Librarians, rebels, property owners, slaves: Women in al-Andalus

Kamila Shamsie

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article argues that a great deal of the writing about women in al-Andalus is obscured either by patriarchal narratives or by a skewed Islam versus the west argument in which al-Andalus is made to stand in for one or the other to further a political agenda. Even so, the biographical dictionaries, fatwas, poems and other sources that exist allow at least a partial picture of women’s lives to emerge. Through considering the lives of two women – Lubna of Cordoba, a secretary/copyist who may also have been a slave, and Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, a poet and woman of property – it is possible both to see the severe limitations placed on women in al-Andalus and to consider their relative freedom and options. The paramount issue is one of inheritance, and property rights.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)178-188
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Postcolonial Writing
Issue number2
Early online date24 Jun 2016
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • al-Andalus
  • Cordoba
  • inheritance
  • Islam
  • property rights
  • slaves
  • women


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