Fatma N’Soumer – a 19th Century Muslim Heroine

Ever since I can remember, I have been called ‘Lala’ it was a title given to my by my aunties and cousins. My name is Larissa and where I am from, I am literally the only Larissa. I don’t know anyone with this name and as a result, it’s not always easy for people to pronounce… hence where my nickname Lala comes in.

It wasn’t until I travelled abroad to Egypt that I was working in my first job overseas where I met another Larissa. She was an older lady & a guest in the hotel where I was working. I was running the Kids Club and she came over just to meet me. She kept hearing the children talking about Larissa, just like me, she hardly ever met other “Larissa’s” so she introduced herself and we laughed at our experience…

Then I worked in another hotel, where I started to meet Russian/Ukrainian guests. Day after day, they spoke to me in their native language and felt so offended when I did not reply. (Or eventually did in basic Russian) that I was told, Larissa is a Russian name, a very old and traditional name that many Russian people still use. So they assumed I was Russian…

Until now, I am called Lala. My in-laws, my children at school and their parents, my colleagues and anyone who knows me well, will tend to call me Lala. It’s not until the present day that I found out the meaning of “Lala” other than the Teletubbie character… and I am amazed. SubhanAllah.

It turns out there was a “Lala Fatma n’Soumer” an Algerian woman born in 1830. She was also given the tem, “Lala” also spelled “Lallah” – a title given to women of Noble standing. Please read about her here:

After reading this Blog Post by the sisters who run & maintain The Muslimah Diaries, I feel so much more proud of my nickname. I feel like it is a sign from Allah. A name I was given in my childhood, at a time when I knew nothing about religion, politics or purpose. I was still innocent and naïve like every other child on earth but as an adult, reflecting, I realise that nickname was given to me for a much bigger purpose. My life was given to me and Everything was written. SubhanAllah.

May Allah make us of the righteous women, with great character and Islam in our hearts. Ameen.

The Muslimah Diaries

If the name in this title was unfamiliar to you, you won’t be forgetting it again very soon after reading this. This is the story of the great Lalla Fatma N’Soumer, an important figure of resistance against French colonial invasion in Algeria. She was born Fatimah Syed Ahmed, later given the term “Lalla”, a title given to women of noble standing, and she lived from 1830 to 1863.

Fatimah was was born in 1830, the year the French invaded Algeria. Her father ran a Quranic madrasah, and she would often partake in these, even though it was predominantly for boys. She began her memorisation of the Quran at this time and completed it at an early age, becoming a hafidha and a student of knowledge.

When marriage was arranged for her in her late teens, she refused, choosing instead to dedicate herself to Islamic knowledge and worship. It…

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5 thoughts on “Fatma N’Soumer – a 19th Century Muslim Heroine

  1. Safiyah says:

    Wow subhanAllah that’s a lovely story and beautiful to think all that time it was written for you! Also thank you for leading me to the story of Lalla Fatma N’Soumer! My husband is Algerian so I love learning more about its history.

    Liked by 1 person

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