Islam’s Forgotten Scholars

The Islamic world produced some of the greatest minds of the Middle Ages, including a number of remarkable female scholars. Arezou Azad examines who these women were and why their place in history has been neglected.

Young women gazing at Kabul from its hills, c.2014.

Poetry has a prominent place in Islamic society and the Persianate world. Though people across the Islamic world spoke multiple dialects and languages, Persian served as the language for some of the finest verses of the Middle Ages, created by poets such as Hafiz, Rumi and Nizami. It was the scholar-mystic Jamal al-Din Nizami who produced the verse that described the first encounter between the two protagonists in the epic poem, Leili and Majnun.

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