By Dr. Farhat Hashmi
Islamic scholar, teacher and founder of “Al-Huda International”
Women are an important part of the Muslim Ummah, without whom the noblest of goals could not be achieved. Throughout history, they have played significant roles in shaping the future of the upcoming generation. The woman of today needs to know what she has been carved out for; she also needs to learn more about her role models and understand her true status.
Every creation of Allah has a purpose, and complements one another. Allah (swt) first created Adam (as) and then He created Hawwa to give him company and support. Allah (swt) created her from Adam’s ribs. The fact that she was created from his side signifies that they shared companionship. If she had come from his skull bone, she would have had a dominating role. If she would have come from his foot bone, she would have been subservient. She is neither a subordinate nor a dominating controller. Her role is that of a companion, a friend, a supporter and a helper. The very creation of woman defines her role; yet, in the present era, she demands equality and want to assume the same responsibilities that have been given to a man. This has created conflict in today’s world.
The Role of a Muslim Woman
Being a Muslim means that we agree with Allah’s (swt) creation plan and submit to His will. Men and women were created, so that they may fulfil each other’s needs; hence, a natural attraction was kept between both. A woman holds a lot of importance in a man’s life. She is a supportive partner, helping him in discharging his duties as a vicegerent on earth. The role of a woman can be better understood in the light of the examples of the women discussed below.
Prophet Noah’s (as) Wife
She was indifferent to her husband and was not a helpful partner. They were not like-minded and shared different ideologies and beliefs. Prophet Noah (as) was a very patient man – he preached for 950 years and tried to call his nation towards Islam. However, his own wife did not accept Islam.
Ultimately, Prophet Noah’s (as) nation, including his wife, had to face the wrath of their Creator, and they all perished. This brief narration holds valuable lesson for the women of today. It illumes the disparity between two individuals. It is not necessary for a pious man to get married to a righteous wife or vice versa. In this life, sometimes we get what we desire and sometimes, we do not. Women should have positive expectations from Allah (swt) and should not create an ideal in their minds. They should help and support whoever is destined to be their life partner, even if he or she is not their ideal.
Mostly after marriage, people complain that they and their spouses are not of the same mental frequency. The thinking pattern of a man and a woman can never be the same because of the biological differences that are all part of Allah’s (swt) creation plan. We have to work hand in hand, keeping in mind these differences, just like Prophet Noah (as), who did not part with his wife and continued his relationship with her until Allah (swt) decreed doom for her.
Prophet Moosa’s (as) mother is yet another glaring example of strength, resolve and complete submission to Allah (swt). Allah (swt) commanded her to place her child in a basket and put it in a river. For a mother to abandon her child is one of the most difficult things to do. Think of her emotions. It was Allah (swt), Who placed the inspiration in her heart and protected her child from harm.
Moosa’s sister followed the flowing basket that was carrying her baby brother. This sheds light on the role of a woman as a sister. She loves, cares for and protects her younger siblings. When Moosa (as) grew up, he had to leave for Madiyan, where he was blessed with a place to stay, food to eat and a good companion. Then he was guided back to Egypt after ten years and commissioned to save his nation.
Where does the story of Moosa (as) begin? Who is the foundation of this story? His mother and the sacrifice she made. If she had not done so, the Pharaoh would not have reached to his rightful end.
Women should put their complete trust in Allah (swt) and hope for the best. Always think positive and wait patiently. Allah (swt) is Merciful and always plans the best for His faithful servants.
Maryam – Umm-e-Isa
Prophet Isa’s (as) mother and his maternal grandmother (wife of Imran) signify a woman’s strength, courage and love for Allah (swt). When Maryam was born, her mother presented her for the service of God, which led to the miraculous birth of prophet Isa (as). Maryam was also a single parent. Can we imagine the impact of women as single parents and how they achieved the remarkable goals, without the aid of any male life partner?
Women in the Life of our Beloved Prophet Mohammad (sa)
Amna – Prophet Muhammad’s (sa) mother: She was another excellent example of single parenting. She raised our Prophet (sa) but did not live long and soon passed away.
Khadijah (rtaf): She was the first woman to accept Islam, an amazing partner with a very strong and supportive role. Time, money, self – she devoted all in the way of Allah (swt). She was a very successful business entrepreneur of her time, and she sacrificed all for her husband’s mission. She donated every penny she owned but never once did she complain. Instead, she was always caring and encouraged out beloved Prophet (sa) at each and every step, raising his children well, too. During the years of the siege, the richest business woman of Makkah had to eat dried leaves, but she did not complain.
Fatimah (rtaf): Daughter of the Prophet (sa) and mother of Hasan (rtam) and Hussain (rtam). Her role is that of a loving daughter, wife and a responsible mother. She spent most of her time at home doing house chores and focusing on her children. She bore all hardships with patience and was given the status of the leader of women in Paradise.
Aisha (rtaf): She was a very intelligent woman, excelling in the field of medicine, literature, poetry, mathematics, laws of inheritance and much more. She had a versatile personality, encompassing multi-dimensional knowledge.
Once, someone asked her how she knew so much about medicine? She replied that all the delegations that used to come to the Prophet (sa) from all around the world, talked about the medical cures from their religion, and she gathered her knowledge from them. This proves that a woman should always strive to gain knowledge. It is very important for a woman to be educated, as she bears the responsibility of raising future generations.
There were hundreds of orphans under the care of Aisha (rtaf), and she looked after them diligently. Aisha (rtaf) preached Islam to men and women alike for forty-eight years. She was also an eloquent speaker.
Umm-e-Atiya (rtaf): She was a brave woman, who participated in six battles along with her husband and fought bravely. It requires a lot of courage to leave one’s home for fighting in the battlefield. Umm-e-Atiya (rtaf) proved that women can do anything for the cause of Islam.
Umm-e-Haram bint-e-Milhan (rtaf): Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sa) used to rest in her house often at midday. One day, he sat up from his nap and started to smile. Umm-e-Haram (rtaf) asked him, if he saw something in his dream, and he replied he saw some of the people from his Ummah, crossing the ocean to do Jihad. They appeared like kings wearing shining crowns. She asked the Prophet (sa) to pray for her to be with those men and attain martyrdom. The Prophet (sa) prayed for her. Her grave is still present near the shores of Cyprus, where she fell off her horse and died a martyr, while crossing the ocean with the Muslim army.
We all need to consider the contributions we make to this world. We should analyze what we are planning to give to this humanity. Do we recognize our role? Are we working in any way to perform it in the best possible manner?
Women can contribute immensely, while retaining their natural femininity, without assuming the role of men. They can make their mark and play an important role in the society by fulfilling their duties as a mothers, sisters and wives. If they are helpful, trustworthy companions to their husband, they can move mountains and give worthy and pious individuals to the Muslim Ummah.
Do not waste your time and abilities on self-pity, being bitter all the time and thinking negatively. Allah (swt) has a plan for you. Once we willingly accept the role Allah (swt) has carved out for us, we can work productively achieving our goals and accelerate in the right direction.
Transcribed for Hiba by Umm-e-Ibrahim, Mustafa and Muhammad