Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Righteous Muslim Women

Although Muslim men and women differ biologically, Islam recognizes their essential human dignity as individuals.

Concerned about the position of women in Islam, Umm Salamah once asked the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, why there was no mention of women in the Qur’an. Allah then revealed the following verse to the Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam: “Verify, the Muslims (those who submit to Allah in Islam), men and women, the believers men and women (who believe in Islamic Monotheism), the men and the women who are obedient (to Allah), the men and women who are truthful (in their speech and deeds), the men and the women who are patient (in performing all the duties which Allah has ordered and in abstaining from all that Allah has forbidden), the men and the women who are humble (before their Lord Allah), the men and the women who give Sadaqat (i.e. Zakat, and alms, etc.), the men and the women who observe Saum (fast) (the obligatory fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the optional Nawafil fasting), the men and the women who guard their chastity (from illegal sexual acts) and the men and the women who remember Allah much with their hearts and tongues (while sitting, standing, lying, etc. for more than 300 times extra over the remembrance of Allah during the five compulsory congregational prayers) or praying extra additional Nawafil prayers of night in the last part of night, etc.) Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise).” (33:35)

Muslim men and women are companions in this life, spiritual equals in the sight of Allah. They work together to fulfill their roles in order to seek the pleasure of Allah and to earn a place in Jannah. Allah has told us: “Men are the protectors and maintainers of women, because Allah has made one of them to excel the other, and because they spend (to support them) from their means. Therefore, the righteous women are devoutly obedient (to Allah and to their husbands), and guard in the husband’s absence what Allah orders them to guard (e.g. their chastity, their husband’s property, etc.).” (4:34) So, what special gifts are Muslim women endowed with by Allah that enhances them as members of family and community? What attributes equip Muslimahs to fulfill their roles as devout servants of Allah?

Muslim women can strive to model the attributes that contributed to the strength of character of the Sahabiyat (Mothers of the Believers and other women companions of our Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam). Some of the attributes for which they were praised, both in their lifetimes and today, include:

Obedience. They were Allah-fearing women, faithful in carrying out all of their religious duties, including obedience to the authority of their husbands.

Honesty. They were women with the highest degree of integrity, truthful in speech and in deed.

Patience. They were content even in times of harshness and adversity, trusting in the will of Allah.

Humility. They lacked arrogance and haughtiness.

Gentleness. They were kind women, who nurtured each other and maintained the ties of kinship. They displayed a loving and caring attitude toward their husbands and children.

Generosity. They were selfless women, often sacrificing for the sake of others. They worked hard and often gave away everything they had.

Virtuous. They were chaste, modest women.

Good Manners. The Sahabiyat were known for having a friendly, agreeable, and respectful nature.

These attributes contributed to the achievement of the Sahabiyat in spheres of life beyond the home. In addition to a comprehensive knowledge of Islam, they were active in religious, political, and educational endeavors. Many had knowledge of the fine arts, medicine, industry, trade, and commerce (Ghadanfar, 2001). Scholars agree that they were courageous women of valor, frequently using their talents to assist in jihad. They possessed wisdom and intelligence. They were faithful and loyal companions of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, and their strength of character helped to build the emerging Muslim community.

Recalling the excellent character attributes of the Sahabiyat can serve to inspire Muslim women living in current times. Demands of modern day living have put increasing pressure on Muslim women. The challenges they face are different. For example, the divorce rate among Muslims is at an all-time alarming high. Many divorced and unmarried Muslim women have been forced by necessity to leave their homes and children in order to work and support themselves. Muslim children are being raised in non-Muslim daycare centers. Some Muslim teenagers and young adults are abandoning Islamic values. Muslim elders are being neglected, and in some cases, astagfurallah, are even being abused! Domestic violence among Muslims is on the rise. We must find ways to work within an Islamic framework to cope and make our lives more manageable.

While the solution for some of these ills is the personal responsibility of all Muslims, efforts by Muslimahs to develop a strong character can help to safeguard the Muslim family and Muslim community from moral degeneracy. It is critical that the Muslim woman use her special gifts from Allah. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam, said that, “Paradise is at the feet of the mother.” What a precious responsibility we are given in this life! We are entrusted with the physical and emotional care of our children. We are our child’s first teacher in this life. Muslim mothers teach their children religious obligations and good manners. Strength of character endows the Muslim mother with the grace she needs to ensure the success of her children.

What are some of the ways that Muslim women can strengthen their characters and apply the attributes of the Sahabiyat in their everyday lives?

