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20081204_1d7e03874180ec9846fes4vuPrHMYS9j-5469The story of how I reverted to al-Islam is a story of plans. I made plans, the group I was with made plans, and Allah made plans. And Allah is the Best of Planners. When I was a teenager, I came to the attention of a group of people with a very sinister agenda. They were and probably still are a loose association of individuals who work in government positions but have a special agenda - to destroy Islam. It is not a governmental group that I am aware of, they simply use their positions in the US government to advance their cause.

One member of this group approached me because he saw that I was articulate, motivated and very much the women's rights advocate. He told me that if I studied International Relations with an emphasis in the Middle East, he would guarantee me a job at the American Embassy in Egypt. He wanted me to eventually go there to use my position in the country to talk to Muslim women and encourage the fledgling women's rights movement. I thought this was a great idea. I had seen the Muslim women on TV; I knew they were a poor oppressed group, and I wanted to lead them to the light of 20th century freedom.

With this intention, I went to college and began my education. I studied Qur'aan, hadeeth and Islamic history. I also studied the ways I could use this information. I learned how to twist the words to say what I wanted them to say. It was a valuable tool. Once I started learning, however, I began to be intrigued by this message. It made sense. That was very scary. Therefore, in order to counteract this effect, I began to take classes in Christianity. I chose to take classes with this one professor on campus because he had a good reputation and he had a Ph.D. in Theology from Harvard University. I felt I was in good hands. I was, but not for the reasons I thought. It turns out that this professor was a Unitarian Christian. He did not believe in the trinity or the divinity of Jesus. In actuality, he believed that Jesus was a prophet.

He proceeded to prove this by taking the Bible from its sources in Greek, Hebrew and Aramaic and show where they were changed. As he did this, he showed the historical events which shaped and followed these changes. By the time I finished this class, my deen (religion) had been destroyed, but I was still not ready to accept Islam. As time went on, I continued to study, for myself and for my future career. This took about three years. In this time, I would question Muslims about their beliefs. One of the individuals I questioned was a Muslim brother within the MSA. Alhamdulillah, he saw my interest in the deen, and made it a personal effort to educate me about Islam. May Allah increase his reward. He would give me da'wah at every opportunity which presented itself.

One day, this man contacts me, and he tells me about a group of Muslims who were visiting in town. He wanted me to meet them. I agreed. I went to meet with them after Ishaa prayer. I was led to a room with at least 20 men in it. They all made space for me to sit, and I was placed face to face with an elderly Pakistani gentleman. Maashaa'Allah, this brother was a very knowledgeable man in matters of Christianity. He and I discussed and argued the varying parts of the bible and the Qur'aan until Dawn (Fajr). At this point, after having listened to this wise man tell me what I already knew, based on the class I had taken in Christianity, he did what no other individual had ever done. He invited me to become a Muslim. In the three years I had been searching and researching, no one had ever invited me. I had been taught, argued with and even insulted, but never invited. May Allah guide us all. So when he invited me, it clicked. I realized this was the time. I knew it was the truth, and I had to make a decision. Alhamdulillah, Allah opened my heart, and I said,

"Yes. I want to be a Muslim."

With that, the man led me in the Shahaadah (Testimony of Faith) - in English and in Arabic. I swear by Allah that when I took the Shahaadah, I felt the strangest sensation. I felt as if a huge, physical weight had just been lifted off my chest; I gasped for breath as if I were breathing for the first time in my life. Alhamdulillah, Allah had given me a new life - a clean slate - a chance for Jennah, and I pray that I live the rest of my days and die as a Muslim. Aameen.


dawn17Ever since I can remember, my family attended a non-denominational conservative Christian church (Church of Christ). I grew up in the church, taught bible school and sang in the choir. As a young teenager I began asking questions (as I think everyone does at one point in their lives): Why was I a member of the Church of Christ and not say Lutheran, Catholic or Methodist? If various churches are teaching conflicting doctrine, how do we know which one is right? Are they all right? Do 'all paths lead to God' as I had heard some say? Others say that as long as you are a good person it doesn't matter what you believe - is that true?

After some soul searching I decided that I did believe that there was an ultimate truth and in an attempt to find that truth I began a comparison study of various churches. I decided that I believed in the Bible and would join the church that best followed the Bible. After a lengthy study, I decided to stay with the Church of Christ, satisfied that its doctrines were biblically sound (unaware at this stage that there could be various interpretations of the Bible).

I spent a year at Michigan Christian College, a small college affiliated with the Churches of Christ, but was not challenged academically and so transferred to Western Michigan University. Having applied late for student housing, I was placed in the international dorm. Although my roommate was American, I felt surrounded by strange people from strange places. It was in fact my first real experience with cultural diversity and it scared me (having been raised in a white, middle class, Christian community). I wanted to change dorms but there wasn't anything available. I did really like my roommate and decided to stick out the semester.

My roommate became very involved in the dorm activities and got to know most everyone in the dorm. I however performed with the marching band and spent most of my time with band people. Marching season soon ended and finding myself with time on my hands, I joined my roommate on her adventures around the dorm. It turned out to be a wonderful, fascinating experience! There were a large number of Arab men living in the dorm. They were charming, handsome, and a lot of fun to be around. My roommate started dating one of them and we ended up spending most of our time with the Arabs. I guess I knew they were Muslims (although very few of them were practicing). We never really discussed religion, we were just having fun.

The year passed and I had started seeing one of the Arabs. Again, we were just enjoying each other's company and never discussed our religious differences. Neither of us were practicing at this time so it never really became an issue for us. I did, deep down, feel guilty for not attending church, but I pushed it in the back of my mind. I was having too much fun.

Another year passed and I was home for summer vacation when my roommate called me with some very distressing news: she'd become a Muslim!! I was horrified. She didn't tell me why she converted, just that she had spent a lot of time talking with her boyfriend's brother and it all made sense to her. After we hung up, I immediately wrote her a long letter explaining that she was ruining her life and to just give Christianity one more chance. That same summer my boyfriend transferred to Azusa Pacific University in California. We decided to get married and move to California together. Again, since neither one were practicing, religion was not discussed.

Secretly I started reading books on Islam. However I read books that were written by non-Muslims. One of the books I read was Islam Revealed by Anis Sorosh. I felt guilty about my friend's conversion. I felt that if I had been a better Christian, she would have turned to the church rather than Islam. Islam was a man-made religion, I believed, and filled with contradictions. After reading Sorosh's book, I thought I could convert my friend and my husband to Christianity.

At APU, my husband was required to take a few religion courses. One day he came home from class and said:

"The more I learn about Christianity, the stronger my belief in Islam becomes."

At about this same time he started showing signs of wanting to practice his religion again. Our problems began. We started talking about religion and arguing about our different beliefs. He told me I should learn about Islam and I told him I already knew everything I needed to know. I got out Sorosh's book and told him I could never believe in Islam. My husband is not a scholar by any stretch of the imagination, yet he had an answer for everything I showed him in Sorosh's book. I was impressed by his knowledge. He told me that if I really wanted to learn about Islam it must be through Islamic sources. He bought a few books for me from an Islamic bookstore and I started taking classes at a local mosque. What a difference the Islam I learned about from Muslim sources from the Islam I learned about from non-Muslims!

It was so difficult though when I actually decided to convert. My pride stood in the way for awhile. How could I admit to my husband and my friend that they were right all along? I felt humiliated, embarrassed. Soon though, I could deny the truth no longer, swallowed my pride, and alhamdulilah, embraced Islam - the best decision I ever made.

A few things I want to say to the non-Muslim reader:

When I originally began my search for the truth all those years ago, I made a few wrong assumptions. First, I assumed that the truth is with Christianity only. It never occurred to me at that time to look outside Christianity. Second, I assumed that the Bible was the true Word of God. These were bad assumptions because they prohibited me from looking at things objectively. When I began my earnest study of Islam, I had to start at the very beginning, with no preconceived ideas. I was not a Christian looking at Islam; I looked at both Islam and Christianity (and many other religions) from the point of view of an outsider. My advice to you is to be a critical thinker and a critical reader.

Another mistake that many people make when talking about Islam is that they pick out a certain teaching and judge the whole of Islam on that one point. For example, many people say that Islam is prejudiced towards women because Islamic laws of inheritance award the male twice as much as the female. What they fail to learn, however, is that males have financial responsibilities in Islam that females do not have. It is like putting a puzzle together: until you have all the pieces in the right places, you cannot make a statement about the picture, you cannot look at one little piece of the puzzle and judge the whole picture.

Many people said that the only reason I converted was because of my husband. It is true that I studied Islam because he asked me to - but I accepted Islam because it is the truth. My husband and I are currently separated and plan to divorce in June, inshaaAllah. My faith in Islam has never been stronger than it is now. I look forward to finding a practicing Muslim husband, inshaaAllah, and growing in my faith and practice. Being a good Muslim is my number one priority.

May Allah lead all of us closer to the truth.


greenwhiteI was raised in a religious Christian family. At that time, Americans were more religious than they are now—most families went to church every Sunday, for example. My parents were involved in the church community. We often had ministers (Protestant “priests”) in the house. My mother taught in Sunday school, and I helped her.

I must have been more religious than other children, although I don’t remember being so. For one birthday, my aunt gave me a Bible, and my sister a doll. Another time, I asked my parents for a prayer book, and I read it daily for many years.

When I was in junior high school (middle school), I attended a Bible study program for two years. Up to this point, I had read some parts of the Bible, but had not understood them very well. Now was my chance to learn. Unfortunately, we studied many passages in the Old and New Testaments that I found inexplicable, even bizarre.

For example, the Bible teaches an idea called Original Sin, which means that humans are all born sinful. I had a baby brother, and I knew that babies were not sinful.

The Bible has very strange and disturbing stories about Prophet Abraham and Prophet David, for example. I couldn’t understand how Prophets could behave the way the Bible says they did.

There were many, many other things that puzzled me about the Bible, but I didn't ask questions. I was afraid to ask—I wanted to me known as a “good girl.”

Alhamdulillah, there was a boy who asked, and kept asking. The most critical matter was the notion of Trinity. I couldn’t get it. How could God have three parts, one of which was human? Having studied Greek and Roman mythology at school, I thought the idea of the Trinity and powerful human saints very similar to the Greek and Roman ideas of having different so-called “gods” that were in charge of different aspects of life (Astaghfirullah!). The boy who asked, asked many questions about Trinity, received many answers, and was never satisfied. Neither was I. Finally, our teacher, a University of Michigan Professor of Theology, told him to pray for faith. I prayed.

When I was in high school, I secretly wanted to be a nun. I was drawn to the pattern of offering devotions at set times of day, of a life devoted entirely to God, and of dressing in a way that declared my religious lifestyle.

An obstacle to this ambition, though, was that I wasn’t Catholic. I lived in a Midwestern town where Catholics were a distinct and unpopular minority! Furthermore, my protestant upbringing had instilled in me distaste for religious statuary, and a healthy disbelief that dead saints had the ability to help me.

In college, I continued to think and pray. Students often talk and argue about religion, and I heard many different ideas. Like Yusuf Islam, I studied the Eastern so-called religions: Buddhism, Confucianism, and Hinduism. No help there.

I met a Muslim from Libya, who told me a little about Islam and the Holy Qur’an. He told me that Islam is the modern, most up-to-date form of revealed religion. Because I thought of Africa and the Middle East as backwards places, I couldn’t see Islam as modern.

My family took this Libyan brother to a Christmas church service. The service was breathtakingly beautiful, but at the end, he asked,

“Who made up this procedure? Who taught you when to stand and bow and kneel? Who taught you how to pray?”

I told him about early Church history, but his question made me angry at first, and later made me think.

Had the people who designed the worship service really been qualified to do so? How had they known the form that worship should take? Had they had divine instruction?

I knew that I did not believe in many of the teachings of Christianity, but continued to attend church. When the congregation recited pieces I believed to be blasphemous, such as the Nicene Creed, I was silent—I didn’t recite them. I felt almost alien in church, almost a stranger.

A shocker! Someone very close to me, having dire marital problems, went to a curate of our church for advice. Taking advantage of her pain and self-loathing, he took her to a motel and seduced her.

Up to this point, I had not considered carefully the role of the clergy in Christian life. Now I had to. Most Christians believe that forgiveness comes through the “Holy Communion” service, and that an ordained priest or minister must conduct the service. No minister, no absolution.

I went to church again, and sat and looked at the ministers in front. They were no better than the congregation—some of them were worse. How could it be true that the agency of a man, of any human being, was necessary for communion with God? Why couldn’t I deal with God directly, and receive His absolution directly?

Soon after this, I found a translation of the meaning of the Qur’an in a bookstore, bought it, and started to read it. I read it, off and on, for eight years. During this time, I continued to investigate other religions.

I grew increasingly aware of and afraid of my sins. How could I know whether God would forgive me? I no longer believed that the Christian model, the Christian way of being forgiven, would work. My sins weighed heavily on me, and I didn’t know how to escape the burden of them. I longed for forgiveness. I read in the Qur’an,

quran_bxvm{…Nearest among them in love to the Believers you will find those who say, ‘We are Christian’: Because amongst them are Men devoted to learning, and men who have renounced the world and are not arrogant.

And when they listen to the revelation received by the Messenger, you will see their eyes overflowing with tears, for they recognize the truth. They pray, ‘Our Lord! We believe. Write us down among the witnesses.

And what (reason) have we that we should not believe in Allah and in the truth that has come to us, while we earnestly desire that our Lord should cause us to enter with the good people?} (Al-Ma’idah 5:84)

I began to hope that Islam held the answer. How could I find out for sure?

I saw Muslims praying on the TV news, and knew that they had a special way of praying. I found a book (by a non-Muslim) that described it, and I tried to do it myself (I knew nothing about Tahaarah, and did not pray correctly). I prayed that way, secretly and alone, for several years.

Finally, about eight years after first buying my Qur’an, I read: {This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor for you, and chosen Islam as your religion.} (Al-Ma’idah 5:3)

I wept for joy, because I knew that, way back in time, before the creation of the Earth, Allah had written this Qur’an for me. Allah had known that Anne Collins, in Cheektowaga, NY, USA, would read this verse of the Qur’an in May 1986, and be saved.

Now, I knew that there were many things I had to learn, for example, how to pray properly, which the Qur’an does not describe in detail. The problem was that I didn’t know any Muslims.

phoneMuslims are much more visible in the U.S. now than they were then. I didn’t know where to find them. I found the phone number of the Islamic Society in the phone book, and dialed it, but when a man answered, I panicked and hung up. What was I going to say? How would they answer me? Would they be suspicious? Why would they want me, when they had each other and their Islam?

In the next couple of months, I called the mosque a number of times, and each time panicked and hung up. Finally, I did the cowardly thing: I wrote a letter asking for information. The kindly, patient brother at the mosque phoned me, and then started sending me pamphlets about Islam. I told him I wanted to be Muslim, but he told me, “Wait until your are sure.” It upset me that he told me to wait, but I knew he was right, that I had to be sure because, once I had accepted Islam, nothing would ever be the same again.

I became obsessed with Islam. I thought about it, day and night. On several occasions, I drove to the mosque (at that time, it was in an old converted house) and circled it many times, hoping to see a Muslim, wondering what it was like inside.

Finally, one day in early November 1986, as I was working in the kitchen, I suddenly knew, knew that I was Muslim. Still a coward, I sent the mosque a letter. It said,

“I believe in Allah, the One True God, I believe that Muhammad was his Messenger, and I want to be counted among the witnesses.”

The brother called me on the phone the next day, and I said my Shahaadah on the phone to him. He told me then that Allah had forgiven all my sins at that moment, and that I was as pure as a newborn baby.

I felt the burden of sin slip off my shoulders, and wept for joy. I slept little that night, weeping, and repeating Allah’s name. Forgiveness had been granted. Alhamdulillah. name I am called by my Christian parents is Bobbie Evans, but the name I am known by in the Muslim community is Khadija Evans. This is the story of how my husband and I came to embrace Islam.

I can remember standing in the kitchen of the house I lived in when I was just seven or eight years old and looking towards the door that went outside. I prayed to a god whom I wasn’t sure existed and I begged Him to show himself to me if He was really there. Nothing happened.

I can remember being nine or ten years old and writing a letter to God and hiding it in the heat register in my bedroom, thinking God, if He existed, would come and retrieve it and answer my prayers. But the next day, the letter was still there.

I had always had a hard time accepting the existence of God, and of understanding the beliefs taught in Christian churches. Even though my parents weren’t very religious, and rarely went to church, they thought it was best that my two brothers and I go. We were allowed to choose our religion when we very young. I think I was about six or seven, and my brothers were one and two years older then I. I chose a Methodist church for no other reason then it was a few blocks away from our house, and my brothers chose a Lutheran church because it was also close, and I hadn’t chosen it.

I went to the church until I was thirteen years old. I was baptized and confirmed there when I was 11. I went along with the baptism and confirmation because all children who were 11 received confirmation, and if they hadn’t already been baptized, that was done at the same time. Even then I knew that doubts about God and Christian teachings were things best kept to myself.

When I was 13 my family moved to another town with no churches within walking distance, and my parents weren’t eager to get up early and drive us kids to church, and so our religious training stopped until I was 15 and my mom suddenly found religion. She began attending an Assembly of God church, occasionally dragging my dad along. I went willingly. I had already begun a search for God that wouldn’t end until I was 42 years old. I remember being “born again”. Caught up in the fervor of the hell and damnation that the minister preached at the Assembly of God church. I became “high on religion” thinking I had finally found “Him.” Little did I know, but the high would be short lived, as I again began to have doubts and unanswered questions. When I was 17 I met the daughter of an assistant Baptist minister and began going to their church. I had been sexually abused by my dad from the time I was at least six years old and I told the assistant minister about it. He arranged with my parents to let me live with him and his family in a type of “private foster care.” My dad paid him $100 a week. My parents also attended the church for a brief time, until the minister announced on the pulpit that my dad was a child molester. Before that though, my mom, dad and I were each baptized at the church.

One day after spending the day with my parents I returned to my foster home only to find the house empty. Cleaned out. Not a stick of furniture. We found out that the minister had been caught embezzling from the church and he and his family had left town in a hurry. I returned to my parents home and the abuse.

As a result of that incident what little faith I had in God was totally lost and I became an atheist. For the next 25 years I would fluctuate between believing, wanting to believe, and Agnosticism, and Atheism.

When I was twenty-six, I went to three months of Rights of Initiation for Catholic Adults and then was baptized and confirmed in the Roman Catholic Church. I had been allowed to by-pass the full year of classes because I hadn’t called the church to inquire about converting until three months before the Easter Vigil Mass when confirmation for adults was held.

I had entered the Catholic religion with the same philosophy that I had once heard Alcoholics Anonymous has, “Bring your body, your mind will follow.” I didn’t really believe in God, or in the core teachings of the Catholic Church, but I wanted so badly to believe in a power higher then myself, that I went faithfully to mass seven days a week, hoping that somehow I would start to believe. But after several months, I began to realize that it wasn’t going to happen, and my mass attendance became a once a week thing, then once a month, until when I was thirteen and met the man who today is my husband and who wasn’t Catholic, I stopped attending mass altogether.

I had never told anyone, before my husband, that I didn’t believe in God. I don’t think he took me seriously at first. I don’t think he had ever known an Atheist.

My husband is 29 years older then me. We’ve had a wonderful marriage for these last 10 years. When we first met, I still desperately wanted to believe, and kept making him promise me that “When you get to Heaven” he would ask God to give me the strength to believe, and he if at all possible, he would give me a sign, one that I couldn’t chalk up to my imagination, so I would know there really was a god. He always promised me he would. We were living in rural Alabama when I was 32 years old. I developed ulcerations on both corneas and when they healed, I was legally blind. Because of damage from infection that had been done to the tissue that donated corneas would have to adhere to, I couldn’t find an eye surgeon who believed that transplanted corneas wouldn’t be rejected.

I was still searching for God. I was searching for hope of something better then what this world had to offer. Some kind of evidence of the chance for existence after death. Some way to achieve it. I listened to Christian programs on the Trinity Broadcasting Network, even though I couldn’t find any ministers on the station who’s opinion I trusted. I watched anyway, hoping that one would say something that would click in my mind, and I would finally know, that “Yes, there really is a god.” None of them ever said anything that caused that connection to happen, though many said things that confused me even more.

During the first 10 years after I became legally blind, I tried attending different churches, Baptist again, Assembly of God again, non-Denominational, Church of God, Mormon, and even studied up on Wicca. But I always lost interest after just a few months. Things the religions taught just didn’t add up. There were just too many things left to faith. Things that had no proof other then one’s faith. I couldn’t believe something when the only proof were some words in a book that in large part didn’t make sense.

I remember one night when I was about 35 years old, lying in bed and praying to God, whom I still wasn’t sure existed, and asking Him that if He did exist to lead me to someone who could help me to believe. But I found no one.

At age 36 I acquired a braille Bible and started reading it, once again hoping to find proof of God’s existence. But with the Bible being so hard to understand, with so much of it not really being explainable, I lost interest after reading just a few of its books.

At about that time, though still wanting to find God, I gave up my search. I had become completely disillusioned with religion.


On September 11, 2001 I was sitting at my computer. It was before 9 a.m. and as usual the television, which was sitting to my right, was turned on for background noise. I heard the sound that is made to notify viewers of an important news announcement. I stopped and turned towards the TV. A reporter began talking and one of the towers of the World Trade Center showed in the background. He said an accident had happened. A small plane had hit one of the towers of the World Trade Center. I’m legally blind, but I could see well enough to know that it wasn’t a small plane that had hit the tower. The hole was massive. And I didn’t think it was possible to accidentally hit something so big.

As I watched, another plane flew into the other tower. I couldn’t see the plane itself, it was too small for me to see, but I saw the fireball that exploded away from the building.

I jumped up and ran into the bedroom and told my husband to hurry and get up because terrorists were flying planes into the World Trade Center buildings! He immediately got out of bed and came in to the living room and sat in his recliner and began to watch. It was about 9 a.m.

As time went by it was announced that a plane had been flown into the Pentagon and another hijacked plane had crashed in Pennsylvania. I wondered when it would end? And what in the world was going on??? The reporter said it looked like “debris” was falling from the building. My husband said it was people jumping. Something he has never been able to forget. I was grateful that my vision was to bad for me to be able to make out what even looked like “debris”. “The reporter said a part of the first tower had fallen away from the building. He spoke in a kind of hesitant voice. Now I wonder if he was unsure of what he was seeing. Because we later found out that a part of the building hadn’t fallen away. The building had completely collapsed.

A female reporter was crying and a male reporter hugged her. I was crying too. And my husband hugged me.

For weeks afterward I would start crying for no apparent reason. I’d be riding on the bus and have to turn my head towards the window and pretend I was looking out so that others wouldn’t see the tears escaping my eyes.

When we were in a restaurant, I’d have to use my napkin to dab the tears welling up in my eyes before the other diners noticed and wondered if I was some kind of a nut.

I was Christian then and I cared. And I was devastated. I couldn’t understand how a religion could promote such violence, as the media was saying Islam did. It made no sense to me. So I decided to find out for myself. One way or another I wanted to know the truth. Because of my partial blindness I was limited to information from the internet. Finding braille books about Islam in braille or ink print that was large enough for me to read was impossible. I was able to use a computer because I had magnification software installed so I could enlarge the font on the screen to a size that I could read.

I did searches and I began to read about Islam. I went to web sites that taught the basics of Islam, and I joined Muslim women’s e-groups where I was able to ask and get answers that I confirmed through further research.

I’ve always been a sceptic. It’s always been hard for me to believe something that I didn’t understand. I was never one to believe something simply because someone said it was so. I had to know it in my mind as well as in my heart.

While studying Islam I learned that the god Muslims worship is the same god as that of Christians and Jews. The god of Abraham and Moses. I found that Islam doesn’t promote or condone hatred of non-Muslims, nor does it condone the killing of innocent people.

By studying Islam I found the answers that the media wasn’t telling us and I came to know that Islam is the True Religion. I read a lot of convincing evidence, but the things that proved to me that there is a god, and that Islam is the True Religion and that that the Qur’an is the Word of God, were those in the Qur’an itself. The things that are of a scientific nature. Things that have only been discovered by scientists in the last 100 years. The only one who could have known those things 1400 years ago was God.

For example, One day I was at a web site that was about some of the scientific proofs in the Qur’an. One of the verses in the Qur’an tells about the death of our own solar system - Al-Rahman 37-38:

“When the sky is torn apart, so it was (like) a red rose like ointment. Then which of the favors of your lord will you deny?” There was a link that went to the NASA web site. When I clicked the link I had no idea what was going to be on the next page, but what I saw took my breath away. Tears came to my eyes. I knew - if I had had any doubts left - I knew at the moment, that Islam was the True Religion of God.

The page the link took me to showed what looked like a rose. It was the “Cat’s Eye Nebula.” Which was an exploding star 3000 light years away. It had been photographed with the Hubble Space Telescope. Scientists say that it is the same fate that awaits our own solar system. Muslims refer to it as the “Rose Nebula.” It had been described in the Qur’an 1400 years ago. People back then had no way of knowing about it. Only God could have known.

After accepting in my mind as well as in my heart that Islam is the True Religion, I knew that I was already a Muslim and the only thing left was to profess my faith.

I looked in an internet directory for mosques in my community. I called the one in the next town and told the person who answered the phone that I wanted to convert to Islam, and asked him when I could make my Shahaadah. He told me to be there at 4 p.m. on Saturday when the Imaam would also be there. I told him that I ride the bus everywhere and it wouldn’t be running late enough for me to be able to get back home and so could I come earlier? He said not to worry, someone would give me a ride home. I arrived as scheduled, and as God had scheduled, so began my new life. I have since come to realize that on that day, the greatest event of my life occurred. I had always thought that the most wonderful thing to ever happen to me was the day that I married my husband. But I now know it wasn’t. The most important day of my life was the day I made my Shahaadah and accepted Islam as the way of life God intended me to live. It was the day I acknowledged that Islam is the way to salvation, to Heaven, and I made a choice to practice it.

I can’t say my husband was thrilled by my reverting to Islam. He believed what the media was saying about Muslims and the religion. He didn’t like it that I went to the mosque several evenings a week and left him home alone to be bored. One night after he was finished complaining about me going again I sat down a few feet away from him and I calmly told him,

“I will never ask you to practice a religion you don’t believe in. I love you too much to try and force that on you. But I do want you to learn about Islam so that you will at least understand what it is I believe.”

I then stood up and went into the bedroom and finished dressing to go to the mosque. I kissed him goodbye and I left.

When I returned home I found his whole attitude had changed. He was bright and cheerful. That night, before going to bed, he began to learn about Islam.

My husband began going to the mosque with me. While I studied with the sisters, he would talk with a brother and ask him questions. At home he read things on the internet, and books that he had borrowed from the mosque. We would discuss different things he was learning, and I would point things out to him.

When the day came and he told me about how some aspect of Islam was to be practiced, in a “know it all” tone of voice, as if it were a fact, something that I myself didn’t know, I asked him to tell me “How do you know that??” and he replied,

“Because it’s in the Qur’an!”

I was stunned! He believed! He knew that Islam was True! If it was in the Qur’an, as far as he was concerned it was true! Thirty-six days after I publicly professed my faith in God and His messenger, Prophet Muhammad, my husband professed his. We had an Islamic marriage ceremony the same evening. I cried when my husband made his Shahada. I knew we would be in Eternity together!

A month before, a brother had asked me what I thought the chances of my husband converting were. I told him, “Zero.” I said,

“I can’t imagine someone so dramatically changing their beliefs after having believed something else for 70 years."

But 14 days before his 71st birthday he embraced Islam as his religion and his way of life. In the Muslim community we have found another family. We have found friendship, love and acceptance that was taught in the Christian religions we practiced at different points in my life, but that we felt never actually existed among most of the members of the churches we went to.

Many of the Muslims in our area are immigrants, but we have found no intolerance of Americans whether they are Muslim or not. We were both welcomed into the family of Islam the very first time each of us went to the mosque. We’ve always felt welcome and accepted.

Since embracing Islam We have found direction and purpose for our lives. We have found the meaning for our existence. We have come to realize that we really are here only for a short time and that what comes afterwards is far better then the fleeting pleasures that this world has to offer us.

I have found a sense of security concerning life after death that I had never known before. We have both come to see the problems that we once saw as being major as actually being opportunities to grow. We thank God for what we do have, as well for what we don’t. Today we are Muslim. We still care about 9/11. I still cry when I think a little too much about the events of that day. My husband still remembers the people jumping from the buildings. We wish all we could say about that day was where we had been when we heard that the WTC had been attacked. But we did see it happen, and it was the most devastating thing to ever happen in our lives. But from tragedy came victory.

From death has come the knowledge that we will have life after our death. And it will be spent together.


prison-bars-thumb6189764Can America and Islam coexist? The answer may lie with the fate of twenty-five-year-old "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh. The prison profile of the man who now calls himself Hamza.

Arabic must be one hell of a language. It must indeed be preeminent among all languages on earth, because it is the language of revelation in Islam. It is not only the language that the Prophet, peace be upon him and his family, spoke to all of humankind; it is the language that God spoke to the Prophet. It is the language that God chose to make His wishes for humankind known. In Islam, there are none of the bewildering textual controversies that have beset Judaism and Christianity; in Islam, there are no authors with competing claims. There is only one God, giving one specifically Arabic Koran to his final Prophet. Let other religions divide themselves with their warring tongues, their disjointed canons. In the singular Arabic of the singular Koran, humankind has found its answer to Babel.

And so it is that the Holy Koran cannot exist in translation. There are many translations of the Koran, but they are not the true Koran itself, for it is only the Arabic that transforms God's repetitive instructions and injunctions and warnings and threats—and his repetitive hatred of the infidel—into a miraculous song impervious to every challenge.

And so it is that every Muslim must try to master Arabic. It is not necessary that every Muslim succeed in his effort, for God made every man with different capabilities. But it is necessary for every man to try, once he becomes a Muslim. The effort is his obligation, his fard. God is merciful, wise.

And so it is that when a sixteen-year-old American named John Walker Lindh converts to Islam in 1997, he begins calling himself Suleyman al-Faris and sets about trying to master the language of the Prophet, peace be upon him.

desert1_optAnd so it is that Suleyman travels alone from California to Yemen when he is seventeen years old and attends an Arabic language school. Two years later, he goes again, this time with the intention of absorbing not only the singular language of Arabic but also what he hopes will be a singular Islamic culture. He does not find singularity in Yemen, and so he tries finding it in a madrassa—an Islamic school—in Pakistan, and then a military training camp in Afghanistan.

And so it is that for months, Suleyman speaks almost nothing but Arabic in the mountains of Afghanistan, for Muslims come to Afghanistan from all over the world, seeking to fulfill their religious obligations by engaging in jihad—by taking up the cause of Afghans fighting to maintain a pure Islamic state. The Afghans he is fighting for are called the Taliban, and speak their own language, Pashto. The Muslims who come in their cause speak Arabic and go to the front lines in the Afghan civil war as Al Ansar—the Arabic term for "the helpers." By the time Suleyman reaches the front on September 6, 2001, carrying his rifle and his grenades, he is just twenty years old and already fluent in the one language of the one God. He is a prodigy waiting to become a saint.

And so it is that after September 11, when the Americans come to Afghanistan with their planes and their bombs, and they capture Suleyman and put him in front of a camera, he speaks his English with a slight Arabic accent, and millions of people in America and all over the world believe they hear the mottled tongue of treason.

And so it is that when an American dies in the battle that led to his capture, Suleyman is accused of conspiring to kill him. And so it is that now he is imprisoned in America for twenty years, and part of his sentence is that America will not allow him to speak Arabic. He cannot teach; he cannot even pray with an open mouth. It is forbidden. And yet the brothers in the prison speak Arabic to him, because they know he is learned, patient—a serious scholar. He doesn't call himself Suleyman anymore, but he hasn't gone back to calling himself John, either. He calls himself Hamza, after the uncle of Muhammad, peace be upon him. He is Hamza Walker Lindh, still caught between the language of the Islamic imperium and the language of the American empire. And one day in late 2003, when he is on line for chow and one of the brothers says to him, "Assalamu alaikum," he has a decision to make. Assalamu alaikum is the traditional Muslim greeting. It means "Peace be upon you," and when a Muslim hears it, it is customary for him to respond not only in kind but in excess of the original greeting—in slightly more effusive language. But the language is Arabic. And Hamza is standing within earshot of a guard. And he, with his pinioned tongue, knows that to speak is to be punished. And he has to choose, as he has always had to choose. And his choice has always been one choice, as his God has always been one God.

And so it is that Hamza speaks.

He is a better person than you or I. He has gone away, but his story hasn't, because his story is about something no prison can extinguish. Even in prison, he has a glow, a light on his face. He has a spiritual presence. His list of don'ts stretches further than your list of dos, and his list of dos keeps him occupied in the vast chronological wasteland of prison. He's very kind. He has no anger, no dark testosteronal currents. He has a sad story to tell, but he doesn't tell it as a sad story. He is not bitter. He's funny, in fact. His father, on the lecture circuit now, says that when he visits his son in prison, they sit for five and six hours at a time, talking, laughing. The guards look at them. Not that he's flippant, a wiseguy. He's very, very serious. He's very concerned about the poor—so concerned that he's lived among them. He's committed to social justice, though he's the first to admit that he's made some bad decisions in that regard. But that's another thing about him. He never lies. He never changes his story, even when he has every reason to. He's very consistent, to put it mildly.  

quran-2154If you happen to be a Muslim: Well, he's a better Muslim than you are, too. If you want to know him—why he did what he did, why he does what he does—all you have to do is open the Koran and read. It's all there. In Islam, more than in Christianity or Judaism, perfection is a possibility, and that's what he strives for. Islam has no apparatus for the official recognition of saints, but it has a word, waliyy, that means in the Arabic "one of God's special slaves." Well, that's him. When he went to Yemen in 2000—the trip that took him to Pakistan and Afghanistan and back to America in shackles—he went to memorize the Koran. He got a quarter of the way through before he was captured on December 1, 2001. He finished at the federal prison in Victorville, California, where he lives now. In the Muslim world, that's not only an honor to him; it's an honor to his entire family.

But then: Maybe you're not a Muslim. Maybe you're just an...American, and you don't particularly care if John Walker Lindh is waliyy or not. You don't particularly care if he's a better Muslim or even a better person, because neither of those things makes him a better American. Even if he didn't do what the government originally said he did, he did something, and what he did was put Islam first. Islam is the Arabic word for "submission," and John Walker Lindh submitted. He was free to do so, of course, because he was an American. But his freedom to practice any religion he wanted eventually put him in the service of a cause that had nothing to do with freedom. His search for purity within himself eventually led him to search for a pure Islamic state—and to serve the comprehensively oppressive Taliban. And now he is supposed to be pure in thought and in word and in deed. Well, that purity is what makes him problematic to Americans, because it's Muslim purity, and Muslim purity and American freedom seem to be on a collision course. Indeed, they have already collided in the person of John Walker Lindh, and American freedom was the worse for it, while Muslim purity found its perfect, silent spokesman.  

Hamza does not have to speak. He does not have to answer the brother's greeting, even after the brother says, "Assalamu alaikum" on the chow line. It is not an obligation. Oh, sure, he knows what is customary  among Muslims. There is no one at the federal medium-security prison in Victorville who knows better. He has made a study of proper Islamic etiquette, as he has made a study of most things relating to the Prophet, peace be upon him. The way Hamza shakes hands—with a lingering refusal to be the first to break the clasp—is the Muslim way. So is the way he engages his teachers.

"In the Islamic spirit of learning, there is an elaborate etiquette to be followed,"

says Shakeel Syed, an imam from Los Angeles who served as a contract chaplain at Victorville through the summer of 2005.

"If your teacher is wrong, and you know he is wrong, there is no public correction. There is only public praise. And even in private, criticism is implied and inferred. And even after all that, it is customary for the student to say, 'God knows best—maybe both of us are wrong.'

Well, that's Hamza. He has the kind of knowledge you don't get from Islam 101 books. We used to have circle discussions after Friday prayers. And in one of the historical stories I mentioned, I referred to a person as a cousin of Muhammad. Hamza waited till everyone left. Then he said, very politely: 'You might want to double-check that. You may very well be right, but you might want to check—and I'll check, too.' There's nothing he does that's not in the Islamic spirit."

And yet, because Hamza knows his etiquette, he knows it would not be a violation of etiquette to stay silent after the brother's greeting, for God is generous, forgiving. Indeed, God says that He has given his Koran to the faithful to make life easier for them, not harder. God calls Islam the middle way, not only the straight path but the path of moderation. He allows many exemptions from the practice of faith if the practice of faith puts the faithful in peril. He even allows the faithful to disavow their faith, so long as their hearts stay true. And surely Hamza faces peril from the practice of his faith and the expression, in Arabic, of his true heart.

He was in chains, after all, when he returned from Afghanistan to America on January 23, 2002. He faced spending the rest of his life in prison after a federal grand jury returned charges two weeks later that he had conspired to kill Americans and had lent "material support" to Al Qaeda. Even after the Justice Department offered a plea bargain in July 2002 and dropped eight of the ten charges against him, even after prosecutors finally admitted that there was no evidence that he had joined Al Qaeda or threatened to kill Americans, even after he wound up pleading guilty only to carrying a rifle and grenades for the Taliban, the government and its negotiator, Michael Chertoff, made his silence a condition of the plea.

And so, although it dropped all charges against the defendant relating to terrorism, the administration would continue to treat the defendant as a terrorist through the course of his incarceration by imposing what is known by statute as special administrative measures and by common parlance simply as a gag order. He would not spend his life in jail. He would spend, instead, twenty years in jail, and during that time not only would he be unable to have any visitors but his attorneys and his father and his mother and his brother and his sister and his grandmother; not only would his visitors be forbidden to relate to the public anything he said or thought; not only would the FBI have to read and clear any letter he sent or received and the government reserve the right to bug his conversations with his cellmates and monitor his phone calls. No, he would also have to abide by the following provision of the SAM: "All communications with others will be in English."

He is, by virtue of the strictures on his speech, regarded as a political prisoner inside prison walls. And so surely the brother who greets him would forgive Hamza his silence. Surely Hamza could just mouth the proper Arabic words, or speak them under his breath, or whisper them so quietly that no guard could hear him. Surely God would forgive such an exercise in discretion....

"Walaikum assalam," Hamza says, loud enough for the brother—and the guard—to hear.

Maybe the guard is new, and zealous. Maybe Hamza knows the guard is new and zealous and wants to be zealous in return. For, as Shakeel Syed says,

"He has an option to lead a normal Muslim prison life. Instead, he chooses to defy every norm the prison is used to—both the administration and the inmates."

And so the zealous guard reports that zealous prisoner 45426-083 has spoken words in the forbidden tongue. And when prisoner 45426 083 returns to his cell, he is ordered to back up to the feeding slot in his cell door. He is handcuffed through the slot and led away to the Special Housing Unit—also known as the SHU, also known as the hole. There he has to strip naked and is searched under his testicles and in the cavity of his ass. And there Hamza settles into his cell, with the Arabic singing in his head, where no one can stop it.

He was the first.

prison_barsThe first American to get Abu-Ghraibed, long before Americans knew they were capable of such an exotic verb. The first to inspire Donald Rumsfeld to issue the order "Take the gloves off," and the first to be on the order's receiving end. The first to be denied medical treatment, the first photographed naked and bound, the first taunted while blindfolded, the first—certainly the first—to have SHITHEAD scrawled on his blindfold, the first whose digital photos made their way round the world as souvenirs, the first denied access to the Red Cross, the first to be ushered into a legal limbo created ex nihilo by the administration's notions of executive power.

He served as a test case for an administration eager to see what it could get away with, and what it tried to get away with was, well, this: His father hired him a lawyer as soon as he saw his son on MSNBC. The lawyer immediately wrote to John Ashcroft, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, and George Tenet and informed them that John Walker Lindh had counsel, and counsel was ready to fly to Afghanistan to meet him. They did not write him back, but John Ashcroft did not believe he was obliged to. He operated on the theory that John Walker Lindh had a lawyer only if he, not his father, hired one, even though at the time John Walker Lindh was blindfolded and duct-taped naked to a stretcher in Afghanistan. He was being held in a shipping container, and he had a bullet in his thigh, and by the time an FBI agent interrogated him, the bullet had been in his thigh for nearly two weeks and the wound was starting to stink.

"Of course, there are no lawyers here," the agent told him.

Two days after he gave his statement, he was moved to a ship in the Arabian Sea and the bullet was finally extracted.

The treatment John Walker Lindh received while in American hands is not only an affront to conscience. It manages to make someone described by everyone who knows him as "singular" and "one of a kind" somehow representative of betrayed American innocence, and that indeed is how Frank Lindh characterizes him when he talks about him in public. When John Walker Lindh was being reviled as a traitor, Frank Lindh was being reviled for allowing him to become one. When no less successful a parent than George Herbert Walker Bush was lampooning John Walker Lindh for being a

"misguided Marin County hot-tubber,"

Frank Lindh was being lampooned for actually raising his son in a place like Marin County, and then for divorcing his wife, Marilyn Walker, and living with a man. And when, after his sentencing, John Walker Lindh began his imposed silence, Frank Lindh began an elective one, along with the rest of his family. Now, though, John Walker Lindh's lawyers have petitioned the administration to commute his sentence. Yaser Hamdi—the other American citizen who was taken prisoner alongside John Walker Lindh during the rout of the Taliban and was in the same place at the same time doing the same things—has, after spending three years in a Navy brig without being charged with any crime, been sent home to Saudi Arabia, where he was raised. And Frank Lindh, a lawyer himself, has sensed an opportunity not only to press his son's case but also to tell his son's story the way he sees it—the way he has always seen it, even when his son was extolling the virtues of martyrdom on CNN.

It has always been difficult for John Walker Lindh's parents to reconcile the classically American innocence and idealism they perceive in their son with the extremism of his eventual actions and allegiances. And to the extent that Frank Lindh does it, while speaking one April evening on the stage of a private school in Oakland, he does it by characterizing John Walker Lindh as extremely innocent, extremely idealistic, and, above all, extremely American. A teenager who found God, or, as his family thought of it, his passion. A seventeen-year-old who travels with his father to Ireland in full Islamic dress and wins over the local Catholics with the simplicity and fervor of his love for God. A nineteen-year-old who is bold and brave enough to say goodbye to his weeping family and travel for the second time on his own to Yemen in search of the true Arabic. A twenty-year-old who in late April 2001 e-mails his parents from an Internet café in Pakistan with a request for permission to go into the mountains for the summer—and neglects to mention that he means the mountains of Afghanistan. A young trainee who believes he has chosen the right side in the civil war between the mujahideen of the Taliban and the corrupt warlords of the Northern Alliance. A dedicated student who knows after meeting Osama bin Laden in the summer of 2001 that bin Laden is not a serious scholar—and who falls asleep during bin Laden's speeches. A green soldier who does sentry duty at the front lines and never fires his gun. A homesick American who like all Americans dreams of coming home for Christmas...until, that is, America comes for him. And not the America he knew, not the America he left just a year earlier—an America changed by 9/11 and determined to show the world that the innocent empire that might have forgiven someone like John Walker Lindh is gone forever.

It is an American story, all right. It is so American that Frank Lindh, in his trimmed beard and his gray suit, sometimes seems to be offering his own innocence—at once wounded and breathless—as proof of his son's. When he gave his permission to John to travel into the mountains in the spring of 2001, he wrote in an e-mail, "I trust your judgment and hope you have a wonderful adventure." After all that has happened since Frank wrote those words, he still lives by them. He still trusts and he still hopes. He still has such complete faith in his son that he has become a kind of fundamentalist on his son's behalf—a fundamentalist who discounts his son's own fundamentalism. In Frank's recounting, John Walker Lindh is not a religious figure but rather a romantic one, whose e-mails from his travels "are still a delight to read, full of wonderful observations and wry comments," and who while abroad "met a lot of interesting people" from places like Indonesia and Chechnya.

"John's views are very much those of a mainstream Muslim," he says, in answer to a question. "He's not an extremist in any sense."

Never, in the hour and a half he's onstage, does he acknowledge that the interesting people John met were, like John, perfectly willing to die in defense of Islam. Never does he suggest that it's John's very talent for extremity of faith and feeling that has sustained him through his trials and sustains him still. And never does he call John by the name John calls himself. Never does Frank Lindh call his son Hamza.

Hamza spends a lot of time in the hole, according to two Muslims recently released from Victorville. He doesn't even have to do anything. Other people do it, and Hamza goes into the hole. Other Muslims do it, and Hamza goes into the hole. Whenever there's a big terrorist attack and Muslims take the blame, there goes Hamza for his own protection. He went to the hole after Madrid, and he went to the hole after London. He went because he was the most visible Muslim in the prison, and therefore representative. The prison didn't want him to be the object of anti-Islamic anger. It did not want Hamza to provoke violence just by being quiet, gentle Hamza.

He was always a Muslim, his father says. He was born a Muslim on February 9, 1981—already still, already centered, already disciplined. The Men at Work album was popular at the time, and his father and his mother and his older brother used to sing one of the songs to him: Boy, you sure are a funny kid, Johnny, but I like you. So tell me what kind of boy are you, John?

It's one of the things Frank Lindh has a hard time getting people to believe, even from the podium—that his son became a Muslim not because of what went wrong in his childhood but because of what went right. What kind of boy was John? He was a rare boy indeed—a boy who consolidated all his frailties into a fantastic tensile strength and used all his stumbling to find exactly what he was looking for. He was a boy who loved music and language but was immediately skeptical of Santa Claus. He was a boy who went to Catholic church with Frank but who couldn't accept the Trinity. He was a boy who loved his family but didn't have a lot of friends. He was a boy who was physically robust but also suffered terribly from allergies. When he was ten years old, his family moved from a suburb of Washington, D. C., to San Anselmo, outside San Francisco, and he got sick. He had chronic diarrhea. It was caused by a parasite, but it was thought to be psychosomatic, and he wound up being home-schooled for four years, developing the habits of the solitary scholar. Not particularly comfortable in his own skin, he sought to transcend it, and after he saw Spike Lee's Malcolm X with his mother when he was twelve years old, he followed Malcolm's own course from militancy to Islamic submission in accelerated fashion. In his early adolescence, he presented himself as a militant black rapper on hip-hop message boards, composing epic rhymes that castigated the rest of "his" race for selling out to the commercial interests of the white man. At the same time, he studied Islam, and when he was sixteen, before he could even drive, he showed up at the mosque in Mill Valley, California, a half hour from his home, and met a devout young Muslim named Abdullah Nana.

"Most people, when they come to mosque for the first time, have questions, and ask for reading materials,"

Abdullah Nana says at a halal restaurant in downtown San Francisco.

"John Walker came in and said, 'I want to be a Muslim.' He'd already made the decision on his own. He didn't ask any questions. He didn't have any doubts. He was unique, in my experience."

He converted that day. He took his Shahada, right then and there. He declared, in front of the few brothers assembled at the masjid, that there is no God but Allah, and Muhammad, peace be upon him, is His Messenger.

Then he went home and took his symbolic shower and left his old—his young—life behind. He did not tell Frank and Marilyn, though, until one night Marilyn picked up the phone and a voice she had never heard before—the voice of an older man—asked for her son. When she asked John for an explanation, he said that the man was from the mosque and that he, John Walker Lindh, was now a Muslim. His father and his mother both wound up taking John back and forth to the mosque nearly every day, and John found himself with few encumbrances for his new faith. The Koran asked him to quit the association of infidel friends, but in Abdullah Nana's memory there were no friends to quit. The Koran asked him to avoid women who were not devout, but in Abdullah Nana's memory there were no women, no girlfriends back in San Anselmo. There were only the trips to the mosque in Mill Valley and then other mosques in San Francisco, and the two- or three-hour discussions he and Nana and a few other strictly orthodox young Muslims would have after Friday prayers, sitting bearded and robed and shoeless in a circle on the mosque's carpeted floor.

"He was an example to other Muslims," Nana says. "He was very pious, very dedicated. Within six or seven months, he was wearing full Muslim dress. And after a year and a half, he decided to leave the country. His first objective was to memorize the Koran. The fact that John accepted Islam and within a year and a half had left his country for study in a Third World country—this could only happen with a person who had dedication, discipline, and commitment."

Abdullah Nana and the teenager he still calls John Walker often spoke of going abroad to study Arabic and Islamic law. John went first. Abdullah went a year later, and now, at twenty-seven, he's the co-imam of the Mill Valley mosque. He's married, and in public his wife covers her face completely. He wears a long white robe and a white flat-topped headdress. His face is curtained by a thick black beard, and he speaks in a soft monotone that is occasionally inaudible. He does not listen to any music with a beat, because "music with a beat is not permissible— it causes hypocrisy of the heart." He eats without a fork, with his right hand, because that is how the Prophet, peace be upon him, is said to have eaten. He tries to sleep as the Prophet is said to have slept, and to deal with his relatives as the Prophet dealt with his relatives. When he speaks of his own conversion to a devout and orthodox brand of Islam, he recalls his years attending Cal-Berkeley, where, he says, "it does bother you a little, to see too much freedom." He offers, in short, a glimpse of the kind of Muslim John Walker would be if John Walker had gone abroad, completed his studies, and come home to Marin County. Of course, John Walker never did come home. Although Abdullah's devotion nearly matched John Walker's, he wound up following the course of study most Muslims from secularized countries follow—that is, he chose to study in another relatively secularized country. He studied in South Africa. John Walker, on the other hand, chose to study in a country untouched by modernism, much less secularism. He chose to study in Yemen, where men wear daggers and carry guns and chew khat all day. Now he is in Victorville, and what he has in common with Abdullah Nana is... well, almost everything, because they have both offered their freedom to God, and while Abdullah continually checks the time to make sure he's not missing his obligatory prayers, John Walker is doing the same thing four hundred miles away, an anchorite in a desert prison.

dawn17Each day, just before dawn, Hamza wakes up to pray in a world of men. It is not easy to wake up in a prison before the wake-up call, but as an inmate and a Muslim there are two clocks he has to obey. There is the clock set by the prison and the clock set by the Creator, all praise be upon Him, when He bid the earth to move in its wobbly cycles around the sun. And so Hamza gets out his prayer mat and bends toward Mecca in the dark at the time prescribed on the downloaded prayer schedule posted in the prison chapel. As a free man, he made himself a prisoner of God's will. Now this imprisonment is his only freedom. It is all one, to the one God.

