Making Eid fun for our Children…

Eid Al-Fitr is our holiday. It is the day chosen by Allah for Muslims to be happy, have Halal fun, spend time with their families and celebrate in a halal way. It is one of two Eids with which Allah has blessed this ummah.

Anas bin Malik (RA) said: “The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) came to Madinah and the people had two days when they would play and have fun. He said, ‘What are these two days?’ They said, ‘We used to play and have fun on these days during the days of ignorance. The Messenger of Allah (Peace be upon him) said, ‘Allah has given you something better than them, the day of (Eid) Adhaa and the day of (Eid) Fitr.’” (Sunan Abu Dawood)

The above Hadith makes it clear that these two Eids are part of our religion, and also that it is prohibited for us to celebrate the holidays of other religions.

In the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), a lot of fun activities were organized on Eid day for the youth, as can be seen in the following narration:

Aisha Bint Abi Bakr reported that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came to my house when two girls were beside me singing songs of Bu’ath. The Prophet laid down and turned his face to the other side. Then Abu Bakr came and spoke to me harshly, saying, “Musical instruments of Satan near the Prophet?” The Prophet turned his face toward him and he said, “Leave them alone.” When Abu Bakr became inattentive, I signalled to the girls and they left.

It was the day of celebration (Eid) and the Abyssinians were playing with shields and spears. Either I asked the Prophet or he asked me whether I would like to watch. I said yes. Then the Prophet made me stand behind him while my cheek was touching his cheek and the Prophet was saying, “Carry on, O tribe of Arfida.” I became tired and the Prophet asked me, “Are you satisfied?” I said yes, so I left. (Saheeh Bukhari 907)

This tradition of Halal fun on Eid day continues today in most Muslim countries around the world like UAE, Malaysia, and even Palestine. We too should strive to revive this atmosphere in our communities.

Today many young Muslims are growing up in Non-Muslim countries like South Africa, and they are attracted to the celebrations and fun events associated with Christmas and Easter. One way to keep them away from these events is to make Eid as fun as possible.

Here are a few tips on how we can make Eid fun for kids in South Africa:

  1. Build anticipation

In the days leading up to Eid, count down the days with your kids. Let them see how excited everybody is about Eid. Talk to them about all the fun things you will do on Eid day, and do what you can to get them really excited about Eid day.

  1. Buy Gifts

The Prophet (peace be upon him) encouraged the exchanging of gifts as a way of increasing love between people. This applies to our children as well. Make Eid special by buying for each of the children in your family a special gift on Eid day.

  1. Take off from work if possible

If you are able to take the day off from work for Eid day, then do so. Your family will appreciate the extra time you spend with them on this beautiful day and it create another reason for children to look forward to Eid day.

If you are an employer, give your Muslim staff the day off on Eid Day so that they too can enjoy Eid with their families.

  1. Attend Eid Salah as a family

It is Sunnah for entire families to attend the Eid Salah together. Take your children with you for the Eid Salah so that they can soak in the Eid Atmosphere and experience the specialness of this day.

  1. Visit Family

Take out time on Eid day to visit your relatives, and buy gifts for other children in the family as well, besides your own. Go out of your way to make Eid special for all Muslim children, not just your own.

  1. Plan fun activities

Take out time to plan some fun Halal activities for the children on this day. Whether it is someplace to visit, games to play, or nasheeds to sing. Be creative and find ways to make each Eid special and memorable.

  1. Quality Time – Be Present

Finally, make sure that you spend quality time with your children on Eid Day. Don’t just be there physically, but be actively involved in enjoying Eid with your children.

Doing all of this will help make Eid special for children, and build in them a love of Islam, Ramadan, and Eid.

Eid Mubarak to all our readers!


Originally written @ Islamic Self Help by Shaykh Ismail Kamdar

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Ramadan Activity Journal

 

Today I like to share a very thoughtful activity Ramadan journal for kids. You can see other posts too regarding Ramadan activities and tips on our blog, but this one can cover ages 4-10. InshAllah it ‘ll give the opportunity to parents to learn and enjoy them as well.

