• Tue. Mar 21st, 2023

Five Female Monarchs of the Muslim World


Oct 31, 2022

The demise of British Queen Elizabeth II earlier this 12 months provoked retrospectives on her reign, in addition to reflection on the rule of different feminine monarchs. Many highly effective girls leaders of the West are well-known, however there have additionally been quite a few Muslim queens and sultanas, who dominated over highly effective kingdoms.

1)Sultana Taj ul-Alam (dominated 1641-75)

Taj ul-Alam Safiatuddin Syah was born in 1612, the daughter of Iskandar Muda, king of  Aceh (present-day Indonesia), and his royal spouse, Putri Sani. Her father’s rule was referred to as the ‘golden age’ of Aceh, however he was a despot, ruling by navy would possibly somewhat than diplomacy. On the time of his demise, he had no reliable male heirs, having killed his personal son simply months earlier than his personal demise. Subsequently, he nominated and positioned his son-in-law, Iskandar Thani on the throne.

This transfer by Iskandar Muda disregarded the Orang Kaya, a league of nobles that helped run the dominion. The identify of the group of elites interprets to ‘wealthy folks’; as such, they performed a really essential position within the royal succession. As Sher Banu A.L. Khan wrote:

“The chronicles present that the elites performed an essential position in appointing and demanding rulers: weak rulers—those that possessed unacceptable persona traits injurious to the dominion—had been eliminated. Which means the the Aristocracy’s consent and acceptance of a candidate was a significant situation for a ruler’s succession.”

Iskandar Thani was an ostentatious and lavish ruler. His reign noticed the depletion of the royal treasury, because the king was ordering extravagant jewellery from the  Dutch. After simply 5 years in energy, he died mysteriously, main many historians to conclude that he had been murdered. His demise led to a disaster as a result of there have been no reliable male heirs with a correct royal background. When just a few among the many Orang Kaya nominated themselves to be king, their fellow Orang Kaya didn’t wish to see certainly one of their very own on the throne, so consideration turned to Safiatuddin, the daughter of Iskander Muda and widow of Iskandar Thani. Hossein Kamaly wrote in his guide,  A Historical past of Islam in 21 Ladies :

“On the subject of succession, the Sultanate had no hard-and-fast guidelines. An appropriate candidate needed to be a local of Aceh and of royal delivery and needed to reveal dedication to the ideas of justice, as outlined in Islamic phrases and understood in Malay custom or customized (adat).”

Since there was no want for the monarch to be male, inside three days of Iskandar Thani’s demise, Safiatuddin ascended the throne with the approval of the Orang Kaya and the  ulama (Muslim students of Islamic regulation) on the age of 29. She inherited a throne in bother as a result of the  Dutch East India Company  was slowly establishing energy in neighboring territories. Regardless of quite a few political clashes with the Dutch, the place they had been making an attempt to realize a monopoly on the tin and pepper commerce, Aceh held its personal in opposition to the strain and even retained their  vassal states .

Sultana Taj ul-Alam Safiatuddin Syah efficiently dominated Aceh for thirty-five years, paving the best way for future queens. Dutch students have written that through the queen’s rule, it felt like Aceh had all the time been dominated by a feminine monarch. After her demise in 1675, three successive queens took her place.

Portray of the Sultana Taj ul-Alam Safiatuddin Syah, who dominated the Sultanate of Aceh for thirty-five years. (Hanataturi /  CC BY SA 4.0 )

2)Sultana Shajar al-Durr (dominated 1249-1257)

Shajar al-Durr was the primary and solely lady to sit down on the Egyptian throne after  Pharoah Cleopatra VII , who had reigned 1000’s of years earlier. Shajar al-Durr was born a slave, however after her marriage to Malik al-Salih Najm al-Din Ayyub, the eighth sovereign of the Ayyubid dynasty, Shajar rose to the rank of queen consort. Nonetheless, she was thrust right into a place of energy when the  Seventh Crusade , led by King Louis IX, invaded Egypt.

