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Muslim Women: Balancing School, Work & Family

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Working Muslim women have several things to think about when they’re trying to juggle between their career, home and children. Here are some of the thoughts, I gathered from a few of the women on Muslim Matters to better understand their unique situations and gauge the issues faced by Muslim women in balancing school, work, and family.

Mehzabeen Ibrahim – a high-achieving academic

I am a hardcore academic. I’ve worked full time before, but always on a summer holiday basis. Otherwise, I’ve been a university student for almost 10 years. Part of the reason I chose to move into my field – away from lab-based work – is that I felt it would be more ‘family-friendly’, insha’Allah. I’ve experienced the research world, and if you want to achieve any kind of success you have to pretty much sacrifice most of your time, including evenings and weekends, which is likely why most senior academics are male. My projects started in January, and alhamdulillah, I have been working from home most of the time. I only really go into campus to meet my supervisor or group members, or clients. Plus, as I am in a field that is a growing, multi-disciplinary sector, I pray that possessing an in-demand skill-set will allow me some more flexibility when I eventually want to move over to part-time work – a virtual impossibility in this particular sector.

My decision to alter my career path was largely because I’ve witnessed how friends and family who try to have it all are usually very stressed and unhappy. This includes sisters I studied with who are now married with kids, and mortgages. Alternatively, sisters who completely abandoned work to become full-time housewives after studying to post-graduate level also have problems, especially those who are socially isolated or those whose husbands work away from home. They don’t have access to the mental stimulation that they were used to.

That’s why I suspect part-time work is the ideal for me, insha’Allah – especially that which I can essentially do anywhere, as long as I have my laptop. Of course, I’m not married, and I do think raising kids is not just full-time – it’s ALL your time. So I wonder whether part-time work will even be possible in the early years of motherhood. But at least I have a ‘Plan B’ in place, to give me some options, insha’Allah.

Ultimately, Allah is the best of planners, so as much as I try to control my life’s direction, the best way to ensure personal contentment is to keep an open mind!

Ify Okoye – in school full-time, usually working full-time, and trying to have fun all the time

I’ve worked part-time since I was about nine years old with a paper route I shared with my older siblings and later while babysitting. After high school, I transitioned into several areas of full-time work and put my studies on the backburner for a few years until I returned to school full-time while maintaining my full-time job. Would it be easier not to work or not to go to school, sure, but I really enjoy both, and see both as critical to my future educational, career, and personal goals.

When people ask me if I am married, I say with confidence, “no, alhamdulillah!” not because I’m not interested in marriage but rather because so many sisters view singledom as a death sentence but I am content with where I am. I have a deliciously full-plate as it is with taking care of my spiritual needs, joining ties with my family, school, work, volunteering, and enjoying the perks and advantages that come with the single without kids life. Yet, were I to have kids, I’d want to stay home and homeschool them.

My intended career path provides for a greater degree of both flexibility and financial security, insha’Allah, irrespective of my family life situation. I have a passion for education and many diverse interests and could, in the right circumstances, see myself in school for many years, and definitely always hope to be a lifelong learner and perhaps, an educator as well. I enjoy my work, it stimulates me mentally and challenges me emotionally. There’s a real sense of satisfaction and accomplishment at having worked a long day and helped others or made progress on whatever task I’m working on.

I’m not a big fan of long commutes, I’ve been there, done that and ideally, I’d like to work close to home. But even during my long commutes, I did memorize a lot of adkhar and Quran, and have learned to be a more patient driver. Among the things I have loved about my work over the years is the sheer number of different people I’ve had the opportunity to come into contact with, work with, and learn from their knowledge and experience.

Ameera Khan – a final year medical student

I’m a medical student in my final year and this whole issue of working/not-working is so relevant to me. Graduation is only about 8 months away now and people ask me what I’ll be specialising in or where I’m going to do my internship/house job (a one year on-the-job training after medical school). The truth is – I just don’t know yet. Having seen how tough doctors have it, especially female doctors because of their primary roles as wives and later mothers, I feel as if the zeal for the medical profession has largely left me. The working hours and the job stresses just do not appeal to me.

It’s true there are many options within the medical profession, with shorter working hours or even jobs which are academic and not hospital-based. However, the initial years are still going to be marked by long hours at work, especially if it’s a hospital-based job. And that’s the time women are getting married, starting new lives and adjusting to their new roles. All too often, I see female doctors juggling their new roles with their career ambitions, dropping off kids at the grandparents’, working non-stop during night-duties and going home famished. Being a person who loves children and looks forward to the joys of motherhood (yeah, I know it’s not at all easy either) as well as feeling strongly about having a stable, strong foundation in the home with a family environment,  I cannot imagine myself ever feeling really happy and satisfied with a strenuous job at work.

This is just me though. I know there are women who are, perhaps, more passionate about their career ambitions and, willingly or unwillingly, compromise on their others roles for that purpose. But that’s their life and if they’re willing to live with that, I do not blame them. It’s only when people make me out to be some sort of lazy, unambitious person that it hurts me. I’ve heard countless female and male doctors scoff at many young female medical students, “You all just want to be housewives!” And they make it sound as if it’s no job at all, despite knowing that a female doctor will nevertheless go home and have to take care of her children the household chores, even after the strenuous work hours. And even with trying to manage all these roles (which isn’t humanly possible), the satisfaction just isn’t there. My mother’s friend – a gynaecologist working in Saudi Arabia – often lamented on how she missed out on her kids’ growing-up and wished she’d opted for an easier career option.

As for me, I’m going to look into the many options within the medical field, such as Islamic bioethics combining my passion for Islam, ethical issues and biology/medicine or an MPhil, etc. to go into academics. The other possibility is that I take several years off to focus on my family and then plan a return to the medical field – which is what many women decide to do and successfully, by Allah’s Will, manage it. Of course, it requires a lot of extra hard work to return to the medical profession after a long gap but then, if you’re committed and have the will, Allah makes ease. Whatever I do, I realize it has to be for the sake of Allah, knowing my roles and priorities in life insha’Allah. I am confident that if I have that in mind, Allah will make the best way out, through His Grace and Mercy.

Bushra – an IT professional

Although I’m not in a demanding career yet, I foresee some trouble with regards to working from home as IT jobs are a rarity as it is and even rarer when working from home and I am wondering whether to go freelance, but I need to explore my options prior to making any big decisions (such as setting up my own company). I’m working from home one day a week right now, but I know that any other job will not be like that as this is a contracting job. I’ve suffered the corporate lifestyle – the glamorous job in the city, working a minimum of 45 hours a week, and commuting 1.5 hrs each way, whilst going through life as a newlywed and living with (alhamdulillah, very nice and understanding) in- laws. Those from London will know what it means to live, work and commute here. It’s crazy. Believe me, I’ve got it out of my system and that took me only a year!

A sister I know, a medical doctor by profession, faced the same turmoil in the US with their ridiculous residency scheme and she missed out on 3 years of her elder daughter’s life and had to keep a nanny. She also went through her second pregnancy there, where they only provide 6 weeks maternity leave. She somehow wangled 9 months worth of leave, but then had to make up for the extra 7.5 months, which extended her residency further. Post-residency, she’s decided to focus on her kids and her deen. She went on Hajj and she’s come out a better person on the other side, alhamdulillah. She’s not going to stop working altogether as now things are somewhat flexible because the hard bit is over, but the initial stages of your medical career means that you are practically married to medicine which strains your relationship with everyone, including your husband and children.

Amatullah – community social work

I think a majority of sisters who are not married work or have worked part-time or full-time, at least to pay for their school/university.

I’ve worked at the American Red Cross, at a nursing home as an assistant coordinator, as a teacher/tutor and in the pathology lab of a hospital – I loved all of these jobs and alhamdulillah, they were pretty rewarding but as for the idea of working, I don’t think it’s my kind of atmosphere. In my ideal world, I would just be a Qur’an and Arabic teacher for life.

I’m in the social work field now so insha’Allah, I will definitely be doing things for my community and working but it won’t really be because I want to work but rather to fulfill certain needs for the community – insha’Allah.

All the more power to those sisters who are able to go out there and work.

Sadaf Farooqi – a freelancer

I work from home. Since marriage and motherhood, that is. Before marriage, I worked every day of the week at an Islamic foundation as content developer and teacher. So after I started staying at home post-marriage, I can’t tell you how tough it was for me to deal with taunts about “not doing anything” when I was pregnant and sick, vomiting all the time in my first trimester(s). People would say, “You were always so involved” and “You are so talented and you are doing nothing…” etc.

Since the last few years, because of my age bracket, my social circle of female friends has mostly come to include mothers of one, two, or three children. Despite trying admirably to juggle the demands of home and family with an academic and professional life, subhan’Allah, from hearing their candid thoughts, I know that it is definitely not easy. Also, I know many single young women, or those who are married but do not have children yet, and they have openly admitted to me that they prefer staying at, or working from, home, but society pressures them to get out of the house and pursue a job.

The kind of stresses I have known working women to endure; the way they switch from one job to another for one reason or the other; the way they say, “I haven’t yet found what makes me happy”, despite earning a fat paycheck and being provided a car from their office, sometimes makes me wonder whether full-time work is really for every woman out there, Muslim or not. Also, when I recall my classmates’ attitudes in final year of college I remember how gung-ho they all were to jump into the job market as soon as they graduated. It was when marriage and motherhood came along that most of the female ones reassessed their priorities and made some changes in life. Some switched careers eagerly, tired of the stressful 9-to-5 office routine. Others decided to stay at home full-time. Very few were able to go on with a 9-to-5 job after the birth of their babies, even if they wanted to.

Whenever any sister asks me for advice – whoever she may be – I always, always encourage  her to somehow pursue some kind of work even if she is married with little children, but especially so if she is unmarried. There is so much opportunity for Muslim girls and women to contribute to society in permissible ways.