 

You can download by clicking here on this journal Productive-Ramadan-for-kids.


Compiled by a sister who likes to remain anonymous. We are grateful for your efforts, may Allah SWT make it sadqa Jariya for you!

10 WISDOMS OF RAMADAN

Al-Huda, The Quran Club

 1. Taqwaa – this is explicitly mentioned in the Qur’an as one of the purposes of fasting.  For 30 days we lesson our desires and by abstaining from them and show Allah that we are able to live without our most essential items for a period of time.

Gem: if you can live without your most essential things (food) for a time, then how about the sins which we do not need?

2. The Poor – we are reminded of those who abstain from these essentials throughout most of the year.  Through this we come to appreciate the blessings of things like water.

Gem: We also come to realize the even the smallest blessings that we take for granted.  Like being able to fall sleep, to urinate.

3. Lessens our physical desires and increases our spiritual ones – During this month there is less emphasis on the body and more…

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10 Tips to Child-Proof your Taraweeh this Ramadan

Ramadan is a time when family and friends gather at the masjid to feast on delicious meals and stand shoulder to shoulder in nighttime prayers filled with blessings and rewards.  It’s a pleasurable time at the masjid that both parents and children look forward to.  But suppose you are the mother of a rambunctious child, what might normally be an enjoyable time to connect with friends and get closer to Allah SWT can become an experience filled with frustration.  Here are 10 tips to encourage your child to stay on his best behavior in the masjid, so you can have a more pleasant and rewarding Taraweeh prayer during Ramadan insha’Allah.

Tip 1

Select a masjid that caters to children.  Many masjids offer childcare services for worshippers, making it easy for parents to enjoy meals and give their undivided attention during long standing periods of Taraweeh prayer.  Of course, not all masjids have this luxury.  Even so, some are certainly more kid-friendly than others.  Look for a masjid that you and your child both feel comfortable in.

Tip 2

Encourage your child to fast during Ramadan.  The pious predecessors of the Prophet SAWS encouraged their children to fast.  There are differences in opinion as to what age children should be encouraged to fast.  Nevertheless, you can still make gentle attempts at getting your child to give up eating by distracting him with toys, as did our pious predecessors.  You can even offer a special reward if he fasts all or most of the day. Use affectionate persuasion but don’t force fasting upon him.  How can fasting help control your child during visits to the masjid?  Think about it . . . how do you feel after fasting all day and then finally sitting down to savor a scrumptious meal?  Your blood sugar plummets and you’re ready to doze off to sleep.  Your children are no different.  Having your child fall asleep during Taraweeh prayer can be the relief you need to focus on your prayers and avoid having to correct him to be quiet or sit still.

Tip 3

Endear your child to stand for the Taraweeh prayer along with you.  It’s not uncommon for children as young as eight-years-old to stand for the entire Taraweeh prayer! However, don’t force it upon your child.  All children are different.  Offer him a special treat if he stands throughout much of the prayer with you.  You’ll find him trying his best to stay on his feet, fighting the urge to rock back and forth and nod off.

Tip 4

Talk to your child prior to leaving home.  Explain to him that you understand how difficult it can be sitting still for such a long period of time.  Explain specifically what type of behavior you expect from him, within reason.  Tell him that you want him to sit down while you’re praying.  Let him know if he wishes to talk, he should use a hushed tone.  If he sits quietly throughout most of the prayer, you’ll give him a gift from your “Ramadan Gift Bag” on the way home.  Your gift doesn’t have to be expensive.  It could even be a special dessert such as an ice cream cone or donut on the way home from the masjid, or even a special sweet treat you cook up at home.

Tip 5

Carry along a “Taraweeh Activity Bag” with an assortment of toys such as coloring books and crayons, pencil and paper, puzzles, sticker books, hand held toys  and whatever other entertaining toys (without images) you think will keep your child’s hands busy and mind occupied while you’re praying.  Why not visit the local dollar store and have your child pick out toys he might enjoy playing with.  After you get home, stuff everything into a back pack for your child to carry with him to the masjid.

