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History and Seerah

The Prophet’s Prescribed Antidote for Housework Fatigue: Remembrance of Allah!

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Seldom is it that anyone looks forward to tackling a sink-full of dirty utensils, a hamper load of laundry, a sprawling lawn overflowing with tall grass, or a wall-to-wall carpeted house waiting to be vacuumed. Household chores are just that – chores – and most of us would happily delegate them to someone else if we could.

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These chores do take up a considerable amount of our time and energy, though, since most of us tackle them ourselves. Consequently, often it is easy to fall into the trap of perceiving them negatively as simply a waste of time, or a burdensome “headache” to rid ourselves of as soon as possible.

The hadith below brings us glad tidings:

It was narrated from ‘Ali [رضى الله عنه], “Fatimah [رضى الله عنها] complained about the pain caused to her hand by the mill, and some prisoners had been brought to the Prophet [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم], so she went but did not find him, but she met A’ishah and told her.

When the Prophet [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم] came, A’ishah told him about Fatimah coming to her. The Prophet came to us, and we had gone to bed. We started to get up, but the Prophet [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم] said: “Stay where you are.” Then he sat between us, until I could feel the coolness of his foot on my chest. Then he said:

“Shall I not teach you something better than what you asked for? When you go to your bed, magnify Allah thirty-four times, glorify Him thirty-three times and praise Him thirty-three times. That is better for you than a servant.””
[Sahih Al-Bukhari: 3502 and Muslim: 2727]

Al-Tabari said in his commentary on this hadith:

“We may understand from this hadith that every woman who is able to take care of her house by making bread, grinding flour and so on, should do so. It is not the duty of the husband if it is the custom for women like her to do this themselves”.

A servant is a person who helps us do our work at home. He or she obeys orders and makes our tasks lighter. Good servants are indeed hard to come by, but when they do, they are a great blessing indeed.

However, Fatimah bint Muhammad was a very special woman. She had a short lifespan, which she spent in poverty and considerable hardship; yet, despite not having lived a very long life, she won the highest spot in the Akhirah, and we all know it was not just by virtue of being the Prophet’s daughter, because the blood connection will not get us anywhere unless it is accompanied by virtuous deeds.

Prophet Muhammad [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم] always advised Fatimah to adopt the “high road”, even in matters as seemingly ‘trivial’ as domestic work. Whilst it is true that this hadith by no means implies that keeping a servant to help out in housework is in any way frowned upon in Islam, the Prophet was actually pointing out to to his daughter that it was better for her to turn only to Allah for relief from her physical fatigue, than to seek out tangible, worldly means to relieve her tiredness from her daily work.

Remembrance of Allah, in the form of takbeer [“Allahu Akbar“], tahmeed [“alhamdulillah“] and tasbeeh [“subhan Allah“] takes very little time to actually do with the tongue. However, dhikr has many beneficial advantages on the soul of a person when s/he recites these adhkaar with concentration, whilst keeping in mind the depth of their meanings.

For example, each time we recite Allahu Akbar, we can think about Allah’s majesty and how he provides the solution to all our problems; each time we recite Subhan Allah, we can bring to mind the universe and the flawless creations and systems it contains; and each time we recite Alhamdulillah, we can think of one of Allah’s countless blessings upon us, such as our hearing, sight, limbs, intellect, health, food, drink, shelter and family. Now, after just 2 minutes of doing this (the prescribed dhikr takes no more than 2 minutes!), wouldn’t a humble servant feel relieved of the stress and fatigue caused by household chores?

Another point to note is that Fatimah bint Muhammad [رضى الله عنها], who is the leader of the women of Paradise, also ‘complained’ of housework. Her hands were becoming calloused because of grinding flour in the mill herself. When she heard of her father recieivng prisoners of war, she proactively tried to get one as a servant for herself.

This shows us that it is not blameworthy to complain when there is cause for it viz. when the work/toil is causing considerable physical injury or fatigue. Even Prophet Musa [عليه السلام] exclaimed to his servant whilst travelling to find Khidr:

“Bring us our breakfast. Verily we have found fatigue in this journey of ours!” [18:62]

Therefore, to complain with just cause is not a sin at all.

Next, we get to see the concern and love that Prophet Muhammad [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم] had for his daughter. When he discovered that she had come enquiring after him, he went to visit her himself.

This is a very inspiring incident from the lives of our Prophet’s [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم] family members. Aside from the main lesson gleaned from it, especially for homemaking women of all ethnic backgrounds, who spend a significant portion of their day doing housework and chores, there are several further points of interest that can be pondered upon:

  1. The excellence of remembering Allah, and its positive effect on the human body and soul. This remains the main gist of the hadith – remembering Allah and proclaiming His attributes to achieve inner peace.
  2. The true concern that a believing parent has for his or her offspring always focuses on giving the latter that support which will benefit their Akhirah, not just their Duniya.
  3. The open, frank and informal communication and closeness that the Prophet’s Ahl Al-Bayt had with each other. E.g. Fatimah told A’ishah (who was technically her ‘stepmother’) of her desire to hire a servant when she visited her father but didn’t find him there. She would not have told her her personal problem had she not trusted her completely. This indicates their mutually friendly relationship.
    Also, A’ishah was prompt in informing the Prophet [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم] of his daughter’s visit. On both sides, the women are secure and self-confident in their relationship with Prophet Muhammad [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم]. Neither feels her privacy threatened by the intervention of the other!
    He immediately returned his daughter’s call, despite it being late, and sat between the lying-in-bed couple Fatimah and Ali [رضى الله عنهما], in such a way that his foot was touching his son’s-in-law chest.
    All these actions indicate a close-knit, honest and bonded family that shared each other’s ups and downs in life. There are no hang-ups or formalities between father-in-law and son-in-law, or father and daughter. I personally know of homes in which the father is not supposed to enter his daughters’ bedrooms, much less enter upon them in the bedroom of their marital home! (However, we have to keep in mind that Ali had always been very close to his father-in-law, from the time before he even married Fatimah).
  4. A parent can visit a child at his or her residence if an important matter crops up; it is not necessary that only the children visit their parents just because the latter are older.

