Assalamualaikum Wr. Wb.
It’s no secret that we’re currently living in a time of deception. Anyone and everyone can give their opinion regarding Islam; no matter if you’ve the knowledge or not. But more often than not, we see articles that are based merely on emotions and what they deemed as humanity. Especially on the topic of women – Muslim women to be precise, we see women activist aka feminist try to uphold equality because they feel that whatever happening now to Muslimah are degrading and oppressing.
I wouldn’t deny in some countries Muslimah are deprived of their rights to education, drive, choose their own husband, etc. But that doesn’t mean all of us Muslimah are oppressed!
So, how to truly be the best Muslimah? The answer lies nowhere else but on our Mothers of Believers and Rasulullah SAW’s female companions. Their characteristics are examplary for us to be the best in Allah’s eyes and insyaAllah I’ll layout some of these great characteristics that we can emulate! And these examples can never go out of date.
**These examples are extracts from the book “Great Women of Islam” by Mahmood Ahmad Ghadanfar from Darussalam.
1. Household First, Business Second!
Khadijah bint Khuwaylid was a very successful businesswoman when she met our Prophet Muhammad SAW. She bore 6 children to him. Khadijah was a great mother and inspiring wife. Prophet Muhammad SAW ran her business after that whereas it is safe to say that Khadijah ran the household by herself.
“Every one of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader of people is a guardian and is responsible for his subjects. A man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them. The servant of a man is a guardian of the property of his master and he is responsible for it. Surely, every one of you is a shepherd and responsible for his flock.” (Sahih Bukhari and Muslim)
Of cz it is not wrong for women to pursue their career, but if it is at the expense of her first responsibility – her household – then she should recheck her actions. It’s very common to see parents leaving their children at their folks’ or childcare centre so they are able to go out and work. But have they not heard of the saying “mother is the first madrasah (school)”? Home is where it all started. Children’s behaviour, manners, etiquettes, it all reflect of that their parents! It’s easy to blame others for our children’s misconduct but often we refuse to look at our own shortcomings. Nowadays kids grow up so fast and isn’t it a waste we give up our special role that Allah SWT has gifted us to someone else?
2. Be Generous!
Most of our Mothers of Believers are known for their generosity. ‘Aishah bint Abu Bakar (third wife), Zainab bint Khuzaimah (fifth wife), Zainab bint Jahash (seventh wife), these are some of the names that are synonym with being magnanimous. They won’t allow anyone who knocked on their door begging for food leave with empty hands. There was once ‘Aishah was fasting and a beggar came asking for food. She only had a piece of bread and she asked her maid to give it to the beggar. When her maid told her that she won’t have anything to break her fast and swiftly ‘Aishah answered that “she should help the hungry woman and the evening would take care of itself”. True enough! “By the evening someone sent her a dish of cooked meat; she said to the maid that Allah has provided her with something even better than what she had given away”.
True enough, charity won’t decrease your wealth. In fact, it increases!
3. Do Not Be Malicious
The Mothers of Believers are known for their pure hearts. When Sawdah bint Zam’ah (second wife) “became old she feared that Muhammad SAW would divorce her… Her desire was to be raised on the Day of Judgment with the other members of the Prophet’s wives, so she would entrust ‘Aishah the time allotted to her”.
MasyaAllah, just take a look at how beautiful Sawdah’s heart. Her only allotted time she had with Prophet SAW, she entrusted it to ‘Aishah. I’m sure she’s hurt and no doubt jealous, but she didn’t have any grudges on the other wives because they have the advantage of still being youthful. All Sawdah ever wanted was to be raised together with them on the Day of Judgment!
Whenever you envied someone, do not let the feeling get the better of you. Ask Allah SWT to make you stronger and know that you have your own strengths too which others may envy! Remove those malice in your heart. Cz at the end of the day, we want to meet our Mothers of Believers in Jannah, right? 🙂
4. Be Educated
You being able to read this post, meaning you’re literate and educated. But when I say be educated, I mean educated Islamically! Our education will mean nothing if we do not have the knowledge of the Hereafter. (See: Muslim Coming from Secular Education? Join IIUM!)
“The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” (Tirmidhi)
Umm Salamah bint Abu Umayyah (sixth wife) knew 387 ahadith (pl. hadith) by heart and she had great knowledge about the Islamic law which made her one of those “companions who were known for their ability to give legal verdicts.” She also had mastery over language. “When she spoke her words and phrases were well chosen and exactly appropriate for the expression of ideas”.
