Mothers of Believers

Jan 11 - Mothers of Believers

For most it is a much-awaited, exciting development; for others, an unexpected, pleasant surprise; for some, a disconcerting event that takes time to accept. Whatever the case, being in the family way is a significant turn of events. It is the onset of one of the greatest responsibilities Allah (swt) can entrust us with – that of bearing and raising a person according to His (swt) pleasure.

Most Muslim mothers are not fortunate enough to realize what a pivotal task they have on their hands. Modern research has revealed that everything a mother-to-be feels, thinks about and believes in affects her baby, who starts hearing and recognizing her voice from the fourth month of pregnancy. Pregnant women are thus advised to stay positive, calm and happy during the gestation period for the healthy development of the baby.

So what can you, as an expectant mother, do in order to bear a pious Muslim baby with a sound heart: a baby connected to Allah (swt) from pre-birth?

Quran recitation

If your own Tajweed is commendable, recite the entire Quran aloud throughout your pregnancy (especially after the fourth month). If that’s not possible, play the recitation of a Qari on a cassette-player near your belly, listening to it attentively yourself. This will bless both you and your baby, acquainting the latter with Allah’s (swt) words as soon as it begins to hear it and tranquilizing you in your expectant state.

Positive thinking

Satan’s ultimate aim is to make us ungrateful for Allah’s (swt) blessings. During pregnancy, a woman has many fears and apprehensions. Coupled with physical sickness, she is prone to depression and negative thinking. That’s why our Prophet (saw) said: “A woman who dies during pregnancy is a martyr.” (Abu Dawood) Count your blessings, reminding yourself that you have been blessed by Allah (swt).

Dhikrof Allah (swt)

Engage in Dhikr as much as possible. Capitalize on your nine-month state of uninterrupted purity by offering supererogatory prayers besides obligatory prayers. If Ramadan falls during pregnancy, try fasting before giving up without an effort. Fasting is worship; it can be good for both you and your baby. Furthermore, join a Quran class to be engaged in Allah’s (swt) remembrance regularly.

The best nutrition

Breastfeeding is difficult to master, but when learned it is the best Sadaqah you can give your baby. While nursing, try to be with ablution, read the Quran or a beneficial book, do Dhikr, or listen to Quranic recitation. Just relax and don’t fret about the pending household chores or the weight that you have not shed off.

Shun useless activities

Whether during pregnancy or the initial nursing months, avoid pastimes such as gossiping, frequenting markets, watching dramas and films, reading fiction or listening to music. This time, when your baby is physically bound to you, will never return. Use it to build his/her foundation of piety.

Practice Sunnahs

When your toddler starts to speak her first words and eat a varied diet, inculcate Sunnahs into daily actions: always feed her with the right hand and only when she’s sitting; say ‘Bismillah’, ‘Alhumdulillah’, and all Duas aloud (such as on leaving the house or using the washroom). Put her clothes or shoes on right side first.

Tranquil environment

While your infant lies playing, put up Allah’s (swt) names in the room or on a mobile overhead. Play Quranic recitation nearby; do this right up to the toddler stage. A home sans television is the ideal home for a Muslim baby; realistically speaking, however, when the television is on, keep your baby in some other room of the house, where she can play undisturbed. Avoid taking your baby to noisy gatherings.

Intellectual training

Babies deserve better stimuli for intellectual development than cartoons and musical nursery rhymes. Talk to them about Allah (swt), visit the park or seaside and give them mind-stimulating games that use numbers, alphabets and illustrations. Provide age-appropriate building blocks, Lego, markers, crayons, paper and computers. Seek the company of righteous people, frequenting circles of religious study and intellectual discussion, taking your baby with you.

If we work hard on our babies today, we can expect our Ummah to be righteous tomorrow.

Hafsa Bint Umar (rta)


Name: Hafsa

Father: Umar Ibn al Khattab

Mother: Zainab Bint Maizun

Tribe: Banu Adi

Clan: Qurtafish

Hafsa (rta) was her father’s daughter. Aisha (rta) said: “Constancy was Umar’s over whelming characteristic, and the same was true about Hafsa.” She wasn’t afraid to speak her mind, and she did so with knowledge and conviction, not merely for the sake of being heard.