Last but not least, let not our Muslim brothers think that this hadith gives them the proof to deny their wives the right to hire domestic staff for help with household chores. It is every woman’s duty to maintain a clean and smoothly-functioning household; most women happily go the extra mile in doing the cooking and cleaning that ensures the health and happiness of their families. However, in cases where they genuinely need it, they should be allowed to hire help to keep mental and physical stress at bay, especially during the repeatedly trying phases of being in the family way.

For more information on how much work women should be made to do in their homes, please see: The Wife Serving Her Husband on IslamQA.com.

Allah knows best.

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Sadaf Farooqi is a postgraduate in Computer Science who has done the Taleem Al-Quran Course from Al-Huda International, Institute of Islamic Education for Women, in Karachi, Pakistan.11 years on, she is now a homeschooling parent of three children, a blogger, published author and freelance writer. She has written articles regularly for Hiba Magazine, SISTERS Magazine and Saudi Gazette.Sadaf shares her life experiences and insights on her award-winning blog, Sadaf's Space, and intermittently teaches subjects such as Fiqh of Zakah, Aqeedah, Arabic Grammar, and Science of Hadith part-time at a local branch of Al-Huda. She has recently become a published author of a book titled 'Traversing the Highs and Lows of Muslim Marriage'.For most part, her Jihad bil Qalam involves juggling work around persistent power breakdowns and preventing six chubby little hands from her computer! Even though it may not seem so, most of her time is spent not in doing all this, but in what she loves most - reading.

42 Comments

42 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Abu Abdullah

    March 3, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    Jazak Allahu khayr for the article.
    Barak Allahu feek/feeki?

    Allahumma inna audhubika minal ajzi wal Kasal , wal hammi wal huzn. ameen.

    wassalam.

    • Avatar

      Abu Abdullah

      March 4, 2010 at 9:44 AM

      Salamualaikum,

      One more thing about entering the house of one’s daughter without permission/knocking.

      How do we reconcile between the Qur’anic ayah and this type of allowance in modern time. People take it negatively in general for anyone to come to our house without informing. Should we just let it pass it was because prophet sal Allaahu alayhi wa sallam or is there an exception for this case?

      • Avatar

        Sadaf Farooqi

        March 4, 2010 at 11:48 PM

        We all should follow what the Quran exhorts, of course. The Prophet [صلّى الله عليه Ùˆ سلّم] was returning his daughter’s call late at night (probably out of concern), and as I mentioned in the article, even before Ali [رضى الله عنه] became his son-in-law, he was very close to the Prophet. The latter was not only his first-cousin, but also his guardian.
        So, their unique circumstances in this hadith cannot be taken as a green signal by us Muslims to visit anyone without prior permission, or at an inappropriate time when they do not like being visited.
        And Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Nadeem

      March 20, 2016 at 10:14 AM

      Sounds like a preference not to have servants and instead pray to Allah to have the health not to have to rely on others rather than a nudge towards women doing housework, as suggested by Tabari. Having servants though I’m not suggesting it is akin to having slaves is a slippery slope for us with regards to power relations! Of course Bibi Fatima (as) would not be in danger of treating servants any differently but the message TO US in suggesting that we take care of ourselves sounds more plausible than this incident being indicative of women being in charge of housework!

  2. Avatar

    Abd- Allah

    March 3, 2010 at 12:33 PM

    JazakumAllah khayr for the article. Could you please just clarify what you mean here:

    deny their wives the right to hire domestic staff for help with household chores.

    From what I understood from this article and the link which you provided from IslamQA is that the wife should take care of the house and family, but the husband should not burden her with more than she can do, and he should help her out if he can. I didn’t read anything that said it is the right of the wife to hire a servant.

    The following is worded better, but is that what you meant when you said it is their right to hire domestic staff?

    However, in cases where they genuinely need it, they should be allowed to hire help to keep mental and physical stress at bay

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      March 3, 2010 at 7:56 PM

      Bismillah
      Whether a wife has the right to hire a servant, will depend on a few factors: (1) Whether the work is tasking her physically, especially if she is in hardship, such as an illness or pregnancy (2) Whether her husband can afford it. In countries in the West, domestic help costs much more than in other countries, e.g. Saudia or Pakistan.

      Muslim wives have the right to kind, good treatment, which is according to “urf” – local custom:

      وَعَاشِرُوهُنَّ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ

      …and live with them on a footing of kindness and equity….” [Quran – 4:19]

      So, yes, a wife will have the right to a servant, if her husband can easily afford it, and if she cannot handle all the work by herself. But no, if she is physically able to do it all easily and her husband cannot afford it, and she wants the servant just as a status symbol or worse, to avoid work out of laziness, then she will not possess the ‘right’ to hire a servant. However, she can still hire one if she chooses to foot the bill herself, I suppose. :)

      Allah knows best.

      • Avatar

        Abd- Allah

        March 3, 2010 at 8:26 PM

        JazakumAllah khayr for the clarification!

  3. Avatar

    TheSussist

    March 3, 2010 at 5:10 PM

    JazakAllahu Khairan for the article

    The article suggests that it is okay to complain about housework.

    And indeed the hadeeth states that Fatimah r.a. complained about the pain in her hand.

    This should not be used as a license for sisters to complain to their husbands whenever they feel some pain or tiredness in the housework, and then use this hadith as a justification!

    “If Ali and Muhammad s.a.w. could take complaints from their women why can’t you?!”

    Complain wisely.

    May Allah bless us all.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      March 3, 2010 at 7:46 PM

      Jazak Allahu khairan for the relevant reminder. This is an important point.

