Al Adar Al Karima –15 Centuries of Female Scholarship

In this series, Shaykha Tamara Gray narrates the stories of great Muslim women through the centuries, who excelled in fields of Islamic knowledge, science, and philanthropy. This segment features Al Adar Al Karima from the 8th century.

Al Adar Al Karima was the Vice-Regent of Yemen for a 14-month period, delegated by her absent son. During that short time, she was able to create peace between the warring tribes, and build a sense of justice and fairness in the land.

Al Adar was known most for her philanthropy. She was know as “The Generous Queen,” and “The Lordly Lady of Piety.”  She would use her own money to build schools and other institutions, and would sponsor students of knowledge. She would make the effort to travel out herself to search for people in need. She would be the one to enter their houses to visit them, and to find out exactly what they  needed.

She was a woman of great faith, prayer, and generosity, and a role model for all women.


With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.

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Razia Sultan –15 Centuries of Female Scholarship

In this series, Shaykha Tamara Gray narrates the stories of great Muslim women through the centuries, who excelled in fields of Islamic knowledge, science, and philanthropy. This segment features Razia Sultan from the 7th century.

Razia Sultan was the Sultan, or political leader of the Delhi Sultanate, appointed by her father at his deathbed as he saw her as the most capable leader of all his children.

When she ascended the throne, her first project was to  build diplomatic ties with the Abbasid Caliphate, which ruled over the Muslim lands. This was an extremely significant political step, as it legitimised the lands of the Delhi Sultanate as part of the wider Muslim Ummah. She also took great pains to ensure that the non-Muslim civilians under her rule were treated with dignity and honour.

She was a patron of the arts and education. She established various libraries and centres of learning to ensure that literature and knowledge, both religious and secular, were a firm part of the society. She was also deeply concerned for the infrastructure, and took care that roads and bridges were built to serve the people.

Razia Sultan dealt with her fair share of political challenge. There were many people who protested against her leadership, not only because she was a woman, but also because her family came from slave origin and were not from a noble tribe. When rebellions would happen, she would go out herself to fight against them, as she was a talented horsewoman.  Eventually, she and her husband were both ambushed and killed. Her brother, who took over after her death, was not capable of the role and was also removed, proving that their father was right when he said that Razia Sultan had been the only one worthy of the throne.


With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.

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Karima bint Ahmad –15 Centuries of Female Scholarship

In this series, Shaykha Tamara Gray narrates the stories of great Muslim women through the centuries, who excelled in fields of Islamic knowledge, science, and philanthropy. This segment features Karima bint Ahmad from the 5th century.

Karima bint Ahmad

Karima, originally of Turkmenistani origin, travelled far and wide with her father. After going to Jerusalem, and as far as Iran, they settled in Mecca. She studied with many great Meccan scholars until she herself became a scholar, specialising in hadith, particularly in the collection of Sahih Bukhari. She became known as “The Shaykha of Mecca,” and was extremely sought after by students of her era.

The scholar Ad-Dhahabi spoke highly of her, saying that she was a woman of knowledge, piety and goodness. She was extremely careful in her assessment of who to grant her ijazah, or authorisation. She lived to the age of 100, and made a huge impact on the community around her.

With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.

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Maryam al-Istirlabiyya –15 Centuries of Female Scholarship

In this series, Shaykha Tamara Gray narrates the stories of great Muslim women through the centuries, who excelled in fields of Islamic knowledge, science, and philanthropy. This segment features Maryam al-Istirlabiyya from the 4th century.

Maryam al-Istirlabiyya

She was a well-known scientist and engineer, who worked with a tool called an Astrolabe. Although no longer common, it used to be a very important tool, and would function like a GPS. It would be used as a navigation tool, and as a compass. People would use it to find the direction for prayer, for astronomy, and to guide ships and caravans on their journeys.

Maryam was the most famous designer of astrolabes, to the point where she was actually named after them. Her work was so accurate and precise that she was appointed by the ruler of the time, Saif al-Dowla, to create these tools. She is a great role model for young women interested in science, math, technology and engineering.

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Fatima al-Fihri–15 Centuries of Female Scholarship

In this series, Shaykha Tamara Gray narrates the stories of great Muslim women through the centuries, who excelled in fields of Islamic knowledge, science, and philanthropy. This segment features Fatima al-Fihri from the 3rd century.

Fatima al-Fihri was a great visionary, living in modern-day Morocco. After receiving a large sum of money through inheritance, she planned and built the Al-Qarawiyyin university and mosque.

