The female companions of the Prophet.
They were brave women. We have their stories- they were intelligent, adventurous, beautiful, daring, learned, mothers and sisters and daughters, women. They questioned, decided,debated. We have stories of their arguments, their kindnesses, their marital problems, the proof of their existence and humanity. They were the women around the Prophet during his life.
They were the Sahabiyat.
It’s so easy for us to forget them now. We remember once in a while to drag out some bit to defend ourselves- Khadijah was a businesswoman! Nusaybah went to the Prophet to ask for more Qura’nic verses on women! They weren’t nonentities! No, they weren’t. They influenced the history of Islam.
I can’t remember how many times I curled up with a book about the Sahabiyyat, devouring the words and actions of women I could relate to. There was my namesake, who was famous for her beauty and has been written down as a deeply pious woman. There was my closest sister’s namesake, the courageous woman who stayed to defend the Messenger during a battle when men were fleeing. She lost her hand. There was my baby sister’s namesake, a girl who helped Prophet Muhammad and her father to make their way to Medinah, tearing her sash to bring food to them. She faced the chief of the Quraish when he demanded to know where her father was; her self-possession upset him so much he slapped her in the face. She was fourteen.
They were mothers and daughters, but not only that. They were warriors in their own right. They were the true trailblazers for the rest of us, the first women to follow the message that Allah sent to Muhammad (Allah’s peace and blessing upon him.) They were there, the beginners, but somehow they’re not good enough for us anymore.
We act as though we can’t relate to them. They celebrated, fell in love, wore jewelry and nice clothes, had their struggles like the rest of us. Sometimes their names aren’t known anymore, but there are stories from teenagers, younger girls, and women. They narrated hadith (yes, it’s not a male dominated field, check your facts) Aisha and Umm Salamah and Umm Habibah, often the narrations most pertinent to us as women. Some of the story won’t be much like ours, some of it not at all, but read it anyway. Their words were brought this far, so read them. You owe it to them. You owe to yourself.
Bring them into your dialogue. You won’t regret it.