Ustadha Zaynab Ansari on Amazing Muslim Women: Khadija

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.

Khadija bint Khuwaylid was a trailblazer in the early Muslim period. She is considered to be one of the first Muslims, the first female Muslim, the first wife of the Prophet and the first mother of his children. All these qualities truly make her from the amazing Muslim women.

The Nobility of Khadija

She was a noblewomen of the tribe of Quraysh, and was considered the “Leader of the Women of Quraysh.” Although she received many proposals from the wealthy elite of Quraysh, she declined them all.

She was also an entrepreneur. She hired the Prophet to work in her caravans that traveled to Syria to trade. She proposed marriage to him after observing his noble character and honesty. In doing so, she broke some barriers for the Muslims that would follow. She normalized the practice of women proposing marriage to men, even to those who were younger or less wealthy than them.

Her Strength and Wisdom

The Prophet would engage in regular spiritual retreats, where he would go into the cave of Hira and reflect. During that time, Khadija continued to support him, and did not discourage him. One day, he returned in a state of fear, and told her that he was seized by a presence who squeezed him and commanded him to read. Through her immense wisdom, she immediately knew exactly how to reassure him, and believed in him without hesitation.

The Prophet never forgot what she did for him. Years after her death, he would constantly remember her, saying, “She believed in me when everyone else rejected me, she believed in me when everyone else called me a liar.” His love for her was truly undying.


Resources for Seekers

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

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.


Resources for Seekers

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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Sisters, Make the Most of Your Umra with These Free Lessons

Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali has compiled and recorded a set of free valuable and comprehensive lessons for Muslim sisters who are going on Umra.

Ustadha Naielah Ackbarali has launched a website, Umrah For Women, for sisters who wish to go on Umra but wish to know more about the conditions and rites surrounding the act.

She has recorded a set of seven video-lessons and compiled a further list of additional resources according to the fiqh of the Hanafi madhhab, all for free.

A Letter to Our Sisters from Ustadha Naiela

In the Name of Allah, Most Merciful and Compassionate.

Assalamu alaykum wa rahmatuLlahi wa barakatuhu.

Dear Sister of Faith,

Congratulations on being invited by Allah Most High to perform a blessed umrah inshaAllah. We pray that Allah Most High accepts your umrah and makes it a means to deepen your relationship with Him Most High.

Allah Most High says: And I have not created jinn and mankind except to worship Me. (51:56)

The Prophet ﷺ said: “From one umrah to another is expiation for what comes in between, and ‘al-hajj al-mabrur’ brings no reward less than Paradise.” (Nasa’i)

Undoubtedly, the umrah is a tremendous spiritual opportunity that is filled with special secrets for a heart that is open to its delightful prospects. In today’s times, traveling for umrah has become quite easy and accessible for almost every Muslim. While visiting these holy lands opens a door for more spiritual development, these fruits can only ripen when a pilgrim knows how to utilize her time in a beneficial manner while in Makkah and Madina.

AlhamduliLlah, over the years we’ve been blessed to travel several times to Makkah and Madina, and what we’ve observed is that many pilgrims spend most of their trip trying to figure out how to maneuver through the haramayn or carelessly leave learning how to perform the umrah until the last minute. Some buy umrah guides to casually read, but the truth is that this knowledge must also be coupled with a teacher explaining the rulings in order to affirm a correct understanding of its details.

With the intention to serve the ummah and assist our sisters in the deen in embarking on their spiritual journey, by Allah’s grace we’ve created free umrah videos that cover the fiqh rulings related to the umrah according to the Hanafi madhhab, as well as included the spiritual significance behind many of the umrah rites and modern-day practical tips for women.

We encourage sisters to please take this opportunity of listening to these lessons seriously. The sins committed in Makkah and Madina are multiplied. Carelessly performing the umrah or ‘guessing’ about what one should do is completely unacceptable and irresponsible. Save yourself from making senseless mistakes and save your heart from staying in these holy places in a state of heedlessness.

