[Forgotten Women] Lubna of Cordoba

This is the second part of a series on Al Miraah featuring forgotten women in which we tell the stories of groundbreaking women whose names are so often excluded from history.

Read part one: Rabbi Regina Jones


Lubna of Cordoba
Lubna of Cordoba (via https://ballandalus.wordpress.com)

The forgotten woman of MENA history that we will be looking at is most commonly known as Lubna of Cordoba, although she is sometimes referred to as Labna or Labhana. A user of the forum at www.ummah.com gave their own insight into why she has been forgotten, by quite simply stating that: ‘she is a woman and has no “famous” husband’, which may very well be the case. Only very little is known about her mainly because there are very few sources about this remarkable woman, and the credibility of these sources can often be questioned. In spite of these setbacks it is still worth mentioning those things that are known, because it is important that people remember her name.

Lubna lived in the 10th century C.E. and was raised in Cordoba at the court of Sultan Abd Al-Rahman III, a descendant of Abd Al-Rahman I who is said to be the only member of the Umayyad dynasty to survive the Abbasid coup of 750. He subsequently fled to Al-Andalus and established his own Sultanate. Many different roles and talents have been attributed to Lubna, though it is not clear how much of this is actually true. A list of roles that have been ascribed to her include: poet, copyist, scribe, royal library’s acquisitions expert, private secretary, and mathematician. As mentioned earlier, it is not known which of these are true, and writer Kamila Shamsie argues there is reason to believe that Lubna could possibly be the embodiment of two or perhaps three women at the court of Cordoba who, combined, were all these things [1]. But let’s first see what is generally said about this one woman known as Lubna of Cordoba before we descend into speculation.

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[Forgotten Women] Rabbi Regina Jonas

This is the first part of a series on Al Miraah featuring forgotten women in which we tell the stories of groundbreaking women whose names are so often excluded from history.

Read part two: Lubna of Cordoba


Regina Jonas
Regina Jonas (via Jewish Women’s Archive)

In 1972, Sally Priesland was ordained at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati and pronounced the ‘first ever female rabbi’. What was not known at the time, however, is that one remarkable woman had preceded her and had been ordained four decades earlier. Her name was Regina Jonas, and she was killed, along with so many others, in Auschwitz in 1944. Very little is known about her, and it is unlikely that we will ever be able to discover more. It was purely coincidental that her records were found in the obscure Gesamtarchiv der deutschen Juden (The Archive of German Jews) in East Berlin in the 1990s. These records only became accessible after the wall came down, which explains why she was only rediscovered nearly half a century after her untimely death.

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