Monday, December 28, 2015

Fatimah bint Muhammad RA

Forgotten Heroines: The Housewifes Lament

Money is tight. The kids are demanding. Skin is raw from all the cooking, cleaning and chores that have to be done every day. There’s absolutely no time to spare for anything else, whether it’s pursuing further education or volunteering for a special cause.

Does this sound familiar? There are Muslim women all over the world who find themselves at home, living life as domestic stay-at-home mums and housewives. It’s a physically and emotionally demanding job and it’s also a pretty thankless one. How can spending all day serving others, instead of being involved in some kind of noble, public cause, ever be truly fulfilling and worth recognition – not just by people, but by Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'ala) Himself?

Fatimah bint Muhammad is known to be one of the four most perfect women in the entire world.

Prophet Muhammad (Salallaahu Alaihi Wasalaam) drew four lines and said to the Companions, “Do you know what these are?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “The best women of the women of Paradise are Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muhammad, Maryam bint Imran and Aasiyah bint Muzahim (the wife of the Pharaoh).” (Ahmad)

Yet when we look at the biography of Fatimah bint Muhammad (Salallaahu Alaihi Wasalaam), one could say that in comparison to others amongst the early Muslim women, her life was relatively unremarkable. She grew up during a difficult time for her parents, when her father was being publicly mocked and derided for preaching his message; she lost her mother at a relatively young age and she married her cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib when she was about fifteen years old. Some of the most well-known ahadeeth related by her mention how physically demanding her lifestyle was, such that her hands would crack and bleed from the wheat-grinding that she used to do.

What made Fatimah so special? So special, in fact, that she will forever be known as one of the greatest women of Paradise?

Fatimah bint Muhammad is not known for an act of dramatic courage such as that displayed by Nusaybah bint Ka’b during the battle of Uhud, but she too provides an example for a situation that many Muslim women around the world live and continue to face: the everyday drudgery of life as a wife and mother.

Fatimah may have been the most beloved daughter to the Messenger of Allah, who was also the head of the Islamic State and leader of the Muslim army, but that didn’t mean that her life was one of luxury or ease.

Quite to the contrary, Fatimah was the mother of two young boys and ran her household single-handedly. Life was difficult back then, with none of the technologies that smooth our way through tedious tasks today. She used to grind the wheat for her bread with her own hands, to the point that her hands would crack and bleed. Her husband, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, was an employee of one of the Ansaar, but the income was meagre and they struggled to survive on a daily basis.

One day, weary and despairing of the toll that their lifestyle was taking on her, Fatimah decided that she would approach her father, RasulAllah (Salallaahu Alaihi Wasalaam). At the time, the Muslims had won a battle and, as a result, had captured several prisoners and other spoils of war. With the reasoning that as a member of the Ummah, she was entitled to some relief, Fatimah went to visit one of RasulAllah’s homes. She did not find her father present, but seeing her stepmother A’ishah, Fatimah shared the story of her bleeding hands and her wish for a maidservant to take on a share of the burdens.
Fatimah went back to her home, and when RasulAllah returned to his own house, A’ishah told him about his daughter’s visit.

That same night, RasulAllah slipped into his daughter’s home, where she and ‘Ali were already lying in bed.

Ali narrates, “I wanted to get up, but the Prophet said, ‘Remain in your place.’ Then he sat down between us until I felt the coolness of his face on my chest. The Prophet said, ‘Shall I teach you a thing which is better than what you have asked me? When you go to bed, say, ‘Allahu akbar’ thirty-four times, and ‘subhanAllah’ thirty-three times, and ‘Alhamdulillah’ thirty-three times for that is better for you both than a servant.’” (Bukhari, Book #57, Hadith #55)

After this, Fatimah never repeated her request for a maid ever again.