The first six recordings detail the umrah rites and the last recording discusses how to visit the Prophet ﷺ in Madina. In order to help make things easier, we advise the following:

  • Follow the lesson outline stated on the site. Avoid skipping around and haphazardly streaming through the videos. This could possibly create more confusion and misunderstanding of the rulings.
  • Listen to the recordings more than once BEFORE leaving your home country. Do not wait until last minute to learn about the umrah. Giving yourself adequate time to move through the material will ensure more presence of heart during your trip. You can download the recordings and save them to your devices inshaAllah. The total time for all recordings is approximately 5 hours. The lessons were purposely kept short in order to make it more appealing and easier for listeners inshaAllah.
  • Read the additional resources. The bulk of the knowledge which is needed for the umrah is included in the videos, but we also provided extra reading material to further explain certain points inshaAllah. We also have a QUESTIONS section on the site that answer the most common questions from sisters inshaAllah.

Please excuse any mistakes and wrong that we may have committed while creating this project. We pray that Allah accepts it and that it will be a means to increase the ummah in love and reverence for Allah’s great symbols (sha’aa’ir) and the haramayn.

We humbly request your duas. May Allah accept them and your umrah.

Jazak Allah khayran.

Your Muslim Sister,

Naielah Ackbarali
Umrah For Women


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A Great Female Servant of God by Ustadh Amjad Tarsin

Ustadh Amjad Tarsin reflects on the apparent contradiction some minds see in the idea that there are female saints in Islam. He frames this within a tale of a personal journey to visit Hubaba Safiyya al Attas in Hadramawt in 2006.

While taking a class on Islamic Spirituality at the Hartford Seminary one of my Christian classmates gave a presentation on the famous lover of God, Rabiʿa al-ʿAdawiyya. Before starting the presentation she sincerely asked the question: “Does it seem contradictory in Islam to have a female saint?” I was shocked at the question and immediately shook my head, seeing no contradiction at all.

I looked around at my fellow Muslim men and women in the class and saw some hesitation on their faces. Were they perhaps thinking that there was some sort of contradiction? I don’t know for sure what was running through their minds, but it is because of my classmate’s question that I feel the need to write about my extraordinary visit to a waliya — a female saint.

Hubaba Safīyya al-ʿAttas

On September 16th, 2006 (Shaʿban 1427 H.), in Wadi ʿAmd in Hadramawt a group of friends and I drove for a few hours to visit a special servant of God: al-Hubaba Safīyya al-ʿAttas, may God have mercy on her. We desired to seek her out because her great station with God and of her endless devotion to and love of Him, Blessed and Exalted is He, was legendary.

The story I was told was that she was discovered by a scholar of Ḥaḍramawt who had seen the Prophet Muhammad, Allah bless him and give him peace, in a dream. It is said that the Prophet informed the scholar of Hubaba Safiyya and after telling the scholar where she lived, the Prophet commanded him to seek her out. Shortly thereafter, her name became well-known throughout the region, and even the most well-respected scholars sought her out to ask her for dua.

It never really occurred to me before going to Hadramawt that there existed righteous women worth seeking out, but I learned early on that even though I was living in a very conservative society, the people there nonetheless had great respect and reverence towards women of piety and knowledge. Even though I had heard great things about Hubaba Safiyya, I still didn’t really know what to expect.

A Strong Spiritual Presence

After driving several hours through the Hadramawt Valley, we finally reached the small village where Hubaba Safiyya lived. We arrived unannounced, and several children, who I later discovered were Hubaba Safiyya’s grandchildren (or maybe even great grandchildren, for she was over 100 years old at the time), surrounded us, immediately recognizing us as outsiders. The children ran off to tell the elders of our arrival, and it was immediately known that more people had come to seek the baraka of Hubaba Safiyya.

We were greeted warmly by a man in his early fifties who guided us to the Ḥubāba’s house. As we walked up the hill, the excitement and anticipation in my heart began to overflow. I felt something considerable was imminent. We finally made it to the old clay house and we awaited permission to see Hubaba Safiyya. We were graciously given sweet tea while we waited. Soon thereafter, permission was granted.

As we walked towards her room, I felt a strong spiritual presence overcome me. As we entered her room, ducking our heads to enter through the door (which was quite low by Western standards), my eyes fell upon one of the most astounding human beings I had ever seen. Hubaba Safiyya was at such a late stage in her life that she could not get up from her bed. But although she rested there weak in body — her spiritual qualities dwarfed all those present.

