Lessons of Hospitality from Umm Maabad (ra)

tent-in-desertHer real name was Atiqah and she was married to a man called Abu Maabad.

Umm Maabad (ra) lived with her husband on the outskirts of Makkah in an inhabited place. Her husband was a shepherd; their livestock was their only source of livelihood. Living in a deserted area, Umm Maabad (ra) and her husband served the many caravans travelling on this route. Little did they know that one day Allah (swt) will reward this unknown couple in a way that many would wish that it was them.

The Prophet (sa) had secretly escaped Makkah with his trustworthy companion Abu Bakr (ra). In order to keep their migration covert, they were to travel a path that was unknown to the Makkans. Leaving the Cave of Thawr, they entered a barren valley. The desert sun was at its peak and the arduous journey had exhausted them. There were no houses or places to rest. Far in the distance, they saw a tent. The Prophet (sa) walked a little further until he reached it.

An elderly but strong woman was sitting outside. The Prophet (sa) asked her if she had any meat or milk that they could buy from her. The woman replied if she had any she would have served them. The Prophet (sa) saw a goat tied next to the tent and inquired about it. The woman replied that the goat was frail. It could not go for grazing, and was therefore, left behind. He asked if it gave any milk. The woman expressed her sadness for the goat’s condition. She said it was too weak to give any milk. The Prophet (sa) asked if he could milk the goat. The woman permitted him to try his luck.

He then caressed the goat, recited Allah’s (swt) Name and touched its udder. A big vessel was brought that instantly got filled with milk. The Prophet (sa), his companions and Umm Maabad (ra) drank the milk to their fill. The Prophet (sa), once again milked the goat, and left the filled vessel with Umm Maabad (ra).

Let us pause here, and talk about the beautiful etiquette of our beloved (sa).

She did not look at what little means she had – the famine, or the goat that gave no milk

First, he sought the woman’s permission to touch her goat. He did not consider it his privilege to go around someone else’s property, and touch their belongings. Many people visit others’ homes, and start touching their belongings without seeking their permission. Second, he was the last one to drink the milk. He said: “The server drinks the last.” He teaches us the etiquette of serving – the one serving eats last. Third, when he was done fulfilling his need, he was courteous enough to think about the family and leave some milk for them. He also teaches us that if we begin any task by reciting the name of Allah (swt), then He will bless it.

May He allow us to remember these etiquette and teachings in our day-to-day matters, Ameen.

Lessons to draw: Why did Allah (swt) honour Umm Maabad (ra) with this rare and one-time opportunity of serving the Prophet (sa)? It was because she and her husband were engaged in serving Allah’s (swt) creation. We read in the Quran that he who wishes to do good, the path to goodness is made easy for him. She did not look at what little means she had – the famine, or the goat that gave no milk. Upon being asked for food, she could have shouted: “Go away! We don’t have anything.” She was rather polite. What is our attitude both in poverty and prosperity?

When you are not in a position to help someone, don’t say: “I can’t do anything,” rather, make an intention to serve. Many people are blessed with wealth and position to help someone- yet, they are unable to serve; the intention is missing. Ask Allah (swt) to allow you to be a source of goodness for others.

Umm Maabad (ra) was poor, lived on a barren desert and her livestock was weak and unproductive. She had all the reasons to nitpick. She could have started the conversation with tales of her sufferings, but she made no mention of it.

She had all the reasons to nitpick. She could have started the conversation with tales of her sufferings, but she made no mention of it.

Recall the story of Prophet Ibrahim (as) when he travelled to Makkah many years later, and met Ismail’s (as) wife for the first time. When asked how she had been doing, the woman unloaded her bag of complaints. That was her first meeting with the stranger, and she began the conversation with complaints. After that (unpleasant) meeting, what advice did Ibrahim (as) give to his son? He instructed Ismail (as) to divorce her.

Let us reflect on our conversations. What impressions do we leave in our first meetings? When someone asks us how we have been doing, do we bombard them with tales of our sorrows or do we respond gracefully?

Umm Maabad (ra) had little, yet she was content. Be patient with your trials. Things never remain the same. While at one point, the goat did not give any milk; later, the same goat continued to give milk for as long as it was with the family. While once, nobody knew who Umm Maabad (ra) was or in what circumstances she lived; later, the Companions (ra) continued to deliver her fixed ration- even after the Prophet (sa) passed away. Don’t look at your deprivations, rather ask Allah (swt) for gratitude and contentment.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

Asma Bint Yazid (ra) and the thirst for Knowledge

knowledgeShe was the daughter of Yazid ibn Sakan and Umm Saad bint Khuzaim. Her husband was Abu Saeed Ansari, and Muath ibn Jabal (ra) was her cousin.