It may seem to be a small, insignificant thing, but subhanAllah this was one of the reasons for which Fatimah earned her position as one of the queens of Jannah. Her life was spent quietly serving her Lord, through her sincere intentions behind caring for her husband and children. Around her, there were many sahabiyaat whose lives seemed much more exciting, full of adventure and grandeur. Her stepmother, A’ishah, was a great scholar; her great-aunt Safiyyah bint Abdul-Muttalib was fierce in battle and the women of Madinah were renowned for their boldness in approaching any matter.
Nonetheless, for Fatimah bint RasulAllah, the path to Paradise was simple – though never easy. For every stay-at-home-mother and housewife who feels that her life is too consumed by daily drudgery, who worries that her life is too dull to be of consequence, the quiet strength of Fatimah bint RasulAllah is an inspiration and a reminder that no deed, however small or seemingly insignificant, is overlooked by Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Just.

For indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good. (Surah Hud, verse 115)

Jannah is not only for the Prophets, the martyrs, the ascetics, or the scholars; Jannah is attainable by every Muslimah, no matter her occupation or station in life. In the eyes of Allah, every sincere Muslim woman who pledges her life to pleasing her Lord is a heroine of Islam, Aameen

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Pleased with Allah’s Decree

 Pleased with Allah’s Decree


WHEN there is just one son, parents have to make him live with them; when there are several, it’s easier, as some of them can go abroad. After all, parents should not be left all alone. That is why one should have many children,’ says a mother-of-five empathetically. I remain silent, not agreeing with her simply because not everyone is blessed with children.

My mind shifts to some childless couples and unmarried people I know.

If Allah has kept them barren, what should their outlook be on life during old age?

Should they constantly be complaining to Allah for the fate decreed on them, or should they accept their fate and be content with it, achieving peace of mind?


Almost anyone and everyone can choose to be ungrateful. A short person may wistfully look at taller people and lament on his or her natural stature; a pauper sitting on the curb may stare enviously at the glamorous cars passing by; a blind person can very well gripe about not being able to see; and of course how slightly dark-skinned people wish they had fairer skin.


If one were to cave in to negative thinking, ungratefulness and wistfulness for the blessings one has supposedly missed out on in life, he or she would be losing on something greater: the blessings they have been granted by Allah! Life’s just too short to lose the good moments wishing for what was not meant to be yours in the first place.


The tendency to be ungrateful and negative in thinking is admittedly more common in women; this is a fact that has been mentioned in several Ahadith.

It is common to behold an unmarried girl, desperately wondering why a decent proposal has not come her way. As years pass by, the pressure to marry her off mounts on her parents.

A married woman who has not conceived a child will despair hopelessly, as she hears of the third pregnancy of a friend who got married a year after she did.


Another mother-of-three, standing in her tiny kitchen, may be crying hot tears of envy at thoughts of how other women her age live in compound villas with 24-hour maids. The cycle of ingratitude continues throughout some people’s lives: want something – pine, despair for it – achieved it and forgot about it; want something else – pine, despair for it – got it and forgot about it.


And He gave you from all you asked of Him. And if you should count the favour/blessings of Allah, you could not enumerate them. Indeed, mankind is most unjust and ungrateful.”
[Surah Al Ibrahim,34]


There is great Divine wisdom behind the concept of being pleased with Allah’s decree, known as “Al-Ridaa Bil-Qadr”. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prayed for this blessing in one of his ‘masnoon’ dua’s. It is indeed the requisite ticket to blissful peace of mind and unparalleled contentment of soul during this world’s life.


O Allah I ask you for a reassured soul, that believes in meeting you, and is pleased with Your Decree, and is content with what you have bestowed .”


But how does one achieve this desired goal?

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught us a strategy to acquire this state;

Do not look to those above you. Look to those below you, as it will more likely remind you of Allah’s favors bestowed on you.”

(Al-Bukhari and Muslim)


Allah [subhanahu wa taála] says;

“And do not wish for that by which Allah has made some of you exceed others. For men is a share of what they have earned and for women is a share of what they have earned. And ask Allah of His bounty. Indeed, Allah is ever, of all things Knowing.” 