He never misses the predawn prayer. He is known for not missing the predawn prayer, for even the most devout sleep past the prayer occasionally. But not Hamza, because Hamza is waliyy. There are about fifty Muslims at Victorville, and they all know Hamza is a beautiful brother. His cellie is a Muslim, an older white man. His closest friend is a Muslim, a slim, bespectacled black man who—according to former inmates—killed another soldier while in the military. Hamza doesn't have many friends, though, for he is in for the long haul and doesn't want anyone to suffer from their association with him. He also doesn't watch TV, or play cards, or play basketball, or talk about politics. He just prays with the other Muslims. He studies with the other Muslims. And he eats with them—for they all eat together, away, by choice, from the other inmates—when he is not fasting. He fasts twice a week, Monday and Thursday, from sunup to sundown. Like all his brothers, he feasts at the end of Ramadan.

At seven o'clock in the morning he goes to work in the library. It is not a job that most other inmates want, but it suits Hamza, because all Hamza does is read and study. He reads and studies so much that people have to stop him from reading and studying, and sometimes his only respite comes when the brother who makes the prayer call comes for him and brings him to the chap- el. He cannot speak Arabic, he cannot pray in Arabic, but he can read Arabic. He can read the Koran and he can read, in his father's words, "five-hundred-year-old Arabic texts," and they are his sustenance, although according to Shakeel Syed,

"he has lost some of his spoken fluency."

Still: Arabia, pronounced Ar-a-bee-uh. That's what the brothers call Arabic, their slang for the divine language. As in:

"Hamza? No, you can't do nothing to Hamza. Nothing fazes him. He just sits there reading that Arabia...."

His diet is what's called common fare, which is the institutional attempt to accommodate all prisoners with dietary restrictions. Hamza is a good  cook, though, and often he and some of the brothers skip the meat and make their own meals with the common-fare vegetables and sardines they buy at the commissary. After dinner, there is time to relax, although for Hamza relaxation often means listening to Islamic audiotapes and watching Islamic videos. Ten o'clock is the count, when every prisoner must be in his cell before the doors close. And then, slowly, there is the sound of surrender, the sound of men drop- ping off to sleep, even Hamza, until midnight. That's when he wakes up for his last prayer, an optional prayer, a prayer that God does not require but is delighted to receive. The prayer is called the tahajjud. It is a prayer through which the Muslim speaks to God most intimately. A sleeping man must wake himself up, and Hamza wakes himself up. And now, when he is obliged to show his deepest heart to God, the one thing his Muslim brothers can't imagine him doing is asking God how he might have lived his life differently.

Whatever sympathy there was for Lindh was based on the idea that he was an idealist, and therefore a fool. That he took a wrong turn. That he was a starry-eyed kid, in over his head. That he was looking for his Muslim merit badge. That he stumbled and bumbled his way into Afghanistan.

The problem with this idea is that it sells John Walker Lindh short. It doesn't give him credit for his sense of purpose or his vast reserves of will. It doesn't give him credit for what it took to get to Afghanistan, much less what it took for him to get back to America.  David Fechheimer knows what it took for John to get to Afghanistan. So does Barry Simon. They were the investigators hired by James Brosnahan and his law firm after Brosnahan took up John Lindh's case. They were hired to trace his every step from February 2000, when he left for his second trip to Yemen, to December 1, 2001, when the remnants of the routed Taliban climbed out of the basement at an Afghan fortress and there he was, famously bearded, famously filthy, famously Muslim, famously American, famously white. Not long after he came home—or, rather, back to America—Fechheimer and Simon met him in his cell in Alexandria, Virginia, where he was awaiting trial. They met with him for a total of about eight hours, and for a very specific purpose:

"to get enough information to put together a defense," says Fechheimer. "So there wasn't a lot of small talk. We had to know where he had been and who he had talked to, and he was the only person who could tell us."

They did not get to know him in their time with him—but then, he was not the kind of person you got to know. He was, rather, unlike any person they'd ever met, a throwback, Fechheimer says, "to those Victorian explorers" who had to go native in order to feel authentic. He was, like Lawrence of Arabia, willing to suffer almost any kind of deprivation, if deprivation was what it took to erase the distinction between himself and his hosts; he was, like Simone Weil, so spiritually ambitious that he was willing to starve himself into sainthood.

"He had terrible eyesight, and he was frail physically, but he was tough as nails. He told me that during the last year of his travels, he spent $200, and he was deeply embarrassed at having spent that much."

When Fechheimer and Simon traveled through John Lindh's world in the spring and summer of 2002, they also found out this about him:

"He had," says Fechheimer, "almost photographic recall. He was an absolutely reliable narrator. We were on the moon, man, but you could find these places he talked about by following his directions to the letter. He would say, 'Go west an hour and a half, then look for a large rock. If there's a red mark on it, take a right and then look up and you'll see a small valley....' Well, if you did that, a small valley is exactly what you'd see. We actually found the foxhole he'd been in on September 11, and that's how we found it."

And as John's directions guided the two investigators, they came to discover the principle that guided John:

"He was extremely hard on himself. If we ever came to a fork in the road and didn't know which fork to take, we'd say, Okay, let's take the hardest one. Let's take the one that looks impossible—because that's the one he'd take. And it always was."

And so they followed his path to Yemen, where he was displeased with the first language school he attended because, in Simon's words,

"there were young girls from Texas smoking hash at night with bare sleeves"

and where, ultimately, he went to three different schools, each one more fundamentalist than the last. They followed him to Pakistan, where he found a contact from a group called Tablighi Jama'at—a Muslim missionary group that preaches a fundamentalist brand of Islam to other Muslims and rode for days on the back of a motorcycle looking for the right madrasah.

They followed him to the city of Bannu, where he lived in the tiny, dirt-floored back room of a madrasah and where they found some of the possessions he left behind—notebooks filled with Arabic exercises, underwear, and an Adidas tracksuit. They followed him to the old smuggling town of Peshawar, where in May 2001 he showed up at a recruiting center for the Harakat ul Mujahideen, which in 1997 had been designated a terrorist organization by the Clinton administration. They followed him to the military training camp of the HUM, where he was displeased to find prosperous Saudi boys looking to jihad as a way to lose weight. Then they did what he had done at the end of June and crossed into Afghanistan. Using his directions, they found the site of Al Farooq, the training camp funded by Osama bin Laden, where John Lindh, in the words of his sentencing memorandum, "voluntarily swore allegiance to jihad" and trained to serve the Taliban in its civil war against the Northern Alliance. And then they found his foxhole. It was in a place called Takhar, and

"if we had seen a sign that says the world ends in five miles, we wouldn't have been surprised," Fechheimer says. "All the men are like five foot two. We met thirty-four-year-old men who had white beards. And if the people are smaller, so are the animals. There were all these...tiny donkeys."

It was far away from Marin County, far away from America. Indeed, it had nothing to do with America, which, as far as Fechheimer and Simon could see, was why John Lindh went there. He wasn't interested in being an American in Afghanistan; he was looking to lose his American identity among Arabs and Afghans—and Chechens and Uzbeks and Muslims from all over the world—in the most extreme landscape imaginable.

"He wasn't a poster boy for the Taliban," Fechheimer says. "He didn't receive special treatment, and he didn't want any."

It was only the global shock of 9/11 that brought America and Americans to this place of tiny men and tiny donkeys, and, as Fechheimer says,

"if George W. Bush couldn't see 9/11 coming, how the hell could Johnny Walker?"

The same conclusion was reached by Rohan Gunaratna, who was hired by James Brosnahan to interview John Walker Lindh and write a report to the court before his sentencing. Gunaratna had made a career of interviewing terrorists and writing about terrorism and had served as an expert witness both for and against the government. He spoke to John Lindh for eight hours and decided emphatically that he was not a terrorist.

"He had no intention of killing civilians," Gunaratna says. "He was not Al Qaeda. At Al Farooq, there was military training for soldiers in the Taliban and very specialized training for Al Qaeda. He trained as a soldier. He wore a Taliban uniform. It has become common to speak of Al Qaeda and the Taliban as if they are the same thing, but they are not. In fact, he was asked by [Al Qaeda lieutenant] Abu Mohammad al-Masri if he wanted to go to the United States or Israel as a martyr. John answered that he came to Afghanistan to serve on the front lines against the Northern Alliance. It's very difficult to refuse in a place like Al Farooq. But he refused."

And yet: Shouldn't the nature of al-Masri's invitation have informed him that he might be fighting for the wrong side? Wasn't the spring and summer of 2001 a decisive time, when the Taliban set itself on an increasingly confrontational course with the West? Even if John Walker Lindh had no access to the Internet or anything like modern communications when he was training in Al Farooq and soldiering on the front lines in Takhar, he went to Internet cafés when he was in Bannu, and surely he knew what course the Taliban was taking. Surely he was aware that on March 9, 2001, the Taliban had destroyed the towering twin fifteen-hundred-year-old Buddhas carved into the side of sandstone cliffs in northern Afghanistan, in an emblematic bit of icon smashing that indicated a new kind of evil was afoot and presaged so much grief to come....

"Yes, he was aware," Gunaratna says. "But he was a young man. People make mistakes when they are young. He didn't think it was the worst thing. For him, the destruction of the Buddhas was like Lenin's statue coming down at the end of the cold war. He was very ideologically driven. He was radicalized. The process of radicalization had begun when he was in Yemen. He went to the Taliban because he had been radicalized."

There were no Taliban left when Fechheimer and Simon retraced John's steps in Afghanistan. At least, they couldn't find anyone who admitted he belonged to the Taliban, although they did see plenty of people driving the Taliban's trademark black Toyota pickups. And they did meet plenty of people who knew or knew of John Walker Lindh.

"He was kind of a mythical character," Simon says, "because his single-mindedness outdid theirs."

America still doesn't know how many radicalized Muslims made their way here. But as far as radicalized white Americans making their way over there: John Walker Lindh was the only one.

About three months after Hamza was incarcerated at Victorville in February 2003, he was jumped outside the chapel by a white inmate reputed to have ties to the Aryan Nation. According to a former Muslim inmate named Abdul Rahim, the attack came not because of Hamza's history but because of his fraternization with the brothers, in both senses of the word—the Muslims and the African-Americans.

"They just couldn't stand the fact he was in that religion with blacks and Hispanics and Arabs. Now he's surrounded by Muslims. They got Muslims now coming from the penitentiary, and they'll kill you if you transgress a brother."

Still, Hamza is careful. The greatest fear of his father and mother is simply that he will be killed in prison, and it is probably Hamza's too. He doesn't go where there is a lack of supervision. He doesn't play sports, and he doesn't spend a lot of time out on the yard, except on Fridays, when after Friday prayers some of the brothers find a corner in the yard and talk about God and nobody dares mess with them or with Hamza. Well, almost nobody:

"A Christian guard—a good, decent man—told me something one day," says Shakeel Syed. "He said, 'Some of us try to provoke him once in a while. We try to make him mad.' Then he said, 'We fail miserably.'

It is what everybody who comes into contact with Hamza eventually concludes: that there is something inviolate at the heart of his being, maybe because he has found a peace beyond understanding, or maybe simply because he has already been violated. By the terms of his gag order, he is not allowed to speak publicly of what happened to him in Afghanistan and in American hands after the surrender of the Taliban, but Hamza never talks about it with anyone, not even his father or Shakeel Syed. And so his father, when he visits Victorville and watches his son walking across the visiting room, sees the body language of a man holding in tremendous grief, and Syed says, "I would often question myself: What can I teach to this man who has gone through experiences no man should go through, who has endured such hardships and tribulations? What can I possibly impart?"

"They who believe, and who fly their country, and fight in the cause of God may hope for God's mercy," says the second Sura of the Holy Koran.

Why did such a gentle soul as John Walker wind up carrying a gun for any army, much less the army of the Taliban? It is simple: John Walker believed. Therefore he was obliged to fight in the cause of God. And therefore he received God's mercy.

Of course, it is easy to doubt. It is easy to join in the chest-beating rhetoric of America's right-wing commentators, who every time they mention John Walker seem compelled to observe the convention of calling him a "punk" and a "coward." But he was neither punk nor coward. He was Al-Ansaar. He was a helper. He was where he wanted to be—at the front lines in the war between the Taliban and the Northern Alliance. He was in a foxhole. The front was static, and he spent his time reading the Koran. Then the American planes came and the front broke and the Northern Alliance began the rout. There was a desperate retreat, in the form of a fifty-mile march on foot from Takhar to Kunduz. There was no food and no sleep and hardly any water, and in the panicked darkness scores of Taliban soldiers were killed by friendly fire. The Taliban's commanders negotiated a mass surrender with Northern Alliance warlord Rashid Dostum. The men were transported to the city of Mazar-i-Sharif. Many of the foreign fighters who made up Al Ansar were herded into a basement at Qala-i Jangi, an old mud-brick, star-shaped castle several miles in circumference.

Hundreds of men were in the pitch-dark basement, praying, shining flashlights in one another's faces, trying to sleep standing up. John Walker was among them, standing in a corner where men shit and pissed. So was Yaser Hamdi, the Saudi who was the other American citizen. They had met each other after the retreat, and Hamdi initially had no idea John Walker was an American because he spoke nothing but Arabic, and besides, there were no Americans in Afghanistan.

There were, though. The Americans had come, and the next morning November 25, 2001—when the men in the basement were brought one by one into the courtyard at Qala-i-Jangi, two American men were standing with Dostum's soldiers. The men from the basement were bound by their arms and forced to kneel while the Americans looked them over and asked them questions and Dostum's soldiers translated and hit them with rifles. Then John Walker was hit in the head with a rifle, and the Americans saw him and took him aside. They did not know that he was American, and John Walker did not tell them. John Walker, cross-legged and bound, did not say a word. They did not threaten him exactly, but they said that if he did not speak, he would be left to Dostum and he would die there at Qala-i-Jangi. Then  one of the men John Walker shared the basement with the night before blew up a grenade he hid under his coat and the uprising at Qala-i-Jangi began.

The American who was trying to get John Walker Lindh to talk was a CIA agent named Johnny Micheal Spann. He was shot in the head, and he was a historic figure just like John Walker, for he was the first American killed in America's war on terrorism. John Walker was shot in the leg, and he played dead for twelve hours while the shooting continued and bodies piled up on both sides. Yaser Hamdi just ran and went back down to the basement. Finally dark came and someone came out of the basement and dragged John Walker back in. And then John Walker and Yaser Hamdi and several hundred men stayed in the basement for six days while Rashid Dostum, with the backing of American bombers, tried to get them out.

Six days: The American bomb came first, but the American bomb missed. Then came the grenades tossed down the air shafts. Then came the diesel fuel, poured in and then lit on fire. And then the freezing water pumped in from an irrigation ditch. They were blown up and then burned and then drowned in the dark. Men were dying continually, men were howling in pain and hunger, men were going mad. John Walker had a bullet in his leg, and he was also wounded from shrapnel, and he was sick from drinking the water fouled with the excrement of several hundred men and the effluvia of the sick and the dying. Yaser Hamdi, like all the rest, couldn't sleep and had to keep standing because at the end, to sleep meant to slip away in the water. And still for six days they held out and only began to surrender because they faced the choice of surrendering to Dostum or surrendering to the water, and John Walker is said to have reminded the others that suicide was strictly prohibited by the Holy Koran.

And so you see—God is merciful, wise. You might say He was not there in such hell, but Yaser Hamdi was in the basement with John Walker, and this is what he says, in a phone interview from Saudi Arabia:

"It was twenty-four hours asking our God, Allah, for any help. Men crying out to him. Men who were wounded, men who were sick, men who were dying: The Koran tells you how to pray in all situations. People there who couldn't move and couldn't turn to face Mecca still prayed. They prayed in one position until they died.

"We really had a strong belief and a strong faith in Allah, and we were praying to him all the time, and we knew what we were going through was something Muhammad, peace be upon him, and his companions would go through with patience. We were praying for patience. But it was hard. Really, really hard.

You cannot imagine. This guy was killed, that guy was killed, and you saw your friends die right in front of your eyes. When they put in the water, people started sinking, and when we walked, we walked on top of them. Bombs, bullets, fire, and thirsty people yelling, 'We want to drink the water.'

"What happened then was that some people lost their minds, and also people were injured really badly and they couldn't stand up in the water anymore, and they just threw themselves into it. They are not killing themselves, because they are Muslims, but they just can't handle it anymore, and we try to help them, and maybe John Walker did, too.

"When John Walker was in the basement, he was in a bad situation. He was injured and the situation was really bad, and Mr. John said, 'I want to surrender. I can't be patient more than that.' It was impossible for him to be patient any further. We're Arabs and we can be patient but John Walker couldn't be patient any further. I said, 'You be patient. If we surrender, we surrender all; if we die, we die all.' And after that he moved and he walked in front of my eyes, and after that I did not see him at all. But he was not the first to surrender. Some of the guys in the basement who lost their minds were the first to surrender. And after that some Pakistani people. And after that John Walker came. He was not saying to anybody, 'Let's surrender.' He surrendered by himself, and that's it.

"In our life, in our world, there is no story like this. When we all surrendered, we said, 'This is a miracle.' Four hundred people were in the basement. Seventy survived. Three hundred thirty people died.

"Believe me, the most important thing in John Walker's life is what happened in this castle."

Hamdi's numbers are not exact. The count is closer to this: 330 men went into the basement on November 25, 2001, and 85 came out on December 1. Many, including Hamdi, were then sent to Guant?namo, although once American officials realized that Hamdi was an American citizen, he was brought to the United States and put in the brig for two years without access to counsel, until at last his lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld went to the Supreme Court and he was deported back to his family in Saudi Arabia. And John Walker went back to America with every reason to turn away from God.

Instead, he became Hamza.

It is agonizing for him, not to be able to share what he knows. When a person knows as much as Hamza does, it is human nature to want to share it, but in Islam the desire goes much further. It is an obligation. God has given him his knowledge for a reason, and the reason is the further glory of God. Oh, sure, sometimes he is asked to weigh in on disputes, for he is known for his wise counsel. And sometimes he offers a correction, if one of the brothers mispronounces his Arabia. And sometimes he'll turn his back to a guard and say what he has to say in Arabic, quickly, as if he has turned away to cover a cough. Most of the time, though, he keeps it in, both the weight of his knowledge and the weight of experience that was necessary to get it.

Prisons actively discourage inmates from assuming leadership roles, because they are in the business of actively discouraging inmates from assuming power. And that goes double for Muslims, the Muslims say. And yet people come to Hamza. They watch him, they study his example, the way he talks, the way he walks. And they show up for Friday prayers to find out what Hamza—and by extension Islam—is all about. He even converts the converts.

"You'll see someone who's been playing basketball too much, and he'll be sitting in his cell reading the Koran," Abdul Rahim says. "And you'll say, Hey, man, aren't you playing ball? And he'll say, No, man, I'm fixing to be like Hamza."

Christianity seeks to remake human nature, and its great ambition is its great fault. It is unambiguous in its prohibition of violence for any purpose, including self-defense, and so it makes hypocrites of its warriors. Islam's great advantage is that it seeks only to govern human nature as it is, and so it doesn't ask its warriors to be confiicted about confiict, as long as confiicts are conducted according to the principles of the Koran.

And so Hamza is an unconfiicted soul. Jihad is the obligation of every Muslim, and Hamza met his obligation. Martyrdom is the goal of every Muslim, but Hamza wrote later in an essay to the court that suicide bombing is against Islam, because the suicide bomber seeks to become a martyr by his own hand, and martyrdom is only God's gift to grant. Hamza was not granted martyrdom, but he was granted something else--righteousness.

The reviled one is the righteous one. And if you don't think so, take a look at him in the courtyard of Qala-i-Jangi, as he is questioned by Johnny Micheal Spann. Spann does not identify himself as a CIA agent, and Hamza does not answer his questions. Indeed, Hamza, with his beard and his long hair and his air of humble dereliction, looks iconic in a Christian sense, for the Christian god was well-known for not answering questions when his life was on the line. And yet he is spared. Who then is the righteous one? And who is favored by God?

Take another look at Hamza, when he is starved and shot and dehydrated and sick and sleepless and filthy and sooty, after being taken in a truck from the basement to an infirmary set up inside an old Afghan prison. It is not overdramatizing things to say he is close to death, but a CNN reporter finds out that he's an American and puts him on camera.

"If you're concerned about my welfare, don't film me," Hamza says.

The reporter finds a medic, and the medic gives the prisoner a shot of morphine, but the camera stays on. Who then is the righteous one? And who is favored by God?

Take another look. Now Hamza is on a plane, being transported to an ad hoc American base set up outside Kandahar called Camp Rhino. He still has the bullet in his thigh. He can't walk, but his wrists are bound so tightly that he begins to scream. He says, "Please don't kill me," and a soldier tells him to shut up. Later he's duct-taped to a stretcher, naked, and put in a shipping container. Soldiers are spitting in his food and taking souvenir pictures of him and his blindfold emblazoned with the word SHITHEAD. Who is the righteous one? And who is favored by God?

Take another look. He's out of the container now, but he's being interrogated by an FBI agent at Camp Rhino and still bound and still wounded. Of course, there are no lawyers there, and the FBI agent has neither audio nor videotape nor another agent to attest to the propriety of the proceedings and the accuracy of the statement. And Hamza tells him everything he knows, for he has nothing to hide. Who is the righteous one? And who is favored by God?

Now take another look, for he is back home. Take a look as the Justice Department makes sure he can't speak Arabic, take a look as the Christian guards make sport of trying to provoke him. . . .

It goes on and on. And here's the thing: It will go on and on. He is Hamza now--Hamza Walker Lindh--and Hamza will never stop. His righteousness will never stop. In prison, and then out.

"I don't see him going on the speaking circuit when he goes out," Shakeel Syed says. "But he will be pushed into that. When he gets out, he will have a married life. He will have a child, because his faith is so strong and his faith demands it. I see him living in a normal corner of life and yet bringing about some massive change. . . ."

His father's vision is at once more ambitious and more, well, innocent. Frank Lindh hopes that when his son gets out, he can serve as an ambassador between the United States and the Muslim world.

And he will get out. Unless the worst fears of his parents come to pass, he will get out, either when the Bush administration itself gets out and a more righteous man is elected, or at his scheduled release in 2019. But he will get out, and the question is not what he will be like--that we know--but what we will be like. For Hamza Walker Lindh has come to embody the challenge of Islam to America, and the challenge is simply this: In response to what America has done to him, Hamza has become more Islamic--more himself, and a better Muslim. And in response to what Hamza has done to it, America has become less properly Christian, and ever less democratic, and ever so much less than itself. It is a simple, remorseless calculus, and it will transform the face of the country Hamza is released into, whenever he is released.

For so it is that Hamza will be free to say what he knows, in the language of God.

And so it is that Hamza will finally speak, and America will have to hear.

SOURCE: Esquire


scenenew1Yusuf Islam is the founder of Britain’s most Famous Muslim School Chain, Islamia Schools, his company Small Kindness supports thousands of orphans and children around the world, Is a active participant in the Campaign against Aids, Is the author of several Islamic Booklets and Audio/Video Lectures, His company MOL has produced many video/audio cassettes of songs about World Peace and Harmony. But his past was very different.

Ex Cat Stevens was one of the Greatest British POP/Folk Singer-songwriter, at just 19 His first solo album Matthew And Son was a hit, after which many of his songs reached at first position in Britain as well as America even against stiff competition by the Beetles. Still a teen he was every were ,media was after him ,fans were crying for him. He was in the front cover of many world magazines including Rolling Stones .His name was taken with the Beetles, Rolling Stones. He was declared as one of the Golden Artists of all time in the USA. In his Country he was just sensation. In a short music career he sold more than 40 million LPs throughout the world.

Born in London in 1948 to a Swedish mother and a Greek Cypriot father, Stephen Demetri Georgiou aka Cat Stevens was educated in Sweden, where he studied native songs and dances as well as classical music. He grew up in the city, amidst the steady rumble of traffic, the rush and bustle that never stopped, the smoke and dirt, the bright lights and the few patches of grey grass.

Cat himself writes:

I was brought up in the modern world of all the luxury and the high life of show business. I was born in a Christian home, but we know that every child is born in his original nature - it is only his parents that turn him to this or that religion. I was given this religion (Christianity) and thought this way. I was taught that God exists, but there was no direct contact with God, so we had to make contact with Him through Jesus - he was in fact the door to God. This was more or less accepted by me, but I did not swallow it all I looked at some of the statues of Jesus; they were just stones with no life. And when they said that God is three, I was puzzled even more but could not argue. I more or less believed it, because I had to have respect for the faith of my parents.

The boy and his parents were Greek, so the music played to him while growing up was the music of that wise and ancient country. Full of richness, emotions, joy and sorrow, pain and pleasure, it was a good music to have as teacher (sic), and the boy learned well. As he grew older, the boy started to write his own music. He was very good, and before long he came to the attention of a very important man who knew how to make people famous. Now, not only was the boy very talented, he was also very handsome, so before very long he and his songs were well known from one end of the land to the other.

Still a young teen, fame and wealth was all over him. Huge number of people bought his songs and magazines printed pictures of him which girls stuck on their bedroom walls, so as to have him near them in their dreams. Tunes such as, "The First Cut Is The Deepest ", “I Love My Dog”, "I'm Gonna Get Me A Gun ", and "Here Comes My Baby ", were all highly representative of the diverse ability that this artist had to offer. Finally, in 1967 cat was only 19, there came his first album "Matthew & Sons. It became a hit on both sides of the Atlantic and opened up many an ear and eye to the talent of the young man.

The boy became very famous, worked very hard at his new job, traveled a lot, appeared in a lot of shows, and wrote songs for other people, who in turn became famous.

But all the time the boy became more and more unhappy. The songs people wanted him to sing were not the songs he wanted to sing. He was writing songs which were far better than the ones he was famous for, and try as he would to change their minds, the people who controlled his fame and fortune did not want him to sing those songs. Then in 1969 he was diagnosed with tuberculosis .He was so ill in fact that when he saw a doctor he was told to spend at least three months in a hospital or he would die. So the boy went into the hospital for three months, and while he was there he was able to think seriously about himself and his life. He did not like what he saw in himself, and so he determined to make a complete break from the past

While recovering, Stevens underwent a spiritual crisis and began studying Eastern religions, practicing vegetarianism, and writing highly introspective songs.

Cat writes himself about the hospital time-

After a year of financial success and 'high' living, I became very ill, contracted TB and had to be hospitalized. It was then that I started to think: What was to happen to me? Was I just a body, and my goal in life was merely to satisfy this body? I realized now that this calamity was a blessing given to me by Allah, a chance to open my eyes - "Why am I here? Why am I in bed?" - And I started looking for some of the answers. At that time there was great interest in the Eastern mysticism. I began reading, and the first thing I began to become aware of was death, and that the soul moves on; it does not stop. I felt I was taking the road to bliss and high accomplishment. I started meditating and even became a vegetarian. I now believed in 'peace and flower power,' and this was the general trend. But what I did believe in particular was that I was not just a body. This awareness came to me at the hospital. One day when I was walking and I was caught in the rain, I began running to the shelter and then I realized, 'Wait a minute, my body is getting wet, my body is telling me I am getting wet.' This made me think of a saying that the body is like a donkey, and it has to be trained where it has to go. Otherwise, the donkey will lead you where it wants to go. Then I realized I had a will, a God-given gift: follow the will of God. I was fascinated by the new terminology I was learning in the Eastern religion. By now I was fed up with Christianity.

I started making music again and this time I started reflecting my own thoughts. I remember the lyric of one of my songs. It goes like this: "I wish I knew, I wish I knew what makes the Heaven, what makes the Hell. Do I get to know You in my bed or some dusty cell while others reach the big hotel?" and I knew I was on the Path. I also wrote another song, "The Way to Find God Out." I became even more famous in the world of music. I really had a difficult time because I was getting rich and famous, and at the same time, I was sincerely searching for the Truth. Then I came to a stage where I decided that Buddhism is all right and noble, but I was not ready to leave the world. I was too attached to the world and was not prepared to become a monk and to isolate myself from society. I tried Zen and Ching, numerology, tarot cards and astrology. I tried to look back into the Bible and could not find anything. At this time I did not know anything about Islam, and then, what I regarded as a miracle occurred. My brother had visited the mosque in Jerusalem and was greatly impressed that while on the one hand it throbbed with life (unlike the churches and synagogues which were empty), on the other hand, an atmosphere of peace and tranquility prevailed.

For more than a year he did not work, but concentrated on his new writing. The money he earned from his early fame was enough to give him complete freedom, and gradually what he felt to be the real him surfaced. Eventually, he was sure he was ready. A changed man, Stevens signed a new record deal with Island, who had just landed a U.S. distribution agreement with A&M, and began recording new material With the help of some friends and sympathetic people, he went into recording studios for a month and recorded a collection of his new songs.

Stevens' first A&M release, 1970's Mona Bone Jakon, was a solid album that established Stevens' new image as a sensitive singer-songwriter. His next record, Tea for the Tillerman, was released later that same year to overwhelming success. With the hit singles "Wild World" and "Father and Son," the album became an instant folk-pop classic and went to No. 1 in the U.S., earning gold status.

1971's Teaser and the Firecat repeated Tillerman's success and contained the international anti-war hit "Peace Train." The album also spawned a children's book and short film. 1972's Catch a Bull at Four was Stevens' first No. 1 album, and was followed the next year by The Foreigner, which went to No. 3.

He was in the front cover of many magazines including Rolling Stones .His name was already compared with the Beetles, Rolling Stones. He was declared as one of the Golden Artist  of all time in the USA. In his Country he was just sensation. But then what happened was absolutely unexpected.

In 1973 Stevens' brother David visited Israel and, aware of his brother's fascination with religion, returned with a copy of the Quran as a souvenir. Cat Stevens Writes about the incident himself-

When he came to London he brought back a translation of the Qur'an, which he gave to me. He did not become a Muslim, but he felt something in this religion, and thought I might find something in it also. And when I received the book, a guidance that would explain everything to me - who I was; what was the purpose of life; what was the reality and what would be the reality; and where I came from - I realized that this was the true religion; religion not in the sense the West understands it, not the type for only your old age. In the West, whoever wishes to embrace a religion and make it his only way of life is deemed a fanatic. I was not a fanatic, I was at first confused between the body and the soul. Then I realized that the body and soul are not apart and you don't have to go to the mountain to be religious. We must follow the will of God. Then we can rise higher than the angels.

The first thing I wanted to do now was to be a Muslim. I realized that everything belongs to God, that slumber does not overtake Him. He created everything. At this point I began to lose the pride in me, because hereto I had thought the reason I was here was because of my own greatness. But I realized that I did not create myself, and the whole purpose of my being here was to submit to the teaching that has been perfected by the religion we know as Islam. At this point I started discovering my faith. I felt I was a Muslim. On reading the Qur'an, I now realized that all the Prophets sent by God brought the same message. Why then were the Jews and Christians different? I know now how the Jews did not accept Jesus as the Messiah and that they had changed His Word. Even the Christians misunderstand God's Word and called Jesus the son of God. Everything made so much sense. This is the beauty of the Qur'an; it asks you to reflect and reason, and not to worship the sun or moon but the One Who has created everything. The Qur'an asks man to reflect upon the sun and moon and God's creation in general. Do you realize how different the sun is from the moon? They are at varying distances from the earth, yet appear the same size to us; at times one seems to overlap the other. Even when many of the astronauts go to space, they see the insignificant size of the earth and vastness of space. They become very religious, because they have seen the Signs of Allah. When I read the Qur'an further, it talked about prayer, kindness and charity. I was not a Muslim yet, but I felt that the only answer for me was the Qur'an, and God had sent it to me, and I kept it a secret. But the Qur'an also speaks on different levels. I began to understand it on another level, where the Qur'an says, "Those who believe do not take disbelievers for friends and the believers are brothers." Thus at this point I wished to meet my Muslim brothers.

From then right up to 1977 Cat Stevens composed and sang many hit records including Mathew and Son, Here Comes my Baby, Wild World, Morning has Broken and Moonshadow, selling over 40 million LPs throughout the world.

Finally in 1977 Stevens made a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. In December of that year Stevens formally converted to Islam at a London mosque, taking the new name Yusuf Islam. Cat Steven writes-

Then I decided to journey to Jerusalem (as my brother had done). At Jerusalem, I went to the mosque and sat down. A man asked me what I wanted. I told him I was a Muslim. He asked what my name was. I told him, "Stevens." He was confused. I then joined the prayer, though not so successfully. Back in London, I met a sister called Nafisa. I told her I wanted to embrace Islam and she directed me to the New Regent Mosque. This was in 1977, about one and a half years after I received the Qur'an. Now I realized that I must get rid of my pride, get rid of Iblis, and face one direction. So on a Friday, after Jumma' I went to the Imam and declared my faith (the Kalima) at this hands. You have before you someone who had achieved fame and fortune. But guidance was something that eluded me, no matter how hard I tried, until I was shown the Qur'an. Now I realize I can get in direct contact with God, unlike Christianity or any other religion. As one Hindu lady told me, "You don't understand the Hindus. We believe in one God; we use these objects (idols) to merely concentrate." What she was saying was that in order to reach God, one has to create associates, that are idols for the purpose. But Islam removes all these barriers. The only thing that moves the believers from the disbelievers is the Salat (Prayers). This is the process of purification. Finally I wish to say that everything I do is for the pleasure of Allah and pray that you gain some inspirations from my experiences. Furthermore, I would like to stress that I did not come into contact with any Muslim before I embraced Islam. I read the Qur'an first and realized that no person is perfect. Islam is perfect, and if we imitate the conduct of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam) we will be successful. May Allah give us guidance to follow the path of the ummah of Muhammad (Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam). Aameen!

A&M released what was to be the last Cat Stevens album, Back to Earth, in early 1978; by 1979 Yusuf Islam had married and retired from pop music.

During the 1980s Islam settled in London with his wife and five children and became very involved in the local Muslim community, founding one of Britain's top Islamic school chains.

His Islamia School has become one of the most famous Muslim School. In 2000 ,Prince Charles visited his school ,congratulated Yusuf for his efforts towards the development of Peace And Harmony through education. And also declared himself a fan of Cats songs in 70s.

In 1995 Yusuf established a company MOL (mountain of light) and released his first "record" since retiring from pop music, a two-CD set called The Life of the Last Prophet which features one disc of Muslim chanting and another disc of Yusuf Islam reading a 66-minute biography of Great Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Though it was ignored in the West, the double-album reached No. 1 in Turkey and was a hit in most of the Muslim world.

Since then Yusuf has continued to release many albums for children, including recently released album for Iraqi Children, he has released many Video, Audio CDS ,Cassettes of DAWAH(Spreading the correct message of Islam).

His works include 30 plus DA’WAH Audio/video releases, booklets on the different topics of Islam including Booklets on misconceptions of non-Muslims towards Islam, has participated in many functions to discuss the message of Islam. He has and is working for many charity Trusts, collected money for Sep 11 victims, Kosovo Children, Iranian, Aids Charities. His own charity company Small Kindness is supporting 2,500 orphans of Kosovo, and working on 100-homes Project in Turkey, and with UNICEF Small Kindness is working for Iranian Children.


Isikhlogo don’t know why I was hesitant to wrire about my conversion story; I've mentioned it before briefly without mentioning Sikhism. I felt I may be mocked by other Sikhs. They may not take me seriously or consider me a traitor. However, if even just one Sikh reads this and benefits, it is worth for me to share the story. So here it goes. Another conversion story, but probably not like the ones you've heard of before.

It is important first to know some background information about the history of the Mughal empire conquering India. Most people consider there are only three monotheistic religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Of course, only Islam is the religion where one believes in only One God without partners. However, most people (non-Muslims) would consider Sikhism as a monotheistic religion as well, as the Sikhs say they believe in One God. The Sikhs believe however the Essence of God is different, because they believe He is Omnipresent (exists everywhere in everything). Its only today that I can realize this is seriously major shirk. You have associated all of creation with God, but none is comparable to Him. Alhamdulilah, I get it now.

What the normal Sikh grows up learning is that when the Muslims (Mughals) came to India, they oppressed the Hindus. They forced them to convert, tortured them (99.9% of Sikh temples, if not more, have graphic portraits of Sikhs and their prophets being tortured by the Mughals. Such as being boiled in pots of water/oil, being sawed in half, woman with their children's body parts put on a string like a necklace around the mother's necks. Sorry to be so graphic, but I am not exaggerating. I am just trying to put you in my shoes of what the average Sikh (or probably all) sees on a daily basis, or at least once a week when they visit the temple, regardless of how religious they are or how tolerant they are).

The Sikh children grow up being told stories revolving around these portraits. They are gifted books with such graphic portraits. This is the bulk of the Sikh history we learn at home and at a Sunday school. However, we are taught all religions are different paths to the same God. I think it’s hard to be a Sikh and not grow up with a deep-rooted hatred for Muslims, even if it’s a secret hatred. However, a lot of the teachings of Sikhism are taken directly (or mixed up and combined) from Islam and Hinduism/Buddhism. However, it is impossible to have a discussion about this with a Sikh as they will become angry if you mention this. They believe their religion is unique and not taken from the polytheistic Hinduism. They will argue that they believe in one God. In fact, the first words in the Sikh Holy Book translate to exactly: there is One God (Laa ilaaha illa Allah to us, which is the heart of Islam). However, all (Sikhs) say He is omnipresent (everywhere), which contradicts He is One. The Sikhs will argue and describe their belief in one God in everything as a drop of water, and God is like the body of the water, so we are part of Him and somewhat separate. I no longer believe this, nor does it make sense to me anymore. But yes, once it made sense, and I did believe in it. However, it left me with a lot of other unanswered questions, such as if God is everywhere/in everything, isn’t everything worth of worship? Also, what part of us sins, our bodies or souls? Of course, our souls. So, how could that be part of a Perfect Creator?

In Sikhism, we are taught we need to overcome our egos. Now, I feel this is the most egotistic and arrogant claim, that any part of you is part of the Divine Creator. This is not a humbling belief at all. For example, if you look around you know, EVERYTHING has been created for a purpose, but the creator/maker is not physically part of it. Take a basic table (for example), it’s made for sitting at and putting dishes and food on it. The man who made it is not physically in there, not at all. The table is a sign of the maker, and he is SEPARATE from his creation. This is so basic.

Now that I've bored you (hope I haven't), I personally grew up not hating Muslims. I had Muslim friends. I hated, HATED what the Mughal Muslims did, but I personally could not associate the Mughals with all of the Muslims (as my parents and other Sikhs do). Growing up I was told to stay away from the womanizing Muslim boys and men. This is extremely common with Sikhs, to tell their children to stay away from Muslims (especially of the opposite sex) and not to listen to what they say of their religion. We are told they rip of the heads of the animals (cruelty), have 4 wives, etc. I would say similar views of the typical close minded non-Muslim.

We were also told that the Muslims killed our Prophets. Sikhism was created during the Mughal Empire's conquest of India. A man by the name of Guru Nanak came claiming he was enlightened by God, and that there was such thing as Hindu or Muslim. We are all equal and hence, his teachings are a blend of Islam and Hinduism. They and their followers rebelled against the Mughal’s Empire and would not convert. They were tortured and killed brutally.

I would say I was "safe" from the Muslims until I went to college. There I became more open minded, maybe too much to the point that I wondered what was wrong with gay marriage, two people loved each other !?! I met my husband and we married despite my parents’ disapproval and disownment. I was actually harassed quiet a lot by them (phone calls, cursing, etc). I think now there was a lot of wisdom behind this, because this got me to somewhat disconnect from Sikhism. I always wanted to know more about God growing up. I used to call upon God to make me understand Him more. I was not finding it in Sikhism, but I never even THOUGHT about leaving Sikhism. I thought if I learned about other religions, I could apply it and "add" it to Sikhism and better understand God. I don’t know why I had an urge to learn about Islam, especially after I got married.

My husband was not practicing at that time. In fact he told me once,

"You know what a Kaafir (disbeliever) is? A Kaafir is one who does not believe in God, so you are not a Kaafir."

quran_copyThis always makes me laugh when I think of it now. I used to ask him questions about Islam but I didn't always get the right answer and sometimes no answer. So, I gave up asking, but I wanted to learn more. Once after having my first son, we went to Morocco where my wonderful father-in-law (may Allah bless him and have Mercy on him) gifted me the Quran in English. I was happy to get it and curious to see what this book said. My parents weren’t there to grab it and throw it or yell at me and make me feel nervous and guilty for holding it or wanting to read it. Alhamdulilah, for the distance, I don’t know if I could ever have read it without this distance. Exalted is the Wisdom of Allah, truly!

Mind you I was not familiar with the Bible or Torah or stories of the prophets. I asked my sisters in law questions, like how did Noah fit all the animals on the ark? How did Moses separate the ocean? One sister-in-law (may God bless her, I love her, she's mashaAllah very intelligent and a teacher) said to me do you believe God performed miracles through the prophets? She asked me if I believed God was capable of this. I said yes, definitely. She said, that is how He did it. It clicked. Now I feel stupid for not considering that. The question was simple, the answer was even simpler, and I got it.

Then when I read the Quran, I found it so strange in a good way. I said this is different, it says We (for God), like its written in first person. I never read anything like this before. It was wonderful. I got through Surat Al-Fatihah for the first time and I couldn't put it down. I used to wonder why children die, why is there suffering, hunger, poverty, etc. When I got to the line in Surat Al Baqarah where Allah says that we will be tested with loss of wealth, loss of life, etc. and give glad tidings to the patient ones, I wept. Again, I got an answer to a basic question I had that I could not find a clear answer for in the Sikh Holy Book. In the Sikh Holy Book, I was taught that affliction is a result of bad sins committed by us in our past lives. This reasoning never stuck with me, it didn’t seem fair/correct to me. However, in the Quran, the purpose of affliction was that it is a test, and the solution is to be patient. It was like my heart and my head had said the Shahaadah without me uttering it. You know it was weird, I didn't want to be a Muslim; but here I was. I could not deny it. I could not be dishonest to my soul. A few months later in Ramadan I completed reading the Quran in English and I said the Shahaadah out loud while Allah was my only Witness. It was something special to say it alone in private. It was from my heart. It was witnessed and heard by the One and Only Knower of All who had guided me. Perfect Praise be to Him.

I still find it so strange that I am the only Sikh I know that has converted to Islam. Sometimes it makes me smile and laugh, I used to go to the temple every Sunday and sing hymns there often! And sometimes I feel humbled and honored at the drastic change but peace of mind and wonder why me? I feel I have some duty to fulfill due to my conversion, like write a book or article debunking omnipresence, this is the heart of Sikhism. If they just understood that God is not omnipresent, then only Islam would be left for them to consider. Sikhism already believes God has no children. InshaAllah, one day I will.

I think the beauty of Islam is hidden from Sikhs and others behind a veil of misconceptions and deep-rooted hatred for them all due to the horrible actions of a few misguided ones. This makes me sad and I wonder how other Sikhs will ever come to Islam. However, it brings peace to me to know that it is Allah who Guides whom He wants regardless of who it is and in what circumstance they are in.

I say to the Sikhs, SEARCH! After all, Sikh means learner or to learn. Learn about other religions, Islam AND other religions. Read the Holy Books of other religions not what people have said about them. Go to the correct source, read it with an open mind and ask the Creator to guide you to the truth. If Sikhism is preferred to you over other religions, then through your study of faiths you will only come out as a stronger and more convinced Sikh. You may love Sikhism more, but you will probably question it more. I ask you, what/who are you afraid of, your parents or the truth? What is preventing you from learning the truth about Islam from the best and correct source, the Quran? In the end, aren't the Sikhs like the Muslims? Are they not supposed to fear none but God, their Creator?

Many Sikhs like to say they are Sikh by choice. In fact, my Sikh brother has a shirt that says precisely that. I feel a lot of Sikhs are Sikh by choice because they would rather choose not to disappoint their parents, their friends and they don't want to betray a minority religion whose followers were brutally tortured. Sikh by guilt/anger. I challenge any Sikh reading this to read the Quran and then tell me if you are still Sikh by choice.

Do not lie to yourself, or to your Creator.


prisonbarsMany have written and talked about what it is like to live inside a prison.

Nonetheless, a great number of these authors have never lived in one of these institutions, or even seen the inside. While numerous letters have been written about prisons, and many theories abound on what the prison experience is like, very few of us know first hand what it is like to live inside a prison cell. Very few prisoners talk about the things they saw in that place. To understand what it means to be a Muslim while doing time, or what it means when a prisoner converts to Islam while behind bars, we must understand what happens inside so many of the prisons in the U.S.

A prison, for the most part, is a place where some of the worst people in society are allowed to victimize each other. Firstly, things that are frowned upon in the free world are common occurrences in this place of pure hatred and segregation. Drug use, homosexuality, gang violence and racism are no longer vices, but simply a way to survive. While a man locked up for rape is shunned by society, an inmate who rapes another is often looked up to or feared. Fights, stabbings and harassment from the correctional officers happen everyday in prisons across the nation.

At the same time, of all places in America, it is in the prisons that you can find some of the strongest and most knowledgeable Muslims. Here, you will find men who stand up against the norms of the prison culture to practice a completely alien path. They leave behind the state of ignorance which had plagued them to embark upon the road to true guidance. As stated in the Holy Qur'an, "And Allah guides those whom He wills, and lets go astray whom He wills." (6:88)

Many comment that it is amazing that Muslims who are incarcerated can take up the task of learning a new language and memorizing the Qur'an. In and of itself, this is not amazing -- what is amazing is the fact that many of the "free" Muslims are not doing the same thing. For the Muslims in prison, Islamic knowledge is a priority. For the Muslims who are free to study, Islamic knowledge is a hindrance and something that is left for the elderly. It is truly sad that the Muslims who are free in this society do not seek out scholars, yet for many incarcerated Muslims a scholar would be seen as a blessing from Allah.

It is in prison that groups of people come together simply for the pleasure of Allah, with no concerns of race and creed. To do so, they must battle not only the negative environment around them, but also a prison administration that often wants to destroy them. On the other hand, we have Muslims who are free to practice Islam as they wish, disregarding other Muslims or Islam as a whole, and divided by nationalism, race, ethnicity and cultural differences. Yet does not Allah say in the Qur'an, "We have created you into nations and tribes not that you may hate each other, but so you may know and love each other?" (4:13)

I became a Muslim inside of prison. It was not only the words of Allah that attracted me to Islam, but also the brotherhood that I saw. From the moment that I made it known that I wanted to learn more about Islam, I was welcomed. Normally, this would not need to be mentioned, except for the fact that I am a white American who was entering a predominantly African-American community. This was something that was looked upon unfavorably by both sides, to say the least. Yet these same men took me in as one of their own, risking their lives to teach me about Islam.

I wish I could say the same about how I was treated when I walked into a mosque for the first time. I was stared at, ignored, and betrayed. I had to wonder if the Qur'an I had been reading was actually a whole different book.

When I left the prison and those brothers who had become my family, I was sad. I know that I would not see most of them again in this life. I left there making a promise, that I would not forget what I had learned. I haven't. Often I am reminded of those bars and the brothers that I left behind.

The saddest part of leaving prison was entering a community of Muslims where most people have a chip on their shoulder. While I read verses of Qur'an about brotherhood and unity, what I saw in many a case was a look of pure hatred when a "brother" looked into my face, if he even bothered.

In a way, I had expected such treatment. While I was locked up, I had written many letters to mosques trying to get Islamic literature. More often than not, I would not even get a response. I had been unable to understand this considering the Qur'anic verses regarding treatment of those who have migrated to Islam. With all the knowledge and resources at hand, those who were free ignored my pleas for help. When I was released, I came to find out that many others like me had gone through the same thing.

For some reason, people who were raised as Muslims by their parents cannot figure out that there are many hardships that come with separating oneself from the beliefs of one's parents. Those who are locked up are often abandoned by their family and friends. Worst of all, when they are released, these people who fought for their Islamic identity find themselves shunned by the free Muslim community.

As Muslims, we have no right to look down on anyone. It is an injustice to the Muslim Ummah (global Muslim community) and to Islam as a whole to isolate or ignore any person just because of where he is from or who his parents are.

I did not choose the religion of my parents. None of us chose the land in which we are born or the color of our skin. These matters are from Allah, the Creator of all things. Do any of us know better than the One who has created us?

We as Muslims have the duty to form a unified Ummah. We can not truly call ourselves Muslims, or say that we love each other, if we separate ourselves from each other. In the relationship between those who are imprisoned and those who are not, as Muslims, we must come together. Not only is it important that communities visit the Muslims in prison, they must also form a support system within the community that can give these new Muslims a chance to reenter society after their release. After all that Muslims must battle in prison to simply be Muslim, it is not right for them to have to fight for the respect of their brethren.

As to those who are imprisoned, learn as much as you can and stick together. Learn from and love each other. You can succeed but you must strive continuously to move forward --never retreat, never surrender. Ignore all of the people who say anything negative, and never give up hope in the strength and mercy of Allah.


I am not a racist in any form whatsoever. I don't believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I believe in Islam. I am a Muslim and there is nothing wrong with being a Muslim, nothing wrong with the religion of Islam. It just teaches us to believe in Allah as the God. Those of you who are Christian probably believe in the same God, because I think you believe in the God Who created the universe. That's the One we believe in, the One Who created universe--the only difference being you call Him God and we call Him Allah. The Jews call Him Jehovah. If you could understand Hebrew, you would probably call Him Jehovah too. If you could understand Arabic, you would probably call Him Allah...."

- Malcolm X

laylatulqadrOn May 19, 1925 in Omaha, Nebraska, Malcolm Little was born to Reverend Earl and Louise Little. Rev. Little, who believed in self-determination and worked for the unity of black people. Malcolm was raised in a background of ethnic awareness and dignity, but violence was sparked by white racists trying to stop black people such as Rev. Little from preaching the black cause.

The history of Malcolm's dedication to black people, like that of his father, may have been motivated by a long history of oppression of his family. As a young child, Malcolm, his parents, brothers, and sisters were shot at, burned out of their home, harassed, and threatened. This culminated in the murder of his father by white racists when Malcolm was six.

Malcolm became a drop-out from school at the age of fifteen. Learning the ways of the streets, Malcolm became acquainted with hoodlums, thieves, dope peddlers, and pimps. Convicted of burglary at twenty, he remained in prison until the age of twenty-seven. During his prison stay he attempted to educate himself. In addition, during his period in prison he learned about and joined the Nation of Islam, studying the teachings of Elijah Muhammed fully. He was released, a changed man, in 1952.

