Also known as Umm Waraqah bint Abdullah (ra), her name is ascribed to her grandfather Nawfal. She was from the learned people of the Ansar (the helpers of Madina). Besides fasting and being an ardent worshipper, Umm Waraqah (ra) had one more distinguishing quality – she had memorised the Quran and was the Imam of the women.
The Lover of the Quran and the Female Imam
Umm Waraqah (ra) was a rich woman having a prestigious lineage. Instead of losing herself in the worldly pleasures she busied herself in studying, understanding, reflecting on and memorising the Quran. The Quran was the main focus of her life, by which she lived till her end.
Preserving Allah’s Book in her heart, there was no chance that Allah (swt) would not honour her. The Prophet (sa) permitted her to lead the women in prayer in her house. She requested for a Muazzin, and an old man was appointed.
Lessons to draw: Being chosen to serve the Quran is indeed a great honour. We must continuously work on our relationship with the Quran; having studied it once, we must spend time reflecting on its verses, live by them, preserve them in our hearts and share them with others. We also learn that a woman can lead other women in prayer. We find the examples of Aisha (ra) and Umm Salamah (ra). But in order to lead others in prayers, one must first work on their recitation of the Quran.
The People of the Quran stay awake in the Nights
Being a memoriser of the Quran, we see that Umm Waraqah (ra) sought guidance from the Quran. Quran inspired her to next courses of action. When she read: “Perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) from mid-day till the darkness of the night (i.e. the Zuhr, ‘Asr, Maghrib, and ‘Isha’ prayers), and recite the Quran in the early dawn (i.e. the morning prayer). Verily, the recitation of the Quran in the early dawn is ever witnessed (attended by the angels in charge of mankind of the day and the night). And in some parts of the night (also) offer the Salat (prayer) with it (i.e. recite the Quran in the prayer), as an additional prayer (Tahajjud optional prayer Nawafil)…,” (Al-Isra 17: 78-79), she knew that Allah (swt) is speaking to her. From that day on, she started getting up for Tahajjud and reciting the Quran. It became a habit.
On his way for the Fajr prayer, Umar ibn al-Khattab (ra) would hear her reciting the Quran. He would admire this lady for her commitment to and love for the Book of Allah (swt). He knew it was indeed a blessing of Allah (swt) to be granted the honour of waking up at Tahajjud and reciting the Quran; not due to a worldly need but purely for the love of Allah’s Speech. When he would return from the Masjid he would still hear Umm Waraqah’s (ra) voice, reciting the Quran.
Building a strong relationship with the Quran cleansed Umm Waraqah’s (ra) heart from its diseases. She held no rancour or hatred for anyone. She was a gentle and kind-hearted person which opened up the hearts of others. Neighbourhood ladies would visit her often for the congregational prayer as well as the educational gatherings.
Lessons to draw: Our love for anything is only displayed by our attitude towards it. If we truly love the Quran, then Quran will become the most important thing in our life. The best recitation of the Quran is that which is recited in the prayer. Let us express our love for the Book by challenging ourselves to memorise its Surahs and revising them in our prayer. Let us not remain content with only learning the small ones. We should also encourage our Huffaz to not leave their recitation after memorising the Book. They must show their gratitude to Allah (swt) for this great honour. Little should be our sleep and long should be our nights spent in worship.
(Adapted from the book: Seerat e Sahabiyat k Darakshan Pehlu by and the lectures of Dr. Farhat Hashmi: Seerat e Sahabiyat)