· Be devoted to Allah, and diligent with religious obligations. Your relationship with Allah is the most important relationship you have in life.
· Read inspiring stories about the Sahabiyat. Learn how they lived, and how they applied the principles of Islam to their daily lives.
· Read exciting stories about the children of the Sahabah to your kids. Some of the Sahabah themselves were known to have memorized the Qur’an in childhood.
· Keep company with pious sisters. Invite them to your home. Make sure that you accept invitations. We are all busy, but maintaining the bonds of sisterhood is important.
· Use the Internet. Email sisters, to brighten their day, to keep in touch with those who have moved. Join an e-group for new Muslim women.
· Start halaqas or attend established ones in your area. They are indispensable for learning more about Islam.
· Teach your daughters, talk to them often, help them with potential problems and pressures they may experience in school, especially if they are not attending an Islamic school, or are not being home schooled.
· Converse with your elderly female relatives.
· Spend time with your husband! And don’t forget to look nice and smell nice for him. It’s easy to let yourself go when you’re busy working, cooking, running after the kids, etc.
· Be a good steward of your husband’s property; show gratitude to him for taking care of you and your family.
· Thank your mother.
· Find a charity and support it with either your time or money, if possible.
· Read, learn, and educate yourself.
· Baby sit for a sister when possible. We all need a break.
· Ride an elderly sister to the market.
· Phone a sister who lives alone.
· Visit the sick.
· Share food.

These are just a few ways that you can strengthen your character and please Allah.

Remember, sisters, the words of our beloved Messenger, sallallahu alayhe wa sallam: “This world is nothing but a temporary convenience, and the greatest joy in this world is a righteous woman.” (Muslim)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Islamic Sunday School

I went to our masjid school this morning and met with the principal, also sat in on one of her classes, an Arabic class. The students were around ages 10-14 or so. And all of them so bright and eager to learn, Masha Allah! Most of them are of Indo-Pak heritage, born or America or brought here at a very early age. So, the Arabic is a huge jihad for them, as it is for many of us. The principal has a friend visiting from Jordan who has a degree in Islamic studies. She also took time with the class and helped the students to perfect their Arabic pronounciation. For right now, I will be showing up at the school and getting to know the children, Insha Allah. This way they will be comfortable with me. The plan is for me to act as a substitute teacher, Insha Allah. In the meantime, my next assignment is to give a 15-minute presentation on Judaism!

Saturday, January 26, 2008

More Blessings: Opportunity to Teach Muslim Children

(One of my favorite Muslim kids in the whole world: Little Sister Tamika)

Tonight I went to a party at our masjid in honor of our returning Hajjis. Great party, but the most exciting part of the evening:

The principal asked me to teach at the school on Sundays!!!

Alhamdulillah! Allah (swt) is truly opening doors for me. First the chaplain opportunity, and now this!

I'm meeting with the principal tomorrow and will update you, Insha Allah!

Jewish and Muslim Youth to Meet in Milan Italy

Milan, 23 Jan. (AKI) - Representatives from Italy's Muslim and Jewish youth organisations will meet in Milan on Thursday as part of an initiative for inter-religious dialogue. The president of the Young Jews of Italy, Daniele Nahim, will sit next to Abdallah Kabakebbji, a representative of the young Muslims of Italy, at an exhibition entitled "The Fairness of Islam".

Read story at: http://www.adnkronos.com/AKI/English/Religion/?id=1.0.1802166554

Safiyyah bint Abd al-Muttalib al-Qurshiyah

When I came to Islam in 1998, Alhamdulillah, like many new Muslims, I decided to choose a "Muslim" name. Although changing a name is not a requirement for new Muslims, it is certainly an option.

I began to read Islamic books so I could carefully choose a name. Since I was re-verting to Islam from Judaism, I was happy to read that our Prophet (saw) had two wives who came from Judaism: Juwariyyah and Safiyyah (ra). I decided to call myself Juwariyyah, but Alhamdulillah, I could not even pronounce my own new name! So I told all my new Muslim sisters that I was changing my name to Safiyyah. Although I can now pronounce the name Juwariyyah, I remain Safiyyah.

Insha Allah, this post will be a work-in-progress, because in researching other topics relevant to Islam, I discovered other righteous Muslim women who also bear the beautiful name of Safiyyah. For example, a group of my sisters at our masjid is currently seeking knowledge about how to wash and shroud deceased Muslims (will write another post about this, Insha Allah). We are a tiny masjid, Alhamdulillah, and a few of us sisters are approaching advanced age, Alhamdulillah (including yours truly!).

