Umm Haram Bint Milhan (ra) – A Forerunner

First flowers of SpringGlad tiding for the Forerunners

When Allah (swt) commands us to hasten towards all that is good (Al-Baqarah 2:148), it is so that we don’t miss out on the rewards that the forerunners receive.

In a Hadeeth, narrated by Anas Ibn Malik (ra), it appears that one day the Prophet (sa) entered the house of Umm Haram (ra). She provided him with food and started grooming his head. The Prophet (sa) fell asleep and when he woke up he was smiling. Umm Haram asked what made him smile. He replied, “Some people of my Ummah were shown to me (in my dream) fighting for the sake of Allah (swt), sailing in the middle of the seas like kings on their thrones.” Umm Haram (ra), not allowing herself to miss the chance, immediately requested the Prophet (sa) to pray to Allah (swt) to make her one of them. The Prophet (sa) prayed to Allah (swt), and then again went back to sleep. When he woke up, he was again smiling. Umm Haram (ra) again asked, what made him smile. He said, “Some people of my Ummah were shown to me (in my dream) fighting for the sake of Allah (swt).” He said the same as he had said before. Umm Haram (ra) again requested him to pray to Allah (swt) to make her one of them. He replied, “You will be among the first one.”

She had intended to participate in Jihad and when the time came she went with the army. She did not procrastinate or change her mind.

The dream of the Prophet (sa) came true. During the Caliphate of Muawiya Ibn Abu Sufyan, Umm Haram (ra) travelled with the Muslim army by way of the sea. When their ship reached Cyprus, Umm Haram (ra) got off the ship and was getting on her riding animal that she fell down and died of a serious neck injury. She was buried where she died. The people of Cyprus refer to her grave as ‘the grave of the goodly woman.’

Lessons to draw: Umm Haram (ra) desired martyrdom and she was so sincere in her intention that Allah (swt) granted her what she wished for. She had intended to participate in Jihad and when the time came she went with the army. She did not procrastinate or change her mind. She was true to her intention.

“Verily, Allah, With Him (Alone) is the knowledge of the Hour, He sends down the rain, and knows that which is in the wombs. No person knows what he will earn tomorrow, and no person knows in what land he will die. Verily, Allah is All-Knower, All-Aware (of things).” (Luqman 31:34)

A life that began with Shahadah (testimony of faith) ended upon faith. What about our lives? How will our end be?

A life that began with Shahadah (testimony of faith) ended upon faith. What about our lives? How will our end be? Do we make half-hearted intentions or are we really committed to what we seek?

Umm Haram (ra), even after passing away, is a continuous caller to Islam. Whoever passes by her grave asks about her. He is then informed that she was one of the female companions of Prophet Muhammad (sa). What does our being remind people? Does it connect them to Allah (swt)?

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

Lessons of righteousness from Umm Haram Bint Milhan

spring-flowersUmm Haram Bint Milhan (ra) was the sister of Umm Sulaym (ra), and was married to one of the Prophet’s (sa) close companions Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra). Both the husband and wife were one of the early embracers of Islam.

Like her sister, Umm Haram (ra) dearly loved Allah (swt). She would fast regularly, recite the Quran, and worship and remember Allah (swt) abundantly. This family was really blessed by the mercy of Allah (swt).

Enthusiasm to seek knowledge

When Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra) returned from the Pledge of Aqabah, Umm Haram (ra) inquired about his meeting with the Prophet (sa) and enthusiastically listened to the details. She wanted to know which of the Ansar (helpers of Madinah) were chosen as the representatives of Islam, and what their responsibilities were.

When the Prophet (sa) migrated to Madinah, Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra) actively participated in all the battles. He would be in the front, fighting the enemy and defending the Prophet (sa) against their attacks. When the Prophet (sa) would not be participating in a battle then Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra) would attend his gatherings to learn religion. He would then share the knowledge with his wife Umm Haram (ra).

The couple knew that seeking knowledge is mandatory for both Muslim men and women. Umm Haram (ra), therefore, looked forward to learning about the religion. They were so committed to the Book of Allah (swt), and the teachings of the Prophet (sa) that both Ubadah (ra) and Umm Haram (ra) attained the honour of being Hadeeth narrators. Umm Haram (ra) is the narrator of five Prophetic Traditions which were later narrated by her husband, her nephew Anas (ra), and Ata Ibn Yasaar (ra).

They were so committed to the Book of Allah (swt), and the teachings of the Prophet (sa) that both Ubadah (ra) and Umm Haram (ra) attained the honour of being Hadeeth narrators

Lessons to draw: We see that this family stepped forward in all the good deeds: they were among the early embracers of Islam, they defended the Prophet (sa), they attended religious gatherings, and transferred knowledge to others. They did not wait for others to take the lead, but rather rushed to get their name written in all kinds of good deeds. It teaches us to hasten towards good deeds. And not always wait for us to take the first step.

Standing up for the righteous

When the Prophet (sa) returned to Allah (swt), Ubadah Ibn Saamit (ra) and his wife Umm Haram (ra) grieved his loss. They could no longer meet him. They missed the days that they had spent under his leadership and care. They missed their regular gatherings of knowledge with the Prophet (sa).

Disagreements between the Muslims emerged soon after the Prophet’s (sa) death. When Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra) was chosen as the new leader for the Muslims, many tribes protested his appointment. Umm Haram (ra) and her husband found Abu Bakr’s (ra) conduct in alignment to the Prophet’s (sa) teaching. They did not find anything displeasing in him. Therefore, they pledged their allegiance to him and supported him against those who revolted.

Do we stand with the truth or do we blindly support injustice because of our personal relationship with the unjust?

