Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Biographies of women in Islam...

The Holy Book mentions women by their family references instead of by
their own names(an Arab social tradition of the times). However, there is one
exception - Bibi Mariam who is clearly mentioned by her own name, elucidating
therefore the unique position or status of the Holy Virgin. Also, the Quran
mentions 'good' and 'negative' examples of women.

THE FIRST LADY - HAVA
She does not appear in the Quran as such. She is simply referred to as 'the
spouse of Adam'. She was created by Allah as companion to Adam, and together
they were to live in Paradise.Misled by Shaitan, they both defaulted. Repenting,
they together sought forgiveness in the words from Surah Araf "Our Lord! We have
been unjust to ourselves, and if Thou forgive us not, and have no mercy on us,
we shall certainly be of the losers." In the same Surah, Allah says: "O Children
of Adam! Let not the Shaitan cause you to fall into affliction as he expelled
your parents from the garden, pulling off from both of them their clothing..."

SARAH
She was the wife of Hazrat Ibrahim with who she migrated first to Palestine and
then to Egypt. In her old age, the angels approached her with a prophecy that
she would give birth to a son, Ishaq: "And his wife was standing by, so she
laughed, then we gave her the good news of Ishaq and after Ishaq of (a son's son)
Yaqoub.She said: O wonder! Shall I bear a son when I am an extremely old woman
and this my husband an extremely old man?..."

HAJIRAH
She is described as the younger wife of Hazrat Ibrahim, and mother to Hazrat
Ismail. Allah ordered Ibrahim to leave her with her son alone in the desert of
Mecca. Frantic for water for her infant, she ran across between the mountains of
Safa and Marwah. This action was later on made mandatory by Allah for every
pilgrim. In a miracle, water gushed forth for mother and son in the form of
'Zamzam'.

ZULEKHA
She is mentioned as the wife of an Egyptian chief. She made repeated attempts to
seduce Hazrat Yusuf who had been brought as a young slave to her palace."And she
in whose house she was sought to make him yield to her, and she made fast the
doors and said:Come forward..." Failing in her seductive attempts she had him
imprisoned. Yusuf was tried and acquitted, and Zulekha confessed her sin:"...The
chief's wife said:Now has the truth become established; I sought him to yield to
me, and he is most surely of the truthful ones." This confession is viewed as
the transformation of her soul - from worldly love to love of God.

EUCABID
Believed to be Hazrat Musa's mother whom Allah addressed: "And we revealed to
Musa's mother saying:Give him suck, then when you fear for him, cast him into
the river and do not fear nor grieve; surely We will bring him back to you and
make him one of the apostles. (28:7)

ASIYA
She is described in the Quran as the wife of Pharoah. She adopted Hazrat Musa
after he was rescued from the Nile. She also protected him from the Pharoah and
pleaded for him:"And Firon's wife said:"A refreshment of the eye to me and to
you; do not slay him;may be he will be useful to us, or we may take him for a
son."

SAFURAH
She is Hazrat Musa's wife. In the Quran, she is one of the two women whom Hazrat
Musa rescued from bad men and helped them:"So he watered their sheep for
them..." She recommended him to her father for employment:"O my father! employ
him, surely the best of those that you can employ is the strong man,the faithful
one." The father then offered the girl in marriage to Musa:" I desire to marry
one of these two daughters of mine to you on condition that you should serve me
for eight years..."

BILQUIS, THE QUEEN OF SHEBA
Bilquis is the name given by the Arab Jews to the Queen of Sheba, who in the Old
Testament is depicted as a temptress. However, the Holy Quran vindicates her as
a powerful. wise and enlightened monarch. She refuses her advisors to try their
military prowess against Hazrat Sulaiman. After visiting him, she accepted the
faith:"Surely I found a woman ruling over them, and she has been given abundance
and she has a mighty throne." " I found her and her people adoring the sun
instead of Allah..." Finally, convinced of the truth, she submitted"...and I
submit with Sulaiman to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds." Her reference in the
Quran offers a strong argument to those who believe that Islam is not against
the concept of a woman ruler.

MARIAM (Mary)
Exalted in the Quran "above the women of all the worlds":"O Mariam! Surely Allah
has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the world...O
Mariam! Keep to obedience to your Lord and humble yourself..." She is the only
woman who is mentioned in the Quran by her own first name and has a Surah named
after her. Two Surahs - Al Imran and Mariam narrate her story in considerable
detail.
She was brought up by the prophet Zakariya who soon discovered her spiritual
link with Allah. When she became an adult, she was approached by angels:"O
Mariam!, surely Allah gives you good news with a Word from Him (of one) whose
name is the Messiah, Isa, son of Mariam, worthy of regard in this world and the
hereafter and of those who are made near to Allah."
In the Quran, there is evidence of all the experiences a woman in her
circumstances undergoes - embarassment and anxiety, labour and delivery pains,
and her agony at not being able to have any proof of her chastity in the face of
questioning people. She testified to the truth of the words of her Lord (Allah)
and of His revelations, and was one of the most devout believers: "And Mariam,
the daughter of Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We breathed into her of Our
inspiration and she accepted the truth of the words of her Lord and His books,
and she was of the obedient ones." (66:12)

AYESHA
Ayesha, daughter of Abu Bakr, was one of the wives of the Holy Prophet(PBUH). It
is said that she was very young, in her teens, at the time of her marriage. She
was unduly involved in a scandal by the hypocrites in Madinah, and the Quran
declared her innocence by stipulating that whoever fails to prove an allegation
against a woman should himself receive punishment for adultery: "Surely they who
concocted the lie are a party from among you... Every man of them shall have what
he has earned of sin...he shall have a grievous chastisement." (24:11)
Bibi Ayesha was a brilliant woman. She is believed to have narrated more than
2000 Hadith of the Holy Prophet(PBUH). She was considered to be an authority on
the Prophet's life as well as on the interpretations and meanings of the verses
of the Holy Quran. Her guidance was frequently sought on intricate religious and
judicial matters. Testifying to the sublimity of the Prophet's morals she
commented: 'His morals are the Quran'. She lived for some 48 years after Prophet
Muhammad(PBUH).

