Prophet with women

16 06 2011

Written by Abdul-Rahim Ammar

Let’s see what the status of women under Islam is!

It is a fact that there is weakness associated with women. However, it should not be taken in a negative sense; but rather, women’s weakness can be seen unintentional in the sense that they are not as physically strong as men. It also gives them the characteristic of softness because they are emotionally delicate, an advantage for women just as it distinguishes them.

 It was the Prophet’s (SAWS) every intention to defend women and protect them from both physical and emotional harm and abuse. That position was clear in all of the stands he took regarding women.

 Allah’s Apostle was on a journey and he had a black slave called Anjasha, and he was driving the camels (very fast, and there were women riding on those camels). Allah’s Apostle said, “Waihaka (May Allah be merciful to you), O Anjasha[1]! Drive slowly (the camels) with the glass vessels (women)!”[2]

 In this Hadeeth, there is a clear order to go easy on women whether it was meant in the physical or emotional sense. The Prophet (SAWS) continuously requested that men should be kind to women in every way, to the extent that he made sure that the last speech he made to the Ummah stressed this by saying, “Be kind to women, for they are your captives.”[3]

 In the Hadeeth above, the Prophet (SAWS) asks men to take care of women and referred to women as if they were kept as captives at men’s houses! The Prophet referred in that incident to the power given to men over women being superior financially, emotionally and physically which might subject women to a feeling of helplessness similar to those who get captured in a war. That was also meant to draw men’s attention to  the sensitivity of women and how they should handle them delicately.

The Prophet confirms that when he says, “The best among you are those who are the most kind to their family. And I am the most kind among you to my family.”[4]

 Furthermore, the Prophet stresses the concept that women are men’s equals, meaning that they are not inferior to men in any sense when he said, “Women are the partners (equals) of men.”[5]

 Ibnul-Atheer[6] comments on the Hadeeth saying, “Partners means equals.”  The Prophet warned men against entirely hating their women saying that if you see something you do not like about them, you would find another that you like, “No man should hate his wife. If he finds something which displeases him, then he can surely find another trait which pleases him in her.”[7]

 The above Hadeeth teaches us great tolerance, which we can also derive from the glorious verse where Allah (SWT) says, “…And live with them in kindness. For if you dislike them – perhaps you dislike a thing and Allah makes therein much good.” (TMQ, 4:19).

However, his kindness to women was not in theory only! He acted with great mercy and kindness towards them in his house. He was a living proof of tenderness of heart and kindness to women, believers or not. His legacy contains many self explanatory incidents that proved it.

 Here is an incident about him and his wife Lady Aisha who is the daughter of his best friend and companion Abu-Bakr (RA). Abu-Bakr was visiting them when Aisha raised her voice while arguing with the Prophet (SAWS). Abu-Bakr got angry because his daughter was not respecting the Messenger of Allah who is her husband. He rose up and tried to strike her. It was the Prophet who stopped him from doing so. The love and the kindness of the Prophet at that incident topped the love of the father for his daughter! After things calmed down, Abu-Bakr came to their house and said, “Involve me in your peaceful times like you involved me in your fighting times. To which the Prophet (SAWS) replied and said, “That we did, that we did.”[8]

 In another more outstanding story, the Prophet (SAWS) demonstrated the most patience and understanding of women’s behavior even when they err. As he was at the house of one of his wives with some of his friends, another wife sent him a bowl of food. So the wife whom he was in her house got jealous and came out and knocked the bowl of food from the Prophet’s hands which broke it and dropped the food on the floor! Although that was a very embarrassing situation to the Prophet, look at how he handled it. He calmly picked up the broken bowl, collected the food and asked his friends to eat saying, “Your mother (i.e. mother of the believers) got jealous.”[9]

 It all shows us how he understood that his wife felt jealous which made her break the bowl. He then just took a bowl from her to give to the other wife to compensate her for her broken bowl.