I have come to conclude, with some time, experience, and observation of many sisters’ predicaments after marriage under my belt, that perhaps entrepreneurship or business might suit married women more as a choice of work, as it allows flexibility and also enables them to build a name for themselves by pursuing their innate talents and skills. For example, a childhood friend of mine pursued a successful 9-to-5 finance career until her daughter’s birth. When she started staying at home, she got the time to delve into a hobby: baking gourmet cakes. Within 2 years, she was running her own successful baking business from home, and she is not even thirty!

My Final Thoughts

It seems from the above viewpoints that being a working woman can have its drawbacks, as well as its advantages. Even some of the most organised women find that something has to give, whether it’s the housework, sleep or attention to their husbands. How these women make their choices is truly dependent on what is important to them.

However, one truth must universally be made known – it is not possible to have it all, compromises will have to be made. There is no such thing as Super Woman.

Bushra is a recent Computer Science grad from King's College London and is currently shaking off her newly wedded status. Aside from writing for MM, she vents on her blog: http://bushrabinthashmat.blogspot.com/ Currently working for a global IT firm, she is pursuing various studies, both Islamic and career-related. Due to circumstances beyond her control, she is living the lifestyle of a nomad, jumping from place to place, packing and unpacking and visiting family at the same time. She is an accredited Software Tester. Nevertheless, this won't take her away from writing about Islam and life in general. Amongst all the working, writing and family commitments, she somehow manages to fulfill one of her other, slightly devilish (so to speak!) passions - baking desserts!

75 Comments

75 Comments

  1. Avatar

    iMuslim

    October 1, 2010 at 1:35 AM

    This post was written so long ago… I had to spend some time re-reading it. Once again, I’m impressed by the level of maturity displayed by my fellow MM sisters, masha’Allah! :)

    We’ve also had a few more female associate writers join since then, who are equally as inspiring, masha’Allah.

    Btw, I actually have a job now! No more student life for me. =P

  2. Avatar

    M.M.

    October 1, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    MashaAllah, very well written.

    Its true we cannot have it all, comprimises will have to be made.

    That being said, if everyone pursued what they loved, what they had a passion for then all this compromise will be worthwhile, InshaAllah – whether they chose to work out of the house or work within the house.

    If we don’t then we will be dreading each working day, we will feel miserable and eventually burn out.

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      October 1, 2010 at 8:44 AM

      Absolutely! I 100% agree. I mentioned that in my bit about working the corporate lifestyle in the city.
      I would recharge on the weekends, dread Mondays, push myself through Tuesday and Wednesday, feel burned out by Thursday and absolutely exhausted by Fridays. And the cycle would continue every week for a whole year. Sometimes, I didn’t get to recharge on weekends, because there was something to do or somewhere to go.

      I felt this way because my job didn’t give me any flexibility and I worked through my lunches for something I felt no passion for and felt no particular involvement in my projects.

  3. Avatar

    M.M.

    October 1, 2010 at 2:19 AM

    By the way, the term ‘school’ is referred to in this article. Does this mean high school ( < 18 yrs old) or college?

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      October 1, 2010 at 2:27 AM

      I think it could imply either.

    • Avatar

      Ify Okoye

      October 1, 2010 at 11:42 AM

      No, school means university-level for all the MM’ers, don’t believe we have anyone in high school or less than 18 years old onboard.

      • Avatar

        Daughter of Adam (AS)

        October 1, 2010 at 10:58 PM

        I always wondered whether MM would like maybe a youth perspective.. would they like articles submitted by maybe 15-17 yr olds??

        interesting article :)

        • Avatar

          Amatullah

          October 1, 2010 at 11:00 PM

          of course! please submit inshaAllah :)

          • Avatar

            M.M.

            October 3, 2010 at 5:13 AM

            Sorry guys! From where I come from (Australia) the term ‘school’ is used to refer to primary school and high school ( 5yrs – 18yrs ). After that its university, college etc.

            Thanks for clarfying! Makes sense now :)

  4. Avatar

    Ameera Khan

    October 1, 2010 at 3:20 AM

    Masha’Allah, it was nice to read that all over again! You’re right, Sr iMuslim, I’d forgotten what I wrote too.

    Btw, a big FYI here: That niqaabi medical student in the picture is not me! :D

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      October 1, 2010 at 3:35 AM

      i’m glad you said that Ameera – i think ppl would have thought it was you lol :)

      • Avatar

        Ameera Khan

        October 1, 2010 at 3:37 AM

        Exactly! O_0 That was my first concern… I mean, she has shapely eyebrows! I don’t do eyebrows! ;) Lol!

        • Avatar

          Ismail Kamdar

          October 1, 2010 at 3:40 AM

          Good thing you said that, otherwise you might have started receiving proposals from around the world based on that pic! :P

          • Avatar

            Ameera Khan

            October 1, 2010 at 3:46 AM

            Lol! :D Which reminds me, MM hasn’t done a marriage type post recently… *ideas*

        • Avatar

          Not_altering_eyebrows

          October 1, 2010 at 7:45 AM

          Assalamo elikuim
          Just wanted to point out that not everyone who has shapely eyebrows do shape their eyebrow.
          Genetically me and my siblings are blessed with shapely eyebrows and people assume that me(sister) and and my brothers shape our eyebrows!!!

          70 excuses people!!!

          Wasalam

          • Avatar

            Bushra

            October 1, 2010 at 7:47 AM

            Actually, I have to agree with you there!! I’m the same. People think I do my eyebrows, whereas it’s actually genetic, alhamdulillah.

          • Amad

            Amad

            October 1, 2010 at 9:22 AM

            Can we please now have an argument on eyebrows…

            it’s always great to see a perfectly innocent remark hijacked for some muslim bashing :)

          • Avatar

            Ameera Khan

            October 1, 2010 at 9:41 AM

            Actually, my own eyebrows are pretty neat themselves too (Alhumdulillah for that!). :) But yep, beyond a light joke, it wasn’t anything serious. Topic shut, case closed. :)

          • Amad

            Amad

            October 1, 2010 at 10:15 AM

            @ Ameera, I wasn’t referring to u with my comment…

          • Avatar

            Ameera Khan

            October 2, 2010 at 1:21 AM

            @ Br Amad I wasn’t referring to you but to “not__altering__eyebrows”. :)

        • Avatar

          BucketofDreams

          October 1, 2010 at 11:35 AM

          I did think it was you! And I thought “MashaAllah, she looks smart” :D

          • Avatar

            Ameera Khan

            October 1, 2010 at 12:11 PM

            Lol, I think I need to go to the “edit post” page now… :)

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      October 1, 2010 at 6:01 AM

      LOL. I don’t even think she’s a niqabi. She’s a Muslim female doctor with a mask on her face. The mask could mean she’s a surgeon, but the stethoscope implies she may be specialising in general medicine.

      A bit ambiguous, if you ask me.

      • Avatar

        Ameera Khan

        October 1, 2010 at 9:49 AM

        *thinks* True… :) I confess, I have a picture like that myself, with the surgical mask on. *ahem*

        • Avatar

          M.M.

          October 3, 2010 at 5:14 AM

          LOL! I am glad you clarified that Sis! I think many would have thought its you! :P :)

  5. Avatar

    green

    October 1, 2010 at 6:00 AM

    Nicely written article mA – I definitely agree with the point that we shouldn’t expect our sisters to be superwomen! Why make life even more difficult ?

    iMuslim – what line of work are you in and how have you found the shift to working life?

    • Avatar

      iMuslim

      October 2, 2010 at 5:58 PM

      Bioinformatics. I’ve only been ‘working’ for a few days. So far, feels much like studying to me, in that I have a lot of background reading to do. Only prob is that I’ve been travellng into the office every day. I may be able to work more flexibly later in the project when I start the actual coding, insha’Allah.

    • Avatar

      Sarah

      October 2, 2010 at 7:19 PM

      mash Allah for the article.

      Some of these damsels supposed to be best that are available, may Allah protect you, when approached for marriage were immediately not available/ do not approach me/ complained. You can’t have all here in this life. But we still do not have the kind of Yaqeen needed in afterlife and hence you know How it means?

  6. Avatar

    Bushra

    October 1, 2010 at 6:06 AM

    Just a disclaimer on my part too. I don’t work from home 1 day a week anymore. I’m now permanently employed by a global IT company working in one of their offices in the UK.

  7. Avatar

    Zayna

    October 1, 2010 at 8:16 AM

    Very nice!! It was great to read about the ladies behind MM :) Masha’Allah! Made me grin ear to ear on this rainy, dreary Friday morning! Just what I needed with my coffee at work.. Alhamdulilah!

  8. Avatar

    Mansoor Ansari

    October 1, 2010 at 9:47 AM

    My aunts (dad’s sisters) worked as teachers or principals… I think it was not too crazy for them as they went to school with their kids & came back at the same time. And they also got o enjoy the summer brks with their kids :)

    But i do remember them making sure lunch was 90% prepped the nite before, they would come home @ 1:30 pm and serve the family hot meals. Masha’Allah.

    I do think working women r super women as not only do they have to work like men outside but also take care of the house like housewives do… Allahu’Alam how they manage this! But I do think many do loose out on bonding with kids when they r kids & day care raises them for the most part…. if grandparents/aunts can take care of the kids then it’s the best.

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 1, 2010 at 9:58 AM

      Yes, teaching is one job that is seen as more in-line with a growing family’s requirements for the mother being more in sync with the kids’ schedules. Alhumdulillah, there are certain professions that allow this sync-ing much better than other ones. Of course, like you yourself say, it’s still isn’t easy but it’s better than other professions.

      Another point here I’d like to share with the general readership… leaving children with grandparents or other relatives closeby (or in a joint family setup, within the same house) is also an option *for those who have it*. With the increasing trend towards nuclear families in the East and it’s prevalence in the West, it’s not always a possible option. Also, leaving children with their grandparents for extended hours is not a long-term solution either (for children of working doctors, for example). One family I know well encountered issues when the young girl started taking on the mannerisms of her grandmother and her school teacher noticed her acting differently than what was expected for a young, carefree girl her age. The parents were invited over and counselled for the need for the child to be around her parents and young children more, for her complete psychological development. It might be a one-off case but it is a real life example, nonetheless.