  4. Avatar

    Ibn Ameen

    March 3, 2010 at 8:05 PM

    Anything back to Al-Quran and the sunnah of our beloved Prophet :)
    Jazakallah Khair

  5. Avatar

    UmA

    March 3, 2010 at 11:45 PM

    jazakillahu Khayra for this article.

    btw I was a little bit thrown off by the casual use of the word ‘servant’ , ‘urf clash going on here… I just realised sr Sadaf, you are in Pakistan right now!
    Your wording later on: ‘domestic help’ sounded more culturally comfortable for me over here in ‘the West’

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      March 4, 2010 at 12:07 AM

      :) I live in Karachi, Pakistan.
      Yes, I do realize that domestic staff is very different in the West. They are educated, more highly paid, and better-respected people than the “servants” here. I personally think that our true akhlaq is the one we show to our servants or subordinates.
      I was also thinking one thing: our Prophet Muhammad [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم] never rebuked his servants i.e. he never chastised them about why they did or did not do something a certain way.
      If we think about it, a wife has much more rights and a higher status than a servant; yet, in some Muslim households, there is no difference between the way someone treats his servant and his wife!
      I ask Allah to bless us all with guidance and with the akhlaq of our Prophet. Ameen.

      • Avatar

        F

        March 4, 2010 at 4:19 PM

        Yes, it is very unfortunate that some households treat their wives very badly. May Allah(swt) guide such people to better manners.

        In my experience of watching how servants are treated in Pakistan, instances of them being treated with respect were few and far between. Often, they were spoken to in harsh tones bordering on cursing/taunts and treated as inferiors by the women of the household.

        It really saddened me that we could treat a fellow human being, let alone a Muslim in such a manner.

      • Avatar

        Sp

        August 28, 2016 at 7:36 PM

        Men treat their wives like queens and their sisters and mothers worse than they treat their wives servant.
        BTW if men are supposed to take care of women’s food clothing etc why do we see women like sisters mothers wives etc doing the cooking? Why are the men not doing it esp cleaning too. I think according to Islam men are supposed to do all household chores too as there is no law in Quran ordering women to do the chores or any other work job etc

  6. Avatar

    zarina ahsan quadeer

    March 4, 2010 at 8:48 AM

    JazakumAllah Khayr!
    Yes, indeed ‘Tasbeeh Fatimah’, is Alhamdullilah a very effective antidote. Thank you for refreshing it.
    May we all have Allah S.W.T ‘s Zikr on our lips all the time Inshallah.

  7. Avatar

    Yusuf Saber

    March 4, 2010 at 9:11 AM

    MashaAllah, jazakiAllahu khairan sister for the great reminder.

    I think it’s become more of a norm here in the West for the husband to help out. Should we see this as a ni’ma from Allah that the brothers are expected to step up in the neediness of their wives? Or are we moving away from the sunnah with this expectation at hand?

    • Avatar

      Abu Abdullah

      March 4, 2010 at 9:47 AM

      Salamualaikum,

      We know from the sunnah ( The best of All Husbands is really a good book to read) of prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, that he used to do house hold chores when he used to be at home. That includes washing his clothes and straightening up the house hold stuff, hosting food with his companions all with a cheerful face mash Allaah.

      Allahu ‘alam.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      March 4, 2010 at 11:04 PM

      I think that its a blessing. Couples become more close if they help each other out. In the West, its a two-way street, as wives also help out the men in the house by driving and earning a second income – things which, to this day, are considered predominantly a ‘man’s terrain’ here in the East. (Please note: this is not my personal opinion; I am stating a fact about the general Eastern population’s trends and preferences).
      Plus, yes, Prophet Muhammad [صلّى الله عليه و سلّم] did help out in the house while he was at home. So it is the sunnah too.
      Allah knows best.

  8. Avatar

    tabassum

    March 4, 2010 at 1:00 PM

    nice mashaAllah and jazakaAllah, so v really DO have to do the house work :D . ok if it has to be this way then so be it.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      March 4, 2010 at 11:00 PM

      Yes, housework has to be done, no matter how we go about it. :) We should take it positively, though, and whenever we are tired, we have this wonderful dhikr as antidote for the fatigue. Also, alhamdulillah, we have the facility of hiring servants to ease the task for us.

  9. Avatar

    sister

    March 4, 2010 at 6:36 PM

    Asalaam alaikum,

    Interesting article. Unfortunately I feel this is a misinterpretation of the hadith, mainly because the author does not distinguish that “servants” in those times were “slaves” and not paid hired workers with the free will to quit anytime. Remember, Fatima was asking for a prisoner of war, who automatically became slaves, not as hired servants.

    Slavery at the time of the Prophet was not completely outlawed, but Prophet Muhammad discouraged any of his Sahaba and family members to own slaves and encouraged them to free any of the slaves they did have. We know from many other hadiths that Fatima and Ali did not have the financial means to hire someone to help them with household chores. The Prophet felt Fatima’s pain but he discouraged her from having a slave because this would provide precedence for the other sahaba to own slaves, and so the entire Muslim world. In every hadith where someone gave the Prophet a slave, he either freed them. If then he told Fatima to keep a slave, he would be undoing all his efforts to stop slavery in the Arabian peninsula through his example. Since the Quran did not completely ban slavery, he could not forbid Fatima to have a slave, but he did discourage it by giving her something better, which is the words of dhikr and remembrance that Allah is also aware of her struggles and will send help through His own ways. When you ask Allah, Allah provides.

    So this particular hadith does not discourage women to get help with domestic chores. On the contrary, creating employment for people was a noble act, i.e. his wife Khadijah (ra) had many people work for her including the Prophet himself. Unfortunately what gets often interpreted from this hadith by Muslims (and amazingly by Muslim women) is that household chores is mainly the duty of a Muslim woman. It says no such thing. The Prophet helped in household duties as well as the other sahaba men. Those who could afford it, hired outside people to help them. The Prophet had Anas ibn Malik serve him for 10 years. He treated him like his own son and had him run errands for him. Why do people never question why the Prophet needed help to run errands but when a woman asks for help, she is not being a dutiful wife or somehow whining?

    There is no hadith or Quran verse that says a woman has to stay home and do all the household duties. There were many women sahaba who had their own businesses, joined in the battles, ran charity funds, managed markets, and were scholars, including his wives. These kinds of interpretations should always be questioned when they only serve the man’s interest, since Islam is such a forward thinking religion and never outweighs one person’s interest over another. They should also be viewed with the goals and objectives of the Prophet by comparing it to other hadiths, seerah, and Quranic verses.