[Surah An Nisa,32]


“…But perhaps you hate a thing and it is good for you and perhaps you love a thing and it is bad for you. And Allah knows, while you know not.”  

[Surah Al Baqarah, 216]

Also, we are encouraged to look up to those who do good so that we can try to be like them.


Allah [subhanahu wa taála] says;

“Whatever you have will end, but what Allah has is lasting. And we will surely give those who were patient their reward according to the best of what they used to do. Whoever does righteousness, whether male or female, while he is a believer — We will surely give them their reward according to the best of what they used to do.” 

[Surah An Nahl, 96-97]


If one persistently refuses – for Allah’s sake – to wistfully or enviously look at, or think about, people who are better off than him in worldly blessings, eventually he will reach a point when he will never be bothered by, or concerned with, what others have. Instead, he will focus on the good deeds he can do that will grant him a good destination in the Hereafter – the eternal life – where happiness and blessings are everlasting, not fleeting.


On achieving Ridaa Bil-Qadr, an unmarried woman will not feel anything when she hears of girls younger than her getting married or having babies; a childless man will not feel any regret or rancor when his brother begets his tenth child; an old woman, who has outlived her spouse and all her children, will not feel anything when she hears of other families gathering together on Eid. They will instead be content with what Allah has decreed for them and have a kind of peace and calmness inside them that cannot be bought with all the wealth in this world.


Allah [subhanahu wa taála] says;

“Those who have believed and whose hearts are assured by the remembrance of Allah. Unquestionably, by the remembrance of Allah hearts are assured.” [Surah Ar Ra’d,28]

Thursday, December 17, 2015

His Laughter, Her Love

The beautiful effect Sawdah bint Zam’ah (RA) had on the Prophet Muhammad (SAW)

A house full of laughter is a home full of love and, truly, the home of Rasool Allah (SAW) rang with laughter whenever Sawdah bint Zam’ah (RA) was present.

Most people overlook Sawdah, even though she was the first woman whom Rasool Allah (SAW) married after the death of Khadijah (RA).

Sawdah was much older than ‘Aishah bint Abi Bakr (RA), whom Rasool Allah (SAW) married shortly after and it’s commonly known that she gave up her allotted days and nights with Rasool Allah for ‘Aishah’s sake. According to many narrations and by her own admission, Sawdah wasn’t particularly beautiful, either – she is described as “elderly and fat.” What many don’t realise, however, is that it was her age which Rasool Allah (SAW) appreciated – or, rather, the qualities associated with it: wisdom, maturity and understanding.

Sawdah was the first stepmother for the daughters of Rasool Allah, especially for Fatimah (RA), who was still quite young at the time. She had a nurturing personality and a sense of humour which endeared her to her husband, her stepchildren and her co-wives alike.

It was known that when Rasool Allah (SAW) was feeling sorrowful or grieved due to the hardships related to the da’wah of Islam, it was always Sawdah who was guaranteed to make him smile with a quick-witted joke and Sawdah who offered him advice and comfort without requesting anything from him except his company.

Once, when Rasool Allah’s face was drawn with weariness, she teased him, “O Messenger of Allah! I prayed behind you yesterday and you prolonged the prostration for so long that I nearly had a nosebleed!” Her husband, the beloved Messenger of Allah (SAW), threw his head back and laughed so hard that his molar teeth were visible. The sorrow in his bearing disappeared and his smile lit up the heart of Sawdah with joy. (Tabaqaat al-Kubraa)

And while many women would have felt jealous at the arrival of a younger, beautiful wife, Sawdah took ‘Aishah under her wing immediately. It is related that amongst the wives of Rasool Allah (SAW), no two of them were closer to each other than Sawdah and ‘Aishah.

Sawdah’s sense of humour made it easy for the other wives to get swept away in the fun. Hafsah and ‘Aishah in particular used to enjoy getting up to pranks and Sawdah was sometimes their target.

