'Aysha Abd Al-Rahman

Ruth Roded

in Islamic Studies

ISBN: 9780195390155
Published online April 2013 | | DOI:
'Aysha Abd Al-Rahman

Show Summary Details


ʿAysha Abd al-Rahman (b. 1913–d. 1998), an Egyptian writer and Islamic scholar who published her literary works under the pen name Bint al-Shati, was a pioneer in many ways. She was one of the first Egyptians to write about the agrarian problems of the country and the plight of the peasants, of the pioneering generation of female Arab literati, the first Muslim woman to undertake Qurʾanic exegesis, and one of the first women to write about the life of the prophet Muhammad. Nevertheless, her views are rather conservative on some issues, and scholars differ in characterizing her as feminist or an Islamic feminist, a more recent term for Muslim religious feminists. ʿAysha Abd al-Rahman was born in 1913 and grew up in the coastal town of Damietta, and attended secondary school in Mansura in the Delta. In 1932, she moved on to Cairo University, where she received her first degree in Arabic Language and Literature (1939), completed her MA (1941) with a thesis on the medieval poet Abu al-ʿAlaʾ al-Maʿarri, and wrote her PhD (1950) on the same subject. From 1951, she held various positions at ʿAyn Shams University, and from 1968, she was affiliated with al-Azhar, the outstanding Islamic university. She served as a visiting professor at various universities in the Arab world—in Morocco, Lebanon, Sudan, and Saudi Arabia. She was associated with the Al-Ahram newspaper from 1935 and throughout her life. At Cairo University, ʿAysha Abd al-Rahman met, fell in love with, and married her professor Amin al-Khuli, who was old enough to be her father, had another wife, and actually had children her age. This relationship, which lasted until Khuli’s death in 1966, had an immense impact on her emotional, personal, and professional life. Bint al-Shati published numerous writings in many genres during her long life—more than sixty publications in book form and hundreds of articles—including newspaper articles, books, short stories, novels, autobiography, the life of the prophet Muhammad, and Qurʾanic exegesis. Dr. Abd al-Rahman participated in many crucial events in 20th-century Egyptian history and traveled to numerous Arab and European countries for conferences and lectures. She apparently achieved political prominence in pre-1952 Egypt, maintained it during the Nasirist period and seems to have sustained her political role until her death in 1998.

Article.  5189 words. 

Subjects: Islam

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.