      JazaakAllah for your input!

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      October 1, 2010 at 11:07 AM

      But I do think many do loose out on bonding with kids when they r kids & day care raises them for the most part…. if grandparents/aunts can take care of the kids then it’s the best.

      I agree with the first part of this, but not the last.

      I’m a firm believer of mothers raising their children themselves and not using their own parents/in-laws as free babysitters. I’ve seen this case in my own family, and whilst, alhamdulillah, my nieces have come out wonderfully on the other side (they’re in their teens and very good girls, masha’Allah), I do think my own parents, especially my mother and also myself and my sisters did get a little caught up in the ‘babysitting’.

      I enjoyed it, because I pretty much grew up with them, but it was very stressful for my own mother, because she worked (in the afternoons), cooked, cleaned, looked after her other 3 children on top of her two grandchildren and also looked after her own mother. My dad would work, so little or no help there. I was a child/teen and my sisters were at A Level/University age, so my mum went through a lot of stress with our studies too. It took its toll on her and although she is relatively healthy now, alhamdulillah, I couldn’t and wouldn’t do that to her again.

      I don’t resent my eldest sister, because she had her reasons. But, I do believe that grandparents have their own life and they have a right to living their own lives as they should. Plus it takes its toll on their health, both in the short-term and long-term.

      Daycare/Grandparents/Aunts should always be a last resort and only if the parents aren’t able to give their children the time and attention they need.

      • Avatar

        Ameera Khan

        October 1, 2010 at 12:24 PM

        An interesting angle… few talk about the sacrifices the grandparents/parents/relatives have to make for the working mother. It is expected they’d be more than willing to take on the extra work and responsibility. Jazaakillah, Bushra, for sharing your views so candidly!

      • Avatar

        Mansoor Ansari

        October 1, 2010 at 1:22 PM

        I do agree with u at the same time… my comparison was between daycare & grandparents. May b i m being biased as I m not of daycare.

        My sis-in-law drops her children with my MIL and Masha’Allah she takes good care of them but yes it does take a toll on her as now it’s like raising 2 more kids after being done with raising 5. She needs to take a brk & get some rest :)

      • Avatar

        elham

        October 1, 2010 at 7:15 PM

        I agree that we shouldn’t exploit grandparents or the elderly for that matter, but usually when people age they are more prone to being left isolated and not having anyone to converse with or even to sit with,everyone is busy with their lives:school,work,kids and they are often just there in the background,like a shadow.I really hate it when I see them sitting by themselves just due to younger people not having enough in common to share with them. and being somewhat ignored or not *really* listened to when they speak.

        So I feel that bringing kids over to visit or stay with their grandparents makes them feel less left-out of things and as having the chance of helping out at *doing* something for a change as opposed to having everything done for them.It can also recreate weakened bonds between them and their own kids.

        But I strongly believe that parents should not put a burden on them more than they can bear, that would be plain insensitive if not unjust and sinful.

        *Sigh*,sorry for the rant. Its just that everytime I see an elderly I remember my grandmother,the the most funny,intelligent,caring 80+ year-old woman I had ever seen,MashAllah. May Allah protect her and lenghten her life,Ameen

  9. Avatar

    unknown

    October 1, 2010 at 9:51 AM

    Mashaa-Allaah it is good to hear that our sisters are getting into so many different fields; however, there is one field in which we are lacking females which is Islamic studies. Female Islamic scholarship is very important. in no way am I trying to say women shouldn’t go into whatever field they want. I just wanted to point it out so that people who have the ability to study Islam may consider it. I do not mean to offend anyone in any way by this comment. if anyone feels this has hurt them in any way please forgive me.

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 1, 2010 at 12:21 PM

      Oh, why would this hurt anyone? Masha’Allah, what you’re saying is so true… sadly, a lot of people don’t consider this as a valid profession. Ask MM’s Sadaf Farooqi, she left her computers’ education for Islamic academics and people continued to treat it as a transient ‘hobby’ that she’d soon leave for her “real” career.

      Honestly, the best scenario is when you freely choose what you want to be, on your own terms. It’s when we start fearing what people will say and base our career choices on their words, that we lose sense of purpose and motivation.

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      October 1, 2010 at 11:03 PM

      I definitely agree. Unfortunately there aren’t many avenues for sisters to get into Islamic scholarship…It mostly requires them to have a mahram and go overseas.

      • Avatar

        Ayesha

        October 2, 2010 at 2:58 AM

        there’s also Knowledge international university that’s offering Islamic graduation courses online…their website “www.kiu.org”

    • Avatar

      Ismail Kamdar

      October 1, 2010 at 11:32 PM

      We need to revive Islamic scholarship among women, and I mean true schoalrship, not just a few years of studying basic knowledge. Inshaa Allah, I’d like to see a new generation of women who have mastered Saheeh Bukhari or who can perform Ijtihaad and are taken seriously by us men as authentic scholars.

      They existed in the past, so why can’t we revive this tradition today!

      Join us at bais.islamiconlineuniversity.com to start studying towards your BAIS, your first step towards becoming an Islamic scholar. :)

    • Avatar

      Sarah

      October 2, 2010 at 7:11 PM

      Bayyinah dream is just a way towards filling in that gap in long run inshallah.

    • Avatar

      M.M.

      October 3, 2010 at 5:21 AM

      Good point Sister! I definitely definitely agree with you there.

      But you know how it is in this community (well not everyone of course), when an intelligent sister (you know the type that tops the class etc) says: “I want to do Islamic Studies or something in Islam”, she gets the response of “MashaAllah, your so smart. You know we can do with more Female Doctors”.

      .. SubhanAllah, like there aren’t enough female doctors and the only people that should go to Islamic Studies are those who have ‘failed’ in life and can’t get into any other studies.

      Sorry for the ranting! But Its true unfortunately.

      • Avatar

        Ismail Kamdar

        October 4, 2010 at 8:59 AM

        You are correct in this point, except I have seen this with both males and females. Some Parents prefer their intelligent children to become doctors, and regrad Islamic studies as a last resort.

        Sad cultural fact that needs to be challenged.

        • Avatar

          M.M.

          October 4, 2010 at 10:11 AM

          Yes, but brothers manage to pull through and are able to achieve some sort of Islamic education to equip them for future dawah efforts BUT this is not the case with sisters. That is why we have very little females in this field.

          subhanAllah, May Allah change the mindset of this community.

  10. Avatar

    BintB

    October 1, 2010 at 10:11 AM

    “However, one truth must universally be made known – it is not possible to have it all, compromises will have to be made. There is no such thing as Super Woman.”

    MashaAllah, Love that final thought!
    Thanks for the inspiring article!

  11. Avatar

    Daily Hadith Online

    October 1, 2010 at 6:26 PM

    Balancing work, family, and school is a tricky challenge for many people. May Allah help our sisters.

  12. Avatar

    elham

    October 1, 2010 at 8:04 PM

    MasAllah,a great post. I’m actually gladder that I haven’t taken Medicine as a career ,*YES!*. No offense to anyone in this rewarding career path.

    I was very close to doing it because of pressure from my dearest mum.I seriously told her that I would like to not come out of University with grey hairs on my head:8 years! I could see it happening before my eyes:) So to make us both happy I chose to enter the field of pharmacy-still close to medicine and in 4 years,right?,I said. Anything that seeks the advancement of human health is okay with me,just not too long!.

    I do admire the amount of hard work working mothers put into,not just their family and work,but also on trying to keep the balance between them. I just wish that we don’t forget the importance of not missing those important milestones of our future/present kids in their early years,where the presence of the mother is crucial for herself as well.

  13. Avatar

    Ninja

    October 1, 2010 at 8:34 PM

    mashallah, Jazakallah.

    This may seem irrelevant but I felt it necessary to share to the Muslim Men and Woman who love to Blog. Apparently on the CNN News blogs wherever its related to Islam or Muslims I have noticed/patrolling for the last 3 weeks user name by TAQQIYALIES and BARRY77 have been consistently trying to Defame Islam and our beloved Prophet by spreading hatred and byusing foul and vulgar remarks. They have consistently tried to change the perception of ISLAM to the mass public, not surprising I know. There are many blogs out there like that but I have noticed only few people who have stood up to these BIGOTS but not enough from the Muslim side. So here’s your chance to give dawah with peace of course while using knowledge and wisdom to refute there false statements.. My humble request is for those who find interest in blogging please join the CNN blogging and help defend Islam against these Bigots.

  14. Avatar

    Cucumberr

    October 1, 2010 at 8:35 PM

    Love this mashaAllah :) great piece!

  15. Avatar

    Ninja

    October 1, 2010 at 8:38 PM

    To have a better idea of what I am talking about..please read the blog comments to this article…http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/meast/10/01/yemen.child.brides/index.html

  16. Avatar

    n

    October 2, 2010 at 12:31 AM

    a really nice peice.

    when i started school i was totaly into wanting to have a career and kids and family somehow didnt seem to be too relevant or right around the corner.

    during school years, i did some IT work (i majored in computer science) and i even found work with women! That was my thing. I didn’t want to work with men. I told myself I will try my best and make dua to find work with women. And subhanallah that experience just showed me…if u fear Allah and try your best, He will make a way out for u!

    Anyway, after marriage, i had my son right away and haven’t gone back to work. I’m no heavy weight champion that can do it all, even physically. Even though alhamdulillah i got a bachelors so in case i need to ever fall back on it I can , truth be told, I LOVE my life at home.

    I get to read, I get to hang out with pious inshallah sisters. I get to spend quality time with my children. I am totally involved in their islamic and otherwise..education. I am able to bake and make yummy stuff for my family which i think is realy important. They feel taken care of .. want to come home.

    I’m not a frazzled mom trying to juggle 30 things and too stressed out. I have time to look nice.
    I’m a student of arabic (taking classes currently) and Quran and alhamdulilah not having a full time 9-5 job really allows me that flexibility to do whatever I want.

