Female Islamic Saints


Fāṭimah of Córdoba (12th century) was an Andalusian mystic and shaykha of the philosopher Ibn ‘Arabī. Born Nūnah Fāṭimah bint al-Muthannā in Córdoba, Spain, she pursued mysticism at a young age. She moved to Seville and married a man with leprosy, whom she nurtured for twenty-fours years to his death, sustaining them by spinning thread. When her hands became incapable of spinning, she ate what she was given in alms and took on disciples. Ibn ‘Arabī was in awe of Fāṭimah and became one of her followers. He says that though he met her at age ninety-six, her face was soft and fresh. Fāṭimah respected Ibn ‘Arabī for his devotion and was maternal over him, and he built her a reed hut with two friends for her to live in until her passing. Ibn ‘Arabī attributed miraculous acts to her. Among these acts were the intercession to prevent the execution of a man who had whipped her in the mosque, the intercession to compel an unfaithful man to return to his wife in Seville, the transformation of a jug of water to oil when her lamp had gone out, as well as attracting the companionship of jinn or hidden spirits (though she would rebuke them to remain hidden), among other alleged miracles.

Other Reading

Ibn ‘Arabi, Muhammad. Sufis of Andalusia. Trans. R.W. J. Austin. Routledge. 2008, pp. 143-146.

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