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Monday, April 30, 2007

The Geatest Women of All Time

(Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh sweeps the streets as part of a cleaning campaign with volunteers in Gaza City)

All praise is due to Allaah, Lord of all the worlds. Peace and blessings be upon the Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam), his household and companions (ra - may Allah be pleased with them all).

Fellow Muslims! Fear Allaah as He should be feared. Fear of Allaah is a reminder for His devoted servants and it is safety from His punishment.

Dear brethren! A Muslim woman attains prosperity by following the path of the best women who lived in the best generation who were nurtured in the house of Prophethood. They are women of high status and outstanding estimation.

They are blessed and great women. Foremost among them is that intelligent and wise woman, Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid (ra - may Allah be pleased with her), the religious and noble woman. She grew up upon virtuous characters and manners. She was chaste and gracious. She was known among Makkah women as 'the pure woman'. The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) married her and she supported him with her life, wealth and wisdom. During his sorrowful days, he would seek shelter with her and confide in her.

When the first revelation came to him he went to his wife shaking, and he said, "O Khadeejah, I fear for myself." But Khadeejah (ra) responded to his fear with a firm heart. And she told him, "By Allaah, Allaah will not disgrace you."

Islaam started in her house and she was the first person to embrace it. Ibn al-katheer (rh - may Allah have mercy upon him) said, "Khadeejah (ra) was the first person to embrace Islaam."

At the beginning of the Prophet's (saw - may the peace & blessings of Allah be upon him) mission, he was faced with many tribulations. But she stood by him compassionately and supported him with her outstanding intelligence. Whenever he heard any undesirable words from the people he would go to her, and she would strengthen and console him. The Prophet (saw) said about her, "She believed in me when the people denied me, she trusted me when people belied me; she supported me with her wealth when people refused to support me and I was blessed with children by her when I was denied children by other women." (Ahmad)

Khadeejah (ra) was a dutiful and great wife to her husband and an affectionate mother to her children. She gave birth to all the Prophet's. She was extremely good-mannered. She never argued with her husband and she never bothered him. The Messenger of Allaah (saw) said, "Angel Jibreel (Gabriel) came to me and said: 'Give Khadeejah glad tidings that she will have a palace made of hollowed pearls in Paradise and there will be neither noise nor any trouble in it (hardship & toil).'" (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)

As-Suhaylee said, "She was given the glad tiding of a house in Paradise because she never raised her voice over that of the Prophet (saw) and she never bothered him." She was pleased with her Lord and Allaah is pleased with her.

The Prophet (saw) said, "Paradise and there will be neither noise nor any trouble in it.'" (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)

Ibn al-Qayyim said, "Khadeejah (ra) was the only woman known to have this honour."

Allaah loved Khadeejah (ra), so did His angels. The Messenger of Allaah (saw) also loved her so much. He said, "I am blessed with her love." (Muslim)

Whenever the Prophet (saw) remembered her, he would mention her in glowing attributes and would show gratitude for her companionship. 'Aaishah (ra) said, "Whenever the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) remembered Khadeejah (ra), he would never tire of praising her and invoking Allaah's forgiveness for her. He appreciated her love and sincerity and he would honour her friends even after her death."

'Aaishah (ra) said, "He would often slaughter a goat, and distribute it to Khadeejah's (ra) friends. And whenever I asked him, 'Are there no other women in the world except Khadeejah (ra)?' He would say, 'She was this and that (he would praise and defend her) and she bore me children.'" (Al-Bukhaaree)

After her death, Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) heard her sister's voice. He them became sad and said, "She reminded me of Khadeejah (ra)."

Khadeejah (ra) was perfect in her religion, wisdom and conduct. The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) said, "Many men attained perfection, but only three women attained it: Maryam (Mary the mother of Jesus), daughter of 'Imraan, Aasiyah, Pharaoh's wife and Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid (ra - may Allah be pleased with them all." (Ibn Mardooyah)

She preceded the women of this Ummah (Islamic Global community) in righteousness, nobility and splendour. Allaah's Messenger said, "Maryam [Mary, Jesus' mother] was the best woman of her time, and the best woman of this Ummah is Khadeejah (ra)." (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)

Khadeejah (ra) was righteous and made her home righteous. She reaped the fruit of her labour and she and her daughter became the best of the women of the worlds in Paradise. The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) said, "The best from the women of Paradise are: Khadeejah, Faatimah, Maryam [Mary] and 'Aasiyah (may Allah be pleased with them all)." (Ahmad and An-Nasaa'ee)

She occupied a great place in the Prophet's (saw) heart. He did not marry any woman before her neither did he marry any woman while she was still with him until she died. He was extremely distressed with her death. Adh-Dhahabee said, "Khadeejah (ra) was intelligent, gracious, religious, chaste and noble. She is one of the dwellers of Paradise."

Dear brethren! Another great woman of the house of Prophethood is 'Aaishah (ra), daughter of Aboo Bakr (ra - may Allah be pleased with him). She was born in the house of truthfulness and piety and she was nurtured in the house of eemaan (faith). Her mother was a companion and her sister, Asmaa, Lady of the Two Girdles and her brother were also companions. Her father is the truthful man of this Ummah. She grew up in the house of knowledge, for her father was the erudite scholar of Quraysh and the highest authority in genealogy.