Researching washing/shrouding, I discovered that the Messenger (saw) had an aunt Safiyyah (ra). She is mentioned in the context of the lack of sufficient number of shrouds to cover those killed in the Battle of U`hud.

Az-Zubair ibn al-`Awwam, (ra) said, "During the battle of U`hud, a woman was walking and almost reached where the martyrs were said. The Prophet (saw) disliked her seeing the dead, so he said, 'The woman! The woman!' I thought that it was my mother Safiyyah, so I rushed to her side and reached her before she reached the corpses. She struck me in my chest, and she was a strong woman, saying, 'Go away from me, may you have no land to carry you!' I said, 'Allah's Messenger, salla allahu `alaihi wa-sallam, strongly wants you to stop.' She stopped.* She held two garments that she brought with her, saying, 'I brought these two garments for my brother `Hamzah, because I heard that he was killed. Use them as shrouds for him.' (Ahmad, 1418, Baihaqi, 3:401 - quoted in Zad-u Ma'ad 4, Provisions for the Hereafter, Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah, English verision, Pg. 71) translated by Jalal Abualrub).

During this discussion, the authors make an interesting observation about the character of Safiyyah (ra):

*Contemplate how obedient and faithful Safiyyah was. She was the Prophet's aunt and the sister of `Hamzah, his uncle. `Hamzah was so beloved to the Prophet, peace be upon him, that when he saw his dead, mutilated body, he stated that never before did he suffer a loss like his loss in `Hamzah, who was the Lion of Allah and the Lion of Allah's Prophet and the strongest man in the tribe of Quraish. Yet, Safiyyah, may Allah be pleased with her and with `Hamzah, did not move towards his dead body when she heard the Prophet's order. She did not wail, tear her clothes or shave her hair. Do women still give birth to those who are remotely similar to Safiyyah? (Ibid, Pg. 72)

Along side the body of `Hamzah (ra) was a dead Ansar. Because the Ansari man had no shroud, a lottery was conducted between the two deceased men and each was then covered with the garment (shroud) that was his share.

The Prophet (saw) felt compassion for Safiyyah (ra). Anas (ra) reported, "During the battle of Uhud, Allah's Apostle (saw) passed by (the dead body of his uncle) Hamzah ibn Abdul Muttalib who was mutilated. He (saw) said, 'If I did not fear that Safiyyah might feel sad (in her heart), I would have left him exposed (so that beasts and birds eat his body), until Allah resurrects him from the stomachs of birds and beasts.'" (Al-Albani, A`hkamu al-Jana-iz, Pg. 79-85, as quoted in Zad-u Ma'ad 4, Provisions for the Hereafter, Ibn Qayyim al-Jauziyyah, English version, Pg. 78) translated by Jalal Abualrub).

May Allah (swt) grant us daughters remotely similar to Safiyyah, aunt of our Messenger (saw) and sister of the Lion of Allah/Ameen.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Muslims Restore Synagogues in Rural Tunisia

Jewish women light candles at a shrine inside the Ghriba synagogue in Djerba, Tunisia, the oldest synagogue in North Africa.

Article Linked with Permission of JTA - The Global News Service of the Jewish People

By Larry Luxner
Published: 01/16/2008

LE KEF, Tunisia (JTA) -- A man on a donkey shuffles by, collecting trash in the midday heat. Merchants hawk their wares in French and Arabic from stalls lining the cobblestone streets. In this a sun-drenched city of 120,000, where Jews are about as common as snowflakes, the local synagogue has become a tourist attraction.

The last Jew left in 1984," said Salem Zenan, caretaker of the synagogue known simply as the Ghribet el-Yahud -- sanctuary of the Jews. "But when I was little, we lived with Jewish people. I'm happy that visitors still come here."

Zenan, 54, says about a dozen tourists stop by the synagogue every day. A glance at the official guest book reveals entries from the United States, Europe, Lebanon and even Libya.

The Le Kef synagogue, among the most isolated in North Africa, is one of several across Tunisia that is enjoying a renaissance of sorts with official support from President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

Read the rest of the article at:


Thursday, January 17, 2008

Britney Spears - Converting to Islam???!!!


As I was waiting in line at the grocery store today, my eyes scanned the usual collection of magazines.

One, however, JUMPED out at me: OK! Weekly (1/28/08).

The front cover headlines screamed:

"Britney's Shocking Decision: Trying to Get Pregnant"

OK - ready for the rest?!

