Female conversion to Islam: a sample analysis of medieval narratives of the prophetic age

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The question of female conversion to Islam in pre-modern times has received insufficient attention in modern scholarship. This is mostly the result of the methodological problem that shrouds it. One can say with high measures of certainty that in contrast to their male counterparts, the treatment of female converts to Islam in early Islamic sources is almost always in relation to a male figure. It is the premise of the present contribution that female choices to embrace the Islamic creed, although restricted by male authority, deserve greater attention. The present discussion explores female agency in moments of conversion to Islam by focusing on the biographies of three female figures from the time of the Prophet. Read in tandem with additional literary sources, it attempts to locate the medieval (i.e. eighth–thirteenth centuries) context of stories that go back to the very early phases of the Umma–the Muslim Community of Believers.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9-25
Number of pages17
JournalMediterranean Historical Review
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2 Jan 2020

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2020, © 2020 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Islam
  • agency
  • conversion
  • narrative
  • women

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Sociology and Political Science


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