Immersed in Remembrance

She was completely immersed in the remembrance of her Lord. I felt from her words and demeanor that it was as if she was standing in the Rawda of the Prophet’s Mosque, peace and mercy be upon him. We all lowered our heads in front of this spiritual giant and were thankful for being able to see one of God’s righteous servants. Being in her presence made us all more mindful of our Lord and increased our yearning to seek His good pleasure and Noble Countenance.

What stood out the most to me were her eyes (a rare grayish-green color). When she looked at me through her face-veil, I felt her gaze pierce my soul. She had ancient eyes that looked like they had seen more than my imagination could muster. Her eyes were filled with wisdom, knowledge, mercy, and love. I felt something within me change forever after she looked at me.

You Have Attained Your Goal

We all asked her to make dua for us, and she gave us all hope and joy when she said, for the first time directing her words to us, saying, “You have attained your goal. You have attained your goal.” The rest of her words the entire visit were just dhikr — being completely engulfed in remembrance of her Lord.

After we left Hubaba Safiyya’s house, we all felt changed. Her prayers and her presence gave us more than words can describe. We felt an overwhelming sense of power and mercy. Although since then I have visited many righteous men, there was something absolutely unique about Hubaba Safiyya.

I was fortunate enough to visit her two more times before leaving Hadramawt, and will remember her for the rest of my life. I thank God for being able to spend time with a human being like her, and I pray to be united with her in the next life in the company of the Mothers of the Believers, Lady Asiya, Lady Maryam, Lady Khadija, and Lady Fatima – may God’s peace be upon them all.

Al-Hubaba Safiyya passed away in late 2007/1428. Scholars from all across the Hadramawt Valley flocked to her funeral, honoring one of God’s beloved saints. May God be well pleased with her and shower her with His infinite mercy.

Source: The Fragrance of Fatima


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An Exhausted Mother’s Eid Reflections, from Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil

Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil gives thanks for the little things in life.

As I began to write this from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my daughter sat beside me, playing with her Lego Duplo train set. Alhamdulilah, she turned two on Eid, and I am constantly reminded of the innumerable blessings and changes she has brought into my life.

On the morning of Eid, we drove to the nearby Kampung Tungku mosque to pray. I smiled at the families walking to the mosque ; young children were carried by their parents, the elderly were supported by their children, and everyone wore festive traditional clothes cut from the same bolt of cloth,

When we approached the mosque, the elderly were given the ground floor to pray, while the rest of us went up the stairs. To save time, I carried my toddler up, and got her settled in before Salatul Eid began. I sat closer to the back, next to another mother with her small children. My daughter was eager to wear her small telukong (prayer garment) after she saw me put mine on, alongside all the other women.

Right after I raised my hands in prayer, my daughter’s telukong slipped off her head. She’s still figuring out how to put it on by herself, so she repeatedly called out to me,  “Mummy, help Taskeen wear telukong.” I worried that ignoring her could lead to a tantrum, so I made dua that the imam would read one of the shorter chapters. I was reminded of this beautiful hadith:

It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin Abi Qatadah, from his father that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “I stand in prayer, then I hear a child crying, so I make my prayer brief, because I do not want to cause hardship for his mother.” [Sunan An-Nasai]

This is the mercy of our Beloved Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) who acknowledges the helplessness of a praying mother while her baby cries.

Last year, when my daughter was one, she cried and cried as I performed the Eid prayer. She was still so little then, so I broke my prayer, out of my own distress and my fear of distracting the rest of the congregation. Alhamdulilah, one year later, there was no crying, and she was able to wait until I finished two cycles of prayer. Progress! This is how I measure how far we have come: how much uninterrupted time I get in the bathroom; how many cycles I can pray before she starts calling for me, how long she can play with her toys on her own – these are the fruits of our hard, loving, real work together, as a family. My part-time jobs as a teacher and writer are my break from my full-time job as a mother.

Sadly, across the world today, we live in a time that does not value women’s work. There is no GDP or dollar sign attached to the countless tears we wipe away, the meals we lovingly prepare, and the endless diapers we change. And yet, these daily, loving acts of nurturing helps to build secure and loving human beings.

I am intimately connected now, to the brutal truth that comes with raising a child. It is relentless, everyday toil that brings both joy and pain. On good days, my toddler warms my heart with her memorable antics. On bad days, I struggle to stay calm in the face of the emotions that overwhelm her.