Tip 6

Bring a bag of snacks. What better way to keep your child’s mouth closed and hands busy than with baggies filled with savory snacks.   Treats with mini pieces such as bags of nuts, popcorn or fruit snacks are ideal.  They make it practical for your child to share with his friends and they don’t leave crumbs behind.  Be sure to remind him to pick up any bags or wrappers he may have used.

Tip 7

Take an outside break.  Sometimes, being inside for an extensive period of time can be too much for your child. When your child gets cranky and disruptive to others, give him a break.  Allow him (and yourself) to take a breather outside and take in some fresh night air. After calming down your child and gathering your resolve, return inside and continue your prayer.

Tip 8

Remember that you are training your child.  Don’t expect a perfect soldier.  He will falter at times with your instructions. That can be expected.  Your child is not an adult.  And besides, even adults have limitations on their attention spans.  Your child is just that—a child.

Tip 9

Lower your expectations of attaining a perfect Taraweeh prayer.  Times are not the same as when you had no children.  Your child will inevitably take time away from your devotion.  And that’s okay.  You are now in charge of a child you have been given as a trust. Your responsibility is to teach him his purpose in life—to worship his Lord.  Through your patience, guidance and example, he will learn an important facet of Ramadan—standing earnestly at night and enduring the fortitude of praying to His Lord.

Tip 10

For some children, the structured environment of a masjid for such an extended period of time is just too demanding.  In such situations, it’s reassuring to know that for sisters, praying in the home gains more rewards than praying in the masjid–talk about convenience.  So, you can still receive bountiful rewards from your Lord right in your home while praying Taraweeh and at the same time, allow your child to experience the many blessing of this holy month of Ramadan.

What tips do you use to manage children during Taraweeh prayers? Please share with us in the comments section below. 🙂


Originally posted on IOU Blog by Grandma Jeddah

Ramadan Like Never Before – Have a Solid Plan

Verse By Verse Qur'an Study Circle


In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

We are going to set five major goals for Ramadan.

A goal without a plan is just a wish.

Here are some examples for you to create your own Ramadan plan

Now, for example (you live in the West), you are at work and it is prayer time, where are you going to pray? Conference room, outside or can you go to the masjid? Make arrangements right now. 

You can also plan on which Surah you are going to recite in which prayer. 

Setting Our Ramadan Goals

GOAL NUMBER ONE – Fasting at the Best Level
Levels of Fasting 

LEVEL ONE (Ordinary level/Bare minimum) – Not drinking or eating and refraining from fulfilling sexual desires

LEVEL TWO (Special level/Better than previous level) – Controlling one’s gaze, tongue, hands, feet, hearing, and other parts of the body from committing sinful…

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How to stay positive during hardships?

Beating the tough time with the courage and patience is an actual bravery. People who do not despair in the hard times and remain focused have remarkable qualities. Indeed when tough challenges hit, it either define you or destroy you. But good thing is hardships does help us to value the ease.

Today, I like to share few incidents from the life of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to highlight how he acted during distressful circumstances. So that it help you to stay positive and keep your spirits high insha’Allah.

Be with me!

Abu Talib’s Death

It was the 10th year of Prophethood. Things in Makkah were returning to normal after the long social economical boycott of Banu Hashim. Historians report that the Quresh instated a stifling boycott on muslims for approximately three years in Makkah. Only when this confinement ended, muslims took a sigh of relief.

Prophet’s uncle and his caretaker Abu Talib suffered heavily through this trial and got ill. He was 70 years old. The hardships of the siege had weakened his health. The Makkans took it as an opportunity to speak about Muhammad ﷺ. In his last moments, some notables from Quresh like Abu Jahl and Abdullah bin Abi Umayyah visited him. They were well aware of the bond between the Prophet ﷺ and his uncle. They were hoping that the Prophet would listen to his uncle’s dying wishes but no settlement occurred among them. The leaders were reluctant to accept Islam and Prophet ﷺ was clear in his beliefs. The Prophet ﷺ tried that they embrace Islam and persuaded Abu Talib till his last breath.