Asma bint Yazid (ra) was another woman blessed with eloquence of speech, though she was not a poetess. Because of her well-articulated and convincing statements, she was given the title of ‘the Woman Orator.’ She was sensitive and at the same time daring. She trained herself for the battles and ardently participated in them.

Desire to Learn

Asma (ra) embraced Islam upon the Dawah call of Musab ibn Umair (ra). After embracing Islam, she wasted no time in seeking knowledge. She was a regular participant of the Prophet’s (sa) gatherings, and never hesitated from asking questions. She believed that asking questions increased knowledge. One day, acting as an attorney of women, she asked the Prophet (sa):

“Today, I have come to plead the case for women. Allah (swt) sent you as His Prophet for all mankind – men and women. We women also have had the privilege and honour of swearing allegiance to Allah (swt) and you. We also follow your teachings and your Sunnah. We women live within our houses and fulfil our duties.  We are absorbed in looking after our husbands and fulfilling their needs. We see to the upbringing of our children and to the daily function of the household. Men, however, have more opportunities for earning rewards from Allah (swt) because they can do things which we, as women, cannot do. Men attend the congregational prayers in the mosques, and special Friday prayers. They participate in the funeral prayer; they also have the privilege of taking part in the Jihad. When they go for Jihad we are left at home to protect their property and look after the family. Are we not also equally deserving of reward from Allah (swt)?”

The Prophet (sa) was impressed by her rational plea and asked the Companions (ra) if they had ever heard a better question than Asma’s (ra).

At other occasions, Asma (ra) asked the Prophet (sa) the proper method of Taharah (purification).

Asma’s (ra) asking question reflects her desire to increase her scale in the hereafter.

Lessons to draw: Asma’s (ra) asking question reflects her desire to increase her scale in the hereafter. She was not content with her obligatory duties of home management. She wanted to do more. Single sisters complain that their parents do not allow them to go out. Married sisters complain that their children and house chores do not allow them to contribute in the way of Allah (swt). We sit at home and waste our potential. We see in the lives of the Sahabiyat that they were married women with children and domestic responsibilities, and yet, excelled in their Deen. They never shied away from additional deeds. They knew how to strike a balance between their obligatory duties and voluntary acts. They attended to their domestic responsibilities first, and then turned their attention to what they could do in the way of Allah (swt). They did this voluntarily out of love and dedication and never considered it as a burden.

We see in the lives of the Sahabiyat that they were married women with children and domestic responsibilities, and yet, excelled in their Deen

Asma’s (ra) one reason for asking question was to gain knowledge herself, and also to share it with those who were less knowledgeable. Many sisters after doing their Islamic education courses, either adopt a “holier than thou attitude” or take a back seat and are only content with their domestic duties and their own worship. They do not reach out to others. If one looks at their own newsfeed, many knowledgeable sisters have the time to share jokes, silly quizzes and their check-ins, but when someone asks them a question they reply with: Allahu Alam (Allah (swt) knows best). What was the purpose of your Islamic education, sister? You have the time to share unimportant updates, but not something of the knowledge that you have?

We see people around us distancing away from the Quran, and we feel no pain for them. Let us follow the footsteps of Asma (ra) and gain knowledge to help other sisters in their learning.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by Mehmood Ahmad Ghazanfar and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

The Nursing Mujahida – Rufaida Ansaria (ra)

whiteflowersAt a time, when Muslim girls have confusions about career choices, Rufaida Ansaria’s story can be an inspiration. She is the first Muslim nurse, who practiced nursing long before Florence Nightingale stepped up.

The Nursing Mujahida

After giving her pledge to the Prophet (sa), Rufaida (ra) chose a noble profession for herself. She dedicated her life to attending to the wounded soldiers and looking after their needs.

This was a period of numerous battles. Every year Muslims were being called for war. Rufaida (ra) felt the need of a nurse to look after the wounded soldiers. She set up her tent right next to the Prophet’s Mosque and equipped it with all the medical equipments and medicines of that time. And this was with the permission of the Prophet (sa).

Lessons to draw: We learn the lesson of not following the crowd or trends. One must analyse their own skills and gauge how they can positively contribute to the society. Many girls choose medicine, but do not practice it. Women do need female doctors at hospitals. Therefore, they should be encouraged to practice medicine even after marriage.

We learn the lesson of not following the crowd or trends. One must analyse their own skills and gauge how they can positively contribute to the society.

