By Dr. Farhat Hashmi
(You can read the first part of the article here)
A woman should be well aware of her identity – who she really is and what status she has in Islam. The birth of a female child is not a much celebrated event in our society. Even if after having many sons mother gives birth to a baby girl, her heart misses a beat for a few seconds and a thought of worry crosses her mind. Whatever joy the birth of a bouncy baby girl brings, there is always a shadow of concern at the back of her parents mind that she will leave us one day. Though boys often leave their parents to go for higher studies or jobs, girls are brought up as returnable goods. The pagans of Makkah used to be shocked and angered at the birth of a female child.
In a Muslim household, the scenario is utterly different altogether. Even if the birth of a girl is not celebrated due to the pressure of social norms and culture, her parents still take good care of her and nurture her with affection. In our social setup, a daughter is treated differently from her childhood, more so if she has an elder or younger brother, who is always preferred over her. This kind of unbalanced altitude is neither appreciated nor promoted by Islam.
The way our Prophet (sa) took care of his daughters, especially Fatima (rta), and showered all of them with mercy, affection and kindness is an excellent example for all of us to follow. Sadly, our society does not promote such behaviour. Later on, when the stage of educating our children comes, we simply back off from spending money on the education of our daughters, thinking that it is wasteful or useless. Contrary to this, when faced with social pressure, we spend a lot on the dowry of our daughters, thinking that it will earn them respect from their in-laws.
Have we ever wondered, whether before their marriage we prepare our daughters for the most important role? A women’s life has many colourful stages. From birth till marriage, she is a daughter and a sister; after marriage, she becomes a wife and a mother. There are other roles as well, such as a daughter-in-law, a sister in-law or a maternal/ paternal aunt.
Women ought to analyze themselves in all of these roles. An interesting way to determine, how she is faring in all these roles, is to write them down on a piece of paper. For example:
- As a sister – how do I behave with my siblings?
- As a daughter – how much care do I take of my parents?
- As a wife – am I fulfilling my obligations to my husband?
- As a mother – are my children properly taken care of?
Then, proceed by analyzing also the other roles: as a sister in-law, a maternal aunt, a paternal aunt, a daughter-in-law and all the other relationships with the in-laws. Gauge, where you stand, as far as relationships are concerned. Think about your responsibilities in all of these relationships. Are you fulfilling them to the best of your capacity?
By being well aware of everyone’s rights and obligations and by fulfilling them we are strengthening our relationships. This way, we are performing good deeds and paving our road to paradise. In every relationship, we have certain responsibilities. If we know them and strive to fulfill them to the best of our capability, then we are on the right track. On the contrary, if we are not concerned about our responsibilities, then we are wasting our efforts. The first and the foremost condition for becoming a successful woman is to explore yourself, define your identity and roles and work on fulfilling your responsibilities.
The most important facet of a woman’s identity is to be aware that she is a human being, and not just any human being but a Muslim. As a Muslim, a woman has some obligations and responsibilities that she will be questioned about on the Day of Judgement. If she will clear these tests, then, Allah willing, she will enter paradise; if she fails, then nothing will help her, not even her physical features, wealth, social status, degree or her good job. None of these will be accepted or judged, as only her good deeds will matter.
Before marriage, the major responsibility of a woman is that of attaining knowledge. However, her sole concern should not be to attain knowledge of worldly affairs. She should also strive to find more about her roles and duties as a Muslim human being and a member of the Muslim Ummah, because we will all be questioned and judged upon these on the Day of Judgement. Fulfilling them will increase our good deeds.
Once the roles have been studied and the duties acknowledged, today’s modern woman can easily find the keys to everlasting success. This will not only bring her happiness and contentment – she will also be able to prepare the future generations for being a part of a successful Muslim Ummah that is on the right path – the road to Allah’s (swt) pleasure and paradise.
(Transcribed for “Hiba“ by Rahila Aziz.)