Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Women of the Qur’an: Bilkees, Queen of Sheba

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, in partnership with Muslimah Media, speaks in a 6-part series about women who are documented in the Quran.

Bilkees, Queen of Sheba

The Queen Bilkees is another woman mentioned in the Qur”an with a fascinating story. So fascinating, in fact, that scholars wondered whether she was, in fact, a human, or whether she was something more.

However, Bilkees was a human woman, who ruled over present-day Yemen. She had a vast kingdom, and she lived during the time of the Prophet Sulaiman. She was a female ruler who ruled with no consort, and she was also very wise. She had appointed a group of advisors whom she would consult, although the practice was that the king would rule alone.

The Prophet Sulaiman heard about her when one of his servants, the Hoopoe bird, returned from a prolonged absence. The bird spoke about her great kingdom and wealth, and about her magnificent throne.

The Prophet Sulaiman sent her a message, telling her about Islam. In her wisdom, she did not want to provoke conflict, and took the way of diplomacy. Eventually, she was invited to visit Sulaiman’s palace. There, she found her own throne, which Sulaiman had miraculously been able to summon. He also showed her the miracles in his palace, including a floor of glass which ran over a river.

A Deeply Spiritual Woman

When she realized that the way she had following was wrong, and that Prophet Sulaiman was teaching the true religion, she said, “Verily I have oppressed myself.” Thus, when she realized her previous mistakes, she as astute enough to admit them and change her ways. She knew that it wasn’t because he was a man and she was a woman, but rather it was a case of him being a Prophet of Allah.

She accepted Islam, and some day that she married Prophet Sulaiman as well. Regardless, she is documented in the Qur’an in her own right, as a wise, strong, and pious woman.


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Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Women of the Quran: Aasiyah

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, in partnership with Muslimah Media, speaks in a 6-part series about women who are documented in the Quran.

Aasiyah, wife of the Pharaoh

Aasiyah is significant in many ways. Firstly, she is connected to Prophet Musa, one of the five greatest Prophets and the most-mentioned in the Quran. She played a huge role in his life, saving him from certain death and raising him to adulthood. Her care enabled him to grow up to be the man who lead the liberation of the people of Israel. Secondly, she displayed immense courage, standing up for her faith even against her own husband.

A Maternal Figure

Prophet Musa was born at a time when the Pharaoh was killing all the newborn boys of the Banu Israel, to ensure that they did not defeat him. His mother was divinely inspired to put him in a basket and release him into the river. He was found by Aasiyah and her attendants. Aasiyah, who did not have children of her own, convinced the Pharaoh to allow her to adopt him. He agreed, and the young Prophet Musa was raised in the royal palace.

Aasiyah’s Courage

Eventually, Allah revealed the message to Musa. He confronted the Pharoah with it, and asked him to release the Banu Israel. He performed many miracles to prove himself. Aasiyah witnesses all this, and said, “I believe in the Lord of Musa.” In a beautiful prayer preserved in the Quran, she asked Allah to build her a house in Jannah with Him, and free her from the evildoers. Because of her faith, she was tortured to death by her own husband, the Pharoah.

Her story may have ended tragically in a material context. But it is preserved in the Quran to this day, along with the promise of her high rank in Paradise.


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Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Women of the Quran: Sarah

Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, in partnership with Muslimah Media, speaks in a 6-part series about women who are documented in the Quran.

Sarah, wife of Ibrahim

Sarah, wife of the Prophet Ibrahim, is the oldest historical figure mentioned in the Quran. She appears both in the Quran and in the hadith traditions. In Islam, she is understood to be very different from how she is portrayed in other religions.

Rather than portraying her as a bitter and jealous woman, we know that, despite enduring hardships, she was confident that she would be a part of Allah’s miracles. She did have to watch her husband take a second, younger wife who gave birth to a son, Ismael. However, she displayed the character of a true believer by remaining patient and steadfast. Eventually, Allah rewarded her with a child of her own. She was an elderly woman by then, but Allah made it possible through his Mercy and Will.

A relatable woman

Many women can relate to Sarah. She was challenged with infertility, and her struggle is documented in the Quran. After a lot of struggle and patience, Allah granted her a miraculous child.

A group of angels, on their way to the people of Lot, stopped at the house of Ibrahim. They delivered the good news of a child to Sarah. Out of delight, she laughed out loud. This laugh of hers was mentioned in the Quran.

