"Al Muhaddithat: The Women Scholars in Islam" is an adaptation in English of the prefatory volume of a 40-volume biographical dictionary (in Arabic) of women scholars of the Prophet's (PBUH) hadith. This book is written by Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi.
Below is a reader's review of the book from Goodreads:
"This book shows abundantly that females have been involved in the scholarly tradition in Islam right from its inception; not just for hadith, but extending to all sciences of Islam. It was no revolutionary concept; instead, it was the accepted norm. In the introduction, Shaykh Akram writes: "There is no period when men have certain privileges to speak or think or act, and then women find a way to 'invade' the men's ground. Rather, the women and men both know, from the outset of Islam, what their duties are." Women used to challenge the rulers of their times, as well as challenging cases in court. There are a number of examples given of such cases. Superiority in these matters was irrespective of gender but instead relied on what knowledge an individual could offer.
There are plentiful examples listed of instances where male scholars would seek out female ones to learn from them. In many cases, they were even preferred to male scholars because, as the women generally outlived the men, they had a shorter isnad/chain of narration back to the Prophet (sAaws). Furthermore, there is no record of any woman narrator that has been accused of lying or whose narration has been established as lying. Even the Companion generally most referred to for matters of jurisprudence/fiqh is A'isha (rAa).
I also enjoyed learning about some parts of the science of hadith, such as: the different ways it can be received, the different levels of chains of narrations, the different kinds of hadith books that were studied, and the classification of narrators of hadith."
1. Al Muhaddithat (English Book)