Lessons to draw: Standing up with the truth requires strength and courage. How strong are we? Do we stand with the truth or do we blindly support injustice because of our personal relationship with the unjust?

In the Quran, Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witnesses; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice.” (Al-Maidah 5:8).

(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 Asma Bint Yazid (ra)

flowerwoodChoice of Friends

Asma (ra) was much older than the Mother of the Believers Aisha (ra), yet she would visit her often to seek knowledge. Their relationship was based on mutual love and truthfulness. Their conversations were generally about issues of jurisprudence, and not gossips about the community.

Lessons to draw: Raise the standard of your friends. Genuinely reach out for people who are better than you in Deen. Respect and benefit from their knowledge. Knowing our time is precious, we must not waste it in Laghw (futile); but rather, look for opportunities to benefit ourselves and others. We must actively seek opportunities that will raise our scales in the hereafter. We should also polish our skills and be a productive member of the society.

Raise the standard of your friends. Genuinely reach out for people who are better than you in Deen.

Blessing in Food

Asma (ra) had a small place for prayer in her courtyard. Sometimes, the Prophet (sa) would go there to pray. One day when he arrived, Asma (ra) presented him food. The Prophet (sa) instructed his accompanying Companions (ra) to join him in the dinner. The Prophet (sa), the Companions (ra) and the family ate from the meal, and much was left over. There must have been forty people who shared the meal together.

The Prophet (sa) then got up and drank water from the leather flask. Asma (ra) preserved that flask and would use it when someone in the family fell ill. When a sick person would be served water from it, he would be cured. It was all because of the blessings of the Prophet (sa).

Lessons to draw: We might not have the Prophet (sa) among us anymore, but we learn that sharing our provision with others always brings more. We must be generous in sharing our food, our skills, our time and our knowledge with others- especially those who need it the most.

To increase the blessing in one’s provision one must also learn and follow the etiquette that our Prophet (sa) taught. Among them some are: it should be Halal (permissible) and Tayyab (pure). Therefore, purify your source of income and thoughts. Do not be greedy and selfish. Have concern for others too. Start every good deed and daily habits such as eating or sleeping with the name of Allah (swt).

We must be generous in sharing our food, our skills, our time and our knowledge with others- especially those who need it the most.

Narrator of Hadeeth

Being a regular student of the gatherings of the Prophet (sa) and Aisha (ra), Asma (ra) attained the honour of being a Hadeeth narrator. Around eighty one Ahadeeth have been narrated from her.

Lessons to draw: We cannot be a Hadeeth narrator, but how many Ahadeeth do we know by our hearts? Let us set up a Hadeeth memorising goal and memorise some.

Participation in Battles

Asma (ra) dedicated the early years of her marriage in tending to her home. When the children grew up and became independent, she used her skills and time for Allah (swt). She participated with the men in the battles. Not only as a nurse attending to the wounded, and supporting the men, but also as a warrior.  She had no weapons of her own and no means to procure one. She took the pole of her tent and killed nine enemy soldiers in the Battle of Uhud.

Around eighty one Ahadeeth have been narrated from her.

She lived up to a ripe age and later moved to Damascus where she died. She was one of the women promised Paradise.

Lessons to draw: We see in the life of Asma (ra) many roles. She was a student, a teacher, Hadeeth narrator, and a warrior. She performed all those roles, while efficiently performing her domestic duties. She felt no humiliation in doing house chores. At one point in her life, she was divorced. But, she continued to benefit herself and others. She did not allow anything to put a blockade in her determination to gather Hasanahs (good deeds) for herself.

Asma (ra) teaches us to raise our scales. She teaches us to prioritise our duties and bring a balance in them. She teaches us to keep moving, despite the challenges that we encounter.

(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by Mehmood Ahmad Ghazanfar 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)

Lessons of Wisdom from Hind bint Amr (ra)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShe was the sister of Abdullah ibn Amr (ra) who was the father of the famous Hadeeth narrator Jabir ibn Abdullah (ra). Her husband Amr ibn Jamuh (ra) was the leader of Yathrib (old name of Madinah) and was from the nobles of the Ansar (the helpers of Madinah).

Conversion to Islam

Hind (ra) converted to Islam along with her sons through the Dawah efforts of Musab ibn Umair (ra). Her husband, like other ignorant leaders, had installed an idol in his house that he used to worship and sacrifice animals for. One day, he purchased a sturdy piece of wood and instructed a woodworker to craft an idol for him. This idol, named Manat, was dressed in fine clothing and pleasantly perfumed.

Like many early Muslims, Hind (ra) kept her conversion a secret. She was waiting for an appropriate time to break the news to her husband. Her sons regularly attended the gatherings of Musab ibn Umair (ra), and later shared the knowledge of the Quranic verses with their mother. Amr (ra) remained unaware of what was happening in his house. He only began to worry when more and more people entered Islam. He then felt insecurity for his family. He instructed Hind (ra) to keep a close watch on their sons that they do not meet the man from Makkah, and get spoilt by his teachings. Hind (ra) assured him to not worry and to keep his heart free from apprehensions about them.

While at one end, the father was instructing the mother to keep a close watch on the sons; on the other end, the sons worried for their father’s faith. Muadh ibn Amr (ra) shared his concerns with a close friend and they plotted a plan to get the father off idol worshipping. It was decided that Muadh ibn Jabl (ra) will help the brothers in throwing the idol in a trash can. Amr (ra) was fast asleep when this plan was carried out. The next day when he woke up, as per his routine, he entered the room where the idol was kept. Not finding it there he vehemently demanded where it was. The mother and the sons replied that they had no idea where it had gone.