She did her work in phases, beginning in the month of Ramadan. Firstly, she built a well for the future construction workers, showing that she had a good sense of labour justice and ethical work. After the well was built, she moved on to building the rest.

The project took two to three years. After Ramadan ended, Fatima continued fasting every day, saying that she had begun the project fasting, and wanted to complete it while fasting.

Al-Qarawiyyin University still runs today, thanks to Fatima’s hard work, organisational skills, and insightful planning. It remains the oldest degree-granting university in the world, which laid the groundwork for modern-day institutions. Every time we come across a university or similar educational institution, we should remember Fatima al-Fihri and her dedication.

With gratitude to Shaykha Tamara Gray and Rabata.

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Sura al Kahf: The People of the Cave – Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Shaykh Walead explains the verses of Sura al Kahf that tell the story of the People of the Cave. He highlights the key lessons and significant themes it addresses.

أَمْ حَسِبْتَ أَنَّ أَصْحَابَ الْكَهْفِ وَالرَّقِيمِ كَانُوا مِنْ آيَاتِنَا عَجَبًا

Or have you deemed that the companions of the cave and the inscription were, among Our signs, a wonder? (Sura al Kahf 18:9)

The story of the People of the Cave seems to be well known among the People of the Book, especially the Christians. Imam Ibn Ashur discusses why the Jews would know that story because although we call them Muslims, they were followers of Isa, peace be upon him.

Historians place these events at around 200-250 AD. This was a time when the Roman Empire was at its height. IT did not become Christian until Constantine. At that time the Empire was pagan.

The first 400 years of Christianity there was wide disagreement about the divinity of Isa, peace be upon him. The true followers of Isa, peace be upon him, recognized his prophethood and did not attribute divinity to him.

Were the Sleepers Christian?

Although some texts call them Christian, it is in the sense that they followed Christ and not the doctrine of the church that was established 100-150 years after them. However Christianity was established with its known doctrine when they woke up.

There was also wide disagreement about where they were located. Some say Greece. Some say Turkey. Some even mention Andalusia or Islamic Spain. We do not know for certain. There is a riwaya from Ibn Abbas that in the time of Muawiyya, during a campaign, they went north and were told, “This is the cave of the People of the Cave.”

Muawiyya, who was a leader at the time said he wanted to see it. Ibn Abbas advised him not to, saying that, “This is not for us.” Nonetheless he sent a group to the cave and a fierce wind prevented them from entering. And Allah knows best. But this is not important to the lesson of the story.

The Inscription

When Allah says, “Or have you deemed that the companions of the cave and the inscription were, among Our signs, a wonder?” it is formed as a question but is in fact a negation. Allah is pointing out the fact that there should not be a source of bewilderment seeing that He can bring the dead back to life, putting the young men to sleep for 309 years is not so wondrous, but is one more sign among the signs of Allah.

As for the word raqim (inscription), some have said that when the people of the cave, they became a fable or story. The people of their town wrote and inscription with their names on it and put it at the mouth of the cave. Another narration says it was the name of the dog that stood guard outside the cave. Again, we don’t know.

In verse ten Allah speaks about the most important aspect of the story. He says:

إِذْ أَوَى الْفِتْيَةُ إِلَى الْكَهْفِ فَقَالُوا رَبَّنَا آتِنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ رَحْمَةً وَهَيِّئْ لَنَا مِنْ أَمْرِنَا رَشَدًا

When the young men fled for refuge to the Cave and said: Our Lord! Give us mercy from Your presence, and shape for us right conduct in our plight. (Sura al Kahf 18:10)

This is the most important aspect of the story, which is that the Sleepers turned to Allah Most High in their direst moment of need and Allah rewarded them, not just in this life but also in the next. This dua is the dua of one who has nowhere to turn other than to Allah, and it is answered.

The Sleepers and Their Companion

As the story goes they were a group of young men who lived in this town. The Roman emperor at the time persecuted non-pagans and enforced outward declarations of allegiance to paganism and to sacrifice animals to pagan gods. The young men were among those who refused. One narration say they were summoned before the emperor and held their stance.

The emperor, due to them being young men, gave them time to think it over until he returned. They spoke among themselves about what to do, where should be turn? And one of them suggested that they hide in the cave. It is likely that they knew the cave already as a place of refuge much like the cave of Hira.

Regarding the dog, there are narrations that say the dog was theirs while other narrations says that it was a stray dog. When they were on their way to the cave it followed them, and they could not do anything to get rid of it. The dog followed them all the way there and stayed outside the mouth of the cave for the entire time.