    One may think this hadith supports the Quranic verses 4:34. Unfortunately again the meaning of these verses is often misinterpreted to serve the interest of men. The verses say that men are the Qawwamun (Guardians) of women because he has favored some over the others. It does not specify that Allah favored men over women. In some instances like physical strength, men are more favored, but other instances like women’s intuition and foresight, He has favored women. The typical interpretation of these verses is that men are the favored one because Allah has made them the Qawwamun, but in reality both men and women are favored by this. When we hire an accountant to do our taxes, who is benefiting from this relationship? The accountant gets paid for his work, and the person gets to focus on other things. They both benefit.

    I just hope our sisters don’t start thinking that their only roles in life is to wash dishes and change diapers.

    • Avatar

      Abd- Allah

      March 4, 2010 at 8:31 PM

      You have a point sister, but you missed many others. The question is not only whether the wife is allowed to hire a worker to help her out with the house chores, but who will pay this worker? Is the husband obligated to pay to hire a worker to help his wife?

      The Prophet had Anas ibn Malik serve him for 10 years.

      Anas ibn Malik may Allah be pleased with him served the Prophet peace be upon him voluntarily, and the Prophet peace be upon him never paid to hire him or even asked him to come work for him. I am sure that if the wife finds some one to help her voluntarily for free that her husband won’t mind (smile).

      Why do people never question why the Prophet needed help to run errands

      The Prophet peace be upon him was responsible for the entire Muslim community and he attended to their affairs in addition to the duty of having to teach the people the message that is being revealed to him and spread Islam. I don’t see how a woman who has household chores (or a man for that matter) is similar to the Prophet peace be upon him in that aspect of comparing their duties.

      Your statements sister were all very general, so if you can provide some evidence to support your statements like verses or hadiths that show that women don’t have to do their household duties.

      the Quranic verses 4:34. Unfortunately again the meaning of these verses is often misinterpreted to serve the interest of men. The verses say that men are the Qawwamun (Guardians) of women because he has favored some over the others. It does not specify that Allah favored men over women.

      And one more thing, can you please provide the source for your explanation of these verses in such a way. Is this way of explaining and understanding those verses found in tafsir Ibn Kathir ? I’m just curious as to which scholar have explained these verses in such a way as you have.

      • Avatar

        sister

        March 26, 2010 at 7:44 PM

        ASA,

        To answer your points and the other commentators below, I want to point out again that the interpretation of this hadith has been that a woman should not ask for domestic help, yet that is not the point of this hadith at all. A woman or man should not ask to “enslave” someone in order to get free help. We can see from the tone of this narration that Ali is concerned for the wellbeing of his wife Fatima, so if Ali could “afford” to hire a servant to help Fatima, I am sure he would have done so and Fatima would not have needed to go to her father to ask for a prisoner of war.

        Many hadiths indicate that Ali barely had enough money to pay for food for the family, so it shows that they did not have the financial means to hire help. Giving employment to someone with fair pay is the Islamic thing to do and the Prophet would welcome that since someone else would be able to feed their family by being paid for their work. The Prophet said it is better to chop up wood and sell it than to beg for money, so working to earn a living is much encouraged in Islam.

        Why then would the Prophet come in the middle of the night to discourage his favorite daughter to help another family by giving them employment? The Prophet did not want Fatima and Ali to own a slave because if they owned a slave, then how would the Prophet fairly tell his other Sahaba to free their slaves?

        The decision to hire a domestic helper is a decision between a husband and wife. It is neither about a right of a wife or an obligation of a husband. This hadith says nothing about this matter at all.

        This discussion is not to bring up controversy, but to better explain the beautiful deen of Islam. I can’t believe someone would dismiss the relevancy of this important matter such as discouraging slavery saying that this hadith is just about dhikr. Remembrance of Allah does not just mean one should say Subhana Allah 33 times. It is about remembering how Just and Fair Allah is, and that He wants us to reflect on His words and study them rather than take someone elses words or interpretations blindly. The Prophet said that one hour of reflection on the Quran is better than a whole night of blind prayer and that a scholar’s pen is mightier than the sword. Yet, when it comes to bringing an interpretation other than the common interpretation, we are told to stop making controversies????? How is that following the Sunnah of the Prophet or the Quran?

        As regards to verses 4:34, one only needs to read the Arabic to understand that no where does it say “Men are favored over women”. The literal translation is that Allah ” has favored some over others”. Men are favored over women in some aspects, but the fact that men are bound to support and guard women actually favors women. This favor goes both ways (subhana Allah), meaning in this statement that men are Qawamuun over women, He has favored both men and women. The men are given an important responsibility, and women are given a great relief as they focus on raising their children. For example when one hires a tax accountant, the tax accountant gets business and the person gets relief in doing their taxes. That does not make the tax accountant superior to the person who hired him, nor does the person who hired the tax accountant become superior. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. This is also true about men and women. There are other expert Quran scholars who have supported this interpretation, but remember other scholars are just thinking human beings who reflected on the Quran. They are not a Prophet, and so as another thinking human being, I am also able to offer my own understanding of these verses without the need to always back up the interpretation by a male scholar. Allah commanded all of us to think and reflect. Who is to say everything a scholar of the past wrote is an indisputable fact? On the most part they are right, but can we say they can never get anything wrong? I don’t think so. You read the Quran verses yourself and tell me that my interpretation is in anyway unreasonable, wrong or contrary to any other verses of the Quran that show that the relationship between a man and woman is equally beneficial. I rather discuss what the Quran says, not what scholars say, as the Quran is the divine text, not scholars writings.

        I also differ with the statement that all women love to do household work, organizing and decorating. Some do, most don’t. It is something that is conveniently left for women to do as they are home raising their children, but I prefer to go and earn a living of my own over doing dishes and laundry and listening to a crying baby any day.