The Nation of Islam

Upon his release, Malcolm went to Detroit, joined the daily activities of the sect, and was given instruction by Elijah Muhammad himself. Malcolm's personal commitment helped build the organization nation-wide, while making him an international figure. He was interviewed on major television programs and by magazines, and spoke across the country at various universities and other forums. His power was in his words, which so vividly described the plight of blacks and vehemently incriminated whites. When a white person referred to the fact that some Southern university had enrolled black freshmen without bayonets, Malcolm reacted with scorn:

When I "slipped," the program host would leap on the bait: "Ahhh! Indeed, Mr. Malcolm X -- you can't deny that's an advance for your race!"

I'd jerk the pole then. "I can't turn around without hearing about some 'civil rights advance'! White people seem to think the black man ought to be shouting 'hallelujah'! Four hundred years the white man has had his foot-long knife in the black man's back -- and now the whit man starts to wiggle the knife out, maybe six inches! The black man's supposed to be grateful? Why, if the white man jerked the knife out, it's still going to leave a scar!

Although Malcolm words often stung with the injustices against blacks in America, the equally racist views of the Nation of Islam kept him from accepting any whites as sincere or capable of helping the situation. For twelve years he preached that the white man was the devil and the "Honorable Elijah Muhammad" was God's messenger. Unfortunately, most images of Malcolm today focus on this period of his life, although the transformation he was about to undergo would give him a completely different, and more important, message for the American people.

The Change to True Islam

On March 12, 1964, impelled by internal jealousy within the Nation of Islam and revelations of Elijah Muhammad's sexual immorality, Malcolm left the Nation of Islam with the intention of starting his own organization:

I feel like a man who has been asleep somewhat and under someone else's control. I feel what I'm thinking and saying now is for myself. Before, it was for and by guidance of another, now I think with my own mind.

Malcolm was thirty-eight years old when he left Elijah Muhammad's Nation of Islam. Reflecting on reflects that occurred prior to leaving, he said:

At one or another college or university, usually in the informal gatherings after I had spoken, perhaps a dozen generally white-complexioned people would come up to me, identifying themselves as Arabian, Middle Eastern or North African Muslims who happened to be visiting, studying, or living in the United States. They had said to me that, my white-indicting statements notwithstanding, they felt I was sincere in considering myself a Muslim -- and they felt if I was exposed to what they always called "true Islam," I would "understand it, and embrace it." Automatically, as a follower of Elijah, I had bridled whenever this was said. But in the privacy of my own thoughts after several of these experiences, I did question myself: if one was sincere in professing a religion, why should he balk at broadening his knowledge of that religion?

Those orthodox Muslims whom I had met, one after another, had urged me to meet and talk with a Dr. Mahmoud Youssef Shawarbi. . . . Then one day Dr. Shawarbi and I were introduced by a newspaperman. He was cordial. He said he had followed me in the press; I said I had been told of him, and we talked for fifteen or twenty minutes. We both had to leave to make appointments we had, when he dropped on me something whose logic never would get out of my head. He said, "No man has believed perfectly until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself."

The Effect of the Pilgrimage

Malcolm further continues about the Hajj:

The pilgrimage to Mecca, known as the Hajj, is a religious obligation that every orthodox Muslim fulfills, if able, at least once in his or her lifetime.

The Holy Quran says it, "Pilgrimage to the House [of God built by the prophet Abraham] is a duty men owe to God; those who are able, make the journey." (3:97)

Allah said: "And proclaim the pilgrimage among men; they will come to you on foot and upon each lean camel, they will come from every deep ravine" (22:27).

Every one of the thousands at the airport, about to leave for Jeddah, was dressed this way. You could be a king or a peasant and no on e would know. Some powerful personages, who were discreetly pointed out to me, had on the same thing I had on. Once thus dressed, we all had begun intermittently calling out "Labbayka! (Allahumma) Labbayka!" (Here I come, O Lord!) Packed in the plane were white, black, brown, red, and yellow people, blue eyes and blond hair, and my kinky red hair -- all together, brothers! All honoring the same God, all in turn giving equal honor to each other. . . .

That is when I first began to reappraise the "white man." It was when I first began to perceive that "white man," as commonly used, means complexion only secondarily; primarily it described attitudes and actions. In America,"white man" meant specific attitudes and actions toward the black man, and toward all other non-white men. But in the Muslim world, I had seen that men with white complexions were more genuinely brotherly than anyone else had ever been. That morning was the start of a radical alteration in my whole outlook about "white" men.

There were tens of thousands of pilgrims, from all over the world. They were of all colors, from blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans. But we were all participating in the same ritual displaying a spirit of unity and brotherhood that my experiences in America had led me to believe never could exist between the white and the non-white...America needs to understand Islam, because this is the one religion that erases from its society the race problem. Throughout my travels in the Muslim world, I have met, talked to, and even eaten with people who in America would have been considered white -- but the "white" attitude was removed from their minds by the religion of Islam. I have never before seen sincere and true brotherhood practiced by all colors together, irrespecitve of their color.

Malcolm's New Vision of America

Malcolm continues:

Each hour here in the Holy Land enables me to have greater spiritual insights into what is happening in America between black and white. The American Negro never can be blamed for his racial animosities -- he is only reacting to four hundred years of the conscious racism of the American whites. But as racism leads America up the suicide path I do believe, from the experiences that I have had with them, that the whites of the younger generation, in the colleges and universities, will see the handwriting on the wall and many of them will turn to the spiritual path of truth -- the only way left to America to ward off the disaster that racism inevitably must lead to. . . .

I believe that God now is giving the world's so-called 'Christian' white society its last opportunity to repent and atone for the crimes of exploiting and enslaving the world's non-white peoples. It is exactly as when God gave Pharaoh a chance to repent. But Pharaoh persisted in his refusal to give justice to those who he oppressed. And, we know, God finally destroyed Pharaoh.

I will never forget the dinner at the Azzam home with Dr. Azzam. The more we talked, the more his vast reservoir of knowledge and its variety seemed unlimited. He spoke of the racial lineage of the descendants of Muhammad (PBUH) the Prophet, and he showed how they were both black and white. He also pointed out how color, and the problems of color which exist in the Muslim world, exist only where, and to the extent that, that area of the Muslim world has been influenced by the West. He said that if on encountered any differences based on attitude toward color, this directly reflected the degree of Western influence.

The Oneness of Man Under One God

It was during his pilgrimage that he began to write some letters to his loyal assistants at the newly formed Muslim Mosque in Harlem. He asked that his letter be duplicated and distributed to the press:

Never have I witnessed such sincere hospitality and the overwhelming spirit of true brotherhood as is practiced by people of all colors and races here in this ancient Holy Land, the House of Abraham, Muhammad, and all the other Prophets of the Holy Scriptures. For the past week, I have been utterly speechless and spellbound by the graciousness I see displayed all around me by people of all colors. . . .

You may be shocked by these words coming from me. But on this pilgrimage, what I have seen, and experienced, has forced me to rearrange much of my thought-patterns previously held, and to toss aside some of my previous conclusions. This was not too difficult for me. Despite my firm convictions, I have always been a man who tries to face facts, and to accept the reality of life as new experience and new knowledge unfolds it. I have always kept an open mind, which necessary to the flexibility that must go hand in hand with every form of intelligent search for truth.

During the past eleven days here in the Muslim world, I have eaten from the same plate, drunk from the same glass, and slept in the same bed (or on the same rug) -- while praying to the same God -- with fellow Muslims, whose eyes were the bluest of blue, whose hair was the blondest of blond, and whose skin was the whitest of white. And in the words and in the actions and in the deeds of the "white" Muslims, I felt the same sincerity that I felt among the black African Muslims of Nigeria, Sudan, and Ghana.

We were truly all the same (brothers) -- because their belief in one God had removed the "white" from their minds, the 'white' from their behavior, and the 'white' from their attitude.

I could see from this, that perhaps if white Americans could accept the Oneness of God, then perhaps, too, they could accept in reality the Oneness of Man -- and cease to measure, and hinder, and harm others in terms of their "differences" in color.

With racism plaguing America like an incurable cancer, the so-called "Christian" white American heart should be more receptive to a proven solution to such a destructive problem. Perhaps it could be in time to save America from imminent disaster -- the same destruction brought upon Germany by racism that eventually destroyed the Germans themselves.

They asked me what about the Hajj had impressed me the most. . . . I said, "The brotherhood! The people of all races, color, from all over the world coming to gether as one! It has proved to me the power of the One God. . . . All ate as one, and slept as one. Everything about the pilgrimage atmosphere accented the Oneness of Man under One God.

Malcolm returned from the pilgrimage as El-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz. He was afire with new spiritual insight. For him, the struggle had evolved from the civil rights struggle of a nationalist to the human rights struggle of an internationalist and humanitarian.

After the Pilgrimage

White reporters and others were eager to learn about El-Hajj Malik's newly-formed opinions concerning themselves. They hardly believed that the man who had preached against them for so many years could suddenly turn around and call them brothers. To these people El-Hajj Malik had this to say:

You're asking me "Didn't you say that now you accept white men as brothers?" Well, my answer is that in the Muslim world, I saw, I felt, and I wrote home how my thinking was broadened! Just as I wrote, I shared true, brotherly love with many white-complexioned Muslims who never gave a single thought to the race, or to the complexion, of another Muslim.

My pilgrimage broadened my scope. It blessed me with a new insight. In two weeks in the Holy Land, I saw what I never had seen in thirty-nine years here in America. I saw all races, all colors, -- blue-eyed blonds to black-skinned Africans -- in true brotherhood! In unity! Living as one! Worshipping as one! No segregationists -- no liberals; they would not have known how to interpret the meaning of those words.

In the past, yes, I have made sweeping indictments of all white people. I will never be guilty of that again -- as I know now that some white people are truly sincere, that some truly are capable of being brotherly toward a black man. The true Islam has shown me that a blanket indictment of all white people is as wrong as when whites make blanket indictments against blacks.

To the blacks who increasingly looked to him as a leader, El-Hajj Malik preached a new message, quite the opposite of what he had been preaching as a minister in the Nation of Islam:

True Islam taught me that it takes all of the religious, political, economic, psychological, and racial ingredients, or characteristics, to make the Human Family and the Human Society complete.

Since I learned the truth in Mecca, my dearest friends have come to include all kinds -- some Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, agnostics, and even atheists! I have friends who are called capitalists, Socialists, and Communists! Some of my friends are moderates, conservatives, extremists -- some are even Uncle Toms! My friends today are black, brown, red, yellow, and white!

I said to my Harlem street audiences that only when mankind would submit to the One God who created all -- only then would mankind even approach the "peace" of which so much talk could be heard...but toward which so little action was seen.

Too Dangerous to Last

El-Hajj Malik's new universalistic message was the U.S. establishment's worst nightmare. Not only was he appealing to the black masses, but to intellectuals of all races and colors. Now he was consistently demonized by the press as "advocating violence" and being "militant," although in actuality he and Dr. Martin Luther King were moving closer together in outlook:

The goal has always been the same, with the approaches to it as different as mine and Dr. Martin Luther King's non-violent marching, that dramatizes the brutality and the evil of the white man against defenseless blacks. And in the racial climate of this country today, it is anybody's guess which of the "extremes" in approach to the black man's problems might personally meet a fatal catastrophe first -- "non-violent" Dr. King, or so-called "violent" me."

El-Hajj Malik knew full well that he was a target of many groups. In spite of this, he was never afraid to say what he had to say when he had to say it. As a sort of epitaph at the end of his autobiography, he says:

I know that societies often have killed the people who have helped to change those societies. And if I can die having brought any light, having exposed any meaningful truth that will help to destroy the racist cancer that is malignant in the body of America -- then, all of the credit is due to Allah. Only the mistakes have been mine.

The Legacy of Malcolm X

Although El-Hajj Malik knew that he was a target for assassination, he accepted this fact without requesting police protection. On February 21, 1965, while preparing to give a speech at a New York hotel, he was shot by three black men. He was three months short of forty, the age of maturity according to the Qur'an.  We may never know for sure who was behind El-Hajj Malik's murder, or, for that matter, the murder of other national leaders in the early 1960s.

Malcolm X's life has affected Americans in many important ways. His reversion must have had an influence on Elijah Muhammad's son, Wallace Muhammad, who, after his father's death, led the Nation of Islam's followers into orthodox Islam. African-Americans' interest in their Islamic roots has flourished since El-Hajj Malik's death. Alex Haley, who wrote Malcolm's autobiography, later wrote the epic Roots about an African Muslim family's experience with slavery. More and more African-Americans are becoming Muslim, adopting Muslim names, or exploring African culture. Interest in Malcolm X has seen a surge recently due to Spike Lee's movie, X. El-Hajj Malik is a source of pride for African-Americans, Muslims, and Americans in general. His message is simple and clear:

"I am not a racist in any form whatever. I don't believe in any form of racism. I don't believe in any form of discrimination or segregation. I believe in Islam."


Aminah is a renowned female revert of Islam. She travels around the United States to give lectures, her personal story has admired hundreds of individuals. She is also President of the International Union of Muslim Women, an organization that has many achievements under its belt.

“I am so very glad that I am a Muslim. Islam is my life. Islam is the beat of my heart. Islam is the blood that courses through my veins. Islam is my strength. Islam is my life so wonderful and beautiful. Without Islam I am nothing, and should Allah ever turn His magnificent face from me, I could not survive.” - Aminah

It all started with a computer glitch.

She was a Southern Baptist girl, a radical feminist, and a broadcast journalist. She was a girl with an unusual calibre, who excelled in school, received scholarships, ran her own business, and was competing with professionals and getting awards – all while she was going to college. Then one day a computer error happened that made her take up a mission as a devout Christian. Eventually, however, it resulted in something quite the opposite and changed her life completely around.


scenenew1It was 1975 when for the first time computer was used to pre-register for a class in her college. She was working on her degree on Recreation. She pre-registered for a class and then went to Oklahoma City to take care of a business. Her return was delayed and she came back to college two weeks into the class. Making up the missed work was no problem for her, but she was surprised to find that the computer mistakenly registered her for a Theatre class, a class where students would be required to perform in front of others. She was a very reticent girl and she was horrified to think about performing in front of others. She could not drop the class for it was too late.

Failing the class was also not an option, for she was receiving a scholarship that was paying for her tuition and receiving an ‘F’ would have jeopardized it.

Advised by her husband, she went to her teacher to work out some other alternative to performing, such as preparing costumes, etc. Assured by the teacher that he would try to help her, she went to the next class and was shocked by what she saw. The class was full of Arabs and “camel jockeys”. That was enough for her. She came back home and decided not to go back to the class anymore. It was not possible for her to be in the middle of Arabs.

“There was no way I was going to sit in a room full of dirty heathens!”

Her husband was calm as usual. He pointed out to her that God has a reason for everything and that she should think about it more before quitting. Besides, there was the scholarship that was paying her tuition. She went behind locked doors for 2 days to think about it. When she came out, she decided to continue the class. She felt that God gave her a task to convert the Arabs into Christianity.

Thus she found herself with a mission to accomplish. Throughout the class, she would be discussing Christianity with her Arab classmates.

“I proceeded to explain to them how they would burn in the fires of hell for all eternity, if they did not accept Jesus as their personal saviour. They were very polite, but did not convert. Then, I explained how Jesus loved them and had died on the cross to save them from their sins. All they had to do was accept him into their hearts.”

They still did not convert, and so she decided to do something else:

“I decided to read their own book to show to them that Islam was a false religion and Mohammed was a false Prophet”.

At her request, one student gave her a copy of the Qur’an and another book on Islam. With these two books she started on her research, which she was to continue for the next one and a half years. She read the Qur’an fully and another fifteen books on Islam. Then she came back to the Qur’an and re-read it. During her research, she started taking notes that she found objectionable and which she would be able to use to prove that Islam was a false religion.

Unconsciously, however, she was changing from within which did not escape the attention of her husband.

“I was changing, just in little ways but enough to bother him. We used to go to the bar every Friday and Saturday, or to a party, and I no longer wanted to go. I was quieter and more distant.”

She stopped drinking and eating pork. Her husband suspected her of having an affair with another man, for “it was only for a man that a woman changes”. Ultimately, she was asked to leave, and she soon found herself living in a separate apartment.

“When I first started to study Islam, I did not expect to find anything that I needed or wanted in my personal life. Little did I know that Islam would change my life. No human could have ever convinced me that I would finally be at peace and overflowing with love and joy because of Islam.”

Throughout these times, she continued studying Islam and although she was changing subtly from within, she remained a devout Christian. Then one day, there was a knock on her door. It was a man in traditional Muslim robe, who appeared to her as a

“man in a long white night gown with a red and white chequered table cloth on his head”.

His name was Abdul-Aziz Al-Sheik and he was accompanied by three other men in similar dress. She was very offended by Muslim men coming to her in nightgowns and pyjamas. She was further shocked when Abdul-Aziz told her that he understood that she wanted to be a Muslim. She replied that she was a Christian and she did not have any plan to become a Muslim. However, she had some questions to ask if they had the time.

At her invitation, they came inside. She now brought up the questions and objections that she noted down while she was researching.

“I will never forget his name”,

she said of Abdul-Aziz who proved to be a very patient and soft-mannered person.

“He was very patient and discussed every question with me. He never made me feel silly or that a question was stupid.”

Abdul-Aziz listened to every question and objection and explained it within the proper context.

“He explained that Allah had told us to seek knowledge and questions were one of the ways to accomplish that. When he explained something, it was like watching a rose open – petal by petal, until it reached its full glory. When I told him that I did not agree with something and why, he always said I was correct up to a point. Then he would show me how to look deeper and from different directions to reach a fuller understanding.”

It would not be long before she would externally submit to what she had already been submitting to internally during the last one and a half years. Later in that same day, this Southern Baptist girl would declare in front of Abdul-Aziz and his companions:

“I bear witness that there is no god but God and Mohammed is His Messenger.”

It was May 21, 1977.

Conversion to Islam, or to any shining_flowerother religion for that matter, is not always a simple thing to do. Except for a few fortunate ones, a new Muslim usually faces consequences. The convert may face isolation from family and friends, if not pressure to go back to the family faith. Sometimes, a convert may even face severe economic hardship, as in the case of those who are asked to leave the house because of converting to Islam. Some converts are fortunate to continue to be well-respected by family and friends, but most of them face minor to severe hardship especially during the first few years after their conversion.

But the difficulty that Aminah Assilimi had to go through and the sacrifice that she had to make for the sake of her conviction and faith is almost unheard of. There are few who could rely so much on Allah as she did, standing firm and meeting the challenges, making sacrifices, and yet maintaining a positive posture and influencing people around her with the beauty of what she found and believed in.

She lost most of her friends, for she was “no fun anymore”. Her mother did not accept her becoming a Muslim and hoped that it was a temporary zeal and that she would soon grow out of it. Her “mental health expert” sister thought that she lost her mind. She attempted to put her in a mental health institution.

Her father was a calm and wise man. People would come to him for advice and he could comfort anyone in distress. But when he heard that his daughter became a Muslim, he loaded his double-barrel shotgun and started on his way to kill her.

“It is better that she be dead rather than suffering in the deepest of Hell”, he said.

She was now without friends and without family.

She soon started wearing hijab. The day she put it on, she was denied her job. She was now without family, friends, and job. But her greatest sacrifice was yet to come.

She and her husband both loved each other very much. But while she was studying Islam, her husband misunderstood her for her apparent changes. She became quieter and stopped going to the bar. Her changes were visible to him and he suspected her of having an affair with another man, for whom she must have been changing. She could not explain to him what was happening.

“There was no way to make him understand what was changing me because I did not know.”

Eventually he asked her to leave and she started living separately.

After she openly accepted Islam, it became worse. A divorce was now inevitable. This was a time when Islam was little known, much less understood for what it is. She had two little children whom she loved dearly and whose custody should have rightfully been given to her. But in a grave violation of justice, she was denied their custody just because she became a Muslim. Before giving the formal verdict, the judge offered her a harsh choice: either renounce Islam and get custody of the children, or keep Islam and leave the children. She was given 20 minutes to make a decision.

She loved her children very dearly. It is perhaps the worst nightmare that a mother can have: asked to willfully leave her child - not for one day, month, or year, but forever. On the other hand, how could she keep the Truth away from her children and live as a hypocrite?

“It was the most painful 20 minutes in my life”, she said in an interview.

Those of us who are mothers and fathers, especially of young children, little imagination is needed to feel the pain and torment that she must have passed every second in those 20 minutes. What added further to her pain was that according to doctors, she could never bear another child because of certain complications.

“I prayed like I had never done before … I knew that there was no safer place for my children to be than in the hands of Allah. If I denied Him, there would be no way in the future to show my children the wonders of being with Allah.”

She decided to retain Islam. Her two dear children – one little boy and one little girl – were taken away from her and given to her ex-husband.

For a mother, is there a sacrifice greater than this – a sacrifice that is done for no material reason but only for faith and conviction?

“I left the court knowing that life without my babies would be very difficult. My heart bled, even though I knew, inside, I had done the right thing”.

She quran.2found comfort in the following verse of the Qur’an:

{There is no god but He, the Living, the Self-subsisting, Eternal. No slumber can seize Him nor sleep. His are all things in the heavens and on earth. Who is there that can intercede in His presence except as He permitteth? He knoweth what (appeareth to His creatures as) before or after or behind them. Nor shall they encompass aught of His knowledge except as He willeth. His Throne doth extend over the heavens and the earth, and He feeleth no fatigue in guarding and preserving them for He is the Most High, the Supreme (in glory).} (Quran 2: 255)

Perhaps the air of Colorado was too thin for justice. Or perhaps there was a plan in Allah’s greater scheme of affairs. Aminah Assilimi later fought back and took her case to the media. Although she did not get custody of her children again, a change was made in the Colorado law that one cannot be denied child custody on the basis of his or her religion.

Indeed Allah’s love and mercy engulfed her so much that, as if, she has been granted the touchstone of Islam. Wherever she goes, people are touched by her beautiful words and Islamic manners and become Muslim.

By accepting Islam, she became a changed person, and a much better person. So much so that her family, relatives, and people around her started appreciating her mannerism and the faith that brought about such changes in her. Despite her family’s initial reaction, she remained in touch with them and addressed them with respect and humility, just as the Qur’an enjoins the Muslims to do. She would send cards to her parents on different occasions, but she would always write down a verse from the Qur’an or the Hadith without mentioning the source of such beautiful words of wisdom. It was not long before she started making a positive influence among her family members.

The first to become Muslim was her grandmother. She was over 100 years old. Soon after accepting Islam, she died.

“The day she pronounced Shahada, all her misdeeds had been erased, while her good deeds were preserved. She died so soon after accepting Islam that I knew her “book” was bound to be heavy on the good side. It fills me with such a joy!”

Next to become Muslim was her father, the one who wanted to kill her after she became Muslim. Thus he brought alive the story of 'Umar ibn Khattab. 'Umar was a companion of the Prophet who persecuted the early Muslims before he converted to Islam. When he heard one day that his sister became a Muslim, he went out with an open sword to kill her. But upon hearing some of the verses from the Qur’an that his sister was reciting, he recognized the truth and went straight to the Prophet and accepted Islam.

Two years after she (Assilmi) accepted Islam, her mother called and said that she appreciated her faith and hoped that she would keep it. Couple of years later, she called again and asked her about what one would need to do to become a Muslim. Assilmi replied that one had to believe that there is only One God and Muhammad was his Messenger.

“Any fool knows that. But what do you have to do?” she asked again.

She replied that if that is what she believed, then she was already a Muslim! At this, her mother said,

“Well … OK. But let’s not tell your father just yet”.

She was not aware that her husband (Assilmi’s step father) had the same conversation with her a few weeks earlier. Thus the two lived together as Muslims for years in secret without knowing that the other was also a Muslim. Her sister who wanted to put her in mental institution accepted Islam as well. She must have realized that becoming Muslim is indeed the most healthy and sound thing to do.

Her son, upon becoming adult, accepted Islam. When he turned 21, he called her and said that he wanted to become a Muslim.

Sixteen years after the divorce, her ex-husband also accepted Islam. He said that he had been watching her for sixteen years and wanted his daughter to have the same religion that she had. He came to her and apologized for what he had done. He was a very nice gentleman and Assilimi had forgiven him long ago.

Perhaps the greatest reward for her was yet to come. Assilmi later married another person, and despite the doctors’ verdict that she could never conceive another child, Allah blessed her with a beautiful boy. If Allah (swt) makes a gift to someone, who can prevent Him? It was truly a wonderful blessing from Allah (swt), and so she named him “Barakah”.

The sacrifice that Assilmi made for the sake of Allah (swt) was tremendous. And so Allah (swt) turned in mercy to her and rewarded her with enormous blessings. Her family discarded her after she accepted Islam, and now by Allah’s mercy, most of them are Muslim. She lost her friends because of Islam, and now she is being loved by so many.

“Friends who loved came out of nowhere”, she said.

Allah’s blessings came upon her so much that wherever she goes people are touched by the beauty of Islam and accept the Truth. Both Muslims and non-Muslims now come to her for advice and counselling.

She lost her job because of wearing hijab, and now she is the President of the International Union of Muslim Women. She delivers lectures nationwide and is on high demand. It was her organization that successfully lobbied for the “Eid Stamp” and had it approved by the United States Postal Service, but it took many years of work. She is now working on making the Eid Day as a national holiday.

She has tremendous trust in Allah’s love and mercy and she never loses faith in Him. She was once diagnosed with cancer some years ago. Doctors said that it was at an advanced stage and that she would live for another year. But her faith in Allah (swt) remained strong.

“We must all die. I was confident that the pain I was experiencing contained blessings.”

As a brilliant example of how much one can love Allah, she mentions about a friend of her named Kareem Al-Misawi who died of cancer when he was in his 20’s:

“Shortly before he died, he told me that Allah was truly Merciful. This man was in unbelievable anguish and was radiating with Allah’s love. He said: “Allah intends that I should enter heaven with a clean book.” His death experience gave me something to think about. He taught me of Allah’s love and mercy.”

All praise is due to Allah, she continues to live in good health. She now thinks that having cancer was the greatest blessing that she ever had.

UPDATE from the International Union of Muslim Women (March 6th 2010):

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji’oon. Our beloved sister, Aminah Assilmi has passed away in an automobile accident.

We pray that Allah (SWT) will shower His mercy on this sister and grant her the highest level of Paradise – Jannat Ul-Firdous – and give her family patience in this difficult time. Aameen.

Sister Aminah Assilmi, Director of the International Union of Muslim Women, Author, Advocate of Women’s Rights, and Renowned Speaker died early this morning while returning from a speaking engagement in New York.

Sister Aminah and her son, were in single car accident just outside of Newport Tennessee where she had been living for just over a year. The car accident happened just after 3am and it appears that Aminah was killed instantly. Her son Mohammad was taken to a hospital in Knoxville.

Aminah had some health issues, but still maintained a rigorous schedule of speaking engagements to many communities around the country and around the world.  She was instrumental in getting the Eid stamp issued in 2001 and had been planning to start a campaign to have the stamp reissued with a new design in time for its 10 year anniversary. She was also trying to build a Center for Muslim Women’s Studies that would serve as a place where converts could learn about Islam and the basics including how to pray etc., as a retreat, and as a summer camp for Muslim children.

Aminah was 65 and has a daughter Amber, and sons, Whitney and Mohammad as well as several grandchildren.


beautifulscene24I was raised to believe in God from childhood. I attended church nearly every Sunday, went to Bible school, and sang in the choir. Yet religion was never a really big part of my life.

There were times when I thought myself close to God. I often prayed to him for guidance and strength in times of despair or for a wish in times of want. But I soon realized that this feeling of closeness soon evaporated when I was no longer begging God for something. I realized that I even though I believed, I lacked faith.

The World as a "Game"

I perceived the world to be a game in which God indulged in from time to time. He inspired people to write a Bible and somehow people were able to find faith within this Bible.

As I grew older and became more aware of the world, I believed more in God. I believed that there had to be a God to bring some order to the chaotic world. If there were no God, I believed the world would have ended in utter anarchy thousands of years ago. It was comfort to me to believe there was a supernatural force guiding and protecting man.

Children Follow the Religion of their Parents

Children usually assume their religion from parents. I was no different. At the age of 12, I began to give in depth thinking to my spirituality. I realized there was a void in my life where a faith should be. Whenever I was in need or despair, I simply prayed to someone called Lord. But who was this Lord truly? I once asked my mother who to pray to, Jesus or God. Believing my mother to be right, I prayed to Jesus and to him I attributed all good things.

I have heard that religion cannot be argued. My friends and I tried to do this many times. I often had debates with my friends about Protestantism, Catholicism, and Judaism. Through these debates I searched within myself more and more and decided I should do something about my emptiness. And so at the age of 13, I began my search for truth.

Humankind is always in constant pursuit of knowledge or the truth. My search for truth could not be deemed as an active pursuit of knowledge. I continued having the debates, and I read the Bible more. But it did not really extend from this. During this period of time my mother took notice of my behaviour and from then on I have been in a "religious phase." My behaviour was far from a phase. I simply shared my newly gained knowledge with my family. I learned about the beliefs, practices, and doctrines within Christianity and minimal beliefs and practices within Judaism.

A few months within my search I realized that if I believe in Christianity I believed myself to be condemned to Hell. Not even considering the sins of my past, I was on a "one way road to Hell" as southern ministers tend to say. I could not believe all the teachings within Christianity. However, I did try.

Call to "salvation?"

I can remember many times being in church and fighting with myself during the Call to Discipleship. I was told that by simply confessing Jesus to be my Lord and Savior I would be guaranteed eternal life in Heaven. I never did walk down the aisle to the pastor's outstretched hands, and my reluctance even increased my fears of heading for Hell. During this time I was at unease. I often had alarming nightmares, and I felt very alone in the world.

But not only did I lack belief but I had many questions that I posed to every knowledgeable Christian I could find and never really did receive a satisfactory answer. I was simply told things that confused me even more. I was told that I am trying to put logic to God and if I had faith I could simply believe and go to Heaven. Well, that was the problem: I did not have faith. I did not believe.

Questioning Belief

I did not really believe in anything. I did believe there was a God and that Jesus was his son sent to save humankind. That was it. My questions and reasoning did, however, exceed my beliefs.

The questions went on and on. My perplexity increased. My uncertainty increased. For fifteen years I had blindly followed a faith simply because it was the faith of my parents.

"Muslim - Christian Dialog"

Something happened in my life in which the little faith I did have decreased to all but nothing. My search came to a stop. I no longer searched within myself, the Bible or church. I had given up for a while. I was a very bitter parson until one day a friend gave me a book. It was called "The Muslim-Christian Dialogue."

I took the book and read it. I am ashamed to say that during my searching never did I once consider another religion. Christianity was all I knew, and I never thought about leaving it. My knowledge of Islam was very minimal. In fact, it was mainly filled with misconception and stereotypes. The book surprised me. I found that I was not the only one who believed simply there was a God. I asked for more books. I received them as well as pamphlets.

Learning About Islam

I learned about Islam from an intellectual aspect. I had a close friend who was Muslim and I often asked her questions about the practices. Never did I once consider Islam as my faith. Many things about Islam alienated me.

After a couple months of reading the month of Ramadan began. Every Friday that I could, I joined the local Muslim community for the breaking of the fast and the reciting of the Quran. I posed questions that I may have come across to the Muslim girls. I was in awe at how someone could have so much certainty in what they believed and followed. I felt myself drawn to Islam.

Islam Brought Comfort & Reminders

Having believed for so long that I was alone, Islam did comfort me in many ways. Islam was brought as a reminder to the world. It was brought to lead the people back to the right path.

Beliefs were not the only thing important to me. I wanted a discipline to pattern my life by. I did not just want to believe someone was my savior and through this I held the ticket to Heaven. I wanted to know how to act to receive the approval of God. I wanted a closeness to God. I wanted to be God-conscious. Most of all I wanted a chance for heaven. I began to feel that Christianity did not give this to me, but Islam did.

I continued learning more. I went to the Eid celebration and Jumu'ah and weekly classes with my friends.

Through religion one receives peace of mind. A calmness about them. This I had off and on for about three years. During the off times I was more susceptible to the temptations of Satan. In early February of 1997 I came to the realization that Islam was right and true. However, I did not want to make any hasty decisions. I did decide to wait.

Satan Began Tempting

Within this duration the temptations of Satan increased. I can recollect two dreams in which there was his presence. Satan was calling me to him. After I awoke from these nightmares I found solace in Islam. I found myself repeating the Shahaadah (testimony of faith). These dreams almost made me change my mind. I confided them in my Muslim friend. She suggested that maybe Satan was there to lead me from the truth. I never thought of it that way.

On March 19, 1997 after returning from a weekly class, I recited the Shahaadah to myself. Then on March 26, I recited it before witnesses and became an official Muslim.

Becoming Muslim

I cannot express the joy I felt. I cannot express the weight that was lifted from my shoulders. I had finally received my peace of mind....

It has been about five months since I recited the Shahaadah. Islam has made me a better person. I am stronger now and understand things more. My life has changed significantly. I now have purpose. My purpose is to prove myself worthy of eternal life in Jennah. I have my long sought after faith. Religion is a part of me all the time. I am striving everyday to become the best Muslim I can be.

People are often amazed at how a fifteen year old can make such an important decision in life. I am grateful that Allah blessed me with my state of mind that I was able to find it so young.

Striving to Be A Good Muslim - In Non-Muslim Society

It is hard to be a good Muslim in a Christian dominated society. Living with a Christian family is even harder. However, I try not to get discouraged. I do not wish to dwell on my present predicament, but I believe that my jihad is simply making me stronger. Someone once told me that I am better off than some people who were born into Islam, in that I had to find, experience, and realize the greatness and mercy of Allah. I have acquired the reasoning that seventy years of life on earth is nothing compared to eternal life in Paradise.

I must admit that I lack the aptitude to express the greatness, mercy, and glory of Allah. I hope my account helped others who may feel the way I felt or struggle the way I struggled.


rednikabI am an American woman who was born in the midst of America's "Heartland." I grew up, just like any other girl, being fixated with the glamour of life in "the big city." Eventually, I moved to Florida and on to South Beach of Miami, a hotspot for those seeking the "glamorous life." Naturally, I did what most average Western girls do. I focused on my appearance and appeal, basing my self-worth on how much attention I got from others.

I worked out religiously and became a personal trainer, acquired an upscale waterfront residence, became a regular "exhibiting" beach-goer and was able to attain a "living-in-style" kind of life.

Years went by, only to realize that my scale of self-fulfilment and happiness slid down the more I progressed in my "feminine appeal." I was a slave to fashion. I was a hostage to my looks.

As the gap continued to progressively widen between my self-fulfilment and lifestyle, I sought refuge in escapes from alcohol and parties to meditation, activism, and alternative religions, only to have the little gap widen to what seemed like a valley. I eventually realized it all was merely a pain killer rather than an effective remedy.

By now it was September 11, 2001. As I witnessed the ensuing barrage on Islam, Islamic values and culture, and the infamous declaration of the "new crusade," I started to notice something called Islam. Up until that point, all I had associated with Islam was women covered in "tents," wife beaters, harems, and a world of terrorism.

As a feminist libertarian, and an activist who was pursuing a better world for all, my path crossed with that of another activist who was already at the lead of indiscriminately furthering causes of reform and justice for all. I joined in the ongoing campaigns of my new mentor which included, at the time, election reform and civil rights, among others. Now my new activism was fundamentally different. Instead of "selectively" advocating justice only to some, I learned that ideals such as justice, freedom, and respect are meant to be and are essentially universal, and that own good and common good are not in conflict. For the first time, I knew what "all people are created equal" really means. But most importantly, I learned that it only takes faith to see the world as one and to see the unity in creation.

quranp1One day I came across a book that is negatively stereotyped in the West, The Holy Qur'an. I was first attracted by the style and approach of the Qur'an, and then intrigued by its outlook on existence, life, creation, and the relationship between Creator and creation. I found the Qur'an to be a very insightful address to heart and soul without the need for an interpreter or pastor.

Eventually I hit a moment of truth: my new-found self-fulfilling activism was nothing more than merely embracing a faith called Islam where I could live in peace as a "functional" Muslim.

I bought a beautiful long gown and head cover resembling the Muslim woman's dress code and I walked down the same streets and neighbourhoods where only days earlier I had walked in my shorts, bikini, or "elegant" western business attire. Although the people, the faces, and the shops were all the same, one thing was remarkably distinct--I was not--nor was the peace at being a woman I experienced for the very first time. I felt as if the chains had been broken and I was finally free. I was delighted with the new looks of wonder on people's faces in place of the looks of a hunter watching his prey I had once sought. Suddenly a weight had been lifted off my shoulders. I no longer spent all my time consumed with shopping, makeup, getting my hair done, and working out. Finally, I was free.

Of all places, I found my Islam at the heart of what some call "the most scandalous place on earth," which makes it all the more dear and special.

While content with Hijab I became curious about Niqab, seeing an increasing number of Muslim women in it. I asked my Muslim husband, whom I married after I reverted to Islam, whether I should wear Niqab or just settle for the Hijab I was already wearing. My husband simply advised me that he believes Hijab is mandatory in Islam while Niqab is not. At the time, my Hijab consisted of head scarf that covered all my hair except for my face, and a loose long black gown called "Abaya" that covered all my body from neck to toe.

A year-and-a-half passed, and I told my husband I wanted to wear Niqab. My reason, this time, was that I felt it would be more pleasing to Allah, the Creator, increasing my feeling of peace at being more modest. He supported my decision and took me to buy an "Isdaal," a loose black gown that covers from head to toe, and Niqab, which covers all my head and face except for my eyes.

Soon enough, news started breaking about politicians, Vatican clergymen, libertarians, and so-called human rights and freedom activists condemning Hijab at times, and Niqab at others as being oppressive to women, an obstacle to social integration, and more recently, as an Egyptian official called it, "A sign of backwardness."

I find it to beshiningniqaab a blatant hypocrisy when Western governments and so-called human rights groups rush to defend woman's rights when some governments impose a certain dress code on women, yet such "freedom fighters" look the other way when women are being deprived of their rights, work, and education just because they choose to exercise their right to wear Niqab or Hijab. Today, women in Hijab or Niqab are being increasingly barred from work and education not only under totalitarian regimes such as in Tunisia, Morocco, and Egypt, but also in Western democracies such as France, Holland, and Britain.

I call on Muslim women to assume their responsibilities in providing all the support they can for their husbands to be good Muslims. To raise their children as upright Muslims so they may be beacons of light for all humanity once again. To enjoin good, any good, and to forbid evil, any evil. To speak righteousness and to speak up against all ills. To fight for our right to wear Niqab or Hijab and to please our Creator whichever way we chose. But just as importantly, to carry our experience with Niqab or Hijab to fellow women who may never have had the chance to understand what wearing Niqab or Hijab means to us and why do we, so dearly, embrace it.

Most of the women I know wearing Niqab are Western reverts, some of whom are not even married. Others wear Niqab without full support of either family or surroundings. What we all have in common is that it is the personal choice of each and every one of us, which none of us is willing to surrender.

Willingly or unwillingly, women are bombarded with styles of "dressing-in-little-to-nothing" virtually in every means of communication everywhere in the world. As an ex non-Muslim, I insist on a women's right to equally know about Hijab, its virtues, and the peace and happiness it brings to a woman's life, as it did to mine. Yesterday, the bikini was the symbol of my liberty, when in actuality it only liberated me from my spirituality and true value as a respectable human being.

I couldn't be happier to shed my bikini in South Beach and the "glamorous" Western lifestyle to live in peace with my Creator and enjoy living among fellow humans as a worthy person. It is why I choose to wear Niqab, and why I will die defending my inalienable right to wear it. Today, Niqab is the new symbol of woman's liberation.

To women who surrender to the ugly stereotype against the Islamic modesty of Hijab, I say,

You don't know what you are missing.



Today, as my eyes were scanning through the various books on an Islamic bookshelf, I happened to pick up a copy of Saheeh Muslim. It is the second most authentic Hadeeth collection after Saheeh Al-Bukhari and was written by the illustrious scholar, Abu'l-Husain 'Asakir-ud-Din Muslim b. Hajjaj al-Qushayri al-Naisaburi.

Imaam Muslim was from Nishapur - a place, as we will come to learn, where some of the most prominent female scholars who studied and taught the Saheeh of Imaam Muslim resided. Nishapur (or Nishabur) is a city in the Razavi Khorasan province in northeastern Iran and is situated in a fertile plain at the foot of the Binalud Mountains, near the regional capital of Mashhad.


In a short biography of Imaam Muslim (which can be accessed here) it is written:

“Imam Muslim compiled many books and treatises on Hadith, the most important of his works is the compilation of the Hadith collection Al-Jami’ As-Sahih, which is famous by the name of Sahih Muslim. Some scholars of Hadith opine that in some respects it is the best and most authentic collection of Ahadith. Imam Muslim laboriously collected 3,00,000 Ahadith, but after a critical study, he selected only 4,000 Ahadith for this collection.”

Yes, it’s true. Saheeh Muslim is easily accessible today because of the hard, persevering and difficult work of the many scholars that are mentioned in the various chains of narrations of each and every single Hadeeth. One can only imagine the difficult and arduous journeys undertaken by the Muhaddithoon and the rigorous effort they put into checking and ensuring the reliability of the narrators contained in the chains of narration. In fact, many a times, just for one Hadeeth they travelled far and wide. Sadly, many of us don’t realise the amount of effort, time and energy Imaam Muslim must have invested into collecting so many Ahaadeeth for his compilation.

We can still hope


As I continued to read and turn the pages of this esteemed and noble book it hit me that this is a book which actually contains words that flowed from the mouth of the Last Messenger of Allah; a man who never lied, never betrayed anyone, and uniquely didn’t speak from his own desire, as Allah (Almighty) clearly states:

{Nor does He speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration that is inspired.} (53:3-4)

What a blessed tongue and what a blessed book indeed! May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him.

It was at that moment, when picking up Saheeh Muslim, that I felt a kind of sadness, as well as a hope deep down within my heart. Yes, when I remembered that the majority of our Masaajid and Muslims’ homes are devoid of the teaching of such texts to Muslim women by Muslim women, sadness, worry and pain filled my heart. It’s so sad that the scholars before us put so much effort into compiling these treasures and many of us don’t even wish to study the likes of such books in our entire lifetime.

But as I remembered the slow, but steadily increasing awareness and understanding of the Deen creeping into the hearts of the believing female slaves of Allah, I felt hope…hope that we may once again become women of knowledge, knowledge imbued with an ardent desire to implement the divine injunctions contained therein. For me, that will be Paradise in this life, but obviously not in the full sense of the word, and Allah Willing, the beginning of the blessed journey towards Paradise as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “...He who treads the path in search of knowledge, Allâh will make easy the path leading to Paradise for him...” (Saheeh Muslim, 6518)

Why are we in this state?

qmiswaakOne problem lies in the fact that we are suffering from a lack of will-power, resulting in a lack of consistency, or, worse still, we are all-together disenchanted with the notion of seeking knowledge even if we have the time. Some just want to “chill” and spend life lounging around or doing things which will result in transitory and immediate benefits, while others have just not realized their potential and self-worth and may have slackened over time. Hence, not being focused, procrastination, laziness and a lack of will-power are some of the essential reasons why we have lagged behind in this matter; we no longer have the same will-power and stamina to even study beginner texts, such as al-Bayqooniyyah, the forty Hadeeth of Imaam an-Nawawi, ‘Umdatul Ahkaam and Bulooghul Maraam, yet alone extensive and advanced texts, such as Saheeh Muslim, Saheeh Bukhari or al-Muwatta’. Many of us barely pick up the Qur’aan with the excuse that we have no time… so what then about the books which record the words of our Prophet (peace be upon him), like Saheeh Muslim. It’s true that it’s not a small matter to learn, study and especially memorize such a lengthy text as Saheeh Muslim. It takes months upon months, in fact years to do so. But a love for the words of Allah’s Messenger, a realization that although we can’t meet him in this life and that we can’t sit in his company, we can still read his words, is enough of an incentive to push us into investing those spare precious moments that we do have into studying his words.

Dear Sisters, we must aim high and sow the seeds of success when and whenever we can, even if that’s just a little bit every day, or even if that’s on a weekly basis consistently. When we lag and fall behind, we must wake up and start running again, keeping our aim in front of us and we must not give up hope. If we do so, we will fail to lead fruitful lives and instead find ourselves aimless, suffering from weak faith and losing hope in the face of day-to-day issues and problems. For, how can we be refined when we haven’t studied the different ways by which we can change ourselves for the better? How can we implement knowledge when we are ignorant of it? How can we progress when we don’t consistently go through a program of study? How can we teach our children and families when we are ourselves oblivious to the teachings and canons of our Deen?

It doesn’t mean you have to be a full-time student of knowledge

I do not intend to promote any kind of feminism or ideology that seeks to change the natural roles designated and specified for women by Islaam in their homes and within their societies. What I am saying is that we, as Muslim women, should aim high, hoping and supplicating to uplift ignorance from ourselves, and in turn from others, while we continue on with our daily routines and busy schedules without forsaking our duties, roles and obligations as Muslim women. Yes, we are the daughters, sisters and mothers of this Ummah, we are the flowers from which come forth wondrous petals, and we are the sprouting trees that bear or will bear fruits for this Ummah. Hence, it is of utmost importance that we nourish, sustain and look after our spiritual well-being, our health and our knowledge in order to be pro-active and productive and give back wholesome fruits to our community which it is clearly in dire need of today.


I said to her: “There are amazing books to study, like Saheeh Muslim, so let’s aim high!”

She answered with a sigh,

“It’s too long and hard, I don’t think I’ll be able to do that.”

She then continued to sip her tea as she sadly looked right down towards her lap.

“Plus I’m too bogged down,”

She said, as she looked up with a frown.

“I don’t even know Arabic, and don’t even have time to read the Qur’aan.

Days go by and I just can’t get around to even reading a line!”

I asked her, “Do you know about the women scholars, like Fatimah bint ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq?

- The woman who had studied and taught Saheeh Muslim.

She had great persistence and patience,

Even within the difficult world women face,

Within life’s difficult maze,

She figured her way through, as she held on to the Qur’aan,

Learnt the words of the Prophet,

And made life come alive,

Even through such strife.”

Feeling defensive, she retorted:

“Well that was the past, today’s different…” And then I knew

Why they were different.


IT’S BECAUSE we always leave it for another day

That just may…come upon us one day.

We merely make excuses, without working towards any goal, any way,

THAT’S why many years down the line,

After much time,

With regards to our deen, we’re kind of in the same state,

No change, and all we can do is cry over our fate.

Sister! Wait.

Don’t be in a hurry, be patient.

Knowledge comes to those who await its treasures,

Which flow forth without measure.

Begin your path towards knowledge,

Even if it’s just a little a day,

To learn the Prophets words and his blessed way.

The Key is Arabic

madinahbooksThere is hope. All of this is easy if we learn Arabic. Many of us are disabled from truly seeking knowledge even within the confines of our homes if we do not know Arabic as the medium to understand the various knowledge-based multimedia online is in the Arabic language. In all honesty, the mediums for studying today are more easily accessible than ever before, there are so many videos online (click here to access them). One of the main keys is to learn Arabic, after which a wealth of knowledge will come your way, IF you are consistent, organized and persevering in your pursuit of it. For example, weekly lessons in Hadeeth and Fiqh from the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) Masjid in Madinah are uploaded regularly here and here but…in Arabic. Dear sister, the beginning may seem difficult but persistence and perseverance is the key; once we have Arabic in our hearts and minds we, as Muslim women can implement Allah’s words:

{And stay in your houses, and do not display yourselves like that of the times of ignorance, and perform As-Salât (Iqâmat­as­Salât), and give Zakât and obey Allâh and his Messenger...} [33:33]

Without having to forsake the pursuit of knowledge, as we continue on with our busy schedules and tasks, over time we will achieve.

And remember: something is always better than nothing.

The Women Scholars Who Studied and Taught Saheeh Muslim

The examples of the women before us should push us to return to their way. For, there was a time when women would engross themselves in the mustakhraj of Saheeh Muslim – the narration of its texts by a different route with higher isnaad (Chain of Narration). What follows are the names of just a few of these flowers, who fragranced forth knowledge that we are in dire need of and lacking today. Their biographies have been organised chronologically.

Fatimah bint al-Ustadh Abu ‘Ali al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq (rahimahaAllah)

shineflowerThe renowned scholar Fatimah bint al-Ustadh Abu ‘Ali al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq (d. 480), wife of Abu l-Qasim al-Qushayri, heard the whole Sahih Abi ‘Awanah (mustakhraj of Saheeh Muslim) and then later transmitted it. The great scholar Ibn Hajar, in the account of his teacher Muhammad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Latif al-Takriti says, after mentioning his high isnaad for Saheeh Abu ‘Awanah to ‘Abd al-Raheem ibn al-Hafiz Abi Sa’d ibn al-Sam’aanee:

‘He heard it from Abu l-Barakkat al-Furaawi, who heard it from Fatimah bint ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq, who heard it from Abu Nu’aym ‘Abd al-Malik ibn al Hasan al-Isfrayini, who heard it from Abu ‘Awanah.’

Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“In the fifth century, women from non-Arab countries excelled the Arabs in the field of teaching and narrating hadeeth. For example, in Nishapur Fatimah bint Abee ‘Alee al-Hasan ibn ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq (d. 480) taught major books of hadeeth including the Musnad of Aboo ‘Awaanah …”

Not only did she know Saheeh Muslim, she also had a strong connection with the Book of Allah, just as every Muslim woman should have. Al-Sayrafeenee said:

‘She knew the Book of Allah by heart, recited it day and night and knew its meaning.’

This brought about in her refined character, which she was known for. Al-Sam’aani said about her:

‘She was the pride of the women of her time, no one similar to her has been seen in her good character; she was a scholar of the Book of Allah and virtuous.’

Fatimah bint ‘Ali al-Daqqaaq died 480 years after the Hijrah. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.

Umm al-Khayr Fatimah bint Abi l-Hasan ‘Ali (rahimahaAllah)

The renowned Nishapuri scholar, Fatimah bint Abi l-Hasan Ali ibn al-Muzaffar ibn Hasan ibn Za’bal al-Baghdaadiyyah studied Saheeh Muslim with its most famous teacher of her time, Abu l Husayn ‘Abd al-Ghaafir al-Faarisi. She became famous for being qualified to teach Saheeh Muslim and had also studied K. Gharib al-Hadeeth of Aboo Sulaymaan al-Khattabi with Aboo l-Husayn ‘Abd al-Ghaafir al-Faarisi. And was also an expert in Qur’anic reading.

Fatimah bint Abi l-Hasan Ali died 532 years after the Hijrah, a female scholar who was famous for her knowledge of Saheeh. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.

Zaynab bint ‘Umar ibn Kindi (rahimahaAllah)

floweryellowwhitepinkAnother popular teacher of Saheeh Muslim was Zaynab bint ‘Umar ibn Kindi (rahimahaAllah).

