Sovereign Women in a Muslim Kingdom

Given the generally subservient position of women in most Muslim societies, unsurprisingly it is barely known that there have been occasions when women have been rulers in their own right, and effective ones at that. It is a particular surprise for those unfamiliar with the details of Southeast Asian history to find that Aceh, traditionally viewed as the most conservative part of the region and the one most impacted by stern traditions brought from Yemen and Arabia, should have been ruled by four successive Sultanahs spanning 50 years. These were also years when Aceh was still a formidable trading power, albeit one continuously having to cope with the increasingly aggressive Dutch.

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