        Also doing dhikr applies not to just housework but any type of halal work by both men and women. The Prophet said the one whose tongue is always moist with the dhikr of Allah will earn paradise. So the Prophet is pointing Fatima and Ali to seek Allah’s help in hardship, and do not cause hardship on others by enslaving them, hence the meaning of the statement “shall I give you something that is better than what you ask for”.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      March 4, 2010 at 11:35 PM

      Your input is very interesting. I am grateful that you pointed out a couple of things:
      1. The difference between slaves/prisoners of war at the time of Fatimah [رضى الله عنها], and modern-day servants.
      2. The unique circumstances of the Prophet’s [صلّى الله عليه Ùˆ سلّم] family, and how what they chose for themselves is not to be taken as a general rule of thumb for the ummah. An example of this is, as you pointed out, the fact that Ali and Fatimah did not have the financial means to hire someone to help with the housework.

      They are still our role models though, and whatever they did, sets an example for us. The fact is that, modern-day women still end up doing a lot of housework, at whatever level of income they may be; whether they are working 9 to 5 as corporate heads, or are stay-at-home mothers.

      Even financially independent women who live alone, do their own laundry and make their own breakfast. For affluent women in the East or the West, even if hired domestic staff does their housework, they still have to delegate tasks, supervise, organize the schedule and execute quality control. Women are caretakers of homes, period. It is what they, primarily, have always done and will probably always do, even if they have really helpful husbands.

      It is a woman’s innate nature to want to decorate and organize a home (why do you think little girls as young as two, play with doll houses?). And Allah has made the woman the raa’in of her husband’s home – a role that she enjoys. Ask most younger women who live in joint families, where things are done the way the elder ladies of the house want them to be done, and you’ll find that they will be, more often than not, wishing for a place of their own, where they can do things their way, overseeing everything and being able to run their own little organization.

      I just tried to glean a practical lesson for women from this hadith. If I have really ‘misinterpreted’ it, may Allah overlook and forgive that.

      I just hope our sisters don’t start thinking that their only roles in life is to wash dishes and change diapers.

      I am glad you said that! I also hope the same. :)

  10. Avatar

    umm esa

    March 4, 2010 at 11:46 PM

    Interesting…how some people are focusing on some fiqh and debated issues while the main objective of this article seemed to be bringing us back to the remembrance of Allah and how it has the power to refuel us despite the drudgery of a day’s work.

    During last year’s summer break, one of my co-workers didn’t respond to my phone calls. I saw her a few days later and asked her about the situation. She mentioned she had been quite busy lately…cleaning and organizing her house. And then she told me how she had begun reciting these words from the sunnah before going to bed, and amazingly enough she felt extra rush of energy every day that right after fajr she would get busy with her chores and then would stop around midnight. Keep in mind that those were long summer days of midwest. Let’s focus on reviving the sunnah.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      March 5, 2010 at 12:01 AM

      Jazaki Allahu khairan for such a positive comment, with a practical, real-life example of how this antidote helped someone regain her energy, alhamdulillah!

    • Avatar

      Qasym

      March 7, 2010 at 12:55 PM

      Interesting…how some people are focusing on some fiqh and debated issues while the main objective of this article seemed to be bringing us back to the remembrance of Allah and how it has the power to refuel us despite the drudgery of a day’s work.

      Unfortunately that has become the theme of most of the recent MM posts. We couldn’t just stop at “Remembrance of Allah” but we had to add the last part to stir up some sort of controversy/debate/argument.

      No one would care for just a beneficial reminder and wouldn’t get as many hits and replies.

      Allahu Alam

  11. Avatar

    Nazia

    March 5, 2010 at 2:01 AM

    Assalaamu’alaikum Sister Sadaf,

    SubhanAllah, I am sitting here exhausted after cooking and cleaning for hours while trying to study for my final exam, and I came online to read/decompress a bit before I went to bed. Truly, this is exactly the reminder I needed.
    Sometimes I wonder where other women get all their energy from and I think you may have tapped into the secret. InshaAllah, this will work for me as well!

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      March 6, 2010 at 12:53 AM

      Wa Alaikumus Salam,
      Alhamdulillah, Nazia! May Allah reward you for your hard work, and grant you more energy in this world. :)

  12. Avatar

    ummfatima

    March 5, 2010 at 7:03 PM

    Jazakillahu khairaa sister.Excellent Article..When ever I am tired and exhausted with work ..I remember this hadith..Fatima radhiallahuanha ,Beloved daughter of our prophet [mercy upon him] did so much work that she had blisters on her hand and she was given comfort with zikr..What is there for me to complain?Excellent reminder sis.

    Assalamualykum.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      March 6, 2010 at 12:58 AM

      Jazaki Allahu khairan!
      Most women do a lot of housework after reaching adulthood. Imagine the many chances we women have to connect with Allah, every time housework tires us out. Alhamdulillah.
      May Allah be pleased with us and accept our efforts to make our homes places of tranquility and solace for our families. Ameen.

      • Avatar

        Zainab

        December 1, 2012 at 9:17 AM

        Salaam u alaikum wr wb,
        In continuation of my previous comment. What if the wife is a working woman and chooses to hire a servant with her salary? Please do reply.

  13. Avatar

    Ify Okoye

    March 6, 2010 at 6:03 AM

    Sadaf, those are excellent points, ma sha Allah, tabarakAllah. I love the hadith about the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam advising the couple on their bed. Truly, a close-knit and bonded family, ma sha Allah. I try to always remember this hadith before going to sleep to further motivate me to say my adkhar. JazakiAllahu khayran for the reminder.

  14. Avatar

    Rehana

    May 12, 2011 at 1:12 PM

    assalamalaikum-wa rahmatullah wa barakatahu,
    I am a busy mother of 3 young children, delivered a baby girl now 2 months old also breastfeeding at nights! I alone take care of my house financial responsibilities, including running errands doing grocery, paying bills and mortgage. My husband hides his savings and is miser to spend. I ignore that thinking whatever I do is a Sadaqa. With all these responsibilities and though i am wiorking currently on m,aternity leave, I am very exhausted with housework. I asked my husband who is at home all times to help me lay the table, he got angry and chanted he cant do it, he has been brought up like this and will not like his sons to do this either!
    He threw the food plate which I served him, went ahead to make some snacks for himself and came to me to Utter I am giving you divorce!
    I wish to know if I was at mistake to ask him for help? I also wish to know if it is Jayaz for him to burden his wife wih both household and financial and childcare responsibilities alone with no assistance or support from his side. When I am exausting myself with work he is sitting watching movies or browsing internet. Should I go ahaed with the divorce proceedings or continue unhappily in this marriage? Pls answer for the sake of this alone and distressed sister in Islam.

