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)

14 comments:

Muslim007 said...

Asalamolakum,

You reading this post really started me thinking about my own character or lack there of. I feel often there is a disconnect between our faith and our actions. One of the things that makes islam unique for me is this idea of always having a consciousness or an awareness of the creator. Not only the mental awareness, but the physical act of rememberance thru salat. We have these Sahabiyat who really embodied the ideal muslim character. Attaining this true muslim character seems so unatainable at times, especially when one feels so tainted by trangressions or their own shortcomings.

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Muslim 007:

I know what you mean. The hope is that the Muslim character is not unattainable. As long as we are trying, we will get there! I try to add or practice something new daily. Read Bukhari's Book of Morals and Manners. There are a lot of great ideas that can be put into daily practice.

Thanks for stopping by!

Umm Yusuf said...

Assalaamu Alaikum warahmatullahiwabarkaatuhu sister,

Mash'Allah this is an excellent post! Thanks so much. It's truly inspirational and motivational. I love reading the stories of the female companions and the women mentioned in the Quran. Alhamdullilah, we have excellent examples in them. May Allah reward you for posting this sister and may Allah help all of us Muslim women to gain the strength, patience and certainty of faith that these great sahabiyat had. ameen.

Tru3Woman said...

Salaam Alaikum Sis,

Masha Allah... you have no idea how much I needed this and how it spoke to me. What a blessing...thank you so much!

Tru3

Norma Kassim said...

Salam dear sister, Still alot to be learnt and practise. I pray to Allah swt that He will guide and help all of us along the way.

Safa said...

Assalaamu alaikum,

Thank you for the reminder.

darvish said...

Salaam Dear Sister:

What a beautiful and true and heart-moving post :)

Here is an old post from the Darvish blog that may add to it, inshallah.

http://darvish.wordpress.com/2006/07/29/of-mothers-daughters-sisters-wives/

Ya Haqq!

katib said...

Assalamualaikum sister Muslimah

Very realistic and informative post.

May Allah bless you.

katib

DJ said...

Although I am not a Muslim...I find your words to be a testiment to how I try to live my life with my husband. Great post!

Amina said...

I luved this post, obviously :)
I am also impressed with your life journey...keep doing good work sister.
about polishblog I am not sure which one u ask for. I know one sister she has blog:
http://polishmuslim.wordpress.com/
was this one you were interested in?
regards
amina

Safiyyah said...

Salaams Amina:

Thanks for visiting my blog!

Yes, I was speaking of the polishmuslims blog. It seems that the sister hasn't updated it in quite awhile. I absolutely LOVE her blog as there seems to be so few of us: Polish Muslims. I am currently working on an article for publication about the Tatar Muslims of Poland.

When most people think of Muslims, Arabs and Indo/Paks automatically come to mind.

Articles about Muslims from obscure places (lol) can teach the world that Islam is a religion for all people and all time, Alhamdulillah.

Hicham said...

Salaam Sis Safiyyah,

An interesting post and reminds me with one of my blog entries that Man and Woman are not alike yet they are integrate for the welfare of society.

Moreover, Righteous is something called for both Men and Women however unfortunately, some Muslims are interpretting Islam wrong!

May Allah forgive all of us, Amen!

Safiyyah said...

Wa Alaikum Salaam Hicham:

Thanks for visiting my blog.

On my to-do writing list is to write a post about Righteous Muslim Men. Too often we complain about our brothers. We are ungrateful.

Al-Hussain Arshad said...

seriously sister i have a wish at the current moment, i am not joking here neither complimenting. i wish all Muslim women and among them my future wife consider you and other sisters like you as their models and i wish they follow your steps that ofcourse you took from islam and the principles and values of our prophet (saw).