Some choose chartered accountancy or business studies, and then the corporate job, late sittings and frequent flying conflicts with their marital life. One should carefully evaluate her situation, interests and resources, and then pick a path. Our goal shouldn’t only be to earn money, but how we can contribute in the well-being of the society.

To pick this career, Rufaida (ra) must have obtained some kind of medical training. She was really confident and skilled in her work. We see in her story that there is no mention of a supervisor. She worked independently. Whenever one chooses a path they must strengthen their skills with all the necessary training required and then perform their task at the level of excellence. We should be confident in what we are doing and also ask Allah (swt) to make us strong, Insha’Allah.

Rufaida (ra) and the Battle of Trench

When the Muslim soldiers left for the Battle of Trench, Rufaida (ra) also went with them. She erected her tent near the soldier camps so that she could attend to the injured on the spot. Being honest to her profession, Rufaida (ra) desired only two things. She wanted to lessen the pain of the wounded and to help them recover quickly. She wanted to see them back on their feet, laughing and smiling, going on with their work.

In the Battle of Trendh, Saad ibn Muath (ra) got wounded by an enemy’s arrow. His nerve had been cut. The Prophet (sa) instructed that his nursing tent be placed in the Prophet’s Mosque so that he himself could attend to his needs. The Prophet (sa) would visit Saad (ra) twice a day. Each time he asked Saad (ra) how he was doing, Saad (ra) replied that all praise belongs to Allah (swt) and he was feeling alright.

Being honest to her profession, Rufaida (ra) desired only two things. She wanted to lessen the pain of the wounded and to help them recover quickly

Frequents visits of the Prophet (sa) to the camp cheered Rufaida (ra). She felt she was especially favoured by Allah (swt) to meet the Messenger of Allah (sa) twice in a day.

Lessons to draw: We see honesty to one’s profession. For what else is the purpose of doctors and nurses than to treat their patients and provide them relief? Whatever path that we choose in life, we shouldn’t solely look at it as a money-minting source. We should be sincere to our profession and to those that we are dealing with.

We also learn patience in pain. Considering the medical advancement of that age, one can imagine the pain that Saad ibn Muath (ra) must have been feeling. Yet each time that the Prophet (sa) asked him how he was doing, he replied with Alhumdulillah. He did not utter a word of complain.

We also learn that in situations of emergencies and in the absence of a male practitioner, a female doctor is allowed to attend to the male patients. Imam an-Nawawi explains: A woman may not touch the body of the person except at the place of necessity (i.e. the place of injury).

May Allah (swt) guide us all to the right path, and help us identify our special skills and how we can put them in good use for the larger benefit of the society, Ameen.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by Mehmood Ahmad Ghazanfar and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

Lessons of Bravery from Hind bint Utbah (ra)

Self-masteryHind bint Utbah was the daughter of Utbah ibn Rabiah and Saffiyah bint Umayyah. She was the wife of Abu Sufyan ibn Harb and the mother of Muawiyah ibn Abu Sufyan.

She was a woman of eloquence, zeal, determination, and self-confidence.

A Visionary Mother

Passing by a town with Muawiyah (ra), when someone commented that her son will become a leader of his tribe, she replied, “Only his tribe’s leader? I want to see him as the leader of the entire world.” Her vision for her child was that of splendour.

Lessons to draw: Do we have any vision for our children? What kind of a vision is that? Is it limited to their worldly success or are we also concerned about their eternal success?

Her Husband’s Companion in War and Peace

Hind was both a heroine and a villainess. As an unbeliever, she was determined to wipe out Islam and its followers. She never shied away from voicing her opinion and regularly counselled her husband on the political front.

When she lost her father, uncle, and brother in the Battle of Badr, she did not shed a tear. She had to plot revenge. She picked an expert javelin thrower who seldom missed his target. On the promise of manumission and gold, Wahshi ibn Harb was to kill Hamza (ra). Assigning the task, Hind did not sit back home. Rather, she was present in the battlefield along with some other women, singing and boasting about their family honour and pride. She kept her eye on Wahshi ibn Harb, and as soon as Hamza (ra) was down, she entered the battlefield to proceed with what she had to do.

Lessons to draw: In a society, where only men are seen as guardians, we see Hind as a powerful woman. She did not find herself weak, though she had lost a father, an uncle, and a brother, all at the same time. Instead of wasting her energy or losing her senses wailing over them, she planned her next course of action. While her determination was for a wrong cause, we see a woman who was focused and could not be deterred. She identified the best person for her task and did not sit back home. She made sure her goal was achieved. How determined are we about our goals? And how well-planned are our goals?