“My uncle, just make a profession that there is no true god but Allah, and I will bear testimony before Allâh (of your being a believer)”. (Al-Mubarakpuri, 2003)

Sorrowfully, he insisted on his ancestors’ faith and eventually died in the state of disbelief. One can only imagine the grief of Prophet ﷺ not only for his loss, but also on Abu Talib’s denial of the truth. Out of the deep emotions, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ remarked:

“By Allah, I will persistently beg pardon for you till I am forbidden to do so (by Allah)”. (Al-Mubarakpuri, 2003)

It was then that this verse was revealed in Quran (9:113):

“It is not (proper) for the Prophet and those who believe to ask Allah’s forgiveness for the Mushrikeen (polytheists, idolaters, pagans, disbelievers in the Oneness of Allah) even though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the Fire (because they died in a state of disbelief).”

And it was said to the Prophet ﷺ:

“ Verily! You [O Muhammad ] guide not whom you like.” (Quran, 28:56)

Nevertheless, Abu Talib was the tower of defense against the arrogant Quresh. He did not let Quresh “isolate” Prophet ﷺ.  Everyone knew his death meant the loss of political protection for his nephew and for Muslims. It was a 40-year long selfless relationship, the love and care he showed to Prophet ﷺ and Muslims is admirable.

Shortly after, Abu Lahab became the chief of Abu Talib’s tribe whose hatred and enmity towards believers was not hidden from anyone. Initially he abided by the wishes of the clan in protecting Muhammadﷺ, but quickly reverted to his former enmity. With this development, the persecution, insult and disrespect of the messenger by people of the city reached to a higher level. There were many disgraceful, unprovoked acts that Prophet ﷺ patiently endured in this difficult time. Regardless, he continued his mission and kept calling people to the oneness of Allah.

Khadija’s R.A Death

Just two months after the death of his uncle, another calamity struck the Prophet. His beloved companion, loving wife, and mother of his children, Khadijah R.A passed away. Sadly, this time Prophet ﷺ lost the central pillar of his household, the love of his life. His internal strength was stricken with this trial. For 25 years, they shared companionship of each other. She was 65 years old at the time of her death and Prophet ﷺ was 50. These were the gloomy, grim days for the family of the Messenger. Khadija bint Khuwaylid was the first lady to believe in his dawah and stood bravely by him in all-critical situations. His spiritual companion with a pure heart, mind and soul who always comforted his agony was gone. She was his best person, who used to alleviate his sufferings and always raise his morale. May Allah SWT be pleased with her; and may He reward her best recompense. Ameen

Conclusion

Allah SWT exemplifies Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for the whole mankind. So as a result, the important part is to learn from his life and character.

  • His trials and difficulties were not small, but even at that time, he did not forget to trust Allah SWT. As Allah the Almighty revealed these verses:

“And rely upon the Ever-Living who does not die, and exalt [Allah] with His praise. And sufficient is He to be, with the sins of His servants, Acquainted”   (Quran, 25:58)

 

  • Optimism is the key to handle odd situations. Prophet’s life is a proof that he was a fountain of optimism. No matter, how grief struck him, how heart-broken Prophet ﷺ was from the behavior of enemies, he did not discontinue his mission.
  • Prophet ﷺ endured the loss of his beloved ones with utmost patience. As he knew Allah SWT says in the Quran:

And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient”. (Quran, 2:155)

  • Because of these and similar incidents, no one could assert that Islam succeeded with the help of a particular person, but rather it was due to Allah’s help and protection as He is the best Disposer of all affairs.

Thus, as believers, we should remain patient and submissive in all conditions with the decree and commandments of Allah SWT, no matter how difficult things are, no matter who comes in and goes away from our lives, we should always remember and affirm with our tongue and heart by saying,

“… Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.” (Quran, 2:156)


References

Al-Mubarakpuri, Saifur Rahman (2003). “The Year of Grief ” The Sealed Nectar [Ar-Raheeq Al-Makhtum]. Lahore: Darussalam

Al-Qur’an al-Kareem. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://quran.com/

Fathima, A. (2014, October 18). Asfia’s Blog! Retrieved July 02, 2017, from http://asfiasblog.blogspot.com/2014/10/the-year-of-sorrow-of-prophet-muhammad.html

Rahman, Adam. (n.d.). The Greatest Man of All Time: A Mercy to The World (Limited ed.). Awake iRevival.

