Amrah bint Abdul Rahman: Learned jurist of Golden Age
We look deeper into Islamic history, we would find numerous women who have taken part in sharing Islamic knowledge. They had major contributions that we are still benefiting from. Among the forward-thinking Islamic women that had significant roles, Amrah bint Abdul Rahman was a remarkable one. A notable follower of the Prophet Muhammed (PBUH), a seeker for knowledge, and a defender of justice, she became a jurist that is known and trusted by those around her during the Islamic century. No wonder that her efforts made her more famous than most male Islamic figures.
Who was Amrah bint Abdul Rahman?
Amrah bint Abdul Rahman was raised in the house of Aisha (PBUH), wife of the Prophet (PBUH) but she never met him. She grew up following the Prophet’s companions. Benefiting directly from Aisha’s deep knowledge. Since Aisha was a good narrator of hadith and a notable jurist, Amrah found herself receiving special knowledge. Especially, from someone who lived with the Prophet and knows him better than anyone. Aisha transmitted all the knowledge she had for Amrah. Until she became a jurist herself. She ranked among the best companions of the Prophet.
Imam Al-Dhahabi described her as: “She was a scholar, a jurist, an authority, of vast knowledge, and she narrated numerous hadiths in the books meant for the compilation of the Prophetic Hadith.”
Both Aisha and Amrah were enjoying the same authority as men. And one special situation showed how precious and valuable she is. And that was a court case.
The court case and Amrah bint Abdul Rahman
Since Amrah made sure to be updated daily and to follow up on news of her city Al Madinah, she knew about the court case Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Hazm. He was her colleague. Later, she sent a woman to the Judge. To inform him that Amrah knew about a man who was imprisoned. The charge against him was stealing iron rings. Amrah asked the judge whether he is going to cut off the accused’s hand. The judge, in return, answered her by approving her assumption.
However, the women told him that Amrah is against cutting off his hands since he didn’t commit a crime that deserves such a harsh punishment. Amrah suggested setting him free in return for money. Interestingly, the judge actually did what Amrah suggested without any verification from other male judges. She was the sole person in the city who intervened to achieve full justice.
In the aftermath of that incident, many have criticized the fact that no one verified if Amrah’s decision was right since stereotypically men are intellectually equal to two women. However, this theory was proved to make zero sense since Allah (SWT) said in His Quran:
“If two men are not there, then call one man and two women out of those you approve as witnesses, so that if one of the two women should forget the other can remind her.” (Quran 2:282)
This meant that men shouldn’t be witnessing women because they have no intellect or memory, rather, men should be present during the sign of a certain type of contract that necessitates technical knowledge that men were more aware of.
(Written by freelancer Yara Lotfy)