Allaah endowed her with outstanding intelligence and a sharp memory. Ibn Katheer (rh - may Allah have mercy upon him) said, "No nation has produced a woman as sharp, knowledgeable, fluent and intelligent as 'Aaishah (ra)." She excelled the women of her race in knowledge and wisdom. She was blessed with understanding of Islaamic jurisprudence and memorisation of poetry. She was in fact, a treasure of Islaamic sciences. Adh-Dhahabee said, "The most knowledgeable woman of this Ummah is 'Aaishah (ra). I do not know any woman from the Ummah of Muhammad (saw) or from any other nation more knowledgeable than her."

She excelled all women with her virtues and beautiful companionship. Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) said, "The superiority of 'Aaishah (ra) over other women is like the superiority of thareed over other kinds of food." (Al-Bukhaaree and Muslim)

The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) loved her; and he did not love anything but that which is pleasant.

'Amr ibn al-'Aas (ra - may Allah be pleased with him) once asked Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam), "Who is most beloved to you of all people?" The Prophet answered, "'Aaishah (ra)." And he said, "And among men?" And he answered, "Her father." (Al-Bukhaaree)

Al-Qurtubee said, "There are resplendent evidences in Islaam that require women to stay at home and not to go out except when necessary. And when it becomes
necessary for them to go out they should do so with complete covering of themselves and their adornments."

Allaah puts whomever He wills to test, and the test is in accordance with one's eemaan. 'Aaishah (ra) was slandered. She said, narrating her ordeal in this incidence, "I wept and I could not sleep and I just kept weeping until my parents thought that my liver would burst from weeping." She said that the trial was so severe that she would weep but could not find any more tears to shed.

Ibn Katheer said, "Allaah defended her honour, and He revealed ten verses to absolve her. This elevated her status and these verses were recited and they shall continue to be recited till the Day of Resurrection. Allaah testified that she was one of the purest women and promised her forgiveness and a generous provision.

She spent nights caring for the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) in his illness until he died in her apartment, on her day and in her bosom.

Sawdah bint Zam'ah (ra) is another of the Prophet's (saw) noble wives. She was pure-hearted and the first woman he married after the death of Khadeejah (ra). She was gracious and noble, and the purity of her heart manifested when she gave her days with the Prophet to 'Aaishah out of consideration for her husband's feelings and in order to earn reward of her Lord.

Another great woman in the Prophet's (saw) household is Hafsah (ra), daughter of 'Umar (ra). She was given to observing prayers in the night and performing supererogatory fasting. She grew up in a house in which the cause of Islaam was supported and truth was given prominence. Seven members of her family participated in the battle of Badr. 'Aaishah (ra) said of her, "She was my only competitor among the Prophet's wives."

There is also Zaynab bint Khuzaymah al-Hilaaliyyah (ra)who was very generous and hastened to perform righteous deeds. She lived with Allaah's Messenger (saw) for only two months and then sadly passed away.

Another distinguished woman in the house of Prophethood is Umm Habeebah (ra) daughter of Aboo Sufyaan (ra - may Allah be pleased with him), the emigrant and the one who was given to performing meritorious deeds. There was no one among his wives who was more generous than her as far as giving charity is concerned. She migrated to Abyssinia, escaping with her religion from the persecution of quraysh.

Another outstanding wife of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) was Umm Salamah (ra - may Allah be pleased with her), the patient and noble woman. Her name is Hind bint Abee Umayyah, one of the earliest emigrants. When she wanted to migrate to al-Madeenah with her husband Aboo Salamah (ra), her clan separated her from her husband and son. She said, "Every morning I would go to Abtah [a valley in Makkah] and I would keep weeping until evening. I did so for a whole year or close to a year. They later pitied me and gave my son back to me."

Her faith in Allaah was firm-rooted. When her first husband died, she said the invocation that Allaah's Messenger taught her, so Allaah gave her a better husband in the person of Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam). Umm Salamah (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) said, "If any Muslim who suffers some calamity says what Allaah has commanded him," We belong to Allah and to Him shall we return; O Allaah, reward me for my affliction and give me something better than it in exchange for it," Allah will
give him something better than it in exchange." When Abu Salamah (ra) died she said: 'Which Muslim is better than Abu Salamah whose family was the first to emigrate to the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam)?' I
then said those words, and Allaah gave me the Prophet
(sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) in exchange." (Muslim)

Make this supplication your treasure during afflictions, Allaah will provide you with what is better.

Dear brethren! There is a woman among the Prophet's wives known as Mother of the Poor. She is Zaynab bint Jahsh (ra). She enjoyed nobility of birth and character. She was described by Aboo Nu'aym as, 'devoted and contented woman'. Allaah married her to His Prophet through an explicit verse from His Book,

"So when Zaid had accomplished his desire from her (i.e. divorced her), We gave her to you in marriage." (Al-Ahzaab 33:37)

Her marriage to the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) is a blessing to the Muslim women till the day of Resurrection, for it was after her marriage that Allaah ordained hijaab for the women so that it could serve as a symbol of protection for their honour, chastity and purity.

