Women and Islam

Outstanding Female Muslims of the Holy Prophet’s(sa) Era

54 The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 And We have sent thee not but as a mercy for all peoples. (Ch.21:V.108) The Holy Prophet Muhammad(sa) was sent as a mercy for all creation. He treated everybody with kindness and affection. No one was deprived of his universal love and compassion and women had a fair share of his mercy and affection. He did not distinguish between men and women and treated them both with equity in matters of life. He taught both men and women wisdom and matters of religion by his own example and his influence on the lives of the first women converts to Islam was profound. Their courageous acts of bravery, unmatched sacrifices and absolute obedience are a testament to their absolute belief in the message of Islam. Safiyah bint Abd al-Muttalib After the foundation of Islam, Hadhrat Muhammad(sa) and his followers suffered extremely harsh treatment from the enemies of Islam who wanted to ensure the complete eradication of Islam and its Prophet from the world. But their efforts were useless. Islam’s living God is its Protector and He will never let the enemies win. After 13 years of the most severe treatment of the believers, Allah gave Muslims the permission to defend themselves with the sword. Many battles were fought. Many men and women were martyred on and off the battlefield. One of these was Hadhrat Safiyah bint Abd al- Mutalib(ra), who was an aunt of the Holy Prophet(sa). During the Battle of the Trenches, she was with all the women in a fort away from the battlefield. She noticed a Jewish spy in the Muslim Outstanding Female Muslims of the Holy Prophet’s(sa) Era Based on a speech by Quratul-ain Mirza at the occasion of Jalsa Salana, Canada, 2004. 55 Outstanding Female Muslims of the Holy Prophet’s(sa) Era The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 ranks, trying to find information. She asked Hadhrat Hassan(ra) to kill the spy. Hadhrat Hassan(ra) had been left behind to guard the women. But Hadhrat Hassan(ra) did not take action. So Hadhrat Safiyah herself killed the spy. She then asked Hadhrat Hassan(ra) to sever the spy’s head and throw it over the fort as a warning to others. However again Hadhrat Safiyah(ra) had to perform this gruesome task herself. The effect was that the enemy was deceived into thinking that an army was in wait and did not have the courage to attack. Her bravery and wisdom are prime examples of the dedication of these women to Islam and to the Holy Prophet(sa). During the battle of Uhud, when the Muslims were facing defeat, it was Hadhrat Safiyah(ra) who left Madinah with a spear in her hand and aroused the sense of shame and honour among those who were abandoning the battlefield. Calling out to them in anger, she exclaimed, ‘You have left the Messenger of Allah (on the battle field)!’ When the Holy Prophet(sa) saw Hadhrat Safiyah approaching the battlefield he signalled her son to keep her from seeing the dead body of her brother. When she learned of this, she said she was aware of her brother’s dead body being mutilated but would bear it patiently. Such noble acts of bravery; steadfastness and patience do not come without deep conviction and faith. Today, Islam does not need warriors with spears; Islam needs ‘Callers unto Allah’ . If our dear ones falter or fall behind, it is our job to encourage, support and remind them of their obligations and duties, as Hadhrat Safiya(ra) did. Khansa bint ‘Amr Hadhrat Khansa bint ‘Amr(ra) was very old when the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) announced his prophethood. During the battle of Qadisiya she told her four sons to fight in the cause of Allah. She encouraged them by saying, ‘My Children! You embraced Islam of your own will and you migrated to Madinah of your own will. 56 Outstanding Female Muslims of the Holy Prophet’s(sa) Era The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 Know it well that there is no work of greater reward than fighting in the way of Allah. The Eternal Life of the Hereafter is far better than the passing life of this world. To m o r r o w, Allah willing, you will get up well in the morning. Then with great skill and praying to Allah for success, attack the enemy.’ How many of us would be ready and willing to send our children to battle, to send them to a place where death is a real possibility? The response of her sons, with one voice, was: ‘O respected mother! Insha’Allah, we will meet your expectations and you will find us steadfast.’ Such obedient children can only be the result of a pious mother’s tireless e fforts and prayers. The next morning, all four sons of Hadhrat Khansa(ra) rode their horses into battle, reciting verses of the Holy Qur’an. They fought with great courage and valour, killing scores of enemy men. They all had the honour of being martyred. Imagine, a mother who tells all of her sons to go to war, knowing full well that she may never see them again. After hearing news of their martyrdom, instead of weeping and crying, she fell into prostration before her Lord and said, ‘Thanks to Allah, who blessed me with the martyrdom of my sons. I hope that on the day of judgement, my Lord will give me a place alongside my children.’ CAN YOU IMAGINE, LOSING NOT FOUR, BUT JUST ONE CHILD? HOW DIFFICULT IT WOULD SEEM TO CONTINUE W I T H L I F E A F T E R T H AT L O S S? B U T F O R H A D H R AT KHANSA(RA), IT WAS HER STRONG FAITH AND HER LOVE FOR ALLAH THAT GAVE HER THE UNFALTERING PATIENCE TO BEAR THE LOSS OF HER SONS. THIS LEVEL OF PATIENCE AND STEADFASTNESS ONLY COMES TO THE RIGHTEOUS. 57 Outstanding Female Muslims of the Holy Prophet’s(sa) Era The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 Can you imagine, losing not four, but just one child? How difficult it would seem to continue with life after that loss? But for Hadhrat Khansa ( r a ) , it was her strong faith and her love for Allah that gave her the unfaltering patience to bear the loss of her sons. This level of patience and steadfastness only comes to the righteous. Umme Sulaim On another occasion, a man came to the Holy Prophet(sa) in a very bad state and asked for food. It so happened that on that day there was nothing in the Prophet’s(sa) house, so he looked towards his companions and said, ‘Is there anyone who can take this man as his guest?’ Hearing this, Hadhrat Abu Talha(ra) stood up and told the Prophet that he would take this man as his guest, having faith in the hospitality of his wife. When he came home, he asked his wife Hadhrat Umme Sulaim(ra) about food. She told him that there was only enough food for the children, and nothing else in the house. So Hadhrat Umme Sulaim put the children to sleep hungry and placed the food before the guest. Hadhrat Umme Sulaim, pre- tending to adjust the candle, put it out, and the guest ate the food while Hadhrat Abu Tallah and Hadhrat Umme Sulaim sat with him in the darkness munching away pretending to eat. Such a noble and grand gesture of hospitality was shown to the guest. Not only did the host remain hungry but they also pretended to eat with the guest of A l l a h ’s messenger so that he would not feel embarrassed. The next morning, when Hadhrat Abu Talha went to the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) , he was reciting a newly revealed verse: But prefer others to themselves, even though poverty be their lot (Ch.59:V.10) The Holy Prophet(sa) then turned to Hadhrat Abu Talha and said, ‘Your treatment last night of your guest is greatly liked by Allah.’ We hear countless examples of 58 Outstanding Female Muslims of the Holy Prophet’s(sa) Era The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 the hospitality and sacrifices, but how many of us act in such a selfless way as to give away our last blanket or to sleep in the cold and serve the guests in the same manner as Hadhrat Abu Talha and Umme Sulaim( r a ) . S u c h exemplary act of sacrifice and hospitality should be extended to every guest. Umme Waraqa bint Nawafal Islam is a complete way of life. It provides us with guidance in all matters of life. However, there are two main concepts that Islam revolves around: Peace and Obedience. Success and pros- perity can be achieved only through obedience. Hadhrat Umme Waraqa bint Nawafal(ra) had such a passion and desire to take part in the Battle of Badr, that she went to the Holy Prophet(sa) and request- ed permission to take part in the Battle. She wished to attend to the sick and wounded soldiers and so that perhaps Allah might give her the blessings of martyrdom. The Holy Prophet(sa) said, ‘You