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The Status of Women in Islam

The status of women in Islam is not a new issue. The position of Islam on this issue is hotly debated. In what follows we provide a brief and authentic exposition of what Islam stands for in this regard.

The status of woman in Islam constitutes no problem. The attitude of the Qur'an and the early Muslims bear witness to the fact that woman is, at least, as vital to life as man himself, and that she is not inferior to him nor is she one of the lower species. Had it not been for the impact of foreign cultures and alien influences, this question would have never arisen among the Muslims. The status of woman was taken for granted to be equal to that of man. It was, of course, a matter of fact, and no one, then, considered it as a problem at all.

 In order to understand what Islam has established for woman, there is no need to deplore her plight in the pre-Islamic era or in the modern world of today. Islam has given woman rights and privileges, which she has never enjoyed under other religious or constitutional systems. This can be understood when the matter is studied as a whole in a comparative manner, rather than partially. The rights and responsibilities of a woman are equal to those of a man but they are not necessarily identical with them. Equality and sameness are two quite different things. This difference is understandable because man and woman are not identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, There is no problem. It is almost impossible to find even two identical men or women.

This distinction between equality and sameness is of paramount importance. Equality is desirable, just and fair; but sameness is not. People are not created identical but they are created equals. With this distinction in mind, there is no room to imagine that woman is inferior to man. There is no ground to assume that she is less important than he just because her rights are not identically the same as his. Had her status been identical with his, she would have been simply a duplicate of him, which she is not. The fact that Islam gives her equal rights - but not identical - shows that it takes her into due consideration, acknowledges her, and recognizes her independent personality.

The status of woman in Islam is something unique, something novel, something that has no similarity in any other system. If we look to the Eastern Communist world or to the democratic nations, we find that woman is not really in a happy position. Her status is not enviable. She has to work so hard to live, and sometimes she may be doing the same job that a man does but her wage is less than his. She enjoys a kind of liberty which in some cases amounts to libertinism. To get to where she is nowadays, woman struggled hard for decades and centuries. To gain the right of learning and the freedom of work and earning, she had to offer painful sacrifices and give up many of her natural rights. To establish her status as a human being possessing a soul, she paid heavily. Yet in spite of all these costly sacrifices and painful struggles, she has not acquired what Islam has established by a Divine decree for the Muslim woman.

The rights of woman of modern times were not granted voluntarily or out of kindness to the female. Modern woman reached her present position by force, and not through natural processes or mutual consent or Divine teachings. She had to force her way, and various circumstances came to her aid. Shortage of manpower during wars, pressure of economic needs and requirements of industrial developments forced woman to get out of her home - to work, to learn, to struggle for her livelihood, to appear as an equal to man, to run her race in the course of life side by side with him. She was forced by circumstances and in turn she forced herself through and acquired her new status. Whether all women were pleased with these circumstances being on their side, and whether they are happy and satisfied with the results of this course is a different matter. But the fact remains that whatever rights modern woman enjoys fall short of those of her Muslim counterpart.

What Islam has established for woman is that which suits her nature, gives her full security and protects her against disgraceful circumstances and uncertain channels of life. We do not need here to elaborate on the status of modern woman and the risks she runs to make her living or establish herself. We do not even need to explore the miseries and setbacks that encircle her as a result of the so-called rights of woman. Nor do we intend to manipulate the situation of many unhappy homes which break because of the very "freedom" and "rights" of which modern woman is proud. Most women today exercise the right of freedom to go out independently, to work and earn, to pretend to be equal to man, but this, sadly enough, is at the expense of their families. This all known and obvious. What is not known is the status of woman in Islam.

It is clear that the status of woman in Islam is unprecedentedly high and realistically suitable to her nature. Her rights and duties are equal to those of man but not necessarily or absolutely identical with them. If she is deprived of one thing in some aspect, she is fully compensated for it with more things in many other aspects. The fact that she belongs to the female sex has no bearing on her human status or independent personality, and it is no basis for justification of prejudice against her or injustice to her person. Islam gives her as much as is required of her. Her rights match beautifully with her duties. The balance between rights and duties is maintained, and no side overweighs the other. The whole status of woman is given clearly in the Qur'an. Allah Almighty says:

(Women who are divorced shall wait, keeping themselves apart, three (monthly) courses. And it is not lawful for them that they should conceal that which Allah hath created in their wombs if they are believers in Allah and the Last Day. And their husbands would do better to take them back in that case if they desire a reconciliation. And they (women) have rights similar to those (of men) over them in kindness, and men are a degree above them. Allah is Mighty, Wise.) (Al-Baqarah 2: 228)

This degree is not a title of supremacy or an authorization of dominance over her. It is to correspond with the extra responsibilities of man and give him some compensation for his unlimited liabilities. The above-mentioned verse is always interpreted in the light of another. Allah Almighty says:

(Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath men the one of them to excel the other, and because they spend of their property (for the support of women). So good women are the obedient, guarding in secret that which Allah hath guarded. As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds apart, and scourge them. Then if they obey you, seek not a way against them. Lo! Allah is ever High Exalted, Great.) (An-Nisaa' 4: 34)

It is these extra responsibilities that give man a degree over woman in some economic aspects. It is not a higher degree in humanity or in character. Nor is it a dominance of one over the other or suppression of one by the other. It is a distribution of Allah's abundance according to the needs of the nature of which Allah is the Maker. And He knows best what is good for woman and what is good for man. Allah is absolutely true when He says:

(O mankind! Be careful of your duty to your Lord Who created you from a single soul and from it created its mate and from them twain hath spread abroad a multitude of men and women. Be careful of your duty toward Allah in Whom ye claim ( your rights ) of one another, and toward the wombs (that bare you ). Lo! Allah hath been a Watcher over you.) (An-Nisaa' 4:1)

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Watch this video to know more about Women in Islam

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Woman Is Not Blamed Alone for the Original Sin

It is not the tone of Islam that brands woman as the product of the devil or the seed of evil. Nor does the Qur'an place man as the dominant lord of woman who has no choice but to surrender to his dominance. Nor was it Islam that introduced the question of whether or not woman has any soul in her. Never in the history of Islam has any Muslim doubted the human status of woman or her possession of soul and other fine spiritual qualities. Unlike other popular beliefs, Islam does not blame Eve alone for the Original Sin. The Qur'an makes it very clear that both Adam and Eve were tempted; that they both sinned; that Allah's pardon was granted to both after their repentance; and that Allah addressed them jointly. Allah Almighty says:

(And We said: O Adam! Dwell thou and thy wife in the Garden, and eat ye freely (of the fruits) thereof where ye will; but come not nigh this tree lest ye become wrongdoers. But Satan caused them to deflect therefrom and expelled them from the (happy) state in which they were; and We said: Fall down, one of you a foe unto the other! There shall be for you on earth a habitation and provision for a tune. Then Adam received from his Lord words (of revelation), and He relented toward him. Lo! He is the Relenting the Merciful. We said: Go down, all of you, from hence; but verily there cometh unto you from Me a guidance; and whoso followeth My guidance, there shall no fear come upon them neither shall they grieve.) (Al-Baqarah 2: 36-38)

 

In fact the Qur'an gives the impression that Adam was more to blame for that First Sin from which emerged prejudice against woman and suspicion of her deeds. But Islam does not justify such prejudice or suspicion because both Adam and Eve were equally in error, and if we are to blame Eve we should blame Adam as much or even more.

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How Does Islam Look At the Woman?

An attempt will be made in the following passages to sum up the attitude of Islam with regard to woman:

1- Woman is recognized by Islam as a full and equal partner of man in the procreation of humankind. He is the father; she is the mother, and both are essential for life. Her role is not less vital than his. By this partnership she has an equal share in every aspect; she is entitled to equal rights; she undertakes equal responsibilities, and in her there are as many qualities and as much humanity as there are in her partner.

To this equal partnership in the reproduction of human kind Allah says:

(O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made `you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.) (Al-Hujurat 49: 13)

 

2- She is equal to man in bearing personal and common responsibilities and in receiving rewards for her deeds. She is acknowledged as an independent personality, in possession of human qualities and worthy of spiritual aspirations. Her human nature is neither inferior to nor deviant from that of man. Both are members of one another. Allah Almighty says:

(And their Lord hath heard them (and He saith): Lo! I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost. Ye proceed one from another…) (Aal `Imran 3: 195)

 

3- She is equal to man in the pursuit of education and knowledge. When Islam enjoins the seeking of knowledge upon Muslims, it makes no distinction between man and woman. Almost fourteen centuries ago, Muhammad declared that the pursuit of knowledge is incumbent on every Muslim male and female. This declaration was very clear and was implemented by Muslims throughout history.

 

4- She is entitled to freedom of expression as much as man is. Her sound opinions are taken into consideration and cannot be disregarded just because she happen to belong to the female sex. It is reported in the Qur'an and history that woman not only expressed her opinion freely but also argued and participated in serious discussions with the Prophet himself as well as with other Muslim leaders. Allah Almighty says:

(Allah hath heard the saying of her that disputeth with thee (Muhammad) concerning her husband, and complaineth unto Allah. And Allah heareth your colloquy. Lo! Allah is Nearer, Knower. Such of you as put away your wives (by saying they are as their mothers) They are not their mothers; none are their mothers except those who gave them birth they indeed utter an ill word and a lie. And lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. Those who put away their wives (by saying they are as their mothers) and afterward would go back on that which they have said; (the penalty) in that case (is) the freeing of a slave before they touch one another. Unto this ye are exhorted; and Allah is informed of what ye do.) (Al-Mujadalah 58: 1-4)

Besides there were occasions when Muslim women expressed their views on legislative matters of public interest, and stood in opposition to the Caliphs, who then accepted the sound arguments of these women. A specific example took place during the Caliphate of `Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him.