Sayings and Teachings of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. (n.d.). Retrieved June 29,2017, from https://sunnah.com/

Year of Sorrow. (2017, June 19). Retrieved June 29, 2017, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Year_of_Sorrow

Role of Muslim women in the development of the Islamic sciences

“In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful”

An African proverb says, “Educate a boy and we educate one person. Educate a girl and we educate a family, a whole nation.”

Islam stresses education more than any other religion and considers it an essential right of every human without discriminating on the basis of gender. Women’s education is as important as men’s for the sustainability and progress of a society. The world is surprised to find that there are many Muslim women scholars who played an active role in the intellectual and social development of Muslim communities. Although the role of women scholars in Hadith Sciences is highlighted, studies show that women also contributed significantly to fields like theology, jurisprudence, literature, technology, calligraphy, medicine and many crafts that we recognize and admire as Islamic. Below is an overview of the contributions made by female Muslim scholars over the Islamic period.

Early Islamic Era: From the earliest days of Islam, women played a vital role in preservation and cultivation of Hadith. They attended prayers and sermons in Prophet’s ﷺ mosque and learnt from him in public gatherings. After his death, Sahabah used to approach Ummhat-ul-Momineen who never felt shy to guide them with their knowledge. In this regard, names of A’ishah , Hafsah, Umm Habibah, Maymunah, Umm Salamah, and Safiyah bint Huyay are renowned (May Allah be pleased with all of them, Ameen). A’ishah R.A has an eminent place in the Islamic history as a major narrator of ahadith. She praised Ansari women for being open to asking issues related to women that keep benefiting the Ummah. Other female companions of Prophet ﷺ also left their mark in history. Among the successors, women remained dynamic contributors to the Muslim civilization. Umm-ud-Darda Sughrah (Death: 81/700 CE) was a taba’iyyah (who was Muslim follower and contemporary of sahaba and born after Prophet’s ﷺ death) and a prominent jurist from Damascus of the 7th century who is considered to be superior to prominent hadith scholars like Ibn Sireen and Hasan al-Basari. She was fiqh teacher of caliph Abd al-Malik ibn Marwan. Hafsah bint-Sireen [1] learned many ahadith from sahabi Anas ibn Maalik and was very proficient in Tafseer and Quran recitation. A’bida Al-Madaniyah (8th-century scholar) was a freed slave and wife of the Spanish hadith scholar Habib Duhan. She had a prominent place by memorizing traditions from great hadith scholars of Madina and related more than 10,000 ahadith on the authority of her teachers [2]. Fatima Al-Batayahiyyah [3] was a well-known scholar of the 8th century and taught Sahih Bukhari in Damascus. Leading male scholars of the time came from afar to attend her lectures. A’ishah bint Sa’d bin Abi Waqas, daughter of the famous Sahabi, was so learned that Imam Malik, Hakim ibn Utaybah, and Ayyub as Sakhtiyani were among her students.Read More »

WHAT IS HALAL MEAT?

We have a very wrong understanding of the meaning of Halal slaughter. I was asked by a Non-Muslim professor once. What makes a meat halal? And I didn’t know an explanation and I was embarrassed. But I gave a vague answer saying that we say the prayer before we cut, that makes it Halal.

Later, I came back and went through many hadiths and articles written by Muslim scholars and finally came to an understanding. I am going to explain it in a scientific way so that InshaAllah in the future you will be prepared if anyone asks you the same.

WHAT MAKES A 🐮 MEAT 🐑 HALAL OR HARAM??

Answer: It is the undrained blood that contaminates the meat, which makes it Haram.

What non-muslim butchers do is completely CHOP OFF the head as a result of which the Connection between the Brain and the Heart is LOST hence the Heart stops Pumping/Beating almost instantaneously. Therefore there is no driving Force to PUSH the blood OUT of the body. As a result of this, the blood STAGNATES in the veins and arteries and Contaminates the meat.