Once, ‘Aishah and Hafsah were sitting together when Sawdah came to visit them, bedecked in finery. Raising their eyebrows at each other, Hafsah said to ‘Aishah, “Rasool Allah will come and see her and forget about us!” Then, with a gleam in her eye, Hafsah told Sawdah, “The one-eyed one is coming!” (i.e. implying the Dajjal.)

Sawdah panicked and asked, “Where can I go, where can I go?!”

Looking serious, Hafsah pointed at a tent outside – one where people would abandon unwanted items and which was full of cobwebs and other creepy-crawlies. Picking up her skirts, Sawdah fled to the tent and Hafsah and ‘Aishah broke into peals of laughter.

They were still laughing when Rasool Allah (SAW) joined them and asked them about the cause of their mirth. The two women were laughing so hard that they couldn’t even speak and all they could do was point at the tent where poor Sawdah was hiding in fear.

Filled with love for Sawdah, Rasool Allah (SAW) rushed over to her and reassured her that it was not yet time for the Dajjal to come and helped her up, brushing off the cobwebs and comforting her. (Musnad Abi Ya’la, Tabarani and al-Haythami)

Despite all this, Sawdah remained as easy-going as ever and deeply fond of ‘Aishah in particular. The affection was mutual, such that when Sawdah passed away ‘Aishah wept and said, “No woman is more beloved to me than Sawdah, whom I would rather be than anyone else.”

Today, when many Muslim men express boredom with their spouses or complain about the waning beauty of their wives, Sawdah’s marriage to Rasool Allah (SAW) is a reminder that physical beauty is not the only thing that matters.

There are many different types of love and every woman is to be loved, respected and valued for who she is – without being compared to others or belittled for what she may lack in comparison to other women. In a marriage, the human heart requires more than just outward beauty and Sawdah’s warm, loving personality was a perfect example of why Rasool Allah (SAW) found such comfort and joy in her.

As the famous hadith states, even a smile is a sadaqah, so for every woman who loves to laugh and make others join in her joy is a mountain of reward, insha Allah – just like Sawdah (RA), the beloved wife of Rasool Allah (SAW).

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Emir Abd El-Kader: Muslim Algerian Hero trumps Donald