Amr (ra) went out of the house and fetched the idol. Seeing it lying on trash, he brought it home, cleaned it and applied fragrance. He vowed to take revenge from the culprit. The mother and the sons looked at Amr (ra) in disbelief- was he really talking to a piece of wood? He was apologising to it while it could neither hear him nor speak.

He then brought a sword and hung it around Manat’s neck. He told the idol that it was for its defence, in case it was attacked again.

When the father had gone to sleep, the sons again, with the help of Muadh ibn Jabl (ra), picked up the idol and threw it in trash. Second time they tied a dead dog to the wooden piece and returned home.

The next day, when Amr (ra) woke up and did not find Manat in its room, he again screamed and shouted and went out to find the idol. When he saw that it was again lying on trash and a dead dog was wrapped around its neck, and that the idol did not defend itself, Amr (ra) conceded that the idol did not deserve his respect. It was content with its own dishonour. He left the idol on the trash and returned home feeling estranged.

She was not only doing Tarbiyah of her sons that they should be respectful towards their father, but also did not spoil the home environment.

Seeing Amr (ra) anguished, the family inquired what the matter was. Amr (ra) did not reply to the question. He sighed deeply and asked the mother if she had been keeping a close watch on the sons. The mother assured him that the sons had acted upon her instructions. However, she quickly added that their son Muadh (ra) had a meeting with the Makkan preacher Musab (ra) and had learnt some things. She suggested that Amr (ra) should call him and inquire what he had learnt.

Amr (ra) at once called Muadh (ra). Muadh (ra) came and the father inquired if he had memorised anything from the Makkan preacher (ra). The son replied in affirmation. The father then asked the son to share something. Muadh (ra) recited the Ta’awuth and Surah Al-Fatihah.

Amr (ra), as if speaking to himself commented that how eloquent, enticing and beautiful the words were. The son was overjoyed by his father’s statement. He affirmed that indeed that Makkan man’s entire talk was elegant, beautiful and exceptional and that Amr (ra) should meet the man himself. To entice the father furthermore, he added that all the other leaders of Madinah had been visiting Musab (ra) and embracing Islam. They had preceded Amr (ra). Hind (ra) also encouraged her husband to meet the Makkan preacher (ra). Amr (ra) said that he needed to take advice from his idols. Muadh (ra) immediately reminded his father if he was to take advice from a dumb and deaf piece of wood. Amr (ra) was offended by his son’s comment, but then admitted that it was indeed the truth. The wood was void of intellect and emotions. He then looked at his family and asked for their views. The family was startled, but quickly agreed that Amr (ra) was right.

Our mistake is that when we meet a person who is committing some wrong, we start our conversation with taunts and criticism

At that moment, Amr (ra) testified the Oneness of Allah (swt) and recited the Islamic testimony of faith (Shahadah). That was a joyous moment for the family. Later that evening Musab ibn Umair (ra) was invited to their home, who then purified the house from the filth of associating partners with Allah (swt).

Lessons to draw

There are several lessons in this story. When Hind (ra) became a Muslim she did not break the news to her husband at once. Despite having the support of adult sons, she waited for an appropriate time to approach Amr (ra). She hoped that he might embrace Islam on his own and the relations between them will not be severed. She was not only doing Tarbiyah of her sons that they should be respectful towards their father, but also did not spoil the home environment.

  • Hikmah of preaching

We need to reflect on our attitudes when we learn something new and how we preach it to others. First, we must gain firmness in what we have learnt and then pass it on to others. Show them by practicing, not by preaching. Melt their hearts first. Give them space to understand. Secondly, “plan” how you are going to preach. Hind (ra) and her sons first sketched a plan that how they could convince Amr (ra) that what he was following was wrong.

Thirdly, when Amr (ra) returned home feeling estranged, the family showed concern and inquired- although they knew it very well what grieved him. They treated him with respect and care- even when he was upset about a wrong matter. Our mistake is that when we meet a person who is committing some wrong, we start our conversation with taunts and criticism. Unless, we show some compassion how can the other person trust our opinion? Gain the support first, so that he can open up his heart to understand what you want to tell him.

Hind’s son did not pick a horrifying verse to abuse or scare the father away. Rather, he chose Surah Al-Fatihah

Another Hikmah of preaching is that Hind’s son did not pick a horrifying verse to abuse or scare the father away. Rather, he chose Surah Al-Fatihah — the Opening Surah of the Quran — that introduces us to Allah (swt). Generally, we invite people to Islam by scaring them with the punishment of the Hereafter. Even to the babies and toddlers, we introduce Allah (swt) by telling them how intense His punishments are; whereas Allah (swt) introduces Himself to us by choosing His attributes of mercy: Ar-Rahman and Ar-Raheem (Al-Fatihah 1:3).

Finally, Hind (ra) respected the leader of the house. When the father asked if she had been keeping an eye on the sons, the mother replied in affirmative and then added that Muadh (ra) had heard something. She then requested the father to ascertain what he had learnt. In a way, she was putting the father in-charge- whether he found it fit for the family or not. She did not say I have checked it and I find it alright. She gave reverence to the husband’s position in the house.

When the parents fail to give respect to one another, the silent observers — the children — grow up disrespecting their parents. Family matters should be dealt with utmost respect and wisdom thinking about the children as well.

(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 Umm Sulaym Bint Malhan (ra)

A fort in Khyber.

A fort in Khyber.

Umm Sulaym’s (ra) participation in the battles

The Muslim men and women equally participated in the defence of Islam. While the men fought the enemy with their swords and arrows, the women looked after the wounded. Umm Sulaym (ra) participated in the Battle of Uhud, the Battle of Khyber, and the Battle of Hunain under the leadership of the Prophet (sa). While her husband shot the enemy with his bow and archer, Umm Sulaym (ra) attended to the injured and served water to the thirsty soldiers. When the leather flask would get empty she would rush to get it filled.

