She is obedient to the commands of Allah (SWT)

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The true Muslim woman does not forget that she is duty bound to perform all the religious duties that Allah (SWT) has commanded her to do. In this regard her situation is the same as that of a man, and there is no difference between them except in a few regulations which apply exclusively to either men or women.


Other than that, women and men are equally responsible before Allah (SWT).


Allah (SWT) says:

(For Muslim men and women, for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in charity, for men and women who fast [and deny themselves], for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise - for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.) (Qur'an 33:35)


(Whoever works righteousness, man or woman, and has Faith, verily, to him will We give a new Life, and life that is good and pure, and We will bestow on such their reward according to the best of their actions.) (Qur'an 16:97)


(And their Lord has accepted of them, and answered them: ‘Never will I suffer to be lost the work of any of you, be he male or female: you are members, one of another; those who have left their homes and were driven out there from, and suffered harm in My Cause, and fought and were slain - verily, I will blot out from them their iniquities, and admit them into Gardens with rivers flowing beneath – a reward from the Presence of Allah, and from His Presence is the best of rewards.) (Qur'an 3:195)

Whenever the phrase "ya ayyuha'l-nas (O people or O mankind)" appears in the Qur'an or Hadith, it includes both men and women. Evidence of this may be found in the hadith narrated by Imam Muslim from the Prophet's wife Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her), who said:


"I used to hear the people talking about al-hawd (the cistern), and I had never heard about it from the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). One day, whilst a young girl was combing my hair, I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saying "O people!" I said to the young girl, "Leave me alone now." She said, "That call is for men only; he is not calling the women." I said, "I am one of the people." The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "I am the one who will be at the cistern (in the Hereafter) before you. So be careful, lest one of you should come to me and be driven away like a stray camel. I will ask the reason why, and I will be told, `You do not know what innovations they wrought after your death,' and I will say, `Away with them!'"


According to another report also narrated by Muslim, he (PBUH) said: ". . . and I will say, `Away, away with the one who changed (the religion) after my death!'" Men and women are equal before Allah (SWT), and both must pay heed to His commands and prohibitions. So the Muslim woman does what Allah (SWT) has commanded and keeps away from what He has forbidden, believing that she will be questioned about what she did in this life: if they are good, it will be good for her, and if they are bad, then will be bad for her. She does not transgress the limits laid down by Allah (SWT), and does not do anything that is haram.


She always seeks the ruling of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, and accepts it no matter what happens to her in her life.


Islamic history is filled with the stories of great women who kept the rule of Allah (SWT) in mind at all times and did not deviate from it or look for alternatives. Among these stories is that of Khawlah bint Tha`labah and her husband Aws ibn al-Samit, narrated by Imam Ahmad and Abu Dawud, and quoted by Ibn Kathir in his tafsir of the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah. Khawlah said:


"By Allah (SWT), concerning me and Aws ibn al-Samit, Allah (SWT) revealed the beginning of Surat al-Mujadilah. I was married to him, and he was an old man who was bad-tempered.

One day, he came in and I raised a particular issue with him again; he became angry and said, `You are to me as the back of my mother.' Then he went out and sat for a while in the meeting-place of his people. Then he came back, and wanted to resume marital relations with me. I said, `No way! By the hand of the One in Whose hand is the soul of Khuwaylah (i.e., Khawlah), you will never get what you want from me after saying what you said, until Allah (SWT) and His Messenger decide between us.' He tried to force himself on me, but I was able to resist because I was a young woman and he was a weak old man. I pushed him away, then I went to one of my (female) neighbours and borrowed a cloak from her and went to the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). I sat before him, told him what (my husband) had done to me, and began to complain to him about my sufferings because of my husband's bad temper. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, `O Khuwaylah, your cousin is an old man, so fear Allah (SWT) with regard to him.' I did not leave him until Qur'an was revealed concerning me: he was overcome as he usually was when Qur'an was revealed to him, and when it was over, he said: `O Khuwaylah, Allah (SWT) has revealed Qur'an concerning you and your husband.' Then he recited to me:


(Allah has indeed heard [and accepted] the statement of the woman who pleads with you concerning her husband and carries her complaint [in prayer] to Allah: and Allah [always] hears the arguments between both sides among you: for Allah hears and sees [all things]'. If any men among you divorce their wives by zihar [calling them mothers], they cannot be their mothers: none can be their mothers except those who gave them birth. And in fact they use words [both] iniquitous and false: but truly Allah is One that blots out [sins], and forgives [again and again]. But those who divorce their wives by zihar, then wish to go back on the words they uttered - [it is ordained that such a one] should free a slave before they touch each

other: this are you admonished to perform: and Allah is well-acquainted with [all] that you do. And if any has not [the wherewithal], he should fast for two months consecutively before they touch each other. But if any is unable to do so, he should feed sixty indigent ones. This, that you may show your faith in Allah and His Messenger, those are limits [set by] Allah. For those who reject [Him], there is a grievous Penalty.) (Qur'an 58:1-4)


He told me, `Let him release a slave.' I said, `O Messenger of Allah (PBUH), he does not have the means to do that.' He said, `Then let him fast for two consecutive months.' I said, `By Allah (SWT), he is an old man, he is not able to do that.' He said, `Then let him feed sixty poor people with a wasq of dates.' I said, `O Messenger of Allah (SWT), he does not have that much.' He said, `Then we will help him with a faraq of dates.' I said, `And I will help him with another faraq, O Messenger of Allah (SWT).' He said, `You have done right and done well. Go and give it in charity on his behalf, then take care of your cousin properly.' And

I did so."