 

5- Historical records show that women participated in public life with the early Muslims, especially in times of emergencies. Women used to accompany the Muslim armies engaged in battles to nurse the wounded, prepare supplies, serve the warriors, and so on. They were not shut behind iron bars or considered worthless creatures and deprived of souls.

 

6- Islam grants woman equal rights to contract, to enterprise, to earn and possess independently. Her life, her property, her honor are as sacred as those of man. If she commits any offense, her penalty is no less or more than of man's in a similar case. If she is wronged or harmed, she gets due compensations equal to what a man in her position would get. Allah Almighty says:

(O ye who believe! Retaliation is prescribed for you in the matter of the murdered; the freeman for the freeman, and the slave for the slave, and the female for the female. And for him who is forgiven somewhat by his (injured) brother, prosecution according to usage and payment unto him in kindness. This is alleviation and a mercy from your Lord. He who transgresseth after this will have a painful doom.) (Al-Baqarah 2: 195)

 

7- Islam does not state these rights in a statistical form and then relax. It has taken all measures to safeguard them and put them into practice as integral articles of Faith. It never tolerates those who are inclined to prejudice against woman or discrimination between man and woman. Time and again, the Qur'an reproaches those who used to believe woman to be inferior to man. Allah Almighty says:

(And they assign unto Allah daughters. Be He glorified! and unto themselves what they desire; When if one of them receiveth tidings of the birth of a female, his face remaineth darkened, and he is wroth inwardly. He bideth himself from the folk because of the evil of that whereof he hath bad tidings, (asking himself): Shall he keep it in contempt, or bury it beneath the dust. Verily evil is their judgment.) (An-Nahl 16: 57-59)

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Woman's Inheritance System in Islam

Apart from recognition of woman as an independent human being acknowledged as equally essential for the survival of humanity, Islam has given her a share of inheritance. Before Islam, she was not only deprived of that share but was herself considered as property to be inherited by man. Out of that transferable property Islam made an heir, acknowledging the inherent human qualifies in woman. Whether she is a wife or mother, a sister or daughter, she receives a certain share of the deceased kin's property, a share which depends on her degree of relationship to the deceased and the number of heirs. This share is hers, and no one can take it away or disinherit her. Even if the deceased wishes to deprive her by making a will to other relations or in favor of any other cause, the Law will not allow him to do so. Any proprietor is permitted to make his will within the limit of one-third of his property, so he may not affect the rights of his heirs, men and women. In the case of inheritance, the question of quality and sameness is fully applicable.

In principle, both man and woman are equally entitled to inherit the property of the deceased relations but the portions they get may vary. In some instances man receives two shares whereas woman gets one only. This no sign of giving preference or supremacy to man over woman. The reasons why man gets more in these particular instances may be classified as follows: 

First man, is the person solely responsible for the complete maintenance of his wife, his family and any other needy relations. It is his duty by Law to assume all financial responsibilities and maintain his dependents adequately. It is also his duty to contribute financially to all good causes in his society. All financial burdens are borne by him alone.

Secondly, in contrast, woman has no financial responsibilities whatsoever except very little of her personal expenses, the high luxurious things that she likes to have. She is financially secure and provided for. If she is a wife, her husband is the provider; if she is a mother, it is the son; if she is a daughter, it is the father; if she is a sister; it is the brother, and so on. If she has no relations on whom she can depend, then there is no question of inheritance because there is nothing to inherit and there is no one to bequeath anything to her. However, she will not be left to starve, maintenance of such a woman is the responsibility of the society as a whole, the state. She may be given aid or a job to earn her living, and whatever money she makes will be hers. She is not responsible for the maintenance of anybody else beside herself. If there is a man in her position, he would still be responsible for his family and possibly any of his relations who need his help. So, in the hardest situation her financial responsibility is limited, while his is unlimited.

Thirdly, when a woman gets less than a man does, she is not actually deprived of anything that she has worked for. The property inherited is not the result of her earning or her endeavors. It is something coming to them from a neutral source, something addition-al or extra. It is something that neither man or woman struggled for. It is a sort of aid, and any aid has to be distributed according to the urgent needs and responsibilities especially when the distribution is regulated by the Law of Allah.

Now, we have a male heir, on one side, burdened with all kinds of financial responsibilities and liabilities. We have, on the other side, a female heir with no financial responsibilities at all or at most with very little of it. In between we have some property and aid to redistribute by way of inheritance. If we deprive the female completely, it would be unjust to her because she is related to the deceased. Likewise, if we always give her a share equal to the man's, it would be unjust to him. So, instead of doing injustice to either side, Islam gives the man a larger portion of the inherited property to help him to meet his family needs and social responsibilities. At the same time, Islam has not forgotten her altogether, but has given her a portion to satisfy her very personal needs. In fact, Islam in this respect is being more kind to her than to him. Here we can say that when taken as a whole the rights of woman are equal to those of man although not necessarily identical. Allah Almighty says:

(Allah chargeth you concerning (the provision for) your children: to the male the equivalent of the portion of two females, and if there be women more than two, then theirs is two-thirds of the inheritance, and if there be one (only) then the half. And to his parents a sixth of the inheritance, if he have a son; and if he have no son and his parents are his heirs, then to his mother appertaineth the third; and if he have brethren, then to his mother appertaineth the sixth, after any legacy he may have bequeathed, or debt (hath been paid). Your parents or your children: Ye know not which of them is nearer unto you in usefulness. It is an injunction from Allah. Lo! Allah is Knower, rise.) (An-Nisaa' 4: 11)

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Some Privileges of Women Over Men 

Woman enjoys certain privileges of which man is deprived. She is exempt from some religious duties, i.e., prayers and fasting, in her regular periods and at times of confinement. She is exempt from all financial liabilities. As a mother, she enjoys more recognition and higher honor in the sight of Allah. Allah Almighty says:

(And We have enjoined upon man concerning his parents. His mother beareth him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks unto Me and unto thy parents. Unto Me is the journeying.) (Luqman 31: 14)

The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, acknowledged this honor when he declared that Paradise is under the feet of the mothers. She is entitled to three-fourths of the son's love and kindness with one-fourth left for their father. As a wife she is entitled to demand of her prospective husband a suitable dowry that will be her own. She is entitled to complete provision and total maintenance by the husband. She does not have to work or share with her husband the family expenses. She is free to retain, after marriage, whatever she possessed before it, and the husband has no right whatsoever to any of her belongings. As a daughter or sister she is entitled to security and provision by the father and brother respectively. That is her privilege. If she wishes to work or be self-supporting and participate in handling the family responsibilities, she is quite free to do so, provided her integrity and honor are safeguarded.

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Testimony of Women

Allah, the Exalted, stated in the Glorious Qur'an:

(And get two witnesses out of your own men. And if there are not two men (available), then a man and two women, such as you agree for witnesses, so that if one of them (two women) errs, the other can remind her.)

[Al Quran 2:282]

Allah clarifies to assure the rights of others that testimonies will not be valid unless two men, or one man and two women offer them.

Divine wisdom has granted women, in general, very sensitive emotions, tender feelings, and a predisposition towards care and love of other members of the family. This makes a woman capable of her natural task of childbearing, nursing, taking care of all the needs of the young child, etc. Based on these emotional characteristics of the woman, she might very well follow her emotional inclinations and swerve from harsh realities due to an emotional involvement in a case. A woman's loving and kind feelings might overcome what she has witnessed, and thus she may distort the story of her witness and testimony. At the same time the biological changes that occur in her body due to menses, pregnancy, child-birth and post-natal conditions reduce the sharpness of her memory and may make her forget the details of the issue.

Therefore, a divine precautionary measure was established to eliminate any shortcoming on a woman's part in any case of testimony. We would like to point out here one of the essential principles of the legal and judicial system in Islam, which states that the case is not valid for proceedings if a doubt arises in the case. Therefore, the strength of two female witnesses is intended to eliminate this doubt.

Besides testimony that involves other people's rights, Islam has granted women full financial freedom in terms of independence and financial decision-making, and made her exactly equal to men in that regard. However, woman's natural role in life, in raising children and caring for the family requires her to stay in the home for longer and extended periods in comparison to men, thus limiting her knowledge and experience to the affairs she stays involved in most of her life.

It is a false accusation to say that making the testimonies and witnesses of two women equal to one man in certain cases is an insult to the woman's intelligence and a dishonor to her integrity. If that were the case, a single woman's testimony would, likewise, not be acceptable in the other affairs of women. Islamic jurisprudence accepts a woman's testimony in all affairs that are private like in confirming the virginity of a woman, delivery of a child, clarification of female sexual defects, and other matters that mandate examination due to a dispute. At the same time, it must be remembered that Islamic law rejects a man's lone testimony in the least significant financial matters such as lending or borrowing funds and other transactions, since there must be two. The critically serious cases, wherein a woman's testimony must be doubled, is established in order to preserve and prove the rights of individuals in the society based on the reliability and irrefutability of that testimony.

Note that testimony in the Islamic law in itself is not a privilege but a burden that many attempt to avoid, and for this reason Allah (The Almighty) commanded people to offer their testimonies and not to seek to escape or withhold it. Allah (The Almighty) stated in the Glorious Qur'an:

(And the witnesses should not refuse when they are called on (for evidence) [Al Quran 2:281]

The address here is general for both male and female. Many people all over the world try to avoid becoming a witness, and attempt to escape involvement in offering testimonies, because one is required to go to the court, sit on the witness stand, take an oath to tell the truth, be cross-examined and many other burdens. Financial and physical burdens or threats may result from being a witness and offering testimony. Islam therefore aims at eliminating many of these burdens from the woman, unless she has a partner who witnesses as she does, in matters involving many forms of testimony.