Muhammad Ibn Qawaalij, a teacher of Haafidh ibn Hajar al-‘Asqalaani studied the whole of Saheeh Muslim with her. Zaynab narrated it from al-Mu’ayyad ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Toosi, who narrated it from Faqeeh al-Haram Aboo ‘Abdillah Muhammad ibn al-Fadl al-Fooraawi, from Abool-Husayn ‘Abd al-Ghaafir ibn Husayn al-Faarisi, from Aboo Muhammad ibn ‘Isa ibn ‘Amrooyah al-Juloodi, from Ibraheem ibn Muhammad ibn Sufyan, from its author Muslim ibn al-Hajjaaj.

She had also studied the book in theology: ‘K. al-Tawheed’ by Aboo Bakr Muhammad ibn Ishaaq ibn Khuzaymah (d. 331) under Aboo Rawh ‘Abd al-Mu’izz ibn Muhammad al-Haraawee, with his sanad going back to Ibn Khuzaymah.

Zaynab bint ‘Umar ibn Kindi passed away 699 years after the Hijrah. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.

Safiyyah bint Ahmad ibn Qudaamah (rahimahaAllah)

Among the teachers of Saheeh Muslim in the eighth century was Safiyyah bint Ahmad ibn Qudaamah. She died 714 years after the Hijrah. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.

‘Aa’ishah bint Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi al-Maqdisiyyah (rahimahaAllah)

‘Aa’ishah bint Muhammad, also known as ‘Aa’ishah al-Maqdisiyyah, was a Syrian woman from Damascus, distinguished for her high Isnaad. She narrated the whole of Saheeh Muslim from her teacher Sharaf al-Deen ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan, from Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi, from Muhammad ibn ‘Ali al-Harraani , whom she had directly heard all of it from. She was no ordinary teacher; Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“Fatimah bint Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi and her sister ‘Aa’ishah, taught and narrated a huge number of small and large books…”

Haafidh Ibn Naasir ad-Deen Dimashqee says in his note on ‘Aa’ishah bint ‘Abd al-Haadi:

‘She was appointed to the post of teacher of hadeeth in the grand mosque of Banoo Umayyah.’

Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“The one who narrated the whole Saheeh al-Bukhaari with the highest isnaad among men and women was ‘Aa’ishah bint ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi (d. 816) from Damascus, the last student of al-Hajjaar in the world.”

This is because A’ishah bint ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi (rahimahaAllah) was the last surviving student of the great scholar al-Hajjaar (rahimahullah); therefore, the isnaad through her is of a very high degree. For example, the hadeeth of the Prophet (peace be upon him): “None from those who pledged allegiance under the tree will enter the Fire” is narrated through the following chain of narration:


Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“In our time, if scholars narrate the Saheeh of al-Bukhaari through ‘Aa’ishah al-Maqdisiyyah (d. 816), then between them and Imaam al-Bukhaari there will be one less narrator than though any other isnaad.”

Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) says in his account of ‘Aa’ishah al-Haadi (rahimahaAllah):

‘She was the last person who narrated Saheeh al-Bukhaari with high isnaad by her hearing [it]; and it is a wonderful coincidence that Sitt al-Wuzaraa’ was the last woman in the world among all those who narrated from al-Zabeedee and she died in 716, while this ‘Aa’ishah is similar to her dying in 816 and she had above [Sitt al-Wuzaraa’] this quality that even from among the men who heard from al-Hajjaar, the colleague of Sitt al-Wuzaraa’, none remained in the world other than herself. Between the death of ‘Aa’ishah and Sitt al-Wuzaraa’ the difference is exactly one hundred years.’

Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

“Aa’ishah bint Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Haadi al-Maqdisiyyah, the great Muhaddithah of her time, studied with Ahmad ibn Abi Taalib al-Hajjaar:

  • Saheeh al-Bukhari,
  • K. Dhamm al-kalaam of al-Harawi,
  • Juz’ Abee l-Jahm,
  • Amaalee Ibn al-Nasri,
  • Musnad ‘Umar of al-Ajjaaf,
  • Al-Arba’oon al-Aajurriyyah,
  • Musnad ‘Abd ibn Humayd.

With Qaadi Sharaf al-Deen ‘Abdullah ibn al-Hasan ibn ‘Abdillah ibn al-Haafidh ‘Abd al-Ghani:

  • Saheeh Muslim

With ‘Abd al-Qaadir ibn ‘Abd al-‘Azeez ibn al-Mu’azzam ‘Isa al-Ayyoobi:

  • The whole of the Seerah by Ibn Ishaaq in the rescension of Ibn Hishaam, and
  • Juzz al-Bitaaqah. ”

‘Aa’ishah al-Maqdisiyyah died 816 years after the Hijrah. May Allah have mercy on her soul. Aameen.


I end with the supplication that we, the Muslim Women, once again pick up this noble book containing the Prophetic Narrations of Muhammad (peace be upon him) and bring the following statement of Shk. Mohammad Akram Nadwi, which is in the past tense:

‘Saheeh Muslim has also been widely taught by the muhaddithaat.”

Into the present tense:

“Saheeh Muslim is being widely taught by the muhaddithaat.”


*Download the PDF from here.


niqabquran88A Devoted Worshipper:

Today, when few indeed are those who devoutly and wholeheartedly worship Allah, Hafsah (may Allah be pleased with her) stands out like a shining star to be followed in her worship of Allah. Mahdi ibn Maymoon said:

“Hafsah bint Seereen stayed thirty years without leaving her prayer place, unless for sleep or to answer the call of nature.” (Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa’)

Hishaam said that:

“Hafsah used to enter her Masjid, then pray in it Adh-Dhuhr, Al-‘Asr, Al-Maghrib, Al-‘Ishaa’ and As-Subh (i.e. Fajr). Then she would stay in it (the Masjid) until the day rose. She would then bow (perform rukoo’), then leave (the Masjid). At that time she would make wudhoo’ and sleep until the Prayer (Salah) became due. She would then (once again) return to her Masjid and do the same continuously.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah)

Her heart was soft, and her eyes flowed tears of hope and fear of her Lord. Hishaam ibnu Hassaan mentions that Hafsah (rahimahallah) purchased a jaariyah (maid, slave-girl). She was asked, “How do you find your master (i.e. Hafsah)?” She said,

“She is a righteous woman, except that she has (i.e. must have) committed a huge sin because she cries all night and prays.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah, Vol 2, Page 709)

She was preparing to meet her Lord so much so that she had prepared her own shroud! Hishaam narrated from Hafsah that, “She had a shroud (kafn) prepared, so when she performed Hajj and wore the Ihraam, she wore it. And she would, when it was the last ten (nights) of Ramadhaan, stand some of the night while wearing it.”

A Saai’mah (One who regularly Fasts)

Anyone who reads the following mentioned rewards for fasting with contemplation and the desire to gain Allah’s happiness and reward will find that their heart will ignite a desire to fast long days in the path of Allah. Allah (a'zza wa jall) says, {For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, … for men and women who fast (and restrain themselves)… for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward}. [Noble Quran 33:35]

Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "Every (good) deed of the son of Adam would be multiplied, a good deed receiving a tenfold to seven hundredfold reward. Allah, the Exalted and Majestic, has said: ‘With the exception of fasting, for it is done for Me and I will give a reward for it, for one abandons his passion and food for My sake.’ There are two occasions of joy for one who fasts, joy when he breaks it, and joy when he meets his Lord, and the breath (of an observer of fast) is sweeter to Allah than the fragrance of musk." [Muslim]

Indeed fasting is a protection from the hellfire. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: 'Allah says, "Fasting is a shield with which one may protect oneself from the Fire."' [Sahih al-Jami, 4/114] He (peace be upon him) also said: "Every servant of Allah who observes fast for a day in the way of Allah, Allah would remove, because of this day, his face farther from the Fire (of Hell) to the extent of seventy years' distance." [Muslim]

Fasting will also intercede for the believer. The Messenger of Allah, upon whom be peace, said: "The fast and the Quran are two intercessors for the servant of Allah on the Day of Resurrection. The fast will say: 'O Lord, I prevented him from his food and desires during the day. Let me intercede for him.' The Quran will say: 'I prevented him from sleeping at night. Let me intercede for him.' And their intercession will be accepted." [Ahmad]

In fact, there is a special reward in paradise for those who fast!Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said: "In Paradise there is a gate which is called Rayyan through which only the observers of fast would enter on the Day of Resurrection. None else would enter along with them. It would be proclaimed: "Where are the observers of fast that they should be admitted into it?" And when the last of them would enter, it would be closed and no one would enter it." [Muslim]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) also emphasized the importance that fasting has on entering Paradise. Abu Umamah reported: "I came to the Messenger of Allah and said: 'Order me to do a deed that will allow me to enter Paradise.' He said: 'Stick to fasting, as there is no equivalent to it.' Then I came to him again and he said: 'Stick to fasting."' [Ahmad, an-Nasa'i, and al-Hakim]

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "In Paradise there are dwellings whose inside can be seen from the outside, and the outside can be seen from the inside. Allah has prepared them for those who feed the hungry, and speak softly and gently, fast continuously and pray at night whilst the people are asleep." [Sahih al-Jami']

Dear Sisters! Do you have a wish that you wish would be fulfilled? Then rejoice! The Du’aa (Supplication) of the fasting person is not rejected. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: "There are three prayers that are not rejected: the prayer of a father for his child, the prayer of the fasting person and the prayer of the traveller." [Muslim and Bukhari]

Hafsah, may Allah be pleased with her, was a Saa’imah – a woman who regularly fasted. Abdul Kareem ibnu Mu’aawiyah said: “It was mentioned to me regarding Hafsah that she would read half of the Qur’aan every night and would fast during the day and would break her fast (i.e. wouldn’t fast) the two E’ids and the days of Tashreeq (the three days next after the day of sacrifice, i.e. following the 10th of Dhul Hijjah).” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah, Vol 2, Page 709)

Let’s try and follow her example, for maybe, just maybe, this may be one of our keys to the Paradise of Delight.

A Great Test for a Great Mother

Having read much about this great and exemplary role model, Hafsah bint Seereen, you must have a sort of angelic impression of her. Without a doubt, she was an incredible woman but she was a human. Therefore tests came her way as they come our way, she suffered as we suffer in this world, she experienced some pain as we experience pain – although our way of dealing with problems may vary incredibly to hers.

Hishaam ibnu Hassaan said: ‘Hudhayl, the son of Hafsah, used to gather firewood during the summer, then he would peel it and take the stalks and split them. She (Hafsah) said:

“I used to find chilliness (kuntu ajidu qirrah) (i.e. used to feel cold), so when winter came he (Hudhayl) would come with a stove and would then place it behind me while I was on my prayer-mat (musallaa). He would then sit and ignite the fuel by using that peeled firewood. Its (the fire’s) smoke would not harm and it would keep me warm. We would remain like that for as long as Allah willed…

And when I would intend to turn towards him, and say: ‘O my son! Return to your family’, I would remember what he intended, so I would leave him.

When he died, Allah granted (yarzuq) him patience as much as He (Allah) wanted to provide (this is because before his death he was suffering from a virus). But I would find within myself an agony (gussah could also mean ‘that which causes choking, a lump in the throat, mortal distress’) that would not go away.

Then that night while I was reciting Surah an-Nahl and I came to this verse:

{And purchase not a small gain at the cost of Allâh's Covenant. Verily! What is with Allâh is better for you if you did but know. Whatever is with you, will be exhausted, and whatever is with Allâh (of good deeds) will remain. And those who are patient, We will certainly pay them a reward in proportion to the best of what they used to do}. [An-Nahl [16]: 95-96]

Then I repeated it and then Allah took away what I was feeling.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah, Vol 2, Pages 708-710)

Miracles (Karaamaat)

Hishaam said:

“Hafsah bint Seereen would light her lamp a part of the night then she would stand on her prayer mat (musallaa). Oftentimes the light would extinguish, but her house would be lit for her until the morning.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah, Vol 2, Pages 708-710)

Hishaam said: Umm Sulaym, the daughter of Seereen, narrated to me:

“Many a time there was a light for Hafsah bint Seereen in her house.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah, Vol 2, Pages 708-710)

A Blessed Funeral

She died in 101AH and a group of the leading Successors (Taabi’oon) attended her funeral prayer in Basrah, Iraaq. Leading them was Al-Hasan Al Basri and her brother Muhammad ibnu Seereen. (Tahdheeb At-Tahdheeb (10/12) and (6/536), Al Ma’rifah wat-Taareekh (1/58))

She died at the age of 90 years old. (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah)

May Allah (the Mighty, the Glorious) grant us the Tawfeeq to follow in her footsteps and may Allah (the Glorious, the Mighty) forgive our sins and elevate our ranks. Aameen.

More from this series:


leavesgreenwaterThe Importance of Youth:

As time passes by, each second in it is similar to a leaf, flying away from the tree of our life. Today these seconds loyally cling to us; tomorrow they may stand against us. Blown away by destiny, their outcome we will surely see in the hereafter. That will be The Day (al-Yowm) when people will be drowning in sweat, running away from the most beloved to them. Few indeed will be those under the cool shade of the magnificent Throne of Allah, witnessing a day unlike any other.

Those who defied the passions and illicit desires of youth, and instead channelled their energy into worship, obedience and surrender to their Lord, will be from among the seven chosen groups. For, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “There are seven whom Allah will shade in His Shade on the Day when there is no shade except His Shade…” He then mentioned one of them as being “…a youth who grew up in the worship of Allah.”

Wisdom can’t be purchased, and seldom can it truly be acquired. It is a gift bestowed by the All-Wise, the Creator of Wisdom and the Creator of the Intellect. The effect of wisdom is to add colour to the speech and character of those who possess it, just as the lofty sky is so beautifully covered at times by the spectrum of the rainbow.

Many of the books containing the Prophetic Narrations of the Messenger of Allah shine forth this wondrous light of wisdom, as he was gifted with concise speech. One such narration is, 'Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free time before you are preoccupied, and your life before your death.' (Al-Haakim & others)

The pious followed this advice of the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him. They walked the difficult terrain of youth, pushing away the strong winds of distraction and play by replacing them with the joy of proximity to the Lord of the Magnificent Throne. They knew that the people of paradise will never age, that they were just like travellers in this world, and their ride to the next life was soon to come. That is why they wholeheartedly sacrificed their youth in pursuit of their Lord’s Pleasure and Forgiveness.

Hafsah (may Allah be pleased with her), having experienced the great joy attained by worshipping Allah sincerely, knew the importance of youth in striving to worship Allah. Isn’t it true that it is in youth that praying, fasting and long arduous acts of worship are lighter than in old age, when even small amounts of strain feel hard on the body? Thus she advised the youth,

“O youth (Ya Ma’shar ash-Shabaab)! Take from yourselves while you are young, for certainly I do not see (real) action except in youth.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min 'Aabidaat al Basrah)

Sadness grips the heart thinking about how the devil has keenly knitted over the hearts of many of us procrastination in worshipping Allah, and not giving our ‘ibaadah our utmost while we are still young. Many leave action for tomorrow, when few will even see tomorrow. Look around you at the bed-ridden, elderly people, whose bones are beginning to give up, whose bodies ache with pain and fatigue due to illness and old-age. Then recall the promises you have made yourself for tomorrow’s ’ibaadah instead of today’s. Then be honest with yourself. And with Allah is the source of guidance.

Ah! If only we would take benefit from our youth and our health before our sickness. For, my dear sister, think: who has seen tomorrow?

Yes! - Today - is the time to work and toil,

Before you will be dead and lie under muddy soil.

Today, prostrate and commemorate,

O Muslimah! The Praises of your Lord celebrate.

During the day and at night wake up to pray,

Before your tongue will be silenced, and then you’ll have no say.

Even if it means fasting long hot days,

Your Lord will keep you strong and open many ways.

He will draw you close,

I pray that regarding you to the angels He will praise.

Old age brings with it many difficulties,

Look at what it does to even celebrities!

Pains will begin to surely grow,

Making it hard to even prostrate and bow.

Sleep will overcome and exhaustion you won’t be able to shun,

But what if you die early like some…

Wake up and Realise!

Now’s the time to work, not to dream and fantasize.

Imaam Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali:

“And whoever is mindful of Allah (and keeps to His boundaries) in his youth during his years of strength, then Allah will preserve him in his old age when his strength weakens. And He will allow him to enjoy and benefit from his sense of hearing, sight, capabilities, strength and mind/intellect.

One particular scholar had passed the age of 100 and still continued to benefit from his strength of body and mind. One day, he took a great leap and jumped up high, and the people rebuked him for that. So he said:

“We preserved these limbs of ours from sin when we were younger, so Allah has preserved them for us in our old age.” (Jami’ ‘Ulum wal-Hikam)

More from this series:


pinkwithskyAn Epitome of Shyness and Modesty:

Travelling on the path of the Names and Characteristics of Allah (a'zza wa jall) is a journey never to be forgotten. One of the most striking realities of the Names of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'ala), is that Allah, the Most High, loves for His creation to manifest aspects of the meanings of His Names.

For example:

  • Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'ala) is Al-‘Aleem (the Most Knowing) and loves the scholars.
  • Allah (a'zza wa jall) is Just and loves justice.
  • And Allah (a'zza wa jall) is Modest and loves those who are modest.

The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “Certainly Allah (a'zza wa jall) is Al-Hayeey (The Most Modest), As-Sitteer (the Concealer, the Veiler), He loves al-Hayaa’ (modesty) and as-Sitr (veiling, covering), so when one of you bathes (has a ghusl) then let him cover (himself).” (Narrated in Abu Daawood and an-Nisaai)

This exemplary characteristic of hayaa’ (modesty) was imbibed within the character of the Noble Prophets of Allah (a'zza wa jall). Today, when the believing woman, laden with outer-garment and lowered gaze, feels like a stranger in society, it is this prophetic quality which adds to her uniqueness, worth and righteousness. This safety measure protects her from being stung by disbelief and unrighteousness, so that she can walk within the valleys and roads of this life with ease, comfort, honour and respect. From a far distance people will realise, this is a Muslimah, a woman proud to surrender to her Lord.

My dear Sisters, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), our role-model and guide, was of the most shy and modest of people. So much so that Abu Sa’eed al Kudhri, his Companion (may Allah be pleased with him), stated:

“The Prophet was more shy than a virgin in her separate room…” (Saheeh al Bukhaari)

Furthermore, the Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) mentioned regarding the Prophet Moses, "(The Prophet) Moses was a shy person and used to cover his body completely because of his extensive shyness…” (Saheeh al Bukhaari)

Today, when lack of modesty is resulting in the most horrendous of crimes, diseases and illnesses, let us, the Muslim women of this nation, revive, in an unprecedented fashion, even within the West, the true concept of modesty. Let us remember that even though our Noble Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) was a man, he nevertheless imbibed within his character modesty, far-above and loftier than that of even women of deep faith and attachment to their Lord.

Indeed, love is a feeling that translates into action. And who is more truthful than our Lord, the Most Glorious, when He said, {Say (O Muhammad to mankind): "If you (really) love Allâh, then follow me, Allâh will love you and forgive you of your sins. And Allâh is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful."} (Surah Aale ‘Imraan, chapter 3, verse 31)

My dear Sisters, let’s strive to bring about hayaat (life) to hayaa’(modesty); for, as the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) eloquently expressed, “…modesty is a branch of faith.” (Saheeh al Bukhaari) That is why a requisite of our eemaan (faith) is hayaa’ (modesty).

Let us keep in mind that both the terms hayaat (life) and hayaa’ (modesty) originate from the same root letters and hence, are intricately related, because goodness brings about only goodness. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said,

“Al-Hayaa’ brings about nothing but khayr (good).” (Saheeh al Bukhaari and Saheeh al Muslim)

The Shyness of Hafsah, the Modest

Today, when the police and media provide guidelines on how to protect and safeguard ourselves from an impending threat, we listen and read with attentive ears and fixed gazes. When passing by a notice in our local neighbourhood or close district, announcing and notifying the murder or attack of a person, we automatically rush to employ as many safety measures as we can to protect ourselves and our families. If we are informed of the tricks and scams of the tricksters and scammers, we straight away decide, with firmness and resolve (and a kind of fear in the heart) that we will safeguard ourselves …

Read Allah’s notice:

{And say to the faithful women to lower their gaze, and to guard their private parts, and not to display their adornment except what is apparent of it, and to extend their head-coverings (khumur) to cover their bosoms, and not to display their adornment except to their husbands, or their fathers, or their husband's fathers, or their sons, or their husband's sons, or their brothers, or their brothers' sons, or their sisters' sons, or their womenfolk, or what their right hands rule (slaves), or the followers from the men who do not feel sexual desire, or the small children to whom the nakedness of women is not apparent, and not to strike their feet (on the ground) so as to make known what they hide of their adornments. And turn in repentance to Allah together, O you the faithful, in order that you are successful.} (Surah an-Noor, chapter 24, verse 31)

Alas! If only we would pay heed to the words of our Lord, the Most Knowing, the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, when He informs us, the Muslim women, of the safety measures we must employ, for the safety of our own lives, and more importantly, our own souls. If only, we would rush to notify our sisters and daughters of the prescription the Almighty has prescribed, so that they may be known as free, chaste Muslim women, far from indecency, immorality and nudity. In this way their homes and private domains will be protected from the evil of anyone who even dares to point fingers their way.

{O Prophet! Say to your wives and your daughters and the women of the faithful to draw their Jalaabeeb close around them; that is better that they will be recognized and not annoyed. And God is ever Forgiving, Gentle.} (Surah al-Ahzab, chapter 33, verse 59).

Let’s rush to obey the command of our Lord, just as did the female Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). When this verse was revealed, ‘Aa’ishah, the Mother of the Faithful, said,

“May Allah have mercy on the early immigrant women. When the verse {That they should draw their veils over their bosoms} was revealed, they tore their thick outer garments and made veils from them.” (Aboo Daawood, Book 32, Hadeeth # 4091)

For those sisters who already cover, employ being even more vigilant and modest in your dealings with the opposite sex, even if there is no fear of fitnah (trial and temptation). For, Hafsah bint Seereen is our role model, and what a role model she indeed is!

A’asim said:  ‘We used to enter upon Hafsah bint Seereen and she would put her jilbaab (outer garment) like this and would cover her face with it. So we said to her, “May Allah have mercy on you (Rahimaki Allah)! Allah (a'zza wa jall) says: {And as for women past child-bearing who do not expect wed-lock, it is no sin on them if they discard their (outer) clothing in such a Way as not to show their adornment...} [An-Noor [24]: 60] And it (is referring to) the Jilbaab.”’

He [A’asim] continued: ‘Then she [Hafsah] said to us:

“What comes after that (i.e. what is mentioned next in the same verse)?”

We said: {…but to refrain (i.e. not to discard their outer clothing) is better for them. And Allâh is All-Hearer, All-Knower.} [An-Noor [24]: 60]

So she (Hafsah) said:

“It is the affirmation (ithbaat) of the Jilbaab.”’ (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah)

This is noteworthy for us, my dear sisters. A woman who is PAST the age of covering, yet she has so much modesty and bashfulness. So, how much more shy should young Muslim girls and women be?! The deceiving shaytaan promises us the opposite! He whispers to us that, “You are still young, when you become older you can begin to cover…” He may even sing to you the old song, Abhi to mein jawaan hoon… (I am still as yet young…)

Allah (a'zza wa jall) says:

{Shaytaan (Satan) threatens you with poverty and orders you to commit Fahshâ (evil deeds, illegal sexual intercourse, sins etc.); whereas Allâh promises you Forgiveness from Himself and Bounty, and Allâh is All-Sufficient for His creatures' needs, All-Knower.} (Suratul Baqarah, chapter 2, verse 268)

Keep strong dear sisters, for Allah (a'zza wa jall), who created satan, knows his weaknesses and plots. O Believers! Allah (a'zza wa jall) informs us:

{… ever feeble indeed is the plot of Shaytaan (Satan).} (An-Nisaa’, chapter 4, verse 76)

My dear Sister, seek help in the protection and help of your Lord, in the morning and evening remember Him, and turn to Him with prayers and formulae of remembrances.

A Request For Support

For those sisters who do not wear the Niqaab, and who may even find it strange, bizarre and extreme, I request you to research more into the evidences for the Niqaab, and not to speak without knowledge. For, emotion is not evidence, although, yes, evidence is connected to emotion.

Today, when the Niqaab has become an icon of target and vilification, due to the vicious onslaught of the media, you have a chance to support those sisters who do wear the Niqaab, even if you have chosen not to do so yourself, by removing any ignorance about it on your part and then from others.

We must ponder over the above incident which occurred with Hafsah bint Seereen. For, she was a woman who was a student and companion of the female Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). She was a woman who was not one of the Mothers of the Believers, a woman who had passed the age of covering, yet one who still donned the Niqaab. This shows us that the Niqaab was not stringently only worn by the Mothers of the Believers. Rather, it was also worn by the women who took them as role-models and leaders towards the paradise.

For example, when the Sahaabiyyah (Umm Khaalid) was searching for her son (who had died in the battlefield), some of the Companions of the Prophet said to her:

‘”You have come here asking for your son while veiling your face?” She said:

"If I am afflicted with the loss of my son, I shall not suffer the loss of my modesty.”’ (Saheeh al Bukhaari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 8)

This hadeeth is narrated in the most authentic book of hadeeth on the face of this world. And in it we see a Sahaabiyyah, who was not one of the Mothers of the Believers, attributing modesty to the covering of the face.

Furthermore, the brother of Hafsah bint Seereen, Muhammad ibn Seereen, who was also from the leading successors, asked ‘Ubaydah as-Salmaanee, who was from the older taabi’een (successors), about Allah’s statement: {to cast their Jalabeeb over themselves}, so he covered his face and (only exposed his left eye).” This is further supported by the hadeeth of Safiyyah bint Shaiba, the Sahaabiyyah, also related in Saheeh al Bukhaari, when she said, “Aa’ishah used to say,

‘When (the verse) {They should draw their veils over their necks and bosoms} was revealed, (the ladies) cut their waist sheets at the edges and covered their faces with the cut pieces.’” (Saheeh al Bukhaari, Volume 6, Book 60, Hadeeth # 282)

I end this section with,

Hafsah bint Seereen, wore the Niqaab even when old,

Something some believers today disdain and scold,

Yes, people today are so outright bold!

Denying the Niqaab with unresearched ideas manifold.


The Mothers of the Faithful covered their face,

Therefore the Niqaab does have a base,

In the canons of our deen,

That is why wore it Hafsah bint Seereen,

Following in their footsteps, she was so keen,

As, first and foremost, it was worn by the Ummahaatul Mu’mineen.


A sign of modesty,

An emblem of morality.

Stand with the Niqaabis in solidarity!

For, with your Lord lies your loyalty.


My dear Sisters let’s return,

To speaking with knowledge, after we research and learn.

Let’s oppose satan who in hatred burns,

Against the women who to their Lord turn,

And to Him alone they turn, beseech and yearn,

For surely towards Him is the creations’ final return.


I end with a request, that even if you do not cover your face,

To educate with beautiful mannerism those who haste,

In arguing against and speaking about the Niqaab with distaste.

So that Allah may forgive you on that day,

When only the chosen and sincere will have a say.

More from this series:


  • Flowers WallpapersUmm Saleem, Umm Anas - She was the mother of the famous companion Anas. She was a highly respected Sahaabiyyah (Woman Companion). Ibn Hajar says, "Her laudable qualities are too many to mention and she was very famous." Imam an Nawawi calls her an excellent scholar among the Sahaabiyyah." (tahdhib at tahdhib vol.2 p 363)
  • 'Aa'ishah bint Talha - The grand daughter of Abu Bakr (radhi Allahu anhu), she was taught by the Prophe t(sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)'s wife Aisha (radhi Allahu anha). Abu Zahra, the early Muslim said, "Aisha was cited because of her authentic knowledge." Aisha was also graced with physical beauty. Once Caliph Hisham invited her to his court where she engaged dialogue with eminent scholars of different fields. The Caliph was so impressed with her knowledge that he gave her a gift of 100,000 dirhams.
  • Umm 'Atiyyah -Some Sahabah and learned scholars among the tabi'een used to come to her to learn various aspects of Islamic jurisprudence from her in Basrah. She also narrated many ahadith of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. Imam Nawawi said, "She was a scholarly Sahabiyah and one of those who went on jihad with Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam." (taghib al asma was sifaat vol w p 364)
  • 'Aa'ishah bint Sa'd bint ibn Abi Waqqas - She was the daughter of a great Sahabi. She was very learned in Islamic sciences to the point that Imam Malik, Hakim ibn Utaybah and Ayyub as Sakhtiyani, the famous jurists and scholars of ahadith were her pupils.
  • Fatimah bint Qays - Her learning was so deep that she discussed a juristic point with 'Umar and 'A'isha radi Allahu anha for a long time and they also could not change or challenge her views. Imam Nawawi said, "She was one of those who migrated in the early days, and possessed great intellect and excellence." (tahdhib at tahdhib vol.2 p 353)
  • Rabiyah Khatun - The sister of the Muslim General Salahuddin al Ayubbi, she was well educated and established a great institution for religious learning near Damascus. She established a waqf (trust) in the form of an endownment of a very large property which met the expenses that were generated by the institution.
  • Sitt al Wuzra bint Umar ibn al Munajja - Teacher of Shaykh al-Dhahabee.
  • Fatimah bin Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Hadi- the teacher of Hafiz Ibn Hajr (his commentary of Saheeh al Bukhari- Fath al Bari is well reknowned and accepted by the scholars). But sadly, his teacher Fatimah is unknown to many, he says of her: ‘I read to her many books and ajza’ in Salihiyyah.’ (Ibn Hajar, Inba’ al-Ghumr, iv. 314.)
  • Rabi'ah Bint Mu'awwad - She was a great scholar of fiqh. The intellectual scholars of Madina like Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abdallah ibn Umar, Salman ibn Yasar, Abbad ibn Walid and Nafi' use to go to her to learn from her. (tahdhib at tahdhib vol.12 p 444)
  • Zaynab, daughter of Umm Salama - Like her mother, she was also an expert in jurisprudence. Ibn Abdul Barr said, "She was a theologian of greater status than others of her contemporaries." (al isti'ab fi asma' al as hab)
  • Ukhtul Mazni - The sister of al-Mazni, a noted student of Imam Shafi, she was a highly placed scholar of Islamic Jurisprudence. It is said that because of her knowledge her opinions were highly respected including the difference of opinion she had with Imam Shafi regarding the zakat which was to be paid on minerals.
  • Hafsah bint Sireen (d. 101H) - The sister of the scholar Muhammad ibn Sireen, she had memorized the Quran by the age of 12, and by the age 14 she was well versed in the exegesis (explanation) of the Quranic verses. She became famous for her beautiful recitation of the Quran. Her recitation was of such a high standard that when her brother had difficulty with recitation he would ask her to correct him.
  • Shad Khanum - A descendant of the famous conqueror Amir Taymur, she was a master of calligraphy with no one else in her time being able to match her skills of calligraphy of the Quran. It was said that in 1045 AH, she sent a gift of the Quran written by her calligraphy to the then ruler, which he most appreciated.


thegreenvalleyOver a number of years, while listening to talks, reading books and articles, time after time again I came across the name ‘Hafsah bint Seereen’. This continued to be the case until recently I quickly scribbled down her name on my sticky-pad with the intention of doing some thorough research about the life of such a great, yet to many in the west, unknown personality. And so, I began writing this article with the hope of raising ignorance from myself, and hopefully others. Little did I know... I was to stumble upon a treasure from the treasures awaiting in the books of our pious predecessors.

It was as though I was sitting for a long time in darkness when all of a sudden I was blessed to see spectacular scenery, the beauty and awe of which left an indelible and lasting impression on me. This is because, although there are many role-models from among the righteous men of this Ummah, it is truly inspirational to have come across such an inspirational role model from among the righteous women of this Ummah. What amazed me the most was her extensive ‘ibaadah (worship).

I pray Allah, the Most Glorious and Able, bestows upon all of us the ability to worship Him with sincerity, conviction and with a strong will and drive. Aameen!

The Freed Slave of Anas, Sireen

Her agnomen (kunyah) was Umm Hudhayl, which means ‘The Mother of Hudhayl’ and her proper name was Hafsah, the daughter of Sireen.  She was the sister of the renowned Successor (Tabi’ee) and scholar, Muhammad ibn Sireen.

To understand the amazing upbringing Hafsah (rahimaha Allah) was given it is important to note that her father was the freed slave of the illustrious Companion: Anas ibn Maalik (radhiAllahu ‘anhu). Anas ibn Maalik was the son of the righteous Sahaabiyyah of Madinah, the Ansaariyyah: Ghumaisah bint Milhaa, also known as Umm Sulaim, the wife of Abu Talhah.

In the following hadeeth, we learn how the mother of Anas ibn Maalik gifted him at a very young age to the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), so that he would serve the Noble Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and also learn from him about religious matters. Indeed, what a clever mother Umm Sulaim was! She understood that by her child serving the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) in no way would this bring about in him an inferiority complex, nor would this belittle his rank and standing in society. Rather, as Islamic history testifies, Anas (radhiallahu `anhu) would receive an unparalleled upbringing, due to which he possessed a refined and lofty character and was blessed in this life and will be in the next, because of a special supplication the Noble Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) made for him. All of this is due to the acute intelligence of his mother in sacrificing her child’s days of play and fun, in order for him to sit under the shade of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam).

From this, dear Sisters, we should learn the great benefit of allowing children to sit and benefit from the company of scholars and the righteous and how this can truly impact their characters and morals. Have we forgotten the mother of Imaam Maalik of Madinah, ‘Aaliyah bint Shareek ibn ‘Abdur Rahman al-Azdiyyah? She sent Imaam Maalik to Rabee’ah ibn Abee Abdir-Rahmaan, also known as ‘Rabee’ah Ar-Ra’ee’ (which means: ‘Rabee’ah, the subjectively opinionated’) due to his strong sense of subjective opinion, jurisdictional ruling and reasoning. Before sending Imaam Maalik to him, she tied his turban around his head, and presented him with his very first rule to apply when sitting with scholars and the people of knowledge. She said:

“O my son! Sit with Rabee’ah and take from his manners, dignified bearing and humility, before you take from his knowledge.” (Ibn Farhoon has mentioned this in Ad-Deebaaj al Madhab 1/20)

Truly! The reward for such mothers lies with their Lord the Most High.

In fact the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said regarding the mother of Anas ibn Maalik: “I entered Paradise and heard the noise of steps.  I said: ‘Who is it?’ They said:

‘She is Ghumaisah, daughter of Milhan, the mother of Anas b. Malik.’ (Saheeh Muslim, Book 031, Number 6011.)

She would use her headdress in order to prepare her child for the noble task of serving the Prophet (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam). A task which undoubtedly became a source of honor for her in this life and the next. Anas (radhiAllahu a’nhu) said: ‘My mother Umm Anas came to Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). And she prepared my lower garment out of the half of her headdress and (with the other half) she covered my upper body and said:

“Allah's Messenger, here is my son Unais (Unais is used for the diminutive and the diminutive here is being used out of love); I have brought him to you for serving you. Invoke blessings of Allah upon him.”

Thereupon he (the Holy Prophet) said: “O Allah, make an increase in his wealth, and progeny.” Anas said:

'By Allah, my fortune is huge and my children, and grand-children are now more than one hundred.’ (Saheeh Muslim, Book 031, Number 6063.)


Many years later, this illustrious Companion purchased a slave from the Companion of the Prophet (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam), Khalid ibnu Waleed (radhiAllahu ‘anhu). This slave had been captured in one of the deserts of Iraq, and his name was Seereen. Overtime he freed himself and his family by paying Anas ibn Maalik a certain amount of wealth, yet truly he could never pay back Anas ibn Maalik for the great beneficial knowledge he and his family gained from him. For, the concept of slavery in Islaam was and is very different from the concept of slavery as practiced in non-Muslim lands, especially America. In Islaam, slaves are treated well and are able to purchase their freedom. They are treated as humans who have rights, rather than sub-humans stripped of their dignity and self-respect. They were educated in religious matters and were given freedom to practice their faith. On the other hand slavery still exists in America, in its cruelest form. A closer look at the 13th amendment will show as falsehood the oft-propagated myth of the abolishment of American slavery. ((AMENDMENT XIII: Passed by Congress January 31, 1865, ratified December 6, 1865. Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.))

In contrast, let us look at the following statements and wise words of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam):

Abu Mas'ud al-Ansari reported: "When I was beating my servant, I heard a voice behind me (saying): ‘Abu Mas'ud, bear in mind Allah has more dominance over you than you have upon him.’ I turned and (found him) to be Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him). I said:

‘Allah's Messenger, I set him free for the sake of Allah.’

Thereupon he said:'Had you not done that, (the gates of) Hell would have opened for you, or the fire would have burnt you.’’ (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4088.)

If a Muslim beats his slave or slaps him on the face, then he must set him free:

"Zadhan reported that Ibn Umar called his slave and he found the marks (of beating) upon his back. He said to him: ‘I have caused you pain.’ He said: ‘No.’ But he (Ibn Umar) said:

‘You are free.’

He then took hold of something from the earth and said: ‘There is no reward for me even to the weight equal to it. I heard Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying:“He who beats a slave without cognizable offence of his or slaps him, then expiation for it is that he should set him free.”" (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4079.)

The above statements of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) are clear and decisive. If a Muslim beats his slave, then the gates of hell will open for him. Muslims must not mistreat their slaves, because slaves in Islam are like brothers:

Narrated Al-Ma'rur: At Ar-Rabadha I met Abu Dhar who was wearing a cloak, and his slave, too, was wearing a similar one. I asked about the reason for it. He replied, "I abused a person by calling his mother with bad names." The Prophet said to me, 'O Abu Dharr! Did you abuse him by calling his mother with bad names You still have some characteristics of ignorance. Your slaves are your brothers and Allah has put them under your command. So whoever has a brother under his command should feed him of what he eats and dress him of what he wears. Do not ask them (slaves) to do things beyond their capacity (power) and if you do so, then help them.'" (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Belief, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 29.)

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upon him) as saying: "When the slave of anyone amongst you prepares food for him and he serves him after having sat close to (and undergoing the hardship of) heat and smoke, he should make him (the slave) sit along with him and make him eat (along with him), and if the food seems to run short, then he should spare some portion for him (from his own share) - (another narrator) Dawud said:" i. e. a morsel or two". 4097. (Translation of Sahih Muslim, The Book of Oaths (Kitab Al-Aiman), Book 015, Number 4096.)

Narrated Abu Dharr: 'The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Feed those of your slaves who please you from what you eat and clothe them with what you clothe yourselves, but sell those who do not please you and do not punish Allah's creatures." (Translation of Sunan Abu Dawud, Kitab Al-Adab, Book 41, Number 5142.)

The Noble Quran not only allows slaves to request their freedom from their Muslim masters but also orders the Muslim masters to pay their slaves money to help them stand on their two feet and to be able to face life with a good jump start.

Let us look at Noble Verse 24:33 {Let those who find not the wherewithal for marriage keep themselves chaste, until God gives them means out of His grace. And if any of your slaves ask for a deed in writing (to enable them to earn their freedom for a certain sum), give them such a deed if ye know any good in them: yea, give them something yourselves out of the means which God has given to you. …} In this Noble Verse, we see that if a slave requests his freedom from his Muslim master, then his master not only must help him earn his freedom if there is good in the Slave, but also pay him money so the slave can have a good start in his free life.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom)." (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, Food, Meals, Volume 7, Book 65, Number 286.)

"The law of slavery in the legal sense of the term is now obsolete.  While it had any meaning, Islam made the slave's lot as easy as possible.  A slave, male or female, could ask for conditional manumission by a written deed fixing the amount required for manumission and allowing the slave meanwhile to earn money by lawful means and perhaps marry and bring up a family.  Such a deed was not to be refused if the request was genuine and the slave had character.  Not only that, but the master is directed to help with money out of his own resources in order to enable the slave to earn his or her own liberty." (The Meaning of the Holy Qur'an.  Foot note #2991, page 875.)

Therefore, although Muhammad Seereen and Hafsah bint Seereen are referred to as the ‘freed-slaves of Anas’, we will come to see how this did not stop them from being empowered by means of knowledge, so much so that those who were of more dignified social bearing would flock to them for knowledge and religious guidance. Such respect for scholars who may have been slaves/freed slaves does not only apply to the family of Seereen, but also applies to many other scholars of Islaam, as history testifies.

A Blessed Marriage with Blessed Offspring

Seereen married a pious woman by the name of Safiyyah, who was the freed slave of Abu Bakr (radhiallahu `anhu). Eighteen Sahaabah, who had participated in the battle of Badr, attended their marriage ceremony. Heading these eighteen Sahaabah was Ubayy ibn Ka’b, the great Companion who had collected the Qur’aan into book form and who had witnessed Badr, Uhud and the Pledge of 'Aqabah

The fruit of this marriage was pure in that Allah (a'zza wa jall) blessed them both with a daughter, who they named Hafsah, in 31AH during the Caliphate of Uthmaan (radhiallahu `anhu). She received and was provided with the best nutrition: the spiritual nutrition of the Qur’aan and Sunnah. (At-Tabaqaat (8/193), Tahdheeb Asmaa’ wal Lughaat (1/83) and Al Ma’rifah wa at-Taareekh (3/27).) She had many brothers and sisters, including half-brothers and sisters, all of who became trustworthy narrator (ruwaat thuqaat) of the narrations of the Noble Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). (Please refer to: Tahdheeb Al-Asmaa’ wal-Lughaat (1/83).)

Her brother Muhammad ibn Seereen was also a great scholar and her sister Kareemah bint Seereen was also an a’abidah (worshipper). Mahdee ibnu Maymoon said regarding her sister:

“Kareemah bint Seereen, the sister of Hafsah bint Sireen, stayed for fifteen years without leaving her prayer mat except to fulfil a need/the call of nature (li qadhaa’ haajah).” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah, Vol 2, Page 710.)

A Woman of Rare Knowledge

The knowledge of Hafsah (rahimahaAllah) was such that Iyaas ibn Mu’awiyyah said: 

‘I did not meet anyone whom I can prefer over Hafsah.’ He was asked: ‘What about Hasan al Basri and Muhammad ibn Sireen?’ He said: ‘As for me I do not prefer anyone over her. She learnt the Qur’aan by heart when she was twelve years old.’ (Al Mizzi, Tahdheeb al-Kamaal, xxxv. 152.)

He said this even though the brother of Hafsah (rahimahaAllah) had met thirty Companions of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) (Siyar, vol 4, page 606) and even though A’wf al-A’rabi said: “Ibn Seereen had good knowledge (hasanul i’lm) in Law of Decent and Distribution (al-Faraaidh), Jurisdiction (al-Qadaa’) and Estimation (Al Hisaab).” (Siyar, vol 4, page 609.)

And Hishaam ibnu Hassaan said:

“I saw Al-Hasan (Hasan al Basri), and (Muhammad) ibnu Seereen, and I did not see anyone that I thought was cleverer than Hafsah.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah, Vol 2, Page 709.)

Not only had she memorized the Qur’aan by the age of twelve but she had deep knowledge pertaining to the recitation of the Qur’aan. Hishaam narrates that when Ibn Sireen (her brother) would find something difficult and ambiguous (ashkala ‘alayhi) regarding the Qiraa’ah (recitation), he would say, “Go and ask Hafsah how to recite.” (Sifah As-Safwah, Dhikr Al Mustafiyaat min A’abidaat al Basrah.)

She was both a great muhaddithah (scholar of hadeeth) and faqeehah (jurist). She had learnt many ahaadeeth from the great Companion Anas ibnu Maalik. (Ibn Hibbaan, K. al-Thiqaat, iv. 194.)


This is why ahaadeeth narrated by her from Anas ibnu Maalik can be found in Saheeh al Bukhari, for example, ‘Aasim narrates  from her from Anas that the Prophet said:

‘Plague is martyrdom for every Muslim.’ (Al Bukhari, Saheeh, Tibb, baab: maa yudhkaru fi al-ta’oon.)

All six books of hadeeth mention her name as well as the books of Sunan and Masaaneed. One of the famous ahaadeeth she has narrated is the famous hadeeth regarding the washing of the dead, which she narrated from Umm A’tiyyah al Ansaariyyah. All the chains for this hadeeth go through Hafsah bint Sireen.

Akram Nadwi, in his book ‘Al-Muhaddithat’ wrote:

‘Though born a slave, Hafsah bint Sireen made the best of the opportunity presented to her and became one of the most important scholars of her time. Some considered her superior to Hasan al Basri.’ (Akram Nadwi, Al Muhaddithat, pg 101.)

More from this series:


MadinahpinksunsetMadinah, a city situated in the Hijaaz region of Western Arabia, is where the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) did hijrah (migrated), settled down and was later buried. Madinah was a safe haven from the persecution the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and his Companions faced in Makkah.

For many of us, when we remember the noble city of Madinatul Munawwarah (The Enlightened City), memories of the green dome, the white marble tile surrounding the Masjid, the cool winds, peacefulness and tranquillity occupy our minds. Certainly, blessed moments spent in Madinah can’t be forgotten by souls which reside so far away, surrounded by the darkness of inequity and materialism.

Th e city of the Messenger of Allah (Madinatur-Rasool) has an amazing impact upon the heart of every believer and more specifically, on the heart of every person who loves the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam).  Of course, this is because the Noble Messenger ( sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) is buried there, but evermore so because of the legacy this city holds within its history.

Madinah is a city which has witnessed great scholars. In his book ‘Al Muhaddithaat’, Mohammad Akram Nadwi writes:

‘Madinah was the first centre for Hadeeth scholarship in the world for the good reason that the Companions were based there. Students travelled to Madinah from Iraaq and Syria in order to learn the Sunnah from the Companions, men and women. Madinah remained an active locus for Hadeeth study until the end of the second century. After that only a small number of Muhaddithaat were based there until the ninth century, when the revival for hadeeth scholarship started in Madinah and continued until the fourteenth century. The traditionists, including women, who visited Madinah as part of their Hajj or U’mrah jouneys, also sometimes taught hadeeth there…' (Al-Muhaddithaat by Mohammad Akram Nadwi, pg 264.)

Maalik ibn Anas

Ialmadi1maam Maalik’s name shines forth in the annals of history, as he was a prominent scholar of Islaam and the founder of one of the four famous schools of thought: the Maaliki judicial school of thought. This is why amidst the rich literature disseminated by our scholars we find his name repeatedly mentioned.

His full name was Maalik bin Anas bin Maalik bin Abu Amir Al-Asbahi and he is famously referred to and better known as "Imaam Maalik", the "Shaykh of Islam", the "Proof of the Community", and "Imaam of the Abode of Emigration". He was born 92 years after the Hijrah (the migration of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam)) and died in 179A.H. Regarding his appearance, Imaam al-Dhahabi described,

“Imaam Maalik was tall, muscular and blonde. He had a large light beard and did not trim his moustache short. Green eyes. Clean clothes.” (Siyar A'lam al-Nubala', p. 8/48.)

Imaam Maalik lived most of his life in the city of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). Therefore, Imaam Maalik received his education in Madinah, which was the most important seat of Islamic learning and where the immediate descendants and followers of the companions of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) lived. Therefore, it is not surprising that he sought out over three hundred Tabi'een (Successors) in order to study and sit with them. His knowledge grew, so much so that people from far and wide came to learn from him.

In the following Hadeeth we find that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "Soon people will beat the flanks of camels seeking knowledge, and they shall not find a single person more knowledgeable than the erudite scholar of Madinah." (Jami al-Tirmidhi)

Great scholars, the like of Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah, Imaam al-Dhahabi and others interpreted and considered Imaam Maalik to be the one mentioned in this Prophecy due to his calibre, deep knowledge and distinguishing features. In fact, Imaam Al-Shaaf’i said:

"When scholars are mentioned then Maalik is like the star among them." (Abu Na’eem, Hilyah, vol 6, pg 318)

One of the distinguishing features Imaam Maalik possessed, which made him stand out from amongst other scholars, was that although he was both knowledgeable and qualified he would still exercise great caution when issuing fataawah (juridical rulings). So much so that Ibn Wahb, one of his students, said:

“If I were to fill my tablets (alwaah) with Maalik’s statement ‘I don’t know’, I surely could.” (Siyar, vol 8, pg 108)

Today this should be a great reminder for those of us who haven’t studied under the shade of scholars, nor travelled through their books nor exhausted our efforts in order to refine that which we do know. We must exercise great caution when speaking about religious matters, especially when it comes to scholarly discussions.

The Muwatta’

Imaam Maalik called his famous book of hadeeth "Al-Muwatta’", which literally means "the well-trodden path". The reason he chose this name for his book is because he intended to make his book easy (watta’a) for the people, i.e., easily accessible to them.  Without a doubt this has indeed been the case, for the Muwatta’ has been a stepping-stone for many years for students who are into the sciences of Hadeeth and Islamic Jurisprudence.  The reason why Imaam Maalik composed his book was because Abu Ja’far al-Mansoor (the second Abbasid Caliph) said to Imaam Maalik:

“O Maalik, make a book for the people that I can make them follow, for there is no one today who is more knowledgeable than you.”

Imaam Maalik responded to his request, but he refused to force the people into adhering to it as penal law. (Ibn ‘Abd al-Barr (may Allaah have mercy on him) has mentioned this in al-Istidhkaar (1/168).)

Amuwatt1l-Muwatta’ then became the first formulation of Islamic Law based on the behaviour of the people of Madinah during the time of the great Companions - a blueprint for the just and radiant society of Madinah. It is divided into 61 books on different subjects, each book containing many ahaadeeth.

Maalik's Muwatta’ is a collection of two items:

  1. The sayings and deeds of Prophet Muhammad (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam)
  2. The legal opinions and decisions of the Prophet's Companions, their successors, and some later authorities.

The Muwatta’ is a book full of barakah (blessings) – a book till today taught in the Noble Messenger’s Mosque. For, Imaam Maalik did not write this book over a short period of time, rather he steadily revised and edited his Muwatta’ by reading it to and with the people of knowledge over a span of 40 years! In this time he would add to it, take away from it, improve it and refine it. Therefore, the Muwatta’ reflects over forty years of this great Imaam’s learning and knowledge. What further adds to the veracity and uniqueness of the Muwatta’ is that Imaam Maalik showed it to seventy of the fuqahaa’ (Jurists) of Madinah and all of them agreed upon it.

Imaam Maalik held great insight; when he was asked as to why he is writing another Muwatta’ as there were other books present in his time with the same name, he replied:

“We will surely know what was intended for the face of Allah, the Most High.”