    I feel like even after both my kids are in school, i don’t know if i necessarily want to bind myself into a strict schedule at work. I wouldn’t mind part time .. but i dont know about fulltime.

    Also, another consideration for me is that im not that physically ‘tough’. If I worked fulltime and did stuff at home, i’d probably die the first weekend that came along.

    I get the feeling (where I live) that if u dont work fulltime, yur somehow lazy but honestly, i know how much I do and the value of it. So if other ppl want to feel like working ‘out there’ is more important than giving my children a good stable home life, that is their right. I just don’t feel like that.

    Another thing is that my husband feels like what i do is really important as well for this phase of our life. Sometimes in my vulnerable moments, i’ll ask my husband if he thinks im lazy by not working fultime and his answer is always a resounding NO.

    Alhamdulilah I enjoyed a great childhood. My mom was very educated and was always somehow involved but subhanalalh she always put us first and our home life was great. Very stable. Always good food. Mom available for us to help and talk with anything. Clean house. etc.

    My mom is now a professional in the IT field for more than a decade, has been a dedicated student of arabic for years (after becomign practicing). and she’s always like / look when your kids are young, u need to dedicate your time to the family as much as u can. after wards..u end up with more time on your hands, then u can do other things on the side that fulfill you, and benefit ppl.

    Anyway, I feel like its sad that society pressures you into working at a time that maybe many ppl dont want to. I know many sisters who feel this way and honestly this is what I would say: dont allow society to make you feel a certain way. Do what u want.

    In the future insh’allah i plan on ‘working’ out there parttime perhaps but for now, this is great. alhamdulillah.

    • Avatar

      AS

      October 2, 2010 at 12:20 PM

      Thank you sister for sharing your experience and advice. I am a mom of a 6 month old baby. Although in Canada I get 1 year maternity leave, in my opinion it’s still not long enough. I am trying to now decide whether I should go back to work. Ideally, I would like to be a stay at home mom until he’s ready to go to school but I’m worried about the loss of income, society pressures, family opinion, gap in my employment, etc.

      This article is mashAllah very good. I would love to see more articles/tips on raising children with deen in the West when mom has to work and no relatives to babysit.

      Thanks.

    • Avatar

      Amal

      October 8, 2010 at 4:56 AM

      “I have time to look nice.”

      Well, I’m a full-time PhD student and course instructor, as well as wife and mother and I STILL manage to look very nice, so I don’t know why you would imply that those of us who work/go to school don’t take care of ourselves.

  17. Avatar

    ferdos abdu

    October 2, 2010 at 12:07 PM

    ALLAH WAT A NICE PEISE EVER U REALY CANT IMAGIN SISTERS N BROS HOW AM GLAD Z DAY I SAW ZIS WEBSITE THANK ALLAH ANY WAYS WEN I COME TO MY PIN POINT U GUYS CANT IMAGIN IN WAT SITUATION I HAVE BEEN THROUGH AFTER ALL I DESIDED TO KNW N STUDY ABT MY RELIGION N GET DEEP BUT I COULDNT CUZ NO ZAT MUCH ACSESS IN MY COUNTRY SO AM STILL TRYING ALL MY BEST TO KNW ABT MY RELIGION PLS GUYS I NEED HELP N EVEN WANT TO BE ISLAMIC SCOLAR N I REALY WANT TO ADMIRE AMEERA KHAN ; ISMAILKEMDAR .ELHAM ;BUSHERA N EVERY ONE LET ALLAH BLESS U ALL MUCH LUV .AM NEW BT KEEP IN TOUCH WIZ ME PLS

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 4, 2010 at 12:03 PM

      Jazaakillah khayr, Ferdos! Humbled, for sure, by you mentioning my name… but may Allah guide us all, we are all just his erring slaves… we learn and gain strength from each other.

  18. Avatar

    picless

    October 2, 2010 at 8:08 PM

    thumbs down to that picture….

  19. Avatar

    JOHN

    October 3, 2010 at 1:12 AM

  20. Avatar

    Hena Zuberi

    October 4, 2010 at 1:44 AM

    Salaams
    I loved learning more about my ‘new’ sisters from the MM family. MashaAllah full, vibrant lives dispelling the many stereotypes of Muslimahs!
    iMuslim ten years in Uni wow-
    Ify future home schooling mommy inshaAllah
    Sadaf- 100% relate to the ‘wasting your life’ comments- I got those so much or how people think you are ‘dumb’ because you choose to stay at home.
    Ameera- I feel so much for your dilemma- after so much hard work, hours of studying & sacrifices not to feel the passion is a hard place to be in- hope for you- my buddy just passed her USMLEs after 15 years of marriage- her three kids are 13,12, 9 she kept in touch by volunteering while the kids were in school.
    Bushra- I did the glam job in the city too- spent so much money on suits!! I miss some aspects of working, the satisfaction of job well done, the $ but alhamdulillah if you believe that you will get what is written for you- I stopped working when I was about to have my eldest and Allah (SWT) gave my husband a raise that made up for the loss of my income hasbi Allah
    Yusra- teachers zindabad! (long live) :)
    Thanks for sharing ladies

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 4, 2010 at 12:01 PM

      Jazaakillah, Sr Hena! That’s what I have in mind too, depending on what Allah(swt) Wills for me. :)

      • Avatar

        khaj13

        October 28, 2013 at 7:02 PM

        assalamualaikum…im doing internship now and have thoughts similar to what you had at the time in terms of the long hours required etc…i was wondering what path taken since this post?

  21. Avatar

    Striving

    October 4, 2010 at 10:36 AM

    MashAllah wonderful article!

    I have a question somewhat related to this. How does a sister deal with being more dependent on a man after marriage? I work full-time, am independent though still living with my parents but it’s hard for me to imagine having to depend on someone else since I’ve gotten used to providing and making financial decisions for myself.

    I will be getting married in the near future inshallah and might have to relocate so that means leaving my job and it will probably take some time for me to settle and find a new job in this economy. But even then, I know that after children, the situation changes completely with most women becoming either entirely or almost entirely dependent on their husbands income. Starting a new life with someone is already awkward and challenging so how do you get to the point where you feel okay to spend his money? Or feel like his money is your money too?? I would love it if there could be an article relating the experience of different sisters because I really need some advice.. and any advice now would be appreciated. Jazakumallah khair

    • Avatar

      Ameera Khan

      October 4, 2010 at 11:59 AM

      . Starting a new life with someone is already awkward and challenging so how do you get to the point where you feel okay to spend his money? Or feel like his money is your money too??

      I am single too and these questions make me wonder too. I don’t know how girls can transition to the new life and, for example, lay their hand on a cool bag while shopping and just go ahead and buy it with the husband’s money! I know husbands are providers but… um… it’s *his* hard earned money and how do you get used to that idea that you can use it? :S I’m sure this a silly question to all the married ladies here but it’s something that makes me wonder!

      • Hena Zuberi

        Hena Zuberi

        October 4, 2010 at 3:44 PM

        depends on the person- it takes time for some- I felt so weird too asking my husband at the beginning but eventually as you get comfortable in your role as his wife, comfortable at home, responsible for making purchases for the home you start seeing it as our money rather than just his money- this can be a slippery slope because we might spend his money for stuff that he would not give us permission for- Islamically it is his money.
        its worse when you have a father who likes to spend on his daughters or has empowered her enough to make financial decisions or if you have worked previously.
        That’s why I think instead of giving useless jewelry, so many clothes and lavish weddings to their daughters parents should give their daughters a source of personal income if they can afford it. This doesn’t have to be disclosed to any one it can be something between the bride’s father and daughter. Women too need to learn to save while they are earning so they will have savings to rely on. Learn to control your spending before marriage, immediately after marriage wait and access your husband.

        And husbands should give her a monthly stipend so she can spend on herself and her friends & family without asking him every time. Money matters can make or break marriages.
        I have other friends who were not so hesitant and thought being supported was a perk of getting married- they started talking “our money” so quickly. Depends on the husband too- just pray that no one gets the type of guy from “Joy luck club” who divided the grocery list because it was his wife’s cat and not his so she should pay for the cat food.

        • Avatar

          Ameera Khan

          October 6, 2010 at 1:19 PM

          Jazaakillah Sr Hena! :) That was excellent advice. My mother kind of gave me a similar answer when I asked her how she had tackled this feeling. :)

  22. Avatar

    Saiyyidah

    October 5, 2010 at 7:22 AM

    Bismillah, this article had raised a really interesting topic of discussion. I am an experienced professional and have a family. The key thing to getting balance and working out what it is that you want is to discover what your motivators and values are. Once you know this then inshaAllah you will know why you work and how you can juggle everything that you want to achieve, inshaAllah. This has really worked for me, now I know how to say no and also know what I will commit to entirely on projects that I am involved in. Wasalaam,

    Saiyyidah,
    Founder Working Muslim.com
    The only Champion for the Working Muslim Woman.

  23. Pingback: C L O S E R » Blog Archive » Closing the Week 40 – Featuring the Re-/De-colonization of the Netherlands Antilles 10-10-10

  24. Avatar

    BintKhalil

    December 21, 2010 at 4:30 PM

    Assalamu alaikum

    Sister Bushra

    I was wondering if I may contact you in private. As a fellow female Muslim techie, and one who is just in the process of looking for jobs, I would like your advice on a job-specific question I have. It really won’t take much time, and I would really appreciate your input.

    Jazak Allah khair

  25. Avatar

    shakirah

    January 26, 2011 at 1:23 PM

    pls,am agirl who will like 2 become a doctor,but am aslo cosidering the islamic views about it and also will it not affect as a girl during marrage, pls i want 2 know more and how to cope

    • Avatar

      F

      January 26, 2011 at 2:20 PM

      Assalamu Alaikum Sister,

      My honest advice would be to renew your intentions. Many sisters become doctors thinking it is for the ummah but it is really not. The money and prestige are first and then comes the ummah.