A man's single testimony is not acceptable in financial matters, since there must be two male witnesses to prove the financial right of a claimant, or one man and two women. We have never heard that anyone considered this requirement an insult to man's intelligence or contrary to his rights. This proves that the requirement is for the protection against false accusations and mistakes. There are some cases when the testimony of each is totally equal. For instance, the testimony of a wife is exactly equal to the testimony of her husband when a husband accuses his wife of committing adultery and he has no evidence to prove his claim. Allah (The Almighty) stated in the Glorious Qur'an:

(As for those who accuse their wives, but have no witnesses except themselves, let them present their testimony four times, that by Allah he is one of those who speak the truth. By the fifth (testimony, he invokes) the Curse of Allah on himself, if he is of those who tell a lie (against her) . She will avert the punishment (of stoning to death) from her if she bears witness four times by Allah, that he (her husband) is telling a lie. And the fifth (testimony) should be that the Wrath of Allah be upon her if he (her husband) is speaking the truth.) [24:6-9] 

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Woman in Congregational Prayers With Men

The standing of woman in prayers behind man does not indicate in any sense that she is inferior to him. Woman, as already mentioned, is exempt from attending congregational prayers which are obligatory on man. But if she does attend she stands in separate lines made up of women exclusively. This is a regulation of discipline in prayers, and not a classification of importance. In men's rows the head of state stands shoulder to shoulder to the pauper. Men of the highest ranks in society stand in prayer side by side with other men of the lowest ranks.

The order of lines in prayers is introduced to help every one to concentrate in his meditation. It is very important because Muslim prayers are not simply chanting or the sing-a-song type. They involve actions, motions, standing, bowing, prostration, etc. So if men mix with women in the same lines, it is possible that something disturbing or distracting may happen. The mind will become occupied by something alien to prayer and derailed from the clear path of mediation. The result will be a loss of the purpose of prayers, besides an offense of adultery committed by the eye, because the eye-by looking at forbidden things - can be guilty of adultery as much as the heart itself.

Moreover, no Muslim man or woman is allowed during prayers to touch the body of another person of the opposite sex. If men and women stand side by side in prayer they cannot avoid touching each other. Furthermore, when a woman is praying in front of a man or beside him, it is very likely that any part of her dressed body may become uncovered after a certain motion of bowing or prostrating. The man's eye may happen to be looking at the uncovered part, with the result that she will be embarrassed and he will be exposed to distraction or possibly evil thoughts.

So, to avoid any embarrassment and distraction to help concentrate on mediation and pure thoughts, to maintain harmony and order among worshippers, to fulfill the true purposes of prayers, Islam has ordained the organization of rows, whereby men stand in front lines, and women behind the children. Anyone with some knowledge of the nature and purpose of Muslim prayers can readily understand the wisdom of organizing the lines of worshippers in this manner.

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Wife Discipline In Islam (One of the top misconceptions in Islam)

Allah, the Exalted, stated in the Glorious Qur'an:

(... As to those women on whose part you see ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next,) refuse to share their beds, (and last,) beat them (lightly, if it is useful). But if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance). Surely, Allah is Most High, Most Great.) [Al Quran 4:34]

Islam forbids beating women and warns strictly against it. The Prophet (Peace be upon Him) never beat any of his wives or servants, as his wife Aishah (may Allah exalt their mention) reported in an authentic tradition (Bukhari #2328). Women are, in general, weaker than men in their physique and stamina. Women are often unable to defend themselves against violence. Although beating of women is generally forbidden, Islam permits the beating of wives in a restricted and limited sense only as a final solution and acceptable valid reason when all else fails. This is analogous to spanking children when all else fails and they must learn a lesson in obedience for their own protection and success.

In the verse we quoted, Allah deals with the case of a wife who behaves immorally towards her husband's rights. The treatment of this extremely sensitive issue comes in gradual stages, as we have noticed from the verse. Medicine, or treatment of any ailment, can be very bitter at times. But an ill person will take the remedy gladly and bear the bitterness of the medicine in order to be cured from his illness. The remedy to treat a wife blameworthy of immoral behavior, as we have noticed, comes in three gradual stages:

  1. First stage: The stage of advice, counseling and warning against Allah's punishment. A husband must remind his wife of the importance of protecting his rights in Islam. This stage is a very kind and easy one. But, if this treatment does not work and proves to be ineffective, then the husband may resort to the next stage.
  2. Second stage: To leave the wife's bed. Or, if one sleeps in the same bed with her, he will turn his back to her, not touch her, talk to her or have intercourse with her. This stage, as noticed, combines both strictness and kindness, although it is a very harsh practice on both. But, if this treatment does not work, then the husband may resort to the final stage of discipline explained below.
  3. Third and final stage: Beating without hurting, breaking a bone, leaving black or blue marks on the body, and avoiding hitting the face or especially sensitive places at any cost. The purpose of beating her is only to discipline and never retaliation or with desire to hurt by any means. Islam forbids severe beating as punishment.

The Prophet (Peace be upon Him) said:

"None of you should beat his wife like a slave-beating and then have intercourse with her at the end of the day".

[Bukhari #4908]

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What Will Women Get in Paradise?

Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, former President of the Islamic Society of North America, states: 

Jannah or Paradise is not for men alone. It is prepared for both, righteous men and righteous women. All the joys and blessings of Jannah are for both of them. Allah has mentioned in the Qur’an that He put both Adam and his wife Hawwa’ (Eve) in Jannah after creating them, and He told them to eat and enjoy everything (except the fruit of one tree). [See al-Baqarah 2: 35; al-A`raf 7: 19] Thus, all the trees, gardens and rivers of Jannah are made for both men and women and they both will enjoy them.

All Believers, males and females, will enter the Jannah. Allah says, ( Gardens of perpetual bliss: they shall enter there, as well as the righteous among their fathers, their spouses, and their offspring) (ar-Ra`d 13: 23)


Further, Allah says, (Indeed, the people of Paradise will be happily occupied. They and their wives shall be in shades, reclining on raised couches. There are for them fruits and there is for them all that they ask for…) (Ya-Sin 36: 55-57)

In the Hereafter Allah will say to the Believers, (Enter the Garden, you and your wives, you will be made glad. There will be brought round for them trays of gold and goblets, and therein is all that the souls desire and eyes find sweet and you will stay there forever. This is the garden, which you are made to inherit because of what you used to do. Therein for you is fruit in plenty whence to eat. ) (Az-Zukhruf 43: 70-73)

There are many other places in the Qur’an where it is mentioned that men and women both will find their reward and none will be deprived. [See: Aal `Imran 3: 195; An-Nisa’, 4: 124; An-Nahl 16: 97; Al-Ahzab 33: 35; Ghafir 40: 40]

The life of women in Jannah will be as pleasant and happy as the life of men. Allah is not partial to any gender. He created both of them and He will take care of both of them according to their needs and desires. Let us all work to achieve the Jannah and then, in sha’ Allah, we will find there what will satisfy all of us fully.

This verse clearly denotes that those women who do righteous deeds are rewarded with Paradise and given a high rank that is equal to the good deeds they have offered.

Shedding more light on this issue, we'd like to cite the following fatwa issued by the outstanding Muslim scholar, Sheikh ibn Jibreen:

There is no doubt that reward in the Hereafter encompasses both men and women. This is based on the following Qur'anic verses:

( Lo! I suffer not the work of any worker, male or female, to be lost) (Al `Imran 3: 195)
(Whosoever works righteousness, whether male or female, while he (or she) is a true believer, We will give a good life. ) (An-Nahl 16: 97)
(And whoever does righteous good deeds, being a male or a female, and is a true believer, such will enter Paradise. ) (An-Nisa 4: 124)
(Verily, the Muslims, men and women, the believers, men and women... Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward. ) (Al-Ahzab 33: 35)

Allah mentions them entering into Paradise together, saying:

(They and their wives will be in pleasant shade. ) (Ya Sin 36: 56)
(Enter Paradise, you and your wives, in happiness. )
(Az-Zukhruf 43: 70)

Allah also mentions that He will recreate women in Paradise in the following verse:

( Lo! We have created them a (new) creation. And made them virgins… ) (Al-Waqi`ah 56: 35-36)
That is, Allah will recreate the elderly women and make them virgins; the same will be done for old men, Allah will make them youth.

It is also mentioned in the Hadith that the women of this worldly life have a superiority over Al-hur Al-`In due to the acts of worship and obedience that they performed in this world. Therefore, the believing women will enter Paradise just like the believing men. If a woman had a number of husbands, she, upon entering Paradise with them, would choose among them the one with the best character and behavior.

Regard the 72 virgins (Hoor Al-Een) that the male believers get in Jannah Ibn Kathir’s comment on this issue. It reads:“ Almighty Allah tells us that He will provide the residents of Paradise with beautiful wives who have big and lustrous eyes and 'whom no man or Jinn before them has touched' and who are 'Like unto rubies and coral'”.

In fact, Paradise is the abode of the believers in the Hereafter. Allah has prepared for His believing servants, males and females, in Paradise indescribable bliss that which no eye has seen, no ear has heard of and that has never ever crossed the minds of people, to the extent that even the person who has the least blessings in Paradise will think that he is the most blessed one.

In more than one Qur'anic verse, Allah, Most High, calls upon His servants to do their utmost in order to be favored with Paradise. For example, He says, "And vie one with another for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for those who ward off (evil)." (Al `Imran: 133)

All this indicates that in Paradise believing men and women will be showered with blessings; there is no room for discrimination based on gender in Paradise.

