The Muslim Woman – Her Status in the Ummah
The status of the Muslim woman in Islaam is a very noble and lofty one, and her effect is vey great in the life of every Muslim. Indeed, the Muslim woman is the initial teacher in the building of a righteous society, providing she follows the guidance from the Book of Allaah and the Sunnah of His Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayi wa sallam. Since adherence to the Qur’aan and the Sunnah distances every Muslim male or female from being misguided in any matter. The misguidance that the various nations suffer from, the path of Allaah the Most Perfect, the Most High, and from what His Prophets and Messengers, may Allaah’s peace and prayers be upon them all, came with. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayi wa sallam said: “I am leaving behind two matters, you will not go astray as long as you cling to them both, the Book of Allaah and my Sunnah.” [Hasan: Related by Maalik in al-Muwatta (2/899) and al-Haakim (1/93), from Ibn ‘Abbaas radiallaahu ‘anhu. It was authenticated by al-Albaanee in as-Saheehah (no.1871)]
The great importance of the Muslim woman’s role – whether as wife, sister or daughter, and the rights that are due to her and the obligations due from her have been explained in the noble Qur’aan, and further details of this have been explained in the purified Sunnah.’
The secret of her importance lies in the tremendous burden and responsibility that is placed upon her, and the difficulties that she has to shoulder. In terms of responsibilities, some of which not even a man can bear. This is why from the most important obligations upon a person is to show gratitude to the mother, and kindness and good companionship with her. And in this matter, she is to be given precedence over and above the father. Allaah the Most High, says:
“And We have enjoined upon man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness upon weakness and hardship upon hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Show gratitude and thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination.” [Al-Qur’aan 31:14]
Allah the Most High, said: “And We have enjoined upon man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship, and she brings him forth with hardship. And the bearing and the weaning of him is thirty months.” [Al-Qur’aan 41:15].
A man came to Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayi wa sallam said: O Messenger of Allaah! Who from amongst mankind warrants the best companionship from me. He replied: “Your mother.” The man asked: Then who? So he replied: “Your mother.” The man asked: Then who? So the Prophet replied again: “Your mother.” The man then asked: Then who? So he replied: “Then your father.” [Related by al-Bukhaaree (no. 5971) and Muslim (7/2), from Abu Hurayrah (R)]. So this necessitates that the mother is given three times the likes of kindness and good treatment than the father.
As regards the wife, then her effect in making the soul tranquil and serene, has been clearly shown in the noble aayah (verse), in His – the Most High’s – saying:
“And from amongst His Signs is this: That He created for you wives from amongst yourselves, so that you may find serenity and tranquility in them, And He has put between you love and compassion. Indeed, in this are signs for those who reflect.” [Al-Qur’aan 30:21]
Al-Haafidh Ibn Katheer (d.774H) (rahimahullaah) said, whilst explaining the terms mawaddah and rahmah which occur in the above verse. “Al-mawaddah means love and affection, and ar-rahmah means compassion and pity, since a man takes the hand of a woman either due to his love for her, or because of compassion and pity for her; by giving to her a child from himself…” [Tafseer Qur’aanul-‘Adheem (3/439) of Ibn Katheer]
And the unique stance that the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayi wa sallam’s wife Khadeejah (radiallaahu ‘anhaa) took, had a huge effect in calming and reassuring Allaah’s Messenger sallallaahu ‘alayi wa sallam, when the angel Jibreel (‘alayhis-sallam) first came to him in the cave of Hiraa. The Prophet sallallaahu ‘alayi wa sallam returned to Khadeejah with the first Revelation and with his heart trembling and beating severely, saying to her, “Cover me! Cover me!” So she covered him until his fear was over, after which he told Khadeejah (radiallaahu ‘anhaa) everything that had happened, and said: “I fear that something may happen to me.” She said to him: “Never! By Allaah! Allaah will never disgrace you. You keep good ties with relations, you help the poor and the destitute, you serve your guests generouly and assist those who have been affected with calamities.” [Related by al-Bukhaaree (1/22) and Muslim (1/139), from the lengthy narration of ‘Aa’eshah(radiallaahu ‘anhaa)]
And do not forget about ‘Aa’eshah (radiallaahu ‘anhaa) and her immense contribution. Even the eminent Sahaabah (Companions) used to take knowledge of Hadeeth from her, and many of the Sahaabiyaat (female Companions) learnt the various rulings pertaining to women’s issues from her.