Some have noted how amazing it is that most people don’t give much consideration to an animal these days, but by following and staying with these righteous people the dog is mentioned in the Qur’an – in the eternal, perfect speech of Allah for what seems like such a small act.

فَضَرَبْنَا عَلَىٰ آذَانِهِمْ فِي الْكَهْفِ سِنِينَ عَدَدًا

Then We sealed up their hearing in the Cave for a number of years. (Sura al Kahf 18:11)

Some of the mufassirun say the slept for 300 solar years, which equate to 309 lunar years. Others say that is the amount of time people say they slept, but that no one truly knows.

ثُمَّ بَعَثْنَاهُمْ لِنَعْلَمَ أَيُّ الْحِزْبَيْنِ أَحْصَىٰ لِمَا لَبِثُوا أَمَدًا

And afterward We raised them up that We might know which of the two parties would best calculate the time that they had tarried. (Sura al Kahf 18:12)

The two parties refer to the people outside of the cave who did not know what happened to them. Some say they went into the cave and never came out.

The Sealing of the Cave

In the narration with the Roman emperor it is said that they followed their tracks to the cave but never found them. Much like the Quraysh who followed the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, to a different cave but also did not find him.

It is said that the Roman emperor ordered his soldiers to go after them but that they could not cross the threshold. Something prevented them from entering.

At his point that narration says that the Roman emperor ordered that the cave be sealed. And that the cave was not opened again until 309 years later, by a shepherd who was looking for shelter for his sheep.

Allah then says:

نَّحْنُ نَقُصُّ عَلَيْكَ نَبَأَهُم بِالْحَقِّ ۚ إِنَّهُمْ فِتْيَةٌ آمَنُوا بِرَبِّهِمْ وَزِدْنَاهُمْ هُدًى

We will tell you their story in truth. They were young men who believed in their Lord, and We increased them in guidance. (Sura al Kahf 18:13)

In other words, no one besides Allah Most High truly knows their story.

وَرَبَطْنَا عَلَىٰ قُلُوبِهِمْ إِذْ قَامُوا فَقَالُوا رَبُّنَا رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضِ لَن نَّدْعُوَ مِن دُونِهِ إِلَـٰهًا ۖ لَّقَدْ قُلْنَا إِذًا شَطَطًا

We made firm their hearts when they stood forth and said: “Our Lord is the Lord of the heavens and the earth. We call unto no god beside Him, for then should we utter an enormity.” (Sura al Kahf 18:14)

Either they said this among themselves or they said it to the Roman emperor, which is more likely.

هَـٰؤُلَاءِ قَوْمُنَا اتَّخَذُوا مِن دُونِهِ آلِهَةً ۖ لَّوْلَا يَأْتُونَ عَلَيْهِم بِسُلْطَانٍ بَيِّنٍ ۖ فَمَنْ أَظْلَمُ مِمَّنِ افْتَرَىٰ عَلَى اللَّـهِ كَذِبًا

Our people have chosen gods besides Him though they bring no clear proof. And who does greater wrong than one who invents a lie concerning Allah? (Sura al Kahf 18:15)

The Testing of Faith

In other words iman (faith) is not a blind belief and following. The pagans are challenged with the words: Show us that these things that you made and worship can harm or benefit you. Without clear proof, how can you justify this belief? For if you associate others with Allah or worship others beside Him, it is actually a lie against Allah.

وَإِذِ اعْتَزَلْتُمُوهُمْ وَمَا يَعْبُدُونَ إِلَّا اللَّـهَ فَأْوُوا إِلَى الْكَهْفِ يَنشُرْ لَكُمْ رَبُّكُم مِّن رَّحْمَتِهِ وَيُهَيِّئْ لَكُم مِّنْ أَمْرِكُم مِّرْفَقًا

And when you withdraw from them and that which they worship except Allah, then seek refuge in the Cave; your Lord will spread for you of His mercy and prepare for you a comfort and an aid. (Sura al Kahf 18:16)

The mufassirun say that these words were said by one of the Sleepers. Most likely their leader. Some mention that the leader’s name was Maximilian. Others mention that the one who was sent into town when they woke was named Malich or Malicha.

