Celebrating the Bold and Audacious Life of Princess Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi • The Muslim Women TImes


By Allah, I’m made for prime positions and I stroll with grace and magnificence

– Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi

In the final three centuries, western representations of Muslim ladies have been when it comes to “veiled”, “secluded”, “submissive” and “oppressed”. Isn’t it attention-grabbing to know that these descriptions stand in stark distinction to western representations of Muslim ladies in medieval and renaissance occasions when writers from Europe depicted Muslim ladies as forceful queens of wanton and intimidating sexuality? Perhaps, it’s possible you’ll like to journey with us by way of time to witness a vivid instance of the latter description of Muslim ladies, as we go to the Eleventh-century spirited poetry-spouting princess of Cordoba who lived an audacious life, defied the gender norms of her society and crushed her dishonest lover along with her genius slam poetry.

Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi was born in 1001, within the Andalusian metropolis of Cordoba. She was the daughter of Muhammad III of Cordoba who got here to energy in 1024. She was additionally a descendant of Abd-al Rahman Al-Mustakfi, the Umayyad prince who fled to Cordoba after the Umayyads had been deposed. Upon fleeing to Cordoba within the 12 months 761, Abd-al Rahman found that the locals had taken benefit of the Umayyads’ deposition to declare independence for themselves. He thereafter conquered them and welded them collectively into the unbiased Emirate of Córdoba. By the time Wallada was born, Cordoba had turn out to be one of the crucial superior cities in Europe and the descendants of Abd-al Rahman had declared themselves caliphs, thus making Wallada a princess.

Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi’s early childhood was in the course of the excessive interval of the Caliphate of Córdoba, below the rule of Al-Mansur Ibn Abi Aamir. Her adolescent years got here in the course of the tumultuous interval following the eventual succession of Aamir’s son, Sanchuelo, who in his makes an attempt to grab energy from Hisham II, plunged the caliphate into civil warfare. Her father, Muhammad III, was assassinated in 1025, two years after he turned the caliph of Cordoba. And as a result of he had no male inheritor, Wallada inherited his properties, and used them to open a palace and literary corridor in Córdoba.

Even although she was a descendant of Abd-al Rahman, Wallada didn’t match any stereotypical concept of a “Moorish princess”. She was strikingly lovely and free-spirited and impressed a few of the biggest poetry in eleventh-century Andalusia. The metropolis’s custom of spiritual freedom meant that they might not pressure her to evolve. She was well-known for going out in public with no veil and for sporting ostentatious clothes that have been widespread in Arabia on the time. However, essentially the most conservative Cordoban conventional students have been handicapped by the town’s coverage of spiritual freedom, and therefore, couldn’t condemn her. In defiance, Wallada had embroidered one among her poetry verses on her tunics; “By Allah, I’m made for prime positions and I stroll with grace and magnificence. I blow kisses to anybody however reserve my cheeks for my man.“

A Painting of Princess Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi

Wallada hosted mixed-gender gatherings the place she learn and carried out her personal daring work and she or he was thought of one of many three most vital poets of her time. Poetry was a vital a part of cordoban tradition on the time and those that have been eloquent and will categorical themselves in verse have been elevated to the elite class. With her wealth, Wallada arrange a poetry faculty for girls and ladies the place she taught poetry and the artwork of affection to ladies of all lessons. Her teachings helped many from the decrease and center lessons to raise themselves. This induced her to turn out to be very talked-about amongst the ladies of Cordoba. Many males rejected the verses in her poems as a result of they weren’t “womanly” however this pushed her to write down much more. She was a girl who took criticism as a software to return again stronger, making her poems passionately vivid and influential. 

Wallada’s monetary independence afforded her the luxurious of not getting married. Although she was reported to have courted Ibn Zaydun, his infidelity led to the top of their courtship. She had met him at one among Cordoba’s poetry competitions the place she was competing in opposition to the male poets of the town. Ibn Zaydun, like Wallada, was a member of the noble class whose household have been political opponents of hers. Their relationship started within the 12 months 1032, when the Caliphate of Córdoba lastly collapsed, breaking up into a number of smaller unbiased principalities, often called taifas. The final caliph fled the town, and rulership of the taifa of Córdoba fell to the chief of the town’s strongest household – Abu ‘l Hazm of the Banu Jawahr, who established a Roman-style republic with a council of ministers, referred to as wazirs to advise him. Ibn Zaydun was a type of appointed to the council of ministers.

Consequently, Wallada’s standing fell within the eyes of the individuals. She represented the glories of the previous whereas Ibn Zaydun was the face of the longer term. During their courtship, Wallada and Ibn Zaydun communicated by way of poetry, inflicting the whole metropolis to gossip concerning the relationship between the dashing younger wazir and the gorgeous princess. But this was to not final. Some reviews talked about that the breakdown of their courtship was on account of Ibn Zaydun’s jealous criticism of Wallada’s poetry. Other reviews said that Wallada had caught him having intercourse with one among her slaves. This incident was stated to have given rise to one among her poems, rebuking him:

If you probably did justice to our love, you wouldn’t need nor favor my slave lady.
Nor would you forsake a fertile department, in its magnificence, and switch to a department devoid of fruit.

You know that I’m the Moon within the sky, however burn, to my chagrin, for Jupiter. 

– Princess Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi

Ibn Zaydun communicated again by way of poetry, acknowledging his sin and declaring his faithfulness to her. But Wallada noticed a scarcity of sincerity in his phrases and ended the connection. The feud between the 2 ended when Ibn Zaydun was imprisoned by the Cordoban ruler and exiled for a few years.

Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi continued to thrive as a poet, working her faculty and dwelling audaciously. Through this faculty, she took on a protégée, Muhja bint al-Tiynanni, the daughter of a fig-seller. Muhja additionally turned a author of profane and outspoken poetry, reflecting her patron’s model. After a life devoted to instructing and writing poetry, Wallada died in 1091 – the identical 12 months that Córdoba was conquered by invaders from far-off Marrakesh. Both the town and the princess fell the identical day.

Her poetry discovered little favour within the centuries after her loss of life. Islamic and Catholic students, who recorded the historical past of Cordoba had little time for a lady so assertive, and so unwilling to indicate “proper virtue”. However, the existence of her poetry and her robust themes are proof that ladies in Andalusian society had a excessive stage of freedom and independence, particularly in contrast with Muslim ladies after her interval. Wallada bint Al-Mustakfi was a really controversial girl, however she stays an early instance of female energy in a Muslim society.


  1. Wallada bint al-Mustakfi, Poetic Princess – HeadStuff
  2. Mourtada-Sabbah, Nada and Adrian Gully. “‘I am, by God, fit for high positions’ On the political role of women in al-Andalus.” British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, vol. 30, no. 2, 2003, pp. 183-209.
  3. Courtly Culture and Gender Poetics: Wallada bint al-Mustakfi and Christine de Pizan, Iman Said Darwish

The Muslim Women Times

TMWT is a web based media platform spotlighting the tales of Muslim ladies of the previous and current. We purpose to be one of the crucial authoritative and informative guides to what’s taking place on the earth of Muslim ladies. We hope to cowl key points, spark debates, progressive concepts and provocative matters to get the Muslim world speaking. We wish to set agendas and discover concepts to enhance the lives and wellbeing of Muslim Women.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here