Book Review: A History of Islam in 21 Women

Bought this book as I was curious about the title and subject. And you know I love to read about religions and the male-female dynamic.


Beginning in seventh-century Mecca and Medina, A History of Islam in 21 Women takes us around the globe, through eleventh-century Yemen and Khorasan, and into sixteenth-century Spain, Istanbul and India. From there to nineteenth-century Persia and the African savannah, to twentieth-century Russia, Turkey, Egypt and Iraq, before reaching present day London.

From the first believer, Khadija, and the other women who witnessed the formative years of Islam, to award-winning mathematician Maryam Mirzakhani in the twenty-first century, Hossein Kamaly celebrates the lives and groundbreaking achievements of these extraordinary women in the history of Islam.

My opinion

Well that was a conflicting reading. I love these books that leaves you confused at the end as it means that you start a quest to learn more and deep dive on the subject.

I enjoyed reading about women who made an impact on Islam and how they played an important role in history. The author provided a collection of short biographies of badass women and explained briefly who they were and what they id. Yet it was not enough for me as the book is not providing a deep analysis nor providing detailed information on the impact they had or their achievements. It felt like a listing of women and their link to Islam, that’s it, nothing more.

This book is super interesting but sparks a lot of questions. Some facts seemed odd to me, like ottomans in Morocco and need to be checked. There are some historical inconsistencies that makes the reading confusing and shows that the author is choosing sides and defending it. Also, the author spent most of his time explaining the political situation at the time instead of focusing on the important woman in the chapter.

The writing style is also not very researched and is closer to a scientific article than book 😀 Chapters are just stating facts about women and the text is clearly showing that they were written by a man. There is also no clear indication as to why he chose to focus on these women and not others that were more impactful.

Out of the 21 women, I think I only knew 6 or 8 of them, the rest I discovered and was impressed by them. I also asked some of my friends and the majority had the same number. That’s why I love these type of books as they are more like an invitation to research than a source of information per say.

This books is a great first read and invites the reader to read more about the subject. I just wish it was more than 21 women that were listed here.