  15. Avatar

    Zainab

    December 1, 2012 at 8:46 AM

    Salaam u alaikum wr wb,
    I just saw your article. I’ve just read on Islamqa.com ( http://www.islamqa.com/en/ref/1704/servants) that the majority of scholars say that Muslim women are not obliged to serve their husband and take care of their children.
    Can you please tell me which scholars have said this? And, then what is their explanation of the following hadith:
    It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Umar heard the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) say, “Each of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The leader is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock. The man is the shepherd of his family and he is responsible for his flock. The woman is the shepherd of her husband’s household and is responsible for her flock. The servant is a shepherd of his master’s wealth and is responsible for his flock.” He said, I heard this from the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him).

    (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 853; Muslim, 1829)

    According to those scholars, does this mean that a woman can keep a servant in her house even if there be no need? Please reply to me. Here is my email (email removed for privacy reasons).

  16. Pingback: Last Day! Live Below the Line challenge | A Clichéd Life

  17. Avatar

    tariq mahmood

    November 23, 2014 at 10:58 PM

    Would you please give the Arabic text of this hadith Thanks.

  18. Avatar

    A

    May 7, 2016 at 10:53 PM

    Typical patriarchal man. Where is the article to ask men to maintain the cleanliness of the house, take care of the children, do they not live in the same house, make those babies. Only women. Really?

  19. Avatar

    Zia-e-Taiba

    October 31, 2016 at 7:55 AM

  20. Avatar

    Jesse The Comedian

    November 6, 2016 at 10:21 PM

    Jazakallahu Khair

  21. Avatar

    Jesse The Comedian

    November 6, 2016 at 10:23 PM

    May Allah Grant U Jannat Firdaus

  22. Avatar

    Rashidah

    September 2, 2017 at 11:57 PM

    For more information on how much work women should be made to do in their homes, please see: The Wife Serving Her Husband on IslamQA.com.

    I noticed how this site uses the words “how much work women should be made to do!!!! It is not about her being made to do household work: she decides how much she wants to do for her family out of her own charity and compassion in obedience to Allah.

    Don’t forget, It is a husband’s duty to put food and provisions on the table, not her’s. So treat her well and she will willingly cook for you with love.

    Whatever she does, it is out of her own willingness. It is not because of you, it is because of Allah.

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#Current Affairs

Will The Real Aya Sofia Please Stand Up?

They say history is the biography of great men and women. Well, history is also the story of great buildings. This case is rarely more painfully obvious than when it comes to identity of The Hagia Sophia or Aya Sofia (“the Holy Wisdom”).

Church, Mosque, Museum: the Aya Sofia has lived under many guises over the years and each transformation came hand-in-hand with momentous political change. This year, it was no different.

By reverting to the previous designation of Aya Sofia into a mosque, the Turkish courts have set off a firestorm of controversy across the world. It is understandable that faithful Christians would object. The sense of loss they must feel is the same feeling that many Muslims get when they see the Grand Mosque of Cordoba’s conversion into a cathedral. However, what is confusing is that some Muslims are also conflicted – or even downright hostile – to the idea of the Aya Sofia being used as a mosque.

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Why are they upset? Is there weight to their feeling that this was an act that was against the laws and spirit of Islam? How true is it that this was pure political theatre?

A summary of the arguments are detailed below as each point reveals a great deal about us as Muslims today and our current mentality:

The Vatican – a clear example of Museum and Church buildings in one

1. “It should just remain a museum…”

The Aya Sofia IS remaining a museum. The ruling states and the government echoes that it is a mosque and museum but, unfortunately, if you read the headlines you will be given the impression that the museum is being destroyed. This is not the case.

The world is full of buildings with dual functions. The White House is the seat of government and the residence of the President. The Vatican is a museum, a church and the home of the Pope. St Paul’s Cathedral is a tourist attraction as well as functioning church. If Muslims alone were somehow exempt from the ability to combine museum and mosque in one building, then that would be very strange indeed. Yet that is exactly what opponents of the mosque designation are saying.

What opponents for the reversion of the building are arguing for is not for the preservation of the museum – in fact, it will be more accessible than ever by becoming free and open till the late evening – but for the prevention of worship in a building that was built and intended for that very purpose.

2. “It was illegal to turn it into a mosque in the first place…”

A little knowledge is a dangerous thing: many Muslims quote the example of Umar (R) and his treatment of the Church of The Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem. In fact, this is the number one excuse used by many so-called Muslim intellectuals who lazily have projected their own biases on to our pious predecessors. They say, not without a little pious sanctimony, that Umar (R) exemplified that Islam is not a triumphalist religion and – though he could have converted the church into a mosque – he chose not to.

For most of history, it was common practice that any conquering army gained full ownership of the conquered lands. Islamic law was actually quite progressive in this regard, stipulating that property in surrendered lands would remain with their owners and not the conquerors. It was only if a land was taken without surrender, according to Imam Al Qurtubi amongst others, should their properties be forfeit. Jerusalem surrendered and Damascus surrendered. Constantinople – despite multiple attempts requesting it to do so – did not. Therefore, Islamically and according to the norms of the time, the conversion of the Church into a mosque was legal.

This is highlighted by the case of a district of Constantinople called Psamatya (present day Koca Mustafa Pasha) whose residents surrendered to Muhammad Fatih separately. The area had the highest density of extant churches, since none were touched or taken over.

Muhammad Fatih and The Patriarch Genaddios discussing the patriarchate

3. “But it has been a museum for so long now, so why turn it back?”