      So renew your intention to please Allah(swt) and then back it up by holding free/discounted clinics for the poor or using your skills to help others. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t work for pay but find a balance to help others using your career.

  26. Avatar

    Yasmin

    May 26, 2012 at 4:43 AM

    Salam. My father wants to become a doctor, as muslim doctors are really needed for this Ummah and the muslim females. However, I don’t think this is the career I want to chose, as this can impact on my future roles as a mother and a wife. I want to enter into teaching, but don’t know how to talk to my father about it. Also, in your opinion, what are other careers that muslim females can help the deen in? JazakAllah kheir

  27. Avatar

    student of knowledge

    December 13, 2012 at 5:43 PM

    as salaam alaikum wa rahmatullahi,

    All i can feel in the air, is the PRODUCTIVITY :D
    all of us have reached this article coz’ there is a huge amount of passion in our hearts. Both to become responsible mothers and dedicated wives as well as productive muslimahs into variety of fields.
    The only concern i juggle in my mind is the ‘typical constant ideology’ of the people in my community.
    They are mashallah, closely working as regards to maintain family & community. I appreciate and love the bonds that we share. The major concern is about girls higher education. Often an under graduation is seen as a mere name sake coz people cannot be only highschool graduates;as they say!
    and further getting out of college to study is like forgotten, even if wealth time and energy is spent to make engineers and doctors our of talented girls, they are given keys of responsibility which has a tag saying “ok,you may forget about your degree and take the cooking book”

    Here what happens is :
    1] gifted talent destroyed
    2] girls feel low about studying coz’ they forsee it as of no use.
    3] wrong view about islamic rules on marriage ^ education
    4] as mentioned above; islamic studies not considered as an education but a last resort :(

    I have a goal, in sha allah wanna accomplish it for the welfare of the ummah; for now my reach when i say ummah is the community around me, coz i think a whole revival is needed.
    I used to have this high pressured dialogs with elders, which i realise is not right now, I HAVE DECIDED I’LL WORK OUT AND SHOW RATHER THAN TALK AND FADE ! in sha allah…
    Now i ask for dua’ if you are reading this :) now.

    Basically, our aim in life is ibaadah
    we women playing role of homemaker- literally got to make the home :)
    and not to forget our aim of using the skill allah has given us to put it to best use of ummah

    So when we are educating and working’ we must portray our passion towards welfare and goodness
    through our sincere islamic lifestyle
    All of these with intentions that Allah will not let out good deeds go astray :)

    I just shared a scenario what goes on in my city,
    i think sometimes that we girls in our teens need loads of patience to keep focus on our goal and close our ears to what sometimes the elders say; it’s like we respect so we do not want to clarify the point…when the matter gets away from real rights then we speak up..

    now i want to ask my muslim sisters & brothers, if anyone could give me an answer with respect to qur’an & sunnah, providing the texts
    on the issue of ” travelling for higher studies without mahram ” certain courses require us girls to travel out and it becomes difficult since we ourselves wonder if it would be right in decision, keeping aside the self-discipline issue.

    The views of my people is different, may be coz’ of they themselves having not much higer education or insecurity or lack of islamic ilm’
    in sha allah, hoping to make change one day with my action and alhamdulilah by the guidance of Allah and support of my family . :)

    jazakahum allahu khairan
    BAIS student [18years]

  28. Avatar

    zeyna

    October 28, 2014 at 3:51 PM

    inerresting!! I have to write a paper about it. so thank you so much

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featured

Lessons From Surah Maryam: 1

Shaykh Furhan Zubairi

Published

on

Alhamdulillah, it’s a great blessing of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) that He has given us both the opportunity and ability to come here tonight to study and explore the meanings of His words in Surah Maryam. I’m truly grateful for this opportunity. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) accept this effort from all of us and place it on our scale of good deeds.

Alhamdulillah, in our last series we were able to complete the tafsir of Surah Al-Kahf. InshAllah, in this next series, we’ll be exploring the meanings, lessons, and reminders of Surah Maryam. Tafsīr is an extremely noble and virtuous discipline. The reason why it’s so noble and virtuous is that it’s the study of the divine speech of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). As mentioned in a hadith the superiority of the speech of Allah over all other speech is like the superiority of Allah over all of His creation. There’s nothing more beneficial and virtuous than studying the Quran. And by doing so we’ll be counted amongst the best of people. As the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “the best amongst you are those who learn the Quran and teach it.”

All of us need to build a stronger relationship with the Quran. The Quran is full of wisdom and guidance in every single verse and word. It’s our responsibility to seek that guidance, understand it, contextualize it and more importantly act upon it. Tafsīr is such a unique science that it brings together all of the other Islamic sciences. While exploring a Surah a person comes across discussions regarding Arabic grammar and morphology, rhetoric, Ahādīth, fiqh, sīrah and all those studies that are known as the Islamic Sciences. One scholar described the Quran as an ocean that has no shore, بحر لا ساحل له. The more we study the Qur’ān the stronger our relationship with it will become. We’ll become more and more attached to it and will be drawn into its beauty and wonder. The deeper a person gets into tafsir and studying the more engaged and interested they become. They also recognize how little they truly know. It develops humility. That’s the nature of true knowledge. The more we learn the more we recognize we don’t know. May Allah ﷻ allow us all to be sincere and committed students of the Qur’ān.

Surah Maryam

Surah Maryam is the 19th surah in the Quran. It is a relatively long Makki surah made up of 98 verses. Some commentators mention that it’s the 44th Surah to be revealed, after Surah Al-Fatir and before Surah Taha. It has been given the name Maryam because Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) mentions the story of Maryam (as) and her family and how she gave birth to Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) miraculously at the beginning of the Surah. Just like other Makkan surahs, it deals with the most fundamental aspects of our faith. It talks about the existence and oneness of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), prophethood, and resurrection and recompense.

The Surah is made up of a series of unique stories filled with guidance and lessons that are meant as reminders. One of the main themes of this Surah is mercy… It has been mentioned over 16 times in this Surah. We’ll find the words of grace, compassion and their synonyms frequently mentioned throughout the sūrah, together with Allah’s attributes of beneficence and mercy. We can say that one of the objectives of the Surah is to establish and affirm the attribute of mercy for Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why all of the stories mentioned also have to do with Allah’s mercy.

Another objective of the Surah is to remind us of our relationship with Allah ﷻ; the concept of Al-‘Ubūdiyyah. These are the two major themes or ideas of this Surah; the concept of Rahmah and the concept of ‘Ubūdiyyah (Mercy and Servitude).

The Surah can be divided into 8 sections:

1) Verses 1-15: The surah starts with the story of Zakariyya (as) and how he was given the gift of a child at a very old age, which was something strange and out of the ordinary.

2) Verses 16-40: mention the story of Maryam and the miraculous birth of Isa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) without a father and how her community responded to her.

3) Verses 41-50: The surah then briefly mentions one part of the story of Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), specifically the conversation he had with his father regarding the worship of idols. The surah then briefly mentions a series of other Prophets.

4) Verses 51-58: Mention Musa and Haroon 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), Ismail 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Idrees 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) to show that the essence of the message of all Prophets was the same

5) Verses 59-65: compare and contrast the previous generations with the current ones in terms of belief and actions.

6) Verses 66-72: Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) addresses the Mushrikoon rejecting their false claims regarding life after death and judgment.

7) Verses 73-87: continue to address the Mushrikoon and warn them regarding their attitude towards belief in Allah and His messengers. They also mention the great difference between the resurrection of the believer and the resurrection of the non-believer.

8) Verses 88-98: contain a severe warning to those who claim that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has taken a child. They also express that Allah is pleased with the believers and mentions that one of the objectives of the Quran is to give glad tidings to the believers and to warn the non-believers.

Story

From various narrations, we learn that this surah was revealed near the end of the fourth year of Prophethood. This was an extremely difficult time for Muslims. The Quraysh were frustrated with their inability to stop the message of Islam from spreading so they became ruthless. They resorted to any method of torture that they could think of; beating, starving and harassing. When the persecution became so severe that it was difficult for the Muslims to bear it, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) gave permission to migrate to Abyssinia. “For in it dwells a king in whose presence no one is harmed.” 10 men and 4 women migrated in the 5th year of Prophethood secretly. After a few months, a larger group of 83 men and 18 women migrated as well. This migration added more fuel to the fire. It enraged the people of Quraysh.

Umm Salamah [rahna]narrated, “When we stopped to reside in the land of Abyssinia we lived alongside the best of neighbors An-Najashi. We practiced our religion safely, worshipped Allah without harm and didn’t hear anything we disliked. When news of our situation reached the Quraysh they started to plot against us…” They decided to send two delegates to persuade An-Najashi to send the Companions back by offering him and his ministers’ gifts. The plan was to go to each minister with gifts and turn them against the Muslims. So they went to each minister with gifts and said, “Verily, foolish youth from amongst us have come to the country of your king; they have abandoned the religion of their people and have not embraced your religion. Rather they have come with a new religion that neither of us knows. The noblemen of their people, from their fathers and uncles, have sent us to the king asking that he send them back. So when we speak to the king regarding their situation advise him to surrender them to us and to not speak to them…” The minister agreed.

Then they went to the king, offered him gifts and said the same thing… The ministers tried to convince him as well. An-Najashi became angry with them and said, “No, by Allah, I will not surrender them to these two and I don’t fear the plotting of a people who have become my neighbors, have settled down in my country, and have chosen me (to grant them refuge) over every other person. I will not do so until I summon them and speak to them. If they are as these two say I will give them up, but if they aren’t then I will protect them from these two and continue to be a good neighbor to them as long as they are good neighbors to me.”

al-Najāshī then summoned the Prophet’s ﷺ Companions. When his messenger informed the Prophet’s Companions that they were to appear before the king, they gathered together to discuss what they should do. One of them asked, “What will you say to the name (al-Najāshī) when you go to him?” They all agreed on what they would say to him, “By Allah, we will say what our Prophet ﷺ taught us and commanded us with, regardless of the consequences.” Meanwhile, al-Najāshī called for his priests, who gathered around him with their scrolls spread out before them. When the Muslims arrived al-Najāshī began by asking them, “What is this religion for which you have parted from your people? You have not entered into the fold of my religion, nor the religion of any person from these nations.”