Umm Sulaym (ra) carried a dagger with her. The Prophet (sa) inquired what she planned to do with it. She replied that she would attack the enemy if he approached her.

Lessons to draw: We see Umm Sulaym (ra) is always prepared to defend Islam. She was aging but she remained active. She did not stay behind in wars. She attended to the tasks that the women performed in the battles. We should never sit back when there is an opportunity to gather Khair.

We see Umm Sulaym (ra) is always prepared to defend Islam. She was aging but she remained active.

The woman of Paradise

We know about the ten male companions who were promised Paradise in their lifetime. But, not many of us know about the women promised Paradise in their lifetime. To name a few, they were: Prophet’s (sa) first wife Khadijah bint Khawalid (ra), Prophet’s (sa) beloved daughter Fatimah (ra), Aasiya (as)- the wife of Pharaoh, Mariam (as), Umm Ruman (ra)- the black woman who suffered from epilepsy and so on.

Umm Sulaym (ra) was a truthful woman, steadfast in her religion, recognising the rights of her Lord and His creation, obedient to the Prophet (sa), strong against the unbelievers and hypocrites, and an example for the generous.

Anas ibn Malik (ra) narrated that the Prophet (sa) said: “When I entered the Paradise, I heard someone’s footsteps. I asked who it was. The angels replied that it was Ghameesa bint Malhan.” (Muslim). Another narration states that he was informed that it was Bilal (ra).

Islam does not discriminate between men and women. Women have many opportunities to raise their scales in the Books of Allah (swt)

Umm Sulaym (ra) also has the honour of narrating Prophetic traditions. From her many other companions passed it on to others including Anas ibn Malik (ra), Abdullah ibn Abbas (ra), and Zaid ibn Thabit (ra). Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim also recorded Ahadeeth from her.

Lessons to draw: Islam does not discriminate between men and women. Women have many opportunities to raise their scales in the Books of Allah (swt). Let us balance our worldly life with seeking eternal pleasures of the hereafter, Insha’Allah.

(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 Patience from Umm Sulaym Bint Malhan (ra)

sabrMother’s love for her son

The Prophet (sa) would often visit Talha’s (ra) family; he would not go to any other home besides his wives’. The scholars explain that Umm Sulaym (ra) and her sister Umm Haram (ra) were maternal aunts of the Prophet (sa) either through breastfeeding or blood. Hence, they were Mahram.

One day, when the Prophet (sa) came, Umm Sulaym (ra) presented him with dates and Ghee (purified butter). The Prophet (sa) informed that he was fasting. He, then went in a corner, and offered two units of voluntary prayer. Anas (ra) and his mother joined him, as well. The Prophet (sa) prayed for Umm Sulaym (ra) and her family. Umm Sulaym (ra) then requested the Prophet (sa) to pray for her dear son Anas (ra). The Prophet (sa) said, “O Allah (swt)! Give him wealth and children, and bless him.” This Dua was accepted by Allah (swt). Anas (ra) grew up to be wealthy and there were many children from his lineage.

Lessons to draw: We see that Umm Sulaym (ra) misses no chance to seek the best for her son. When her husband rejected her, she dedicated herself to Anas’s upbringing. When Anas (ra) grew up a little, she sent him to the Prophet (sa) to serve him and to learn directly from him. When the Prophet (sa) visited their home, she requested prayers for her dear son.

We see that Umm Sulaym (ra) misses no chance to seek the best for her son. How attentive are we to the many opportunities around us?

How attentive are we to the many opportunities around us? How enthusiastic are we in seeking lasting goodness for our children?

Umm Sulaym’s (ra) patience

Umm Sulaym’s (ra) exemplary patience and strength at the passing of her son is an incident that she is most known for.

Allah (swt) blessed Umm Sulaym (ra) and Abu Talha (ra) with a beautiful son Abu Umair. He was the apple of their eyes. One day, Abu Umair fell sick and he died. Abu Talha (ra) was away on a business trip. Umm Sulaym (ra) instructed everyone not to send the news to her husband. She wanted to inform him herself.

When he returned home, Umm Sulaym (ra) served him and allowed him to rest. She then informed the father of their son’s passing away. She said, “O Abu Talha! What is your opinion if some people have trusted you with something, and then they demand to take it back? Should their property not be returned to them?”

Abu Talha (ra) replied that it was their right to claim it back. Umm Sulaym (ra) said, “See our son was Allah’s (swt) Amanah; today, He has taken back His Amanah. Our son has passed away.” She then advised him to be patient.

The next day when Abu Talha (ra) informed the Prophet (sa) about the night’s incident, the Prophet (sa) supplicated for the family.

When Allah (swt) tests someone and they clear their test, He rewards them with something better. After the passing of Abu Umair, Umm Sulaym (ra) and her husband were blessed with another little boy. The Prophet (sa) named him Abdullah ibn Abu Talha and gave him Tahneek.

When the child is taken back, the mother advises the father to be patient. Generally, it is the woman who seeks consolation from others, but here we see that the woman is giving comfort to the man.

Abdullah ibn Abu Talha lived a long life and had many sons – each of them a memoriser of the Quran. This was all because of the Prophet’s (sa) supplication for the family, and their admirable patience and generosity for the sake of Allah (swt).

Lessons to draw: People are inflicted with trials to ascertain their conduct. How are they going to react? Are we going to complain while we do not own anything in this world? All that we enjoy are special favours of Allah (swt). A couple cannot have a child, unless Allah (swt) wills. When the child is taken back, the mother advises the father to be patient. Generally, it is the woman who seeks consolation from others, but here we see that the woman is giving comfort to the man.