Scientifically Blood is one of the Best culture mediums to grow bacteria.

Consuming meat contaminated with blood makes humans more vulnerable to infections and joint pains. (Joint pains because of high uric acid levels in blood)

SO WHAT IS THE HALAL WAY??

Answer: We DO Not Chop off the head completely, instead we CUT the Main Vein (jugular vein) in the neck first. This vein contains venous blood in high pressure and it directly connects to the atrium of the heart without any interference. This method of slaughtering preserves the connection between the brain and the heart which allows neural transmissions to be delivered. This keeps the heart pumping/beating until all the blood is drained off completely from every vein and artery in the body making the meat PURE and thus halal. SUBHANALLAH!!

SO THE NEXT QUESTION IS WHAT MAKES FISH 🐟 HALAL EVEN THOUGH IT IS NOT SLAUGHTERED THIS WAY??

Allah SWT has created Fish🐟 in such a way that the moment it is removed from water the Entire Blood in its body is redirected to a part called the Epiglottis in its mouth which turns bright red thus indicating that the blood is drained and the meat is pure. SUBHANALLAH!!


Originally shared by Sisters Islam Query

The Lost Female Scholars of Islam

At the time Eileen Collins became the first woman to command the space shuttle, some Muslims were debating the right of women to drive a car on the road. This disparity in the level of public discourse on the rights of women and role of women confront Muslim societies. New findings by a scholar at Oxford on the historical role of women may help Muslims forge a new perspective but still remain true to the Prophetic traditions. Mehrunisha Suleman and Afaaf Rajbee report.

If you call a man a thief long enough, he will start to think he really is a thief. Likewise, if you call a child stupid all the time, she will grow up thinking s/he really is stupid. This swindle of self-perception describes the deep seated anxiety surrounding women in Islam. The sustained media and academic portrayal of Islam has been that of a sexist, patriarchal religion that subjugates women through implicit assumptions of their inferiority. The corrective efforts to this perceived sexism have been shaped by conservatism and radicalism alike. Muslim feminists throw women forward as the bastion of a new, gender-less Islam, free from the shackles of male scholarship and propelling them forth to become imams and state leaders. At the same time, one can find countless imams from the Asian subcontinent who will readily declare women’s rights as a pernicious Western import, against which the best defence is to keep them inside the home and away from places of work and education. In this way, there may be little that separates misogynistic mullahs from progressive feminists: both are reactions to a crisis of confidence in their own faith. The social and political upheavals of the past c e n t u r y h a v e shaken the ummah to the very core – to the point that commentators cannot seem to defend the most basic social relationship between men and women. Amidst these celebrations and condemnations of Islam’s supposed misogynism, Shaykh Mohammad Akram Nadwi’s study of Al Muhaddithat: the women scholars of hadith is a timely reminder that the gender issue need not be a problem in Islam. The portrayal in the media of Islam as the cause of the subordination of women was a key inspiration for the Shaykh to embark on his decade long study. Currently a research fellow at the Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies, he found himself confronted with disagreements amongst Muslims about their own history. There was a gaping need to seek out the real historical record on women’s place in the Islamic tradition.

There are widely cited arguments that the male gender bias in Islamic scholarship has affected the interpretations of the Qur’an and hadith. But the historical records show examples of fatwas issued by male jurists that were materially adverse to men and in favour of women. Furthermore, many of the testaments of excellent female scholarships have been recounted by their male students. Imam Dhahabi noted that amongst female narrators of hadith, there were none found to be fabricators. Women’s scholarly integrity and independence were unimpeachable. Naturally, any sexist male would have a problem admitting to these facts. Since women today participate so little in the teaching of Hadith and the issuing of fatwas, there is a wide misconception that historically they have never played this role. As Shaykh Akram describes, “when I started, I thought there may be thirty to forty women,” but as the study progressed, the accounts of female scholars kept growing and growing, until eventually there were no less than 8,000 biographical accounts to be found. Such vast numbers truly testify to the huge role that women have played in the preservation and development of Islamic learning since the time of the blessed Prophet Muhammad. The women encountered by Shaykh Akram were far from mediocre when compared to men, indeed, some excelled far beyond their male contemporaries. There were exceptional women who not only actively participated in society but also actively reformed it. Most striking was the high calibre of their intellectual achievements and the respect that they received for this.