Umm Salamah [rahna] narrated, “The Person among us who would speak to him was Jaʿfar ibn abī Ṭālib [rahnu] who then said, “O king, we were an ignorant people: we worshipped idols, we would eat from the flesh of dead animals, we would perform lewd acts, we would cut off family ties, and we would be bad neighbors; the strong among us would eat from the weak. We remained upon that state until Allah sent us a Messenger, whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and chastity we already knew. He invited us to Allah – to believe in His oneness and to worship Him; to abandon all that we and our fathers worshipped besides Allah, in terms of stones and idols. He ﷺ commanded us to speak truthfully, to fulfill the trust, to join ties of family relations, to be good to our neighbors, and to refrain from forbidden deeds and from shedding blood. And he ﷺ forbade us from lewd acts, from uttering falsehood, from wrongfully eating the wealth of an orphan, from falsely accusing chaste women of wrongdoing. And he ﷺ ordered us to worship Allah alone and to not associate any partners with him in worship; and he ﷺ commanded us to pray, to give zakāh, and to fast.” He enumerated for al-Najāshī the teachings of Islam. He said, “And we believe him and have faith in him. We follow him in what he came with. And so we worship Allah alone, without associating any partners with Him in worship. We deem forbidden that which he has made forbidden for us, and we deem lawful that which he made permissible for us. Our people then transgressed against us and tortured us. The tried to force us to abandon our religion and to return from the worship of Allah to the worship of idols; they tried to make us deem lawful those abominable acts that we used to deem lawful. Then, when they subjugated us, wronged us, and treated us in an oppressive manner, standing between us and our religion, we came to your country, and we chose you over all other people. We desired to live alongside you, and we hoped that, with you, we would not be wronged, O king.” al-Najāshī said to Jaʿfar [rahnu], “Do you have any of that which he came with from Allah?” Jaʿfar [rahnu] said, “Yes”. “Then recite to me,” said al-Najāshī. Jaʿfar [rahnu] recited for him the beginning of Surah Maryam. By Allah, al-Najāshī began to cry, until his beard became wet with tears. And when his priests heard what Jaʿfar [rahnu] was reciting to them, they cried until their scrolls became wet. al-Najāshī then said, “By Allah, this and what Mūsa (as) came with come out of the same lantern. Then by Allah, I will never surrender them to you, and henceforward they will not be plotted against and tortured.”

Describing what happened after the aforementioned discussion between al-Najāshī and Jaʿfar [rahnu], Umm Salamah raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “When both ʿAmr ibn al-ʿĀṣ and ʿAbdullah ibn abī Rabīʿah left the presence of al-Najāshī, ʿAmr [rahnu] said, “By Allah tomorrow I will present to him information about them with which I will pull up by the roots their very lives.” Abdullah ibn Rabīʿah who was more sympathetic of the two towards us said, “Don’t do so, for they have certain rights of family relations, even if they have opposed us.” ʿAmr said, “By Allah, I will inform him that they claim that ʿĪsā ibn Maryam is a slave.”

He went to the king on the following day and said, “O king, verily, they have strong words to say about ʿĪsa (as). Call them here and ask them what they say about him.” al-Najāshī sent for them in order to ask them about ʿĪsa. Nothing similar to this befell us before. The group of Muslims gathered together and said to one another, “What will you say about ʿĪsa when he asks you about him?” They said, “By Allah, we will say about him that which Allah says and that which our Prophet ﷺ came with, regardless of the outcome.” When they entered into his presence, he said to them, “What do you say about ʿĪsa ibn Maryam?” Jaʿfar raḍyAllāhu 'anha (may Allāh be pleased with her) said, “We say about him that which our Prophet ﷺ came with – that he is the slave of Allah, His messenger, a spirit created by Him, and His word, which he bestowed on Maryam, the virgin, the baṭūl.”

al-Najāshī struck his hand on the ground and took from it a stick. He then said, “ʿĪsa ibn Maryam did not go beyond what you said even the distance of the stick.” When he said this, his ministers spoke out in anger, to which he responded, “What I said is true even if you speak out in anger, by Allah. (Turning to the Muslims, he said) Go, for you are safe in my land. Whoever curses you will be held responsible. And I would not love to have a reward of gold in return for me hurting a single man among you. (Speaking to his ministers he said) Return to these two (men) their gifts, since we have no need for them. For by Allah, Allah did not take from me bribe money when He returned to me my kingdom, so why should I take bribe money. The two left, defeated and humiliated; and returned to them were the things they came with. We then resided alongside al-Najāshī in a very good abode, with a very good neighbor.”

The response was simply amazing in its eloquence. A believer puts the needs of his soul before the needs of his body. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts the Surah by saying,

Verse 1: Kaf, Ha, Ya, ‘Ayn, Sad.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) starts Surah Maryam with a series of five letters. There are many different saying or explanations regarding these five letters. The most correct opinion is that these are from the broken letters. There are 29 different Surahs in the Quran that start with the broken letters. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone knows the meanings of these letters. They are a secret from amongst the secrets of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), meaning that no one knows what they truly mean. Only Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows their meanings so they are from amongst the Mutashaabihat, those verses whose meanings are hidden.

However, we do find that some great Companions, as well as their students, sometimes gave meanings to these words. For example, it’s said that it is in acronym and each letter represents one of the names of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Kaf is for Al-Kafi or Al-Kareem, “haa” is for Al-Hadi, “yaa” is from Hakeem or Raheem, “’ayn” is from Al-‘Aleem or Al-‘Adheem, and “saad” is from Al-Saadiq. Others said that it is one of the names of Allah and it’s actually Al-Ism Al-‘Atham or that it’s a name of the Quran. However, these narrations can’t be used as proof or to assign definitive meanings. They offer possibilities, but no one truly knows what they mean.

Now the question should come to our mind that why would Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) start of a Surah with words that no one understands?

1) To grab the attention of the listeners.

2) To remind us that no matter how much we know there’s always something that we don’t know.

3) These letters are the letters of the Arabic language and the Quran was revealed at a time that was the peak of eloquence of the language and it was their identity. The Quran was revealed challenging them spiritually and intellectually. The Arabs never heard these letters being used in such a majestic way.

4) To prove the inimitable nature of the Quran.

Allah then starts the story of Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Zakariyya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) was one of the Prophets sent to Bani Israel. He was the husband of Maryam’s paternal aunt. He was also one of the caretakers or custodians of Baitul Maqdis.

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When Faith Hurts: Do Good Deeds = Good Life?

Loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way- even if it hurts. It is a time to learn.

Zeba Khan

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hurts, hardship. Allah, test, why Allah is testing me

The Messenger of Allahṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said that the faith in our hearts wears out the way our clothes wear out. Deterioration, maintenance, and renewal are part of the cycle.  That’s life with all that hurts. That’s normal.

But what happens when that’s life, but life is not your normal? What happens when it feels like life isn’t normal, hasn’t been normal, and won’t be normal for a foreseeably long time?  For some of us, refreshing faith becomes secondary to just keeping it.

It’s easier to say Alhamdulillah when you are happy. It’s harder when you’re not. That’s human nature though. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is something wrong with what we teach about faith that can leave us unprepared for when Allah tests it. I believe that our discussions about faith tend to be overly simplistic. They revolve around a few basic concepts, and are more or less summed up with:

Faith = Happiness

Righteousness = Ease

Prayer = Problem Solved

Good Deeds Equals Good Life?

Basically, the TLDR is Good Deeds = The Good Life. None of these statements are technically untrue. The sweetness of faith is a joy that is beyond any other gratitude, for any other thing in this world. Righteousness in the sight of Allah will put you on the path to the good life in the afterlife. Making dua can be the solution to your problems. But when we say these things to people who have true faith but not happiness, or righteous behavior yet distressing hardship, we’re kind of implying that that either Islam is broken (because their prayers seem unanswered), or they are broken (because their prayers are undeserving of answers.) And neither of those is true either.

Allow me to elaborate. I think it’s safe to say that there is not a single parent who has not begged Allah to make their sick or disabled child well again. Yet, our Ummah still has sick and disabled children. Through history, people have begged Allah for a loved one’s life, and then buried them – so is prayer not equal to problem solved?

Many righteous people stand up, and are then ostracized for their faith. Many people speak truth in the face of a tyrant only to be punished for it. Many of us live with complete conviction, with unshakeable belief in the existence and wisdom and mercy of Allah, and still find ourselves unhappy and afraid of what He has willed for us.

Are We Broken?

No, but our spiritual education is. In order to fix it, we have to be upfront with each other. We have to admit that we can be happy with Allah and still find ourselves devastated by the tests He puts before us, because faith is not a protection from struggle.

Has anyone ever said this to you? Have you ever said this to anyone else?

No one ever told me. It was hard for me to learn that lesson on my own, when I pleaded with Allah to make my son’s autism go away, and it didn’t. Everyone told me –Make dua! The prayer of a mother for her child is special! Allah will never turn you down!

It was hard trying to make sense of what seemed like conflicting messages- that Allah knows best, but a mother’s prayer is always answered. It was even harder facing people who tried to reassure me of that, even when it obviously wasn’t working.

“Just make dua! Allah will respond!”

I’m sure people mean well. But it’s hard not to be offended. Either they assume I have never bothered to pray for my son, or they imply that there must be good reason why Allah’s not granting to my prayers. What they don’t consider is that allowing my test to persist – even if I don’t want it to- is also a valid response from Allah.

I have been told to think back in my life, and try to determine what sin caused my child’s disability, as if the only reason why Allah wouldn’t give me what I asked for was because I was so bad I didn’t deserve it. As if good deeds equaled the good life, and if my life wasn’t good, it’s because I hadn’t been good either.