Her child was Ishaq, or Isaac, who became a Prophet just like his father. His son was Yaqub (Jacob), whose son was Yusuf (Joseph), upon them be peace. Therefore, Sarah became the matriarch of a glorious line of Prophets. These Prophets were followed, and are still followed, by countless believers.


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Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Amazing Muslim Women: Fatima al-Fihri

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.

Fatima al-Fihri lived in Fez, Morocco in the mid-9th century. She lived in a time where the women were very involved in the development of infrastructure. At that time, public institutions were supported by an endowment, or waqf. Because women, under Islamic law, are not obliged to supported their families, women with large fortunes would choose to channel them into waqfs. Whether it was a mosque, school or hospital, the waqf would ensure that the institution could be funded long-term.

Fatima was heir to a large fortune, and promised to build a university. At the time, there were no other universities in the world. In fact, the first European university wouldn’t open until the 11th century. In the year 859, Al-Qarawiyin (also spelled Al Quaraouiyine or Al-Karaouine) was opened. It was the first institution to offer standardized degrees at the graduate, post-graduate and doctorate level. In addition to a vibrant campus, she also added a mosque and a huge library. Many brilliant minds flocked to al-Qarawiyin, including the famous sociologist and historian Ibn Khaldun, to present-day Shaykh Abdullah bin Hamid Ali, faculty at Zaytuna College.

Fatima’s piety and social concern was evident in her planning. During the two years of construction, she took a vow of fasting, keeping the fast every day until the day of completion. In addition, she specified that the building materials be locally sourced. This allowed the surrounding community to benefit, and ensured that the building suited its natural environment.

Fatima al-Fihri is an example of what happens when women in a society are empowered. Al-Qarawiyin is the one lasting example of that society.


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Heroes and Heroines of Islam: Part 5 by 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 fifth and final installment of the series, Habib Kadhim speaks about the qualities that gave these people their strength and courage. heroes and heroines of Islam

Returning to Allah

As an example, we have Umm Salama, who was faced with difficult times. She made a duaa to Allah, asking that her losses be replaced with something better.  For many people, it is difficult to think of finding fulfillment after suffering a loss. However, it is important to remember that Allah can, indeed, make that happen. The Prophet promised us that even the smallest test, such feeling the pain of a thorn, is a chance for believers to return to their Lord and be rewarded for their patience.

Using Our Talents

Habib Khadhim concluded the lecture by encouraging everyone to use their particular talents for the benefit of Islam. Whether it is a good memory, deep empathy, or good speaking skills, we can bring great benefit if we use these qualities well. We may or may not be recognized for our efforts, but we can be sure of our reward with Allah.

In the next life, we will see many great women who we did not know about on this Earth, but caused great light to be brought to Islam. For example, the mothers of Imam al-Bukhari and Imam al-Shafi, were both single mothers who likely did not have a lot of resources. However, through their piety, commitment, and righteous parenting, they were both a means for reviving many Islamic sciences.

This concludes the series “Heroes and Heroines of Islam,” by Habib Kadhim al-Saqqaf. 


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Anse Tamara Grey on Nisf Sha‘ban: For Women, by Women

In this podcast, Shaykha Anse Tamara Grey of Rabata, speaks about Nisf Shaban; the fifteenth day of the Islamic month of Sha‘ban. Her talk is particularly catered to women.

Since there is much confusion about what has been narrated about Nisf Sha‘ban, she begins by reciting the various hadiths that clarify our understanding about it. From the hadith of our lady Aisha, Allah be pleased with her, when she asked the Prophet why he offered extra worship, to the scholar Imam al Subki, who concluded that this night atones for the sins committed during the year, she brings many references and proofs.

All who seek are forgiven this night, except a few people, including those who are arrogant, have hate in their heart, or are not good to their parents.

How to Free Ourselves

Shaykha Anse empowers us by taking us through the description of the people who are not forgiven on this night. The first two are fairly unusual;  those who are nonbelievers, or who addicted to alcohol (and perhaps the longing for this night will be a means for addicts to break the habit).

The rest, however, are shockingly common. Let’s look at the descriptions, and ask ourselves some questions:

The ones who incite rancor. Are we bringing people together, or are we causing problems?

The one who severs kinship bonds. Are we cutting our relatives off, or are we reaching out to them? It is important to remember that it is possible to keep a form of connection, while maintaining appropriate boundaries.

The one who drags their clothing (meaning people who looks at others with arrogance based on class or material). We can make an effort to wear simpler clothing, that doesn’t show the shape of our bodies.