And it was as if he had thrown the rest (of the Muwatta’s present in his time) in the wells. (At-Tamheed of Ibn Abdul Barr, volume 1, pg 86.) It is also reported that Imaam Maalik said regarding his Muwatta’:

“If your life is stretched (i.e. you live long) you will see what Allah intended for it.”“What was done for Allah will remain.” (Tadreeb Ar-Raawee by Suyooti.)

How true were his statements! Today when the other Muwatta’s cease to remain, Imaam Maalik’s one is the only one which famously remains amongst the people...

The great scholar Ibn Khuldoon said,

“And the Ummah has received this book (the Muwatta’) with acceptance, in the East of the land and its West ...” (Muqaddamah Ibn Khuldoon, vol 7, pg 684).

Imaam Adh-Dhahabi mentions:

“And surely for the Muwatta’ there is a settlement in the souls and haybah (veneration, awe) in the hearts. Nothing outweighs it…” (Siyar,vol 18, pg 203.)

The conditions he followed in his book are among the most reliable and strongest of conditions. He followed a method of choosing only sound reports. It was narrated that al-Rabee’ said: ‘”I heard al-Shaaf’i say: ’

If Maalik was uncertain about a hadeeth he would reject it altogether.’” (Al-Istidhkaar (1/166); al-Tamheed (1/68).)

Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah said:

“May Allaah have mercy on Maalik, how strict he was in his evaluation of men (narrators of hadeeth).” (Ibid.)

Therefore many of the isnaads (chains) of Maalik are of the highest standard of authenticity. Because of this, the two Shaykhs al-Bukhari and Muslim narrated most of his ahaadeeth in their books. Imaam al-Bukhari actually said that the soundest of all chains of transmission was:

"Maalik, from Nafi`, from Ibn `Umar"

The scholars of hadith refer to this as the ‘Golden Chain’, and there are eighty narrations with this chain in the Muwatta’.

Imaam Al-Shaaf’i (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

“There is nothing on earth after the Book of Allaah that is more correct than the Muwatta’ of Maalik ibn Anas.”

It is important to note that Imaam al-Shaaf’i made this comment before al-Bukhari and Muslim wrote their books, as was noted by al-Haafiz Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) in his summary of ‘Uloom al-Hadeeth (pp. 24-25). But in its time it was considered the best book, as it combined both Hadeeth and fiqh (jurisprudence). Therefore it is not surprising to learn that even Imaam Shaaf’i’s daughter memorised the whole Muwatta’. (Pg 123, Al-Muhaddithaat: the women scholars of Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi.) There were many other women who studied the Muwatta’, in fact Imaam Maalik himself narrated from a woman scholar of hadeeth…

‘Amrah bint ‘Abd al-Rahmaan

In the Muwatta’ of Imaam Maalik we find that he has referred to the fataawaa (juristic rulings) of the great taabi’yyah (successor) ‘Amrah bint ‘Abd al-Rahmaan on issues related to Hajj (Al-Muhaddithaat, Mohammad Akram Nadwi, pg 283.). This is because Imaam Maalik had heard ahaadeeth from her and she was hence his teacher.

‘Amrah was from among the most famous women narrators in the generation of the Successors, a great scholar of Hadeeth, a scholar of jurisprudence, a Hujjah (proof).  In the Six Books and other major collections, the ahaadeeth she narrated are plentiful. She grew up in the house of ‘Aaishah and learnt a lot of ahaadeeth from her and others. Imaam adh-Dhahabi wrote,

’She was a scholar, jurist, proof, and holder of abundance of knowledge.” (Siyar, iv, 508.)

She was an Ansaariyyah (from the women of Madinah who helped the Muslims who migrated from Makkah). She had studied under the Mother of the Believers ‘Aaishah and was given tarbiyyah (refinement of character) by her. She had also narrated from Umm Salamah, Raaf’i bin Khadeej and her sister from her mother’s side: Umm Hishaam bint Haarithah (At-Tahdheeb, vol 12, page 438.) It is said that her father was from the Sahaabah and that her grandfather was from the qudamaa (old) of the Sahaabah, the brother of the great chief, As’ad bin Zuraarah.

Among those who narrated from her was her son Aboo Ar-Rijaal Muhammad ibn ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Ansaaree, a number of whose narrations are recorded by al-Bukhari, Muslim, al-Nasaai and ibn Maajah. (Al-Mizzi, Tahdheeb al-Kamaal, xxxv. 242.)

She was so knowledgeable that ‘Abdullah bin Deenaar (rahimahullah) said:

“’Umar bin ‘Abdul ‘Azeez (the Caliph) wrote by means of bareed (post/mail) to Abu Bakr bin Muhammad bin Amr bin Hazm to Madinah that search what is from the Prophetic narrations of the Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) or a past Sunnah or Hadeeth of (i.e. narrated by) ‘Amrah, then write it, for surely I fear loss of the lessons of knowledge and its people.” (Tabaqaat, vol 8, pg 480.)

Also, ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azeez said to her brother Muhammad ibn ‘Abdur-Rahmaan:

“There remains none that is more knowledgeable regarding the Hadeeth of (i.e. Prophetic Narrations narrated by) ‘Aaishah than ’Amrah.”

That is why ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azeez would ask her questions and seek juridical rulings from her. (At-Taareekh wal Ma’rifah, vol 2, page 108.)

Great leading scholars praised her and ascertained her great repute. For example the great Muhaddith, Yahya ibn Ma’een, said: “

’Amrah bint Abdur-Rahmaan is thiqqah (reliable) and a hujjah (proof)” (Al Mizzi, Tahdheeb al-kamaal, xxxv. 152.)

And Alee ibn Al Madanee, the teacher of Imaam al-Bukhari, who was one of the great leading scholars of Islaam and a distinguished and prominent hadeeth scholar, when ‘Amrah would be mentioned before him he would praise her much and say,

“’Amrah is one of the thiqaat of the scholars regarding ‘Aaishah and evidence/confirmation pertaining to her (ithbaat feehaa).”

And Ibn Habbaan mentioned her in the thiqaat (reliable) and said regarding her:

“She was from the most knowledgeable of people with regards to the hadeeth of ‘Aaishah” (Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb, volume 12, page 439.)

The great Muhaddith, Sufyaan ibn ‘Uyaynah said,

“The most knowledgeable of people regarding the hadeeth of ‘Aaishah were three:
1. Al Qaasim, the son of Muhammad, the son of Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq (i.e. the nephew of ‘Aaishah)
2. ‘Urwah, the son of Az-Zubayr (the son of Asma’, the sister of ‘Aaishah, hence her nephew)
3. ‘Amrah, the daughter of Abdur-Rahmaan.” (Tahdheeb Al Asmaa wa al-lughat by Nawawi, volume 1, page 332.)

Ayyoob ibn Suwayd narrated from Yunus, from Ibn Shihaab, from Al Qaasim ibn Muhammad (the nephew of Abu Bakr, may Allah be pleased with him) that he said to me:

“O Lad (ya ghulaam)! I see that you are eager upon seeking knowledge, shall I not guide you to its vessel?” I said, “Of course!” He said: “It is a must for you to associate with/stick to (‘Alayka bi) ‘Amrah, for certainly she was in the guardianship (Hijr) - Hijr means: ‘To be under the care and protection of someone from a young age.’( See William Lane’s lexicon, volume 2, page 517) - of ‘Aaishah.” He said: “So I went to her and I found her an ocean (which) does not dry up.” (Siyar A’laam an-Nubalaa.)

She was also strong in enjoining good, forbidding evil and sincerely advising. She intervened in a court case in Madinah to prevent a miscarriage of justice. Imaam Maalik narrates from Yahya ibn Sa’eed that he said:

‘Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn ‘Amr ibn Hazm [the qaadee of Madinah] informed me that he was holding a Nabtee who had stolen iron rings in prison [and intending] to cut off his hand. Then ‘Amrah bint ‘Abd al-Rahmaan sent to me her client called Umayyah. […] He came to me while I was among the people and said: Your aunt ‘Amrah says: O nephew, are you holding a Nabtee [in custody] for a minor thing that has been mentioned to me, and do you mean to cut off his hand? I said: Yes. He said: ‘Amrah says to you that there is no cutting off of the hand except for stealing something worth a quarter of a dinar or more than that. […] Then I released the Nabtee.’

Akram Nadwi writes:

‘This intervention by ‘Amrah happened at the time when the city was graced by the residence of the much renowned ‘Seven Jurists of Madinah.’

And, ‘…it is remarkable enough that she knew that the case was in progress and the circumstances of it and what sentence the qaadee (judge) had passed but not yet carried out. Many famous men jurists were resident and active in the city but none of them intervened. What is astonishing is that she did intervene, and no one questioned her right to do so. The defendant was a non-Muslim, not known to ‘Amrah except as the defendant in the suit, in which she had no personal, private interest. The qaadee reversed his decision and released the defendant only because he could have no argument against the authority of the hadeeth she was able to cite. He did not know or remember it, or simply failed to bring it to bear when reaching his judgement: once he knew the hadeeth, he did as a Muslim should - he acted upon it.

The distance is huge between a society in which some men held womanhood in such contempt that they could countenance burying infant daughters alive, and one in which they would defer to the authority of a woman just because she had knowledge that they did not. It is an extraordinary distance to have covered within a single generation.” (Al-Muhaddithaat, Akram Nadwi, pg 7.)

May Allah shower His blessings on her and elevate her status. For today, many of the books of hadeeth shine forth her name, not to forget the book written by her student: Maalik ibn Anas.

She died in the year 103AH, at the age of 77. (Al-Kaamil by Ibn Al Atheer, vol 4, page 106.)

Faatimah bint Maalik ibn Anas

Imaam Maalik, taught his daughter Faatimah the whole of his Muwatta’. Not only did she memorise the whole of the Muwatta’, but she learnt all the ahaadeeth her father knew, from him. Al Zubayr (d.256) says,

‘Maalik had a daughter who knew his knowledge (the Muwatta’) by heart, and she used to be behind the door. When the reader made a mistake, she would correct him.’ (Al-Qaadi ‘Iyaad, Tartib al madaarik, 1. 109-10.)

She would also inform the people regarding the pious traits of her father, for example it is reported that she said,

“Maalik would pray every night his portion (hizb), but when it was the night of Friday, he would stay awake all of it.” (Tarteeb al Madaarik wa taqreeb al Masaalik by Al Qaadi ‘Iyaad, pg 54.)

Mohammad Akram Nadwi said in his book ‘Al Muhaddithaat’:

“…women continued to study hadeeth, and there is no indication that people paid less attention to the education of their daughters. It will be remembered that Maalik’s daughter Faatimah memorized the whole of his Muwatta’ and became a narrator of hadeeth, while his son did not.” (Al-Muhaddithaat, Mohammad Akram Nadwi, pg 250.)

Allah had decreed such, that the son of Imaam Maalik was not drawn to study and scholarship. Indeed this is something gifted by Allah in the heart. Sometimes he would pass by with his clothes in disarray. Imaam Maalik would say to his students:

‘Good manners are in the Hand of God. This is my son and this is my daughter.’ (Al-Qaadi ‘Iyaad, Tarteeb al-Madaarik, i. 109-10.)

A Slave in the Household of Imaam Maalik

Even a slave girl in Imaam Maalik’s house had the ability to correct someone of established reputation. Al-Ash’ab, a jurist of the school of Maalik, narrates that he was in Madinah, and he wanted to buy vegetables from a girl, and the people at that time would not sell their vegetables except in exchange for bread, for that is what they needed. He told her to wait till the evening, then come and he would make the exchange. She said:

‘That is not permissible’. Ash’ab asked why and she explained: ‘Because it is selling of food for food [which must be done directly, hand over hand, whereas what you are proposing is] not hand over hand.’ (Mash-hoor, Inaayat al-Nisaa’, 122.)


  • In the 14th century the most important expert of hadeeth was Amatullah bint al-Imaam ‘Abd al-Ghanee al-Dihlawiyyah (d. 1357) in Madinah. She studied with her father, many times over, all the Six Books, as well as many ajzaa’ and thabats (notebooks containing details of one’s narrations or teachers). She also received from him all the Mursalaat. Her father took a lot of interest in her education and obtained high ijaazah’s for her from the leading traditionists of that time. (Al-Kattaanee, Fihris al-fahaaris, ii. 1115). At her home in Madinah she taught Qudoori as well as books of hadeeth. She was from the last major female scholars of Madinah.
  • Not only did the daughter of Imaam Maalik gain great knowledge, but another Madinan who narrated extensively from Imaam Maalik was ‘Aabidah al-Madaniyyah. Her fame spread and she was known for narrating a lot of ahaadeeth by heart. Ibn al Abbaar says: ‘She narrated a lot of ahaadeeth.’ (Mash-hoor, ‘Inaayat al-nisa’, 75.)
  • From the most important women scholars of hadeeth that was visiting Madinah, and not a native, was Faatimah al-Bataa’ihiyyah, who came there from Syria. She taught in the Masjid of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and great scholars studied with her.
  • A woman who indirectly benefited from Imaam Maalik was Asmaa’ bint Asad ibn al-Furaat, who studied with her father, a student of Abu Hanifah and Maalik ibn Anas. (Kahhaalah, A’laam al-Nisaa’, 1, 45.)
  • Daw’ al-Sabah, Ajibah al-Baqdariyyah studied Muwatta’ in the narration of al-Qa’nabi from Yahya ibn Thabit (d.566). (Diya’ al-Din al Maqdisi, Dhayl al-taqyid, ii. 383.)
  • Khadija (d. 873) bint Nur al-Din Ali al-Ansari from Egypt studied Muwatta’ in the narration of Yahya ibn Yahya, with al-Izz ibn Abil-Yumn al-Kuwayk. (Al-Sakhawi, al-Daw’ al-lami, xii.29.)

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nightmoondawnMu’aadhah’s (rahimahallah) Asceticism from this World

Although we know for sure that death is an impending event, anytime to take us into its clutches, how many of us are actually prepared for it? How many of us actually begin and end our day with this certainty in mind?

This great Muhaddithah Mu‘aadhah was a unique woman in this regard. She was a realistic woman, who knew the reality of this temporal life. That is why it has been narrated that Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] would say at the advent of a new day:

“This is my day, in which I will die.”

In this way, all day she would stay awake, keeping in mind that the meeting with her Lord could be scheduled at any time, until the evening set in. Then she would say:

“This is my night, in which I will die.”

And in this way she wouldn’t sleep until the morning. (Sifah as-Safwah, vol 4 pg 22-24.) This doesn’t mean that she had a morbid fascination with death or that she knew for a surety when death was decreed for her, rather it meant that she would often remember the destroyer of pleasures, which pursues each child of Adam, just as Muhammad (sallallahu `alyhi wa sallam) commanded: “O People! Remember much the destroyer of pleasures, death.” (Tirmidhi, Nasaa’i, Ibn Maajah.) Her religious understanding, wisdom and acute intelligence had brought her to this conclusion. This is why she said the heart-striking statement:

“I befriended the world 70 years and I did not see in it qurratu-ayn [coolness of the eyes] at all.” (Ath-Thiqaat li ibn Hibbaan, vol 5, 466.)

In Arab culture the idiomatic expression ‘qurratu ayn’ (coolness of the eyes/ delight of the eye/ consolation for the eye) is used to refer to that which is a source of great joy, delight, coolness and pleasure, the untainted form of which Mu‘aadhah didn’t see throughout her journey in this life, as attested clearly by her words. This is because in desert life two things Bedouins aspire towards and in which they find great joy are: Coolness and drink. So, for example, when a Bedouins’ eyes are burning, and finally the sand-storm and heat is over, they say ‘my eyes became cool.’  Also, when we were living in the Western Sahara desert, our neighbors, the shaykhs family, sent us ice as a present and out of good gesture. For, they were from the few who owned a freezer in which they would make ice and sell it to vendees who were awaiting, ever-too-ready for this sale which would ‘cool their eyes’. This is why we find the Prophet (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam) referring to salaah, the prayer, as ‘the coolness of my eyes’. . “…the coolness of my eyes is in prayer.” [Ahmad and An-Nasa 'i]

Our Lord Above

Although many Muslims may know that Allah ('azza wa jall) is above the heavens, over His throne, sadly they don’t strive to keep this at the forefront of their minds in their daily lives. If they did, I’m sure our Ummah will see a huge shift in both the political and social arena.

In the time of the Prophet (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam), his Companions (radhi Allahu 'anhum) and the generation of the righteous believers after them - from among whom was Mu’aadhah, the believers had a pure and untainted understanding of both Allah’s names and characteristics. This knowledge led them to being continuously aware of Allah’s ('azza wa jall) presence above, and of His very existence.

Such was Mu‘aadhah’s reverence, veneration and awe of her Lord that she did not look up towards the sky for forty years: Abu al-Sawwaar said:

“The children of A’dee (i.e. the tribe of Adawee) are the strongest people in this country in struggling (ijtihaadan). This is Abu As-Sahbaa’ (the husband of Mu’aadhah), he does not sleep (during) his night nor break (fasting during) his day. And this is his wife Mu’aadhah, the daughter of Abdullah, she hasn’t raised her head towards the sky (for) forty years.” (Sifah as-Safwah, vol 4 pg 22-24.)

Mu’aadhah’s understanding of Allah ('azza wa jall) being above the heavens is not only a proof against those who say Allah is in everything or without a place, but an important mindset a believer should have. This is because such a realization within the life of a believer leads to ‘ibaadah (worship) which is sincere, full of contemplation, humility and deliberation.  It becomes so much so that between the takbeer and the salaam one’s heart is cleansed, darkness is lifted, realities are expounded and truths come to light. In this way a person not only prays the obligatory prayers with deep love and devotion, a heart longing for its beloved and attached to the Divine, but also the supererogatory prayers. These prayers will in fact begin a journey towards Allah (a'zza wa jall); a servant will continue to ascend the different levels of worship, so much so that from within the levels of supererogatory prayers, one reaches to the top: prayers offered within the stillness and darkness of the night. Within this time when all comes to a standstill and the darkness engulfs all, the believer arises from her slumber, and within the cold night goes towards the blessings and mercy of Allah (a'zza wa jall). A discourse, few have been blessed with, between the created and the Creator, the finite and the Infinite, the flawed and the Flawless and the one in dire need with the Self-sufficient. The darkness of the night then surely becomes a preliminary for that which waits in the dark grave.

Therefore, it is not surprising that even when it was cold Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] would wear thin clothing so that the cold would prevent her from sleeping. (Sifah as-Safwah, vol 4 pg 22-24.) And that Mu’aadhah spent her wedding night, along with her husband Silah ibn Ashyam, praying until Fajr. When her husband and son were killed in the land of jihaad, she would spend the whole night in prayer, worshipping and beseeching Allaah, and she would sleep during the day. If she felt sleepy whilst she was praying at night, she would tell herself:

“O soul, there is plenty of sleep ahead of you.”

Also, a woman who served Mu‘aadhah (rahimahallah) and worked in her home said that Mu’aadhah would stay awake at night, and when sleep would overcome her she would push herself to stay awake and she would walk around her home saying:

“O my soul! The grave is in front of you. If you have sent forth (good deeds or bad deeds) then surely your sleep will be long in the grave, either upon hasrah (grief, misfortune, pain) or suroor (pleasure, happiness).”

Her maid said she would be in this state right until the morning. (Sifah as-Safwah, vol 4 pg 22-24.)

Imaam Adh-Dhahabi recounts, ‘It has reached me that she (Mu’aadhah) would stay awake at night and would say:

“I am amazed at the eye which sleeps and knows the long sleep in the grave.” (Tuhfah al Ahwazee, baab al istinjaa bil maa’, vol 1, pg 77.)

In another report, with similar meaning but more wording: Aasiyah bint Amr al Adawiyyah said: ‘She would pray every day and night (altogether) six hundred rak’ah (units of prayer). She would read her part of the Qur’aan at night, standing with it, and would say:

“I am amazed at the eye which sleeps and knows [of] the long sleep within the darkness of the graves." (Sifah as-Safwah, vol 4 pg 22-24.)

When the darkness would begin to disappear, dawn would meet Mu’aadhah in a state of fasting.  When people saw her state, they worried for her; she wouldn’t sleep much at night and would fast during the day. In response to concerned queries regarding the hardship she put herself through, she would reply:

“I delay a time for a time, I delay sleep from the night to the day and food from the day to the night.”{footnote}Tabaqaat as-Soofiyyah vol 1 pg 391.{/footnote}

Many people today would frown upon such a struggle in performing such extensive worship. They would readily leap into suggesting that Allah wants ease for us and not hardship, and that we should do as much as we are easily able and capable. I pose a question with the hope that we will give an honest reply with both introspection and truthfulness, and that is: are we truly doing as much as we are able and capable? Secondly, is it a weakness in our love, hope and/or fear of Allah which is impeding our worship and tainting our understanding of ‘ibaadah (worship)? For, the Prophet (sallallahu `alyhi wa sallam) would worship hours on end until his feet would swell. Upon observing this his wife ‘Aa’ishah asked him, "Why do you pray so much, when your Lord has forgiven your past sins and your future sins?" To this the Prophet (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam) replied:"Should I therefore not be a grateful servant of my Lord?" (Recorded in al-Bukhari). Not only this, sounds would be heard from the Prophet’s (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam) chest, like a "boiling pot"(Reported by Abu Dawud) due to his crying in prayer.

This is why Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] would advise:

“O my daughter, be with regards to the meeting of Allah [azza wa jall] in [a state of] fear and hope. I certainly consider the one who has hope will be deserving of a beautiful zulfaa [being brought close/near] by Him [Allah [azza wa jall] on the day of meeting Him.

And I consider the one who fears, he will have hope of aman [security/peace/safety/shelter/clemency] on the day mankind will stand in front of the a’alameen [everything besides Allah [azza wa jall]]”.

Then she cried, until her crying overwhelmed her. (Sifah as-Safwah, vol 4 pg 22-24)

Mu’aadhah’s words are of exceptional advice for each believer; for, the Prophet (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam) said: "On the Day of Resurrection, a huge fat man will come who will not weigh the weight of the wing of a mosquito in Allah's Sight." and then the Prophet added, {We shall not give them any weight on the Day of Resurrection.} (Al Qur’aan: [18]:105 & Saheeh Bukhari, Book 6,chapter 60, hadeeth no 253.)

Patience, Despite Great Love

Many who read Mu’aadhah’s reaction to the death of Silah (rahimahullah) and her son As-Sahbaa’, may mistakenly think that she wasn’t attached to them, or didn’t love them as much as a normal wife and mother would love her husband and son. Rather, we will come to see that she did love them dearly, but her correct understanding and conviction in Islaam allowed her to put things into perspective. Hence, she knew that parting from them was only temporary and soon she was going to meet them in a realm which is neither temporary nor fleeting. For, such characteristics only apply to the life of this world. This is why Muaa’dhah (rahimahallah) would say:

“By Allah! I don’t love to stay [in this world] except to draw close to my Lord by [various] means. Maybe, He will join me, Abu As-Sahbaa’ and his son in Paradise.”{footnote}Taarikh al Islaam lil Imaam ad-Dhahabi vol 6 pg 198{/footnote}

Mu ‘aadhah didn’t marry again after Silah (her husband and the great taabi’ee) was martyred. This will, Allah Willing, ensure that she will be his wife in paradise, for the Prophet (sallallahu `alyhi wa sallam) said:“Any woman whose husband dies and she marries someone else after him, she will be with the last of her husbands.”{footnote}This was classed as saheeh by Al-Albaani (may Allaah have mercy on him) in Saheeh Al-Jaami’, 2704, and in Al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 1281.{/footnote}

Abu’l-Darda’ said that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that a woman will be with the last of her husbands.{footnote}The hadeeth was classed as saheeh by al-‘Allaamah Shaykh al-Albaani in al-Silsilah al-Saheehah (1281).{/footnote} Also, Asmaa’ bint Abi Bakr (the sister of Aa’ishah) was married to al-Zubayr ibn al-‘Awwaam, who was strict with her. She came to her father and complained to him about that, and he said: “O my daughter, have patience, for if a woman has a righteous husband, then he dies, and she does not marry anyone after him, they will be joined together in Paradise.” {footnote}Al-Silsilah al-Saheehah, 3/276.{/footnote}

And this is what Mu’aadhah (rahimahallah) wanted, for her attachment and love for her husband was so much, that it has been recorded that:

‘She didn’t rest or put her head on a pillow after Abu as-Sahbaa’ [her husband] till she passed away.’{footnote}Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb, vol 12 pg 401 and Mur’aat alMafaateeh Sharh Mishkaat al Masaabeeh vol 2, pg 138.{/footnote}

Also, Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] breast-fed a girl from her tribe of A’dee. This girl said that Mu’aadhah said to her:

“By Allah, O Daughter! I do not love to stay in the world for pleasurable living nor for rowh naseem [refreshing breath of air] but by Allah! I love to stay so as to become near to my Lord, Strong and Exalted, by mediums - maybe He will unite between me and between the father of Sahbaa’ and his son in paradise.”{footnote}Sifah as-Safwah, vol 4 pg 22-24.{/footnote}

This can really happen, for the supplication of the angels who carry the Throne indicates that families will be united: {Our Lord! And make them enter the ‘Adn (Eden) Paradise (everlasting Gardens) which you have promised them — and to the righteous among their fathers, their wives, and their offspring! Verily, You are the All-Mighty, the All-Wise.}{footnote}Surat Ghaafir [40]:8{/footnote}

Ibn Katheer (may Allaah have mercy on him) said:

“(This means) bring them together so that they may find delight in one another in neighboring dwellings.”

Sa’eed ibn Jubair said:

"When the believer enters Paradise, he will ask about his father, son and brother and where they are. It will be said to him, they did not reach the same level of good deeds as you did. He will say, ‘But I only strove for my sake and for theirs.’ Then they will be brought to join him on the level where he is.” (Tafseer Ibn Katheer, 4/73.)

How truthful is our Lord, the Loving!

{(There will be) therein all that innerselves could desire, and all that eyes could delight in and you will abide therein forever.} (Al-Zukhruf 43:71.)

Her Death

When death approached her she was seen crying, after which she began laughing! She was asked as to why she first cried and then laughed. To this she replied,

‘As for the crying which you all saw, then (it was because) I remembered the parting (from) fasting, praying and dhikr (remembering, glorifying Allah), so the crying was due to that.

As for what you saw of my smiling and my laughing, then certainly I saw Abu Sahbaa’ approach into the courtyard of the house. He had two green garbs on and he was in a nafr (group).

By Allah! I did not see the like of it from them in the world. Then I laughed for him (i.e. expressing happiness for him).

I don’t think I will reach after that (incident) an obligatory (prayer) (i.e. death is near).”

And she died before the time of the next salah entered. (Sifah as-Safwah, vol 4 pg 22-24.)

Ibn al Jawzi says she died 38AH. (Taarikh al Islaam lil Imaam ad-Dhahabi vol 6 pg 198.)

O Allah! Once again allow this Ummah to witness the likes of Mu’aadhah (rahimahallah).

O Allah! Make us of those who worship You sincerely, with all our strength, hope, love and faith!

O Allah, give us a true understanding of Your religion and unite us with the righteous, surely You are the Most Able.

More from this series:



She was one of the the teachers of the Shaykhs Ibn Taymiyyah, Al-Mizzi, and al-Dhahabee, al-Birzaali, and other famous scholars of that time.

Mohammad Akram Nadwi, in his book ‘al-Muhaaddithat’ wrote,

‘…Imaam ibn Taymiyyah (d. 728) probably the greatest thinker and jurist of his time, received hadeeth from a number of women and included some hadeeths from them in his Forty Hadeeths. He expressed very high esteem for their knowledge, understanding and intelligence, as well as their righteousness and piety, and he praised some of them fulsomely for their efforts in preaching and reform…’ (Pg 141, Al-Muhaddithat: the women scholars of Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi.)

-She also taught her grand daughter, who in turn turned into one of the later Muhadithaat. (LEDER et al., Mu’jam al-samaa’at al-Dimashqiyyah, 50, 215)

-She taught in Madrasah al-Mismariyyah in Jumaadah al-OolaA 688.


pinkflowerRegarded as an authority of hadith and fiqh, she was the grand daughter of one of the famous companions, Asad ibn Zararah Ansari (radhiAllahu anhu). The scholar, Imam Bukhari said that she was like the secretary for Aisha (radhiAllahu anha), the Prophet (sallallahu alaiyhi wassallam)'s wife, and one of her best students. People who sent Aisha gifts/presents and letters, would send it through her.

Imaam Ahmad said,

"She was an eminent theologian and a great scholar. She was tutored in the lap of 'A'isha (radhi Allahu anha), narrated many ahadith from her and she is very reliable, had an excellent memory and is one whose narration can be accepted."

Ibn Habban says the same about her. The scholar Ibn Hajr Askalani said that she was one of the scholars of th
e early Muslims as she was an authority on the hadith transmitted by Aisha (radhiAllahu anha). The scholar Ibn Hibban said she was the best person who had knowledge of the hadith of Aisha (radhiAllahu anhu). The scholar, Imam Zuhri said that when he wanted to learn hadith he would go to Umrah, saying that when he would meet her he found her in a 'deep sea of knowledge'.

'Umar ibn Abdul Aziz, the great Umayyad Khalif, who is rightly described by historians as one who was of the caliber of the khulafa ar rashidun, respected her narrations to the point that he asked Abu Bakr ibn Muhammad ibn Hazm to record them. Great scholars like Abu Bakr ibn Hazm and Yahya ibn Sa'id, who were great jurists, went to her to learn hadith.

The chief Judge of Madinah, Umrah's nephew, was asked to collect hadiths with the following order from the Caliph (ruler) of their time,

"Umrah's ahadith are to be despatched to the Caliph in black and white".

The scholar, Imam Malik said that Umrah would correct the mistakes her nephew, the Chief Judge of Madinah, would make. The scholar Imam Dhahabi classified her as a Jurist.

She died aged 77.


purpleflowerImaam Ibn Taymiyyah (rahimahullah) was amazed by her knowledge and she knew most of al-Mughni (a book of fiqh which consists of 15 volumes) by heart. Shaykh Ibn Katheer and Shaykh al-Dhahabee have also mentioned her.

She was a fine example and proof that respect for knowledge and those who possessed it was not confined to the formative period of Islaam. Umm Zaynab's knowledge of Jurispudence was respected and admired by her male peers. She learnt Fiqh with Shaykh Shams al Din and other Maqdisi Scholars. (Al Dhahabi, al-Juz’ al-maqfood min Siyaar A’laam al-Nubalaa’, 416)

Shaykh al-Dhahabee also said,

‘A large number of women benefited from her and repented. She had abundance of knowledge, was content with little, keen to benefit people and give sermons with sincerity, God-wariness and for [the sake of] commanding the good. The women of Damascus [and] then [after her fame had spread, and she moved, to Cairo] the women of Egypt were reformed by her. She had a lot of popularity and influence over the hearts [of people].’ (Al-Dhahabi, Dhayl al-‘Ibar, 80; Al-Yafi’I, Mir’aat al-Jinaan, iv. 254. See also al-Dhahabi, al-Juz’ al-mafqood in Siyar a’laam al-nubalaa’, 416.)

Shaykh al-Dhahabee says:

‘I visited her and I liked her character, humility and God-wariness. She knew Fiqh well. Ibn Taymiyyah was amazed by her knowledge and intelligence and praised her fulsomely.’ (Al Dhahabi, al-Juz’ al-maqfood min Siyaar A’laam al-Nubalaa’, 416)

Ibn Katheer says:

‘I heard Shaykh Taqi al-Din ibn Taymiyyah praising her a lot and lauding her virtue and knowledge. he stated that she knew most of al-Mughni by heart. And [he] used to prepare for her many juristic issues [adequetly suited to] her questions and her sharp understanding.’ (Ibn Katheer, al Bidaayah wa al-nihaayah, sub anno 714)

Ibn Katheer also says:

‘She was among the scholars and women of virtue. She commanded good and forbade evil, and opposed the Ahmadiyyah sect for their [illicit] friendshio with women and young boys. And she criticised their states (ahwaal) and the thinking and arguments (usool) of the people of bid’ah (innovation) and others. In [all] that she did what men are unable to do.’ (Ibn Katheer, al Bidaayah wa al-nihaayah, sub anno 714)

Umm Zaynab is known as a reformer of the 7th-8th century – just as Ibn Taymiyyah is revered and praised highly- so is his female contemporary.

She was no less than a great scholar, jurist, ascetic, leader of the women in her time and preacher.

Source: Women Who Taught Their Husbands


purpleflowerwaterIbn Katheer mentioned as those who done favours to others, a devout, ascetic, and of abundant virtue. The teacher of Imaam ash-Shaafiee.

Hadeeth scholarship first came to Egypt in the first century. Perhaps the best woman scholar to come to Egypt was the righteous and noble Nafeesah.

Ibn Katheer says:

‘She was a wealthy lady, did a lot of favours to the people, especially those paralysed, those with severe illness, and to all other ill people.

She was a devout, ascetic, and of abundant virtue.

When Imaam al-Shaafi’ee arrived in Egypt, she did good to him, and sometimes Shaafi’ee led her in prayers in Ramadhaan.’ (Ibn Katheer, Al-Bidaayah wa al-nihaayah, sub anno 208.)

Al-Yafi’ee says:

‘It is narrated that when Imaam Shaafi’ee came to Egypt, he called upon her and heard hadeeth from her, and when he died, his funeral was carried to her and she prayed over him in her house.’ (Al-Yafi’ee, Miraat al-Jinaan, ii.43.)

Ibn al-‘Imaad says:

‘Her connections: al-Shaafi’ee receiving hadeeth from her being carried to her house after [his] death are the greatest [signs] of her merits.

This could not have been without popularity, fame, honour and respect among the people.’ (Ibn Al-‘Emaad, Shadharaat al-Dhahab, ii. 21.)

She died in 208AH.


redwhiteMuslim women excelled, not only in Fiqh, Ahaadeeth and Tafseer but also in other Islamic Sciences. One such example is of Maryam bint Jahsh (rah), who lived in the 4th Century; she was an expert of the language in which Allah (az) chose to reveal the Qur’aan.

She was married to the great Yemeni scholar Jamaal al-Deen ‘Ali ibn Abeel-Fawaaris al-Hamdani (rah). Not only was it due to her knowledge of the Arabic language, but also the acuteness of her mind, that Maryam bint Jahsh (rah) was able to subtly resolve a difficult point for her husband.

Her husband had been engaged in debate with some adherents of a sect called Murji’i. Their heresy was such that they believed that as long as one had faith in their heart, regardless of what they commits with the limbs, faith by itself will secure their salvation. Her husband, Ali (rah), quoted the end of verse 40 of Surah al-A’raaf:

“….Indeed those who belie our signs (ayaat) and disdain them – for them the gates of the heaven will not be opened, nor will they enter the Garden, until the camel passes through the eye of the needle.”

The Murji’i who was debating said, “This is easy for God, with his power, if He wills, He passes the camel through the eye of the needle.’ When ‘Ali returned home his mind was still preoccupied and at he could not sleep during the night. His wife, Maryam (rah) asked him what was wrong; after he explained to her what the matter was she said on sentence that gave Ali (rah) not only a good nights sleep, but a very good nights sleep. She said,

‘In the verse of the Qur’aan the camel is the subject [of the verb], not the object.’

Source: Muslim Women Who Taught Their Husbands


rosedewFatimah bint Yahya (rah) was a great Mujtahidah of the 9th Century. A Mujtahidah (which is the feminine version for the term 'Mujtahid') is a scholar of great calibre who can deduce from the sources of Islamic law. In turn they use these deductions to give rulings in accord with both the contemporary and individual needs of the society. For one to be given the title ‘Mujtahidah’, one must have knowledge on both the consensus and opposing views of the Companions, the Successors, and the leading Scholars of Fiqh and Mujtahidoon. Hence, to be a Mujtahidah was not small matter, but Fatimah bint Yahya (rah) truly deserved it.

Such was her knowledge, that her father – who was also a great jurist with several students – would be questioned by Fatimah (rah) regarding several Juristic issues. The great scholar Al Shawkani (rah) says about her:

‘She was most famous for her knowledge. She had debates with her father on several juristic issues. Her father, the imam, confirmed that Fatimah applied ijtihaad in deriving rulings. This indicates that she was prominent in the knowledge for the imam would not say something like that except for one who deserved it.’

Her father married her to the scholar al-Mutahhar ibn Muhammad ibn Sulaymaan ibn Muhammad (d. 879). Al-Mutahhar (rah) was very lucky since whenever he would be confused on a matter he would refer to his wife for judgement on difficult juristic issues. Even within the midst of his students, when he would get stuck on a complicated issue, he would get up and head for the curtain, behind which the great Mujtahidah would be sitting.

When he would come back with the answer his students would say,

‘This is not from you. This is from behind the curtain.’

Source: Muslim Women Who Taught Their Husbands


beautifulpurpleWe are now going to meet one of the greatest Faqeehah (woman-scholar of Islamic Jurisprudence) of her time. She was renowned for her grounded knowledge of Hanafi Jurisprudence and was no other than the daughter of the great scholar and jurist, Muhammad ibn Ahmad ibn Abu Ahmad `Ala' al-Din al-Samarqandi (rah), whose book ‘Tuhfat al Fuqaha’ is well-known by the scholars and students of knowledge. Not only did she learn Fiqh from her father, but she memorised his book ‘Tuhfat al Fuqaha’.

Being a jurist in itself is no small matter; one needs to be well-acquainted with the Qur’aanic verses, ahaadeeth of the Prophet (saws) and the principles of the Madhab they wish to base their ruling on. Further they need to have knowledge of the circumstances and needs of the contemporary world. Her knowledge was such that it exceeded her husbands, who would consult her for her opinions, especially when he erred in passing a fatwaa.

Her name was Fatimah bint Muhammad ibn Ahmad (rah) and her father had married her to ‘Alaa’ al Din Abu Bakr ibn Mas’ud al-Kasaani (rah), who was highly distinguished in the fields of al-usul and al-furu'. He wrote a commentary on Tuhfat al-fuqaha' entitled Bada'i` al-sana'i, and showed it to his Shaykh (the father of Fatimah), who was delighted with it and accepted it as a mahr (dowry) for his daughter, although he had refused offers of marriage for her from some of the kings of Byzantium. The fuqaha' of his time said,

"He commentated on his Tuhfah and married his daughter."

Before her marriage, Fatimah used to issue fatwas (religious edicts and verdicts) along with her father, and the fatwas would be written in her handwriting and that of her father. After she married the author of al-Bada'i', the fatwas would appear in her handwriting and that of her father and her husband. Her husband would make mistakes, and she would correct them. Ibn al-‘Adim says,

‘My father narrated that she used to quote the Hanafi madhab (doctrine) very well. Her husband al-Kasaanee sometimes had some doubts and erred in the [issuing of a] fatwa; then she would tell him the correct opinion and explain the reason for [his] mistake.’

Surprised? But, as we will come to see, there were many like Fatimah bint Muhammad who would follow her footsteps in the coming centuries.

Source: Muslim Women Who Taught Their Husbands


shineflowerAsma (rah) is a well-known figure in Islamic history; not only was she the daughter of Abu Bakr (ra) and the sister of Aishah (rah) but she was the obedient wife of the Sahabi Zubayr ibn al ’Awwaam (ra).

Her role in supporting the Prophet (saws) and her examples of sacrifice and forbearance are ever-alive in the annals of Islamic History. She was named ‘Dhat an-Nitaqayn’ (the One with the Two Waistbands) due to an incident in which she used two waistbands in order to tie food for the Prophet (saws) and her father Abu Bakr (ra). They had left Makkah for Madinah and were being pursued by the enemy. It was Asma (rah)’s duty to deliver this food to them with the utmost secrecy. For this reason, late into her pregnancy she climbed up Mount Thawr. For those who are unacquainted with this Mount it should suffice for you to know that even the youth are caught gasping for breath when climbing its rocky tracks.

What drove Asma (rah), with her unborn, to undertake such a dangerous journey? It was no other than the deep love she had for the Prophet (saws) and her father. Later, when Abu Jahl came to the house of Abu Bakr (ra), full of rage and anger he asked Asma (rah) the whereabouts of her father and the Noble Messenger (saws). Standing strong, with eemaan flowing through every inch of her being, she replied that she did not know. He slapped her across her face; she stood strong and unyieldingly with a heart full of love for this deen.

Her love did not end with the demise of Rasoolullah (saws); on the contrary, she ignited this deep love into the hearts of her children and grandchildren. One such grandchild that benefited greatly from her company was no other than Fatimah bint al Mundhir (rahmahaAllah). Allah chose Fatimah to be a light whose name would shine - even today -in the books of Ahaadeeth.

Fatimah bint al Mundhir (rahmahaAllah) is respected as one of the leading tabi'aat of her time. She was a great scholar and was renowned as a Faqeehah (Jurist) and was married to her cousin Hishaam ibn ‘Urwah ibn al-Zubayr (rahmahullah). Hishaam (rahmahullah) was also a great scholar and narrator. Some of his leading students included: Imam Abu Hanifah (rahmahullah), Imam Malik (rahmahullah), Shu’bah (rahmahullah) and Sufyan al-Thawri (rahmahullah).

Although they were both cousins, Hishaam (rahmahullah) had not acquired from Asma (rah)  the many ahaadeeth of the Prophet (saws)  that Fatimah (rahmahaAllah) had acquired from Asma (rah). Hence, he would ask his wife and learn from her the words of the Prophet (saws), memorising them and in turn informing his companions and students of what is wife had taught him. Many have narrated from Fatimah (rahmahaAllah), such as Muhammad ibn Ishaaq (rahmahullah), (the author of one very famous book of Seerah) and others, yet her husband Hishaam (rahmahullah) comes as one of the leading figures narrating directly from Fatimah (rahmahaAllah).


Below are just a few examples from the major and unanimously accepted books of ahaadeeth, in which Hishaam (rahmahullah) narrated directly from his wife Fatimah.

1. Hishaam narrated from his wife Fatimah from her grandmother Asma’ that she said: ‘A woman came to the Messenger of Allah (saws) and said:
‘O Messenger of Allah (saws) – I have a daughter who is a bride: she has a disease (hasbah) that has thinned her hair. Can I join [another’s hair] to it?
The Messenger of Allah said: "The curse of God is on the one who joins [another’s hair in this way] and the one who asks for this [joining another’s hair to her daughter’s.]

This hadeeth is narrated in:

• Saheeh al Bukhari
• Muslim
• Al-Nas’ai
• Ibn Majah

2. Hishaam says: ‘Fatimah narrated to me from Asma’ that she said:

‘We ate meat of one of our horses in the time of the Prophet (saws).’

This hadeeth is narrated in:

•  Saheeh al Bukhari
• Muslim
• Al-Nas’ai
• Ibn Majah

3. Hishaam narrates from Fatimah from Asma’ that she said: The Messenger of Allah (saws) said to me: "Give [of your wealth], spend [from it] and pay out; do not cling to it, otherwise Allah will hold it over you; do not count [it] otherwise Allah will count it over you."

This hadeeth is narrated in:
• Saheeh al Bukhari
• Muslim
• Al-Nas’ai

4. Hishaam also narrated from her the long hadeeth found in the Saheehs of Al-Bukhari and Muslim, about the prayer on the occasion of the solar eclipse.

For some of the most leading scholars of Islaam, the likes of Imam Bukhari (rahmahullah) and Imam Muslim (rahmahullah), to record these Ahaadeeth, in which:

1. Women have narrated the hadeeth

2. A man has narrated from his wife.

This holds great lessons for those who claim that the Scholars of Islaam were misogynist and andocentric. On the contrary, the very books that are considered the most reliable sources of Islaamic knowledge contain ahaadeeth that contain chains which bear the names of women. Further, these examples bear sufficient proof that men would, without embarrassment, narrate from their wives openly.

Was it not for Hishaam (rahmahullah), who learnt from Fatimah (rahmahaAllah), who learnt from Asma (rah), we may have been bereft of these beautiful pearls of wisdom that were extracted from the sea of Prophethood.

Source: Muslim Women Who Taught Their Husbands


Sflower_blackpinkhe was the great Muhaddithah, a non-Arab, of the 13th Century.

‘Non-Arab’ is outlined because many feel that these great women were great only because they were lucky to have Arabic as their mother-tongue and sinece their ancestry was from the Arabs. On the contrary, many of our great scholars, even from among the men, the likes of Imam Bukhari, were not from the lineage of the Arabs. In the same way, the Muhaddithah, Amat al-Ghafoor bint Ishaaq al-Dihlawee (rah), was from Delhi – India.

Her father was one of leading scholars of India and so she would learn from his company, covering many books of hadeeth and fiqh with him. In this way, she acquired high authority in both hadeeth and fiqh. Her father married her to a scholar; whenever he faced difficulty he would turn to his wife, Amat al-Ghafoor (rah). Al Hasani says,

'When her husband, himself a great scholar, faced any difficulty in hadeeth or fiqh he consulted her and benefited from her.'

Truly this is a blessing that Allah blesses to whomsoever he wishes of his believing maid-servants.

Source: Women Who Taught Their Husbands


orangeHistory records few scholarly enterprises, at least before modern times, in which women have played an important and active role side by side with men. The science of hadith forms an outstanding exception in this respect.

Islam, as a religion which (unlike Christianity) refused to attribute gender to the Godhead,[1] and never appointed a male priestly elite to serve as an intermediary between creature and Creator, started life with the assurance that while men and women are equipped by nature for complementary rather than identical roles, no spiritual superiority inheres in the masculine principle.[2] As a result, the Muslim community was happy to entrust matters of equal worth in God's sight. Only this can explain why, uniquely among the classical Western religions, Islam produced a large number of outstanding female scholars, on whose testimony and sound judgment much of the edifice of Islam depends.

Since Islam's earliest days, women had been taking a prominent part in the preservation and cultivation of hadith, and this function continued down the centuries. At every period in Muslim history, there lived numerous eminent women-traditionists, treated by their brethren with reverence and respect. Biographical notices on very large numbers of them are to be found in the biographical dictionaries.

During the lifetime of the Prophet, many women had been not only the instance for the evolution of many traditions, but had also been their transmitters to their sisters and brethren in faith.[3] After the Prophet's death, many women Companions, particularly his wives, were looked upon as vital custodians of knowledge, and were approached for instruction by the other Companions, to whom they readily dispensed the rich store which they had gathered in the Prophet's company. The names of Hafsa, Umm Habiba, Maymuna, Umm Salama, and A'isha, are familiar to every student of hadith as being among its earliest and most distinguished transmitters.[4] In particular, A'isha is one of the most important figures in the whole history of hadith literature - not only as one of the earliest reporters of the largest number of hadith, but also as one of their most careful interpreters.

In the period of the Successors, too, women held important positions as traditionists. Hafsa, the daughter of Ibn Sirin,[5] Umm al-Darda the Younger (d.81/700), and 'Amra bin 'Abd al-Rahman, are only a few of the key women traditionists of this period. Umm al-Darda' was held by Iyas ibn Mu'awiya, an important traditionist of the time and a judge of undisputed ability and merit, to be superior to all the other traditionists of the period, including the celebrated masters of hadith like al-Hasan al-Basri and Ibn Sirin.[6] 'Amra was considered a great authority on traditions related by A'isha. Among her students, Abu Bakr ibn Hazm, the celebrated judge of Medina, was ordered by the caliph Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz to write down all the traditions known on her authority.[7]

After them, 'Abida al-Madaniyya, 'Abda bin Bishr, Umm Umar al-Thaqafiyya, Zaynab the granddaughter of Ali ibn Abd Allah ibn Abbas, Nafisa bint al-Hasan ibn Ziyad, Khadija Umm Muhammad, 'Abda bint Abd al-Rahman, and many other members of the fair sex excelled in delivering public lectures on hadith. These devout women came from the most diverse backgrounds, indicating that neither class nor gender were obstacles to rising through the ranks of Islamic scholarship. For example, Abida, who started life as a slave owned by Muhammad ibn Yazid, learnt a large number of hadiths with the teachers in Median. She was given by her master to Habib Dahhun, the great traditionist of Spain, when he visited the holy city on this way to the Hajj. Dahhun was so impressed by her learning that he freed her, married her, and brought her to Andalusia. It is said that she related ten thousand traditions on the authority of her Medinan teachers.[8]

shineflowerZaynab bint Sulayman (d. 142/759), by contrast, was princess by birth. Her father was a cousin of al-Saffah, the founder of the Abbasid dynasty, and had been a governor of Basra, Oman and Bahrayn during the caliphate of al-Mansur.[9] Zaynab, who received a fine education, acquired a mastery of hadith, gained a reputation as one of the most distinguished women traditionists of the time, and counted many important men among her pupils.[10]

This partnership of women with men in the cultivation of the Prophetic Tradition continued in the period when the great anthologies of hadith were compiled. A survey of the texts reveals that all the important compilers of traditions from the earliest period received many of them from women shuyukh: every major collection gives the names of many women as the immediate authorities of the author. And when these works had been compiled, the women traditionists themselves mastered them, and delivered lectures to large classes of pupils, to whom they would issue their own ijazas.

In the fourth century, we find Fatima bint Abd al-Rahman (d. 312/924), known as al-Sufiyya on account of her great piety; Fatima (granddaughter of Abu Daud of Sunan fame); Amat al-Wahid (d. 377/987), the daughter of distinguished jurist al-Muhamili; Umm al-Fath Amat as-Salam (d. 390/999), the daughter of the judge Abu Bakr Ahmad (d.350/961); Jumua bint Ahmad, and many other women, whose classes were always attended by reverential audiences.[11]

The Islamic tradition of female hadith scholarship continued in the fifth and sixth centuries of hijra. Fatima bin al-Hasan ibn Ali ibn al-Daqqaq al-Qushayri, was celebrated not only for her piety and her mastery of calligraphy, but also for her knowledge of hadith and the quality of the isnads she knew.[12] Even more distinguished was Karima al-Marwaziyya (d.463/1070), who was considered the best authority on the Sahih of al-Bukhari in her own time. Abu Dharr of Herat, one of the leading scholars of the period, attached such great importance to her authority that he advised his students to study the Sahih under no one else, because of the quality of her scholarship. She thus figures as a central point in the transmission of this seminal text of Islam.[13] As a matter of fact, writes Godziher,

'Her name occurs with extraordinary frequency of the ijazas for narrating the text of this book.'[14]

Among her students were al-Khatib al-Baghdadi[15] and al-Humaydi (428/1036-488/1095).[16]

Aside from Karima, a number of other women traditionists 'occupy an eminent place in the history of the transmission of the text of the Sahih.'[17] Among these, one might mention in particular Fatima bint Muhammad (d.539/1144; Shuhda 'the Writer' (d.574/1178), and Sitt al-Wuzara bint Umar (d.716/1316).[18] Fatima narrated the book on the authority of the great traditionist Said al-Ayyar; she received from the hadith specialists the proud tittle of Musnida Isfahan (the great hadith authority of Isfahan). Shuhda was a famous calligrapher and a traditionist of great repute; the biographers describe her as

'The calligrapher, the great authority on hadith, and the pride of womanhood.'