Bad Things Happen to Good People

You can assume whatever you like about my character, but bad things do happen to good people, even when they pray. You can try your hardest and still fall short. You can pray your whole life for something that will never come to you. And strength of faith in that circumstance doesn’t mean living in a state of unfulfilled hope, it means accepting the wisdom in the test that Allah has decreed for you.

That’s a bit uncomfortable, isn’t it.  When we talk about prayer and hope, we prefer to talk about Zakariyyah 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – who begged Allah for a child and was gifted with one long after anyone thought it even possible. But we also need to talk about Abu Talib.

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was raised by his uncle Abu Talib, and in his mission to preach Islam he was protected by Abu Talib.  But Abu Talib died without accepting Islam, was there something wrong with the Prophet, that Allah did not give him what he asked for? Was he not good enough? Did he not pray hard enough? Astaghfirullah, no. So if Prophets of God can ask for things and still not get them, why are we assuming otherwise for ourselves?

Making a Bargain with Allah

If we can understand that faith is not a contract for which we trade prayers for services, then maybe we can cope better when fate cannot be bargained with. Maybe it won’t have to hurt so bad – on spiritual level – when Allah withholds what we ask for, even when we asked for the “right” things in the right way and at all the right times.

Life is not simple. Faith is not simple. The will of Allah is not simple, no matter how much we want it to be, and when oversimplify it, we create a Muslim version of Prosperity Gospel without meaning to.

If you’ve never heard of it, prosperity gospel is a religious belief among some Christians that health and wealth and success are the will of God, and therefore faith, good deeds and charity increase one’s wellbeing. Have faith, and God will reward you in this life and the next. That’s nice. But it’s too simple. Because the belief that Good Deeds = The Good Life doesn’t explain how Ibraheem 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s father tried to have him burnt alive.

Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)’s brothers left him for dead in the bottom of a well. He grew up a slave and spent years in prison for a crime he did not commit. Aasiya 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) – the wife of the Pharoah – one of the four best women in the history of womankind – died from her husband’s torture.

Good people are not guaranteed good lives. Islam is what we need, not a system of practices that we use to fulfill our needs.

When we limit our understanding of faith to a simplistic, almost contractual relationship with Allah, then we can’t even explain the things that Allah Tested His own prophets with.

Nor can we understand, or even begin to cope with- what He Tests the rest of us with either. We have to be real in our talk about faith, because otherwise we set each other up for unrealistic expectations and lack of preparation for when we face hardship. Faith is not protection from hardship. Faith is part of hardship. And hardship is part of faith.

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) asks us in the opening of Surah ‘Ankabut,

Do people think once they say, “We believe,” that they will be left without being put to the test? We certainly tested those before them. And ˹in this way˺ Allah will clearly distinguish between those who are truthful and those who are liars.

Allah says in Surah Baqarah, ayah 155: “And most certainly shall We try you by means of danger, and hunger, and loss of worldly goods, of lives and of the fruits of your labor. But give glad tidings to those who are patient in adversity.

tests, hurts, faith , hardship

Allah Tests Everyone Differently

Allah tests each of us differently, but in every single case – every single time – a test is an invitation to success. Hardship is the process through which we prove ourselves. Experiencing it– and then drawing closer to Allah through it –is how faith is tested as well as strengthened.

If we can change how we perceive hardship, then we can also change how we perceive each other. On our cultural subconscious, we still see worldly failure as being equivalent to spiritual failure. So when we see people who are homeless, we assume fault. When we see people facing depression or divorce, we assume fault. We even look at refugees and victims and special needs children and we look for fault. Because if it’s that bad then it’s has to be someone’s fault, right?

Fault is how we place blame. Blame is how we know whose mistake it is. But the will of Allah is never a mistake, it’s a test.  Instead of faulting each other for what Allah tests us with, we could respect each other for the struggles we all endure. We could see each other with more compassion for our challenges, and less aversion when Allah tests us with dealing each other.

So when you’ve done things the right way, but the right things aren’t happening. Or you’ve been charitable to others, and they’re being evil towards you. Or you’ve earned only halal, but haram- it’s been taken away from you, remember this- your faith is being tested. Allah tests those that He loves. When He raises the difficulty level, Allah is extending a direct invitation for you to climb higher.

So How Do We Succeed When Faced With Failure?

The first thing to do is redefine failure. There is only one true failure in this life, and that is dying on the wrong side of Siraat ul Mustaqeem, because if close your eyes and wake up in Jahannam, no success in this life can compensate for that.

I find that helpful to remember, when I fail to stay fit because I can’t exercise without hurting myself, when I fail to fast in Ramadan because it’s dangerous for me to do so- when I fail to discover a cure for my family’s personal assortment of medical issues through rigorous internet “research,” none of that is my failure either. And I can feel a lot of different ways about these situations, but I do not feel guilty- because it’s not my fault. And I do not feel bitter, because my test is my honor. Even when I do feel scared.

Being scared in not a failure either. Neither is being unemployed. Being unmarried is not a failure. Being childless is not a failure. Being divorced is not a failure. Nothing unpleasant or miserable or unexpected is a failure. It’s all just a test, and seeing it as a test means you have the state of mind to look for the correct answers.

Not even sin is failure, because as long as you are alive, your sin stands as an invitation to forgiveness. The bigger the sin, the greater the blessings of repenting from it.  Everything that goes bad is the opening of the door for good. A major sin can be the first step on a journey that starts with repentance and moves you closer to Allah every day thereafter. Sin only becomes failure when it takes you farther away from Allah, rather than closer to him.

Jahannam is the Only Failure

Addiction is not a failure. Depression is not a failure. Poverty is not a failure. Jahannam is the only failure. Everything else is a gap in expectations.

You assumed you would have something, but it’s not written for you. You assumed you’d ask Allah for something and He’d give it to you, but what is that assumption based on again? That good deeds are the guarantee to the good life, and that prayer equals problem solved?

Allah has all the knowledge, Allah has the wisdom, Allah is the best of Planners – how are you assuming that your wishes supersede His will? Even when you put your wishes in the form of a prayer?

They don’t. It is absolutely true that Allah may choose to rewrite Qadr itself based on your prayers – but that’s still His choice. Allah has always, and will always be in control of this world. And that means your world too. If you still think you’re in control, you will find it really, really hard to cope the first time you realize you’re not.

When we understand that we don’t get to control what happens and what doesn’t, we can then release ourselves from the misplaced guilt of things going wrong.  Lots of special needs parents struggle with guilt. I meet them often – and every single parent has asked the question- directly or indirectly-

What did I do for my child to deserve this?

Can you hear the presumption in there? That the parents were good, so why did something bad happen? They were expecting for good deeds to equal the good life.

There’s a second presumption in there too, that their life choices were a determining factor of what happened to their child. That is a presumption of control. And as long as you try to hold on to that presumption of control, there is the constant feeling of failure when it just doesn’t work the way you think it will.

I am not proposing that we lose hope in Allah and despair of His Mercy. I am in no way insinuating that Allah doesn’t hear every prayer, hasn’t counted every tear, and isn’t intimately aware of your pain and your challenges. Allah hears your prayers, and in His wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we want. In His Wisdom, sometimes he grants us exactly what we need.

Even if we don’t see it.

Even if it scares us.

Even if it hurts us – because Allah has promised that He will never, ever break us.

hurts, hardship, special needs

Allah Tests Us in His Mercy

I am proposing that we put trust in the wisdom of Allah, and understand that when He tests us, that is part of his mercy, not a deviation from it. When He grants something to us, that is part of His mercy, and when he withholds something from us, that too is part of His Mercy, even if we don’t like it. Even when we ask Him to take it away.

The third thing I would like to propose, is that we correct our understanding of – Fa Inna Ma’Al usri yusraa, Inna Ma’al usri yusra.

So verily, definitely, for sure- with hardship there is ease. Again, Inna – for sure, with hardship there is ease.

I’m sure lots of you have said this to people you loved, or to yourself when you’re struggling with something and you’re just trying to get through it. But did you mean that this hardship will end, and then things will be good again? Like as soon as things have been hard for a while, Allah will make them easy again?

Would you believe that’s not really what that means? Ma’a means with, not after. With this hardship, there is ease. And maybe you’re like aww man, but I wanted the ease! I want the hardship to go away and Allah I’m ready for my ease now!

But that hardship, will bring you ease. Allah does not tell us what the ease will be, or when it will be- but He says it’s there, so trust Him. Even if you can’t see it right away, or in this life –it will become apparent.

I can tell you some of the ease I found with mine.

Learning When It Hurts

When my son was diagnosed with autism, my husband and I had to drop everything. We dropped our plans to save, to travel, and to live the charmed life of neurotypical parents whose only fears are that their children may grow up and NOT become Muslim doctors. We spent our earnings and our savings and our time and our nights and our tears and Alhamdulillah, we learned patience. We learned perspective. We learned compassion.

We really learned what we thought we already knew – about unconditional love and acceptance. We learned to be bigger than our fears, and smaller than our own egos. We learned to give and take help. We learn to accept what wisdom our cultures could offer us, and respectfully decline what did not. We learn to set boundaries and make rules that did justice by our children and our family, regardless of whether they were popular. With hardship comes ease.

When we couldn’t afford therapy for my son, my husband and I founded a not for profit organization in the UAE that provided it for my son and dozens of other people’s sons and daughters. Three and a half years ago I left that organization to seek better educational opportunities for my son here in the US, but it’s still running. The seed that our challenges planted has grown into something beyond us. With our hardship came ease for ourselves and others as well.

When I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, my health issues were upgraded from challenging to permanent. I had to rethink how I lived, how I planned, how I dressed, and even – my relationship with Allah. But if I had never been sick, I would never have started writing. When it hurt, I wrote. When I was scared, I wrote. When I was lonely, I wrote. And by and by the grindstone of fear and sickness and frustration sharpened my skills. Where I am today both spiritually and professionally – is actually a direct result of both autism and chronic illness. With hardship comes ease.

