Women mentioned in Quran

“There is instruction in their stories for people of intelligence. This is not a narration that has been invented, but a confirmation of all that came before, a clarification of everything, and a guidance and a mercy for people who believe” (Surah Yusuf: 111).

We are constantly reminded of the pearls of wisdom found in the stories and examples of people found in the Quran; in this case, the narratives and stories of women. Our Holy book serves as a universal manual for moral guidance and historically relevant accounts. All the women mentioned in Quran Kareem are represented not only in the historical realm but also in light of certain lessons to be gained by humanity. Some are depicted as role models while others are condemned for their actions.

The approximate number of women to have been mentioned in the Holy Quran is twenty-four. In His book, Allah (SWT) talks about pious women who dedicated their lives to Allah (SWT) and submitted to Him wholeheartedly. So, people from every time and era can look upon them and learn from their exemplary characters. However, Allah (SWT) also means to warn His believers by mentioning those women who disobeyed Him, refused to believe, and suffered the consequences of their actions.

This article will seek to highlight six of the most prominent female characters in the Holy Quran and delve deeper into their characters and the roles they played. Their lives serve as timeless lessons for all of us, so let us take a closer look:

 

 

1) Hawaa (Eve)

In the Quran, Hazrat Hawaa(RA) is not referred to by her name, but as the ‘the spouse of Adam’. Being the first female that Allah (SWT) created, along with her husband, Hazrat Adam(AS), the first man, were both sent to Paradise. Upon persuasion by satan, they ate from a certain tree bearing fruit, despite Allah’s (SWT) forbiddance. They were then, taken out of Paradise and sent on earth, as punishment for their sin, for which they spent the rest of their lives repenting for. They continuously begged for Allah’s (SWT) forgiveness as stated in the Quran:

 

7 : 23

 23. Qala rabbana thalamna anfusana wa-in lam taghfir lana watarhamnlanakoonanna mina alkhasireena

They said : ‘Our Lord! We have indeed wronged ourselves! And if You do not forgive us and show mercy towards us, then verily we would be of the forfeited!’

“Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If Thou forgive us not and have not mercy on us, surely we are of the lost!” (Surah A’raf: 23)

Amma Hawwa(RA) stands for human equality, in all respects. Her character also highlights the significance of repentance and gives hope to those who fall in sin and think they can never make amends. There is always hope for those who repent constantly and ask for Allah’s (SWT) forgiveness, for He will surely listen.

 

 

 

2) Maryam – (Mary)

She is the only woman who has been mentioned in the the Holy Quran by her first given name. She stands for everything that is virtuous and pure and holds an esteemed position in Islam. Allah (SWT) named a whole surah after her in His Holy book, which is a magnificent honor in itself.

 

3 : 42

42. Wa-ith qalati almala-ikatu ya maryamu inna Allaha istafaki watahharaki waistafaki AAala nisa-i alAAalameena

And when the Angels said : ‘O Mary! Allah has chosen you and has hallowed you and has deemed you to be above all the other women in His Creation!

 

“And [mention] when the angels said: “O Mary, Indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds” (Surah Imran:42).

Hazrat Maryam (AS) held an inherent link with Allah (SWT) ever since childhood. Upon her maturity, Hazrat Maryam (AS) was visited by an angel who gave her glad tidings of being blessed with an offspring, even though she had never been touched by a man. She gave birth to our Prophet, Hazrat Issa (AS) and died a few years after Hazrat Isa’s soul was lifted up by Allah(SWT). She has been exalted amongst all women in Islam for her chastity and purity, for she always stood strong and had undying faith in Allah (SWT).

 

 

3) Umm-e-Musa (The mother of Hazrat Musa (AS))

She gave birth to Hazrat Musa (AS) during the dangerous reign of the Pharaoh Rameses, who decreed the killing of all male Hebrew infants in the land. Hazrat Musa’s mother was addressed by Allah (SWT) through a ‘wahi’(a direct message from Allah SWT)), where she was instructed to have faith in His plans and cast him in the river so Hazrat Musa (AS) may live.

