Muslim Women’s Bookshelf (E) – Educating Muslim Women

Book: Educating Muslim Women – The West African Legacy of Nana Asma’u 1793-1864

Author: Beverley Mack & Jean Boyd


Welcome to the latest instalment in our series on A-Z inspirational reads! In this post, we’ll be reading about the book, ‘Educating Muslim Women – The West African Legacy of Nana Asma” by Beverley Mack & Jean Boyd.


Beverley Mack is an associate professor of African studies at the University of Kansas. She is co-editor (with Catherine Coles) of Hausa Women in the Twentieth Century and co-author (with Jean Boyd) of The Collected Works of Nana Asma’u, 1793–1864 and One Woman’s Jihad: Nana Asma’u Scholar and Scribe.

Jean Boyd is a former principal research fellow of the Sokoto History Bureau and a research associate of the School of Oriental and African Studies at the University of London.


Nana Asma’u was a devout, learned Muslim who was able to observe, record, interpret, and influence the major public events that happened around her.

Daughters are still named after her, her poems still move people profoundly, and her memory remains a vital source of inspiration and hope. Her example as an educator is still followed: the system she set up in the first quarter of the nineteenth century, for the education of rural women, has not only survived in its homeland—through the traumas of the colonization of West Africa and the establishment of the modern state of Nigeria—but is also being revived and adapted elsewhere, notably among Muslim women in the United States.

This book, richly illustrated with maps and photographs, recounts Asma’u’s upbringing and critical junctures in her life from several sources, mostly unpublished: her own firsthand experiences presented in her writings, the accounts of contemporaries who witnessed her endeavours, and the memoirs of European travellers. For the account of her legacy, the authors have depended on extensive field studies in Nigeria, and documents pertaining to the efforts of women in Nigeria and the United States, to develop a collective voice and establish their rights as women and Muslims in today’s societies.


This article from the American Journal of Islamic Sciences gives a review in detail about the book.

I have not had the chance to read this book and I am quite excited to add it to my reading list to know more about a region and culture I am not quite aware of.

Have you read the book? What are your thoughts about the book? Comment below.





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