Kareemah bint Ahmad Al Marwaziyyah: The Shaykha of Makkah
Kareemah bint Ahmad bin Muhammad Al Marwaziyyah was raised in the holy city of Makkah. She died in 461 AH after spending 100 years in this holy land. She is still admired in the field of knowledge for her profound knowledge of Islam and for her lectures on the famous book of Hadith, Sahih Al-Bukhari. This great scholar has narrated numerous authentic hadiths. Abu Jar of Herat, one of the leading hadith scholars of that time, used to advise his students to learn Hadith from Kareemah bint Ahmad.
Travel to acquire knowledge
Kareemah (Rah.) Was originally from Turkmenistan. She was famous in those days for traveling long distances with her father to acquire knowledge and study Hadith. Her journey for this knowledge took her to Sarkhas, Isfahan, Jerusalem, and finally to Makkah. She acquired knowledge under well-known scholars such as Abul Haitham al-Kusmihani, Abdullah ibn Yusuf, Yusuf ibn Baymuyah al- Isfahani and Zahir ibn Ahmad al-Sarkhasi.
A great scholar lady Kareemah
After settling in Makkah, Kareemah bint Ahmad Al Marwaziyyah (Rah.) came to be known as Shaykha of Makkah. She specialized in the teaching and narration of hadith, especially the collection of Bukhari Hadith. She taught both men and women from the knowledge she had acquired. The well-known Shaykh Muhammad ibn Ahmad al-Zahabi (d. 1334) commented on Kareemah, “She had a great deal of knowledge and was a very pious woman.”
She is still well-known in the field of scholars for her piety, pure creed, and profound knowledge. Kareemah (Rah.) was a shining example for the Muslim community and she is still fondly remembered as the “Mother of Generosity”.
A teacher who is passionate about everyone
Anse Tamara Gray has compiled a series of Muslim women scholars. He discusses Kareemah (Rah.) in this series. During this discussion, he portrayed Kareemah (Rah.) as a devoted teacher. She allowed the students who came to her to study on the condition that they have to work hard. And also gave them adequate guidelines when acquiring knowledge from her.
In short, she did not put pressure on anyone. However, she made everyone fond of knowledge in such a way that all her students were ready for hard work.
Her caution in narrating the hadith was that she forbade her students to rely only on oral hearsay. Rather, she would ask them to reconcile the hadiths she had transcribed with the copy she had with them.
This principle followed by her in the narration of hadith paints a picture of her rank in the field of hadith.
Lady Kareemah, teacher of 2 famous scholars
Many well-known Muslim scholars of later times were students of Kareemah (Rah.). Two of the most famous scholars who have acquired the knowledge of Hadith directly from her are Khatib al-Baghdadi (d. 1071) and Ali bin Hussain al-Farra (d. 1066).
An example to follow
This enlightened woman has never been married. Rather, she devoted her entire life to learning and teaching the hadith of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Her biography proves that the value of a woman does not depend only on being a wife and mother. Basically, Kareemah (Rah.) has left a great example; which is followed for all of us.
While narrating the hadith of Sahih Bukhari, her name is mentioned in the Ijajah of most of the later hadith scholars.
She has taught us that this fleeting life is fulfilled through self-sacrifice and worship of Allah in the service of our community.
Kareemah (Rah.) has done this through the study, exploration, teaching, and propagation of Islamic knowledge.
However, the girls of our society and family today cannot be like Kareemah though. Yet if we can infiltrate among them the lessons learned from the biography of Kareemah (Rah.), it may be another witness to the awakening for Muslim women.