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Ihis book was conceived as a translation of the muqaddimaJ toan as yet unpublished biographical dictionary in Arabic of thewomen scholars of hadith in Islamic history. However, it wassoon apparent that much of the original needed to be adapted,not simply translated. One reason is that this intrcxluction to thematerial in the Dictionary is not accompanied by that work, andso the material in it needs to be adequately illustrated. Anotherreason is that the expectations of an English readership are some-what different from an Arabic one. I know that to be so fromquestions put to me after talks I have given on the subject andfrom correspondence following announcement of this book.Those expectations oblige me to say what this bcx)k is not, whichis rather an awkward way of explaining what it is.me start by stating that this is not an exercise in ‘women’sstudies’. I have no specialist knowledge of associatedwith that discourse. ‘Ihe admission of ignorance should not betaken as indifference to it. Rather, I hope that people skilled in’women’s studies’ will make proper use of the material presentedhere. That material is, though arranged and organized, a listing itis, by analogy with a word dictionary’, much nearer to ‘words’than ‘sentences’, and far from ‘paragraphs’ linked into an ‘essay*. uch work needs doing on the information before anybodyventures to derive from it value-laden arguments about the past(still less, the future) role of women in Islamic society. Amongthe next tasks are, starting with the easiest:selection and composition from the material: e.g., there are, in theDictionary I have compiled, reams Of information on at least a scoreof individual women that could be turned into distinct biographicalstudies. Of course, much labour is entailed: the little sketch Of Fأ¤ti-mah bint Sacd al Khayr given here (pp. 93â€”96 below) needed lookingup half a dozen different books â€” but at least the Dictimary enablesone to know which lxآ»oks to start with.