should remain in your house; perhaps Allah will give you the blessing of martyrdom there’. She obeyed the command of the Holy Prophet(sa) and gave up the idea of joining the soldiers on the battlefield. This is a quality of a true believer. They hear and they obey. Allah says in the Holy Qur’an: O ye who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger. (Ch.8: Vs.21) Hadhrat Khaula bint Hamkim(ra) – rational religion of Islam Islam is a balanced religion. It teaches a realistic way of life. It does not teach extremism of any sort as demonstrated with many ISLAM IS A BALANCED RELIGION. IT TEACHES A REALISTIC WAY OF LIFE. IT DOES NOT TEACH EXTREMISM OF ANY SORT AS DEMONSTRATED WITH MANY INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF THE HOLY PROPHET(SA). 59 Outstanding Female Muslims of the Holy Prophet’s(sa) Era The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 incidents in the life of the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ).. This rationality is obvious when the Holy Prophet(sa) advised his compan- ions. Hadhrat Khaula(ra) and her husband Hadhrat Uthman ibn Mza’un(ra) migrated to Madinah. Hadhrat Uthman was very pious and engaged in prayer and worship all day and night. This excessive indulgence in prayer and constant fasting made him ignore his wife and children. One day, Hadhrat Khaula came to the household of the Holy P r o p h e t( s a ) extremely upset. The Ummahat al-Mu’minin (wives of the Holy Prophet( s a ), seeing her so disturbed, enquired, ‘Being mar- ried, why have you made yourself so miserable, even though your husband is one of the well-off people of the Quraish?’ Hadhrat Khuala told them that her husband cared little for his wife and children, as he was busy in prayer all night and day. When the Holy Prophet(sa) came home, the Ummahat al- Mu’minin told him about this incident. The Holy Prophet( s a ) went straight to Hadhrat Uthman and said ‘Uthman, we are not commanded to adopt monas- ticism. I fear Allah more than I fear you. I offer prayer, fast and fulfill the right and obligations of my family. So your eye, body and family all have a right on you. Offer prayer and observe the fast but also fulfill the rights of your family.’ The purpose of life is to worship Allah. But we must not let our worship become the cause of suffering for others around us. We must understand that the The purpose of life is to worship Allah. But we must not let our worship become the cause of s u ffering for others a round us. We must understand that the needs of our family are also our re s p o n s i b i l i t y. Fulfilling this re s p o n – sibility is also a form of worship. 60 Outstanding Female Muslims of the Holy Prophet’s(sa) Era The Review of Religions – Aug 2004 needs of our family are also our r e s p o n s i b i l i t y. Fulfilling this responsibility is also a form of worship. Islam emphasises rationality and common sense. The beauty of Islam is that it teaches us to look after the rights of everyone. No one is left uncared for. It teaches us to walk the middle path. It instructs us to keep a balance between the rights of our bodies, our families and our faith. Fatima bint Khattab Determining this balanced path is not easy; it requires great faith, understanding and constant guidance from Allah. Hadhrat Fatima bint Khattab( r a ) was a woman who processed all these qualities. She was also knows as Umme Jamil. She was the sister of Hadhrat Umar Farook(ra) and accepted Islam along with her husband in the early days. Her recitation of the beautiful verses of the Holy Qur’an softened the heart of Hadhrat Umar and thus, she became the means of his conversion to Islam. She was an intelligent woman of great determination and the Holy Prophet(sa), himself, held her in a very high station. Conclusion. These are but a few of the stories of the Women Companions of the Holy Prophet( s a ) . There is much to be learned from them; their examples have shown us the height of courage, bravery, sacrifices and absolute o b e d i e n c e . May Allah bless us with women who are brave like Hadhrat S a f i y a( r a ) , patient like Hadhrat K h a n s a( r a ) , obedient like the Hadhrat Umme Waraqa(ra), self- sacrificing like Hadhrat Umme S u l a i m( r a ), and steadfast like Hadhrat Fatima bint Khattab (ra) .