Her great-grandfather had been a dealer in needles, and thus acquired the sobriquet 'al-Ibri'. But her father, Abu Nasr (d. 506/1112) had acquired a passion for hadith, and managed to study it with several masters of the subject.[19] In obedience to the sunnah, he gave his daughter a sound academic education, ensuring that she studied under many traditionists of accepted reputation.

She married Ali ibn Muhammad, an important figure with some literary interests, who later became a boon companion of the caliph al-Muqtadi, and founded a college and a Sufi lodge, which he endowed most generously. His wife, however, was better known: she gained her reputation in the field of hadith scholarship, and was noted for the quality of her isnads.[20] Her lectures on Sahih al-Bukhari and other hadith collections were attended by large crowds of students; and on account of her great reputation, some people even falsely claimed to have been her disciples.[21]

greenwhiteAlso known as an authority on Bukhari was Sitt al-Wuzara, who, besides her acclaimed mastery of Islamic law, was known as 'the musnida of her time', and delivered lectures on the Sahih and other works in Damascus and Egypt.[22] Classes on the Sahih were likewise given by Umm al-Khayr Amat al-Khaliq (811/1408-911/1505), who is regarded as the last great hadith scholar of the Hijaz.[23] Still another authority on Bukhari was A'isha bint Abd al-Hadi.[24]

Apart from these women, who seem to have specialized in the great Sahih of Imam al-Bukhari, there were others, whose expertise was centered on other texts. Umm al-Khayr Fatima bint Ali (d.532/1137), and Fatima al-Shahrazuriyya, delivered lectures on the Sahih of Muslim.[25] Fatima al-Jawzdaniyya (d.524/1129) narrated to her students the three Mu'jams of al-Tabarani.[26] Zaynab of Harran (d.68/1289), whose lectures attracted a large crowd of students, taught them the Musnad of Ahmad ibn Hanbal, the largest known collection of hadiths.[27] Juwayriya bint Umar (d.783/1381), and Zaynab bint Ahmad ibn Umar (d.722/1322), who had travelled widely in pursuit of hadith and delivered lectures in Egypt as well as Medina, narrated to her students the collections of al-Darimi and Abd ibn Humayd; and we are told that students travelled from far and wide to attend her discourses.[28] Zaynab bint Ahmad (d.740/1339), usually known as Bint al-Kamal, acquired 'a camel load' of diplomas; she delivered lectures on the Musnad of Abu Hanifa, the Shamail of al-Tirmidhi, and the Sharh Ma'ani al-Athar of al-Tahawi, the last of which she read with another woman traditionist, Ajiba bin Abu Bakr (d.740/1339).[29]

'On her authority is based,' says Goldziher, 'the authenticity of the Gotha codex ... in the same isnad a large number of learned women are cited who had occupied themselves with this work.'[30]

With her, and various other women, the great traveller Ibn Battuta studied traditions during his stay at Damascus.[31] The famous historian of Damascus, Ibn Asakir, who tells us that he had studied under more than 1,200 men and 80 women, obtained the ijaza of Zaynab bint Abd al-Rahman for the Muwatta of Imam Malik.[32] Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti studied the Risala of Imam Shafii with Hajar bint Muhammad.[33] Afif al-Din Junayd, a traditionist of the ninth century AH, read the Sunan of al-Darimi with Fatima bin Ahmad ibn Qasim.[34]

Other important traditionists included Zaynab bint al-Sha'ri (d.524/615-1129/1218). She studied hadith under several important traditionists, and in turn lectured to many students - some of who gained great repute - including Ibn Khallikan, author of the well-known biographical dictionary Wafayat al-Ayan.[35] Another was Karima the Syrian (d.641/1218), described by the biographers as the greatest authority on hadith in Syria of her day. She delivered lectures on many works of hadith on the authority of numerous teachers.[36]

In his work al-Durar al-Karima,[37] Ibn Hajar gives short biographical notices of about 170 prominent women of the eighth century, most of whom are traditionists, and under many of whom the author himself had studied.[38] Some of these women were acknowledged as the best traditionists of the period. For instance, Juwayriya bint Ahmad, to whom we have already referred, studied a range of works on traditions, under scholars both male and female, who taught at the great colleges of the time, and then proceeded to give famous lectures on the Islamic disciplines.

'Some of my own teachers,' says Ibn Hajar, 'and many of my contemporaries, attended her discourses.'[39]

A'isha bin Abd al-Hadi (723-816), also mentioned above, who for a considerable time was one of Ibn Hajar's teachers, was considered to be the finest traditionist of her time, and many students undertook long journeys in order to sit at her feet and study the truths of religion.[40] Sitt al-Arab (d.760-1358) had been the teacher of the well-known traditionist al-Iraqi (d.742/1341), and of many others who derived a good proportion of their knowledge from her.[41] Daqiqa bint Murshid (d.746/1345), another celebrated woman traditionist, received instruction from a whole range of other woman.

Information on women traditionists of the ninth century is given in a work by Muhammad ibn Abd al-Rahman al-Sakhawi (830-897/1427-1489), called al-Daw al-Lami, which is a biographical dictionary of eminent persons of the ninth century.[42] A further source is the Mu'jam al-Shuyukh of Abd al-Aziz ibn Umar ibn Fahd (812-871/1409-1466), compiled in 861 AH and devoted to the biographical notices of more than 1,100 of the author's teachers, including over 130 women scholars under whom he had studied.[43] Some of these women were acclaimed as among the most precise and scholarly traditionists of their time, and trained many of the great scholars of the following generation. Umm Hani Maryam (778-871/1376-1466), for instance, learnt the Qur'an by heart when still a child, acquired all the Islamic sciences then being taught, including theology, law, history, and grammar, and then travelled to pursue hadith with the best traditionists of her time in Cairo and Mecca. She was also celebrated for her mastery of calligraphy, her command of the Arabic language, and her natural aptitude in poetry, as also her strict observance of the duties of religion (she performed the hajj no fewer than thirteen times). Her son, who became a noted scholar of the tenth century, showed the greatest veneration for her, and constantly waited on her towards the end of her life. She pursued an intensive program of learning in the great college of Cairo, giving ijazas to many scholars, Ibn Fahd himself studied several technical works on hadith under her.[44]

purty_flower_400Her Syrian contemporary, Bai Khatun (d.864/1459), having studied traditions with Abu Bakr al-Mizzi and numerous other traditionalists, and having secured the ijazas of a large number of masters of hadith, both men and women, delivered lectures on the subject in Syria and Cairo. We are told that she took especial delight in teaching.[45] A'isha bin Ibrahim (760/1358-842/1438), known in academic circles as Ibnat al-Sharaihi, also studied traditions in Damascus and Cairo (and elsewhere), and delivered lectures which eminent scholars of the day spared no efforts to attend.[46] Umm al-Khayr Saida of Mecca (d.850/1446) received instruction in hadith from numerous traditionists in different cities, gaining an equally enviable reputation as a scholar.[47]

So far as may be gathered from the sources, the involvement of women in hadith scholarships, and in the Islamic disciplines generally, seems to have declined considerably from the tenth century of the hijra. Books such as al-Nur al-Safir of al-Aydarus, the Khulasat al-Akhbar of al-Muhibbi, and the al-Suluh al-Wabila of Muhammad ibn Abd Allah (which are biographical dictionaries of eminent persons of the tenth, eleventh and twelfth centuries of the hijra respectively) contain the names of barely a dozen eminent women traditionists. But it would be wrong to conclude from this that after the tenth century, women lost interest in the subject. Some women traditionists, who gained good reputations in the ninth century, lived well into the tenth, and continued their services to the sunna. Asma bint Kamal al-Din (d.904/1498) wielded great influence with the sultans and their officials, to whom she often made recommendations - which, we are told, they always accepted. She lectured on hadith, and trained women in various Islamic sciences.48 A'isha bint Muhammad (d.906/1500), who married the famous judge Muslih al-Din, taught traditions to many students, and was appointed professor at the Salihiyya College in Damascus.[49] Fatima bint Yusuf of Aleppo (870/1465-925/1519), was known as one of the excellent scholars of her time.[50] Umm al-Khayr granted an ijaza to a pilgrim at Mecca in the year 938/1531.[51]

The last woman traditionist of the first rank who is known to us was Fatima al-Fudayliya, also known as al-Shaykha al-Fudayliya. She was born before the end of the twelfth Islamic century, and soon excelled in the art of calligraphy and the various Islamic sciences. She had a special interest in hadith, read a good deal on the subject, received the diplomas of a good many scholars, and acquired a reputation as an important traditionist in her own right. Towards the end of her life, she settled at Mecca, where she founded a rich public library. In the Holy City she was attended by many eminent traditionists, who attended her lectures and received certificates from her. Among them, one could mention in particular Shaykh Umar al-Hanafi and Shaykh Muhammad Sali. She died in 1247/1831.[52]

Throughout the history of feminine scholarship in Islam it is clear that the women involved did not confine their study to a personal interest in traditions, or to the private coaching of a few individuals, but took their seats as students as well as teachers in pubic educational institutions, side by side with their brothers in faith. The colophons of many manuscripts show them both as students attending large general classes, and also as teachers, delivering regular courses of lectures. For instance, the certificate on folios 238-40 of the al-Mashikhat ma al-Tarikh of Ibn al-Bukhari, shows that numerous women attended a regular course of eleven lectures which was delivered before a class consisting of more than five hundred students in the Umar Mosque at Damascus in the year 687/1288. Another certificate, on folio 40 of the same manuscript, shows that many female students, whose names are specified, attended another course of six lectures on the book, which was delivered by Ibn al-Sayrafi to a class of more than two hundred students at Aleppo in the year 736/1336. And on folio 250, we discover that a famous woman traditionist, Umm Abd Allah, delivered a course of five lectures on the book to a mixed class of more than fifty students, at Damascus in the year 837/1433.[53]

Various notes on the manuscript of the Kitab al-Kifaya of al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, and of a collection of various treatises on hadith, show Ni'ma bin Ali, Umm Ahmad Zaynab bint al-Makki, and other women traditionists delivering lectures on these two books, sometimes independently, and sometimes jointly with male traditionists, in major colleges such as the Aziziyya Madrasa, and the Diyaiyya Madrasa, to regular classes of students. Some of these lectures were attended by Ahmad, son of the famous general Salah al-Din.[54]



[1] Maura O'Neill, Women Speaking, Women Listening (Maryknoll, 1990CE), 31: "Muslims do not use a masculine God as either a conscious or unconscious tool in the construction of gender roles."
[2] For a general overview of the question of women's status in Islam, see M. Boisers, L'Humanisme de l'Islam (3rd. ed., Paris, 1985CE), 104-10.
[3] al-Khatib, Sunna, 53-4, 69-70.
[4] See above, 18, 21.
[5] Ibn Sa'd, VIII, 355.
[6] Suyuti, Tadrib, 215.
[7] Ibn Sa'd, VIII, 353.
[8] Maqqari, Nafh, II, 96.
[9] Wustenfeld, Genealogische Tabellen, 403.
[10] al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Tarikh Baghdad, XIV, 434f.
[11] Ibid., XIV, 441-44.
[12] Ibn al-Imad, Shsadharat al-Dhahah fi Akhbar man Dhahah (Cairo, 1351), V, 48; Ibn Khallikan, no. 413.
[13] Maqqari, Nafh, I, 876; cited in Goldziher, Muslim Studies, II, 366.
[14] Goldziher, Muslim Studies, II, 366. "It is in fact very common in the ijaza of the transmission of the Bukhari text to find as middle member of the long chain the name of Karima al-Marwaziyya," (ibid.).
[15] Yaqut, Mu'jam al-Udaba', I, 247.
[16] COPL, V/i, 98f.
[17] Goldziher, Muslim Studies, II, 366.
[18] Ibn al-Imad, IV, 123. Sitt al-Wuzara' was also an eminent jurist. She was once invited to Cairo to give her fatwa on a subject that had perplexed the jurists there.
[19] Ibn al-Athir, al-Kamil (Cairo, 1301), X, 346.
[20] Ibn Khallikan, no. 295.
[21] Goldziher, Muslim Studies, II, 367.
[22] Ibn al-Imad, VI. 40.
[23] Ibid., VIII, 14.
[24] Ibn Salim, al-Imdad (Hyderabad, 1327), 36.
[25] Ibn al-Imad, IV, 100.
[26] Ibn Salim, 16.
[27] Ibid., 28f.
[28] Ibn al-Imad, VI 56.
[29] ibid., 126; Ibn Salim, 14, 18; al-Umari, Qitf al-Thamar (Hyderabad, 1328), 73.
[30] Goldziher, Muslim Studies, II, 407.
[31] Ibn Battuta, Rihla, 253.
[32] Yaqut, Mu'jam al-Buldan, V, 140f.
[33] Yaqut, Mu'jam al-Udaba, 17f.
[34] COPL, V/i, 175f.
[35] Ibn Khallikan, no.250.
[36] Ibn al-Imad, V, 212, 404.
[37] Various manuscripts of this work have been preserved in libraries, and it has been published in Hyderabad in 1348-50. Volume VI of Ibn al-Imad's Shadharat al-Dhahab, a large biographical dictionary of prominent Muslim scholars from the first to the tenth centuries of the hijra, is largely based on this work.
[38] Goldziher, accustomed to the exclusively male environment of nineteenth-century European universities, was taken aback by the scene depicted by Ibn Hajar. Cf. Goldziher, Muslim Studies, II, 367: "When reading the great biographical work of Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani on the scholars of the eighth century, we may marvel at the number of women to whom the author has to dedicate articles."
[39] Ibn Hajar, al-Durar al-Karima fi Ayan al-Mi'a al-Thamina (Hyderabad, 1348-50), I, no. 1472.
[40] Ibn al-Imad, VIII, 120f.
[41] Ibid., VI, 208. We are told that al-Iraqi (the best know authority on the hadiths of Ghazali's Ihya Ulum al-Din) ensured that his son also studied under her.
[42] A summary by Abd al-Salam and Umar ibn al-Shamma' exists (C. Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, second ed. (Leiden, 1943-49CE), II, 34), and a defective manuscript of the work of the latter is preserved in the O.P. Library at Patna (COPL, XII, no.727).
[43] Ibid.
[44] Sakhawi, al-Saw al-Lami li-Ahl al-Qarn al-Tasi (Cairo, 1353-55), XII, no. 980.
[45] Ibid., no. 58.
[46] Ibid., no. 450.
[47] Ibid., no. 901.
[48] al-Aydarus, al-Nur al-Safir (Baghdad, 1353), 49.
[49] Ibn Abi Tahir, see COPL, XII, no. 665ff.
[50] Ibid.
[51] Goldziher, Muslim Studies, II, 407.
[52] al-Suhuh al-Wabila, see COPL, XII, no. 785.
[53] COPL, V/ii, 54.
[54] Ibid., V/ii, 155-9, 180-208. For some particularly instructive annotated manuscripts preserved at the Zahiriya Library at Damascus, see the article of Abd al-Aziz al-Maymani in al-Mabahith al-Ilmiyya (Hyderabad: Da'irat al-Ma'arif, 1358), 1-14.


1270015318-P2G5HG7The 'Aabidah of Iraaq:

Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] was not only known for her knowledge of hadeeth, but also for her extensive worship. This is why in her time, as well as later on in classical books, we find many scholars have referred to her with the prestigious title of "Muhaddithah" (woman scholar of hadeeth), as well as the honourable title of "Al-A’abidah" (the worshipper) (Tuhfah al Ahwazee, baab al istinjaa bil maa’, vol 1, pg 77.) For example, in the famous book pertaining to the lives of our pious predecessors ‘Sifah as-Sawfah,’ we find her name appearing under the chapter Mustafiyaat min 'Aabidaat al Basrah (Selected (women) from the worshippers of Basrah).

What follows testifies to the veracity of this title (Al-A’abidah) beyond imagination, and is a proof of the fact that by no degree have our great historians and scholars over-exaggerated in referring to Mu’aadhah (rahimahallah) as an a’abidah (worshipper) – Even if such extensive worship and deep faith may seem to us, in contrast to the corrupt societies in which we live which suffer from spiritual and moral decay, as beyond imagination and incomprehensible.

We must learn and realise from the life of Mu’aadhah (rahimahallah) how much of a great legacy the righteous before us have left behind for us and how far we have fallen behind in our i’baadah (worship), so much so that a person feels ashamed comparing one’s worship to theirs.

We ask Allah (a'zza wa jall) to grant us tawfeeq, and make us also of the 'aabidaat and from those who earnestly desire to follow in the footsteps of the likes of Mu’aadhah,

{And that is not hard for Allâh.} (Surah Faatir [35]: 17)


The Wing of a Mosquito

luxury_mansionIf we were given the chance to own and live in the biggest of mansions with our loved ones, the hugest resorts containing luxurious gardens of delight and own banks hoarded with the riches of the world by which we could purchase every asset by which to satiate our covet for this life, then there is one statement of our Noble Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) which elucidates to us the true significance and value of this whole world’s luxury and sumptuousness in the eyes of its Creator: “Were this world worth a wing of a mosquito, He would not have given a drink of water to an infidel.'' (At-Tirmidhi) Although many of us may have heard this hadeeth before, I’m sure if we truly realise its import we will be moved in a way which would awaken within us a need to redefine our stance and ambitions in this life, for those who haven’t done so as yet.

muadhahfour1Let’s consider, that if this whole world and whatever it contains is not worth a wing of a mosquito to Allah (a'zza wa jall) then how will the next abode be like, which Allah (a'zza wa jall) describes as eternal and everlasting? Glory be to Allah! The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: "...between each heaven and the other, there is a distance of travel of 500 years, and the thickness of each heaven is a distance of travel of 500 years." (Ahmad). After the heavens comes the Kursiyy (“Footstool”) of Allah (a'zza wa jall); it is not like a footstool we imagine, this is just a term by which to name this great entity for our feeble minds. The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) described, “...and the distance between the seventh heaven and the Kursiyy (“Footstool”) is a journey of 500 years...”

sandstorm-sahara-desertThen Rasoolullah mentioned the great throne of Allah (a'zza wa jall), “...The Throne is over the water, a nd Allaah is over the Throne, and He knows what you do.” (Ad Daarimie) And when comparing the Kursiyy to the A’rsh, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, “The seven heavens are in relation to the Kursiyy like a ring thrown into a waterless desert. And the superiority of the A’rsh (the Throne) over the Kursiyy is like the superiority of the desert over that ring.” (Al Bayhaqqie) SubhaanAllah! The A’rsh (Throne) is the greatest of all things that Allaah has created, over which our Lord rose in a manner that befits His Majesty. It has pillars and is carried by bearers who are angels of immense size.

These amazing and mind-blowing facts were elucidated by the Noble Companion: Ibn Mas’ood, when he said:

“Between the first heaven and the one above it is (a distance of) five hundred years. Between each of the heavens is (a distance of) five hundred years. Between the seventh heaven and the Kursiyy is (a distance of) five hundred years. Between the Kursiyy and the water is (a distance of) five hundred years, and the Throne is above the water. Allaah is above the Throne, and nothing whatsoever of your deeds is hidden from Him.” (Narrated by Ibn Khuzaymah in al-Tawheed, p. 105; by al-Bayhaqi in al-Asmaa’ wa’l-Sifaat, p. 401. This report was classed as saheeh by Ibn al-Qayyim in Ijtimaa’ al-Juyoosh al-Islamiyah, p. 100; by al-Dhahabi in al-‘Uluw, p. 64.)

Just one angel who bears the throne was described by the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) in the following hadeeth as:  "I have been granted permission to speak about one of the angels of Allaah, one of the bearers of the Throne. The distance from his earlobes to his shoulders is the distance of a seven hundred years’ journey." [Abu Daawood] And in yet another hadeeth: Anas Ibn Maalik, may Allaah be pleased with him, narrated that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wa sallam (may Allaah exalt his mention) said: "I have been granted permission to speak to an angel, one of the bearers of the Throne. His feet are in the lowest earth and the Throne is resting on his horn. The distance from his earlobe to his shoulder is like that of a bird flying for seven hundred years... '" (At-Tabaraani) Truly ALL praise is due to our Lord, the Most High!

We learnt that the distance between the earth and the seven heavens. But what about the Paradise, how many grades does it have? The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has said: “Jannah has one hundred grades which Allah has reserved for the mujaahidoon who fight in His cause, and the distance between each of two grades is like the distance between the Heaven and the earth. So when you ask Allah (for something), ask for al-Firdaws which is the best and highest part of Jannah.”{footnote}Saheeh al Bukhari{/footnote} And Sahl bin Sa’d [ra] reported that the Messenger [saw] said: “The people of Jannah will look to the upper apartment of Jannah in the same way as you see the planets in the sky.” (Muslim)


Abu Sa’eed al Khudri [ra] narrated that the Prophet [saw] said: “The people of Jannah will look at the dwellers of the lofty mansions (a superior place in Jannah) in the same way as one looks at a brilliant star far away in the East or in the West on the horizon. That is because of their superiority over one another (in rewards).” Because of that, the people said, “Oh Allah’s Messenger! Are these lofty mansions the prophets’ mansions which nobody else can reach?” The Prophet [saw] replied, “By Allah, in Whose Hands my life is, some men who believe in Allah and trust His Messengers will be able to reach them.” (Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim)

It is truly amazing to then read Allah's (azza wa jall) description of the the width of Paradise as being as wide as the heavens and the earth: “Race one with another for forgiveness from your Lord and for Paradise, whose width is as the width of the heavens and the earth, which has been prepared for those who believe in God and His messengers...” (Quran 57:21)

Not only is the width of Jannah mind-blowing but the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) also described Paradise as, “There would be bounties which the eye has not seen and the ear has not heard and no human heart has ever perceived them.” (Saheeh Muslim) And, "A space the size of a whip in Paradise is better than this world and all that is in it". (Fath al-Baari, 6/319, an-Nawawi's commentary on Muslim 17/166.)

In truth, this is why those whose goal is to attain and acquire the pleasure of Allah and His Paradise, are longing for and awaiting the herald of the caller from within paradise when he will call out to people to enter it: “Indeed may you be healthy and never be sick again, may you live and never die again, may you be young and never grow feeble again, may you enjoy, and never feel sorrow and regret again.” (Saheeh Muslim)

After reading this, this poor and weak soul can only cry out:

{So Exalted be Allaah, the True King: Laa ilaaha illa Huwa (none has the right to be worshipped but He), the Lord of the Supreme Throne!} (Al-Mu’minoon 23:116.)


Anyone with deep insight, reflection and wisdom, who ponders over the temporal and changing nature of this world and Allah’s continuous reminders to us by means of hardships, tests, afflictions and even blessings and happiness and the constant processes of Allah giving life and causing death, will find that this world surely holds very little weight, as depicted by the Noble Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). If one sincerely and desirously contemplates deeply over the fleeting nature of this world and these aforementioned realities, one will soon come to realise that as a matter of fact, there is a next-life which is fast-approaching, a reckoning in which accounts will be settled and an eternal result will be our lot. Every single thing in this expansive universe is calling out by the tongue of its existence towards this reality and decipherable truth, just as Al-Mustafaa, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said, "O Allah, there is no life but the life of the Hereafter." (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

The Messenger of Allah (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam), may my parents be sacrificed for him, also said: "This world (i.e., its pleasures and duration) in comparison with the Hereafter is (similar to the amount of water) one gets when he puts his finger in the sea. Let him then see what it returns with". (Muslim)

agricultureIt is not surprising therefore that this world has been described by the Rasool as being a prison for the believer and a paradise for the disbelieving folk, as the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “The world is a prison for the believer and Paradise for a disbeliever." (Muslim) This is also emphasised by Allah ('azza wa jall) in the following verse: {Know that the life of this world is only play and amusement, pomp and mutual boasting among you, and rivalry in respect of wealth and children. (It is) like a rain (Ghayth), thereof the growth is pleasing to the tiller; afterwards it dries up and you see it turning yellow; then it becomes straw.  But in the Hereafter (there is) a severe torment, and (there is) forgiveness from Allah and (His) Pleasure.  And the life of this world is only a deceiving enjoyment.} (Qur'aan, 57:20)

Isn't it amazing my dear Sister, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam, said, "Paradise is nearer to any of you than the strap of his shoe, and so is the (Hell) Fire." (Ahmad 1:387) Today, people are striving in gaining worldly status and wealth. Allah (a'zza wa jall) says in the Qur’aan, comparing this world’s assets to the next:

{Look how We have bestowed more on some than on others. But verily in the hereafter there is greater difference in rank and preference.} (Isra', 17: 21.)

My Sister, after reading this we can now start to understand the great asceticism of Mu’aadhah (rahimahallah), otherwise the materialistic world in which we live surely can make it hard to understand this great zeal for worship contained within the lives of our pious predecessors.

More from this series:


booksKnowledge vis-à-vis Implementation:

Beauty within a person or an object is usually described as something which is rare, eye-catching, attractive and alluring to the eyes of the beholder. One such rare attribute within the believers is the beauty of beneficial knowledge intertwined with implementation.

For sure, the implementation of knowledge is one of the most beautiful and intriguing characteristics Mu'aadhah, the great muhaddithah and teacher had. She wasn’t from those unfortunate women who possessed knowledge, yet never saw the fruits of it within their lives, because such knowledge is then just a burden for the one who acquires it, rather than a means towards the pleasure of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'ala).

When her husband and son passed away, her reaction testified that she had reaped the fruits of her knowledge. My dear Sisters, let’s try our best to follow the example of this great woman by implementing and practising that which we do know in our own lives, taking on hand in hand the difficulties this may throw our way. For, Allah (a'zza wa jall) warns us by saying: {O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.} (Al-Qur’aan, Al-Saff [61]: 2-3.)

The analogy of those who seek knowledge without implementing it is that of a person in a time of drought, needy of water for his people. He decides to undertake a long, laborious and painstaking journey under the scorching heat of the Saharan desert, each step more difficult than the next. But, such is his expediency that he sets out with a cracked storage container. When he finally gets to his destination, he is therefore unable to retain that which he ardently sought after and hence finds that he has in fact gained nothing...

My respected sisters, the drought alludes to the difficult situation we, as believers, are facing due to our ignorance of the teachings of our deen. The scorching heat and long journey is like knowledge, since it is only through pain and exertion that it is acquired. The cracked container is an analogy of the heart of every believer that does not absorb the fruits of knowledge and is instead lost in vain...

We must bear in mind that those who do not act upon their knowledge will be punished in the hereafter. In one Prophetic Narration, the Prophet (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam) said, “A man will be brought on the Day of Judgment and thrown into the Hell-fire where his intestines will spill out. So people will gather around him and it will be said (to him): ‘Weren’t you the one who used to command good and forbid evil?’

So he will say: “I used to command you to do good yet not do it myself. And I used to forbid you from evil yet commit it myself.”‘ (Bukhari and Muslim.)

In yet another hadeeth, Rasoolullah (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam) said, “On the night that I ascended up to the heavens, I came upon a people whose lips were being cut off by pliers made from Fire. Every time their lips were severed, they would be brought back and formed again. So I said:

‘O Jibreel, who are these people?’ He said:

‘They are speakers from your nation, who say words but do not do deeds, and who read the Book of Allah yet do not act (on it).”‘(Al Bayhaqi, Hasan.)

blur-speedingMy dear Sister, action without knowledge is like a person who ignorantly over-speeds and finds he has a speeding ticket when it is too late. In the same way, the one who acts without knowledge may find that he is exceeding the limits and boundaries set by Allah by, for example, innovating, calling upon other than Allah (a'zza wa jall) and harming the neighbour; such matters are not small and can bring about grave consequences when it may be too late. For example, in the time of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) there was a woman who would pray, fast and give charity extensively. Her evil trait was that she would harm her neighbour by her words. When the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) was asked about her he said: ‘She will be in the Hellfire.’" (Musnad Imaam Ahmad.)

Today, when there is a revival taking place within Muslim women, as they feel a thirst to patiently gain and impart knowledge, a big mistake some of us are making is that we are not containing its benefit, cure, effectiveness, nourishment and fruit within our characters.  For, good manners and character are rarely acquired from books alone; rather, it is acquired by means of the companionship of the righteous. If we do this, my dear sister, we will as a result have acquired a beauty rarely exhibited within the general masses of the people...

The meretricious definition for many today of beauty,

Depicts those in pornographic images exhibiting shamelessness and nudity,

Yet, my Muslim Sisters, there is a rarity,

Found in few and hence, not the majority:

Rarely is it seen in speech and faces, or just by the person’s decorated home and clothing,

It is beneficial knowledge adorned with implementation done sincerely,

In order to see the Divine, just as the full moon in the hereafter, clearly, 

And out of love of following the Messenger, which will lead undoubtedly,

Towards enjoying the eternal bliss of Paradise eternally and wholeheartedly,

In the company of those who worshipped Allah alone - the One True Deity...

Let’s therefore implement beneficial knowledge within ourselves first and foremostly.

Narrated Jarir: Allah's Apostle came out to us on the night of the full moon and said, "You will see your Lord on the Day of Resurrection as you see this (full moon) and you will have no difficulty in seeing Him." [Bukhari, 6958]

More from this series:


shining flowerFarhat Hashmi is one of the most influential contemporary Muslim scholars or Ulema particularly in Pakistan, the United Kingdom and the United States. She has had a profound impact on the religiosity and understanding of Islam by women since the 1990s when she started her program of Qur'anic education.

Personal Life

Dr. Hashmi (or Dr. Farhat as she is referred to by many of her students) was born in Sargodha, Punjab, and is the daughter of the (Late) Abdur Rehman Hashmi, another prominent Muslim scholar.

She received her masters in Arabic at the Punjab University, Lahore, and was married shortly afterwards to Dr. Idrees Zubair. She received her PhD in Hadith Sciences from the University of Glasgow, Scotland. She taught at the International Islamic University Islamabad, while also conducting informal "duroos" or religious study circles for women in the Pakistani capital Islamabad. Her fame caught on as her study circles were regularly attended by the social elite in the capital, including Mrs. Farooq Leghari, the First Lady of Pakistan in the late 1990s.

She resigned from her post at the University and decided to pursue her mission of establishing a center of Islamic learning, particularly catering to women. She is known worldwide for having established Al-Huda International, a chain of centers that cater towards the promotion of Qur'anic knowledge for the common women. "Al-Huda" means "The Guidance", which is one of the epithets of the Qur'an. It is the ultimate guidance provided by God to mankind to lead a righteous life.

Dr. Hashmi and Dr. Zubair have four children: three married daughters and a son. Their daughters are also teachers there. There is Asma Zubair also known as Bint al-huda who teaches recitation and Taimiyyah Zubair who teaches grammar. She has one daughter in Pakistan Maryam and a son Hisham, who lives with her. Currently, the family resides in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada.

Dr. Hashmi established the first center of her institution "Al-Huda International" in a building in downtown Islamabad. Since then, Al-Huda centers have been established in most of the cities of Pakistan, USA and Canada to impart the pristine teachings of the Qur'an and Hadith. Besides regular courses, the centers conduct special workshops which are open to the general public. One of the largest centers is located in Clifton, a posh locality of Karachi.

Dr. Hashmi herself lectures in some of these sessions, particularly during the month of Ramadan. Many of her lectures are recorded and disseminated all throughout Pakistan, the Middle East as well as the US and UK.

Over the years, a number of women from common walks of life have taken on a leadership role in the dissemination of knowledge after having spent time in acquiring the essential knowledge and tools from Dr. Hashmi. These women also manage the different centers all over the world. Women scholars at her institution also conduct lectures and workshops in English, however the primary medium remains Urdu.

Dr. Hashmi is widely known for her in depth knowledge of Hadith (sayings of Muhammad), and a detailed grasp of Classical Arabic. Her primary following remains the middle and upper classes of Pakistan, however her influence is certainly more widespread, and is not restricted only to women.

Some of Dr. Farhat Hashmi's lectures can be accessed here.


natural-scenery-20True Love:

When we read the life of Mu’aadhah, we come to see the great love she had for her husband. For not only was he a great mujaahid (combatant in the way of Allah [a'zza wa jall]), but he was also a great 'aabid (worshipper) and therefore shared and strived for the same goal as her - to worship the Lord of the heavens and the earth.

Indeed, it is a great blessing for a Muslim woman to be blessed with a righteous and Allah-fearing husband with whom she can work to improve herself, both knowledge-wise and eemaan (faith)-wise.

Such a sister should thank Allah (a'zza wa jall) profusely for having bestowed on her, especially in today’s day and age, a husband of such a religious standing. She should try to overlook issues and matters which may not be to her liking or annoy her, but are religiously permissible, and instead serve him to the best of her ability so as to gain Paradise.The Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has said:“If a woman prays her five (daily) prayers and keeps her private parts chaste and obeys her husband, she will enter Paradise from any of the doors of Paradise she wishes.” (Reported by Ibn Hibbaan in his Saheeh.)

If a sister’s husband isn’t as religious as her, or if there is an element(s) of spirituality missing in her spouse’s life, then she should try her utmost, using the love between them, to encourage him with patience, intelligence and wisdom, and should sincerely invoke and turn to Allah to bring about the remembrance of and closeness of Him (subhaanahu wa ta'ala) into their married life.

For example, while spending time with her husband, she could try and bring up the subject of Allah’s [azza wa jall] favours, blessings, signs of His existence and the fact that Allah [azza wa jall] is above, watching all that we do and hearing all that we say. She could also convey to him interesting and heart-moving sayings, facts and incidents from the lives of the righteous. If she doesn’t know many, then she should strive to remove ignorance from herself; for, how can we endeavour to change others when we are in need of change within ourselves? Allah (a'zza wa jall) says: {Allah will not change the state of a people as long as they do not change their state themselves.} (Ar-Ra’d [13]:11.)

Therefore dear Sister,

Turn to Allah and plead to Him to remove satan’s stealth

Begin a revival in yourself

Return to the books of knowledge, our spiritual wealth

Allah willing, you will see a revival in your heart and its health

Thereby removing ignorance from your husband,

But firstly and most importantly: in yourself.

If a Muslim woman does this in a wise and prudent fashion over a period of time, even if her husband is not as righteous as she would like, she would have in fact begun a journey by which we pray Allah [azza wa jall] will pardon her and raise her ranks in this world and the next, fill her home with the happiness of eemaan (faith), the scent of birr (righteousness), the fruits of taqwaa (Allah-consciousness), the cleanliness of pure tawheed (the oneness of Allah [a'zza wa jall]), and the soft and melodious recitation of the Book of Allah, aameen. And never forget dear sister, truly and without a doubt, Allah is the One who changes and turns over the hearts.

By continuously remembering Allah [azza wa jall] and continually keeping in mind His supreme existence, one will find a change in one’s way of thinking... Tests will seem as blessings…the weak eemaan will become like a beautiful towering mountain, which is hard to move and shake, and the home will turn into one of the most blessed places after the masaajid of Allah [azza wa jall], inshaa' Allah.

Truly, in this is success! For, it is by the remembrance of Allah one’s sins are forgiven and great rewards are saved up. Let’s allow our hearts to seep in and enjoy the promise of Allah [a'zza wa jall]: {And the men and women who remember Allah frequently, Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward.} (Al-Ahzab [33]:35.)

Dear Sister, how many women claim to love their husbands yet do not work to bring their husbands closer to the doors of Paradise, wherein are joys and delights that are perpetual and never-ending? Instead we see women doing the opposite, asking their husbands to declare war with Allah and His Messenger by taking a mortgage or taking unneeded loans for the sake of mere luxury.

The believing woman is above such things, she wishes to please her Lord and draw close to Him. She wants her home to be filled with blessings and a family that continuously remembers Allah [azza wa jall]. Just as Allah [azza wa jall] has said: {And remember your Lord by your tongue and within yourself, humbly and in awe, without loudness, by words in the morning and in the afternoon, and be not among those who are neglectful.} (Al-Araf [7]:205.)

Such was the case with Mu’aadhah. Her home was blessed with a righteous husband and also a righteous and obedient child. In fact, the obedient nature of her son resulted in him jumping into the thickest of battle, and right into Paradise inshaa’ Allah.

The News swiftly approaches

The news of the martyrdom of both her husband and son was swiftly approaching towards this 'aabidah [worshipper].

The Muslim women began walking towards her home to offer their condolences. Their minds had probably prepared chosen words to soothe her heart, relieve its pain and help her through this hard time, as they knew that a great test was to befall her.

They probably had imagined that they would meet a woman crying, her world shattered, in a dishevelled and worrying state…if only they knew!


As she saw the women enter her home, she looked towards them and said words which reflect her deep love and conviction in her Lord:

"Welcome to you if you have come to congratulate me - but if you have come for other than that then return.” (Taarikh al Islaam lil Imaam ad-Dhahabi ,Volume  6, pg 198.)

These words emanated from a soul which believed with sincere conviction in the promise of her Lord.  For, Mu'aadhah’s (rahimahallah) knowledge infused within her eemaan (faith), the fruits of which were tawakkul [reliance] and yaqeen [certainty] in the words of Allah (subhaanahu wa ta'ala) and His Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam). For, Allah [a'zza wa jall] has said: {Think not of those who are killed in the Way of Allah as dead. Nay, they are alive, with their Lord, and they have provision.} (Aal 'Imraan [3]:169.)

She knew that both her husband and son had gone out in the way of Allah [a'zza wa jall] and that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has given the glad tidings regarding those who have gone out in the way of Allah [a'zza wa jall] and have been killed as being martyrs: “One who is slain in the way of Allah is a martyr; one who dies in the way of Allah is a martyr…” (Muslim, Book 20, Hadith 4706). By inshaa’ Allah becoming martyrs, her husband and son had in fact accomplished something which the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) ardently desired, as the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) has said: “I would love to be martyred in Allah's Cause and come to life and then get martyred and then come to life and then get martyred and then get resurrected and then get martyred.” (Bukhari, Book 9, Volume 90, Hadith 332.)

Women without faith, understanding and conviction in their Lord, the Messengership of the Noble Messenger (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) and the hereafter would indeed find the words of Mu'aadhah (rahimahallah) and her ‘abnormal’ reaction to the death of the two most beloved people to her as signs of the dawn of insanity, instability, insecurity and depression. Little do they know. It was a time to rejoice, for the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said that the martyrs are in paradise, in the hearts of green birds!

The great Companion, Abdullah ibn Abbaas narrates that the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said: “When your brethren were smitten at the battle of Uhud, Allah put their spirits in the hearts of green birds which go down to the rivers of Paradise, eat its fruit and nestle in lamps of gold in the shade of the Throne. Then when they experienced the sweetness of their food, drink and rest, they asked: ‘Who will tell our brethren about us that we are alive in Paradise provided with provision, in order that they might not be disinterested in jihaad and recoil in war?’ Allah, the Most High, said: ‘I shall tell them about you’; so Allah sent down; "And do not consider those who have been killed in Allah's path..." till the end of the verse.'  (Dawud, Book 14, Hadith 2514). And in a narration of Saheeh Muslim, it has been narrated on the authority of Masruq who said: We asked 'Abdullah about the Qur'anic verse: "Think not of those who are slain in Allah's way as dead. Nay, they are alive, finding their sustenance in the presence of their Lord...” He said: We asked the meaning of the verse (from the Holy Prophet) who said: “The souls of the martyrs live in the bodies of green birds that have their nests in chandeliers hung from the throne of the Almighty. They eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever they like and then nestle in these chandeliers. Once their Lord cast a glance at them and said: ‘Do you want anything?’ They said: ‘What more shall we desire? We eat the fruits of Paradise from wherever we like’. Their Lord asked them the same question thrice. When they saw that they will continue to be asked and not left (without answering the question), they said: ‘O Lord, we wish that you may return our souls to our bodies so that we may be slain in your way once again. When He (Allah) saw that they had no need, they were left (to their joy in heaven)’. (Muslim, Book 20, Hadith 4651.)

Dear Sister, sincerely answer me, is there anything better than Paradise? For, the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) said regarding the people of Paradise: “Whoever enters it enjoys and has no harm, and lives forever and does not die.” (Saheeh Muslim) Every wife and mother wants the best for her husband and child, as did Mu’aadhah (rahimahallah), which explains her reaction of happiness at the news of their martyrdom.

We shouldn’t be mistaken into thinking that it was only Muaa’dhah’s knowledge that inculcated within her this amazing and extraordinary conviction and faith, rather it was also her worship. In truth, she was an 'aabidah [worshipper] who had truly reaped the fruits of her worship. For 'ibaadah [worship] is not just mere movement of the limbs and tongue, rather it is a spiritual training - a refining process for the heart and soul. Her words show the state of her heart. For it is in the time of tests that the good is known from the bad, the person who truly believes in the next life from the one whose belief and conviction is weak; the Prophet (sallallahu a’layhi wa sallam) said: "The real patience is at the first stroke of a calamity." (Bukhari, Book 2, Volume 23, Hadith 389)

Patience isn’t something that naturally comes to most people, rather one must struggle patiently in order to be patient. The words of the Prophet (sallallahu `alayhi wa sallam) will, inshaa’ Allah, clarify what I mean. He said: “Whoever tries to be patient, Allah will give him patience, and no one is given a better or vaster gift than patience." (Malik, Book 58, Hadith 58.2.7) Therefore if a person is patient, then Allah [a'zza wa jall] will make a way out for such a person and ease his hardship, as 'Umar (radhiallahu `anhu) said:

"Whatever hardship befalls a believing slave, Allah will make an opening for him after it, and a hardship will not overcome two eases. Allah the Exalted says in His Book, ‘O you who trust, be patient, and vie in patience; be steadfast and fear Allah, perhaps you will profit.’” (Chapter 3, verse 200).' (Malik, Book 21, Hadith 21.1.6)

Her reaction to the news of the death of the two most beloved people to her serves as a lesson for all the women of the world and is a stark difference to what we see when many women lose their beloved ones. How many times do we witness women wailing, screaming and hitting themselves, as if there is no hereafter, no reward for patience, and this world is the be-all and end-all?!

Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] loved them dearly and in fact missed them greatly. She yearned to once again be united with them.

One of the means by which she worked towards this aim was by exerting herself in worship, so much so that even though she was known as the ‘Aa’bidah of Iraaq’, just like her husband was known for his worship, we see that after the death of the two most beloved people to her, her 'ibaadah took a new turn and a whole new meaning.

For, she was preparing for the meeting with her Lord, the Most High.

More from this series:



A Teacher Unlike Any Other:

In the life of a student of knowledge, the presence of a teacher plays a weighty and momentous role. It is under the shade of one’s teacher that not only does the individual gain knowledge but a refinement of mannerism and thought. This is why, before mentioning the biography of someone great, there is no harm in first mentioning the teacher. In fact, this is a source of respect for the one to be spoken about especially if the teacher holds great respect and awe within the hearts of the masses...such as our beloved mother Aa’ishah [radhiallahu `anha].

Seldom has history seen the likes of a female scholar with the calibre of our mother Aa’ishah [radhiallahu `anha].

This is not surprising since she had spent hours in the presence of the Messenger of Allah [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam]; the knowledge that she drank from the fountain of Prophetic guidance equipped her well for the significant and great task that came her way after the Prophet’s demise.

It was in her company that great narrators of hadeeth from amongst her students arose, who would narrate to the people the words of the Prophet [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam] by first mentioning the chain:

“I heard the Mother of the Believers Aa’ishah [rah] say that the Messenger of Allah…”

The great Taabi’ee and Scholar of Hadeeth, Imaam Az-Zuhri, who was entrusted by the Caliph Umar Abdul-Azeez to collect the words of the Prophet [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam] and compile them into book form, said about Aa’ishah [radhiallahu `anha]:

“If the knowledge of Aa’ishah were to be gathered [in comparison] to the knowledge of all [the rest of] his wives, and the knowledge of all women, the knowledge of Aa’ishah would be more superior.” [At Tirmidhi: [4]: 363-364]

Yes, it was upon the very chest of Aa’ishah [radhiAllahu `anha] that the Prophet’s [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam] soul was taken up to the heavens and the Prophet [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam] passed away. Therefore, it is of no surprise that in her company, this great taabi’yyah[1] arose; a student and a narrator of hadeeth unlike any other, a worshipper amongst the 'aabidaat [women worshippers] of this ummah.


I was surprised and amazed when I first came across the name of this Taabi’yyah briefly whilst studying 'Umdatul Ahkaam (A beginners text in Prophetic Narrations pertaining to Islamic Jursiprudence). My mind was amazed that history had even contained such a personality; thinking back into the files stored away in my memory I realised that I had never met a woman who had such belief or conviction as she did. The more I read about her, the more awe, amazement and respect I had for her. This is because it is very rare for a human to fight one’s desire from living in the comfort of this world and to sacrifice the company of ones beloved ones for Allah alone. Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] was different; she was a Muslim woman who knew that in the hereafter was her real and final abode.

Having realised the importance and dire need to know more about this Muhaddithah [Woman Scholar of Hadeeth] and 'Aaabidah [worshipper], I dived into researching about her life and gathering as much information as I could about her. And as I began writing up this article, happiness engulfed my heart, which I wished and prayed would overrule the sadness that prevailed therein… the sadness that such great personalities are not mentioned and remembered as they should be by the masses… the sadness of seeing Muslim girls and women taking shallow undeserving role models to lead them - to what they think is success - but in truth leads to failure in this life and, Allah forbid, a painful punishment in the next.

The clock keeps ticking as two impending events are to befall us at any time and anywhere. Now’s the time to choose our role models with the utmost care before death overcomes us or the hour dawns, after which there is no turning back. Now is the time to gain strength upon the straight path and one of the ways to do so is to go back and study the lives of the righteous.

So let’s begin our journey into the life of this great taabi’yyah, a woman with strong eeman [belief], yaqeen [certitude] and tawakkal [reliance], a Wife, a Mother, the Woman Scholar of Hadeeth, the great Worshipper of Basrah,

The Mother of as-Sahbaa’,  Mu’aadhah bint Abdillah Al A’dawiyyah. [2]

An Undisputed Narrator of Ahaadeeth (Prophetic Narrations)

Before the time of Imaam Al Bukhaari [rahimahullah] the ahaadeeth of the Prophet [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam] were collected, such as the Muwatta’ of Imaam Maalik about which Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee [rahimahullah] said:

“There is no book of knowledge on the face of the earth after the book of Allah more authentic than the book of Maalik.” [3]

Such great books of hadeeth did exist but no one had as yet introduced the idea of collecting only authentic ahaadeeth. Imaam Al Bukhaari [rahimahullah] was the first to compile a hadeeth book with the intention of only recording therein narrations that were authentic. That’s why Imaam Al Bukhaari’s book of hadeeth is officially referred to as “Jaami’ as-Saheeh” – ‘Jaami’ because it contains chapters on various subjects and not just Fiqh [Islamic Jurisprudence], as is the case with Buloogh al Maraam and Muwatta’. As for the statement of Imaam ash-Shaafi’ee [rahimahullah] regarding the Muwatta’ being the most authentic book after the Qur’aan, then this was before the time of Imaam Al Bukhaari [rahimahullah].

The student of Imaam Al Bukhaari, namely Imaam Muslim [rahimahullah], also following his example compiled his book of hadeeth, although Imaam Muslim’s conditions were not as strict as Imaam Al Bukhaari’s. In fact, it is Imaam Al Bukhaari’s [rahimahullah] strict conditions which have made his book hold such weight, to the point that Saheeh Al Bukhaari is considered to be the most authentic book after the Qur’aan. For a hadeeth to be accepted by Imaam Al Bukhaari [rahimahullah], each narrator in the chain of hadeeth must have fulfilled his strict and stringent conditions. For example:

  • Each narrator must be trustworthy and reliable.
  • Each narrator must have precision when narrating.
  • Each narrator must have had a good and balanced character.
  • The narrators must have met each other and there must be proof and confirmation of that meeting – even if it was just once. (Whereas Imaam Muslim accepts a hadeeth into his book if the narrators had been in the same time period, since that in itself points to a great chance of these trustworthy people having met and narrated from each other.)

Therefore, it is not a light matter that Mu’aadhah’s [rahimahallah] name occurs in different books of hadeeth, the most famous of which are Saheeh Al Bukhaari and Saheeh Muslim. This is a proof of her undisputed reliability and trustworthiness. Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] met all requirements which qualified her to be a narrator for the most authentic books of hadeeth in the world; in fact, all the 6 famous books of hadeeth narrate ahaadeeth from her.[4] For example, Imaam Al Bukhaari [rahimahullah] has included in his book ahaadeeth narrated through her in his chapter on haydh [menses] and the chapter pertaining to the explanation of Suratul Ahzaab [chapter 33 of the Qur’aan]. The great scholar of hadeeth Ibn Ma'een [rahimahullah] said about her ‘thiqah hujjah’ [reliable and a proof]. Also Ibn Hibbaan [rahimahullah] has mentioned her as ‘fi al thiqaat’ [amongst the reliable women narrators].[5] And that is why Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] is undeniably referred to and has been given the prestigious title of being from the Al-Aalimaat bil hadeeth [women who were knowledgeable regarding hadeeth].[6]

This is not surprising since some of the great personalities she narrated from included Sahaabah and Taabi’een:

  • Aa’ishah [radhiallahu `anha], the Beloved of the Messenger of Allah [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam]
  • Ali ibn abi Taalib [radhiallahu `anhu][7]
  • Umm A’mar [8] bint A’bdillah ibn Zubayr [rahimahallah][9]
  • Hishaam ibn A’aamir [rahimahullah][10]
  • And her husband: Silah ibn Ashyam [rahimahullah]

The Teacher of Teachers

Knowledge is like a beautiful emanating fragrance; the one who bears it, whether willingly or unwilling, will undoubtedly somehow share it. Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] was a flower that willingly and gracefully distributed the precious fragrances that emanated from her heart, which she had collected from the righteous and in turn passed on to the righteous. And that is why the likes of the following great personalities narrated from her:

  • Hasan al Basri [11]
  • Yazeed ar-Rishq [12]
  • Abu Qulaabah [13]
  • Ayyub [14]
  • Sulaymaan ibn Abdillah al Basaree [15]
  • Ishaaq ibn Sa’eed [16]
  • A’aasim and a group [17]
  • Umm al Hasan [the grandmother of Abu Bakr al A’dawi] [18]
  • And others [19] from the people of Basrah. [20] [This is because she resided with her family in Basrah]

For those who have come across the names of these great personalities and their biographies will come to realise the status Muaadhah [rahimahallah] held amongst the believers. The combination of knowledge, worship and piety made her name stand out and shine within the hearts of the believers, especially those who desired to narrate ahaadeeth with a strong chain of narration up to the Prophet [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam]. This is why people flocked to her to hear from her the words of the Prophet [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam], his Companions and those who followed after the Companions – the Taabi’een [rahimahumullah]. For example, Ja’far ibn Kaysaan [rahimahullah] said:

“I saw Muaadhah muhtabiyyah [with her legs drawn up and wrapped in her garment] and women were surrounding her.” [21]

What this means is that she was sitting down, as one would with one’s legs drawn up, and she was wrapped in a garment as women surrounded her. Just as her knowledge taught her not to comprise imparting knowledge, it also taught her not to compromise her hijaab. So it was with her hijaab embracing her that she wholeheartedly embraced the role of a teacher.