(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 Generosity from Umm Sulaym Bint Malhan (ra)

waterfallWife of the Generous

When Allah (swt) sees goodness in someone’s heart, He guides them to the truth and opens up pathways of much subsequent goodness. Same happened with Abu Talha (ra) and Umm Sulaym (ra).

Abu Talha (ra) was a rich man who owned many properties of palm-trees. His favourite, however, was a garden known as Bairuha that was near the Prophet’s Mosque. The Prophet (sa) would often visit this garden and drink its fresh and pleasant water.

When the verse, “By no means shall you attain Al-Birr (piety, righteousness – here it means Allah’s reward, i.e. Paradise), unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love; and whatever of good you spend, Allah knows it well,” (Al-Imran 3:92), was revealed, Abu Talha (ra) came to the Prophet (sa) and said: “O Messenger of Allah (swt)! Allah (swt) has revealed, ‘By no means shall you attain Al-Birr, unless you spend (in Allah’s Cause) of that which you love,’ so I love the garden of Bairuha the most, I want to give it in the way of Allah (swt) as a Sadaqah. And I anticipate its reward with Allah (swt); so spend it, O Messenger of Allah (swt), as Allah (swt) guides you.” The Prophet (sa) advised him to give his best property to his relatives. Abu Talha (ra) agreed and gifted it to his relatives and cousins.

The guest first!

Umm Sulaym (ra) and her husband are also those virtuous companions who served the Prophet’s (sa) guest at night while sacrificing their meal. A hungry man had approached the Prophet (sa) requesting to be fed. The Prophet (sa) asked his wives if they had anything to feed the hungry guest, each replied that they had nothing except water. The Prophet (sa) then asked his companions (ra). Abu Talha (ra) volunteered and took the guest to his home. When he asked his wife if they had anything for the guest, the wife replied that they only had sustenance for the children. Abu Talha (ra) instructed his wife to bring the food, light the lamp and put the children to sleep. When they sat down for dinner, Umm Sulaym (ra) got up and pretending to fix the lamp extinguished it. As the guest ate his meal, the couple pretended that they were eating as well. However, they had not touched the food, it was insufficient.

Abu Talha (ra) learnt a new verse that day, and he immediately acted upon it. How long does it take us to surrender to the many commands of Allah (swt)

When next morning, Abu Talha (ra) visited the Prophet (sa)- he complimented his generosity, and informed him of Allah’s (swt) pleasure. A new verse had been revealed for the Talha family.

Allah (swt) said, “And (it is also for) those who, before them, had homes (in Al-Madinah) and had adopted the Faith, love those who emigrate to them, and have no jealousy in their chests for that which they have been given (from the booty of Banu An-Nadir), and give them (emigrants) preference over themselves even though they were in need of that. And whosoever is saved from his own covetousness, such are they who will be the successful,” (Al-Hashr 59:9).

Lessons to draw: We must ask Allah (swt) to save us from the covetousness of our souls. Abu Talha (ra) gave generously in the way of Allah (swt) because his wife like Umm Sulaym (ra), was supportive of her husband’s benevolence. She knew the provision that they enjoy is all gifts from Allah (swt) that must be shared with others as an expression of gratitude.

Abu Talha (ra) learnt a new verse that day, and he immediately acted upon it. How long does it take us to surrender to the many commands of Allah (swt) that we read every day in the Quran? What are the commands that we have not submitted too? What is the reason for our delaying?

She raised her children such that they could sleep on empty stomachs with gentle patting. Today, our children demand variety. Separate dishes are cooked satiating the desires of each family member. When the home cooked food does not appeal to us, we order it from the restaurant. We are spoilt and we are spoiling our children.

She raised her children such that they could sleep on empty stomachs with gentle patting.

Let us be inspired by these incidents from our rich past and make our lives simple. Insha’Allah.

(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 Fortitude from Umm Sulaym Bint Malhan (ra)

shell_in_the_sand_1600x1200When someone is loved by their dear ones, they are called by many nick names. Same was the case with Umm Sulaym (ra). Though widely known as Umm Sulaym, some of her other names were: Sahlah, Ghameesa, Rameesa, Rumaylah and Mulaykah.

She was the daughter of Malhan ibn Khalid. Her first husband was Malik ibn Nadhr, from whom she had Anas ibn Malik (ra) and Barah (ra). She later married Abu Talha (ra). She was a woman blessed with beauty, intellect, good character, fortitude and independent thinking. Her distinguishing trait, however, was her love for Islam and its defence.

Conversion to Islam

Umm Sulaym (ra) is one of the forerunners who embraced Islam as soon as the message reached her. Her husband was not in town. When he learnt that his wife had converted to Islam, he asked her if she was a Sabi (without any religion). Umm Sulaym (ra) replied that she had not left religion. Rather, she had embraced faith and followed the truth. Her husband threatened her. But Umm Sulaym (ra) remained calm. Her heart was filled with the love of her Creator (swt) and His Messenger (sa).

(Note: Umm Sulaym (ra) remained married to an unbeliever because at that time the verses that prohibit such a marriage were not revealed.)

We blame our families for our mediocre adherence to religion. Umm Sulaym (ra) teaches us courage to find our own way to build a strong connection with Allah (swt)

Lessons to draw: Umm Sulaym (ra) knew her salvation in the hereafter did not depend on her husband. She was a woman of independent thinking. She submitted to the commands of Allah (swt) and did not allow her husband to dissuade her. When our family does not support us in the way of Allah (swt), we take that as an excuse for not excelling in religion. We blame our families for our mediocre adherence to religion. Umm Sulaym (ra) teaches us courage to find our own way to build a strong connection with Allah (swt), and not depend on people to connect with Him. She also did not fear that if her husband left, what will become of her.