Focusing more on this issue, Sheikh `Atiyyah Saqr, former Head of Al-Azhar Fatwa Committee, adds:
“Here Allah mentions the Hoor Al`Een because in most cases men pursue women and not vice versa. As for women, Allah Almighty may marry them to any of the believers in Paradise, if they did not get married during worldly life, or He may compensate them by making them feel content with their position. It is also said that Allah may grant women some kind of beauty with which they will feel that they are better than the Hoor Al-`Een and that they are their mistress, so they will not love anyone other than their own husbands nor will they feel jealous of the Hoor Al-`Een.”

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A Glimpse at Early Women Islamic Scholars 

By Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi
Wed. Sep. 19, 2007
 
Both men and women today need to revive the rich Islamic heritage of Muslim women scholars. From the very beginning of the human saga, Allah makes it quite clear that men and women are equal beings created from one single soul, sharing the same father and mother, and subservient unto the same Lord. The verse mentioned above came to the Messenger of Allah (peace upon him) at a time when women were being humiliated and tortured.

Allah says: […and when the female child, buried alive, will be asked: For what sin was she killed.] (At-Takwir 81:8-9) This refers to an ancient practice of the Arabs (and even some modern societies through abortion) who would kill their female children from fear of being humiliated in the community, or out of fear that they would not have the means to provide for them.

Islam came to eradicate these ignorant practices, amongst others, and after twenty-three years of prophetic teachings, it had conferred unto women a status that was previously unthinkable.

The first revelation: [Read in the name of your Lord who created…] (Al-`Alaq 96:1) left the Prophet (peace upon him) severely shaken, for he could not comprehend such an event happening to an unlettered, orphaned, desert Arab.

It is related that he was consoled by Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) who believed in him and comforted him in a time of great need and distress. She was the backbone of his initial efforts for the advancement of the new faith, and a noble business woman of high lineage.

After three years of secrecy he was ordered by Allah to call his own family to the faith. He (peace upon him) gathered his family and openly called upon the tribe of Hashim and the tribe of `Abdul-Muttalib to believe in his message.

Towards the end of the narration of this event, he (peace upon him) specifically says to ‘Abbas ibn ‘Abdul-Muttalib (may Allah be pleased with him): "I cannot benefit you on the Day of Judgment." He uttered the same statement to his aunt, Safiyyah bint ‘Abdul-Muttalib and to his daughter, Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with both of them). He added: "Ask me of my wealth in this world, but on the Day of Judgment I cannot avail you in any way."

In this address the Prophet (peace upon him) specifically named two women and one man, demonstrating that women possess independent religious responsibility that has no connection to their gender.

This independence in faith is exemplified by the fact that the wives of Noah and Lot (peace upon them) both rejected faith. Hence, the Qur'an affirms that even the wife of a Prophet is free to believe or disbelieve.

Furthermore, Umm Habibah became a believer while her father, Abu Sufyan, (may Allah be pleased with them both), was a staunch opponent of the Prophet (peace upon him). He possessed neither the power nor privilege to influence her independent choice.

At the second Pledge of `Aqabah, a covenant that involved specific political and strategic obligations, the Prophet (peace upon him) took an oath from both men and women. He was not content to have women confined to their houses, totally divorced from any involvement in public affairs.

 

Women Perserving the Qur'an

The Qur'an, the most sacred and important source in Islam, was memorized by many of the companions. After the Battle of Yamamah, where a large number of those memorizers were killed, `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) advised Abu Bakr to issue a standardized edition of the entire Qur'an in the dialect of Quraish, whose protection he vouchsafed.

Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) issued such an edition. After his death it passed into the protection of `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), and after his passing, it was given to Hafsah bint `Umar (may Allah be pleased with her) to be carefully guarded and preserved.

During the caliphate of `Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) it was noticed that divergent and erroneous recitations of the Qur'an were emerging among the newly converted non-Arab people in places like Armenia and Azerbaijan.

`Uthman (may Allah be pleased with him) then borrowed the edition of the Qur'an in Hafsah's protection (may Allah be pleased with her) to make six standardized copies to send to the major political and cultural centers in the Islamic realm. He ordered all non-standardized editions to be burned. It is clear here that no one questioned Hafsah's trustworthiness (may Allah be pleased with her), as to whether she had altered the edition vouchsafed to her in any way.
 
 

Women and Hadith Studies

In the time of the Companions, the question never arose concerning the validity of learning directly from women. If we were to consider, for example, the books of Prophetic tradition (Hadith), in every chapter you will find women narrating as well as men.

Imam Hakim Naisapuri states: "One fourth of our religion depends on the narrations of women. Were it not for those narrations, we would lose a quarter of our religion."

For example, Abu Hanifah considers there to be four units of supererogatory prayer before the obligatory noon prayer, whereas the remaining Imams say that there are only two. The latter depend on the narration of `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), while Abu Hanifah relies on Umm Habiba (may Allah be pleased with her) and the other wives of the Prophet (peace upon him).

Abu Hanifah argues that since the Prophet (peace upon him), used to pray supererogatory prayers in his house, the narration of his wives (may Allah be pleased with them) is stronger.

Similarly, major events, such as the beginning of the call to the prophetic office, were specifically narrated by women. `Ai'shah alone narrates the tradition detailing the circumstances of the first revelation, as recorded by Imam Bukhari, immediately after the hadith mentioning that actions are judged based on the intention accompanying them.

To give similar examples, we all know that performing ablution is essential for the validity of ritual prayer (salah). A female companion, Rubiyya bint Muawidh ibn Afrah (may Allah have mercy on her), whose family members died in the Battle of Uhud, was a great narrator of Hadith.

Her narrations can be found in Bukhari, Muslim, Ibn Majah, and other compilations. She narrated how the Prophet (peace upon him), performed ablution after actually witnessing his performance of the purificatory ritual.

The companions would go to learn from her despite the fact that Abu Bakr, `Umar, `Uthman, `Ali, Mu`adh ibn Jabal, and `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (may Allah be pleased with them) were all present in Madinah. She was regarded as the expert in the performance of ablution. Her students included the likes of `Abdullah ibn `Abbas (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) the great Qur'anic exegete, and also a member of the family of the Prophet (peace and blessing of Allah upon him). He never asked: "Why should I learn from her when I am from the family of the Prophet and great exegete?"

The same is true for Ali Zain ul-Abideen, the great grandson of the Prophet (peace upon him) and a great scholar himself. Their philosophy was to go to whoever possessed knowledge, irrespective of their gender.

Interestingly, there is no single Hadith which has been rejected from a woman on account of her being a fabricating liar. Imam Dhahabi affirms: "There are many men who have fabricated Hadith. However, no woman in the history of Islam has been accused of fabrication." In light of this, if the intellectual integrity of anyone should be questioned, it should be that of men. Women have always truthfully conveyed religious knowledge.

Amrah bint Abdur-Rahman was amongst the greatest of the female Successors, the generation that came after that of the companions of the Prophet (peace upon him). She was a jurist, a mufti, and a Hadith specialist.

The great Caliph `Umar ibn ‘Abdul-`Aziz used to say: "If you want to learn Hadith go to Amrah." Imam Zuhri, who is credited with compiling the first systematically edited compilation of Hadith used to say: "Go to Amrah, she is the vast vessel of Hadith."

During that time, the Judge of Madinah ruled in a case involving a Christian thief from Syria who had stolen something. The judge had ordered that his hand to be severed. When Amrah bint Abdur-Rahman heard of this decision, she immediately told one of her students to go tell the judge that he cannot severe the man's hand because he had stolen something whose value was less than a single gold coin (dinar). As soon as he heard what Amrah had said, he ordered that the man be released, unharmed.

He did not question her authority, nor did he seek a second opinion from other scholars, who were quite numerous in Madinah at the time.
They included the likes of Sa`id ibn Al-Musayyib. This incident is recorded in the Muwatta' of Imam Malik, and this ruling is also his opinion in such cases.

One of great Successors, Umm Darda, taught in both Damascus, in the great Umayyad Mosque, and Jerusalem. Her class was attended by Imams, jurists, and Hadith scholars. The powerful Caliph Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan, who ruled an empire stretching from Spain to India, had a teaching license from `Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) who was considered the greatest jurist of his time in Madinah.

When `Abdullah reached old age, the people asked him: "Who should we seek religious verdicts from after you?" He replied: "Marwan has a son (Abdul-Malik), who is a jurist so ask him." Hence, Abdul-Malik was endorsed by Abdullah. Yet even Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan would attend the classes of Umm Darda and he would never feel ashamed of learning from her.

Furthermore, he would humbly serve her. It has been recorded that when Umm Darda was teaching she would lean on the shoulder of Abdul-Malik ibn Marwan, due to her being advanced years, to go to mosque for salah. He would help her return to her place of teaching after the prayer.
The fact that these women taught men who were themselves regarded as great scholars indicates the respect and status they had attained.

The mosque of the Prophet (peace upon him) is undoubtedly one of the most sacred places in Islam, and his blessed grave is even more sacred. Around the beginning of the 8th century of the Muslim calendar, Fatima bint Ibrahim ibn Jowhar, a famous teacher of Al-Bukhari, under whom both Imams Dhahabi and Al-Subki studied the entirety of Sahih Al-Bukhari appeared.

When she came for the pilgrimage (Hajj) her fame was such that as soon as the students of Hadith heard that she had reached Madinah, they requested her to teach in the mosque of the Prophet (peace upon him).

Ibn Rushayd Al-Subki, who traveled from Marrakesh, describes one of her classes thus: "She was sitting in front of the blessed head of Prophet (peace upon him), and [due to her advanced years] she would lean on his grave. She would finish by writing and signing the license to transmit her narrations (ijazah ), personally, for all of the Hadiths that were read by every student present."

This, and similarly stories, makes it clear that women can teach in the best of mosques. Pathetically, today there are debates in the Muslim world as to whether they can even come to the mosque for prayer. This is an indication of our ignorance of our own Islamic heritage, and of our digression from the practices of our pious predecessors.