Some sources say that they have found evidence of the Church being purchased by Muhammad Fatih with his own money. The evidence has yet to be verified by external sources although it is accepted by the Turkish authorities, but even if you withhold it, the established status of the entire complex as a Waqf (Islamic endowment) is definitive. Waqfs cannot be unilaterally taken over or converted to another use.

The reality is that the conversion of the Aya Sofia from mosque to museum was a highly contentious decision taken in a manner that went against the then legal, moral and spiritual standards. It was a state sanctioned action to satisfy a political objective of the hyper-secular post-war Government. This was an injustice and it is not a good look to say that an injustice should be allowed to continue because it has been there for over eight decades.

4. “We don’t need more mosques in Istanbul…”

Would anyone think it reasonable if their local mosque was taken over unilaterally by the Government and then, when they ask for it back, they are brushed off by officials saying, “there are lots of mosques in the city and many are half empty: we are keeping this one.” Of course not. So, if it is not good enough for you, why should it be good enough for anyone else? In fact, this was the argument used by the RSS in taking over the Barbari mosque in India.

A mosque is not a property like every other. It is owned by Allah and not something we are allowed to rationalise or barter away. Allah has no need for even one mosque, but that does not mean we should stop building them or start giving them away. To go by the utilitarian argument, then anything that is not in full use by its owner is fair game for someone else to usurp. We would never accept this for our possessions so how can we accept it for something that does not belong to us?

The hadith about the conquest of Constantinople and praising Muhammad Fatih

5. “This is all a politically motivated…”

Every decision in a public sphere is political, or can be construed to be political, in some way. Building the Aya Sofia into a magnificent cathedral was a political decision by Justinian. Turning it into a mosque upon conquest was also a political decision by Muhammad Fatih. Stopping prayers in the mosque and converting it into a museum was a political decision by Mustafa Kemal. And now, returning the building to use as a mosque and museum is also a political decision by the current Turkish state.

The question is not whether it is a political act to convert the building: it will always have a political dimension. The question is whether you like the politics of someone who was praised by the Prophet ﷺ in a hadith and turned it into a mosque (Muhammad Fatih) or someone who insulted that same Prophet ﷺ as an “immoral Arab” and turned it into a museum (Mustafa Kemal.)

Pick a side.

The Grand Cathedral of Cordoba – formally the Grand Mosque

6. “This will hurt the feelings of non-Muslims and make us look bad.”

This is perhaps the only real argument of them all that has any weight to it. All the previous arguments are intellectual (and less than intellectual) smokescreens for the desire to not hurt the feelings of others – especially when we need all the friends we can get. This is understandable given our current geopolitical situation. This is also why you are more likely to find those Muslims living as minorities objecting to the change of status, reflecting their own precarious situations in their respective countries.

However, if looking at it objectively, we see that this argument also has limitations. Muslims are equally if not more hurt at the ethnic cleansing that took place in Andalusia. Does that mean we get the Al-Hambra or the Cordoba Mosque back? What about the Parthenon – since that used to be a mosque – conquered by the same Muhammad Fatih? What about the Kremlin, where St Basil’s Basilica was made from bricks of a Tatar mosque? And can we have the Philippines back while we are all trying to not offend each other?

Making decisions such as these on the highly subjective grounds of causing offence is not only impractical, but untenable. Many expressions of Islamic faith outside a narrow paradigm of what is palatable to specific audiences, can be seen as offensive to some. If we were to make decisions based first and foremost to protect the comfort of others, you would end up with a set of groundless rituals rather than a faith. It is the equivalent of changing your name to Bob instead of Muhammad since you were worried that even Mo was too exotic. Sometimes, the proper practice of our faith and upholding of our cultural and historical traditions will upset others not because what we are doing is deliberately offensive or wrong, but because we have different values and different standards.

Conclusion

What is most upsetting about the change of use for the Aya Sofia is the double standard at play. Athens has not even one mosque whilst Istanbul has hundreds of churches and synagogues: yet the Greeks are calling the Turks intolerant. The Roman Catholics plundered the Aya Sofia of all treasures and took them to St Marks church in Venice (where they still are to this day): yet it is the Pope that says that he is distressed at the Muslims – who preserved the Byzantine inheritance- for turning it into a mosque and Catholic churches calling for a day of mourning.

All the commentators calling for it to not be converted back into a mosque are also correspondingly mute regarding the Granada Cathedral built on site of a mosque, or the Barbri Mosque turned temple in India, or the Al Ahmar Mosque turned into a bar in Palestine.

But this is human nature and they will shoot their shot. Nonetheless, as Muslims, if we are against the reversion of the Aya Sofia to be a mosque again, then we really need to take a long hard look at ourselves. Just as Muhammad Fatih conquered Constantinople, we need to conquer our own ignorance, our own inferiority complex and our own insecurities.

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#Culture

Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas | Book Review

In the second decade of the 21st century in America, Muslims consider themselves “as American as apple pie,” don American-flag hijabs, and consider their presence and participation in American politics as a crowning achievement. There is little to no resemblance between the majority of the American Muslim population today, and the very first Muslims who landed in America – not as privileged individuals, but as enslaved people at the hands of vicious white colonizers who had already decimated the Indigenous population and who had no qualms about destroying the lives of their slaves. Dr Sylviane A. Diouf’s book “Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas” tracks the journeys and experiences of African Muslims who found themselves shipped aboard slave-trafficking vessels and taken to the other side of their known world. From their induction into the Transatlantic slave trade, to their determination to uphold the five pillars of Islam – regardless of their circumstances – to the structure of the enslaved Muslim community, their prized (and dangerous) literacy, and their never-ending resistance against slavery, Diouf illustrates in incredible detail the powerful and painful experiences of enslaved African Muslims, and the legacy that they left behind in the Americas.

This review of “Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas” will focus on the unique qualities and formidable faith of the very first Muslims in the Americas, and the legacy that they left for Muslims in the Americas today.