How strong are we in the path of Allah (swt)?

Paying attention to the necessary

Umm Sulaym (ra) did not engage herself in conflicts and arguments. She directed her energies to that which actually mattered – the upbringing of her son Anas (ra). She started with the basics and taught him the words of Adhan (call to prayer). One day, little Anas (ra) was memorising La ilaha illa Allahu Muhammad ur Rasulullah, when his father saw him. Furious as he was, Malik ibn Nadhr confronted his wife for spoiling their son and warned her to stop. Umm Sulaym (ra) again calmly replied that she was not spoiling their son, but educating him.

Arguments became a norm in Malik’s house. Malik threatened his wife that if she did not leave her religion, then he will have to leave her. Umm Sulaym (ra) remained undeterred. Understanding that his wife would not give up the religion that she so dearly loved, Malik left the house and was killed by an enemy.

Lesson to draw: Dawah begins from home. Many people are seen practicing religion, but when one meets their children – they are quite the opposite. While it is a test from Allah (swt), one cause of their detachment from Deen is that the message did not reach them. The parent had been attending or delivering religious lectures and classes, while not transferring the knowledge to those at home. This is also one reason why families are different.

Do not ignore your family, your parents, your spouse and children. Your first responsibility is towards them. Also do not get disheartened when your Dawah is not welcomed

Do not ignore your family, your parents, your spouse and children. Your first responsibility is towards them. Also do not get disheartened when your Dawah is not welcomed. Again, it is a test from Allah (swt). When the father (Nadhr) rejects the religion, the son (Anas) embraces it. Continue your efforts and seek reward from only Him.

(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 Gratitude from Umm Ayyub Ansaria (ra)

datetreeHosts of the Beloved (sa)

When the news of the Prophet’s (sa) migration to Madinah reached the city, the entire Madinah came out of their homes to catch one glance of the beloved Messenger (sa). This was a sight never witnessed before. Every heart desired that they host the Messenger (sa) at their house. But Allah (swt) had decided something else.

The Messenger (sa) instructed the crowd to leave the she-camel Qaswa alone, and let her follow the Divine command. The she-camel treaded slowly as if deciding at whose house she should stop. Suddenly, she halted in front of the house of Abu Ayyub Ansari (ra). The forerunners were chosen by Allah (swt) to host His beloved (sa). Witnessing this blessed moment, Umm Ayyub’s eyes welled up with tears. She could not believe this beloved being (sa) was to stay at their home. She ran inside to fix the Prophet’s place for resting and to cook a meal for him. This was the greatest honour that anyone could attain.

when a person swings between this and that, there is a possibility that the chance to do a good deed is snatched from him.

Following his wife, Abu Ayyub (ra) rushed forward to grab the Prophet’s luggage and to carry it inside. The Prophet (sa) stood at the entrance thanking the people who had come out to welcome him in this new city.

Lessons to draw: A person should not procrastinate in the matters of goodness or what am I to gain from this. Because, when a person swings between this and that, there is a possibility that the chance to do a good deed is snatched from him. We should be the ones who say: we hear and we obey and not miss the opportunities of goodness that we are offered. May Allah (swt) make us from the Sabiqoon bil Khairat — those who are foremost in doing good deeds. Ameen.

“…and of them are some who are, by Allah’s Leave, foremost in good deeds. That (inheritance of the Quran), that is indeed a great grace.” (Fatir 35:32)

Respect for the Messenger (sa)

Abu Ayyub (ra) lived in a double-storey house. Arrangements for the Prophet (sa) had been made on the upper level. The Prophet (sa), however, chose staying downstairs. He argued that since the people would be coming in to meet him, it would disturb the family if he stayed upstairs. The family could do nothing, but agree with whatever the Prophet (sa) chose. They went upstairs and stayed awake until sunrise. It was unacceptable for them to be at a level higher than the Messenger (sa). The next day, they again requested the Messenger (sa) to go upstairs as they did not want to cause him discomfort by their footsteps or movements above.

The Prophet (sa) stayed with the family till the time the Prophet’s Mosque was built. The family was upset that the Messenger (sa) would be leaving them. Their hearts were put to rest when they were assured of his house being close to theirs.

Gratitude by Limbs

Having the Prophet’s (sa) Mosque next door was considered a blessing by both Umm and Abu Ayyub (ra). Whenever they heard Bilal (ra) gave the call to prayer, the couple expressed their joy, not just by their tongues, but also by their limbs. Umm Ayyub (ra) actively participated with her husband in the worship of Allah (swt). She kept up with the voluntary worship along with the obligatory duties. She slept less at night and worshipped Allah (swt) more. She fasted on days outside Ramadan seeking the pleasure of Allah (swt).

Abu Ayyub (ra) would share with his wife whatever he learnt from the Prophet (sa) from the Quran.

To her, her greatest heir was the Quran. She regularly recited it and also memorised some portion. On some days, she listened to the Quran from her husband too. Abu Ayyub (ra) would share with his wife whatever he learnt from the Prophet (sa) from the Quran. Taking Quran as a beloved companion, Umm Ayyub (ra) would often reflect on its content. This reflection softened her heart and she was motivated to help others. Her purpose in life became looking after the needs of the poor and the needy.

The couple was not only active in their worship, but they were also the narrators of several Prophetic traditions.

Lessons to draw: One must not just talk about the worldly matters, but also share beneficial knowledge with their family. A constant reflection of the Quran reminds us of the reality of this life and our purpose here. It also softens the heart and develops compassion for others.