Apart from well-known figures, including Ayesha Siddiqa, the daughter of Abu Bakr, the grandeur of forgotten scholars is rekindled in the work. Fatima Al Batayahiyyah, an 8th century scholar taught the celebrated work of Sahih al Bukhari in Damascus. She was known as one of the greatest scholars of that period, demonstrated especially during the Hajj when leading male scholars of the day flocked from afar to hear her speak in person. A beautiful picture is painted of her in an Islam that has been long forgotten – a distinguished, elderly woman teaching her students for days on end in the Prophet’s mosque itself. Whenever she tired, she would rest her head on the Prophet’s grave and continue to teach her students as the hours wore on. A n y w o m a n visiting the Prophet’s mosque now will know the frustration of not even being able to see the blessed Prophet’s grave, let alone rest their head on its side wall.

Another, Zainab bint Kamal, taught more than 400 books of Hadith in the 12th century. Her “camel loads” of texts attracted camel loads of students. She was a natural teacher, exhibiting exceptional patience which won the hearts of those she taught. With such a towering intellectual reputation, her gender was no obstacle to her teaching in some of the most prestigious academic institutes in Damascus.

Then there was Fatimah bint Muhammad al Samarqandi, a jurist who advised her more famous husband on how to issue his fatwas. And Umm al-Darda, who as a young woman, used to sit with male scholars in the mosque. “I’ve tried to worship Allah in every way,” she wrote, “but I’ve never found a better one than sitting around debating with other scholars.” She became a teacher of hadith and fiqh and lectured in the men’s section. One of her students was the caliph of Damascus. The sheer hard work and dedication to Islam by these women is unfathomable by standards today – but they also had some biological advantages against men. Female muhaddi that were often sought after by students to learn hadith because of their longer lifespan – which shortened the links in the chains of narration. Although Shaykh Akram’s study focuses on the narrators of Hadith, he found that women s c h o l a r s had also contributed significantly in teaching “theology, logic, philosophy, calligraphy and many of the crafts that we recognise and admire as Islamic.”

The presence of female teachers alone does not do justice to the importance of women in Islamic history. The Qur’an, as originally recorded on parchments and animal bones, was entrusted to Hafsah, daughter of Umar. It was with the help of these preserved records that Caliph Uthman disseminated six standardised versions of the Qur’an to the major political and cultural centres in the Islamic realm. He ordered all non-standardised editions to be burned, an act that indicates the immense trust in Hafsah’s competence and character. The validity of women’s teachings was never doubted by the Companions on account of their gender, or by any respected scholar since.

Considering Islam’s teachings on the fundamental equality of men and women, Shaykh Akram’s work should really be no surprise. The Prophet taught that there is no difference in worth between believers on account of their gender. Both have the same rights and duties to learn and teach – from memorising and transmitting the words of the Qur’an and Hadith to the interpretation of these sources and giving counsel to fellow Muslims through fatwas (legal opinions). Women have the same duty as men to encourage the good and restrain the evil. It follows quite logically from this that if they cannot become scholars and be capable of understanding, interpreting and teaching, they cannot fulfil their duty as Muslims. If the subjugation of women is not the result of Islamic teachings, then why are there such gross violations of women’s rights in the Muslim world today? Relegating the Muslim woman only to the role of a mother and housewife is a relatively modern phenomenon (didn’t Ayesha lead an army and didn’t Umm Salama avert a crisis at Hudaybiyyah?). The definitive cause to this complex and multi-faceted problem is heavily debated, but a few contributing factors are worth tracing here. The hegemony of Western civilisation in the modern world brings with it an inevitability that the Muslim world will fall victim to its own weaknesses. Women have always had a problematic position in the Judeo-Christian tradition, the most obvious example being the Biblical account of Adam and Eve’s fall from the Garden. The source of mankind’s original sin is placed squarely on Eve, who represents the weaker sex in the parable (the pains of childbirth have traditionally been regarded as atonement for this original sin in the Christian faith).