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In Chapter One, Diouf begins by answering the very first question that arises when considering the path of enslaved African Muslims: how did they end up enslaved in the first place? Slavery already existed as an institution in Africa, though vastly different from the horrifying standards of the European slavers. Between the existing slave trade, military conflicts that created prisoners-of-wars who were then sold as slaves, and the European propensity for kidnapping innocent people, many Muslims found themselves swept into the Transatlantic slave trade. These same Muslims were the ones who provided us with much of the knowledge that we have today regarding the American slave experience. Most African Muslims were literate, due to the religious and cultural importance of education; of those enslaved, many were religious scholars or students of knowledge. They described how they were captured, the torturous journey of the slave caravans across the continent, and the even more horrific experience of the slave ships themselves. These men also documented their lives as slaves, and indirectly, provided deep insight into their own inner nature. 

Despite the intense pressure and demands on African enslaved people to renounce their ‘heathen faith’ and be inducted as Christians, African Muslims demonstrated a commitment to Islam that should cause modern Muslims today to feel deeply ashamed in comparison. The very first words that Job ben Solomon (Ayuba Suleyman Diallo) uttered, after running away and then being discovered in Pennsylvania, were the shahaadah; Omar ibn Sa’id wrote numerous Arabic manuscripts, in which the shahaadah was always found (Diouf, 2013, p. 72-73). When Catholic priests tried hard to educate slaves about Christianity as part of the conversion process, the African Muslims were both resistant and unimpressed; they were already familiar with many Biblical stories, thanks to their Qur’anic education. Of those who seemed to have accepted Christianity, many did so only outwardly, while confirming their belief in Allah and His Messenger in every aspect of their lives. Indeed, in Brazil and other areas where there were large concentrations of Muslim slaves, the Muslims established underground madaaris to maintain and pass on their Islamic knowledge and education. Muhammad Kaba Saghanughu was a man whom the missionaries had thought was successfully converted when he provided all the right answers to their pre-baptismal questions – eleven years later, in a Baptist Missionary Society notebook, he wrote a 50-page fiqh manual in Arabic that encompassed the rulings of salaah, marriage, and other topics. 

Slavery did not stop the African Muslims from maintaining their salaah in whatever manner they could manage, considering their circumstances. Some did so in secret, while others insisted on upholding their salaah in public, to the extent that these incidents were recorded by the descendants of slaves and slaveholders alike. In Brazil, the African Muslim community – both enslaved and freed – held together so strongly that they were able to secretly establish Salatul Jumu’ah and attend gatherings of dhikr, even in the face of intense scrutiny (Diouf, 2013, p. 88-89). 

Perhaps one of the most greatly moving examples of enslaved African Muslims’ dedication to their Islam was that even in the midst of the utter poverty of slavery, they found a way to uphold zakaah, sawm, and Hajj. In Brazil, it was recorded that the Muslims would end Ramadan with the exchanging of gifts, no matter how simple they were; in truth, these gifts were zakaatul fitr and zakaatul maal.

In other areas, the descendants of Muslim slaves recalled that their parents and grandparents would make rice cakes called saraka at least once a year – saraka was a corruption of the Arabic word sadaqah, and the rice cakes were a Jumu’ah tradition in West Africa. (Diouf, 2013, p. 92-94) In Ramadan, many Muslims sought to fast; indeed, despite the incredible hardship and lack of nutritious food that the slaves already endured, there were those who fasted voluntarily outside of Ramadan as well, often by pretending to be ill. They knew that their situation meant that fasting – in Ramadan and outside of it – was not obligatory on them, and yet, to them, no circumstance was bad enough to warrant not even attempting to observe Ramadan. Hajj was another pillar of Islam that was both impossible and no longer obligatory on the enslaved Muslims; yet in Brazil, in a house that was used as a masjid, there were illustrated depictions of the Ka’bah – demonstrating the emotional bond that the African Muslims had with the Sacred House. 

Throughout Diouf’s book, the overwhelming theme that arises is the fierce commitment that enslaved African Muslims had to Islam. It was not superficial, shallow, or easily shrugged away in the face of difficulty. Instead, the African Muslims held onto their belief in Allah and their daily, lived practise of Islam, even when they had every excuse to relax their obligations. They upheld their Islamic and cultural dress code, not just at its minimum standard of modesty, but in a way that clearly demonstrated their religious identity (Diouf, 2013, p. 101-110). They found ways to make prayer mats and dhikr beads; they gave their children Muslim names in secret, when they were expected to present themselves as Christians; they even strove to observe whatever they could of the Islamic dietary code, by refusing to drink alcohol or eat pork – Ayuba Diallo went so far as to only eat dhabiha meat that he himself slaughtered (Diouf, 2013, p. 119-122). The enslaved African Muslims valued their Islamic identity above all. Even in slavery, they knew that their ‘izzah came from their Deen – and so did those around them, who noted their unique bearing in the face of the horrors of slavery. 

The story of the African Muslims who were enslaved and brought to the Americas is not merely a history lesson, or a token homage in honour of Black History Month. It is a story that echoes the persecution of the earliest Muslims in Makkah, and applicable to Muslims today. Muslim minorities in the West are often all too eager to complain of our difficulties and to seek religious exemptions for our minor inconveniences. Yet who are we in comparison to the earliest African-American Muslims, who endurable the unspeakable? Who are we, with our privileges, with our very freedom, in comparison to those Muslims who were stripped of everything and everyone they knew and loved, and who still held ever tighter to the Rope of Allah? One may say that it is unfair to compare us and them; that to recognize their struggles should not mean invalidating the challenges we face today. Certainly, we face numerous different fitan that are very different from what they experienced, but the truth is that we should compare our attitudes with those of our predecessors. We should be ashamed of our own weaknesses in times of privilege compared to their strength in times of oppression. More importantly, we must learn from them what it means to have such a relationship with our Creator and our Deen that we are capable of surviving and thriving in even the worst of circumstances. 

May Allah have mercy on the enslaved African Muslims who endured one of this Ummah’s historic tragedies, and may He make us of those who demonstrate their strength of love for Him through every tragedy of our own.

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History and Seerah

Podcast: Five Historic Events That Rocked The World During Ramadan | Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter

We all know that Ramadan is the month of fasting, abstinence and reflection. Ramadan also just happens to be a month of awesome history defining events that shaped the world we live in today.

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