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

Legendary Muslimah Success Secrets (Unveiled) – Umm Ayyub Ansaria (ra)- 1

Courtesy: onislam.net

Courtesy: onislam.net

She was the daughter of Qais ibn Saad, and the wife of Abu Ayyub Ansari (ra). Both the husband and the wife are among those blessed people about whom Allah (swt) said,

“And the first to embrace Islam of the Muhajirun (those who migrated from Makkah to Al-Madinah) and the Ansar (the citizens of Al-Madinah who helped and gave aid to the Muhajirun) and also those who followed them exactly (in Faith). Allah is well-pleased with them as they are well-pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens under which rivers flow (Paradise), to dwell therein forever. That is the supreme success.” (At-Taubah 9:100)

Conversion to Islam

Umm Ayyub (ra) woke up one morning and saw her husband all dressed to set out on a journey. When she asked him where he was going, he replied that he was off to Makkah to witness the Prophet who had brought a new religion to the people.

Umm Ayyub (ra) said farewell to her husband, and secretly desired in her heart that this Prophet would bring peace between the tribes of Aws and Khazraj. She prayed that he turns out to be an ambassador of goodness and a source of reformation. And that he could pull out the seed of hatred and enmity from the hearts of the two tribes, and put an end to the treachery of the Madinian Jews. She also prayed for her husband’s well-being and that he returns safely.

The long separation from her husband made her anxious. She worried about him and waited impatiently for his arrival. After several days, she heard a knock on her door. She knew it was her husband because she identified his knock. She was delighted to see Abu Ayyub (ra), but also wanted him to rest before she could shower him with her questions and anxiety. Abu Ayyub (ra), on the other hand, desired narrating to his wife all the events of his journey. He did not find it appropriate to hold the news about the beloved Prophet (sa) from her.

When the people in a house or an organisation are respectful to each other, and desire one another’s well-being- Allah (swt) blesses such a house or organisation.

He informed her how the Prophet (sa) captivated their hearts by his mannerism and speech. He explained to them the Shari commandments of Allah (swt), and gained their confidence through his way of talking. Witnessing all this, they could not help but accept him as the Messenger of Allah (swt), and embraced Islam.

Abu Ayyub (ra) had not completed narrating his experience that Umm Ayyub (ra) instantly recited the Shahadah. She had lived many moments of joy and happiness with Abu Ayyub (ra). She valued his opinion and trusted his intellect. She knew the path that her husband had chosen was the best.

Lessons to draw: We see a loving relationship between the husband and wife. Both of them wished well for the other spouse. When the people in a house or an organisation are respectful to each other, and desire one another’s well-being- Allah (swt) blesses such a house or organisation. On the other hand, when people are busy maligning one another or in a cut throat competition against each other, Allah (swt) withdraws His mercy from them.  We see that when Abu Ayyub (ra) leaves for Makkah, Umm Ayyub (ra) does not try to stop him, cry or think bad. Rather, she bids him farewell and makes a supplication for her husband’s success and the well-being of her people. She does not act selfishly. She did not think only about herself or her loneliness, but for the community at large. Usually at home, families are fighting among one another- either over the relatives or financial matters. If everyone looks at the situation positively, our home environments can improve considerably, Insha’Allah.

Another important point to improve our lives is to reflect on what we have and not what we lack. For example, it might be that a child is raised in a toxic environment. Her parents are always fighting and are neglectful of their duties towards their children. Allah (swt) rewards this girl with a caring husband. Similarly, it could be that a husband is harsh and non-cooperative, but the children are extremely peaceful and supportive. In comparing our lives with other people, their parents or their husbands, we forget what Allah (swt) has blessed us with. May Allah (swt) grant us the ability to do Shukr- Ameen.

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

Who Should the Muslim Woman Look up to?

sb10063131x-001We live in the times, when a Muslim woman is constantly being questioned about her choices and challenged to raise or lower her status. She is being questioned for her choice to cover up or her choice to not do so. If she is covering, then she probably considers herself holier than thou, and people will take several steps away from her. If she is not covering, then she must be ridiculed for her choice to do so and made to feel like trash.

If she sets out her heart on studying more and acquiring a certain degree, her parents are shamed for allowing their daughter freedom. If she does not study more, she is shoved aside as another ordinary woman with nothing more to her than marital dreams. She is criticised for pursuing a career, and she is mocked for abandoning one over a modest home life. She does nothing but wastes her parents’ wealth.

Her communication skills are under scrutiny. If she speaks less, she certainly lacks self-confidence and worldly virtues. If she talks more, she probably left her manners at home. Her shyness is seen as a symbol of weakness, and her confidence is seen as arrogance. She is bashed for holding an opinion and scorned for being naïve.

In a society, where liberation means getting rid of religion, social norms are in direct contradiction to her beliefs. She, therefore, carries with her a list of do’s and don’ts that she must follow. And when she does that, she is responded with frowns and growls of those, who oppose the very idea of religion.

In such a situation, the Muslim woman questions, who should she look up to? Where are the examples? Who are her role models? How can she bring a balance to her life?

The role models for the Muslim women are the same as there are for the Muslim men – the companions of Rasulallah (sa).

There were female companions of the Prophet (sa), who had been chosen by Allah (swt). These women were brave and virtuous, active in their society and fulfilling their responsibilities at home. They were found in the battlefield taking care of the sick and the injured, and they were found at home nurturing their families. They preached alongside their male counterparts and helped in the propagation of Islam. They neither ridiculed each other for their choices nor allowed critics to rule their minds and control their lives. These were self-assured women, working only for the sake of Allah (swt) and for the sake of pleasing none but Him.  These honourable women were active in politics and well-versed in Islamic jurisprudence. They were seen in education, in business and trade, and in the comfort of their homes. They knew that being a woman does not restrict them from pursuing their dreams. And at the same time, they knew how to carry themselves in the crowd. They were gentle and kind, but never appeared as flirting.

