Saturday, April 17, 2010

The greatest women who ever lived… Part 1

by xeniagreekmuslimah
[Part 1]

Sparkling gems in their own times, they continue to glisten beyond their age, making their appeal everlastingஸEach one a legend in her own right, they were declared the best of women by the Last Prophet (SAW)ஸSo what were the special characteristics these illustrious women had and how can we follow in their footsteps in our times? Fatima Barakatullah looks for answers and finds inspiration and guidance.

What are the most famous women of today celebrated for? Those held up as role models for the modern woman include actresses, singers, footballers WAGs (wives and girlfriends) and glamour models – all celebrated for their physical appeal. Very rarely will a woman be deemed ’successful’ for other than what is really just superficial and then, as is often the case, when she ages and her physical features fade, she will fall out of favour with the media and younger women will replace her as the icons of their era.

But Allah shows us in His Book that a woman is so much more than the outer shell that is her body. Our history is replete with examples of great women who were gems of their times and whose sparkling appeal is timeless. Islam defines for us that the truly successful are those of integrity, who fulfil the purpose of their creation and rise to the challenges that are presented to them throughout life with tenacity, thereby gaining the pleasure of their Creator and everlasting victory in the next life.

The Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) said in an authentic Hadeeth:

“The best women from the people of Jannah are Khadijah bint Khuwaylid, Fatima daughter of Muhammad, Aasiya bint Muzaahim – the Wife of Pharoah and Mary daughter of Imran, may Allah be pleased with them all.”

In fact Allah specifically mentions two of these great women in the Qur’an, as role models for believing men as well as women. In Surat ut-Tahreem Allah says:

“And Allah has set forth an example for those who believe: The wife of Pharaoh, when she said: “My Lord! Build for me a home with you in Paradise, and save me from the Pharaoh and his actions, and save me from the people who are oppressors.

And Maryam, the daughter of Imran who guarded her chastity. And we breathed into the sleeve of her garment through our Ruh, and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and believed in His books and was of those who are obedient to Allah.”

So what were the characteristics that made them worthy of such accolades? What made Allah and His Messenger single out these women above all others? And more importantly, how can we benefit and learn from their example?

They affirmed the Truth immediately

The four greatest women submitted to the Truth and to the commands of Allah immediate, without any hesitation. We see from their stories that Mariam accepted the huge task that Allah had set for her, of going through pregnancy and childbirth by herself, unsupported by a man and then of presenting her child to the people who would inevitably accuse her of being unchaste.

Khadijah accepted Islam immediately and was the first Muslimah. When the Prophet returned from Mount Noor having received the first revelation from Angel Jibreel, it was Khadijah who immediately accepted his message and believed in him even though he himself was shaken by the event.

Lesson I: Today, there is a culture amongst us of ‘Fatwa Shopping’. In other words, when an Islamic ruling makes us feel uncomfortable, instead of saying ‘We hear and we obey’, we just go and ask someone who has another opinion until we find the opinion that is most akin to our own desires. We must become women who, when faced with the truth in any matter, sincerely accept it and submit without hesitation.

They had a strong relationship with Allah

Their knowledge of Allah and His attributes made them close to Him. When the Prophet returned from the Cave of Hira, fearing something bad had happened to him Khadijah knew Allah would never forsake him. She said: “Allah would never humiliate you, for you are good to your relatives, you are true to your word, you help those who are in need, you support the weak, you feed the guest and you answer the call of those who are in distress.” She knew that Allah is Just and does not humiliate the righteous.

Aasiya knew when Pharaoh was torturing her to turn her from her faith, that Allah could hear her cries and her du’a, she asked Allah to build for her, with Him a house in Paradise. During her ordeal, Allah showed her house in Paradise to her, which made her smile, just as she was martyred at the hands of her husband.

Mariam had such a close relationship to her Lord that he would provide her with the fruits of the Summer in the Winter and the fruits of the Winter in Summer. When the Prophet Zakariyyah (AS) saw this he quizzed her about the origin of the food she always had. She said, “This is from Allah. Verily, Allah provides sustenance to whomsoever He wills without limit.”

Lesson II: If we are to become close to Allah we too must have correct knowledge of Him and His names and attributes and mention Him often through His Dhikr. If we remember Him much in times of ease, only then will we be able to remember Him in times of difficulty.

They had Qunoot

Allah describes the True Believing women as being Qaanitaat and described Maryam in particular as having the characteristic of Qunoot. He says in Surah Aal Imran, Aayah 43:

“O Maryam! Submit yourself with obedience (Uqnuti) to your Lord and prostrate yourself, and bow down along with those who bow down.”

Qunoot means to stand for long periods in prayer and this was particularly a characteristic of Maryam and Fatima. Qunoot also means to be devoutly obedient and to submit to Allah.

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