"Losing her boys, BRIT plans to have more children and convert to Islam for her married lover."


The lucky "brother" is 35 year old, married, paparazzo Adnan Ghalib.

OK!'s Cover Story writers, Mary Ann Norbom and Shauna Bass write:

"According to Britain's News of the World, Baptist-born Britney has told pals she's willing to adopt Adnan's Islam faith. (The singer has a history of turning to religion in times of crisis and was spotted crying at the Little Brown Church in Van Nuys, Calif., following her Jan. 14 court hearing.) A relative of Adnan reportedly told the newspaper, 'Although his father has disowned him, there is still a way back - if Britney became a Muslim and they got married.' Britney certainly seems willing."

However, a News of the World story reports that Adnan Ghalib's family are very distraught about the whole affair (http://www.newsoftheworld.co.uk/1301_britney_spears.shtml):

"Now we can reveal that Ghalib's respectable Sunni Muslim family in Birmingham are so horrified by his antics that they have disowned him.

One family member told us: "His parents Ghalib and Saghra are devastated. This week his dad gave him an ultimatum, ‘Give up Britney, or you are dead to me,' which Adnan ignored."

They also report that the photographer told his friend that he and Britney had "deep feelings" and have discussed marriage.

So does this mean that Britney will become a co-wife?

Will she wear hijab?

Hey! Who knows?

A story to watch. Allah (swt) can do anything!

Sunday, January 06, 2008

Permissibility of Entertaining Children With Magic Shows?

Howard Thurston, Magician

Some of our masjid members had an after-Eid party at one of our local fire halls a few days ago.

I was sitting at one of the long tables, eating with two sisters I invited, when we suddently heard the opening lines of the song Goodbye Yellow Brick Road by Elton John.


That got our attention, but what came next was mindblowing. Apparently, the music was used to get everybody's attention. For what?

A magic show for the children.

Ya Allah! I couldn't believe it. I turned around and said to one of the sisters, "Who arranged this? Magic is haram in Islam." To which she replied,

"Well, uh ... you know, it's just for the children."

What are we teaching our children? And at a Muslim affair?

So, I went looking for fatwa/daleel against such entertainment for children. Sure that I would find it. I wanted to send it to the sister who organized the dinner. I found the usual daleel on the Salafi websites, of course, but to my disbelief, I also found the following fatwa on IslamOnline:

Is It Unlawful in Islam to Entertain Children at the Islamic Center With A "Magic Show"?

Dear questioner, thank you very much for having confidence in us, and we hope our efforts, which are purely for Allah's Sake, meet your expectations.

Magic shows that are done for entertainment purposes are not considered part of prohibited magic or sihr. Such form of play that is meant to entertain children is permissible. However, it is the duty of parents to teach their children not to be deceived by illusions that are done by some people who may use the sleight of their hands and make them believe that they control supernatural powers.

In his response to the question, Dr. Muzammil Siddiqi, former president of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), states the following:

“The word "magic" has many definitions in English language. It could mean 'black magic' which may include sorcery, amulets, talismans, potions, charms, spells exorcism etc. But it could also mean just a sleight of hands used for entertainment. The "magic shows" generally belong to this last category and I do not think doing such acts for the purpose of entertainment is haram or makruh in Islam.

Islam forbids sihr and in the Qur'an and Hadith it is very strongly condemned. In the Qur'an the word sihr occurs in more than sixty places. Sometimes it is mentioned that the non-believers abused Allah's Prophets and called their miracles or effective words as sihr or magic. But there was a big difference between the Prophets' miracles and magic.

The Qur'an refers to the character of the Prophets and to the purity of their message and says that this cannot be called magic and the Prophets of Allah cannot be called magicians.

Those who practiced sihr used to believe in some demonic powers and used to worship devils and evil sprits. They used to spend time in wilderness living with human and animal corpses or even practicing cannibalism. Sahirs (magicians) were often people of evil character who used to use their illusions to mislead people or to harm others. Sometimes the Sahirs used to make big claims of controlling the powers of the unseen world and in this way they used to exploit the simple people. Magic in this sense or sihr, witchcraft, oracles, palmistry, fortune telling etc. are all forbidden or haram in Islam.

However, mere tricks for entertainment purposes should not be called sihr in the classical sense. Through these shows we can teach our children that they should not be deceived by illusions. Some people may use the sleight of their hands and make them believe that they control supernatural powers. Children should be aware of those characters and should not be naive to believe such people.”


What do you think?