Zaynab (ra) was extremely generous to the poor and the weak. She was highly charitable. In spite of her nobility and high status, she used to work with her hands, tanning
and making beads. And she would spend the proceeds for the poor. 'Aaishah (ra) said, "I have not seen a woman better in her adherence to religion, more pious, kinder to the kith and kin and more generous in giving charity than Zaynab."

Juwayriyyah bint al-Haarith (ra) from the tribe of Banoo al-Mustaliq is another of the Prophet's distinguished wives. Her father was the influential chief of his tribe. She was in herself blessed as she was blessed to her tribe. 'Aaishah (ra) said, "I have not seen a woman who is greater in blessing to her people more than her." She was given to performing much acts of worship for her Lord. She sincerely and devotedly worshiped her Lord. She would sit down in her prayer place remembering her Lord after Fajr until mid-noon. She said, "The Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) came to me one morning while I was glorifying Allaah. He then went out for some of his needs. When he came back just before mid-noon he said, 'Are you still there remembering Allaah?' And I said, 'Yes.'" (Muslim)

Another honourable wife of Allaah's Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) is the Safiyyah bint Huyayy (ra), a descendant of Prophet Haaroon [Aaron]. She was a noble and intelligent woman. She was highly-placed, religious, deliberate and peace-loving. The Messenger of Allaah
(sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) told her, "Indeed, you are a
daughter of a Prophet [meaning Aaron], your uncle is a Prophet [meaning Moses]; and you are also married to a
Prophet." (At-Tirmidhee)

The feast of her marriage to the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) comprised only of butter, cottage cheese and dates. But the marriage was blessed.

Maymoonah bint al-Haarith al-Hilaaliyyah (ra), the woman who was given to being kind to the kith and kin is another eminent wife of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa
sallam). She was one the greatest women. Allaah endowed her with pure heart and performance of much acts of worship. 'Aaishah said about her, "She was one of the most pious and most generous to the kith and kin among us."

Fellow Muslims! That is the history of the outstanding women of Islaam, mothers of the faithful. Their virtues are glowing. They had combination of beauties and virtues. It is therefore, incumbent upon Muslims to make them their models in matters of their religion, their submission to Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam), their conduct, their consciousness of Allaah, their performance of acts of worship, their truthfulness in words and their spending for the poor. They need to emulate them in their alleviation of other people's sufferings; and in their efforts to make their children righteous, correct them with patience and in seeking fortification through knowledge and learning from erudite scholars.

They need to emulate them in keeping themselves properly covered, maintaining their chastity and keeping away from doubtful and lustful things. They should emulate them by avoiding pinning their hopes on this world, heedlessness and forgetfulness or being carried away by outward beauties while the inward is corrupt.

Muslims should avoid looking at forbidden things and engaging in amorous conversations with the opposite sex. They should beware of those who are calling to the
removal of hijaab and mixing with the opposite sex.

Muslim woman's greatness and glory lie in her religion and her hijaab. Allaah says,

"O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful." (Al-Israa 33:59)

Dear Muslims! The Prophet's (saw) wives lived with him humbly in apartments built of brick and palm leaves, but full of eemaan and piety. They showed patience with the
Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) over poverty and hunger. Sometimes, a month or two would pass with no cooking fire kindled in their homes. They would spend days with nothing to eat but only dates and water. Sometimes they would make do with water only. Yet they lived in contentedness and patience upon
Allaah's promise that,

"The Hereafter is better for you than the present (life of this world)." (Ad-Duhaa 93:4)

And His promise,

"And whosoever of you is obedient to Allaah and His Messenger (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) and does righteous good deeds, We shall give her, her reward twice over, and We have prepared for her a noble provision." (Al-Ahzaab 33:31)

Brethren in Islaam! The Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam) married five of his wives with their ages ranging between forty and sixty. By that he was able to lay an example in taking care of the widow and their orphaned children. He married Khadeejah (ra) while she was forty years old, with three children from the previous marriage, while he was unmarried before. He married Zaynab bint Khuzaymah (ra) who was an almost sixty-year-old widow. He married Umm Salamah (ra) who was a widow with six children. He married Sawdah (ra) who was a fifty-five years old widow.

He married some relatives from among his cousins. And he married some women who were not his relatives.

He was a compassionate, dutiful and honourable husband to them all. He lived with them in the most beautiful way. He was always cheerful and kind to them.

Therefore, let those who want to prosper emulate the Messenger of Allaah (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam), who is the best of all creatures. Let the Muslim women follow the path of the righteous wives of the Prophet (sallallaahu 'alayihi wa sallam). For, there is no success for any woman
except by following the path of these pious ladies in their
righteousness and God-consciousness and in their dutifulness to their husband and children.

By: Shaykh 'Abdul-Muhsin Al-Qaasim

Al-Madeenah Al-Munawwarah (Sermons of the two Holy Mosques)


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