Theological precedents aside, the equality of men and women has come late in the day to Western Europe, with the status of women as “human” being debated in the 16th century and equal legal rights to men only being established by the 19th and 20th centuries. Misogynism was internationalised, as Aisha Bewley, writer and translator of the Qur’an describes, by western colonial authorities who excluded women from teaching in mosques and assuming political roles in the Muslim societies they colonised. “The lens through which the West viewed Muslim women was already a distorted one – and o n c e imposed or implanted among the Muslims, this viewpoint gradually became an established norm.” As the technologically and scientifically superior western culture impressed Muslim intellectuals, they grew more open to the values that these cultures brought with them.

Finger-pointing at “the West” is a comfortable answer for everyone, but it is all the more important to realise that the fate of the Muslim woman cannot be divorced from the fate of the Muslim community as a whole. The retraction of women from the public sphere is also the result of fear. “Islam’s current cultural insecurity has been bad for both its scholarship and its women,” says Shaykh Akram. “Our traditions have grown weak, and w h e n people are weak, they grow cautious. When they are cautious, they don’t give their women freedoms.” Man’s desire to protect women has gone into overdrive, to the point that it has actually undermined the quality of Muslim communities. When the few women that do break free begin to propagate extreme brands of feminism, the result is a vicious circle of suspicion, fear and oppression.
The revelation of the 8,000 strong history of Muslim women scholars will prompt a variety of reactions from various parties. Misogynists are likely to deny it and attempt to undermine its authenticity. Feminists will be pleased that someone has done the hard work for them. Yet the best lesson is most likely to be found in the motivation behind its writing. Shaykh Akram seeks to bring people back to traditional Islam with the purpose of demonstrating that Islam is not misogynistic and nor were early male scholars biased against women. Accusations that his study encourages free-mixing and the relaxing of modesty are unfounded. It is clear in the introduction to the 40 volumes that the hijab is also the sunnah of the Prophet and “enables women to be present and visible in the public space in a way that is safe and dignified.” Here Shaykh Akram’s status as a learned alim from a prestigious institution (Nadwat al Ulama in Lucknow, India) who has studied Islam in the traditional way stands him in good stead; scholars including Shaykh Yusuf al Qaradawi have been more than willing to acknowledge his research and findings.

The irony of our forgotten women scholars is that they spent their lives in the pursuit of historical facts, whereas Muslims have long forgotten the fact of their contribution. Historical criticism is a fundamental principle in Islam. The Qur’an requires “O believers! If any iniquitous person comes to you with a slanderous tale, verify it, lest you hurt people unwittingly…” (49:6) Questioning the media frenzy on Islam is not just a good idea, but a religious obligation for Muslims to seek out the truth.

Once we have acknowledged the true historical record, that women are not subjugated by Islam and have played a part since the very beginning, we must also move on. Islam was not revealed as a bundle of doctrines delineating women’s rights, human rights or animal rights. Islam confers all of these rights and duties on us when we sincerely accept Allah’s rights. Faith, and not bare-knuckled rationality, permits us to create a society where everyone can have their rights upheld t h r o u g h submission to His Word and His messengers. Centuries of accusations of misogynism have been internalised and turned into reality, making Muslims themselves believe that Islam is fl awed. In a world where some women are kept locked in their homes while others are vying to become presidents, Shaykh Akram’s research should present us with some confidence in the justice of Islam. Not because it proves that Islam has had many women scholars – but that there were many great scholars that happened to be women.


Originally posted on emel.comMehrunisha Suleman and Afaaf Rajbee report.

Polygamy in Islam – The Marriages of Prophet Muhammad — Verse By Verse Qur’an Study Circle

Our beloved Prophet salAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam is often criticized for having more than one wife. A man having excellent virtues as himself was not sent to the world for any other purpose than spreading Islam, purifying the people and teaching the Qur’an. He, by his word and deed, made the teachings of Islam radiate all over […]

via Polygamy in Islam – The Marriages of Prophet Muhammad — Verse By Verse Qur’an Study Circle