Aishah bint Abdul-Hadi used to teach in the grand mosque of Damascus. She was appointed by the Sultan of that time as the Master of Hadith and taught the compilation of Imam Al-Bukhari. She represented the whole community and they could not find any man better than her. Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani, considered by many to be the greatest of all latter day Hadith scholars, traveled to Damascus and studied more than one hundred books with her.

Today, it would be difficult to find a "sheikh" who even knows the names of her books, to say nothing of having read them. In addition to her intellectual acumen, her chain of narration in Hadith is regarded as the strongest from her generation back to the Prophet (peace upon him). Between her and Imam Al-Bukhari are eight transmitters, and between Imam Al-Bukhari and the Prophet (peace upon him) there are variously, three, four or five transmitters. No other chain of narrators allows one to reach the Prophet (peace upon him) with an equal or smaller number of narrators.

If we consider the great role of women such as Hafsah (may Allah be pleased with her and her father) in the compilation of the Qur'an, and the role of women like Aishah bint Abdul-Hadi in preserving and accurately conveying Hadith, it is clear that the two most fundamental sources of our religion have been secured with the aid and blessing of women.

Fatimah Al-Juzdani, a great scholar from Isfahan in present-day Iran, read one of the great books of Hadith, Al-Mu`jam Al-Kabeer, with Abu Bakr ibn Rida, who himself studied the entirety of the book with its author, Imam At-Tabarani. This book has been published in thirty-seven volumes (unfinished). After mastering the book, she subsequently taught it many times.

Not a single scholar alive today has studied this book, or even part of it with a teacher. Furthermore, we do not have a single narration of this book except from women, because it was forgotten by the male Hadith scholars.

In the time of Ibn Taymiyya, there were other scholars like Imam Dhahabi, Al-Mizzi, Al-Birzali, Tajuddin Al-Subqi, and a little later, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Al-Qayyim, Ibn Nasiruddin Al-Dimishqui, and Hafidh Ibn Hajar Al-Asqalani. This was the golden age of Hadith, when the development of Hadith literature and teaching was at its peak. Not only were these men scholars, they were also reformers of their society.

At this very time, there was a woman in Syria, who was also known for her scholarship and the powerful positive influence she had on society. She helped in the reformation of communities in Damascus and Cairo by enjoining good and forbidding evil.

Ibn Kathir, the student of Ibn Taymiyya, has written in his highly acclaimed work of history, Al-Bidaya wal-Nihaya: "She reformed society by enjoining good and forbidding evil, she accomplished what men are unable to do, that is to say, she did more than the male scholars of her time." This testimony was written by a man. Hence, no one can say it is the biased opinion of a woman, and thereby question its authenticity. This was a golden age full of proactive, confident and talented women.

Hisham ibn `Urwah ibn Zubair (may Allah be pleased with him), is the teacher of Imam Malik, Abu Hanifa, Sufyan al-Thawri, Saeed Qahtan, and is acknowledged as a great Hadith scholar of that era. The most reliable Hadiths narrated by him, found in both Bukhari and Muslim, are those he narrates from his wife, Fatimah bint Mundhir. Sadly, many Muslim men today would not marry a woman more knowledgeable than themselves. The men of our past would proudly marry and learn from them.

One of the best compilations in Hanafi fiqh is the masterpiece Badaya al-Sanaya by Imam Kasani, whose wife was Fatimah Al-Samarqandiyya, daughter of Ala'addin Al-Samarqandi. This book is a commentary on Tuhfat al-Fuqaha' written by the latter. Fatimah was a great expert in Hadith and other religious sciences.

Imam Kasani's students narrate: "We saw our teacher at times would leave the classroom when he could not answer a certain difficult question. After a while he would return to elucidate the answer in great detail. Only later on did we learn that he would go home to put the same question to his wife in order to hear her explanation." Clearly, he depended on his wife in his scholarly life. 

Not only were women scholars allowed to give binding religious verdicts (fatwas), but if they differed with their male contemporaries there would be absolutely no objections concerning their pronouncements. This was apparent from the earliest period. Illustrative of this is the opinion of Fatimah bint Qais (may God be pleased with her), who said that a husband need not provide support for his irrevocably divorced wife during her period of waiting (‘iddah). She based her opinion on a narration from the Prophet (peace upon him).

Despite the fact that `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) and other senior companions disagreed with her, based on their understanding of a verse in the Qur'an, they did not question her faith, impose sanctions on her, nor did they prevent her from continuing to narrate the Hadith and issuing her fatwa.

This incident is interesting in that it presents the opinion of a woman that advances a ruling that is not deemed favorable to woman. In so doing she opposes an opinion advanced by men that is deemed favorable to women. If this incident had occurred in our times it would have surely been the point of much contention and discussion.

The above are just some of the evidence that establishes the enormous contribution of women to the Islamic scholarly enterprise. The book it is excerpted from contains many more arguments and can be found at http://www.interfacepublications.com.

I hope that this article empowers us to help women attain the status and dignity that was given to them by our pious predecessors, based on the inspiration they received from the leader of all the prophets, our exemplary master, Muhammad, the chosen one, (peace and mercy of God upon him).

 

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The black woman Paradise is for believing men and women

We often hear speakers in Friday prayer or in admonitions talking about Paradise and all of us find our hearts, minds and thoughts tuned on to that 'frequency'. However, majority of the speakers talk about Paradise as if it were a house for men only. Reality is not like that. Paradise is for the believing men and women. The only price for it is sound belief in Allaah, love of Allaah and His Messenger salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam, and obedience to Allaah and His Messenger salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam.

In what follows are the glad tidings given by the Messenger of Allaah salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam, to some of the women among his companions.

Narrated 'Aisha radhiya Allaahu anha: "I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadija (although) she died before he married me, for I often heard him mentioning her, and Allaah had told him to give her the good tidings that she would have a palace of Qasab (i.e. pipes of precious stones and pearls in Paradise), and whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would send her women-friends a good share of it." [Sahih al Bukhaari]

Anas reports that the Messenger of Allaah, salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam, said: "The best women of mankind are four: Mariam daughter of `Imraan, Assiya wife of Pharaoh, Khadija daughter of Khuwailid, and Fatima the daughter of the Messenger of Allaah."[al Bukhaari and Muslim]

Narrated Abu Huraira:" Jibreel (Gabriel) came to the Prophet and said, 'O Allaah's Apostle! This is Khadija coming to you with a dish having meat soup (or some food or drink). When she reaches you, greet her on behalf of her Lord (i.e. Allaah) and on my behalf, and give her the glad tidings of having a Qasab (palace in Paradise) wherein there will be neither any noise nor any fatigue (trouble).' [al Bukhaari]

Narrated 'Ata bin Abi Rabah: Ibn 'Abbas said to me, 'Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?' I said, 'Yes.' He said, 'This black woman came to the Prophet and said, 'I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allaah for me.' The Prophet said (to her), 'If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allaah to cure you.' She said, 'I will remain patient,' and added, 'but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allaah for me that I may not become uncovered.' So he invoked Allaah for her.' [al Bukhaari]

The aforementioned ahadeeth clearly state the stature of some of the women given the glad tidings of Jannah (Paradise). What can the women of today do in order to achieve that pinnacle of success, Paradise?

To do so one MUST learn how these women lived, how they behaved, how they spoke, how they dressed, how they walked, etc. In this issue of al Mu'minah we will try to learn from the black woman mentioned in the last Hadith, insha'Allaah. The black woman is not even known by her name, or her exact whereabouts, rather she is known by her deeds, her faith, her modesty, her chastity, and for her being an inmate of Paradise. And, in the end, that is what matters most. When Abdullah Ibn Abbas radiyAllahu 3anhu said 'this black woman', he did not mean to point at her race or to belittle her in any way. Indeed, but he meant to teach the people around him a great principle of Islam which is mentioned in the verse, [in the meaning of] :

"O people! We have created you from a man and a woman and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know each other, verily the most honorable among you in the sight of Allaah are the most pious."


The same principle is mentioned in the Hadith:

'Allaah does not look at your pictures (shapes) and bodies but He looks at your hearts (and your deeds).' [Muslim]

She (the black woman) was physically sick, yet she sought cure in the du`aa of the Messenger of Allaah, salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam. She knew that the one who cures, ash-Shaafee, is Allaah, and Allaah would answer the du`aa of His Messenger salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam. We conclude from that that du`aa heals all diseases be they of the body or of the heart. When commenting on this hadith, al Haafidh Ibn Hajar said:

'It is inferred from this hadith that the cure of diseases through du`aa and supplication to Allaah (wa al iltijaa' ilaa Allaah) is the most successful way of healing, but this cannot be fulfilled unless two conditions are satisfied: pure intention and sincere trust in the effectiveness of the du`aa, and righteousness and reliance on Allaah.'

The fact that the Prophet salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam said:
'If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise' is a proof for the virtue and reward of patience during sickness. In another hadith, he, salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam, says:

'Whenever a hardship affects the Muslim, he will be forgiven for it even when he is picked by a spike.' [Muslim]

And in another hadith, also narrated by Muslim, Ummu as Sa'ib cursed fever, to which the Prophet salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam told her:
"Do not curse fever, for it takes away the sins like the blaze [fire] takes away the impurities of iron."

The black women preferred the suffering of this world to getting the eternal reward of Paradise! She suffered from sickness, yet her pain and discomfort did not force her to forego pleasing Allaah! And no matter who one is, if one is in the path of Allaah, one will encounter difficulties, because Paradise is rounded by hardships. If things are easy and life is rosy, then one must check oneself; are we following the true Islam? Especially in this western environment it may be difficult for a young woman to wear the dress of modesty, the hijab (even though it is mandatory), not to talk to men and keep away from them (which is also mandatory), except if necessary.