وَتَرَى الشَّمْسَ إِذَا طَلَعَت تَّزَاوَرُ عَن كَهْفِهِمْ ذَاتَ الْيَمِينِ وَإِذَا غَرَبَت تَّقْرِضُهُمْ ذَاتَ الشِّمَالِ وَهُمْ فِي فَجْوَةٍ مِّنْهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِنْ آيَاتِ اللَّـهِ ۗ مَن يَهْدِ اللَّـهُ فَهُوَ الْمُهْتَدِ ۖ وَمَن يُضْلِلْ فَلَن تَجِدَ لَهُ وَلِيًّا مُّرْشِدًا

And you might have seen the sun when it rose move away from their cave to the right, and when it set go past them on the left, and they were in the cleft thereof. That was (one) of the signs of Allah. He whom Allah guides, he indeed is led aright, and he whom He sends astray, for him you will not find a guiding friend. (Sura al Kahf 18:17)

Something about the topography of the cave. If a cave has a large opening it is called a kahf. If it has a small opening, as at Hira, it is called a ghar. A cave is defined as a opening or a break in a mountain. This cave was big enough for sunlight to reach inside the cave.

This verse shows that had the sun actually penetrated inside the cave it would have burnt them, it would have been unbearable. That means there was a shifting of the sun so that it would not cast sunlight upon the sleepers inside the cave. This is why Allah says: “That was (one) of the signs of Allah.”

The Priority of Religion

The People of the Cave were tried and tested in their faith to the degree that they could no longer exist and practice their religion. All the doors were closed. And that is one of the tribulations of the Dajjal; that people will be tried and tested in their faith or religion.

These verses, this story that Allah relates to us, serve as an example of where to put one’s priorities and how to go about doing it. The preservation of your religion, as the scholars say, is of the highest priority.

If you are in a situation where you cannot practice your religion it is incumbent upon you to find a situation where you can. You are not allowed to continue in that place. You have to leave. You have to find something different.

The Meaning of Hijra

Consider the Hijra of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, and his Companions. The hijra of the people who left Andalusia after the Inquisition.

Many of these emigrations that have happened throughout history were of people who escaped to preserve their religion. Even the Jews left Andalusia for the same reason and only found sanctuary in the Muslim lands.

The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, mentions in a hadith that the true muhajir, the one who emigrates, “is the one who emigrates from his sins.” In other words, from one’s own disobedience. That is a spiritual emigration.

It is to leave off and put aside all things for the sake of one’s religion. And to flee to Allah for the sake of Allah.

The People of the Cave serve as an example of this.

This lesson by Shaykh Walead Mosaad is part of the On Demand Course: Giving Life to Sura Al Kahf, in which Shaykh Walead explains the key lessons of Sura al Kahf: the four great stories in it and the four great tests they represent. Namely the tests of faith, wealth, knowledge, and power. Download the entire lesson-set here.

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Nasheed Hub: Ya Imam al Rusli

The Nasheed Hub, an initiative of SeekersGuidance Global, aims to showcase the traditional Islamic art of nasheed, or Islamic devotional songs.

Ya Imam al Rusli-O Leader of the Messengers

“Ya Imam al Rusli,” is a nasheed with origins in the Levantine tradition. The writer expresses his need for the Prophet’s guidance as he, Allah bless him and give him peace, is his connection to Allah. He refers to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, as “the door to Allah, and the one on whom I depend,” and asks him to take him by the hand.

He continues by mentioning the Prophet’s virtues, Allah bless him and give him peace. He speaks about his care and guardianship for all people, and his vast knowledge.

The author also used various examples and metaphors to express his love and longing. He swears by the falling star, to equate the knower of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, as someone who is in good health, as opposed to someone who doesn’t know him, who he compares to someone who is ill.

Click on the image below to scroll

About Nasheed Hub

Throughout the decades and civilizations of Islam, the vocal tradition, sometimes known as nasheed or devotional songs, were penned as a way of celebrating and giving thanks to Allah for the message of Islam, as well as for the Messenger himself.

These nasheeds were a way for people to turn towards their Lord in joyful celebration, rather than stringent routine. They were also tools to spread the message of Islam in a non-confrontational way. These nasheeds were able to reach out to those who were alienated or indifferent to the religion and the Muslim community, as well as to teach children who were too young for academic study.

These nasheeds originating from all corners of the Muslim world – from West Africa to Malaysia, from Turkey to Great Britian – mirror their own culture but all carry a common thread: love of Allah and His Messenger.

This series will explore the different nasheeds, penned by some of the great historical Muslim figures, poets, and scholars.

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Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Amazing Muslim Women: Sumayyah

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, in partnership with Muslimah Media, speaks in a 5-part series about the amazing Muslim women who paved the way for others after them.

Sumayyah bint Khayyat was a truly inspiring woman who sacrificed so much for her faith. She was a slave, and a socially outcast woman. Unlike some of the other Companions, she had absolutely no wealth or social standing to protect her.