In the light of my all-consuming stage of motherhood, I look back wistfully to my past Ramadans of long nights of worship and Qur’anic recitation. I cannot help but compare these blessed times to the bare bones Ramadan since my baby was born. I can only pray and hope that Allah will accept the little that I do now, help me do better, and overlook my imperfections.

There has been so much tragedy this past Ramadan. I reflect on the violence perpetrated by ISIS and other extremists, and I wonder what went wrong. What broke inside these young men, to make them such vessels of violence? How can they commit these atrocities, in the name of a religion that cares deeply for the welfare of plants, animals, children, women and men? I can only pray that the light and mercy of Islam reaches their veiled hearts.

If you are an exhausted mother reading this, then trust that Allah knows every ache of your tired heart. Nothing is lost on Him – every tear you shed, every smile you bravely wear for your children, and everything you have sacrificed for them. God willing, your loving presence with your children will plant seeds of Prophetic mercy in their hearts. Your innumerable hours, days and years with them are never, ever wasted.

May these seeds we plant sprout strong, deep roots. May our children be the vanguards and sources of light and peace in a world so fractured by hatred and violence.

Resources for seekers on motherhood and parenting

Etiquette of Marriage: A Comprehensive SeekersHub Reader

The etiquette of marriage form the 12th chapter of Imam Al-Ghazali’s seminal work, the Ihya, which is widely regarded as the greatest work on Islamic spirituality in the world.

 

Islamic Scholars Fund: Make an Impact With Your Zakat

In this video Shaykh Faraz Rabbani emphasises the importance of having an Islamic Scholars Fund.

 In our times…

In traditional Muslim societies endowment supported the best and brightest young minds to become Islamic scholars. Islamic scholars were supported, so that they could dedicate themselves to teaching and providing religious guidance and clarity to the community. Unfortunately, in our times, we don’t have such institutions, as a result, the best and brightest young minds don’t pursue the path of Islamic scholarship, and Islamic scholars, even the most capable are not very often able to dedicate themselves to teaching, guiding and providing clarity.

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An urgent area of need

A few years ago SeekersHub started collecting zakat to support students of knowledge in need, to support deserving Islamic scholars. Very quickly we discovered that this is an urgent area of need, we found many cases of scholars in the most dire of circumstances. Scholars like a leading Arab scholar with disabled children whose medical bills meant that he had to work long hours and was unable to teach actively, was unable to write or research. With your support this scholar has been able to teach thousands of students around the world, and has authored many really beneficial religious works.

Lost, now found

Your support has also helped students dedicate themselves to study, students such as Sufyan, living in a suburb of Paris, who was dismayed, lost and confused about how he could study, how he could serve the community by becoming a scholar of Islam. With your support, Sufyan is now well on the path to becoming a capable teacher and scholar of prophetic guidance.

Female scholarship

Students like the many female students of knowledge whom we are supporting, mentoring and guiding to become future female scholars of Islam. How can we celebrate the great history of female scholarship in Islam, the thousands of female scholars in 9th century Baghdad if we’re not committed now, to support present day female students of knowledge?

The scholars tell us that the best charity is the charity that has the greatest impact.

Make your charity truly impactful, give your zakat to SeekersHub Global Islamic Scholars Fund.


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Empowering Women’s Voices & Scholarship. Anse Tamara Gray & Ust. Zaynab Ansari

Women have always played important roles in Islamic learning, but their path to scholarship is not without its unique challenges, as Shaykha Tamara Gray and Ustadha Zaynab Ansari discuss.

In part 1 of their conversation on ImanWire, Shaykha Tamara Gray of Rabata and Ustadha Zaynab Ansari of Tayseer Seminary discuss the future of female scholarship, facing misogyny in the community, and how to facilitate more open platforms for feminine voices in the teaching of sacred knowledge. The two scholars consider the role of feminism, the need for gender-equitable spiritual spaces and discourse, and other contemporary issues. Our thanks to ImanWire for this podcast.

Photo credit: Hernán Piñera

Muslim Convert: Ever heard of an opera singer embracing Islam?

Do you think about converting to Islam, but have obstacles that hold you back? Sandra, a Muslim convert from Colombia, was once an opera singer. Being away from her family gave her an opportunity to question the religion she had sung for since childhood. And it was through a sincere prayer for guidance that God put her on the path of Islam.


If you have concerns or confusions that are keeping you back from converting to Islam, email Overcome TV or send a YouTube message.

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