Her husband, Malik al-Salih, died in the midst of the battle, and Shajar needed to conceal her husband’s demise to maintain the troopers’ spirits up. She issued orders underneath her husband’s identify and received a decisive victory, even capturing the French king. Her intelligence and value had been acknowledged by the nobles, who selected to position her on the throne when Malik al-Salih’s son didn’t be a great chief. Her first act was to barter an unlimited ransom for King Louis IX of France.

Sadly, Egypt was underneath the management of the  Caliphate of Baghdad, and the Caliph al-Musta’sim violently opposed the accession of a girl to the Egyptian throne. Whereas Shajar al-Durr didn’t demand any grand titles, she did ask for easy recognition of her abilities and functionality because the Egyptian head of state. In response to her accession, the caliph despatched a easy message that was meant to humiliate. As Fatima Mernissi wrote in her guide, “ The Forgotten Queens of Islam” :

“The Caliph then despatched to the Egyptian emirs the well-known message, so humiliating to her, by which he proclaimed that he was prepared to supply them with some succesful males, if no extra existed in Egypt, since they had been decreased to selecting a girl.”

Regardless of the caliph’s rejection, Shajar al-Durr adopted the title  Malikat al-Muslimin , which suggests “Queen of the Muslims.” Nonetheless, simply 80 days into her reign, immense strain from exterior forces led to Shajar agreeing to a second marriage, with Izz al-Din Ayubek. A situation for the wedding was that Ayubek needed to divorce his first spouse, which he did.

Shajar al-Durr could have held the reigns of the dominion, however her new husband didn’t like being sidelined and deliberate to marry a international princess to extend his management. When Shajar came upon, sources declare that she could have orchestrated his assassination. In the long run, Ayubek’s son, Mansur, took management with the help of the Mamaleek, Egyptian nobles.

Shajar al-Durr was handed over to Mansur’s mom, the earlier spouse of Ayubek, who exacted horrible revenge on the previous queen.

“Shajar al-Durr, the previous Sultana was crushed to demise by picket sneakers, then her physique was dragged by the ft to the highest of the citadel after which thrown to her demise from the highest. Shajar’s physique was torn aside by canine earlier than they took pity and buried her stays throughout the mausoleum, she had constructed herself.”

Regardless of her brief reign, she achieved an incredible navy victory, commissioned grand monuments, and tried to make Egypt a grand empire. Sadly, she was surrounded by males who felt threatened by her energy and authority, and that’s the reason she met such a ugly destiny.

Mausoleum of Shajar al-Durr in al-Khalifa neighborhood, Cairo (R Prazares / CC BY SA 4.0)

Mausoleum of Shajar al-Durr in al-Khalifa neighborhood, Cairo (R Prazares /  CC BY SA 4.0 )

3)Sultana Khadija (dominated 1347-79)

Sultana Khadija of the  Maldives is one other instance of a feminine monarch with a protracted, profitable reign. In 1347, after a vicious energy wrestle, Sultana Khadija, daughter of Sultan Salah al-Din Salih, ascended the Maldives throne and dominated for 33 years. It was throughout her reign that the well-known explorer  Ibn Battuta  traveled to the Maldives and recorded essential data relating to Khadija’s enthronement:

“The one survivors from the ruling home had been his three sisters…The inhabitants of the Maldive islands most well-liked for sovereign Khadija and he or she was the spouse of their orator (khatib) Jamal-ud-din who grew to become vezir.”

Orders had been issued within the identify of the sultana and a  khutbah, a spiritual tackle together with recognition of the sovereign, was even proclaimed in her identify. This was one thing that had by no means been executed for every other feminine queen, because the  khutbah was thought to have been reserved for a male ruler. Sultana Khadija was a clever ruler and reigned over her kingdom with the assistance of her husband. She died in 1379 and was changed by her youthful sister, Myriam.

4)Sultan Regent Terken Khatun (dominated 1072-1094)

Terken Khatun was the second spouse and chief consort of the Sultan of the  Seljuk Empire , Malik Shah I. She was a Qarakhanid princess and the daughter of Tamghach Khan Ibrahim, an incredible king of his period. To safe her place additional, she gave delivery to the inheritor of the empire, Mahmud I.