 

28 : 7

7. Waawhayna ila ommi moosa an ardiAAeehi fa-itha khifti AAalayhi faalqeehi fee alyammi wala takhafee wala tahzanee inna raddoohu ilayki wajaAAiloohu mina almursaleena

And We inspirited the mother of Moses saying: ‘Suckle him for now but when you become too concerned for his safety, cast him into the river. Fear not nor grieve, for We shall bring him back to you and make him one of Our messengers.’

 

“Suckle him and, when thou fearest for him, then cast him into the river and fear not nor grieve. Lo! We shall bring him back unto thee and shall make him (one) of our messengers” ( Surah Qasas:7).

She did as instructed and Hazrat Musa (AS) lived to become an apostle of Islam. Her actions give her an elevated status in our religion for her faith in Allah (SWT) was unshakable and she did as Allah (SWT) willed despite her motherly instincts.

 

 

 

4) Bilquis (Queen of Sheeba)

She was the queen of Sheeba and was given the name ‘Bilquis’ by the Arab Jews. She’s described in the Quran as a powerful and wise sovereign of her people. She was invited by Hazrat Sulemaan (AS) (the great king) to accept Islam. Despite her advisor’s wishes, she saw truth and purity in Hazrat Suleman’s (AS) words and became convinced of the truth that is Islam.

 

27 : 41

41. Qala nakkiroo laha AAarshaha nanthur atahtadee am takoonu mina allatheena la yahtadoona

He said : ‘Disguise her throne for her so that we may see whether she recognizes the truth or is of those that are lost!’

27 : 42

42. Falamma jaat qeela ahakatha AAarshuki qalat kaannahu huwa waooteena alAAilma min qabliha wakunna muslimeena

And when she arrived, it was said to her : ‘Is your throne similar to this?’ She said : ‘As if they are the same!’ And (Solomon) said : ‘Knowledge was given to us before it was given to her and we surrendered to Allah –

“He said: ‘Transform her throne out of all recognition by her: let us see whether she is guided (to the truth) or is one of those who receive no guidance.’ So when she arrived, she was asked, ‘Is this thy throne?’ She said, ‘It was just like this, and knowledge was bestowed on us in advance of this, and we have submitted to Allah (in Islam)” (Surah Naml: 41-42).

Amidst great paganism and disbelief, she converted to the ultimate faith of monotheism and the path of righteousness.

 

5) Wife of Hazrat Lutt (AS) and Wife of Hazrat Nuhh (AS)

In the Holy Quran, Allah (SWT) not only points out the believing women, but also those who purposely denied Him and suffered their abominable fates. What’s interesting to note here is that both of these women were the wives of Prophets.

The wives of Hazrat Lutt (AS) and Hazrat Nuh (AS) refused to believe in the monotheistic faith of Islam, despite being blessed with Prophetic husbands, who were chosen by Allah(SWT) Himself and who received spiritual revelations and possessed great characters. Both of these women failed to see their righteousness and chose to betray them, and in turn, betrayed Allah (SWT). It’s mentioned in the Quran:

 

66 : 10

10. Daraba Allahu mathalan lillatheena kafaroo imraata noohin waimraata lootin kanata tahta AAabdayni min AAibadina salihayni fakhanatahuma falam yughniya AAanhuma mina Allahi shay-an waqeela odkhula alnnara maAAa alddakhileena

Allah cites an example of those who disbelieve : the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot who were wedded to two of Our cherished slaves and yet betrayed them. But they being their husbands availed them not against Allah and it was said to them : Enter the Fire along with those that are destined to enter it!’

