March 2, 2010
Faatimah bint Muhammad bin Ahmad as-Samarqandee, known as Faatimah as-Samarqandiyyah, was a well known female jurist and scholar who lived during the Abbasid dynasty.
Her father was a very famous scholar of Hanafi Fiqh who authored Tuhfatul Fuqahaa, which is considered to be one of the most important works in the madhab. People came from far and wide to study under him, and he had many students. Faatimah herself was one of these students: she memorized the Qur’an at a very early age, memorized the rulings of the Hanafi madhab, and her father taught her everything he knew with regards to Hadith and Fiqh.
She was extremely intelligent, and her memory was so sharp that she even used to correct her father when he made errors in quoting the opinions of the Hanafi madhab. After she learned all she could from her father, he sent her to study with the other scholars of the town. She became so famous that people in Samarqand would recognize her and point her out as a Faqeehah. Her father respected her knowledge so much that when he would issue a fatwa, it would always be signed with his name, then her name underneath:
Muhammad bin Ahmad as-Samarqandee
Faatimah bint Muhammad as-Samarqandiyyah
Due to her immense knowledge, piety, and also because of her known beauty, many kings, princes, rulers, and wealthy businessman sought her hand in marriage. However, her father refused them all, because he was interested in one thing: knowledge. He wanted her to marry someone who was pious and knowledgeable in the deen.
Her father eventually chose for her one of his poorest, but most dedicated students: Abu Bakr al-Kaasaanee. The dowry that she asked from him was to write a book, an explanation of her father’s treatise on Hanafi fiqh. This explanation, which later came to be known as al-Badaa’i, still exists until this day and is amongst the most important references in Hanafi fiqh. Her father’s book did not survive, but this dowry that she asked from her husband did survive and continued to benefit people.
She was a scholar, not only for her own students, but for the general public. She held an advisory position with the great king of Aleppo, Nooruddeen Zinkee. In this position, she was able to see the situations of people and issue fatawa based on her deep knowledge of the society and the Muslim masses.
Her father invested in her. He didn’t leave her to the side and focus on his male students only, but rather, he raised her to be his greatest and most knowledgeable student.
There are so many lessons we can learn from her life — but sadly, very few Muslims know of the great legacy of our female scholars, like Faatimah as-Samarqandiyyah. Very few parents invest in their daughters the way that Faatimah’s father invested in her.
It is time, brothers and sisters, to revisit the lives of our great scholars, both the men and the women who carried the knowledge of this deen. The lessons and gems we need to derive from their lives, and to implement in our own, are too numerous and too valuable to miss!