The Quran also mentions 'negative' women.

NUH'S WIFE
Her first name is not known. She was a non-believer: "Allah sets forth an example
to those who disbelieve, the wife of Nuh and the wife of Lut: they were both
under two of our righteous servants, but they acted treacherously towards
them...and it was said: Enter both the fire..."(66:10) She was drowned in the
great flood.

WIFE OF LUT
She was also a non-believer married to Prophet Lut. When Allah chose to wipe out
the people of Sodom for their sin, she too was wiped out: "We will most surely
deliver them all, except his wife; We ordained that she shall surely be of those
who remain behind." (15:59-60)

URWAH
Wife of Abu Lahab, a non-believing uncle of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). She used to
cut down thorny branches and spread them in the Prophet's way as he passed
by. Surah 111 called Lahab (Flame) speaks of Abu Lahab and his wife: "...And his
wife, the wood carrier, upon her neck a halter of strongly twisted rope."

It is a well known fact that in Islam, women are held in high esteem. Bibi Khadija, Prophet Muhammad's (p.b.u.h.) wife was a business woman and in fact the Holy Prophet was her employee! Then, our beloved Bibi Fatima (a.s.) the Prophet's daughter was helping him and Hazrat Ali in the management and distribution of charities and social welfare of the Muslim Ummah of the time.

KHADIJA

Among Khadija's merits was her being one of the four most perfect of all women of mankind, the other three being: Fatima daughter of Muhammad (pbuh), Maryam bint `Umran (Mary daughter of Amram), mother of Christ (as) and niece of prophet Zakariyya and Ishba (Elizabeth), and `Asiya daughter of Muzahim, wife of Pharaoh. Prophet Zakariyya, as the reader knows, was the father of Yahya (John the Baptist), the latter being only a few months older than prophet Jesus (as). The Prophet of Islam (pbuh) used to talk about Khadija quite often after her demise, so much so that his youngest wife, `Ayesha daughter of Abu Bakr, felt extremely jealous and said to him, "... But she was only an old woman with red eyes, and Allah has compensated you with a better and younger wife (meaning herself)." This caused him (pbuh) to be very indignant, and he said, "No, indeed; He has not compensated me with someone better than her. She believed in me when all others disbelieved; she held me truthful when others called me a liar; she sheltered me when others abandoned me; she comforted me when others shunned me; and Allah granted me children by her while depriving me of children by other women." Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Hatim, al-Dulabi, al-Tabari, and many others, all quote `Ayesha saying: "One day, the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) mentioned Khadija affectionately, so I was carried away by jealousy and said about her what I should not have said. It was then that his face changed color in a way I never saw it change except when he (pbuh) was receiving revelation, so I realized what I had done and felt overwhelmed by regret to the extent that I could not help uttering these words: `O Lord! If You remove the anger of Your Messenger right now, I pledge not to ever speak ill of her as long as I live.' Having seen that, he forgave me and narrated to me some of her merits." Both Muslim and Bukhari indicate in their respective Sahih books that among Khadija's merits was the fact that the Lord of Dignity ordered Jibraeel (Gabriel), peace be upon him, to convey His regards to her. Gabriel said to Muhammad (pbuh): "O Muhammad! Khadija is bringing you a bowl of food; when she comes to you, tell her that her Lord greets her, and convey my greeting, too, to her." When he (pbuh) did so, she said: "Allah is the Peace, and He is the source of all peace, and upon Gabriel be peace." Khadija died of an attack of fever on the tenth or eleventh day of the month of Ramadan, ten years after the start of the Prophetic mission (in the year 619 A.D.), 24 years after her marriage with Muhammad (pbuh), and she was buried at Hajun in the outskirts of Mecca. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) dug her grave and buried her... Funeral prayers (salat al janaza) had not yet been mandated in Islam. It is reported that by the time she died, her entire wealth had already been spent to promote Islam; she left not a single gold dinar nor a single silver dirham, nor anything more or less...
O soul that are at rest! Return to your Lord,
well-pleased (with Him),well-pleasing (Him),
so enter among My servants, and enter into My garden.
(Qur'an, 89:27-30)
[1] This temple was built by Solomon (Prophet Sulayman) to express his gratitude for what the Almighty had granted him. Solomon had in advance obtained his Lord's permission to erect it. A glimpse of its grandeur is described in the Holy Qur'an in 27:44: "It was said to her (to Balqees, the Queen of Sheba): Enter the palace; but when she saw it, she deemed it to be a great expanse of water," that is, its marble floors shone like glass, reflecting her image as water does. This temple was later ordered by Solomon to be demolished in its entirety, and the claim of the Jews that the al-Aqsa mosque is built on its very foundations is false. The Jews plot to demolish the al-Aqsa mosque in order to rebuild Solomon's Temple. Jews intend to do so at the right time, when they realize that the Muslims of the world, because of the weakness and hypocrisy of their rulers, are too weak to stand between them and the achievement of their most vile goals, and when the "Christian" West will be ready, more than now, to help them achieve their objectives. The West has been supporting the Jews against the Muslims, and there will never be any reversal to this trend... We are Allah's, and to Him shall we return...

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