 

“Allah has made an example for those who are an unbelieving people: the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut. They were married to two of Our servants who were believers, but they betrayed them and were not helped at all against Allah. They were told: “Enter the Fire along with all who enter it.” (Surah Tahrim: 10)

Despite having such good fortunes and such close relations with Allah’s (SWT) prophets, they chose not to benefit from Allah’s(SWT) infinite mercy and blessings. They incurred Allah’s (SWT) wrath by their own actions and brought it upon themselves.

The wife of Hazrat Lutt (AS) was wiped out along with the rest of the disbelievers in the land, and the wife of Hazrat Nuhh (AS) drowned in the great flood. Such was the fate of the disbelievers.

It is important to note that Allah (SWT) refers to certain individuals in the Quran for a greater purpose of learning for His servants. These individuals illustrate different lessons and teachings for us to learn from and implement in our daily lives. If we wish to improve ourselves and bring change in our spiritual lifestyle, one needs to look upon the role models and tragic lessons of Islam; these women serve that purpose.

 

6. Sarah, Wife of Abraham

In contrast to the Old Testament and the TorahSarah, wife of the Prophet Abraham, plays a decidedly smaller role in the Quran. In both the Christian and Jewish traditions she is the mother of the chosen son, Isaac, and therefore a more important person.[18]

In the hadith Sarah is not mentioned directly but rather alluded to in Hagar‘s expanded story.[19] Hagar’s struggles, dealt with extensively in Sahih al-Bukhari, are important to the Islamic tradition since many Muslims paint her as the mother of all Arabs and one of the pre-Islamic pioneers.[20] While this may seem to castigate Sarah as the villain in Hagar’s story, she is not seen or depicted in Islamic writing as the impetus for Hagar’s exile. Unlike the more traditional Jewish and Christian explanations that paint a contentious relationship between Hagar and Sarah, Islamic interpretations are largely devoid of commentary on Sarah, choosing rather to focus on the hardships and successes of Hagar.[21]

 

11 : 71

71. Waimraatuhu qa-imatun fadahikat fabashsharnaha bi-ishaqa wamin wara-i ishaqa yaAAqooba

And his wife who stood nearby burst into laughter when We gave her good tidings of the birth of Isaac to them and then of Jacob.

(The glad tidings about the birth of Isaac were addressed by the angels to his wife Sarah because news of conception and birth are often more pleasing to women than they are to menBesidesthough Abraham did have his son Ishmael present, he was not born of her and she herself was childless).

11 : 72

72. Qalat ya waylata aalidu waana AAajoozun wahatha baAAlee shaykhan inna hatha lashay-on AAajeebun

She said : ‘Woe to me! How can I conceive a child when I am an old woman and my spouse is also an old man? Verily these are incredible tidings!

(She was ninety at the time and he was 110, which caused her to laugh at those tidings and call them ‘incredible!’).

 

And his wife, standing [nearby], laughed [with happiness]; whereupon We gave her the glad tiding of [the birth of] Isaac and, after Isaac, of [his son] Jacob.Quran, Sura 11 (Hud), ayat 71–72

 

7. Wife of Abu Lahab

The Quran mentions the wife of Abu Lahab in Sura 111 Al-Masadd, but not by name. Hadith claims that her name is Umm Jamil bint Harb and the sister of Abu Sufyan. It is said that she interrupted Muhammad and Abu Bakr praying in the Ka’ba and, unaware that the Prophet was present, spoke badly of him and his religion. Therefore, the Quran describes how she will be punished, alongside her husband, in Hell for hurting Muhammad.

 

111 : 4

4. Waimraatuhu hammalata alhatabi

 

And his spouse, the hauler of fire-wood,

111 : 5

5. Fee jeediha hablun min masadin

Will wear around her neck a garland of palm fibre!

 

His wife shall carry The (crackling) wood as fuel. A twisted rope of palm-leaf fibre Round her (own) neck.

