Saul asked me to send you the posting below. In addition, I would like to recommend the book "The Two Faces of Islam: Saudi Fundamentalism and Its Role in Terrorism" by Stephen Schwartz.
It describes in its book the two forces at play since the time of Mohammed. This includes description of the pluralism, tolerance, respect for women and all beings does not matter what religion they had, forgiveness as taught by Mohammed. This includes also very early on description of elements of fundamentalism, narrow minded interpretation, exclusion of others not following the true way, intolerance, etc... from that period on to the Wahhabis and their ambition to rewrite history, forget about Mohammed example and become the only source of the True Islam.
Schwartz research of historical facts and understanding of the role of Sufism in Islam makes this book a must read for people interested in understanding world events.
Love and blessings
Salaam, I was sent this email and thought that people might find it interesting, insha'allah. HU! Ibrahim
Subject: [Islam_Muslims] Amra, the female master of hadith
One of Aisha's pupils was Amra bint Abd al-Rahman, whom Ibn Imad Hanbali remembered in these words, 'The posessor of understanding and a knowledge of jurisprudence and moral excellence, Amra bint Abd al-Rahman, who was nourished in the house of Aisha and who has narrated many hadith from Aisha, was reliable, precise, had a good memory and her reports could be relied upon'
[Ibn al-Imad, Shadharat al-Dhahab, vol 1, p 144]
[N.B. This text, Shadharat al-Dhahab, is a large biographical dictionary of prominent Muslim scholars from the first to tenth century AH.]
Ibn Haban said about her, 'She knew more about the narrations than anyone else'
[Ibn Hajr, Tahdhib al Tahdhib, vol 12, p 129]
The famous Muhadith and j urist of the period of the Tabioon (the generation after the companions of the Prophet Muhammad), Qasim ibn Muhammad, said to Imam Zuhri, 'I feel in you a thirst for knowledge. Shall I point out to you one who is full of knowledge?' Zuhri said, 'Yes certainly!'. He said, 'Go to the assembly of Amra bint Abbd al-Rahman and dont leave it, for she was nourished and educated by Aisha (i.e. and is the greatest inheritor of her knowledge)'. Zuhri says that on his recommendation he went into the assembly of Amra and found that she was a boundless ocean of knowledge.
[Dhahabi, Tadhkirat al Huffaz (Memorial of Hadith Masters), vol 1, p 106]
The account above shows how not only was knowledge sought from the best of sources, irrespective of gender, but that Amra would teach and share her knowledge of hadith to men and women. There is no reference or mention of seperation of genders, such things in my understanding were non-issues in early Islam , and God knows best.
May God Almighty have mercy and guide us all, ameen.
fi amanillah, assalam alaikum, f