Monday, March 31, 2008


Asma (?-1074 or 1087) -

Queen. Asma, wife of Ali al-Sulayhi, the founder of Fatimid rule in Yemen, was a powerful woman in her time. The Fatimids were leaders of the Ismaili Shiite movement devoted to the regeneration of the entire Muslim world. Since they in general believed in the equal education of boys and girls and in the active involvement of women in political life, Ali entrusted much of the management of his realm to his queen. Asma attended councils with her face uncovered (unveiled), and had her name as well as her husband's proclaimed from the pulpits of the mosques. Commentaries about her mentioned her intelligence and literary knowledge and her acts of patronage toward poets.Queen Asma made sure that both her son and Arwa, her future daughter-in-law who was raised in her court, learned the skills necessary to rule. This was one reason why Arwa became celebrated as a wise and strong leader when it was her turn to become queen. In 1066, Ali was killed during their pilgrimage to Mecca. Asma was kidnapped and spent a year in prison before her son managed to rescue her. When he fell ill, she took over management of Yemen until her death, after which his wife, Queen Arwa, assumed the role of queen. (the rule of Queen Arwa is featured in Women in the Muslim World).p

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