Do we have any vision for our children? What kind of a vision is that? Is it limited to their worldly success or are we also concerned about their eternal success?

Conversion to Islam

Abu Sufyan and Hind accepted Islam after the conquest of Makkah.

When Abu Sufyan accepted Islam, he returned to his tribe and invited them to the True Faith. He confirmed that Muhammad (sa) was indeed the true messenger of Allah (swt), and that it is for their own good to embrace Islam. Hind could not believe her ears. How could her husband support their greatest enemy? She called him a traitor and incited her tribe to kill him. Abu Sufyan firmly informed his people that there was no way that they could fight the Muslims now. Their salvation lied in accepting the Truth.

Now that the Prophet (sa) and his followers were settled in Makkah, Hind watched them closely. She was an intelligent woman and did not believe in hearsay. One day, she approached her husband and requested him to take her to the Prophet (sa). She was so impressed by the focused worship of the Muslims that she had no reasons to believe that this was a false religion.

Abu Sufyan, though pleased with his wife’s decision, was worried about her act in the Battle of Uhud. He did not wish to upset the Prophet (sa) by reminding him that his wife had mutilated his beloved uncle. He advised her to take some women from her tribe and visit the Messenger (sa). Hind gathered some women and requested Uthman ibn Affan (ra) to accompany them.

Hind still felt remorseful for what she had done with Hamza (ra). To hide her shame, she veiled her face so that the Prophet (sa) would not recognize her. After testifying and taking her oath of allegiance, she removed her veil. She was a woman of pride and self-respect; she could not hide her identity. The Prophet (sa) made no mention of what had happened at the Battle of Uhud, and welcomed her into Islam. Hind said: “By Allah (swt), there was no house on earth that I wanted to destroy more than your house. Now, there is no house on earth that I so dearly wish to honour and raise in glory than yours.”

The lady who used to sing fierce poetry for the Prophet’s (sa) opponents then recited Quranic verses to keep the morale of Muslim soldiers high

The once vicious enemies of Islam, Abu Sufyan and Hind, then worked for the promotion of Allah’s (swt) religion. The lady who used to sing fierce poetry for the Prophet’s (sa) opponents then recited Quranic verses to keep the morale of Muslim soldiers high. Such is the fruit of guidance!

Lessons to draw: We see how we can channel our energy towards positive endeavours.

Adapted from the book: Hayat-e-Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi on Seerat-e-Sahabiyat

Legendary Muslimah Success Secrets (Unveiled) – Umm Fadl (ra)

flowerinsnowThe daughter of Harith ibn Hazan and Hind bint Awf, Umm Fadl was the wife of the Prophet’s (sa) uncle Abbas ibn Abdul Muttalib (ra). Her sisters Maimoona, Salma and Asma bint Umays (ra) were all married in the Prophet’s (sa) family as well.

Today, when raising one or two children has become troublesome for some women, Umm Fadl birthed seven. Her motherhood skills can be best assessed by looking at her children. Her son Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra) is one of the greatest scholars of Islam, an authentic Hadeeth narrator, and also the Quran translator. Her son Ubaidullah was a jurist. She is also the foster mother of the Prophet’s grandson Hasan (ra).

Her real name was Lubaba bint Harith, but the birth of her first son Fadl gave her the title of Umm Fadl. She is also the narrator of approximately thirty Ahadeeth.

She did not wait for others to tell her what she must do. She did not worry about what people are going to say.

The Lady of Goodness

Umm Fadl (ra) was the leader of the women of her tribe. She enjoyed great status and honour. When she heard the message of Islam, she readily accepted it. By this virtue, she became the second woman after Khadijah (ra), who embraced Islam. This shows the goodness of her character. She did not wait for others to tell her what she must do. She did not worry about what people are going to say. She followed her heart and accepted the path that Allah (swt) called her towards.

Lessons to draw:

The forerunners are distinctively mentioned in the Quran. They are those who rush to do the good deeds. They are few in number and appear strange to others. But, they do not worry about the people. They are only concerned with pleasing Allah (swt). We too should let go of our procrastination and laziness and hasten towards the path of goodness.

Strength, Courage and Physical Energy

Conversion to Islam brought along many hardships upon her and her family. They belonged to the weakest and the most helpless segment of their society. Gifted by Allah (swt) in valour and physical energy, Umm Fadl used these characteristics for the service of Islam and the defence of the Prophet (sa). She would stand up against Abu Lahb and his wife Umm Jameel, the ferocious enemies of the Prophet (sa).

We can begin by helping out our domestic helps and giving them a direction in life.