Republican frontrunner, Donald Trump's latest demand to ban Muslims from and to America is laugh worthy. This particularly when the same state of Iowa he claims would really love him to make America great again, has a town named after a celebrated Muslim hero, Emir Abdel Kader. Umm Abdillah enlightens Radio Islam readers about Abdelkader El Jazairi (ra), one of the greatest warriors in Algerian history.
Elkader of America
Settlements in the American West were typically named after usurped Indian tribes, army forts, biblical references or the Old World origins of her pioneers. Iowa is typical in this regard. Except, there is a town in Iowa called Elkader. The town's founders were so inspired and impressed by Emir Abdelkader’s leadership, his defense of his Islamic Faith, his horsemanship, his scholarship, his justice, his advocacy for religious tolerance and fight against French colonial usurpation that they decided to pick his name as the name for their new settlement in 1846. They call themselves “Elkaderites” up to today. Elkaderites are unique. Theirs is supposedly the only town in the United States named after a North African Muslim.
There is however plenty evidence that there were Muslims on Columbus’ ships, and they had even got to the America’s before Columbus. Further, it is proven that a group of Vikings set up a successful colony in Greenland that lasted for 518 years between 982-1500, long before Columbus. According to the writings of Ahmad ibn Fadlan, these same Vikings crossed paths with Muslims pointing to fascinating trade and cultural exchange.
Sit down Donald Trump! America’s founders are laughing at you!
Abdelkader ibn Muhieddine (1808–1883)
Emir Abdelkader was the founder the Algerian state and led the Algerians in their 19th-century wars against French domination (1840–46).
He was a Haafiz of the Quran, an aalim, well read, a poet, author, commander of the faithful, and also a Sufi master. He managed to unite military, political and religious leadership via his calm, benevolent person. And he did it while constantly reaching out to other people and seeking dialogue: so much so that the country against which he waged a long war ended up awarding him their highest medal of honour.
In 1825, he set out on Hajj with his father. He returned to his homeland a few months before the invasion of the French. His father, as a local figurehead, was asked to lead a campaign against the invaders, and dutifully announced a jihad. He was however too old to lead warriors into battle, and so at a meeting of tribal elders, his son Abdelkader was nominated Emir in his place.
Abdelkader, with little experience, set about it as best he could: he established a capital city, printed money, set up ministries, and managed to calm intertribal tensions long enough to organise a standing army. From the French (with whom fighting soon broke out again) he quickly won respect: those at home opposed to the war of conquest saw him as a figurehead, while French prisoners captured by the Algerians were united in their praise of how well Abdelkader tended to their physical and religious needs.
In fact, far from being seen as the epitome of an alien and aggressive religion – in the way that Islamic leaders have been caricaturised during more recent incursions by the West – Abdelkader became a spiritual inspiration, a role model. Despite fighting against them in the capacity of a staunch and effective warrior, the French General Bugeaud said that he "rather resembles the portrait often given of Jesus Christ.”
His “Christ-like” qualities were only reinforced when the French took him prisoner and had him transported to France. He was left to stew in a series of prisons while various French regimes tried to work out what to do with him – and it took a long time: he remained incarcerated under the July monarchy, the Guizot government, the Second Republic, the presidency of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte, and the Second Empire. He lost several wives and children to disease along the way, but Abdelkader himself, not unlike a nineteenth-century Nelson Mandela, only seemed to grow in stature from being imprisoned, and won more and more respect from his captors. He was aided by a growing campaign for his release among French intellectuals, including Victor Hugo.
Druze and Maronite Christian factions bloodshed
In July 1860, conflict between the Druze and Maronites of Mount Lebanon spread to Damascus, and local Druze attacked the Christian quarter, killing over 3,000 people.
As the violence spread, threatening the lives of Maronite Christians, Abdelkader (living in exile in Syria) wrote a letter to Druze elders warning that “such proceedings are unworthy of your community,” but he soon realised that only a show of force would be effective. When rioting reached Damascus, Abd el-Kader rebuffed the Ottoman governor’s request to disarm his men, and instead sent them into the city’s Christian quarters to escort residents to his own guarded precinct. When that overflowed, he pressed the governor to open the citadel to them, with safe passage guaranteed by his men. His eldest sons were also sent into the streets to offer any Christians under threat shelter under his protection. It is estimated that as many as 12,000 lives were thus saved.
Mikhail Mishaqa, then serving consul in Damascus, remembered in his memoirs, “This outstanding man, whose excellence was well known to the kings and inhabitants of this earth, never rested a moment in his attempts to allay the revolt. There was not a single leader of the city, Ulema, or Agha, warning them against revolt, of its impermissibility in religion, except for him.”
“What I did for the Christians, I did because of my faith as a Muslim....
The Red Cross of today holds Emir Abdelkader in high esteem. In his implementation of human rights principles in warfare in Algeria and abroad, the organisation considers him a forerunner to Henri Dunant, the Red Cross’ founder.
After the riots, Abdelkader wrote in response to a letter of thanks from the new bishop of Algiers:
“What I did for the Christians, I did because of my faith as a Muslim.... All religions brought to us by the prophets, from Adam until Muhammad (pbu them), rest on two principles—praise for God and compassion for all His creatures. Outside of this, there are only unimportant differences.”
People like Donald Trump use broad-brush strokes to make claims about a failed Islamic morality in matters of war and peace, yet the truth is in the details of the painting. It would be helpful for the bigoted Mr. Trump to travel to Elkader in Iowa State to learn just that.