A Great Wife of a Great Man

When we read about the life of Muaadhah [rahimahallah] we sense the deep love she had for her husband. This isn’t surprising since he was the great taabi’ee: Silah bin Ashyam.[22] A Shaheed, the son of a Shaheed;[23] he would pray at night and do jihaad during the day; yes, he was a soldier during the day and a monk within the darkness of the night.[24] He also had the privilege of narrating from the illustrious Sahaabi: Abdullah ibn A’bbaas [radhiallahu `anhu].

The reason for first introducing Mu’aadhah’s [rahimahallah] husband is clear: he held a pivotal and important role in her life. Allah [azza wa jall] says in the Qur’aan:

“…They are a Garment for You and You are a Garment for them…” [25]

Truly for a wife her husband is like her garment; in this way, just as garments are similar, Mu’aadhah and her husband were similar…


Imaam adh-Dhahabi [rahimahullah] introduces Silah [rahimahullah] in his book ‘A’laam an-Nubalaa’ as:

‘The Ascetic, the Worshipper, the Role Model:Abu Sahbaa’ Al A’dawee Al Basree,the husband of the A’aalimah [knowledgeable] Mu’aadhah Al A’daweeyyah.’ [26]

May Allah [azza wa jall] shower His blessings on Imaam Adh-Dhahabi! Truly, he was blessed with words which were eloquent, succinct and rich in meaning, both in depth and breadth. The three concise terms Imaam adh-Dhahabi [rahimahullah] used to describe Silah ibn Ashyam [rahimahullah], the husband of Mu’aadhah, are:

  1. The Ascetic
  2. The Worshipper
  3. The Role Model

Anyone who reads his life will see that he was exactly these three:

1. The Worshipper

Although your eyes may have just briefly glanced over the term ‘Worshipper’, I’m sure the following examples will shock you, as they shocked me, as to the real depth of devotion Silah [rahimahullah] had in his worship of Allah [azza wa jall]. I pray Allah [azza wa jall] makes us too of His sincere worshippers, Aameen.

Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] described her husband’s worship:

‘Abu Sahbaa’ would pray until he was unable to reach his bed except by crawling.’[27]

In fact, when the extensive prayer at night would take its toll on him and the period of weakness came upon him, he would take a whip and he would stand hitting his feet and would say,

‘By Allah! You are more deserving of being beaten than my riding animal – you tire me from Salaah!’[28]

So the feet had to make a quick choice: either take a beating or stand and pray!

His worship was so intense that when a lion came towards him whilst he was praying, he did not flinch away from his Salaah. Hammaad bin Zayd Al A’bdee said that his father narrated to him the following:

‘We went out on a military expedition to Kaabul, and in the army was Silah ibn Ashyam. He left the people after 'atamah [night time and it could also be referring to after Salaatul I’shaa] and then went to sleep. So people were covered with unawareness [due to sleep] until I said [to myself] that the eyes have rested so I rushed and entered the jungle that was near to him [i.e. Silah] and I followed his footsteps…

He was doing Wudhoo’ after which he stood and prayed. He opened [his prayer i.e. he began reciting Suratul Faatihah], when a lion came until it reached near to him so I climbed a tree. I said [to myself]: ‘I will see whether it [the lion] turns towards him or injures him when he prostrates.’ I said to myself: ‘Now it [the lion] will pounce upon him’, but nothing happened! Then he [Silah] sat and then said his salaam and said:

‘O lion! Search for rizq [sustenance] from another place.’

So it turned and certainly it had a roar, I said [to myself] the mountain has cracked because of it!

And he [Silah] didn’t cease praying like that until it was nearly morning; he sat and praised Allah with praises that I have not heard the like of except what Allah wishes. Then he [Silah] said:

‘O Allaah! I ask you that you ransom me from the fire, or the like of me who dares to ask you [for] the Paradise.’

Then he returned [to where the people were] and he entered upon the morning [in a state] as though he had spent the night on a mattress [i.e. sleeping]! And I awoke and with me was a kind of fatrah [slackness/weakness] regarding which Allah knows.’[29]

2. An Ascetic

An important trait a worshipper needs is reliance in Allah and to have conviction and submission in that which Allah [azza wa jall] decrees out of His wisdom for His slave. Silah’s [rahimahullah] brother passed away and a man came to inform him of the news of the death of his brother. What was the reply of this great taabi’ee? He [rahimahullah] said:

‘Come and eat, for I lamented my brother’s death a long time ago when I read Allah, the Most High’s saying:'Verily, You will die and Verily, they (too) will die.’ [Az-Zumar: 30]

This is because he knew of the verse,

“Is not He (better than your gods) Who responds to the distressed one, when he calls Him, and Who removes the evil...”[30]

Surely Allah [azza wa jall] does respond to the one who is distressed, just as occurred in the following two recorded incidents that occurred with Silah [rahimahullah], he says:

1. ‘We came out into a village and I was on my riding animal in a time when the water was overflowing [i.e. there was a flood]…for a [whole] day I couldn’t find food, then I met a fellow who was carrying something on his neck so I said to him ‘put it down [i.e. unburden yourself]’ and it was bread. I said to him ‘feed me,’ then he said ‘if you want, but within it is pig fat’ so I left it. Then I met another person and I said ‘feed me’, he said ‘it is my provision for days, so if you reduce [from] it then you will make me [i.e. be the reason for me being] hungry,’ so I left it.

By Allah! I was surely moving on when I heard behind me a falling like the falling of a bird. So I turned and behold! It was something wrapped in white thread so I came down towards it… It was a dowkhlah [a receptacle made of palm leaves in which dates are placed] of fresh and ripe dates in a season in which there weren’t in the land ripe and fresh dates. So I ate from it, then I wrapped what was left and mounted the horse and carried with me the dates.’[31]

The cloth in which the dates came down was kept by his wife Mu’aadhah [rahimahallah] for some time.[32]

2. Once Silah ibn Ashyam was in a military expedition and his horse died. He turned towards his left and then his right and then said:

‘O Allah! Do not make the creation have a favour upon me. For certainly I am shy from asking other than you.’

Allah [azza wa jall] knew his sincerity therefore Allah gave life to his horse and so he mounted the horse till he reached his family. When he reached his family, Silah [rahimahullah] said to his servant [or son] ‘Detach the saddle for certainly the horse is a’ariyyah [free]’, and so he removed the saddle after which the horse fell down dead.

In this is no surprise, for whomsoever has tawakkul [reliance] in Allah and calls upon Him, He will answer his du’a and protect him, even if the heavens and the earth were to try to harm him Allah would certainly make for him a way out and an opening. [33]

3. A Role Model

He was from those who fought in the way of Allah and from those who awaited their reward from Allah [azza wa jall]. The way in which Silah [rahimahullah] and his son were killed is famous within the books of history and is commonly used today by lecturers and orators within their talks. This is because within this incident are great lessons for Muslims and an example of which we are in dire need today.


The fierce battle began and the enemies advanced; the believers stood strong within the raging battle. Within the blessed Muslim army was Silah [rahimahullah] and with him was the eldest of his four sons, As-Sahbaa’ [rahimahullah]. Weakness and cowardliness did not dare to try and sneak into their hearts, since their hearts desired only Paradise. They were racing towards Paradise, just as Allah [azza wa jall] commanded,

{Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord, and for a Garden whose width is that (of the whole) of the heavens and of the earth, prepared for the righteous.}[34]

And truly they were from the righteous, since righteousness is determined by both word and action. On this great day both Silah ibn Ashyam’s words and actions were those of a man who desired good for his son and of course for himself. He turned to his son, the son who had drank the milk of a righteous mother, the son whose childhood had witnessed worship and devotion scarcely found in Muslim households today. He commanded his son to a goodness which rarely fathers command,

‘O My Son! Advance till I consider you [amongst the shuhadaa’].’

So the righteous son of a righteous mother and of a righteous father obeyed the command of his father and jumped into the delights of the hereafter. For one of his role models was Ismaa’eel [as] who, when told by his father that he saw him in a dream, and the dreams of the Prophets are true, that he was slaughtering him, Ismaael obeyed and laid down his cheek to be slaughtered:

{So when they had both submitted their wills (to Allah), and he had laid him prostrate on his forehead (for sacrifice)…}[35]

The father watched his son being killed and desired the same for himself – to be killed in the way of the Lord of the heavens and the earth. Silah [rahimahullah] advanced and was killed, in the year 62 AH.

Mu’aadhah [rahimahullah], the great Taabi’yyah awaits in her home the arrival of her beloved husband and her dear son.

What is her reaction to their martyrdom? How does she react towards those who come to console her? How does she continue her life after the death of her beloved husband and son?

In Part 2, inshaa' Allah.

More from this series:


[1] Taabi’yyah: This term refers to a woman who met at least one companion. Further, in order to qualify and deserve this title, the person who met the companion must have been a Muslim.

[2] Jaami al Usool Fi Hadeeth Ar-Rasool Vol 12, page 923

[3] Manaaqib Ash-Shaaf’iee lil Bayhaqi 1/507

[4] Sharh Sunnan Abee Dawood by Abdul Muhsin al A’bbaad vol 2, pg 260

[5] Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb, vol 12, pg 401

[6] Al A’laam liz-zarkali, vol 7, pg 259

[7] Tuhfah al Ahwazee, baab al istinjaa bil maa’, vol 1, pg 77

[8] At-Ta’deel wa at-Tajreeh, vol 3, pg 1491

[9] Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb, vol 12, pg 401

[10] Tahdheeb al Kamaal, vol 35, pg 308

[11] Sifah as-Safwah, vol 4, pg 22-24

[12] Jaami al Usool Fi Hadeeth Ar-Rasool Vol 12, page 923

[13] Tuhfah al Ahwazee, baab al istinjaa bil maa’, vol 1, pg 77

[14] Tuhfah al Ahwazee, baab al istinjaa bil maa’, vol 1, pg 77

[15] Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb, vol 12, pg 401

[16] Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb, vol 12, pg 401

[17] Al A’laam liz-zarkali, vol 7, pg 259

[18] Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb, vol 12, pg 401

[19] Tahdheeb at-Tahdheeb, vol 12, pg 401

[20] Ath-Thiqaat li ibn Hibbaan, vol 5, pg 466

[21] Tabaaqaat vol 10, pg 447

[22] Ath-Thiqaat li ibn Hibbaan, vol 5, pg 466

[23] Duroos li shaykh ibn sa’eed ibn musfar, baab: Amthilah min hayaat as-salaf a’laa mujaahadatin nafs

[24] Duroos li shaykh ibn sa’eed ibn musfar, baab: Amthilah min hayaat as-salaf a’laa mujaahadatin nafs

[25] Suratul Baqarah: 187

[26] A’alaam An-Nubalaa’, vol 3, pg 497

[27] Ibn Sa’d vol 7, pg 1 – Saheeh.

[28] Duroos li shaykh ibn sa’eed ibn musfar, baab: Amthilah min hayaat as-salaf a’laa mujaahadatin nafs

[29] Mowsooa’h al Bahooth wal maqaalaat al I’lmiyyah, baab: ladhah at-ta’bbud I’nda as-salaf

[30] Suratun Naml, verse 62

[31] A’alaam An-Nubalaa’, vol 3, pg 497

[32] Awliyaa’ Ar-Rahmaan wa Awliyaa’ Al-Shaytaan, chapter: Karaamaat As-Sahaabah wat-Tabieen

[33] With slight adaptation from: Ali Al Qarni Muhaadaraat wa khutub

[34] Aal Imraan: 133

[35] As-Saafaat: 103

Shaykhah Umm ‘Abdillaah ‘Aa’ishah Bint Muqbil Ibn Haadi, Al-Wadi’eeyah

myadviceShe is the daughter of Shaykh Muqbil, a late Yemeni scholar. She is one who loves the Sunnah [Prophetic Guidance] and calls to Allaah upon knowledge and understanding, and is a strong researcher who hates blind following and strives on understanding the proof and acting upon it. Her students love her and she loves them with a strong love, and Allaah benefited her students by her, and made some of them callers to Allaah as well.

She teaches ‘As-Sunnah’ by Ibn Abee ‘Aasim, and ‘Qatarun-Nadaa’ and she has previously taught ‘Al-Qawlul-Mufeed’ by the esteemed Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abdil Wahhaab Al-Wasaabee, and ‘Fath Al-Majeed Sharh Kitaabit-Tawheed’ and other books as well.

She has authored ‘Naseehatee lin-Nisaa’ (My Advice to the Women), which has been published by Daar Al-Athaar and which is now available in the English language. Also ‘As-Saheeh Al-Musnad min As-Shamaa’il Al-Muhammadiyyah’, related to the Prophet’s (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam) characteristics and descriptions, published by Daar Al-Athaar. And a treatise that is waiting to be printed, ‘Al-’Ilm wal-’Ulemaa’ (The Knowledge and Scholars). She is currently working on the verification and explanation of ‘As-Sunnah’ (The Prophetic Guidance) by Ibn Abee ‘Aasim including Islamic Jurisprudence, the religious importance of traveling for knowledge, and the rulings on the Prophetic Narrations, authentic and weak, without blindly following anyone from the people of this time or other than them. She is also working on ‘As-Saheeh Al-Musnad min As-Seerati An-Nabawiyyah’, regarding the Prophet’s (sallallahu a'lyhi wa sallam) life, and she also has a beneficial commentary on the book of ‘Bulagh Al Maraam’ by Al-Haafidh Ibn Hajar, which contains Prophetic Narrations concerning jurisprudence.

All of this she does along with answering letters that are sent to her from within Yemen and outside of it, and Allaah has made it sufficient for her to continue the journey in the service of the Prophet’s Sunnah [Prophetic Guidance].

May Allaah protect her and her students from ignorant partisanship, aameen (may it be so).

Umm ‘Abdillaah Al-Wadi’eeyyah

Shaykhah Umm ‘Abdillaah ‘Aa’ishah has an older sister, Umm ‘Abdillaah Al-Wadi’eeyyah. She is one who loves the good. She teaches within the limits of her capabilities and responsibilities. May Allaah give us success and guide her to good. Verily He is Bountiful and Generous.

The following is a PDF in which there is information on how Umm A’bdullah’s father, Shaykh Muqil brought up his children:

Download (right click & "save target as")

Umm Shu’ayb As-Salafiyyah Al-Waadi’iyyah

She is a wife of Shaykh Muqbil. An excellent woman who fears Allaah and who has love for the sunnah [Prophetic Guidance] and the people of the sunnah. She has excellent character. She teaches her sisters in Qur’aan memorization with tajweed (correct recitation of the Qur’aan). In addition, she has studied with some of her sisters ‘Al-Qawlul-Mufeed’ from our esteemed brother, the Shaykh Muhammad Ibn Abdil Wahhaab Al-Wasaabee. She has also studied ‘At-Tihfat As-Sunniyah’ and ‘Al-Mutamama' and ‘As-Sifaat As-Salaah’ by Shaykh Al-Albaanee. Umm Shu’ayb has authored, ‘As-Saheeh Al-Musnad min Fadaa’il Ahlil Baytu An-Nabawee’ with clarification of what it needs from the explanation of some of the words. She is now working on ‘As-Saheeh Al-Musnad min Al-Adaab An-Nabawee’, as well as reviewing books of explanation and recalling some of the benefits and elucidating some of the general expressions in the book. May Allaah (a'zza wa jall) grant her good.

She continues upon good and gaining beneficial knowledge. She used to attend Shaykh Muqbil’s lessons and other lectures from behind a curtain. May Allaah keep her firm and strong on the truth and benefit Islaam and the Muslims by her. And in spite of all this, she used to serve and help him with research as well as one could possibly wish. May Allaah grant her good.

Umm Salamah As-Salafiyyah

She is also a wife of Shaykh Muqbil, an excellent, ascetic caller to Allaah on firm knowledge, and she has excellent character. She teaches her sisters from ‘At-Tihfat As-Sunniya’, ‘Al-Mutamama’, ‘Al-Baa’ith Al-Hatheeth’, ‘Al-Qawlul-Mufeed’, ‘Al-Aqeedatul-Waasatiyyah’, ‘Al-Mufrad Al-’Ilm’ and ‘Al-Mulhah’ through memorization and studying the explanations.

One of her books, ‘Al-Intisa lill-Muminaat’, is under publication. She is also now working on ‘Al-Adaab al- Mufrad’, discussing what needs to be discussed regarding the narrators in the chains of narration. She also mentions the points of benefit from the fiqh of hadeeth, and the explanation of strange words within it and the verification of sources of the ahaadeeth as needed. She has not ceased to continue upon the good and learning from the beneficial knowledge.

She attended the classes of Shaykh Muqbil and other lectures from behind a curtain and would help him in research. May Allaah make her firm upon the truth and benefit Islam and the Muslims by her. And may Allaah grant her good.


IHajj_Tawaf1n truth all praise is due to Allah alone and may the choicest peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Beloved Prophet Muhammad [sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam] - whose words men, as well as women, were and are ever ready to study and teach. Aameen

Around the world thousands flock yearly to the holy city of Makkah. The rich history behind this city illuminates a yearning within the hearts of the believers, inflaming a desire within them to visit its Haram [Holy Sanctuary] time after time again. Truly a blessed city, it has been -and still is- ripe in imparting knowledge for those who wish to learn. Yet, how many have heard of the famous Meccan female hadeeth scholar: Kareemah bint Ahmad bin Muhammad bin Hatim al Marwaziyyah?

She was one of Islaam’s leading women scholars and a famous narrator of Saheeh Al Bukhari, hence a great Muhaddithah [scholar of hadeeth]. Few indeed are those women have been able to combine within their personalities both knowledge and piety. And from these few shines forth the name of Kareemah Al Marwaziyyah.

The 5th century is indeed lucky to have her name included within its glowing pages.

Within the city of Makkah, in which the Prophet [sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam] was born, Kareemah [rahimahallah] brought with her a legacy unmatched before her and an example for those to come after her - for Muslim Women of all times. This is because until Kareemah bint Ahmed [rahimahallah] became distinguished in the 5th century, Makkah was not known to have Muhaddithaat[1] who held such a high and famous status. It was only much later on in the 8th century and up until the 14th century, that Makkah was known to famously have female scholars of hadeeth, one of the last being Aaminah bint al-Habeeb [rahimaha Allah][2].

Kareemah bint Ahmed [rahimahallah] gained a high status within the realm of Islaamic knowledge in Makkah, and more specifically in the science of Hadeeth due to her being a specialised narrator of Saheeh al Bukhari. In fact, she would narrate Saheeh al Bukhari with such precision and authenticity that when it came to her male contemporaries, who were also famous for narrating Saheeh al Bukhari, her name was at the forefront with theirs. In fact, her name shines amongst the names of all those who are famously known for narrating Saheeh al Bukhari and it did not and does not matter, in this respect, that she was a woman and not a man. This is because knowledge is knowledge and it is not only men who are worthy and fortunate to study and teach the words of the Prophet Muhammad [sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam], from both the tablet of their hearts and their scrolls, but women too can share this supremely great blessing - if they are ready to strive in doing so, while prioritising their roles as daughters, wives and mothers.

The Muhaddithah Kareemah bint Ahmed [rahimahallah] is also remembered within the names of the 'aabidoon [the worshippers], since it has been narrated that she worshipped Allah [azza wa jall] profusely.

How lucky she was! She had two great blessings: the blessing of residing in Makkah and the blessing of teaching in Makkah.

Let's see how she travelled over both land and sea in order to gain this knowledge…


Seeking Knowledge

Her search for knowledge was done in a manner which is in accordance with Islaamic injunctions; therefore, she did not travel far distances without a mahram. This was because she was seeking knowledge to please Allah, so how could she use an unlawful means to achieve the pleasure of Allah?! This is why Kareemah [rahimahallah] – destined to be a Muhaddithah[3]- travelled with her father in order to study the words of the Rasool [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam], the beloved of Allah [azza wa jall].

Unlike today, travelling in the 5th century meant there were no trains, automobiles, aeroplanes… so she fought the weaknesses that a woman encounters during the course of arduous journeys and she implemented the common saying in Arabic [the translation of which is]: ‘give knowledge everything - you’ll get a little back.’ And that is exactly what Kareemah [rahimahallah] did. Regardless of the fact that the path of knowledge stretched far and wide, she travelled over many a sea and land. We will come to see that her hard work and sacrifice did not go in vain. What a blessed goal… therefore what a special journey and what a blessed outcome...

Imaam Al-Dhahabi wrote,

‘Her father was from Kushmihaan then travelled with her to Jerusalem and returned with her to Makkah (...) She studied Sahih al-Bukhari with Abu al-Haytham al-Kushmihani; she studied also with Zahir ibn Ahmad Sarakhsi and ‘Abdullah ibn Yusuf ibn Yusuf ibn Baamuyah al-Asbahani.’[4]

Merv.h1Imaam Al-Dhahabi, the great scholar, mentions that her father was from Kashmihaan, which was a village in Merv in Turkmenistan; this village no longer exists. It is said that her mother was from the progeny of Al-Siyari. [5] From this we see that even though Kareemah [rahimahallah] and her parents were not originally Meccans, she is referred to and known as a Meccan scholar s because of her long period of stay in Makkah and also the great knowledge she brought to Makkah.

Below is a diagram, from which can be seen how far she travelled; just imagine how long this journey must have been! She travelled with her father to Sarakhs, Isfahan, Jerusalem and then back to Makkah [where she remained and died, at the age of a hundred]:


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View Larger Image/ Download


albukharyDuring her journeys she was blessed with great teachers, which is truly a great blessing indeed. They say that whoever has the book as his teacher then generally his mistakes are more than his correct knowledge- although this may not apply to everyone, the benefit of having teachers is of undisputed and paramount importance.

Because Kareemah bint Ahmed [rahimahallah] was an expert regarding the hadeeth of Saheeh Al Bukhari, I came across the names of her teachers from whom she studied Saheeh Al Bukhari[6]:

  • Abu al-Haytham al-Kushmihani
  • Zahir bin Ahmad al-Sarkhasi
  • Abd Allah bin Yusuf bin Bamuwiyah al-Asbahani

From Abu al-Haytham al-Kushmihani [rahimahullah] she heard the whole Saheeh Al Bukhari and she was the most famous woman to have heard the Saheeh from him and this is what made her famous in Makkah.[7] Her version of Saheeh al Bukhari has always been particularly popular, because she compared her copy with her Shaykh al Kushmihani’s original.

It’s so true that studying contains a certain type of struggle and imparting knowledge holds a different kind of struggle.  Now begins Kareemah’s [rahimahallah] next struggle – the struggle to return back to Makkah and spreading this treasure to the Muslimeen. So much so that in the years to come, Kareemah [rahimahallah] will come to be a central point in the transmission of this seminal and authentic text of Saheeh al Bukhari.

Imparting Knowledge

Someone once said to me,

“In Zakah [compulsory charity] you have to give a small part of your wealth, but as for knowledge, you must pass it on a hundred percent!”

When I was studying the life of the Muhaddithah Kareemah [rahimahallah], her example struck me to be the fulfilment of the above mentioned statement which contains so much wisdom. This is because Kareemah [rahimahallah] taught and narrated the Saheeh many many times over[8] exactly as she had learnt the text from her teachers.[9] In fact, she was extremely careful and wary when narrating the text, so much so that she did not allow anyone to narrate from her unless they had compared their copy with her original. Al-Dhahabi says,

"Whenever she narrated, she would compare with her original.”[10]

And Ghanaa’im al-Narsi says:

‘Karimah brought for me her original copy of the Saheeh. I sat down in front of Kareemah and wrote down seven pages and read them with her. I wanted to compare (my copy) with her original by myself. She said: 'No, (I do not permit it) unless you compare it with me.' Then I did comparison with her.’[11]

This is because she knew the following hadeeth very well, which is mentioned in the very text [Saheeh al Bukhari] of which she was an expert: The Prophet [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam] said, "Do not tell a lie against me, for whoever tells a lie against me then he will surely enter the Hell-fire."[12]

In truth, this is how the female scholars of Islaam were as Mohammad Akram Nadwi wrote in his book ‘Al-Muhaddithaat',

‘It is remarkable that the women were so intent on finding out what the religion required of them and then so zealous in preserving and transmitting what they learnt. Equally remarkable is the degree of conformity between their different accounts – the minor variations serve as evidence of their truthfulness in reporting what they remembered.’[13]

SubhanAllah, today people can easily record their voices in order to pass on knowledge in a precise, easy and convenient manner, yet Kareemah [rahimahallah] had no such facility. Therefore, she dedicated much of her time and energy in order to narrate the hadeeth mentioned in Saheeh Al Bukhari - just as she had learnt from her teachers. So much so that Al Sam’ani has stated that al-Khatib read the whole of Sahih al-Bukhari to Karimah al-Marwaziyyah in five days.[14]

Such a mission is no easy matter! No wonder she was and is indisputably regarded as one of the leading authorities in Makkah for having transmitted this Saheeh al Bukhari. To narrate Saheeh al Bukhari is not a light matter; within it there are chapters pertaining to revelation, belief, knowledge, ablution, the different dimensions pertaining to purity, the types and times of prayer, zakah, hajj, wills, booty, medicine... To put it shortly, Saheeh al Bukhari is a seminal text of Hadith gathered by Imam Muhammad ibn Ismail al-Bukhari (d. 870/194 AH) and is usually narrated and taught by advanced students.

Now we understand why the scholar Al-Sam’ani used to wonder whether anyone had seen her like among women [15]. Abu Bakr bin Mansur Al-Sam’ani relates his father mentioned her saying, ‘has anyone seen the like of Karimah!’ This is because she had surpassed many a woman, even those in her field - the field of hadeeth - so much so that she is referred to as ‘the famous expert of Hadeeth’[16] and the famous narrator of Saheeh al Bukhari.

Al-Safadi mentioned her saying,

'She had a long life and a high isnaad [chain of narration].'

and it is said she was ‘Much sought after for her high isnaad [chain of naration].’[17] What Al Safadi [rahimahullah] meant by ‘high isnaad’ is that in comparison to others, she had very few narrators between her and the Prophet [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam], which added to her status and gives her an even higher ranking within the scholars of hadeeth. That is why Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi mentions her in his book ‘Hadith Literature, Its Origins, Development & Special Features’ by saying,

'...Even more distinguished was Karima al-Marwaziyya (d.463/1070), who was considered the best authority on the Sahih of al-Bukhari in her time.”[18]

Further, Abu Dharr of Herat, one of the leading scholars of the period, attached such great importance to her authority that he advised his students to study the Sahih under no one else, because of the quality of her scholarship.

Ibn Jawzi says in his account of Karimah al-Marwazziyah that Imaams like al-Khatib al-Baghdadi, Ibn al-Muttalib, al-Sam’ani, and Abu Talib al-Zaynabi read to her.[19]

Therefore, amongst the luminaries and great scholars that narrated from her were:

  • Al-Khatib al-Baghdadi: NB: Abu Bakr bin Mansur Al-Sam’ani relates his father mentioned that al-Khatib [al-Baghdadi] read the Sahih to her in five days during the days of Hajj.
  • Abu al-Ghana’im al-Nursi
  • Abu Talib al-Husayn bin Muhammad al-Zaynabi
  • Muhammad bin Barakat al-Saeedi
  • Ali bin al-Husayn al-Fara'

Her Death

She resided in Makkah for a great portion of her life and spent her blessed scholarly days as a neighbour of the Haram [Holy Sanctuary] in Makkah. She never married and her days were spent teaching the words of the Rasool [sallallahu a’lyhi wa sallam] in the presence of the ka’bah, worshipping Allah [azza wa jall] and being amongst the believers. For the student of knowledge and the teacher this is a kind of Jannah in this temporal life, as those who have sat in the circles of knowledge can testify. This is because the angels descend to the presence of those who sit together remembering Allah, the Most High…

In fact, not only was she a specialist of the hadeeths mentioned in Saheeh al Bukhari but Imaam Al-Dhahabi said,

“She had knowledge and good understanding (combined) with goodness and worship.”[20]

By Allah! For Imaam Adh-Dhahabi to say this is no light matter since he was very knowledgeable about the scholars of Islaam and its predecessors, as can be testified by anyone who has read his book ‘Siyar A’laam an Nubalaa’.

It is true that death does not differentiate between the scholar and the layman, just as Allah [azza wa jall] has said: "Every soul shall taste death…”[21] So it was that death approached her at the age of a hundred; her soul was taken up to the heavens from the blessed city of Makkah in 463AH/1070 or 465AH. Her memories live on even after hundreds of years; truly, she sought to remind people of the authentic hadeeth of the Prophet [saws], therefore she can’t be forgotten in the scrolls which lay in the hearts of people. The great Muhaddithah Kareemah [rahimahallah] has left behind her an amazingly great legacy which is undisputed; an example that we are in dire need of today. How many women do we find today who are authorities in narrating Saheeh al Bukhari? Very few hidden gems indeed.

If only Europe would remember the words of Goldziher, the Jewish Hungarian orientalist who is considered one of the founders of Islamic studies in Europe, as he wrote,

‘As a matter of fact her name occurs with extraordinary frequency in the ijazas[22] for narrating the text of this book'.

Many today are unaware of the legacies of the great female scholars of Islaam and we must make them aware of the great status that women, the likes of Kareemah, enjoyed in the history of Islaam.

Don’t forget her! She is the great Muhaddithah [female scholar of Hadeeth]:


Umm al-Kiraam Kareemah bint Ahmad ibn Muhammad ibn Hatim al Marwaziyyah.



[1] Muhaddithah: Female Scholar of Hadeeth
[2] Just as Ustadh Muhammad Akram Nadwi points out: “Perhaps the last woman traditionist in Makkah was the pious and righteous shaykhah, Aaminah bint al-Habeeb…she studied hadeeth with her father, the mufti of Makkah, and her husband Imaam ‘Alawi ibn Ahmad al-Saqqaaf." Pg 264, Al-Muhaddithaat: the women scholars of Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi.
[3] Muhaddithah: Female Scholar of Hadeeth
[4]Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a’lam al-nubalaa’, xviii.233
[5] Al-Siyari: this may refer to the governor of Khurasan, Nasr ibn Siyyar
[6] Advanced students study this text in detail and it is readily available even in the English language in many Islamic stores as well as the internet.
[7] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a’lam al-nubalaa’, xviii.233
[8] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a’lam al-nubalaa’, xviii.233
[9] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a’lam al-nubalaa’, xviii.233
[10] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a’lam al-nubalaa’, xviii.233
[11] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a’lam al-nubalaa’, xviii.234
[12] Bukhari: Vol 1, Book 3. Knowledge. Hadith 106. 
[13]Pg 63, Al-Muhaddithat: the women scholars of Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi.
[14] Siyar a’lam al-nubala’ xviii. 277.
[15] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a’lam al-nubalaa’, xviii.234
[16] Pg 75, Al-Muhaddithat: the women scholars of Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi.
[17] Pg 75, Al-Muhaddithat: the women scholars of Islam by Mohammad Akram Nadwi.
[18] Hadith Literature, Its Origins, Development & Special Features by Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi [Islamic Texts Society]
[19] Ibn Jawzi, al-Muntazam, viii. 270.
[20] Al-Dhahabi, Siyar a’lam al-nubalaa’, xviii.233
[21] Surah Al-'Ankabut, The Spider 29:57
[22] Traditional permission to read or/and narrate or/and teach the book



To recite the Qur’aan with tajweed is in fact an implementation of Allah’s command. Allah ('azza wa jall) says, “And recite the Qur'ân (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style.” [Qur’aan [73]:4]

Women today, as in the past, have not lagged behind in serving this science. Around the world we see women ardently working to teach themselves, their children and their community how to correctly pronounce and recite the words of their Creator. Some have done so by teaching in masaajid and schools, others by writing and setting up websites.

One such sister is Kareema Carol Czerepinski, an author of one of the most famous books on tajweed in the English language.


Kareema Carol Czerepinski is the author of a series of three books called ‘Tajweed Rules of the Qur'aan’, one of the best books in the English language for learning tajweed rules. Although it is advised for those who would like to study the books to find a teacher who is proficient in tajweed, these books are an excellent addition to the bookshelf of any student of knowledge. Not only that, she also runs the famous website for tajweed:

American by nationality and upbringing, she is a teacher at ‘Daar Al Hudaa’ (a school in which sisters memorize the Qur’aan) in Jeddah. In Daar al Hudaa there is a three-year course in which these three books are taught. She mentions two of her teachers in the introduction to her book:

*Al-Sheikh Dr. Ayman Rushdi Swayd
*Ash-Sheikhah Rehab Shaqaqi

As for Al-Sheikh Dr. Ayman Rushdi Swayd, he is an internationally renowned scholar in tajweed. He has a Ph.D. from Al Azhar and a Ph.D. from Umm al Quraa’ University, Makkah al Mukarramah. Further, he has many ijaazaat [licenses] from great scholars. For 20 years he has worked with ‘The Qur’aan Memorization Society’ in Jeddah. In the preface of the book he writes,

“…My joy was then immense with the great work that the honorable sister, Al-Ustatha Kareema Carol Czerepinski did when she wrote a book on the first level of tajweed in the English language which is considered to be the international language of this age. She has closed a wide gap in the Islamic library with this work.

Ustaathah Kareema has the capability to write on this subject. She has memorized the complete Qur’an and mastered its recitation in the way of Hafs ‘an ‘Aasim, by the way of Shatabiyyah, and then by the way of Tayyibat An-Nashr, receiving authentication [permission] in both ways, and now intends to learn the different ways of recitation [al-qiraa’aat], this is while she is of American nationality and upbringing. “This is Allah’s bounty, He gives it to whom He desires…”

In her introduction, Sister Kareema Carol Czerepinski writes the reason behind why she compiled these three books,

“This book started out, not as a dream of my own, but as a suggestion from his eminence Ash-Sheikh Dr. Ayman Rushdi Swayd, may Allah extend his life, increase his good deeds, and make him of the companions of the highest Paradise. He suggested that I write a tajweed book in English, using the computer. I was teaching a class in tajweed for a group of non-Arabs and realized that the need for a complete textbook in English in tajweed was very necessary. My husband, may Allah reward him with Al-Firdaws, bought a computer, and the task began. The book has been in the formative stages for the last three years. It has been used as text for the classes at Dar Al-Huda Qur’aan School in Jeddah, and editing has been done every year…”

Darrussalaam have scanned a few pages of the book and converted it into a PDF file:

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May Allah ('azza wa jall) reward her and those who helped her with His abounding mercy and grace.

Certainly He is the All-Able, the All-Hearer. Aameen.

bookingrassAfter Umm Al-Sa'ad completed her memorization of the Qur'aan at the age of 15 she went to the Shaykhah Nafeesah bint Abu Al-Alaa, who was known as "The Shaykhah [woman scholar] of her time" to request from her to learn the 10 Qira'aat (recitations). Nafeesa agreed on an peculiar condition; that Umm Al-Sa'ad never marry. She used to refuse to teach girls because they would marry, become busy, and neglect the Quran. 

What was even more amazing was that Umm Al-Sa'ad accepted the condition from her Shaykhah who was known for her strictness and harshness against those whom she did not feel were proper for this honorable task. But Umm Al-Sa'ad was encouraged by the fact that her Shaykhah herself had never married, even though there were many of the great scholars who had sought her hand, and she died in that state while in her eighties, having secluded herself to the Quran!

Umm Al-Sa'ad said,

"It is from the blessings of my Lord that anyone who has obtained an ijaaza [license] in the Quran, in any Qiraa'ah, in Alexandria either received it directly from me (munaawala) or from someone whom I had given an ijaaza to."

And what proved her unique status was that she was the only woman to whom reciter and huffaadh [those who had memorizeed the Qur'aan] of the Qur'aan would travel to receive ijaaza in the ten qira'aat [recitations].

Umm Al-Sa'ad Ali Najm,age 77, is considered to be the most well known woman in the world of recitations of the Qur'aan. The only woman to specialize in the ten qira'aat, and has spent over fifty years granting ijaazas in the ten qira'aat.

Waves of people could be seen entering and leaving her humble apartment, students who dreamed of memorizing the Qur'aan, comprised of different age groups and both genders.

Classes for the women and girls would begin from 8 AM until 2 PM after which the classes for men and boys would start until 8 PM. Umm Al-Sa'ad would continue all day with no breaks except for prayer and a light meal to sustain her.

Umm Al-Sa'ad was born into a poor family in a town called Bandaariya, one of the towns of the larger city Munofiya (north of Cairo). She was afflicted by blindness shortly after her first year and, as was the practice of many in rural areas in dealing with blindness, her family sent her to learn the Qur'aan. She completed her memorization in Alexandria at the age of 15. She then completed the memorization of the ten recitations of the Qur'aan from Shaykha Nafeesah when she had reached the age of 23.

Umm Al-Sa'ad mentioned that when she had completed her memorization of the qira'aat the number of huffaadh were few. Families used to request from her, as they had requested from her Shaykhah before her, to recite Qur'aan for them at occasions and religious festivals. It was acceptable at that time for a woman to recite the Qur'aan with tajweed in the presence of men who- as she recounted- used to praise her recitation and the beauty of her tajweed. She mentioned however that this practice disappeared after Quranic recitors became widespread, as well as the spread of radios and televisions, and the most that could be done by a female recitor now is to recite at occasions that were female only. She believed that the real reason for this however was the belief that had increased in the recent years that the voice of the woman is awrah.

She had one of the highest Isnaads (chains of narration) in the world. Her isnaad in the recitation of Hafs from Aasim had 27 Shaykhs in between her and the Messenger of Allah [sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam]. This put her on the same level with well known Shuyukh of recitation such as Shaykh Abdul Basit Hashim and Shaykh Muhammad Abd Alhameed Abdullah.

Many different types of people would return to her, seeking the completion of the Quran or ijaazah in a Qiraa'ah, from all ages and levels in society. In a day she would teach old and young students, men and women, engineers, doctors, teachers, university professors, college students, high school students, etc.

She would single out for each student a time, not more than an hour in a day, in which the student would recite what they had memorized and she would correct their mistakes bit by bit, until they memorize the Qur'aan in one of it's qira'aat.

Umm Al-Sa'ad once commented:

"Sixty years of memorizing the Qur'aan and it's recitations has made me unable to forget any of it. I can recall every ayah [verse], it's surah [chapter] and its juzz, I know the ayaat [verses] that are similar (mutashabih) and how to recite the same ayah in different qira'aat. I feel like I know the Qur'aan like my name, I cannot imagine forgetting a letter of it or making a mistake in it. I don't know anything other than the Qur'aan and its recitations. I never learned a science, listened to a lecture, or memorized anything other than the Quran and the mutoon that were related to the Quran and tajweed. I don't know anything other than that."

Her students:

When asked about her students Umm Al-Sa'ad said:

"I remember every one of them, there were some who received Ijaaza in one of the recitations, and there were some (and they were very few) who received ijaaza in all ten recitations. They are the ones who receive an ijaaza with a special seal that I have that I always keep with me, I never give it to anyone no matter how much I have trust in them."

The happiest days for Umm Al-Sa'ad are the days of khatma, when she would grant a student an ijaaza, even though she has experienced this day over 300 times! She keeps a copy of every ijaaza, the most recent one being to a sister in the recitation of Qaloon from Nafi'.

On the day of khatma, a waleema is normally done, or a tea party with sweets. The student who is receiving the ijaaza normally gives a gift to the Shaykha; a jilbab, a ring, golden earrings, all according to what they can afford. As for the most beautiful gift that the Shaykha received was a Hajj and Umrah trip accompanied with being hosted in Saudia for an entire year! The best part of the trip, after the hajj and umrah, was that she reviewed the Quran, and granted ijaazas in all ten recitations to students from all over the world; Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Sudan, Palestine, Lebanon, Chad, Afghanistan…

The most beloved of those ijaazas that she granted was to a student from Saudi Arabia who received it when she was seventeen years old!

The wives of her students become jealous…

And from the most interesting things that Umm Al-Sa'ad recounts is that some of the wives of her students became jealous and fearful that she might "snatch" their husbands. Especially since their husbands would continually speak about their Shaykha with pride and endearment. To the extent that some of the wives would accompany their husbands to the class to ensure that their fear had no real cause, for the Shaykha was old and blind!

"And some of the men hesitated to recite to me considering that I'm a woman, and some refused, but Shaykh Muhammad Isma'eel (the most well known shaykh of the Salafi Da'wah in Alexandria) gave a fatwa that they could when he learned of my age, and he sent his entire family to me to recite to me!"

And what about her marriage?

When she was asked about the closest student to her, she replied:

"My husband, Shaykh Muhammad Fareed Nu'man."

Shaykh Muhammad Fareed, who- before his death some years ago-was the most well known recitor on Alexandria radio. He was also the first one to receive an ijaazah from Umm Al-Sa'ad.

She said about the story of her marriage,

"I was not able to keep my promise to my Shaykha Nafeesa. He used to recite to me the Quran in all ten recitations, I became comfortable with him, and he was like me in that he was blind and memorized the Quran at an early age. I taught him for five years, and when he finished he asked me for my hand in marriage and I accepted."

She was married to him for forty years and had no children.

But she had students who were huffadh and recitors of the Quran, so all praise is due to Allah.

She commentated on that saying,

"Alhamdullilah, I feel like Allah chooses for me the good always. Maybe if I had children I would have become busy with them and neglected the Quran or forgot it."

Umm Al-Sa'ad Rahimahallah passed away to the Mercy of her Lord in 2006.

This article has been adapted from:

You can also listen to what Shaykh Muhammad Ismaa'eel (the one who issued the fatwa) said when she passed away from here:


purty_flower_400Islaamic history is rich in its account of the many writers that were fortunate to live within its midst. In fact, the books of great scholars and historians live on centuries later imparting great benefit for the believers. We ask Allah [azza wa jall] that the Muslim scholars and writers continue to gain the reward for the seeds they sowed, the benefit of which continues to be reaped by the Muslims after them. Ameen.

From amongst these blessed names we find the names of many Muslim Women who also participated in striving to spread the words of Allah [azza wa jall] and His Rasool [sallallahu 'alyhi wa sallam].

In fact, Islaam has seen and continues to see a rich contribution of written material by Muslim women who are working actively in this field to channel, articulate and unify their knowledge and contemplative thoughts to bring about beneficial contributions to both the da’wah field and Islamic literature. One such writer today is:

Kaamilah bint Muhammad ibn Jaasim ibn Alee Aal Jihaam al Kawaaree.

Her place of birth: the capital of Qatar [ad-Dawhah] and it is in ad-Dawhah that she grew up and memorized the Qur’aan. Having completed the memorization of the Qur’aan, she chose to undertake the path towards gaining Islaamic knowledge and so she went to study in the University of Sharee’ah in Qatar and in 1997 she completed her studies. At the present moment she is married and is working as a researcher.

Although her name may sound new to some, many well-read scholars and students of knowledge have either heard her name or come across her work. In fact, her work has gained increasing popularity in the Arab world due to the excellence of its presentation and the beneficial knowledge it encompasses. For example, her book pertaining to the names and characteristics of Allah [azza wa jall] left many standing in awe and respect due to the scholarly research and comprehensiveness that it entailed.

Her Works

Great scholars, such as Shaykh Uthaymeen [rahimahullah] were amazed by her work. Below I have added some images of the books she has authored [for those who can read Arabic I advice you to visit the web website dedicated to her work[1] ]. She has authored books on various Islaamic sciences, ranging from: Usoolul Fiqh, Tafseer, Arabic Grammar…it’s impressive that she’s even written a brief explanation of Zaadul Mustaqni’ [a classical and advanced book on Hanbali Fiqh]!
















Her Advice

The following is some advice from Sister Kaamilah for those who wish to pursue Islaamic Knowledge [2]:


“As for the means towards gaining it [i.e. knowledge], then Allah [the Most High] has especially blessed us in this time – more than any other time –by the blessing of many mediums which lead towards it [knowledge] and [by which to] ascend its degrees for whomsoever Allah wills good and more. And I have taken from these mediums that which Allah has made easy from it, I took from its various sources in studying – between shurooh maqrooah [i.e. explanations of different books in written form that can be read] and that which can be heard [e.g. tapes]. And I contacted great scholars [who] have [a] high standing in knowledge, in all of its branches and they were of the best help upon the best path in this life [i.e. the path of knowledge]. And we ask Allah, the Most High, for every striver in this path [to have] loftiness [in] the world and the hereafter and to help us all and to put barakah [blessings] in our time. And to increase us in beneficial knowledge and action purely for his Noble Countenance…”

I end with a request that we ask Allah [azza wa jall] to reward and bless the endeavours and efforts of our scholars, historians, writers and thinkers – as the ink of their pens continues to flow words upon the awaiting and desirous sheets within the hearts of the Muslims, and as their fingers work their way towards typing books for us to show us the straight path and warn us from falling into the dangers which lead towards destruction. Ameen.



[1] The above information has mainly been taken from: [click here].
[2] Translated from the original Arabic on the website.

Al-Haafith ibn Hajar (rahimahullaah) wrote the biography of this female companion in his book Al-Isaabah, and we will quote part of it with slight modifications. He wrote,

"Her name is Asmaa' bint 'Umays ibn Ma'd from the tribe of Khath'am. She was the maternal sister of Maymoonah bint Al-Haarith the wife of the Prophet (peace be upon him), and sister to a group of female Companions. She was one of the early female Companions who migrated to Abyssinia as she migrated there with her husband Ja'far ibn Abi Taalib (may Allaah be pleased with him). She gave birth to his children there. When Ja'far was killed, Abu Bakr (may Allaah be pleased with him) married her, and she gave birth to his son Muhammad. Later she got married to 'Ali (may Allaah be pleased with him) and it is said that she gave birth to his son 'Awn."

Ibn Hajar did not mention the date of her death, but in "Taqreeb At-Tahtheeb", he said that she died after 'Ali and he did not mention the year in which she died. We did not find any scholar mentioning the year of her death.


Her home, which is referred to as being "Milhan's house", was one of the dearest houses to the Prophet (peace be upon him). We have already seen this in the biography of Umm Sulaym and how it was highly respected by the Noble Messenger (peace be upon him) as well as the Companions. This was due to many reasons, such as the fact that she gave her son in service to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and her participation in the battlefields of Jihaad.


Her full name was Hind bint 'Utbah Ibn Rabie'ah Ibn 'Abd Shams Ibn 'Abd Manâf.


Once again we will take a trip back in time and visit another great woman, Asma' bint Abi Bakr, one of the Sahabah (female Companions) of the Prophet. This journey requires that we free our minds from the ideas of modernists and pay special attention to the life this blessed companion led, and compare it to our own lives. As always, we will make this trip through the authentic narration from the Scholars of Hadith. Brace yourselves as we now journey back in time to the golden era at the time of the Prophet.



Mufti Menk speaks about the Sahaabiyyah (Female Companion): Khawlah Bint Tha'labah.

Khawla exemplified patience while standing firm in her beliefs. She persevered until she got the truth. She wanted to stand up for her rights and rights of women, while maintaining her love for her husband. She maintained her high standing through time, and people, including the stature of 'Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), the second caliph, paid attention to what she had to say.


radhiAllahuanhaPicture this: a perceptive and intelligent woman, respected and generous, owning a business known for its integrity in all business transactions.

If you’re like most people, you probably conjured an image of a 21st century corporate type, but in fact, the woman I described is a prominent Islamic figure who lived in 7th century Arabia.

Khadijah bint Khuwailid (May Allah be Pleased with her) is the prominent figure in question. Girl power was alive well before women in the West demanded their rights in what is popularly known as the Feminist Movement.

Inherited Wealth

After her father’s death, Khadijah inherited immense wealth. She did not squander the wealth on frivolous endeavours nor did she entrust it to individuals who may have very well taken advantage of her in pagan Arabia. Instead, she was involved in not only overseeing the business but moving her business well beyond Makkah, expanding the franchise so to speak.

Passionate and Committed

Khadijah was not any ordinary woman. She was widowed from one marriage and then divorced from a 2nd marriage, and yet she persevered. She had three children whom she devoted herself too, while simultaneously managing her business empire.

Prophet Muhammad (Peace and blessings be upon him)

In consistency with overseeing her business affairs, she was always on the look out for intelligent and trustworthy individuals who would maintain the quality and reputation of her work. At the tender age of 25, (Prophet) Muhammad (Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was already well-known for his honesty and noble character, which made him a prime recruit for Khadijah’s thriving business. The invitation to join such an empire came to the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) at an optimal time since his uncle Abu Talib was struggling financially, and he accepted.

Soon after his employment, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) not only lived up to his reputation but he continuously exceeded expectations.

The Marriage Proposal


Impressed by the Prophet’s noble character, Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) believed she would find no better match for herself. Take note, she was not fazed by the (approximately) 15 year age difference between herself and the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). She was (approximately) 40 and he, 25 (Peace and blessings be upon him).

Using her good friend as an intermediary for the proposal, she inquired about marriage to the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him). (Is this a woman who knows what she wants or what?!) At that point the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) recognized Khadijah as a good match and agreed to the proposal.

Their marriage is one in Islamic history that reflects a deep love, commitment and compassion. In fact, the Prophet (Peace and blessings be upon him) continued to love and mention Khadijah beyond the scope of her life.

Narrated ‘Aisha:

“I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadijah (although) she died before he married me, for I often heard him mentioning her, and Allah had told him to give her the good tidings that she would have a palace of Qasab (i.e. pipes of precious stones and pearls in Paradise), and whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would send her women-friends a good share of it.” [Sahih Bukhari]

3 Productivity Lessons for the 21st Century Muslim Woman

1) Remain Steadfast

Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her) was faced with a number of trying circumstances both before her acceptance of Islam and afterwards, but she pushed her way through them and became a steadfast, strong supporter of Islam.