The one who has hurt their parents. When your parents think of you, are they frustrated, or are they happy?Nisf Shaban

In addition, Shaykha Tamara offers some practical advice about how to make this night special for yourself and your family.


With thanks to Rabata, our content partner.


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Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Amazing Muslim Women: Umm Ma‘baad

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.

Umm Ma‘baad, whose real name was Atiqah bint Khalid al-Khuzaiya, was a very fascinating woman. She is most famous for being the first woman to narrate a comprehensive description of the Prophet in a hadith.

Unexpected Guests

Umm Ma‘baad was an archetype of the Bedouin people. She was strong, intelligent, and possessed a mastery of the Arabic language, which the Bedouins were known for. She lived in a tent outside of Mecca, and she would make a living by operating a “rest stop.” She would distribute dates, meat, and milk to the travellers passing by.

One day, she was sitting in her tent, when two men appeared. They seemed to be in a rush, but Umm Ma‘baad saw something very special.

Because all her sheep had gone out to pasture, there was no milk to feed to the guests. One of the men asked for an old sheep, which was not giving milk. He passed his hand over her udder and it became filled with milk, which everyone drank from.

The Hadith of Umm Ma‘baad

Of course, these two men were the Prophet and Abu Bakr, on their migration from Mecca to Medina. When her husband returned, she told him what had happened. She described the Prophet as very radiant, and handsome. She described his luminous eyes and beautiful speech, and how the ones in his company deferred to him with so much respect.

Umm Ma‘baad was just trying to tell her husband about her visitors, but her description became one of the most famous hadith about the Prophet. Anyone learning about the characteristics of the Prophet, or learning about the Prophetic biography, is sure to come across her narration.

Although this was the first and last time she met the Prophet, her description was so concise and eloquent that it became immortalized in history.

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Heroes and Heroines of Islam: Part 4 by 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 fourth segment of this series, Habib Kadhim continues to speak about the great women of Islam.

Umm Salama

Umm Salama, the wife of the Prophet, was an extremely wise woman. The Prophet would seek her advice, such as the time when the Companions were heading to Mecca to make Umra. When the Meccans prevented them, the Prophet commanded his Companions to shave their heads and sacrifice their animals, to release themselves from the state pf ihram.

However, they were in a state of shock, because they though that the promise of them entering Mecca was specific to that year. When they did not begin to release themselves from Ihram, the Prophet came to Umm Salama to seek her advice. Rather than jumping to conclusions and blaming anyone, she immediately realized that they were still in shock, and she suggested to the Prophet that he begin the sacrifices himself. Once he did, the Companions immediately jumped to follow him.

This story teaches us an important lesson. When analyzing historical events, we should take care to see them from an illuminated perspective, rather than an egotistical perspective. An egotistical perspective will inherently be biased and flawed, and using it can lead to misjudging the people in question.

We live in a time where everyone wants others to follow their opinions. When calling to Allah, we should avoid trying to convince people to follow our particular sect, perspective, or school of thought. Rather, we should help the person to find their way to Allah, and not harm to speak ill of, or condemn, anyone.


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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.


Resources for Seekers

https://seekersguidance.org/articles/general-artices/inspiring-women-inspire-us/

Heroes and Heroines of Islam: Part Three – 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 this segment, Habib Kadhim turns our attention to some of the heroines of Islam. He begins by speaking about Maryam, the mother of Isa, who underwent many challenges in her life. After her miracle pregnancy and the subsequent birth of Isa, she moved to Egypt, and then, when he was twelve years old, she moved back to their hometown.

She met life’s challenges with strength and faith, and after his ascension, she remained on Earth in worship for another six years.

Aminah, mother of the Prophet

Of course, when discussing heroines of Islam, we should never forget about Aminah, mother of the Prophet Muhammad. She is the means of the coming of the Prophet, and the connection we have to Allah. She was a very intelligent woman, and she was a poet with mastery of the Arabic language.

When she became pregnant, her face became illuminates with this light. She regularly saw various Prophets of previous generations. They would congratulate her, telling her that she was carrying the last Prophet.

Aisha, the Scholar

Our Lady Aisha was extremely intelligent and a scholar and eloquent. She was also very learned in the field of medicine, which she had learned from the Bedouin tribes, and was able to prescribe and prepare medications.

In addition, she was known as a scholar of Hadith, and after the death of the Prophet, many of the Companions would come to her, seeking her teachings about the Prophet and the Islamic sciences.


Resources for Seekers

https://seekersguidance.org/articles/general-artices/inspiring-women-inspire-us/