring knowledge; the importance of impartiality when examining intellectual problems; the call for people to abandon racism, fanaticism, and blind adoption; and what is entailed in imitation of other's ideas. (Quoted from KSU website)

Andulusi chronicles often talk about these slave women which the rulers of the time married and highly regarded. These were women who attended literary gatherings, were intellectuals and even accompanied in times of adversity the kings who had married them. Between the 8th and 14th centuries specifically, there are records of extremely well-educated, intellectual women who were designated as "scholars." They ranged from being grammarians, lexicographers, jurists had medical knowledge, had scholarly command over hadith and were learned in Qur'an and Arabic.

Parker, Margaret: The story of a story across cultures (book)
Jayush, Salma: The legacy of Muslim Spain (book)

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