All these may be difficult to achieve for some in the beginning, but when one overcomes herself for the sake of Allaah, then all the other obstacles become baseless. So, how to overcome oneself? By knowing Allaah by His names and attributes; by loving and obeying Allaah and His Messenger, salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam; and then the help of Allaah will come, insha Allaah. She (the black woman) preferred being patient, but could not tolerate that her honor, her modesty and her chastity be damaged or even touched, nor that any part of her body be uncovered, though she had no control over it. Indeed she was a real slave and servant of Allaah; she was a faithful, a believer, a Muslimah, a righteous and pious woman, a truthful woman, and she was loyal to Allaah and His Messenger, salla Allaho 3alayhi wasallam. Not only having these awe-inspiring qualities, she was also a wise and a great woman, as her memorable words rang: '... but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allaah for me that I may not become uncovered.'

If words are to be written in Gold, these words should be written in gold.

Remember this simple equation:
Iman + Suffering + Patience = Paradise

It can also be inferred that the righteous Muslim woman inherently loves to be covered, loves modesty and chastity and hates revealing her body and her beauty. The black woman, radhiya Allaahu `anha could sustain being so sick but could not bear to be uncovered in front of people.

The issue, one must understand, is not of black or white or Arab or non-Arab, rich or poor, noble[with lineage] or not, it is rather of a creed so deeply rooted in the hearts of Muslims like blood flows in the arteries and veins of people. They are those who are totally committed to Islam. Fourteen Hundred years of history showed that Muslim women could sustain hunger, poverty, sickness but could never sustain disobeying Allaah. The wife would tell her husband when leaving for work:

'Fear Allaah in us, for we can sustain hunger and thirst but we cannot sustain Hell fire [i.e. do not acquire unlawful earning].'

Dear sisters, ask yourself what made Khadija radiyAllaahu 3anha be greeted by Allaah Sub7aanahu wa Ta3aala and by Jibreel 3alayhi salaam. Ask yourself what made Khadija be rewarded a Palace in Jannah as no one can imagine. Reading the biography of Khadija and others like her in greatness, one would wish to be at their service; to carry their shoes, wash their clothes, to serve them in any possible way and get du`aa from them. It is sad that we just don't know the great personalities of this Ummah. If only we strive to study the lives of the righteous that preceded us, we would find in them immense guidance for our existence, and if we know them and follow them we could be in the forefront of mankind..

It is said, Imaan (faith) is not by hope, it is rather what occurs in the heart and is proved by the deeds [maa waqa`a fil qalbi wa saddaqahul `amal].' We leave you to think about this and pray to Allaah to make us all among the dwellers of Paradise and to bestow upon us the faith and the patience that lead us to Paradise. And to bless the present Muslim Ummah with many women like the black woman, radiyAllaahu 3anha, who help us focus on the straight path


Acknowledgment: Some of the ideas were expressed in an article written by Haled Abu Sail which appeared in the Da`wah magazine, Iss. 1514, page 32.

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Financial and Moral Responsibilities of the Household

Allah, the Exalted, stated in the Glorious Qur'an:

(Men are 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.) [Al Quran 4:34]

This verse emphasizes that the financial and moral responsibilities of a household is the husband's responsibility. The natural, physical and social qualities of men demand that they take charge of these responsibilities since they are of the stronger gender and physically fit to work being free from the burden of menses, pregnancy, nursing and early childrearing. The man is the "guardian" of his own household - a shepherd of his flock in the idiom mentioned earlier - and he will be asked and accounted about all his responsibilities. Women by their natural constituency are the weaker sex, built biologically, emotionally and socially for their role as child bearer and homemaker. They are more endowed with intuition and emotional intelligence.

This is their natural feminine role that is fully honored and protected. Due to the pains and burdens of menses, pregnancy, delivery, nursing, and continual child-care, women often require various periods of confinement for rest, and they are not required to take on additional financial and vocational responsibilities for the sustenance and maintenance of the household. All these concerns affect the mental state of a woman and will be reflected in her life, attitude and behavior. This is a natural state prescribed in many civilizations, but often with many injustices, as mentioned earlier.

'Abbas Mahmoud al-'Akkad, the well-known Egyptian writer, notes:

"Women have a very special emotional make-up that does not resemble the emotional make-up of man. The companionship of a little infant or child requires a lot of similarity and resemblance between the child's mentality and his companion, the mother. She has to understand what he wants, what he needs and how he thinks and feels. Therefore, to fulfill this requirement, a woman is much more responsive to emotions. This makes it difficult for a woman, when compared with man, to be firm, fierce and determined when needed."

Dr. Alex Liberelle, a Nobel Prize winner, says while illustrating the natural organic differences between man and woman:

"Matters that differentiate between man and woman are not limited to sexual organs, the presence of the womb and pregnancy. These matters are also not limited to the difference of teaching methods of man and woman. In fact, these differences are of basic nature. The tissues of the body in both male and female are different. The chemistry of the bodies is also different in both. Certain glands excrete certain secretions that are only suitable for a specific gender. The woman is completely different from man in terms of the chemical material secreted from the ovary inside the woman's body."

Those who call for complete equality between men and women disregard basic facts and essential differences. Advocates of women's equal rights demand the same type of education to be given to both male and female, and same type of jobs, tasks, responsibilities, positions to be offered, etc. This absurdity neglects woman's nature and essential physical, mental, emotional, and social traits. Every cell of the body of a woman has a feminine quality, nursed by female hormones, just as a man has his distinct qualities and hormones. Are they blind when they wish to be equal? They don't see that each organ of every man and woman are unique in and of themselves, and different from each other. The male and female central nervous systems function in exact precision to help their respective roles in human life.

We must accept natural laws and movements as they are, without attempting to change them to seek unnatural obstruction or interference with them. For their own benefit, both men and women should build upon their natural talents and gifts, and never deviate into imitating those of the other sex, which only leads to abuse of themselves and others. Another factor is that it is a well-established fact that the bone structure and muscles of men are naturally heavier and more powerful than those of women. Men can perform more laborious and manual jobs, while women are not physically able to show comparable physical endurance. This is another proof that men are naturally equipped and qualified to assume the role of leadership over financial and vocational responsibilities of the household in consultation with their best second-halves (their wives), which is also a general rule in Islam, as mentioned previously.

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Why the Hijab for Women?

The Hijab (covering) of women is considered as a worship, protection and preservation for the woman dignity unlike the Media trying to propagate it as a way of oppressing woman and taking away her freedom.

An Act of Obedience

The hijaab is an act of obedience to Allah and to his prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, Allah says in the Qur'an:

'It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His messenger have decreed a matter that they should have an option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, has indeed strayed in a plain error.' (Al Quran 33:36).

Allah also said: 'And tell the believing women to lower their gaze (from looking at forbidden things) and protect their private parts (from illegal sexual acts, etc) and not to show off their adornment except what must (ordinarily) appear thereof, that they should draw their veils over their Juyubihinna.' (Al Quran 24:31).

Juyubihinna: The respected scholars from As-Salaf As-Saleh (righteous predecessors) differed whether the veil cover of the body must include the hands and face or not. Today, respected scholars say that the hands and face must be covered. Other respected scholars say it is preferable for women to cover their whole bodies.

 

The Hijaab is IFFAH (Modesty)

Allah (subhana wa'atala) made the adherence to the hijaab a manifestation for chastity and modesty. Allah says:

'O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) over their bodies (when outdoors). That is most convenient that they should be known and not molested.' (Al Quran 33:59).

In the above Ayaah (verse) there is an evidence that the recognition of the apparent beauty of the woman is harmful to her. When the cause of attraction ends, the restriction is removed. This is illustrated in the case of elderly women who may have lost every aspect of attraction. Allah (swt) made it permissible for them to lay aside their outer garments and expose their faces and hands reminding, however, that is still better for them to keep their modesty.

 

The Hijaab is Tahara (Purity)

Allah (swt) had shown us the hikma (wisdom) behind the legislation of the hijaab:

'And when you ask them (the Prophet's wives) for anything you want, ask them from behind a screen, that is purer for your hearts and their hearts.' (Al Quran 33:53).

The hijaab makes for greater purity for the hearts of believing men and women because it screens against the desire of the heart. Without the hijaab, the heart may or may not desire. That is why the heart is more pure when the sight is blocked (by hijaab) and thus the prevention of fitna (evil actions is very much manifested. The hijaab cuts off the ill thoughts and the greed of the sick hearts:

'Be not soft in speech, lest he in whose heart is a disease (of hypocrisy or evil desire for adultery, etc) should be moved with desire, but speak in an honourable manner.' (Al Quran 33:32)

 

The Hijaab is a Shield

The prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam said: "Allah, Most High, is Heaven, is Ha'yeii (Bashful), Sit'teer (Shielder). He loves Haya' (Bashfulness) and Sitr (Shielding; Covering)." The Prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam also said: "Any woman who takes off her clothes in other than her husband's house (to show off for unlawful purposes), has broken Allah's shield upon her." The Hadeeth demonstrates that depending upon the kind of action committed there will be either reward (if good) or punishment (if bad).

Hijab is preserving the woman's beauty as a precious diamond that no one can touch or even look at because this diamond is so precious to be looked by just anyone.

 

The Hijaab is Taqwah (Righteousness)

Allah (swt) says in the Qur'an:

'O children of Adam! We have bestowed raiment upon you to cover yourselves (screen your private parts, etc) and as an adornment. But the raiment of righteousness, that is better.' (Al Quran 7:26).