In other words, she went in knowing that she would have to sacrifice everything. She was one among a small handful of people to openly declare their faith during the early days of Islam.

Her Sheer Courage

She and her husband Yasir were both slaves. After they had their son Ammar, it is said that they may have been freed. Regardless, the family was still treated as outcasts of society. Not only that, but the family boldly announced their faith, which made the Meccans decide to make others an example of them.

They dragged the three of them out to the desert, and tortured them under the heat. Her body was encased in iron armor which, under the sun’s rays, began to burn her body.

First Martyr of Islam

Sumayyah’s faith was so strong that even as she was being beaten, she would defy her capturers by smiling and saying the name of Allah. This exasperated the Meccans, because no matter what they tried to do, she still stayed strong.

Eventually, Abu Jahl lost his temper and drove a spear into her abdomen, ending her life. Thus, Sumayyah bint Khayyat became the first martyr, male or female, to die in the way of Islam.

Sumayyah is an example for us as Muslims. She was proud of her faith and found peace and liberation in it, even though it came at a great cost. She remained patient through great hardship. And because of her faith and dedication, she was promised paradise.

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Heroes and Heroines of Islam: Part Two–Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf

We regularly hear of the great heroes and heroines of Islam. However, we know little about what made these men and women so beloved to Allah and their people. In these series of talks, Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf speaks about these famous men and women.

In the second segment of the series, Habib Kadhim speaks about the lesser-known heroes and heroines of Islam; those who struggled behind the scenes. We might not know their names, however we definitely feel their influence on us.

The Unknown Teacher

There were some companions around the Prophet, whose work was famous although their names remain unknown. For example, Abu Huraira, one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ  is famous in the Muslim world for his great legacy in the transmission of Hadith, or Prophetic narrations.

However, we do not know much about the Companion who taught Abu Huraira about Islam, and supported him in becoming Muslim. Whoever this man was, we know that he is receiving the like of Abu Huraira’s rewards, because of the knowledge and help he gave.

The Famous Poet

Another example occurs later on in Islamic history. Imam al-Busiri is well-known for his work, Qasida Burda (the Poem of the Cloak), one of the most famous poems in praise of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace.

Imam al-Busiri was an extremely talented poet, well-known among royalty and kings at the time, whose praises he used to sing. However, he soon became paralyzed and could not move.

When one of his close friends visited him, he said, “You are a skilled poet, why don’t you write a poem in praise of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace?” Imam al-Busiri asked him, “I am paralyzed, what use will it be?” His friend said, “What use is this mastery of the Arabic language and rhetoric that you possess?”

Imam al-Busiri spent the rest of the night writing the poem, and when he woke up in the morning, he was completely healed. Not only that, but the poem of praise is frequently recited in Muslim communities all over the globe, because of the friend of Imam al-Busiri that supported him.

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Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Amazing Muslim Women: Hawa

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, in partnership with Muslimah Media, speaks in a 5-part series about the amazing Muslim women who paved the way for others after them.

The first installment of the series speaks about Hawa or Eve: first woman to be created.

Hawa’s Story

Her story is narrated in Sura al Baqara, the second chapter of the Holy Qur’an. In this chapter, we learn about the Exodus as we know it in the Islamic tradition, and about the first two humans created in Paradise. We also learn about their deception at the hands of the Devil, leading to their exodus from Paradise.

Throughout the Qur’an, Hawa is referenced alongside Adam, as Allah refers to both of them in the dual context. This affirms that Hawa shares Adam’s status, accomplishments, and struggles. Most importantly, she shares his stature with Allah.

For example, they are both commanded not to approach the Forbidden Tree, rather than the responsibility being placed simply on one of them.  Thus, she is established as his equal, not his inferior.

Sharing Responsibility Rather Than Blaming

Later on, Allah says, “I will send you both down to Earth for a time.” Here, Hawa shares the responsibility of Adam’s situation. However, she is never blamed for their fall. In addition, their eating from the tree has been forgiven by Allah. Their exodus to Earth is part of Allah’s plan for both Hawa and Adam to be Allah’s Vicegerents, or Khalifa, on this Earth.

This responsibility does not include only Adam, and it does not exclude Hawa. Rather, they both possess intelligence and the unique faculties that Allah created in them, and they are both considered the Vicegerents.

The Context of Gender

Among the lessons we can take from Hawa’s story, is that  Hawa and Adam together compliment each other. Only when you combine Hawa with Adam, do you get an accurate picture of human nature. Rather than focusing just one gender, we are taught that we all have a special role to play in our lives, no matter who we are.

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