They understood their responsibilities in the society and in their homes; therefore, they never took housework as a burden. We read that when Fatima bint Muhammad (ra), the beloved daughter of Rasulallah (sa), approached her father for a domestic help, her father taught her some words of remembrance instead.

These women lived a strenuous life in the absence of modern technology that we enjoy today; yet, they accomplished more than we can ever imagine. Not only were they conscious of their relationship with their Creator, but they connected their offspring to Allah (swt) as well. The mother of Anas bin Malik (ra) dedicated her son to the service of the Prophet (sa) and asked him to pray for her son’s increase in knowledge. Her supplication was answered by Allah (saw); thus, we see a number of sayings and traditions of the Prophet (sa) recorded by this young man.

To truly take these women as our role models, we will have to study their unique characteristics that made them live a content life, accomplish their goals and, most importantly, be pleasing to Allah (swt).

From here onwards, we will be beginning a series on the Seerah of the Sahabiyat – we will delve into their lives and challenges for learning how to improve our own lives, Insha’Allah.

Who are my Daughter’s Role Models?

footprintsOnce upon a time, there was a little girl who loved listening to stories. Her favourite were the stories about other little girls – just like her. She would listen to the tales of their adventures and later emulate them in her play. She loved to do everything the way the characters in her books did.

All children love stories and they need someone to look up to: someone to admire and someone to imitate. I’ve got two young daughters Alhumdulillah, and I can tell how the stories that are either read to them or discovered by them influence their imagination. It’s always the female characters that they are most interested in; after all every little girl wants to be a princess.

I got the feeling that maybe these are not the best stories to put in their little heads. After all, the princesses in the classic fairy tales don’t have that much to their merit. Even their goals are also not as ambitious as I would like for my children.

I used to tell my daughters the stories I was told when I was little: all the fairy tales about Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and so on. Then I got the feeling that maybe these are not the best stories to put in their little heads. After all, the princesses in the classic fairy tales don’t have that much to their merit. Even their goals are also not as ambitious as I would like for my children. Cinderella and other beauties only dream of getting married to a prince and in times of need, they rely upon the magic wand of the fairy godmother. Needless to say, magic is Haram; however, even in the make-believe world of fairy tales, the characters rely upon it; some events are beyond their control while others happen by pure luck. It gives children a lesson only in wishful thinking and an escapist approach. All the little girls want to be princesses and I don’t think that aspiring to be a ‘princess’ is necessarily a bad thing. I just don’t want them to be the Sleeping Beauty kind of princess.

The history of Islam is full of great stories. There were a number Muslimahs who were pious, courageous, and ambitious. They achieved success in this world as well as in the eternal life. First of all, there are the Greatest Four: the four women mentioned by the Prophet (sa), as those who have achieved the highest ranks in Jannat Al-Firdaus:

  • Asiya, the wife of the Pharaoh
  • Maryam, the mother of Isa (as)
  • Khadijah (rta), the first wife of the Prophet (sa)
  • Fatimah (rta), his daughter

Each of these women led a different lifestyle and each had been tried by Allah (swt). Each proved her individual strength.

Financial Status Asiya and Khadijah (rta) were rich, while Maryam and Fatimah (rta) lived in poor conditions
Marital Status Asiya had been tortured upon the orders of her husband, while Khadijah (rta) and Fatimah (rta) were happily married; Maryam was a single mother.
Professional Status Khadijah (rta) was a businesswoman, while Fatimah (rta) was a housewife

 

Each of them was different, but together they tell a story of all women and demonstrate a perfect example as to what it takes to be a great woman and a great Muslimah. And these are the characters that I would like my daughters to hear about and learn from. These are the best role models for young Muslimahs: the Princesses of the Akhirah.

Of course, there are many other great Muslimahs whose stories are worth telling: some of my favourite are Khawla bint Al-Azwar, a courageous warrior who rescued her brother from the enemy’s hands, and the Queen of Saba. As mentioned in the Quran, she was the one who recognized the truth of Islam and converted her nation. I would love to read such stories to my children, but sadly there is not much written about them in a format that would be suitable for young children.

Alhumdulillah, there is a wonderful variety of Islamic literature available in the bookstores nowadays, but most of them tell the stories of the Prophets. There is no doubt that these are very valuable stories, but I think it’s important for young girls to learn about female characters, so they can have someone to look up to and some good examples to emulate.

there are many other great Muslimahs whose stories are worth telling: some of my favourite are Khawla bint Al-Azwar, a courageous warrior who rescued her brother from the enemy’s hands, and the Queen of Saba.

Since there is this gap in the market, I have started reading adult literature on the Sahabiyat. I try to retell these stories to my kids in a language they would understand. And after a more thorough search, I have discovered some children’s literature, in which the main characters are young Muslimahs who have their problems and their adventures; they always come up with a solution that is in compliance with the guidance of Islam and teaches a valuable lesson to young readers. Seeing how powerfully stories influence children’s dreams, I am now much more considerate when choosing books for my daughters.

Of course, the role models for our children are not only the literary characters. It is the adults around them who affect them the most, teaching them by giving an example of everyday life. I know my daughters will learn from their aunties, grandmothers, elder cousins and friends. But first of all, they will learn from me. That’s why I should try to be the best example for them. It’s a huge responsibility, but also a great honour. I pray to Allah (swt) that He would make me the best I can become, so that my daughters would learn good ways from me, Insha’Allah.