Not only did she remain steadfast but she thrived, earning her a position amongst the noble role models in Islam:

Narrated ‘Ali: I heard the Prophet saying,

“Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran, was the best among the women (of the world of her time) and Khadijah is the best amongst the women (of this nation).” [Sahih Bukhari]

Whatever you are dealing with in your own life, you can persevere too.

2) Strive for Benefits Beyond this World

Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her) was accustomed to a comfortable lifestyle, but when she choose Islam there were many who boycotted her business and later Muslims in general. She sacrificed many things, but never her faith.

3) Create your own Circumstance

A productive Muslimah is never confined by the circumstance she finds herself in. Khadijah (May Allah be Pleased with her) lived during a time when it was very unlikely a woman would be taken seriously, let alone become a respected figure – and after her marriage and acceptance of Islam, she continued to strive despite the trials.

She conducted herself with integrity and implemented sincerity in all her actions. These attributes combined allowed her to create her own very successful circumstances. Implement these in your own life and watch as your own circumstances begin to shift.



The Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said: 'Whenever I looked to the right or left I saw her fighting in front of me'."

Umm 'Umara was blessed with many honours, amongst these her presence at Uhud, al-Hudaybiyya, Khaybar, the Fulfilled Umra, Hunayn, and the Battle of Yamama. But her most noble role came about during the battle of Uhud.

Umm 'Umara set out to the battle with her husband, Ghaziya, and her two sons. Her intention had been to give water to the wounded, but Allah had planned for her a more rewarding role.

So she set out with her family with a waterskin, and arrived at the battle field during the beginning of the day. The Muslims had the upper hand, and she went to see how the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) was. But then the Muslims committed a fatal error - seeing the Quraysh on the retreat, they ran towards the booty, ignoring the Prophet's command to remain on the hill. Khalid bin Walid, (who hadn't embraced Islam yet), seeing the open flank, made a charge against the Muslims and suddenly the tide had swung towards the Quraysh. The Muslims panicked and began to flee, leaving behind only the Prophet (s.a.w) and a handful of his Companions. Among these was Umm Umara.

Seeing the Muslims flee, Umm Umara ran to the defense of the Prophet and took up arms, along with her husband and two sons. The Prophet noticed that she had no shield, and so said to one of the retreating men: "Give your shield to the one who is fighting."

So he handed her the shield, and she defended the Prophet of Allah with it, using also the bow and arrow along with a sword. She was attacked by horsemen, but never wavered nor felt fear. She later boldly claimed,

"If they had been on foot as we were, we would have trounced them, Allah willing."

Abdullah ibn Zayed, her son, was wounded during the battle. His wound bled profusely. His mother ran to him and bandaged his wounds, and then commanded him,

"Go and fight the people, my son!"

The Prophet (s.a.w) admired her sense of sacrifice, and commended her, "Who can endure what you can endure, Umm 'Umara!"

Suddenly, the man who had struck her son advanced, and the Prophet called out to her, "This is the one who struck your son."

She bravely confronted the man, who her very son described as being like a great tree trunk, and struck at his leg, sending him to his knees. The Messenger of Allah smiled so much his teeth became visible, and remarked, "You have retaliated, Umm 'Umara!".

Having finished him off, the Prophet then said, "Praise be to Allah who has given you victory and delighted you over your enemy and let you enjoy your revenge directly."

At one stage, the Prophet (s.a.w) was left alone, so taking the opportunity, the enemy Ibn Qumay'a charged at the Prophet, shouting: "Show me Muhammad! I will not be saved if he is saved!" So Mus'ab ibn 'Umayr, along with some other of the Companions, dashed to the protection of the Prophet. Umm 'Umara was among them, and began fiercely striking at the enemy of Allah, even though he (the enemy) was wearing double armour. Ibn Qumay'a managed to strike a blow at her neck, leaving a serious wound. The Prophet quickly called on her son:

"Your mother! Your mother! Bind her wound! May Allah bless you, the people of a house! The stand of your mother is better than the stand of so-and-so. May Allah have mercy on you, people of a house! The stand of your foster father is better than the stand of so-and-so. May Allah have mercy on you, people of a house!"

Umm 'Umara, seeing the Prophet's pleasure on her determination and valour, earnestly requested:

"Ask Allah to make us your companions in the Garden!"

So he said: "O Allah, make them my companions in the Garden."

And this was the desire of Umm 'Umara, to which she replied:

"I do not care what afflicts me in this world!"

That day, she received thirteen wounds, and was treated for her neck wound for a complete year. She also participated in the Battle of Yamama, where she received eleven wounds and lost her hand.

Her courageous character earned her the respect of all the Companions, especially the Khalifa's who would visit her and pay special attention to her.

'Umar bin Khattab (r.a.a) was brought some silk garments which contained excellent quality material. One of the people remarked, "This garment is worth such-and-such (meaning how expensive it was). You should send it to the wife of 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar, Safiyya bint Abi 'Ubayd." 'Umar (r.a.a) however did not desire such a garment for his daughter in law.

"That is something which I will not give to Ibn 'Umar. I will send it to someone who is more entitled to it than her - Umm 'Umara Nusayba bint Ka'b. On the day of Uhud, I heard the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) say, 'Whenever I looked to the right or left I saw her fighting in front of me'."

This was the life of Umm 'Umara, the warrior who stood when many fled, who sent her wounded son back into the thick of the battle, and was prepared to lose her life to save the Prophet's. In return, she received the du'a for the Prophet's companionship in Paradise.

May Allah bless our women with such courage, self-sacrifice and perseverance.


He said, ‘By Allah, I do not know what to say to Allah’s Messenger.’ Then I (‘Aa'ishah) said to my mother,

‘Reply to Allah’s Messenger.’

She said, ‘I do not know what to say to Allah’s Messenger.’ Even though I was still a young girl, and had little knowledge of Qur’aan, I said,

‘By Allah, I know that you heard this story (of the Ifk) so much so that it has been implanted in your minds and you have believed it. So now if I tell you that I am innocent, and Allah knows that I am innocent, you will not believe me. And if I confess something, and Allah knows that I am innocent of it, you will believe me. By Allah I cannot find for you an example except that of Joseph’s father: {So (for me) patience is most fitting against that which you assert and it is Allah alone whose help can be sought.}

quranpicgreenThen I turned away and lay on my bed, and at that moment I knew that I was innocent and that Allah would reveal my innocence. But By Allah! I never thought that Allah would send down concerning my situation verses that would be recited (forever), as I considered myself too unworthy to be spoken about by Allah with something that was to be recited. I [only] hoped that Allah’s Messenger may have a vision in which Allah would prove my innocence. By Allah! Allah’s Messenger had not left his seat and nobody had left the house when the divine inspiration came to Allah’s Messenger. So there overtook him the same condition which used to overtake him (when he was divinely inspired); drops of sweat were running down (his face) like pearls, even though it was a cold winter day, and that was because of the heaviness of the statement which was revealed to him.

When the state of Allah’s Messenger was over, he was smiling as he was relieved. The first word he said was, ''Aa’ishah, Allah has declared your innocence.’ My mother said to me,

‘Get up and go to him.’

‘Aa'ishah replied 'By Allah, I will not got to him and I will not thank anybody but Allah.’ Allah had revealed: {Verily! Those who spread the slander are a group among you. Think it not...}

‘Aai'shah (may Allah be pleased with her) continued: 'When Allah revealed this to confirm my innocence, Abu Bakr as-Siddeeq, who use to provide for Mistaah ibn Uthattha because of the latter’s kinship to him and his poverty, said with about him [because of his contribution in the slander against ‘Aa'ishah, the daughter of Abu Bakr]:

‘By Allah I will never provide for Mistah anything after what he said about ‘Aa’ishah.’

This is when Allah revealed: {And let not these among you who are blessed with graces and wealth swear not to give [any sort of help] to their kinsmen, al-Masaakeen [the poor], and those who left their homes for Allah’s cause. Let them pardon and forgive. Do you not love that Allah should forgive you? And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.} (Qur’an 24: 22)

Abu Bakr said,

"Yes, By Allah, I wish that Allah will forgive me."

So he resumed giving Mistaah the aid he used to give him before [the slander] and said,

‘By Allah, I will never withhold it from him at all.’”

‘Aa’ishah further said: “Allah’s Messenger [had also] asked Zaynab Bint Jahsh about my case. He said, ‘O’ Zaynab! What have you seen?' To which she replied,

‘O Allah’s Messenger! I protect my hearing and my sight (i.e. I refrain and protect them from telling lies). I know nothing but good (about 'Aa’ishah).’

Of all the wives of Allah’s Messenger, it was Zaynab who aspired to receive from him the same attention as I used to receive, yet Allah saved her (from telling lies) due to her piety. But her sister Hamnah, kept on insisting [in slandering] on her behalf, so she was destroyed as were those who invented and spread the slander.”

Umm Roomaan's Wise Words

The wise words of Umm Rooman to her daughter 'Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with them) should attract our attention. When the verses that explained her innocence were revealed and the house of Abu Bakr was purified, never to be touched with any harm again, Umm Rooman told her daughter,

“Get up and go to him.”

This expression, within its letters, carried all the signs of great love that Umm Rooman had in her heart for the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

It also indicates the epitome of human experience in marriage, in the sense of love, companionship and mercy, so that the family can be established upon strong and firmly-rooted pillars which no circumstances should shake and no emerging event should weaken. This nice summation did not come from Umm Rooman accidently. It rather emanated from her mentality, which was refined by Islaam and presented as an excellent example for the entire mankind.

Allah Almighty says: {Among his signs is this, that He created for you wives from among yourselves that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily in that are signs for a people who reflect.} (Qur’an 30: 21)

The days of slander and its trial took their toil on the body of Umm Rooman, as her heart bore all the sorrows and pains of these days. It was this heart in which her husband, her daughter and all the believers - irrespective of their status - had a place. The heart then became weakened and it was only a few months after this incident that Umm Rooman died. The Prophet's praise of Umm Roomaan is better than any words of praise we may present from ourselves:

“Whoever wants to see a woman among the beautiful women of paradise who have wide and lovely eyes should look at Umm Rooman.” May Allah be pleased with her and please her. Aameen!

Aaa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her)

shining_flowerLet us now go back to ‘Aa’ishah’s life journey with the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). ‘Aa’ishah spent nine years in the Prophet’s house. How were these days and what did they produce? In spite of her being involved in co-wife rivalry due to her love for the Prophet (peace be upon him), they never rivaled except within mild limits which left no adverse effect or caused any harm. She was lucky though, as ‘Aai’shah was the most beloved to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) from all of his wives after Khadeejah (may Allah be pleased with her) who had passed away many years before.

Her marriage was infact an implementation of divine revelation as Angel Gabriel showed her in a dream to the Prophet (peace be upon him) in a piece of silk and said to him,

“This is your wife in this world and the hereafter.”

The Messenger of Allah later informed ‘Aai’shah (may Allah be pleased with her), “You have been shown to me in (my) dreams in three (different) nights. An angel was carrying you in silken cloth and said to me, ‘This is your wife.’ And when I uncovered it, behold! It was you. I then said, ‘If this dream is from Allah, He will cause it to come true.’”

At-Tirmidhi also reported on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah that Angel Gabriel came with her picture in a green silken cloth to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and said to him,

'This is your wife in this world and hereafter.”

‘Aa’ishah was the youngest of the Prophet’s wives when he married her. Even after her marriage, due to her young age, she loved to play with dolls. Her childhood was very innocent and full of love and compassion. She had a father, a husband and a brother, who loved her dearly with affection and compassion. The Prophet (peace be upon him) would even playfully call her ‘O ‘Aa’ish’, out of love and compassion.

A delegation once came from Abyssinia and its members went into the courtyard of the Masjid and began playing with their arrows. ‘Aa’ishah stood at the door of her room behind the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), placing her head upon his noble shoulder so as to watch them and amuse herself. She would stay in this position until the Prophet (peace be upon him) would ask her, “Have you had enough?” To she would say, “Yes.”

In a hadith reported by At-Tirmidhi, a man spoke ill of ‘Aa’ishah in the presence of ‘Ammaar Ibn Yaasir. ‘Ammaar rebuked him saying,

“May you be put to shame and disowned! Are you speaking ill of the beloved of the Messenger of Allah?!”

Anas ibn Malik (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

“The first love in Islaam was the love that the Messenger of Allah had for ‘Aa’ishah. May Allah be pleased with her.”

Imaam al-Bukhari reported on the authority of ‘Aa’ishah that she said: “People would send presents to the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the day of my turn (i.e. when the Prophet would be spending his night at her house). My companions (i.e. the other wives of the Prophet) gathered in the house of the Umm Salamah and said,

“O’ Umm Salamah! By Allah, the people choose to sent presents on the day of ‘Aa’ishah’s turn and we too, love the good (i.e. presents etc.) as ‘Aa’ishah does. You should tell Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) to tell the people to send their presents to him wherever he may be, or wherever his turn may be.”

Umm Salamah said this to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he turned away from her. When the Prophet returned to Umm Salamah, she repeated the same, and the Prophet again turned away, and when she mentioned the same thing to him for the third time, the Prophet said, “O Umm Salamah! Don’t trouble me by harming ‘Aa’ishah, for by Allah! the divine inspiration never came to me while I was under the blanket of any woman among you except her.”

The other wives didn’t just mention this to Umm Salamah, but they also sent word to Faatimah bint Muhammad (may Allah be pleased with her) concerning the same issue as she was the daughter of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and naturally close to him.

‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said, “The Prophet’s (peace be upon him) wives sent Faatimah, the Prophet’s daughter, to him. She asked permission to enter while he was lying down with me in my woolen blanket. He permitted her to enter and she said,

“O Messenger of Allah! Your wives have sent me to you demanding fairness concerning (your treatment of) the daughter of Ibn Abi Quhaafah [i.e. the daughter of Abu Bakr].'

I was there (listening but) silent. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said to her, “O Daughter! Don’t you love whatever I love?” She then said, “Yes.” He then said, “Then you should love this lady.”

This was an humane feeling of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Hearts, as the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) mentioned in a Prophetic Narration, are between the two fingers of the Most Merciful Lord. He turns them as he Wills! The heart is named ‘Qalb’ because of its changing and rotating nature. The supplication which the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) used to frequently make in his prostration was:

“Allahumma, Yaa Muqallaibal-Quloob, Thabbit Qalbee ‘Ala-Deenik.”

“O Allah, the one who turns the heart, make my heart firm upon your religion.”

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) truthfully and sincerely said, “O Allah, this is my division in that over which I have power. Do not blame me for that over which you have power and I have no power.”

This great love was limitless. It transcended material feelings for things that were higher and more sublime: the soul, the heart, and the mind. The emotional radiation of this love reflects the distinctness of the Prophetic household in comparison to so many homes which are today full of hatred, anger, resentment and abuse. It was a wonderful example for all Muslims, an example which was full of understanding, knowledge, cognizance and honesty.

Al-Hakeem said in his book "Al-Mustadrak":

“One fourth of the rule of Sharee’ah was narrated on the authority of ‘Aai’shah.”

Abu Moosa Al-Ash’ari (may Allah be pleased with him) said,

"Whenever a Hadeeth was unclear to us, we - the Companions of Allah’s Messenger - asked ‘Aa’ishah about it. We always gained knowledge about that hadeeth (i.e. its clarification) from her.”

Az-Zuhri said,

“If ‘Aa’ishah’s knowledge is compiled and compared to the knowledge of all women, her knowledge will surely excel theirs.”

He also said,

“The first person to remove distress from the people and explain to them the Sunnah was ‘Aa’ishah.”

I am not going to explain in detail the knowledge that our Mother ‘Aa’ishah possessed or the high status she had attained, rather I have only mentioned some examples to confirm the truthfulness of the Prophet’s perspicacity. This and other attributes of 'Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) caused her to be loved dearly, not only by the Prophet (peace of upon him) but by all faithful believers up until the Day of Judgement.

Though the hadeeth, which reports that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “Take half (of the knowledge) of your religion from the Humayrah (meaning 'Aa’ishah).” is weak, nevertheless we know that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) alluded to ‘A’ishah’s cleverness, mental alertness, knowledge and piety.

May Allah be pleased with her and please her. Aameen!

'Aa’ishah’s Home

madinah88999Each one of the female companions played a distinguished role in the life of our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) and especially within the course of his mission. But it was and is in ‘Aa’ishah’s home that many many roles were and still are performed.

First and foremost:

  • 'Aa'ishah's (may Allah be pleased with her) room shelters the Prophet’s grave, in which therein lies his noble body.
  • It is the only room that still exists out of the rooms of the Prophet’s wives.
  • It was the room that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) chose to stay in while he was sick prior to his death, and in which he later died.
  • It is also the room that shelters the two great companions and caliphs: Abu Bakr and ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them).

It is a noteworthy story as to how both of these Caliphs ended up being buried in her room out of the whole of Madinah.

Her father Abu Bakr had commanded her during the illness which later resulted in his death that he should be buried beside the Prophet (peace be upon him) and as a dutiful daughter she implemented his command. A grave was then dug for him in her room and his grave was made parallel to the Prophet’s shoulders (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon them both).

When ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was stabbed by Abu Lu’lu’ah, the Zoroastrian, he sought the permission of ‘Aa'ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) to be buried in her room. When Ibn ‘Umar brought his father’s body for burial and reached the door of A’ishah’s room, 'Abdullah ibn 'Umar once against asked for her permission on his father's behalf,

“The slave of Allah, ‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab is seeking permission to enter into the house of the Mother of the Faithful, ‘Aa’ishah."

‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) gave her permission and thus he was buried there.

Before ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) was buried there, she used to say,

“It is only my husband and my father that are here.”

Therefore she would not cover herself as she would have done if a non-mahram was present. But after ‘Umar was buried there she would say,

“I no longer enter the room but with my garment fastened (i.e. with my full Hijaab, Jilbaab and Niqaab on), because I am shy (of being in the presence) of ‘Umar.”

The Battle of the Camel

desertgoodpicBefore I conclude I would like to mention the Battle of the Camel, bearing in mind that as Muslims we should seek to unite and not divide and to uplift ignorance instead of spreading it. We also need to learn how to focus on individuals, rather than figures and events - especially when it comes to the lives of the Companions of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon them all). For they were human beings, but whose feats far exceeded ours in every respect. They are a people whom Allah is pleased with and they are also pleased with Him. They were the ones chosen by Allah to be the first bearers for the flag of Islaam.

The following are some words which illuminate the way forth for us, so that we can recognize the friend from the enemy and the right from the wrong.

All narrations contained within all historical sources unanimously over the negotiations which took place between ‘Alee on one side and Talhah, az-Zubair and ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with them all) on the other. These sources show us how they were almost successful in arriving at a truce of peace and the protection of blood. But there was a specific group who were not willing to suffer a loss by this truce...

It was the same group which had come from Egypt and revolted against 'Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him). This group had been lead by the Jew ‘Abdullah ibn Saba, who had filled their hearts with malice and hatred against the noble and respected Companions. Because of this the Caliph, ‘Uthmaan ibn ‘Affaan, was martyred. This was a historical calamity, which destroyed the political edifice of Islaam and caused this whole problem to occur.

It was at the dawn of the appointed day of the announcement of the truce and peace that the situation got out of hand, all because of the Jew ‘Abdullah ibn Saba, who had started the war in the first place.

As for what happened after that, then that is now history.

In the month of Ramadhaan, in the year 58 A.H., ‘Aa’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) was afflicted by a fatal illness. In her will she had clearly stated:

“Do not follow my bier with a fire nor lay a red velvet piece.”

She then surrendered her soul on the night of Tuesday, the 17th Ramadhaan, at the age of 66.  She was buried within the same night after the Salat of al-Witr. Her burial place is in Al-Baqi, which is situated in Madinah.

May Allah be pleased with and please this great female scholar, the beloved of our Final Messenger (peace be upon him). Aameen!

Read Part 1...



The Prophet (peace be upon him) as a Father

Here comes the role of Muhammed (peace be upon him) as a father. We have discussed him while speaking about the noble women Companions who attained, during the early days of Islaam, honour and glory through their reversion to Islaam. These women fulfilled more than what was required from them and, as a result, became role models for us and for all nations throughout history.

Some of them were Mothers of the Faithful in the light of Allah's saying: {And his wives are their mothers}, thereby attaining the greatest meaning of motherhood.

But now we are going to discuss the personalities of his daughters, Zaynab, Ruqayyah, Umm Kulthoom and Faatimah, may Allah be pleased with them!

Khadeejah (may Allah be pleased with her) gave birth to the Prophet's daughters in succession. They were like roses whose calyxes had opened, with their fragrance exuding all over the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) household. They were to the Messenger of Allah like a cool breeze in the bitter night of the Quraysh’s denial, a shinning smile that kindled hope in his heart and a strong emotional support to proceed upon the arduous journey along the straight path.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) had been denied real parental love, compassion and care since his childhood. This is because his father died while he was still in the womb of his mother - Aminah bint Wahb - and when he began recognising faces, his mother also passed away.

This left its mark on the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), making him very compassionate, extremely soft and tender-hearted. All of this was a divine training for him for that promised day, the day when he was to be commissioned as a Prophet and Messenger.

Only Allah knows the reason behind the death of all the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) sons, including the last of them: Ibraaheem who born to him by Maariyah the Copt. Ibraaheem had only lived for a few months; he crawled, babbled, laughed, cried and had started to even articulate a few words before the Angel of Death visited his home.

Allah had also Willed that his daughters, Zaynab, Ruqayyah and Umm Kulthoom would all die during his lifetime. As for Fatimah, she survived her father, only to join him a few months after his death.


There was a report that al-Akhnas ibn Shareeq came to Abu Jahl, Hisham ibn al-Mugheerah al-Makhzoomi and asked him: "Abu al-Hakam, what is your view about what you heard from Muhammad?"

Abu Jahl responded,

"What did I hear from him? We and the children of 'Abd Manaaf always vie for nobility. They fed the people and we did the same, they provided for the travellers and we did the same and they gave generously and we did the same. And when we came to each other like two competing horses, they then claimed to have a Prophet among them who received revelations from the heaven… By Allah! We shall never believe in him!"

The Qurayshi had a narrow-minded and complex concept of Prophethood. This emanated from their traditions which were mixed with empty clamour and utter superciliousness. They did not realise that the Message, Prophethood and Da'wah of Muhammad (peace be upon him) is guidance and mercy from Allah for the entire mankind. Not only that, it is also a mental and emotional liberation for humanity.

It is this very ignorance that led some of the Quraysh into rejecting and waging war against this Message of Islaam throughout the twenty-three years of the Prophet's call towards the Message of his Lord.

However, this opposition was defeated when Allah permitted His Messenger (peace be upon him) to conquer Makkah, purify the Ka'bah and destroy the idols, thereby removing their impact from the people's hearts and minds. Indeed, Allah has full power and control over His affairs, but most men know not.

The life of Zaynab (may Allah be pleased with her) with her husband Abu al-As was a clear manifestation of this struggle.

She was born ten years before her father was commissioned as a Prophet. She belonged to the noblest parents in the world. Her father: Muhammad ibn 'Abdullah (peace be upon him) is the one Allah has sent as a mercy for mankind, the chief of the Prophets and the Seal of all the Messengers. Her mother Khadeejah is a leader and role model for all women. She has the highest lineage, nobility, virtue and knowledge. She was also married to the dearest of Allah's creatures, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Zaynab's Upbringing

orangeZaynab (may Allah be pleased with her) was born to a esteemed Qurayshi scion, with a noble and respectable descent which had no equal in all of Arabia. She was well received by an unparalleled, reputable and pure home because her parents led a happy marriage based upon mutual love, sincere affection and great respect.

Her honourable father (peace be upon him) loved his beloved wife dearly. She compensated him, through her abundant compassion and kindness, for all the hardships he may have suffered in childhood. In turn, her great mother Khadeejah saw a living treasure in her dear husband who dazed her by his amazing qualities. She therefore opened her heart to him which had been closed due to her previous unpleasant marriage. She then embraced life anew, full of hope and expectations.

Zaynab was a sweet basil that exuded a pleasant fragrance and overwhelming splendour. Like the children of other noble Arabs, she too was given a wet nurse and when she returned to her parent’s home, the gracious home of her parents embraced her with great love and affection once again.

When she grew up into an adolescent, her mother started training her in domestic responsibilities and chores and tried to keep her away from childish frivolities.

While still a young girl, Zaynab was for her small sister Fatimah a great educator and caring mentor. She would take care of her affairs and play with her. This responsibility became even greater after the death of their mother, Khadeejah.

A Marriage Proposal

When Zaynab attained marriage-age, her cousin (who was the son of her maternal aunt), Abuul-‘Aas ibn Rabee came forward, asking for her hand in marriage. He was very close to his aunt Khadeejah, who treated him like her own son and showed love and compassion to him.

Abul-‘Aas was fascinated by Zaynab's beauty, pleasant talk, tenderness and good nature. We must remember that this was before the Qur’aan was revealed to the Prophet (peace be upon him), therefore the verses pertaining to Hijaab were not as yet revealed.

Zaynab was also comfortable in his presence and loved to listen to his speeches and jokes. For, despite his young age he was one of the leading merchants of Makkah and a wise reader who commanded the respect of both the young and old.

In this way two hearts opened up for each other and the feeling of love and affection flowed between them.


Abul-‘Aas came forward and asked for Zaynab’s hand in marriage. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) received him well and listened to what he had to say attentively but requested that he be given some time to ask for Zaynab’s consent.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) then went to his daughter Zaynab and said, “Daughter, your cousin, Abu al–‘Aas Ibn Rabee’ is interested in you.”

Zaynab kept quiet out of shyness, and did not utter a single word. Her face became red… but the beating of her pure heart and the lowering of her eyes was the best answer for her father (peace be upon him).

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) smiled and did not repeat the question. He then went back to Abul–‘Aas and gave him a congratulatory handshake and prayed to Allah for blessings.

At Her Matrimonial Home

At their matrimonial home, Zaynab and her husband enjoyed much happiness and mutual love.

Abu al-‘Aas, being a trader and a well-placed person among his people travelled a lot. He would be away in Syria for days and nights, while Zaynab would miss him dearly.

mountainblueZaynab as a Mother

Zaynab bore two children from Abul-‘Aas, a boy named ‘Ali and a girl named Umaamah. These two children were the Prophets (peace be upon him) first grandchildren.

One day, when Abul-‘Aas was away on one of his journeys, a great event occurred: The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was commissioned to deliver a Divine Message. Like her mother and sisters, she also followed her father and embraced Islaam.

When her husband returned from his journey, she informed him of what had happened when he was away and he also heard the same from the people of Makkah.

The Separation

Abul-‘Aas turned to his beloved wife Zaynab and said:

“By Allah, I have nothing against your father and nothing is dearer to me than following the same path as you. But I'd hate for people to say that I have disappointed my clan by disbelieving in the deities of my ancestors in order to please my wife. Can you please excuse me?” .

Suddenly, they separated as if a barrier had been erected between them. On that night, neither of them slept. This continued on for subsequent nights. The atmosphere of their household was filled with anxiety, sorrow and caution. Their bliss had turned into hell.

It should be noted here that this decision of Abul-‘Aas to follow the path of his people was out of haughtiness, stemming from the time of ignorance that had prevailed over many others like him. This arrogance was caused by tribalism and utter superciliousness.

A Persevering Believer

The disbelievers’ persecution of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) and the early Muslims became more severe. So he, along with his followers and the members of his household were isolated for many years in the valleys of Aboo Taalib beside the valley of Abu Qubays. The Quraysh had sanctioned embargos on them and prevented anyone from helping them.

During this period Zaynab was very sad and distressed. She would cry and cry and then resign her fate to Allah hoping that he would one day provide a way out for them.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) experienced great persecution at the hands of the polytheists, especially whenever he went to pray at the Ka’bah, in the vicinity of the sacred mosque.

Those who persecuted the Muslims the most were a group who were known as ‘The Deriders’. Their leader was the notorious Abu Jahl ‘Amr ibn Hisham who one day said:

“O Quraysh! Muhammad has brought what you have seen; insulting your house, abusing your deities and disrespecting your ancestors. I am therefore making a covenant to Allah that tomorrow I will carry a heavy rock and when he prostrates in his prayer, I will crush his head with it. Then if you like you can surrender me to justice or protect me. And members of ‘Abd Manaaf clan can do whatever they like.”

The following day, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) came to perform his prayers as usual and these Qurayshi men were there in the vicinity of the sacred mosque waiting to see what Abu Jahl would do. When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) prostrated, Abu Jahl carried the rock and headed for where the Prophet (peace be upon him) was praying. When he came close to the Prophet, he retreated in defeat and terror and the rock then dropped from his hands. Some men from the Quraysh went to him and asked, “What’s wrong with you, Abul-Hakam?!” he said,

“I aimed at doing what I promised you i'd do, but when I moved close to him a large male camel came to me. By Allah, I have not seen the like of it. It really wanted to eat me!”

When this was mentioned to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) he said, “That was angel Gabriel. If he had moved closer, he would have seized him.”

After a while Khadeejah, the loving mother and wife died. Soon after Abu Talib, the Prophet’s affectionate uncle also died.

Then the Quraysh, driven by their ignorance and polytheism, further mercilessly persecuted the Prophet (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and his followers. Zaynab’s heart pained by this new spate of persecution levied against her father and his beloved companions.


Zaynab woke up one morning to hear that the Quraysh were in pursuit of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), who had left for Makkah, heading towards Yathrib (Madeenah) as an emigrant. Later, when she heard of his safe arrival there he was happy and felt comforted.

After some days, an envoy came with Zayd ibn Harithah from Yathrib and took Zaynab’s two sisters, Umm Kulthoom and Fatimah to Madeenah. As for Zaynab, she remained in Makkah in her husband’s house waiting for Allah’s decision concerning her situation.

Days of Criterion

Allah revealed: {They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months [i.e. the 1st, 7th, 11th and 12th months of the Islamic calendar]. Say, ‘Fighting therein is a great [transgression] but a greater [transgression] with Allah, to disbelieve in him, to prevent access to al-Masjid-al-Haraam [at Makkah], and to drive out its inhabitants, and al-Fitnah is worse than killing…} (Qur’aan, [2]:217)

He, the Almighty also says: {Permission to fight [against disbelievers] is given to those [believers] who are fought against, because they have been wronged. And surely, Allah is able to give them [the believers] victory. Those who have been expelled from their homes unjustly only because they said, ‘Our lord is Allah’…} [Qur'an, [22]:39-40]

Before the battle of Badr, which took place on the 17th of Ramadhan 2 A.H, there was a skirmish between a Muslim army, under the leadership of Abdullah ibn Jahsh, and a group of Quraysh polytheists. During this encounter, Wafid ibn Abdullah at-Tameemi shot Ibn al-Hadrami with an arrow and killed him. The matter between the two sides almost led to a full-fledged battle but the timely intervention of Majid ibn Amr prevented that. This was when the two sides signed a truce.

Even then, the Quraysh capitalized this incident and started spreading it within different tribes. They said that Muhammad (peace be upon him) had violated the sacredness of the holy months by shedding blood and stirring up the fire of war.
It is on account of the above that Allah revealed, {They ask you concerning fighting in the sacred months…}

Which was then followed by the permission to fight; Allah the Almighty says, {Permission to fight [against disbelievers] is given to those [believers] who are fought against, because they have been wronged.}

After this, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was informed of the return of a caravan of the Quraysh from Syria, under the leadership of Abu Suffiyan. The Prophet (peace be upon him) called upon his Companions to set out and intercept the caravan, as perhaps Allah will make them take it as booty.

desertgoodpicThey set out from Madeenah in a group of about three hundred men. They had with them no more than seventy camels which they took turns in riding. They had only two horses, one of which belonged to Miqdaad ibn ‘Amr. When they approached Badr, which was a small village that had palm trees and water, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) realised that Abu Sufiyan had known the Muslims’ departure from Madeenah to intercept him and his caravan. Sufiyaan thus took another way that was nearer to the coast, thereby escaping with his caravan.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) was also informed that Abu Sufiyan had sent a message to the Quraysh seeking reinforcement. Abu Sufiyaan had sent Damdam ibn ‘Amr to inform the Quraysh that Muhammad and his Companions had departed from Madeenah with the intention of prevailing over the caravan with all its men.

When Damdam arrived at Makkah, he cried out from on top of the mountain of Abd Qubays to the Quraysh that they should rescue their property before Muhammad came and seized it. He screamed,

“The caravan! The caravan! O Quraysh!”

The whole of Quraysh then rose up to the call of Abu Sufiyan and rescued their wares. The fully-equipped reinforcement was led by Abu Jahl.

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) then consulted his Companions concerning this new development, as he wanted to know their opinion. They had come out in order to intercept the caravan, but now the situation had changed. They were now going to be confronted by a legion of the Quraysh that had up to one thousand fighters. What should they do?
The most trusted adviser, Abu Bakr (may Allah be pleased with him) was the first to speak and spoke wisely. Then ‘Umar spoke and did so excellently. Then Sa’d ibn Mu’adh, the Ansari chief spoke, he said:

“Allah’s Messenger! We believed in you and accepted your word as the truth. We testified to what you brought (that it) is the truth, and it was upon that that we gave you our covenants and pledges. Proceed to do whatever is shown to you by Allah. By Allah, if you were to march with us to the furthest place on the earth, we will follow you and no man from amongst us would stay behind. We exercise patience in war and we are sincere in our fight whenever we confront the enemy. Perhaps, Allah will show to you in us that which will make you happy.”

Then Miqdad spoke and said:

“Messenger of Allah! Carry on with whatever Allah reveals to you. By Allah, if you take us to this sea and embarked on it, we shall definitely do so with you. By Allah, we will not say as the children of Israel said to Moses, ‘You, and your Lord, go and fight. We shall remain here.’ Rather, we will say, ‘Go, you and your Lord and fight, we shall fight along with you.’”

The Battle Takes Place

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) was pleased with what he heard. So he continued his march along with the Muslims to Badr. They camped there, waiting for the arrival of the Quraysh who had already arrived there before the Muslims.
Hubab ibn al-Mundhir then came and addressed the Prophet saying,

“Messenger of Allah! Was there any revelation from Allah that commanded us to camp in this particular place and not to move elsewhere or is this matter subject to opinion, war and strategies?”

The Prophet answered that the matter was subject to opinion, war and strategy.

Hubab then said:

“If that is the case, we should then move to another place where there is water so that we can be the ones who will be close to it, and we can drink and give drink to our animals while our enemies will not have that opportunity.”

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) agreed with the opinion of Hubab and did as he said. They then made something like a pond around the water. In this way, they were ready to meet the expected enemy.

Abul-‘Aas is Taken as a Captive!

Abul-‘Aas had set out with the Quraysh to protect their commodities from the Muslims. A fight ensued, the Muslims won and Abul-‘Aas fell captive into the hands of the Muslims.

When the captives were shown to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), he took Abul-‘Aas aside and said to those who were holding him, “Treat the captives well.”

Zaynab was in an unenviable position. When it was time to ransom the captives, she wanted her husband to be returned to her. She took out her clothes and a necklace that used to be her mother’s who had presented it to her as a gift on her wedding day. Zaynab then gave this necklace to her husband’s brother, ‘Amr ibn Rabee’ so that he could present it as ransom for her husband.

As soon as the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) saw the necklace, he experienced an overwhelming feeling of extreme compassion, as his heart remembered his beloved wife Khadeejah (may Allah be pleased with her).

The Companions who were present gazed in amazement, having being captivated by the Prophet’s feelings. After a long silence, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) addressed his Companions who were holding Zaynab’s husband, “If you can release her captive to her and return her property (the necklace) to her, do so.”

They all said,

“Yes, we will do so, Messenger of Allah!”

The Separation

Before releasing him, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) requested Abul-‘Aas to send his wife Zaynab to him, as Islaam had separated between them. Abul-'Aas swore a pledge that he would do so.

Abul-‘Aas then returned to Makkah and his wife was very happy to have him back, but sorrow and distress was to fill her heart once again when Abul-‘Aas told his wife,

“Zaynab, I have come here to bid you farewell.”

And he told her about the pledge that he had sworn to her father and that he had to send her to him.

Zaynab reluctantly departed from Makkah and bade Abul-‘Aas an emotional farewell. He told her,

“Zaynab, whatever happens, I shall always love you as long as I live. Your presence shall forever continue to fill this house, which had witnessed the sweetest and most pleasant days of our life.”

Zaynab wiped away her flowing tears and began her journey.

The Quraysh stopped her on her way and returned her to Makkah. She was terrified by what had happened and was pregnant. She began bleeding until this led her to miscarry. Abul-‘Aas gave his protection to her in his house and took care of her until she regained some strength.

One day, quietly and inconspicuously he sent her towards Madinah in the company of his brother Kinanah until she was safely brought to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him).

Kinanah returned to Makkah reciting poetic verses which went as follows:

“I wonder how Habbar and some riffraff of his people,

wanted to prevent me from guarding Muhammad’s daughter.

I do not mind their multitude as long as I live

and I can have my hand in my sword.”

Captive once again!

Abul-‘Aas travelled to Syria with a caravan of the Quraysh. When information reached the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) that this caravan was on its way back from Syria, he sent Zayd ibn Haarithah with one hundred and seventy riders to intercept it. They met the caravan at a place called ‘Ees, in Jumadah al-Oola, year 6 A.H. They successfully captured it and returned to Madeenah, taking those who were guarding the caravan as captives.

His Escape to Zaynab

turqoiuseflowerglowingAfter those who were with him had either been killed or captured, Abul-‘Aas could no longer face the situation. He used the cover of the night to escape into what looked like a bush of heavily-branched trees and hid in it. He remained motionless and even tried to hold his breath so that the dogs would not hear him. He stayed there, within the chilling fierce cold wind fearing his fate. While he was there, his disturbed heart was longing for his beloved Zaynab; Zaynab with whom he had known happiness, security and peace of mind.

He thought of what to do after part of the night had passed. The Muslims who had attacked him, killed his companions and prevailed had taken his wealth and had left the place after giving up all hope of finding him.

What should he do now? Should he come out of his hiding place and head for Makkah alone with no provision or animal to ride on? Or should he go to the house of Zaynab, his beloved and dutiful ex-wife who would never refuse to give him shelter and protection?

He was overwhelmed by love and sincere feelings for her. So he quietly began sneaking towards her house, under the cover of the night; when he finally reached her door, he anxiously knocked.

Zaynab awoke in a state of fear wondering who could be knocking at her door at this hour of the night. She asked who was at the door and the voice she heard was a recognised one: It was the fearful and shaking voice of Abul-‘Aas!

She opened the door and met her beloved husband...but in this meeting, it was their eyes that spoke, rather than their tongues; it were their hearts that embraced each other, rather than their bodies.

Zaynab allowed Abul-‘Aas in, fed him, offered him a seat and provided for him all that which would make him comfortable and relaxed. In spite of having regained some peace of mind, Abul-‘Aas was still anxious and afraid, and could only utter a few words.

Zaynab knew that he had come to seek her protection and shelter and for her to intercede on his behalf to her father. She assured him that, if Allah willed, she would do whatever she could to help him...

When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) finished the Fajr prayer, Zaynab stood up and called out, interceding on behalf of her former husband:

“I have given protection to Abul-‘Aas ibn Rabee!”

The Messenger of Allah said, “O people, did you hear what I have just heard?” The Sahaabah answered in the affirmative. He then said, “I swear by Him in Whose Hand is my life, I knew nothing of this matter until I heard what you have also heard (right) now.” And he added, “The Muslims are like one hand against those who are outside their community and the lowest of the Muslims is entitled to give protection on behalf of the rest of his co-Muslims. So we give protection to who she has given protection.”

When the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) returned home, his daughter Zaynab came to him and requested that Abul-‘Aas be given back what was taken from him. He agreed but warned her that she cannot allow him to have relations with her because she was unlawful for him, as long as he remained a polytheist.

Something Begins to Change

tree-sunlight_smallWhen Abul-‘Aas felt that he had attained security in Madeenah and that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) had provided refuge and shelter to him, he began to experience the qualities of magnanimity and truthfulness which Islam possessed, he realised that the blind state of ignorance in which he was living had misled him for a long time.

He now realised how Zaynab’s love for him and his love for her was firmly-rooted in the hearts of both of them. When he realised all this, he willingly wanted to enter into the folds of this pure religion without any coercion from anyone. He wanted to proclaim his acceptance of Islaam but...

It was over this ‘but’ that Abul-‘Aas pondered over a little. His Arab gallantry and tribal pride swirled up in him. He promised himself that he would not allow his proclamation of Islaam to be attributed to any influence or pressure. He did not want anyone in Makkah to claim or think that he accepted Islaam for the love of this life and out of the fear of death or for the love of anyone or anything.

He resolved to proclaim his acceptance of Islaam daringly in Makkah, in front of all. This was also because people in Makkah had entrusted him with their wealth and properties and he wanted to return these trusts to their owners. If he remained in Madeenah and announced his Islaam there, people would say he did so to get out of giving back the trusts to whom they were due. And this is what his sense of honour and pride would not permit.

Therefore, he returned to Makkah, returned the trusts to their rightful owners and then proclaimed his Islaam openly, infront of the Quraysh and in the presence of many people. He did so with a dignified and honourable bearing. After that, he returned to Madeenah as a Muslim and an immigrant.

Upon his arrival to Madeenah, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) returned Zaynab back to him. This reunion took place after their Islamic marriage contract was performed. Once again, the two love birds were united.

The Final Separation

For a whole year, in happiness and contentment, the loving couple continued to live in Madeenah. Then came the eternal separation after which there is no reunion, except in the abode of the Hereafter. Zaynab died at the beginning of the fifth year of Hijrah from complications of a haemorrhage which she had been suffering from since her migration.

Abul-‘Aas fell into such grief that those who looked towards him would also be moved to tears.

The Messenger of Allah’s (peace be upon him) eyes were also full of tears, and his heart full of sorrow. The death of his daughter Zaynab reminded him of the death of his wife Khadeejah.

He said to the women gathered around Zainab’s body, “Wash her three times and use camphor in the third wash.” After this the Prophet (peace be upon him) performed her funeral prayers and followed her to her final resting place, her place of burial.

Abul-‘Aas returned home to his children, ‘Ali and Umamah. He began kissing them and wiping away their tears with a heart full of grief at the departure of his beloved, his life, his wife, his friend and his sister in Islaam.

May Allah be pleased with Zaynab, the Prophet’s daughter!

May He reward her with paradise for her patience, endurance and struggle. Aameen!


I do radhiAllahuanha not understand why the scholars of Seerah and history do not give Umm Manee, Asma bint Amr, her due right by mentioning her and throwing light on her personality. Perhaps they were more affected by the personality of her friend and Companion Umm Ammarah and her role in ‘Aqabah. Although Umm ‘Ammaarah deserves to also be mentioned, it is a historical negligence to not mention her among the female Companions who were around the Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him).

This is because Umm Manee was the second woman from the Ansaari delegates who came from Yathrib (which was later to be known as Madeeah) to Makkah to pledge allegiance to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him). She suffered the hardships of the journey and bore it with patience as she was driven by her love for Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). She yearned to meet her beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and to listen to his Prophetic Words.

Such was her sincerity that she embraced Islaam before she left Yathrib. This was because her soul was filled with the splendour of this pure religion. She used to listen to Mus’ab bin ‘Umayr, or those who narrated from the Prophet (peace be upon him), and became emotionally prepared to receive the knowledge in its pristine form and to revolt against the filth of ignorance and idolatry.

When the announcer announced the journey to meet the Prophet (peace be upon him) and pledge allegiance to him, she quickly responded and joined the ranks of those travelling to Makkah with happiness and joy. She was one of the two Ansaari women who witnessed this great pledge, which was a crucial turning point in the path of Da’wah. It was Allah’s Will to make Madeenah and its inhabitants the first battalion of Islam, its first fortifying armoury and the base from which the religion spread all over the world in a manner unparalleled in human history.

In "Al-Isabah" Ibn Hajr (rahimahullah) wrote:

“Umm Manee is the mother of Shubath. Some say her name is Asma bint Amr. Ibn Sa’d reported on the authority of al Waqidi who also narrated with his chain of transmission reaching Umm Ammarah that she said,

“Men were shaking the hand of the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) on the night of al-Aqabah while al-‘Abbaas was holding the Prophet’s hand. When it was my turn and that of Umm Manee, my husband, Arabah ibn Amr said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, these are two women who came with us and they also want to pledge allegiance to you. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) responded, ‘I have accepted your pledge. I do not shake women’s hands.’”

Ibn Sa’d also said that Umm Manee attended the pledge of ‘Aqabah in the company of her husband Khadeej ibn Salamah, and that she also witnessed the battle of Khaybar. Ibn Hajr has also mentioned the lineage of Asma bint Amr and said that she was known as Umm Manee.

Ibn Ishaaq reported with a sound chain, on the authority of Ka’b ibn Malik that Umm Manee was one of the seventy people who witnessed the pledge of ‘Aqabah.

Umm Manee witnessed the pledge of Aqabah alongside the honourable companion Mu’aadh ibn Jabal. Likewise, she witnessed some wars that the Muslims fought against the enemy and participated in activities which involved providing aid, treating the wounded, giving water to the thirsty, preparing food and other activities that the circumstances called for. 

Perhaps Ibn Hajar’s mention of her participating in the campaign of Khaybar and the fact that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) gave her a share of the booty of that campaign indicated that she had participated in previous wars. For, Umm Manee was one of the witnesses of the first Pledge which indicates to us that she would not avoid her responsibilities. Rather, she would carry them out selflessly.

If some aspects of Umm Manee’s life were clouded or overlooked, this is made up for by the personality of her son, Mu’aadh ibn Jabal. He was an amazing son that she sacrificed for the service of Islaam. He then became one of the most unique and outstanding Companions.

Ibn Hajar (rahimahullah) has the following to say about Mu’aadh:

‘He was the leader and an authority in the knowledge of the lawful and unlawful.’

Abu Idrees al-Khawlaani (rahimahullah) said about him:

‘He was fair-complexioned and handsome. He had sparkling teeth and dark eyes.’

Ka’b ibn Maalik (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

‘He was a young and handsome man; one of the best youth of his clan.’

Al-Waqidi (rahimahullah) said:

‘He was one of the most handsome men. He witnessed all the battles and narrated ahaadeeth from the Prophet (peace be upon him).

Some of those who narrated ahaadeeth from him were:

  • ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Abbaas,
  • Ibn Ady,
  • Ibn Abi Awfa al-Ash’ari,
  • ‘Abdur-Rahmaan ibn Samurah and
  • Jaabir ibn Anas.

He participated in the Battle of Badr when he was only twenty one years old. The Messenger of Allah (may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) appointed him as the governor of Yemen, the hadith regarding which is found in Saheeh al-Bukhari on the authority of Ibn ‘Abbaas.

Saif Sadi reported, on the authority of ‘Ubayd ibn Sakhr, that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) told Mu’aadh when he was sending him to Yemen:

“Indeed, I have realised the affliction that you have suffered because of the religion and the debts that you have incurred. Gifts are therefore made lawful to you. If you are presented with a gift, you can take it.”

Therefore, when he returned from Yemen, he had thirty animals which were presented to him as gifts in Yemen.

Saif also reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) told him when he was bidding him farewell:

‘May Allah protect you from your front, your rear, your right, your left, above you and beneath you. May He guard you against the evils of men and jinn’.

Abu Daawood reported on the authority of Mu’aadh that he said: The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to me, ‘I love you’.

Anas Ibn Malik also counted him among those who compiled the Qur’aan during the time of Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him).

‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Amr narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) said: ‘Learn how to recite the Quran from four men’ and he counted Mu’aadh amongst them.

Masrooq said:

‘We were with ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood when he told us that Mu’aadh was a comprehensive leader and devoutly obedient to Allah. Farwah (one of those present) then said, ‘I forgot!’ ‘Abdullah ibn Mas’ood reported,

‘I did not forget. We used to liken him to the (Prophet) Ibraheem.”

 Abu Nu’aym said about Mu’aadh,

‘He was leader of the jurists and treasure of the scholars. He witnessed the Pledge of ‘Aqabah, the battle of Badr, as well as other campaigns. He was one of the best Ansaari youths in terms of forbearance, gentleness, modesty and generosity. He was very handsome. ‘Umar, Abu Qataadah, ‘Abdur-Rahman ibn Samurah were some of the companions who narrated hadith from him.’

Ibn Ka’b and Ibn Maalik said:

‘Muaadh was a handsome and magnanimous young man. He did not ask Allah for anything except that He (Allah) granted it (to him).’

Abu Sufiyan narrated that some of his teachers narrated a story in which ‘Umar said:

‘Women were unable to give birth to the like of Mu’aadh. If it had not been because of Mu’aadh, ‘Umar would have perished.’

At-Tirmidhi reported on the authority of Anas that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said, ‘The most knowledgeable of them concerning the lawful and unlawful is Mu’aadh.’

Ibn Abu Shaybah and Ibn Asaakir reported on the authority of Abu ‘Awn ath-Thaqafi that the Messenger of Allah said (peace be upon him) said, ‘Mu’aadh will come on the day of resurrection a step ahead of other people.’

Ibn Sa’d also reported in his Tabaqaat, with a disconnected chain of transmission, that when the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) sent Mu’aadh to the people of Yemen as their governor he wrote to them: ‘I am sending to you the best of my family.’

These are just some of Mu’aadh’s virtues, may Allah be pleased with him and please him.

He arrived from Yemen during the caliphate of Abu Bakr, and died during the plague in Syria in the year 17 A.H. or shortly after, according to the opinion of most scholars and was thirty-four at the time.

In conclusion, I would like to ponder over the saying of ‘Umar,

“Women were unable to give birth to the like of Mu’aadh’.

*Let’s not forget that the womb which bore Mu’aaadh was that of Umm Manee’s!

*The milk he drank from was that of Umm Manee’s.

*The arms that gently, kindly and affectionately cuddled him were those of Umm Manee’s.

*The heart that contained motherly love and compassion for him was that of Umm Manee’s!

*The tongue that taught him how to speak and instructed him to that which was right was Umm Manee’s.

Indeed she showered all the meanings of motherhood upon him. It was the combination of this love, affection and care that made Mu’aadh a unique man and the favour in all of this is from Allah alone.

Umm Manee being around the Messenger (peace be upon him) started from when she travelled to Makkah in order to pledge her allegiance, then in her participation within the Prophet’s (peace be upon him) campaigns, as much as is permissible for a woman in Islaam and in her rendering her son Mu’aadh to the service of Islaam. All this earned her a closeness to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), which is enough of a merit and virtue for her!

We pray that Allah honours the abode of Umm Manee, rewards her with the best and makes us join her among the company of His righteous servants. Aameen!