 If you look at the manners of the Prophet (SAWS) at his home and how he treated his family, you will see that he was a model of care and kindness. He took care of things himself; he never overloaded any of his wives with requests or work. Lady Aisha  (RA) describes him by saying that he would do the chores at home till it is prayer time; only then he’d leave for the prayer.[10] And in another narration we learn that he used to sew his own clothes and fix his own shoes. This was the manner of the man who ruled the ummah, the Prophet sent by Allah to mankind and the most powerful man at that time.

 The Prophet’s (SAWS) care for widows was greater than one can imagine! He spoke high of those who would take care and support widows and orphans. He said, “One who makes efforts (for earning money to be spent) on a widow and the destitute is like a striver in the cause of Allah, and I think he also said: He is like one who constantly stands for prayer and observes fast without breaking it.”[11]   

 Here he raised the status of those who support widows to match the status of those who pray through the night or fight for the dignity of Islam.

 The Prophet (SAWS) was faster to applying his teachings than anyone else. He used to support the widows and the helpless and run errands for them. He took special care of the slave women. Abdullah ibn-abi-Awfa said that a destitute person, slave woman or a widow could ask the Prophet for whatever help and he would do it for them.[12]

 Anas ibn-Malek (RA) relates the Prophet’s tremendous mercy to slave women as he said, “A slave girl could easily walk up to the Prophet, take his hands and walk with him to wherever she wishes.”[13]

 Ibn-Hajar commented on the above narration saying that ‘taking the hands’ of the Prophet (SAWS) here implies easy of acting around him and comfortable freedom.[14]

 I know all that and I can not help wondering if there is a king or president today who will be willing to personally give a hand to a servant or a slave!

 It was the Prophet’s humility, mercy and kindness that Allah spoke about when He said what can be translated as,

“And in no way have We sent you except as a mercy to the  worlds.”   (TMQ, 21:107).

 


[1]          Anjasha was originally from Ethiopia and used to lead caravans of Muslim women. Al-Isabah, 259. Usdul-Ghaba, 1/168.    
[2]          Authentic Hadeeth, narrated by al-Bukhary in the book  of “Good Manners and Form” no. 5856. Also by Muslim no. 2323 and al-Bayhakei no. 20637.
[3]          At-Tirmidhy no. 1163 and ibn-Majah no. 1851.
[4]          At-Tirmidhy no. 3895, ibn-Majah no. 1977, ibn-Hebban no. 4177 and at-Tabarany no. 853.
[5]          At-Tirmidhy no. 113, abu-Dawood no. 236, Ahmad no. 26238 and abu-Ya’lei no. 4694.
[6]          Ibnul-Atheer Alei ibn-Muhammad ibn-abdul-Kareem.  The great Muslim guru and historian.  He was born in the year 555 A.H.  He was specialized in stating lineages, historian, writer and a prominent nobleman.  Al-Ayan, 3/348.
[7]    Narrated by Muslim no. 1469, abu-Ya’lei no. 6418 and al-Bayhakei no. 14504.
[8]    Abu-Dawood no. 4999, Ahmad no. 18418 and An-Nasaei’e no. 8495.
[9]          Authentic Hadeeth, narrated by al-Bukhary in the book  of “Complaints” no. 2349. Also by an-Nasaei’e no. 3955, ibn-Majah no. 2334, Ahmad no. 13798.
[10]         Ahmad no. 24793. Shu’ayb al-Arna’ut said authentic.
[11]         Authentic Hadeeth, narrated by al-Bukhary in the book  of “Expenses” no. 5028. Also by Muslim no. 2982, at-Tirmidhy no. 1969, an-Nasaei’e no. 2577, ibn-Majah no. 2140, Ahmad no. 8717 and ibn-Hebban no. 4245.
[12]         An-Nasaei’e no.1414, ad-Daremei no. 74, ibn-Hebban no. 6424, at-Tabarany no. 405. Authenticated by al-Albany.
[13]         Authentic Hadeeth, narrated by al-Bukhary in the book  of “Good Manners and Form” no. 5724. Also by abu-Dawood no. 4818 and ibn-Majah no. 4177.
[14]         Ibn-Hajar: Fathul-Bary, 10/490.
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