Once, the Prophet (sa) said about the Companions of Badar and Hudaybiya: “I can hope, God willing, they will not enter Hell.” Hafsa (rta) retorted: “But they might, Ya Rasool Allah,” and she quoted from the Quran, “There is not one of you but will pass over it (Hell): this is with your Lord; a Decree which must be accomplished.” (Maryam 19:71) The Prophet (sa) could not help smiling and was pleased at her sharp intellect. He replied with the verse: “Then We shall save those who used to fear Allah and were dutiful to Him. And We shall leave the Zalimun (polytheists and wrongdoers) therein (humbled) to their knees (in Hell).” (Maryam 19:72) (Ahmad)

Hafsa (rta) was first married to Khunais Ibn Hudhaifah, but was widowed at only eighteen. Umar (rta) asked both Abu Bakr (rta) and Uthman (rta) to marry her, but they both declined. When Umar (rta) went to the Prophet (sa) to complain about their behaviour, the Prophet (sa) smiled and said: “Hafsa will marry one better than Uthman and Uthman will marry one better than Hafsa.” Umar (rta) was delighted, when he realized that the Prophet (sa) was asking for her hand in marriage! (Bukhari)

Hafsa (rta) became the Prophet’s (sa) fourth wife. Sawda (rta) welcomed her with open arms, but Aisha (rta) was jealous at first. Like herself, Hafsa (rta) was an intelligent, educated and beautiful woman, who eagerly learned from the Prophet (sa). In the course of time, however, Hafsa (rta) and Aisha (rta) became close friends.

Hafsa (rta) liked to discuss religious issues with her husband, who allowed her to say what she thought. One day, while speaking to Hafsa’s mother, Umar (rta) said: “I think I shall do so and so.” She replied: “But it would be better, if you did such and such.” “Are you arguing with me, woman?” said Umar (rta), who did not expect his wives to talk back to him. “Why not?” she answered. “Your daughter keeps arguing with the Messenger of Allah.” Umar (rta) immediately put on his cloak and went to his daughter’s house. “Is it true that you argue with the Messenger of Allah?” he asked. “Indeed, I do,” she replied. Umar (rta) was just about to chastise her for what he considered were bad manners, when the Prophet (sa) came into the room and would not allow it.

Hafsa’s (rta) sharp tongue never stooped down to being insolent with her husband. On one occasion, when she did not quite control herself and told the Prophet’s (sa) private matter to Aisha (rta), a direct reprimand came from Allah (swt) in the Quran – known as the incidence of Tehreem. Such was the responsibility on her shoulders, and she fulfilled it in spite of her quick temperament.

We tend to think that the Ummahat Al-Mumineen were other than human or docile little women, who had no will or mind of their own. Hafsa’s (rta) personality comes across as very wilful and strong. Yet, we see, how she took a grip of herself and controlled her innate nature, in order to please Allah (swt) and her husband. A valuable lesson for all women and, indeed, men as well – if Hafsa (rta), Umar’s (rta) daughter, could tame her ego and temper just like her father did, why can’t we?

Hafsa (rta) memorized the entire Quran by heart. She prayed at night and fasted during day. This piety must have helped her in her Tazkiya (purification of the heart) and brought out the best in her.

Hafsa (rta) lived with the Prophet (sa) in Madinah for eight years and lived on for another thirty four years after his death. She witnessed with joy the victories and expansion of Islam under her father’s guidance, and with sorrow the troubles that beset the Muslim community after the murder of Uthman (rta). She died at the age of sixty-three.

Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta)

Ummul-MumineenName: Zaynab Bint Jahash

Kunniyat: Ummul-Hakam

Father: Jahash Bin Raab

Mother: Umayma Bint Abdul-Muttalib

Clan: Banu Hashim

Family: Asad Bin Khuzaymah

Tribe: Quraish

Birth: 590 CE

Death: 20 AH – 643 CE

If any woman has had to face controversy, scandal, slander and all manners of finger pointing, it is Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta). And if any woman has emerged from it all not only unscathed but with flying colours, it is Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta). And if any woman was chosen by Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sa) to be an agent of change in eradicating deep rooted customs of Jahiliyah and launching an Islamic social fabric, it is Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta).

Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta) was the Prophet’s (sa) first cousin, her mother Umayma being the daughter of Abdul-Muttalib. She came from one of the noblest families of the Quraish, and everyone expected her eventually to marry a man with the same high social status. However, the Prophet (sa) himself arranged her marriage to Zaid Bin Harith (rta), whose background was very different from Zaynab (rta).

Zaid (rta) was taken prisoner as a child during an inter-tribal war before Islam. He was sold as a slave to a nephew of Khadijah (rta), who gave Zaid (rta) to her as a gift. In turn, Khadijah (rta) gave him to the Prophet (sa), who later granted Zaid (rta) his freedom and adopted him as his own son.

When the Prophet (sa) asked for her hand on behalf of Zaid (rta), Zaynab (rta) and her family were shocked at the idea of her marrying a man, who for them was only a freed slave. The Prophet (sa) thought they would make a good couple, and that their marriage would demonstrate that it was not their ancestors but their standing in the sight of Allah (swt) that mattered.