The widespread forms of dresses in the world today are mostly for show off and hardly taken as a cover and shield of the woman's body. To the believing women, however the purpose is to safeguard their bodies and cover their private parts as a manifestation of the order of Allah. It is an act of Taqwah (righteousness).

 

The Hijaab is Eeman (Belief or Faith)

Allah (The Almighty) did not address His words about the hijaab except to the believing women, Al-Mo'minat. In many cases in the Qur'an Allah refers to the "the believing women". Aisha (RA), the wife of the prophet sallallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, addressed some women from the tribe of Banu Tameem who came to visit her and had light clothes on them, they were improperly dressed: "If indeed you are believing women, then truly this is not the dress of the believing women, and if you are not believing women, then enjoy it."

 

The Hijaab is Haya' (Bashfulness)

There are two authentic Hadeeth which state: "Each religion has a morality and the morality of Islam is haya." AND "Bashfulness is from belief, and belief is in Al-Jannah (paradise)." The hijaab fits the natural bashfulness which is a part of the nature of women.

 

The Hijaab is Gheerah

The hijab fits the natural feeling of Gheerah, which is intrinsic in the straight man who does not like people to look at his wife, daughters, sisters. Gheerah is a driving emotion that drives the straight man to safeguard women who are related to him from strangers. The straight MUSLIM man has Gheerah for ALL MUSLIM women In response to lust and desire, men look (with desire) at other women while they do not mind that other men do the same to their wives or daughters. The mixing of sexes and absence of hijaab destroys the Gheera in men. Islam considers Gheerah an integral part of faith. The dignity of the wife or daughter or any other Muslim woman must be highly respected and defended.

 

Now to end with, lets have a quick look at what the lack of modesty in today's 'modern'  'secular' societies caused us:

  1. Society corruptions where women bodies are used as an object for commercial uses
  2. High raping rates in secular communities compared to Islamic communities
  3. Sex is practiced in a crazy un-organized way as a game between individuals causing many kids are born without knowing their biological fathers
  4. Dramatically Increase in teenage pregnancy 
  5. High rates of abortion cases

 

Hijab make the woman be looked at as a human being not as an object to satisfy men desires. Hijab is making the woman be judged based on her personality, knowledge, and intelligence not based on her physical appearance alone.

 


Quoted from Sunnah Online with some modifications

 

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On Honor Killings

In some traditional and tribal custom based societies, custom gives the male such a dominant role that if the honor of his womenfolk are perceived, even without proper verification, to have been violated by an action of promiscuity on her part, the man kills her to protect his honor. This situation has been hyped up in the media because some unscrupulous people who continue to do this and others who allow it to continue.

 

The answer to this is simple as the following:

1. To begin with, people are not allowed to take the law into their own hands and punish in this manner based on unverified accusations of promiscuity, as the rules of testimony in Islam are very strict.

2. If such thing happened from the individuals in Islam it is considered as a direct violation of the Islamic law. If the court assesses the case as an outright premeditated murder, after considering all circumstances and receiving proofs conclusively, it becomes punishable by the Islamic law of equity and retribution in cases of premeditated murder.

 

The unfortunate reality is that because secular laws are in place in these countries, and because politicians appease tribal and other leaders for political advantages, these unjust customs are allowed to continue. If the Islamic laws were established and executed, the severe punishments for fornication, adultery, murder, etc, would satisfy the Muslim population; that justice has been done, and this would curtail the sense of vengeance that one needs to have recourse to.

Taken from Women In Islam with slight modifications

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Power to Divorce is with the Husband

In pre-Islamic times divorce was a weapon used against the woman solely in a man's hands; when he wanted to harm the wife he would seek to divorce her and then take her back as he pleased. There were no set rules and the woman had no rights in the matter. So Allah Allah (The Almighty) invalidated this injustice by revealing the verse which says:

(Divorce is two times: then one may retain with goodness (and reasonable terms), or let go with goodness (and reasonable terms) [Al Quran 2:229]

As a way to help preserve the marriage even when some differences occur, a Muslim man following the Sunnah (way)of the Prophet (Peace be upon Him) may only divorce his wife while she is clean from menses wherein he has not had sexual relations with her in that month. Since this requires some waiting period before the pronouncement of divorce, this allows time for any anger to subside or misunderstandings to be cleared up, and gives time to other family members or mediators to help in reconciliation. If they continue on the path towards divorce, then she must wait three menstrual periods. During this time, he may take her back honorably into marriage. This will be counted as the first divorce and return. If the time lapses and he lets her go her way, she will be fully divorced for the first time, and is free to marry another man.

Her first husband may remarry her with a new contract, if they both choose that option. If he does, and he then again divorces her, he may take her back her within the three menstrual periods, and this will be two divorces and returns. After two divorces and returns, if he divorces her a third time this is called the final and separating divorce wherein they are not allowed to remarry unless she waits the specified time of three menstrual cycles and then freely marries a different man with no intention of availing herself to this means in order to be able to lawfully marry her previous husband . If, for any reason, she becomes divorced from that man, only then, and on the condition that no shady pre-arranged dealings were made to circumvent this rule, can she re-marry her first husband. All these measures are designed to help protect the family and sanctity of the marriage bond, and the rights of the man and the woman. The waiting period is to determine that she is free from pregnancy. In case of pregnancy, the woman has to wait until after delivery before she marries a second husband.

Divorce is ultimately allowed in Islam to escape from any harm caused by the irreconcilable differences. It may become necessary in certain cases. There are strict rules about divorce to protect the interests and rights of the parties involved: the husband, wife and children. Some of them have been mentioned above. Divorce might be forbidden in the case where it would not solve the problem and cause undue harm to one of the two marriage partners, without achieving a needed benefit.

Islamic jurisprudence obligates that in order to avoid divorce, solutions should be sought when critical disputes and differences occur between husband and wife; Allah, the Exalted, states in the Glorious Qur'an:

(And if a women fears cruelty or desertion from her husband, there is no sin on both of them if they make terms of peace between themselves; and making peace is better.) [Al Quran 4:128]

Allah, the Exalted, also says:

(If you fear a breach between them appoint two arbitrators, one from his family and the other from her family: if the two of them both wish for correction, Allah will cause their reconciliation. Indeed Allah is Omniscient and Well-Acquainted with all things.) [Al Quran 4:35]

One of the most natural and logical ways to help maintain a successful marriage is to let the man have more control over the divorce process than the woman because it is the man who is financially obliged to take care of his wife, household and family, and has ultimate responsibility of their welfare. Therefore, he must rationally assess the situation, grave consequences, and huge financial and emotional loss that will result from a divorce. The husband will lose the dowry he spent for the marriage, and will have to pay the alimony and child support, as well as any newly acquired expenses from a new marriage on top of that. Thus, with all these considerations, he will not act just out of quick anger, fickleness or passing emotion.

A man is more capable - at least theoretically - of controlling his flitting emotions and personal reactions when upset about the smaller issues in life, especially in terms of disputes with his wife. Divorce should never be a quick reaction for some suffering, misunderstandings, or differences of viewpoints, but only as a last resort and final solution when life becomes dangerously problematic and intolerable, wherein both spouse are afraid that they will not be able to abide by the limits set by Allah and His Prophet about respectable behavior with one another.

Islamic jurisprudence permits the wife to have her marriage nullified upon her request if the husband abuses her physically or verbally. She is also entitled to have the marriage nullified for the following general reasons:

  1. if the husband is impotent and cannot perform his marital duties,

  2. or if the husband for any reason, refuses to have sexual relations with his wife and fulfill her lawful needs,

  3. or is afflicted with a disabling terminal illness after the marriage,

  4. or contracts any type of venereal or reproductive disease that may harm the wife or make her lose her desire to be with her husband. Thus, we see that the woman is given the right to seek separation from her husband for legitimate reasons in many situations, exactly as the man has the right to seek divorce. If a wife reaches the extreme limits of patience and abhors her husband, feeling that life is unbearable, then she has the right to divorce. This form of divorce is called annulment, or "Khula", wherein she pays compensation by returning her dowry or some other property. A competent Muslim judge will look into the individual case if the husband refuses to accept the wife's request and if the request is considered sound and valid, will pass a judgment in favor of the woman.

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What Does Islam Say About "Mothers"?

This is one of the most convincing things about Islam - the treatment of women in general and especially the high position mothers hold in Islam.

Amongst the clearest examples of Islam's honoring women is the great status of the mother in Islam. Islam commands kindness, respect and obedience to parents and specifically emphasizes and gives preference to the mother as shall be shown in this article. Islam raises parents to a status greater than that found in any other religion or ideology.

The command to be good to one's parents begins right from the Qur'an. Allah says: "Worship God and join not any partners with Him; and be kind to your parents..." [Noble Quran 4:36]

The mention of servitude to parents follows immediately after servitude to God. This is repeated throughout the Qur'an.

"Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say, "My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." [Noble Quran 17:23-24]

The great scholar, Abu al-Faraj Ibn Al-Jawzî (d. 1201CE) explained:

To be kind to one's parents is: to obey them when they order you to do something, unless it is something which Allah has forbidden; to give priority to their orders over voluntary acts of worship; to abstain from that which they forbid you to do; to provide for them; to serve them; to approach them with gentle humility and mercy; not to raise your voice in front of them; nor to fix your glance on them; nor to call them by their names; and to be patient with them. (Ibn al-Jawzî, Birr al-Wâlidayn)

The Qur'an emphasizes the great struggles the mother goes through for her child, to highlight the need for one to reciprocate their parents sacrifice for them:

"And We have enjoined on man [to be good] to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and his weaning was over two years. Be thankful to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination."[Noble Quran 31:14]

The renowned exegete, Shaykh Abdur-Rahman As-Sa'di (d. 1956), says about this verse:

{And to your parents} meaning, be kind to your parents, shower on them love, affection and piety, both in words and deeds, treat them with tender humility, provide for them and never harm them verbally nor physically. [...] Then, Allah mentions the reason why we should be kind to our parents, when He says {His mother bore him in travail upon travail}, that is, the mother bore constant suffering; in pain and hardship from the first moment she felt the child moving in her womb to the worst pangs during the time of delivery. And {his weaning is for two years}, that is, during these two years the mother breast-feeds her child and looks after him/her. So after all the years of suffering, hardship, love and care, could we not, at least, compensate our mothers for what they have done for us and pay them back their rights?(Taysîr al-Karîm ar-Rahmân fî Tafsîr al-Kalâm al-Manân)

The Qur'an repeats its mention of the struggles of the mother in yet another passage:

"And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, "My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims." [Noble Quran 46:15]

In connection to this passage, the late Grand Mufti of Pakistan, Shaykh Muhammad Shafy (d. 1976) wrote:

Mother has more rights than father. Although the first part of this verse is a command to do good to both the parents, the second sentence refers only to the hardships suffered by the mother, because they are unavoidable, and no child can be born without them. Every mother has to go through the problems of pregnancy and severe pains of delivery. As against this, it is not necessary for a father that he suffers any hardship in bringing up and educating the child, if he can afford to pay somebody else for these services. This is why the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has given more rights to the mother than anybody else. According to a hadîth he has said,

"Do good to and serve your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, then the near relatives and then those who come after them."[Mazhari]

"And his carrying and his weaning is in thirty months"[Noble Quran 46:15]

This sentence too describes the hardships suffered by the mother for her baby. It points out that even after suffering hardships during pregnancy and the severe labor pains, the mother does not get respite from toils, because the natural food of the infants is in her breasts, and she has to suckle them. (Shafy, Ma'âriful Qur'ân [Eng. trans.], vol. 7, pp. 795-796)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) continually used to remind his followers of the status of the mother and the obligation of being good to one's parents. The following narration is a beautiful example of the noble position of the mother:

A man came to the Prophet and said: O Messenger of Allah! Who from amongst mankind warrants the best companionship from me? He replied: "Your mother." The man asked: Then who? So he replied: "Your mother." The man then asked: Then who? So the Prophet replied again: "Your mother." The man then asked: Then who? So he replied: "Then your father." (Sahîh Bukhârî 5971 and Sahîh Muslim 7/2)

Commenting on this hadith, Shaykh Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimi notes:

This hadith confirms that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gave precedence to kind treatment of one's mother over kind treatment of one's father (Al-Hashimi, The Ideal Muslimah, IIPH 2005, p. 165)

Likewise, the late Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, Shaykh Abdul-Azîz Ibn Bâz (d. 1999) comments on this hadith saying:

So this necessitates that the mother is given three times the like of kindness and good treatment than the father. (Majmoo' Fataawaa wa Maqalat Mutanawwi'ah)

He also writes:

The secret of her importance lies in the tremendous burden and responsibility that is placed upon her, and the difficulties that she has to shoulder - responsibilities and difficulties some of which not even a man bears. This is why from the most important obligations upon a person is to show gratitude to the mother, and kindness and good companionship with her. And in this matter, she is to be given precedence over and above the father.[...] And I have no doubt that my mother - may Allah shower His mercy upon her - had a tremendous effect upon me, in encouraging me to study; and she assisted me in it. May Allah greatly increase her reward and reward her with the best of rewards for what she did for me. (Majmoo' Fatawa wa Maqalat Mutanawwi'ah)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also said in a famous narration:

'Paradise lies at the feet of your mother' [Musnad Ahmad, Sunan An-Nasâ’i, Sunan Ibn Mâjah]

What can be greater evidence of honoring women than this? Islam has effectively placed the ultimate reward for human beings in their devotion to their mothers.

Shaykh Ibrahîm Ibn Sâlih Al-Mahmud writes:

Treat your mother with the best companionship, then your father; because paradise is under the mother's feet. Never disobey your parents, nor make them angry, otherwise you will live a miserable life in this world and the hereafter, and your children will treat you likewise. Ask your parents gently if you need something. Always thank them if they give it to you, and excuse them if they do not, and never insist on a matter if they refuse to give you something. (Al-Mahmoud, How to be kind to your Parents, p.40)

It is related from Talhah ibn Mu'âwiyah as-Salamî who said:

I came to the Prophet and said, "O Messenger of Allah, I want to perform Jihad in the way of Allah. He asked, "Is your mother alive?" I replied, "Yes." The Prophet then said: "Cling to her feet, because paradise is there." (at-Tabarânî).

Shaykh Nidhaam Sakkijihaa comments:

Cling to her feet means to submit yourself to her, be close to her, protect her, serve her because in this is Paradise and with her satisfaction you will enjoy the good blessings of Allah. (Sakkijihaa, Honoring the Parents, p. 52)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) showed us the importance of serving one's parents in the following narration reported by Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud: I asked the Prophet, 'O Messenger of Allah, what is the best deed?' He replied 'Prayer offered on time.' I asked, 'What is next in goodness?' He replied, 'To be dutiful and kind to one's parents.' I further asked, 'What is next in goodness?' He replied, 'Jihad in the Allah's cause. [Sahîh Bukhârî, Sahîh Muslim]

Just as the Prophet said that kindness to one's parents was of the best deeds, he also said that disobedience to them was amongst the major sins:

"The greatest sins are to associate partners in worship with Allah, to be undutiful or unkind to one's parents, to kill a soul forbidden by Allah and to bear false witness." [Sahîh Bukhârî]

Even after the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), the Muslim scholars continued to stress the importance of being dutiful to one's mother. By examining the conduct and teachings of the early Muslim scholars, one may see how the direct recipients of the Islamic message understood the command to be dutiful to one's parents. Their behavior towards their parents shows Muslims how one is to implement the teachings of the Prophet on honoring parents.

Abdullah Ibn Abbâs (d. 687CE), a companions of the Prophet and a great scholar of Islam, considered kind treatment of one's mother to be the best deed for strengthening or rectifying one's relation with God. He said:

I know of no other deed that brings people closer to Allah than kind treatment and respect towards one's mother. [Al-Adab al-Mufrad Bukhârî 1/45]

An even more powerful example is found in the statement of another one of the Prophet's companions, Abdullah Ibn 'Umar (d. 692CE), who was also a great scholar of Islam. It has been related that:

Abdullah Ibn 'Umar saw a Yemeni man performing Tawâf (circumambulating the Ka'bah) while carrying his mother on his back. This man said to Abdullah Ibn 'Umar, "I am like a tame camel for her! I have carried her more than she carried me. Do you think I have paid her back, O Ibn 'Umar?" Abdullah Ibn 'Umar replied, "No, not even one contraction!!" [Al-Adab al-Mufrad Bukhârî 1/62]

SubhânAllah (Glory be to God)! The efforts of a man who carries his mother on his back while performing tawâf cannot even repay his mother for a single contraction that she went through for him. Wise indeed was Ibn 'Umar's reply to this man to show him how massively indebted he was to his mother. This is the tremendous value and prestigious position of mothers in Islam!

Yet another example is found in the following prophecy of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him): There will come to you with reinforcements from Yemen a man called Uways ibn 'Âmir of the clan of Murâd from the tribe of Qaran. He had leprosy but has been cured of it except for a spot the size of a coin. He has a mother and he has always treated her with kindness and respect. If he prays to Allah, Allah will fulfill his wish. If you can ask him to pray for forgiveness for you, then do so. [Sahîh Muslim 16/95]

Indeed, later on 'Umar ibn al-Khattâb met Uways who was exactly as the Prophet described, and upon 'Umar's request Uways prayed for him. Commenting on this narration, Shaykh Muhammad Ali Al-Hashimî writes:

What a high status Uways reached by virtue of his kindness and respect towards his mother, so that the Prophet recommended his Sahabah [companions] to seek him out and ask him to pray for them!

All of this indicates the high status to which Islam has raised the position of motherhood, and given the mother precedence over the father. At the same time, Islam has given importance to both parents, and has enjoined kindness and respect to both. (Al-Hashimi, The Ideal Muslimah, IIPH 2005, p. 167)

So great was the Islamic emphasis on parents, that the Muslims considered a great opportunity to attain paradise in service to one's mother. Iyâs Ibn Mu'âwiyah was a famous Islamic scholar from the second generation of Muslims. When his mother died, Iyâs Ibn Mu'âwiyah cried. He was asked, "Why do you cry?" He said, "I used to have two gates open to Paradise, now one of them is closed."

Zayn al-'Abidîn (d. 713CE) was the great grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and also a renowned scholar. He used to treat his mother with so much kindness and love as seen in the following narration: Once he was asked, 'You are the most kind person to his mother, yet we have never seen you eating with her from a single dish.' He replied, 'I fear that my hand would take the what her eyes have already seen in the dish, and then I would be disobeying her'. [At-Tartushi, Birr al-Wâlidayn]

In other words, he was so careful not to disobey his mother that he would even avoid eating out of the same plate as her; He thought that she would see a morsel and intend to take it, but before she did he might unknowingly take that same morsel and eat it. This is how careful he was to obey his mother in the most minute details.

Another early Islamic scholar, Sa'îd Ibn Al-Musayyib (d. 709CE), was asked about the meaning of the verse "but address them in terms of honor" (17:23). Sa'îd Ibn Al-Musayyib replied:

It means that you should address them as a servant addresses his master.

Muhammad Ibn Sirîn (d. 729CE) used to speak to his mother in a very soft voice, out of respect for her. He was also often seen in the company of his mother and looking after her. (Ibn al-Jawzî, Birr al-Wâlidayn)

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