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From a Spanish Slave to a Royal Advisor – A Muslim Woman’s Story

Lubna of Cordoba is a remarkable example of a self-made woman. If you have not heard of her, please take a moment to brush up on your world history knowledge.

She was a 10th-century jack-of-all-trades and a master of them too. She worked in the royal court in Andalusia during the Ummayad dynasty. She was a poet, library master, mathematician, and palace secretary. While having a female intellectual in court or in a royal position was not rare in Andalusian times, it wasn’t exactly common.

Lubna was not the only female in the sultan’s court, but she was one of a few. In other words, she was a strong, self-reliant lady with an angle of experience that could rival any politician or governing body we know of today. She could probably land any job she wanted today.

An interesting story

Lubna of Cordoba lived in the 10th century CE and died in 984. She was the personal palace secretary for Sultan Abd al-Rahman III and his son after him. She was born a Spanish slave girl who rose to prestige in the Andalusian royal court. As her origins were not royal or noble, it speaks to the amount of trust and respect the royal court must have had for her to be given such responsibility and to be considered important enough to be the personal secretary for the sultans.

From a Spanish Slave to a Royal Advisor - A Muslim Woman's Story - About Islam

Her library was one of the most important and famous of its time. Putting a woman in charge was proof of great trust and a clear counterargument against anyone who says all Muslim women have been disrespected throughout history by Islam.

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She also oversaw the royal library, with some
saying she was an acquisition expert, presiding over 500,000 books. She travelled across the Middle East, chasing books to add to her library and keeping records of her travels to Cairo, Damascus, and Baghdad. Lubna was one of the first female solo travellers.

As a scribe, she added works to the royal library of Cordoba that she had transcribed herself, even translating many important historic Greek texts that would have otherwise been lost to time.

There are stories of her roaming the streets of Cordoba and teaching the children who chased after her mathematical equations. She must have been a splendid teacher, because the children actually came back to learn more math. Which, as far as I am concerned, is a straight-up miracle.

Lubna is unique because she rose so high from such a disadvantaged background. She’s an inspiration to the Muslim youth of today, which also aims high and wide.

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