Khawlah bint Tha`labah could not bear to stay for one moment with her husband after he had spoken the words of zihar to her, which was a form of divorce at the time of jahiliyyah, until she

had referred the matter to the Prophet (PBUH), so that she might know how Allah (SWT) would judge between her and her husband. She did not even have a suitable garment with which to go out and appear before the Prophet (PBUH), so she borrowed a robe from one of her neighbours, and rushed to where the Prophet (PBUH) was sitting, so that she could hear Allah's (SWT) ruling concerning her, and follow it. It comes as no surprise that this great woman enjoyed such high standing among the Sahabah who were her contemporaries and knew her virtues, above all `Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA). She met him one day outside the mosque, when al-Jarud al-`Abdi was with him. `Umar, who was the khalifah at that time, greeted her, and she said to him, "O `Umar, I remember you when you were called `Umayr in the marketplace of `Ukaz, taking care of the sheep with your stick. So fear Allah (SWT) in your role as khalifah taking care of the people, and know that the one who fears the threat of punishment in the Hereafter realises that it is not far away, and the one who fears death fears missing some opportunity in this life." Al-Jarud said, "You have spoken too harshly to Amir al-Mu'minin, woman!" `Umar said, "Let her be. Do you not know that this is Khawlah, to whose words Allah (SWT) listened from above the seven heavens? By Allah (SWT), `Umar should by rights listen to her."


Ibn Kathir mentions in his Tafsir that a man said to `Umar, when he saw him welcoming her warmly and listening to her, "You left a man of Quraysh to come to this old woman?" `Umar said, "Woe to you! Do you not know who this is?" The man said, "No." `Umar said, "This is a woman whose complaint Allah (SWT) listened to from above the seven heavens: this is Khawlah bint Tha`labah. By Allah (SWT), if she did not leave me until night fell, I would not tell her to leave until she had got what she came for, unless the time for prayer came, in which case I would pray, and then come back to her until she had got what she came for." The true Muslim woman always bears in mind the words of Allah (SWT):


(It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.) (Qur'an 33:36)


Obedience to Allah (SWT) and His Messenger is much more important than one's own whims and desires; it comes before pleasure and individual choice. Zaynab bint Jahsh (May Allah be

pleased with her) set the best example of obedience to the command of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger when he asked her to agree to marry his freed slave and adopted son Zayd ibn

Harithah. This marriage achieved two legislative (tashri`i) aims:

(1) To achieve total equality among people: the beautiful woman of Quraysh, the noblewoman of the sons of `Abdu Shams, and the cousin of the Prophet, married a freed slave. Freed slaves were of a lower class than the nobility; indeed, the differences between the classes was so great and so deep that nothing could abolish it except a decisive, public act on the part of the Prophet (PBUH), that the Muslim community would have to take as an example, so that these barriers might be torn down and people would not be viewed as superior except in terms of their level of taqwa.


(2) to abolish the custom of adoption which was widely spread at the time of jahiliyyah. Hence the Prophet (PBUH) married Zaynab, after she had been divorced by his adopted son Zayd, to demonstrate in practical terms that if Zayd had been his real son, Allah (SWT) would not have commanded him in the Qur'an to marry Zaynab.


The choice fell to Zaynab, the cousin of the Prophet (PBUH), to achieve these two legislative aims within the environment of the Prophet's household, so that the people could accept them in obedience to the command of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger (PBUH). When he chose her to be the wife of Zayd ibn Harithah, she disliked the idea, and said, "O Messenger of Allah (PBUH), I will never marry him, for I am the noblewoman of the tribe of `Abdu Shams." The Prophet (PBUH) replied, calmly but firmly, "You have to marry him." Whilst they were discussing the matter, Allah (SWT) revealed to His Messenger (PBUH):


(It is not fitting for a Believer, man or woman, when a matter has been decided by Allah and His Messenger, to have any option about their decision: if anyone disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he is indeed on a clearly wrong Path.) (Qur'an 33:36)


Then Zaynab accepted the command of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, and said: "I will not disobey Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, and I will give myself in marriage to him."


Subsequently, the differences between Zaynab and Zayd led to their divorce. When Zaynab had completed her `iddah, Allah (SWT) revealed the following ayah:


(Behold! You did say to one who had received the grace of Allah and your favour: `Retain [in wedlock] your wife, and fear Allah.' But you did hide in your heart that which Allah was about to make manifest: you did fear the people, but it is more fitting that you should fear Allah. Then when Zayd had dissolved [his marriage] with her, with the necessary [formality], We joined her in marriage to you: in order that [in future] there may be no difficulty to the Believers in [the matter of] marriage with the wives of their adopted sons, when the latter have dissolved with the necessary [formality] [their marriage] with them. And Allah's command must be fulfilled.) (Qur'an 33:37)


The Prophet (PBUH) recited this ayah, smiling, then he said, "Who will go to Zaynab and tell her the good news that Allah (SWT) has arranged my marriage to her from heaven?"


It was as if Allah (SWT) was rewarding Zaynab for her absolute obedience to Allah (SWT) and His Messenger. She had accepted their decision that she should marry Zayd, then she became the wife of the Prophet (PBUH) by the command of Allah (SWT), in ayat which the Muslims will recite when they worship Allah (SWT) by reciting the Qur'an, until the end of time. This honour was bestowed only on Zaynab, who was unique among the wives of the Prophet (PBUH). She was proud of the favour of Allah (SWT) to her, and used to boast to the other wives of the Prophet: "Your families arranged your marriages, but Allah (SWT) arranged my marriage from above the seven heavens."


Sources: The IDEAL MUSLIMAH The True Islamic Personality of the Muslim Woman


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