Her servant Abu Rafeh narrates an incident after the conquest of Badr. He was sitting in his den making bowls, when Abu Lahb came strolling. Someone shouted, “Abu Sufyan,” and Abu Lahb signalled him to come and share the news of Badr. Abu Sufyan began by telling, how the Muslims overcame them. He shared how horsemen dressed in white would not let anything stand in their way. Hearing this, Abu Rafeh jumped and screamed in joy, “By Allah! They were angels.” Abu Lahb slapped him violently. He got on top of him and started beating. Abu Rafeh, a feeble man, could not fight back. Umm Fadl, who was also sitting in the den, got up and hit Abu Lahb on the head. She said, “Did you consider him weak? Did you attack him because his owner is not here?” Badly bruised and humiliated, Abu Lahb left for home.

Lessons to draw:

We learn that women should reflect on what skills and traits Allah (swt) has blessed them with, and how best they can use them for the sake of Allah (swt). We also learn one must stand up and defend the weak and the oppressed. We can begin by helping out our domestic helps and giving them a direction in life, Insha‘Allah.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)

Life Lessons from Asma Bint Abu Bakr (ra) – 2

cherryclossomWe continue with some more characteristics of Asma bint Abu Bakr (ra).

Steadfastness in Religion

When Asma (ra) migrated to Madinah, her mother Qutalyah bint Abdul Uzza came for a visit bringing along some gifts. Her mother being an idolatress, Asma (ra) did not admit her into the house or accept her gifts, until she asked the Prophet (sa) about relations with the idolaters. The Prophet (sa) told her to welcome her mother and accept her gifts.

It was her Taqwa that made her rank Allah (swt) and His commandments above everything else. If she was unclear about a certain matter, she did not proceed on her own, until she received clarification regarding it. “And whosoever honours the Symbols of Allah, then it is truly from the piety of the heart.” (Al-Hajj 22:32)

Lessons to draw: Seek knowledge of the religion and protect yourself and your families from committing that, which might be displeasing to Allah (swt). Be conscious of your earning, your food, your clothing, and the kind of people you keep company with. Put Allah (swt) before everything else.

Perseverance and Generosity

Life for Asma (ra) wasn’t easy. Her husband Zubair (ra) had neither money nor property. Asma (ra) would do house chores as well as look after her husband’s mare. Tending to the mare was the most difficult of all jobs. When she complained to her father, he advised her to be patient.

It was her Taqwa that made her rank Allah (swt) and His commandments above everything else.

When Allah (swt) improved their financial condition, instead of increasing her living status, Asma (ra) increased her charity. She was a woman not blinded by the attractions of this world. She was focused on the hereafter and that which pleased Allah (swt). Advising her children of benevolence, she said: “Spend, give Sadaqah and charity and do not wait for abundance.”

Lessons to draw: Many women complain of not having enough to give. There are many simple ways of contributing in the way of Allah (swt), and it does not always involve money. One can contribute in the way of Allah (swt) by giving their time, talent, special skills or even provision. Prepare an extra meal one day and feed an orphan child. Volunteer to teach Quran, a Dua or even academic studies to one of your domestic help’s children.

Haya and Modesty

One day, Asma (ra) was walking home with a load of dates on her head. Upon seeing her, the Prophet (sa) signalled his camel to sit down, so that Asma (ra) could climb. But Asma (ra) refused and continued to walk. There were other men with Prophet (sa), and Asma (ra) did not find it appropriate to be the only woman in a group of men.

Once, her son Al-Mundhir sent her an elegant dress from Iraq, but Asma (ra) refused to take it. Her son, knowing his mother, contested that it was not of a transparent material. Asma (ra) replied that it was not, but it was of tight-fitting and revealed the contours of the body.

Lessons to draw: We might spend a fortune on looking elegant and distinguished, but does our clothing cover all the parameters of Haya? Let us dress up to please Allah (swt).

When Allah (swt) improved their financial condition, instead of increasing her living status, Asma (ra) increased her charity.

Motherhood

Asma (ra) instilled in her children religious values and instructed them about always standing up for the truth. She transferred her love for charity in them and raised them upon best characteristics. After her husband divorced her, Asma (ra) started living with her son Abdullah ibn Az-Zubair (ra). Raised by his mother, Abdullah (ra) grew up to be prudent, intellectual and a master archer.

Lessons to draw: Connect your children to Allah (swt), because when the hearts are empty, they would take in anything that Shaytan leads them to. Teach the Seerah of the Prophet (sa) and his Duas. Tell them about Shirk, and teach not to depend on anyone or fear anyone besides Allah (swt).

Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat.