Sheikha Munira Qubaysi (Islamic scholar, leader)
Munira al-Qubaysi is the head of the world’s largest female-only Islamic movement. It is a school that focuses solely on Islamic education for girls and women. In Damascus, Qubaysi has roughly 80 schools that educate over 75,000 students, her movement focuses on learning the Qur’an and six Hadith collections by heart. She is regarded as the world’s 24th most influential Muslim.
Qubaysi was born in Damascus, Syria, in 1933. She is the creator of Al-Qubaysiat, an all-female movement that began in Syria. She is recognized as one of the world’s most influential Islamic thinkers. Munira Qubeysi is a Syrian merchant’s daughter from the Hauran region. She grew up in Damascus’ Al-Muhajirin neighborhood.
She attended government schools as a kid before enrolling at the University of Damascus in the Faculty of Science. She worked as a teacher after graduation. Sheikh Ahmed Kuftaro, who eventually became the Grand Mufti of Syria, taught her at the time. She continued her education with Sheikh Abdul Karim al-Rifai after several disagreements.
She enrolled in the University of Damascus’ Faculty of Islamic Sciences, where she studied under Sheikh Mustafa al-Siba’i, the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood’s leader, and Professor Issam al-Attar, who succeeded al-Siba’i. Despite studying under numerous teachers, she forged her path while maintaining strong relationships with Damascus’ diverse Muslim intellectual circles.
Sheikha Qubaysi dedicated her life to women’s religious education after the Ba’athist takeover in Syria, even refusing to marry and established what is now known as the “Qubaysiat.”
At a time when Islamic groups’ gatherings are prohibited in Syria, Sheikha Qubeysi’s network, the Qubaysiat, has been legally allowed to have lectures and meetings in mosques since 2006, even though the fact that they had been operating as a secret society for much longer.
Members of the Qubaysiat are given a unique role within Arab society as scholars and teachers who attend solely to the requirements of Muslim women, offering a venue for religious questions and discussions. Qubaysi’s organization has been able to spread abroad and influence reforms in Syria since some of her supporters come from wealthy and important families.
Restrictions on wearing the headscarf were eased under Syria’s president, Bashar Al-Assad. The Qubaysiat grew significantly throughout the Syrian Civil War and had solid relations with the regime. President Assad has given them near-exclusive control over the country’s youth Quranic memorizing program, which is administered in every mosque.
Qubaysi holds power as the founder of a massively successful educational movement. Women’s religious education had traditionally been neglected; therefore, the advent of a female-specific educational program has gained a lot of traction, creating Qubaysiat Syria’s largest Islamic movement. Qubaysi’s students are also in the vanguard of a remarkable educational achievement in Islamic history, more than 70 Qubeysiat have memorized nine canonical Hadith texts with extended chains of transmission.