A lesson we seem to have forgotten. Today, we are as socially stratified as the Arabs were in the days of Jahiliyah. Cross-social and cross-cultural marriages are frowned upon and just not acceptable. How often do we hear of a Sindhi marrying a Pathan?

Zaynab (rta) and Zaid (rta) got married when this Ayah was revealed in the Quran: “It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any opinion in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed into a plain error.” (Al-Ahzab 33:36)

The marriage, however, was not a success. Although both Zaynab (rta) and Zaid (rta) were the best of people, who loved Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa), they were very different and could not overcome their incompatibility.

Then Allah (swt) ordained His Messenger (sa) the task of eradicating a deep rooted social tradition – the adoption of children. An adopted child was considered exactly like a real son or daughter in rights and sanctities. This tradition affronts the basic principles of Islam; especially those concerning marriage, divorce and inheritance and some other cases.

“Call them (adopted sons) by (the names of) their fathers: that is more just with Allah.” (Al-Ahzab 33:5)

“Muhammad (sa) is not the father of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last (end) of the Prophets.” (Al-Ahzab 33:40)

Allah (swt) bid the Prophet (sa) to marry his cousin Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta), who was an ex-wife to Zaid (rta) – his adopted son.

“So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage, so that there may be no difficulty to the believers in respect of (the marriage of) the wives of their adopted sons when the latter have no desire to keep them (i.e. they have divorced them).” (Al-Ahzab 33:37)

So he married the divorcee of his ‘adopted’ son to show that adoption does not really make the adopted child a real son and also to show that divorcees have a right to remarry. Tongues of the Kuffar to this day are dipped in venom, when they slander the Prophet (sa) regarding his marriage to Zaynab (rta). They stoop to the basest level of accusations. So we can well imagine how the hypocrites must have spread false propaganda at that time.

The marriage of Zaynab (rta) and the Prophet (sa) not only withstood all the hoopla but flourished in spite of it. Zaynab (rta) was fond of pointing out that her marriage had been arranged by Allah (swt) Himself!

But that did not mean she thought she was a ‘chosen one’ and became complacent about Allah (swt) or her actions. She was constantly immersed in worship.

It is related by Anas Ibn Malik (rta) that once the Prophet (sa) entered the mosque and found a rope hanging between two pillars, and so he said: “What is this?” He was told: “It is for Zaynab (rta). She prays, and when she loses concentration or feels tired, she holds onto it.” At this time, the Prophet said: “Untie it. Pray as long as you feel fresh, but when you lose concentration or become tired, you should stop.”

She was a giving woman. The Prophet (sa) said of her to his other wives: “She is the most generous among you.” It has been related by Aisha (rta) that the Prophet (sa) once said to his wives: “The one who has the longest hands among you will meet me again the soonest.” Aisha (rta) added: “They used to measure each other’s hands to see whose was longest, and it was the hand of Zaynab (rta) that was the longest, because she used to work by hand (tanning leather) and give away (what she earned) in charity.”

Zaynab (rta) was with the Prophet (sa) for six years, and lived for another nine years after his death, thus fulfilling the Prophet’s (sa) indication that she would be the first of his wives to die after him.

If ever a woman gave Ayesha (rta) cause for insecurity, it was Zaynab Bint Jahash (rta). There was a healthy rivalry between Zaynab (rta) and Ayesha (rta). However, Ayesha (rta) said of Zaynab (rta): “I have never seen a woman so pure as Zaynab, so God-fearing, so truthful, so attentive to family ties, so generous, so self-sacrificing in everyday life, so charitable and thus so close to Allah, the Exalted.”

The lessons we learn from this remarkable woman and her life are particularly relevant in today’s soap opera culture and hunger for scandals. How can we deal with personal trials with poise? Look at Zaynab (rta). No need to get hysterical at every finger raised in your direction. How do we manage a divorce with dignity? Look at Zaynab (rta). We don’t have to accuse either party of some major fault and get in a mud slinging match. How do we adjust to a major lifestyle change? Look at Zaynab (rta). Know your direction and stay true to your faith. How do we not get on cloud nine when Allah the Supreme honours us with His Glorious Limelight? Look at Zaynab (rta). Stay humble before Allah (swt) and steadfast in your devotion to Him.

Umm Salamah (rta)

By Uzma Jawed

An exemplary and prominent figure, who has been conspicuous in our rich Islamic history, is one of the Ummahat Al-Mumineen, the ‘Mothers of the Faithful.’ Her name was Umm Salamah (rta). A detailed biographical sketch by Dr. Qadri mentioned that her real name was Hind. She was first married to her cousin Abdullah Bin Abdul Asad Makhzumi, who was better known as Abu Salamah (rta). They were among the first ones to embrace Islam.

They were also among those, who migrated to Abyssinia (Ethiopia), where they had their first son Salamah (rta). After returning to Makkah, they migrated to Madinah. She was the first Muslim woman to do so. After reaching Madinah, Umm Salamah (rta) had another son and two daughters. In 4 A.H., Abu Salamah (rta) was seriously wounded in the battle of Uhud, and she became a widow while pregnant with her second daughter.

After the Iddat, Abu Bakr (rta) proposed to her, but she declined. After that, the Prophet (sa), who was well aware of Umm Salamah’s (rta) sense of honour and self-respect, proposed to her. According to “Great Women in Islam” by Mahmood Ghadanfar, Umm Salamah (rta) did not decline the offer but replied with reservations. She told him that she was very sensitive, of old age and had several children. The Prophet (sa) answered that they would pray to Allah (swt) to relieve her from this extreme sensitivity. As far as age was concerned, he told her that he was an elderly man himself. Moreover, regarding the children, he wished to be their guardian. Therefore, Umm Salamah (rta) accepted the proposal and was wedded to Prophet Muhammad (sa).

A Muslim woman can succeed the most, if she follows the best women in the best generation, which were nurtured in the best house – that of the Prophet (sa). So let us learn from Umm Salamah (rta), who was known for her patience, perseverance, valor, generosity, wisdom, and intelligence.

Patience & Perseverance

When Umm Salamah (rta) was about to migrate from Makkah to Madinah with Abu Salamah (rta) and their son, her family intercepted them, refusing to let their daughter accompany him. The members of her husband’s clan said to Umm Salamah’s (rta) family that if that were the case, then their son Salamah would remain with his father. Thus, all three of them underwent the pain of living separately. Yet, in the face of such harassment, Umm Salamah (rta) persevered and kept to the right path she had chosen.


Upon the separation from her husband and son, Umm Salamah (rta) would every day go on a hillock longing and praying for them. Eventually, her prayers were answered and a kindhearted man from her clan interceded on her behalf and helped reunite her with them with her family’s permission. She traveled to Madinah alone, as nobody from her family was willing to accompany her. Usman Ibn Talhah saw her traveling alone with a baby and decided to help her reach her destination safely. Her complete faith and trust in Allah (swt) did not deter her from the long and hazardous journey. And because of her courage and absolute trust in Allah (swt) she was able to overcome all odds and complete the journey.


Umm Salamah (rta) was well known for her generosity. She never sent a beggar or needy person empty-handed. There was an incident, when a few destitutes came and begged persistently for alms. Umm Hasan, who was with Umm Salamah (rta) at that time, reprimanded them. Umm Salamah (rta) stopped her saying: “We were not ordered to do that. Do not let them go empty-handed. Even if there is nothing, give them at least a date.”


Umm Salamah (rta) was very astute and had a unique understanding of human psychology. After the truce of Hudaybiyah, the Prophet (sa) ordered his Companions to sacrifice their animals and shave their heads. But they all seemed reluctant to obey the command of the Prophet (sa), as the terms of the treaty did not favour Muslims, and this angered the Prophet (sa). When Umm Salamah (rta) heard of this, she suggested to the Prophet (sa) to offer the rituals himself first, and then the others would follow. She proved to be right.


In ‘Biography of the Women Companions of the Holy Prophet (sa),’ Maulana Nadvi says: “Regarding intellectual qualities and scholarship, no one excelled Umm Salamah (rta) and Aisha (rta). Both the great ladies were a store house of the traditions of the Holy Prophet (sa) as vouchsafed by Mahmud son of Labeed in Tabeqat Ibn-Sa’ad.”

Umm Salamah (rta) preserved many prophetic traditions. She enhanced her knowledge by thoroughly inquiring about every facet of religion and then spreading that knowledge. Abu Hurairah (rta) and Abdullah Ibn Abbbas (rta), despite their great knowledge of Islam, would consult with Umm Salamah (rta) in many finer points of the Shariah. In the science of Hadeeth, she narrated approximately 378 traditions of the Prophet (sa).

Moreover, she was well versed in jurisprudence. The great scholar Allam Ibn Qayyim says that from her rulings on various issues, one whole book of jurisprudence can be compiled. In addition, Umm Salamah (rta) topped the list of the Companions, whose judgments on points of law were regarded as valid.

Umm Salamah (rta) was an outstanding Muslim woman. Her exemplary lifestyle is something each one of us can learn from. If we try to emulate her in every aspect of our lives starting from matters of religion and submission to Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa) to our innate self (including our conduct and character), we could truly be on the way to success in this world as well as the Hereafter.