I don’t like my hardships, but I don’t have to. You don’t have to either. Being a good Muslim doesn’t always mean being a happy Muslim. It just means being Muslim, no matter the circumstances.

That means loving Allah and trusting the Wisdom and Purpose in everything He throws your way – even if not loving everything He throws your way. You may hate your circumstances, and you may not be able to do anything about them, but as long as you trust Allah and use your hardships to come closer to him, you cannot fail, even if this life, you feel as if you never really succeeded.

hurts, depression, faith , hardship

Faith Wears Out In Our hearts, The Way Our Cothes Wear Out on Our Bodies

The hardship that damages and stains us is Allah’s invitation to repair, renew, and refresh ourselves. Our test are an invitation, an opportunity, an obstacle – but not a punishment or divine cruelty. And when we know that those tests will come, and some may even stay, then we can be better prepared for it.

Trust Allah when He says that He does not burden any soul with more than it can bear. He told us so in Surah Baqarah Ayah 286. Remember that when you are afraid, and Allah will never cause your fear to destroy you. Take your fear to Allah, and He will strengthen you, and reward you for your bravery.

Remember that when you are in pain. Allah will never cause your pain to destroy you. Take your pain to Him, and He will soothe you and reward you for your patience. Take it all to Allah – the loneliness, the anxiety, the confusion. Do not assume that the only emotions a “good Muslim” takes to Allah are gratitude and happiness and awe. Take them all to Allah, uncertainty, disappointment, anger — and He will bless you in all of those states, and guide you to what is better for you in this life, and the next, even if it’s not what you expected.

The struggles in your life are a test, and whether you pass or fail is not determined on whether you conquer them, only on whether you endure them. Expect that they will come, because having faith is not protection from struggle. Faith is protection from being broken by the struggle.

I ask Allah to protect us all from hardship, but protect us in our hardships as well. I ask Allah to grant us peace from His peace, and strength from His strength, to patiently endure and grow through our endurance.

Ameen.

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What Does Sharia Really Say About Abortion in Islam

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice, Islam recognizes the nuance.

Reem Shaikh

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The following article on abortion is based on a research paper titled ‘The Rights of the Fetus in Islam’, at the Department of Sharia at Qatar University. My team and I presented it to multiple members of the faculty. It was approved by the Dean of the Islamic Studies College, an experienced and reputed Islamic authority.

In one swoop, liberal comedian Deven Green posing as her satirical character, Mrs. Betty Brown, “America’s best Christian”, demonized both Sharia law as well as how Islamic law treats abortion. Even in a debate about a law that has no Muslim protagonist in the middle of it, Islam is vilified because apparently, no problem in the world can occur without Islam being dragged into it.

It is important to clarify what Sharia is before discussing abortion. Sharia law is the set of rules and guidelines that Allah establishes as a way of life for Muslims. It is derived from the Qur’an and the Sunnah, which is interpreted and compiled by scholars based on their understandings (fiqh). Sharia takes into account what is in the best interest for individuals and society as a whole, and creates a system of life for Muslims, covering every aspect, such as worship, beliefs, ethics, transactions, etc.

Muslim life is governed by Sharia – a very personal imperative. For a Muslim living in secular lands, that is what Sharia is limited to – prayers, fasting, charity and private transactions such as not dealing with interest, marriage and divorce issues, etc. Criminal statutes are one small part of the larger Sharia but are subject to interpretation, and strictly in the realm of a Muslim country that governs by it.

With respect to abortion, the first question asked is:

“Do women have rights over their bodies or does the government have rights over women’s bodies?”

The answer to this question comes from a different perspective for Muslims. Part of Islamic faith is the belief that our bodies are an amanah from God. The Arabic word amanah literally means fulfilling or upholding trusts. When you add “al” as a prefix, or al-amanah, trust becomes “The Trust”, which has a broader Islamic meaning. It is the moral responsibility of fulfilling one’s obligations due to Allah and fulfilling one’s obligations due to other humans.

The body is one such amanah. Part of that amanah includes the rights that our bodies have over us, such as taking care of ourselves physically, emotionally and mentally – these are part of a Muslim’s duty that is incumbent upon each individual.

While the Georgia and Alabama laws in the United States that make abortion illegal after the 6-week mark of pregnancy are being mockingly referred to as “Sharia Law” abortion, the fact is that the real Sharia allows much more leniency in the matter than these laws do.

First of all, it is important to be unambiguous about one general ruling: It is unanimously agreed by the scholars of Islam that abortion without a valid excuse after the soul has entered the fetus is prohibited entirely. The question then becomes, when exactly does the soul enter the fetus? Is it when there is a heartbeat? Is it related to simple timing? Most scholars rely on the timing factor because connecting a soul to a heartbeat itself is a question of opinion.

Web MD

The timing then is also a matter of ikhtilaf, or scholarly difference of opinion:

One Hundred and Twenty Days:

The majority of the traditional scholars, including the four madhahib, are united upon the view that the soul certainly is within the fetus after 120 days of pregnancy, or after the first trimester.

This view is shaped by  the following hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إن أحدكم يجمع خلقه في بطن أمه أربعين يوما ثم يكون في ذلك علقة مثل ذلك ثم يكون في ذلك مضغة مثل ذلك ثم يرسل الملك فينفخ فيه الروح..

“For every one of you, the components of his creation are gathered together in the mother’s womb for a period of forty days. Then he will remain for two more periods of the same length, after which the angel is sent and insufflates the spirit into him.”

Forty Days:

The exception to the above is that some scholars believe that the soul enters the fetus earlier, that is after the formation phase, which is around the 40 days mark of pregnancy.

This view is based on another hadith narrated by Abdullah bin Masood raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him):

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: إذا مر بالنطفة إثنتان وأربعون ليلة بعث الله إليها ملكاً، فصوره، وخلق سمعها وبصرها وجلدها ولحمها وعظمها…

“If a drop of semen spent in the womb forty-two nights, Allah sends an angel to it who depicts it and creates its ears, eyes, skin, flesh and bones.”

Between the two views, the more widespread and popular opinion is the former, which is that the soul enters the fetus at the 120 days (or 4 months) mark, as the second hadith implies the end of the formation period of the fetus rather than the soul entering it.

Even if one accepts that the soul enters the fetus at a certain timing mark, it does not mean that the soul-less fetus can be aborted at any time or for any reason. Here again, like most matters of Islamic jurisprudence, there is ikhtilaf of scholarly difference of opinion.

No Excuse Required:

The Hanafi madhhab is the most lenient, allowing abortion during the first trimester, even without an excuse.

Some of the later scholars from the Hanafi school consider it makruh or disliked if done without a valid reason, but the majority ruled it as allowed.

Only Under Extreme Risks:

The Malikis are the most strict in this matter; they do not allow abortion even if it is done in the first month of pregnancy unless there is an extreme risk to the mother’s health.

Other Views:

As for the Shafi’i and Hanbali schools of thought, there are multiple opinions within the schools themselves, some allowing abortion, some only allowing it in the presence of a valid excuse.

Valid excuses differ from scholar to scholar, but with a strong and clear reason, permissibility becomes more lenient. Such cases include forced pregnancy (caused by rape), reasons of health and other pressing reasons.

For example, consider a rape victim who becomes pregnant. There is hardly a more compelling reason (other than the health of the mother) where abortion should be permitted. A child born as a result in such circumstances will certainly be a reminder of pain and discomfort to the mother. Every time the woman sees this child, she will be reminded of the trauma of rape that she underwent, a trauma that is generally unmatched for a woman. Leaving aside the mother, the child himself or herself will lead a life of suffering and potentially neglect. He or she may be blamed for being born– certainly unjust but possible with his or her mother’s mindset. The woman may transfer her pain to the child, psychologically or physically because he or she is a reminder of her trauma. One of the principles of Sharia is to ward off the greater of two evils. One can certainly argue that in such a case where both mother and child are at risk of trauma and more injustice, then abortion may indeed be the lesser of the two.

The only case even more pressing than rape would be when a woman’s physical health is at risk due to the pregnancy. Where the risk is clear and sufficiently severe (that is can lead to some permanent serious health damage or even death) if the fetus remained in her uterus, then it is unanimously agreed that abortion is allowed no matter what the stage of pregnancy. This is because of the Islamic principle that necessities allow prohibitions. In this case, the necessity to save the life of the mother allows abortion, which may be otherwise prohibited.

This is the mercy of Sharia, as opposed to the popular culture image about it.

Furthermore, the principle of preventing the greater of two harms applies in this case, as the mother’s life is definite and secure, while the fetus’ is not.

Absolutely Unacceptable Reason for Abortion:

Another area of unanimous agreement is that abortion cannot be undertaken due to fear of poverty. The reason for this is that this mindset collides with having faith and trust in Allah. Allah reminds us in the Quran:

((وَلَا تَقْتُلُوا أَوْلَادَكُمْ خَشْيَةَ إِمْلَاقٍ ۖ نَّحْنُ نَرْزُقُهُمْ وَإِيَّاكُمْ ۚ إِنَّ قَتْلَهُمْ كَانَ خِطْئًا كَبِيرًا))

“And do not kill your children for fear of poverty, We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.” (Al-Israa, 31)

Ignorance is not an excuse, but it is an acceptable excuse when it comes to mocking Islam in today’s world. Islam is a balanced religion and aims to draw ease for its adherents. Most rulings concerning fiqh are not completely cut out black and white. Rather, Islamic rulings are reasonable and consider all possible factors and circumstances, and in many cases vary from person to person.

Abortion is not a simple option of being pro-life or pro-choice. These terms have become political tools rather than sensitive choices for women who ultimately suffer the consequences either way.

Life means a lot more than just having a heartbeat. Islam completely recognizes this. Thus, Islamic rulings pertaing to abortion are detailed and varied.

As a proud Muslim, I want my fellow Muslims to be confident of their religion particularly over sensitive issues such as abortion and women’s rights to choose for themselves keeping the Creator of Life in focus at all times.

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