‘Aishah bint Abu Bakar (third wife) narrated 2210 ahadith, which made her the fourth person to narrate the highest number of ahadith with Abu Hurayrah being the first (5374 ahadith), Abdullah ibn Umar being the second (2630 ahadith) and Anas bin Malik being the third (2286 ahadith). “The Prophet SAW loved deeply and respected her because of her command over religious matters”. After the farewell of Prophet SAW, ‘Aishah sister’s son often visited her to discuss religious issues and other Companions would envy him because he could freely approach her at any time to clear his doubts since he was her mahram.
Among the Mothers of Believers, in term of knowledge, mastery over Hadith and eloquence, ‘Aishah ranked first, Umm Salamah ranked second, Maimunah bint Harith al-Hilaliah (eleventh wife) ranked third with 78 ahadith and Umm Habibah (tenth wife) ranked fourth with 65 ahadith attributed to her.
Of cz we do not have to reach their level because it would be impossible. But we need to seek Islamic knowledge and keep reading so that we won’t be deceived by the so called Ulama’ (scholars) who just wanna mislead us. After all, isn’t the first revelation was “Iqra’ (read)”?
5. Be a Practising Muslimah
Often, we heard people saying “I’m still searching for Islam” but they did nothing to prove to Allah SWT that they deserve to be guided. Start with the wajib and then slowly practise the Sunnah. All of the Mothers of Believers were of cz practising Muslimah and were outstanding in their religious affairs. For example, Hafsah bint ‘Umar (fourth wife) was given the title Sawwamah and Qawwamah because she always performed the Sunnah fasts and woke up for Qiyamulail (night prayers).
To be the best Muslimah, we need to have deep faith in Allah SWT and that’s through deep connection with Allah SWT that’s mainly possible through Qiyamulail. When you achieve that good “communication” with Allah SWT, you’ll realise that you will start having mercy towards others! This is because when you love Allah SWT, you will automatically love others. Hence, it is paramount that you believe first before you can convince others to believe! It’s effective da’wah, insyaAllah. And all that comes with knowledge.
6. Give Up Freedom
Juwairiyah bint Harith (eight wife) and Safiyyah bint Huyayee (ninth wife an also a Jew) came from wealthy families. But they were both prisoners of war and were freed when Prophet SAW married them. They had to leave their luxury lives and live a simple life like the rest of the wives. Safiyyah for instance “gave a lot of time reading the Noble Qur’an and its effect on her heart was so intense that because of the fear of Allah, tears would course down her cheeks, and she would start sobbing”.
I’m not saying we have to give up all our freedom. It is material and superficial freedom that we have to let go. We are too caught up with life that we forgot the real purpose of this life. When you give up the freedom of this life, you’ll taste an even higher level of freedom; and that’s the freedom from our nafs (desire). You will spend your time in a wiser way, you will spend your money in a thoughtful way, you will just do everything and anything in a much contemplative manner. Trust me, you’ll be a much happier person and your definition of happiness will change 360 degree.
7. Stand Up for Islam!
In this time of deception, it is important for us to differentiate truth from falsehood and it is only through gaining knowledge accompanied with the intention to know the truth and regular prayers. It’s upsetting to see that people are portraying Islam in a manner that they are comfortable with and not what that pleases Allah SWT.
During Prophet Muhammad SAW time, companions fought so hard to put Islam in place. Sumayyah bint Khabat was the first martyr and first woman to die for Islam. Nusaibah is another great companion who went to the battlefield with Prophet Muhammad SAW. She even loss one arm when someone tried to attack Prophet SAW! SubhanAllah. Such bravery.
I know this post doesn’t serve justice in portraying the great characteristics that our Mothers of Believers and female companions have shown. There are a lot more that I wish I could touch on. But go back to my fourth point: be educated! And read the right books.
Here are some books that you can start on. Books that encompass not only characteristics but also the the outer appearance of a Muslimah.
- Women Around the Messenger – Muhammad ‘Ali Qutb
- The Ideal Muslimah – Muhammad ‘Ali al-Hashimi
- Niqaab (it talks about hijab as a whole) – Kamillah Khan
Again, my only advise it to be careful with people who wish to re-interpret the Qur’an and Sunnah according to what they think is right. Where in actual fact, they can’t speak Arabic and have very limited knowledge about Islam. Our scholars dedicate all their lives in understanding Islam and their opinions have been reviewed and critiqued by many other scholars after them. Why do you think Sahih Bukhari is the most authentic source after the Qur’an? Not bcz Imam Bukhari is perfect, but because his book has been reviewed for 1200 years by numerous scholars!
Whenever in doubt, pray to Allah SWT for you to be given nothing but the truth.