Her life modified when her husband was assassinated in 1092. Fearing for her son’s life, and since he was nonetheless a minor, Terkun took energy in his identify. Her first act as regent was to safe her rule. Her hardest problem got here from the Abbasid Caliph al-Muqtadi (coincidentally additionally her son-in-law), who was against having a girl as ruler and thus wouldn’t permit the  khutbah to be proclaimed in her identify.

Regardless of the opposition, she was capable of enhance the political scenario in her nation, making an attempt to pave the best way for her son. Sadly, she died all of a sudden throughout a battle, tragically adopted a month later by her son.

as regent, although her reign as a female monarch was quite short. (Public Domain)

Malik-Shah I seated on his throne, circa 1315. His demise positioned Terken Khatun on the throne as regent, though her reign as a feminine monarch was fairly brief. ( Public Domain )

5)Queen Arwa al-Sulayhi (dominated 1065-1138)

Arwa Bint Ahmad al-Sulayhiyya was the queen of  Yemen and held energy for nearly half a century. She is alleged to have loved the privilege and unquestioned place of head of state. Like Sultana Khadija, Arwa had a  khutbah proclaimed in her identify.  

Arwa suffered the lack of her dad and mom at a younger age and was raised within the court docket of her paternal uncle, Ali al-Sulayhi, and his queen, Asma Bint Shihab al-Sulayhiyya. It was on this atmosphere that Arwa was raised by her strong-willed aunt, who dominated as an equal together with her husband. One distinction between Arwa and her aunt Asma was that Asma dominated with no veil, attending conferences together with her face uncovered; nevertheless, Arwa selected to stay veiled. Impressed by Arwa’s intelligence, at age 17, Ali and Asma married her to their son, al-Mukarram. After the demise of Asma, Arwa assumed management together with her husband, al-Mukarram, who granted her the identical respect and freedom that had been granted to his mom.

Fatima Mernissi wrote in her guide,  The Forgotten Queens of Islam :

“The historians emphasize that ‘Arwa gave her full consideration to navy conquests, needing to show that the dynasty was nonetheless as sturdy as ever regardless of the lack of its nice chief Ali and the incapacity of al-Mukarram. In politics, in contrast to in music, being a girl doesn’t soften habits.”

One other nineteenth century historian, Yasin al-Khatib al-Amri, described Arwa as a sovereign who “completely understood tips on how to handle the political opinions and of struggle.”

Queen Arwa al-Sulayhi was a profitable feminine monarch, forsaking lovely architectural monuments just like the well-known Sana’a mosque. She arrange cultural and non secular facilities, ensuring that the academics and students had been paid effectively. Queen Arwa was an intellectually gifted and environment friendly queen, in addition to a matchless administrator.

Queen Arwa's Mosque, as seen from the Palace of Queen Arwa (Mufaddalqn / CC BY SA 3.0)

Queen Arwa’s Mosque, as seen from the Palace of Queen Arwa (Mufaddalqn /  CC BY SA 3.0 )

Conclusions about Feminine Monarchs

The circumstances surrounding the ascension of those feminine monarchs had been every distinctive, however there isn’t any denying that when they had been seated on the throne, they carried out their duties with vigor and accountability. They protected their folks from invaders, stored their economies thriving, and helped affect the cultural and religious renaissance of their respective kingdoms. They need to be remembered for his or her extraordinary abilities and bravado that stored their folks secure and their empires prospering.

High Picture: Feminine monarchs have been uncommon, however not unparalleled, the world over. Like their male counterparts, that they had combined monitor data. Supply:  FrankBoston / Adobe Inventory

By Khadija Tauseef


Tauseef, Ok. July 4, 2022.  Shajara al-Durr.  World Historical past. Obtainable at:  https://www.worldhistory.org/Shajara_al-Durr/

Khan, S. 2018.  Sovereign Ladies in a Muslim Kingdom . Flipside Digital Content material Firm Inc.

Kamaly, H.  A Historical past of Islam in 21 Ladies . Simon and Schuster, 2019.

Mernissi, F.  The Forgotten Queens of Islam . U of Minnesota Press, 1993.

Metcalf, B.  Islam in South Asia in Apply . Vol. 33. Princeton College Press, 2009.

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