Aisha (poet)

ʿĀʾisha bint Aḥmad al-Qurṭubiyya (d. 1009/1010 CE, Córdoba, Spain), sometimes spelled Aysha or al-Qurtubiyya, was a tenth-century poet, most of her work was written in Arabic.

ʿĀʾisha bint Aḥmad al-Qurṭubiyya


It is assumed that ʿĀʾisha was probably born in Córdoba.[1] She is regarded as both a famed poet and calligrapher of Andalusia.[2] Little is known about her life and background, though it does seem clear that she was the sister of Muḥammad b. Aḥmad b. Qādim (d. 990 CE).[1] Other claims include that she was a princess of Cordova;[3] that her father's full name was Aḥmad b. Muḥammad b. Qādim b. Ziyād; and that she was the niece of the Cordovan physician and poet Abū ʿAbdallāh b. Qādim al-Ṭabīb.[1] Apparently she was a virgin throughout her life, never marrying.[1] Her death came at the beginning of the Fitna of al-Andalus in 1009.[1] 'Ibn Ḥayyān (d. 469/1076), quoted in Ibn Bashkuwāl's (d. 578/1183) Ṣila, praises, among other qualities, ʿĀʾisha's intelligence, her knowledge of literature and poetry, and her eloquence. Her handwriting was beautiful, and she made a practice of copying in her own hand the Qurʾān (maṣāḥif) and secular books (dafātir). She showed a great interest in science (ʿilm), which led her to collect books in what became a large and beautiful library.'[1]


Aisha's poetic works are included in writing on medieval Moorish women poets, noted for their surprising vitality, freshness, and aggressive boldness.[4] Her poems were often read with applause in the Royal Academy at Cordova.[5] One of her most famous works is a poem turning down a marriage proposal by a male poet.[1] One example of Aisha bint Ahmad al-Qurtubiya's writing is:

I am a lioness
and will never allow my body
to be anyone's resting place. But if I did,
I wouldn't yield to a dog ─
and O! the lions I've turned away![4]

Her works included panegyrics addressed to contemporary rulers. A surviving example is a panegyric to Abd al-Malik al-Muzaffar (r. 1002–8 CE).[1]


Aisha is included in the list of Notable Muslims in the 2002 special edition of Saudi Aramco World.[2]

Aisha is a featured figure on Judy Chicago's installation piece The Dinner Party, being represented as one of the 999 names on the Heritage Floor.[6]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h María Luisa Ávila, "ʿĀʾisha bt. Aḥmad al-Qurṭubiyya", in: Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE, Edited by: Kate Fleet, Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas, Everett Rowson. Consulted online on 29 November 2017 <>.
  2. ^ a b "Notable Muslims" (PDF). Saudi Aramco World (Islam: An Introduction): 7. January–February 2002. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  3. ^ Woman's rights and duties considered with relation to their influence on society and on her own condition. By a Woman. London: John W. Parker. 1840. p. 145.
  4. ^ a b Kolb, Elene (9 July 1989). "When Women Finally got the Word". The New York Times. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  5. ^ Chamberlain, Alexander F. (October–December 1903). "Primitive Woman as Poet". The Journal of American Folklore. 63. 16: 216.
  6. ^ "Aisha". Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: The Dinner Party: Heritage Floor: Aisha. Brooklyn Museum. 2007. Retrieved 3 January 2011.