Dr Simonetta Calderini is an Associate Professor in Islamic Studies at the Roehampton University London, UK, where she is also a convenor for several programmes. Her research focuses on Women and Islam; Religion and Gender, Women in Islamic ritual, classical and modern Islamic exegesis (tafsir); Islamic and Ismaili medieval cosmology. The author of many books and articles, her recent book, Women as Imams: Classical Islamic sources and modern debates on leading prayer, has earned recognition in Europe and the US.
An Arab Queen for All Seasons: Queen Arwa bint Ahmad al-Sulayhi (d. 1138), her legacy and reception
From being mentioned in a recent Nobel prize speech to being an avatar in a video game, Queen Arwa of Yemen is one of those rare female figures from medieval Islamic history whose fame and prestige have surpassed the boundaries of time and space. In this lecture, I will retrace the events in her life and the kingdom she ruled over, for more than 60 years, in South West Yemen. Her power and charisma have caught the attention of historiographers past and present and so secured her legacy up to the present day. For Muslims, especially among some minorities, she is a champion of piety and female empowerment. For Arabs in various parts of the world, she is a reference point as the longest-serving Arab queen.