 

8. Asiyah, Wife of the Pharaoh

The wife of the Pharaoh, known in some traditions as Asiyah, played a large role in Moses’s life because she became his foster mother. She saved his life when she took him in and raised Moses from infancy in a household of non-believers while God watched over him.[35]

Of all the women in Moses’s life, Pharaoh’s wife is the subject of the greatest amount of interpretive literature. There is a large amount of emphasis on her as an example for the believers.[36] Many think of her as a righteous woman because of her role in keeping Moses alive, as shown in Q 28:9.

And the wife of Pharaoh said: (He will be) a consolation for me and for thee. Kill him not. Peradventure he may be of use to us, or we may choose him for a son. And they perceived not.

— Quran, Sura 28 (Al-Qasas), ayat 9 [m]

Additionally, Asiyah is praised because in Q 66: 11, which is dated into the late Medinan period, she prayed to God to build her a house in paradise and save her from her wicked husband, Pharaoh.[37]

And Allâh has set forth an example for those who believe; the wife of Fir’aun (Pharaoh), when she said: “My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Fir’aun (Pharaoh) and his work, and save me from the people who are Zâlimûn (polytheists, wrong-doers and disbelievers in Allâh).

— Quran, Sura 66 (At-Tahrim), ayat 11 [n]

Asiyah represents the ideal of virtue as one of the four most outstanding women of the world and one of the four “ladies of heaven” that include: Mary, the mother of Jesus; Khadija, Muhammad’s wife; and Fatima, Muhammad’s daughter.[38] She married Pharaoh as a sacrifice for her people, but never consummated it.[39] She died a martyr’s death after the tyrannical Pharaoh had killed many of the believers in the palace and she tried to avenge their deaths.[40]

Ibn Kathir, part of the medieval tradition speaks of Pharaoh’s wife as one of the prophet’s “celestial wives”. This is a supreme honor shared with the Prophet’s earthly wives and Mary.[41] Asiyah is celebrated in the Islamic faith because she remained faithful to God even though her own husband, Pharaoh, thought of himself as God. She demonstrates a woman has the ability to exercise faith and believe in God, even against the wishes of a harsh husband.[42]

 

9. Wife of Imran

The wife of Imran (mother of Mary), and thus Isa’s grandmother is not named in the Quran, but referred to in two passages of the narratives section.[59] In Judeo-Christian tradition she is identified as Hannah. According to the Quran she invoked God for a child:[60]

 

35. Ith qalati imraatu AAimrana rabbi innee nathartu laka ma fee batnee muharraran fataqabbal minnee innaka anta alssameeAAu alAAaleemu

(Remember) when the wife of Imraan said :  ‘My Lord! I have taken a vow that the baby in my womb is to be dedicated to Your service. So accept this offering from me, for You Hear everything and You Know everything!’

 

Behold! a wife of Imran said: “O my Lord! I do dedicate into Thee what is in my womb for Thy special service: So accept this of me: For Thou hearest and knowest all things.” “When she was delivered, she said: “O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!”- and God knew best what she brought forth- “And whatever no wise is the male like the female. I have named her Mary, and I commend her and her offspring to Thy protection from Satan, the Rejected.

— Quran, Sura 3 (Al Imran), ayat 35–36[u]

It is important to note that while the name Imran is attributed to both the father of Mary and the father of Moses and Aaron, interpreters explain that these two people are not to be confused.[61] They are separated by a long time period—1,800 years according to some sources—and are called different names. The father of Mary is called Imran b. Mathhan/Matan while the father of Moses and Aaron is called Imran B. Yashar or Imran b. Qadi

 

Other Female Names Mentioned in the Quran

  • Daughters of Prophet Muhammad PBUH (Quran 33:59)
  • Wives of Prophet Muhammad PBUH (Quran 33:59, 28 and 34)
  • Bilquis “Queen of Sheeba” (Quran 27:21-42)
  • Daughter of Prophet Lut AS (Quran 11:79 and 15:71)
  • Wife of Prophet Ibrahim AS (Quran 11:71-72)
  • Wife of Imran (Quran 3:35-36)
  • The woman who complained to Allah SWT about her Husband (Quran 58:1)