Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

· {O you who have believed, fear Allaah as He should be feared and do not die except as Muslims [in submission to Him].} [Quran 3:102]
· {O you who have believed, fear Allaah and speak words of appropriate justice. He will [then] amend for you your deeds and forgive you your sins. And whoever obeys Allaah and His Messenger has certainly attained a great attainment.}[Quran 33:71]

A regrettable problem has surfaced in our societies, and scholars are receiving complaints from righteous women about the trouble they are facing in their commununities. Who is troubling our sisters? Jews? Christians? Secularists? No, unfortunately, these provocations are from some Muslims, may Allaah The Almighty guide us all.

This problem is not widespread so far, but one worries that it might escalate to an extent that we will not be able to treat it. Thus, it is best to tell those who criticize righteous sisters: When you criticize righteous sisters, you are criticizing the Sunnah (tradition) of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam.

When you criticize a certain person, the criticism is not directed to the person himself, but to the methodology that he adopts. Such conduct could be quite serious because some of the criticism or mockery may be regarded as disbelief in Allaah The Almighty Who Says (what means): {Say, “Is it Allaah and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking?” Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after your belief.} [Quran 9:65, 66]

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “A man may heedlessly utter a word that angers Allaah with him, which makes him fall in Hell for seventy years.”[At-Tirmithi, Ibn Maajah and Ahmad]

Such conduct has serious repercussions not just for the observant Muslim woman alone, but for the person who mocks her as well, because it may lead to the loss of their religion if they do not turn to Allaah The Almighty in repentance.

Being observant and religious is the right thing to do, whereas religious non-observance and mocking observant people is extremism and deviation.

Women in the Quran and Sunnah (tradition)

The best and most brilliant examples of Muslim women are the women who are mentioned in the Quran and the Sunnah (tradition). We may know about them, but let us contemplate these great examples.

Many Soorahs (chapters) in the Quran have names that are related to women. One of the longest Soorahs of the Quran is Soorat An-Nisaa’ (The Women). Another Soorah is Al-Mujaadilah (She that Disputes/ The Pleading Woman), Maryam (Mary) and Al-Mumtahinah (Examining her).

There are numerous verses that deal with women. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means):

· {And their Lord responded to them, “Never will I allow to be lost the work of [any] worker among you, whether male or female; you are of one another.} [Quran 3:195]
· {The believing men and believing women are allies of one another.} [Quran 9:71]
· {Would substitute for him wives better than you – submitting [to Allaah ], believing, devoutly obedient, repentant, worshipping, and traveling – [ones] previously married and virgins.}[Quran 66:5]
· {For men is a share of what they have earned, and for women is a share of what they have earned.}[Quran 4:32]
· {So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband’s] absence.} [Quran 4:34]

There are also many other verses and stories in the Quran about issues concerning women, but I will only refer to some of them.

In Soorat Al-Ahzaab, there are the verses that refer to the wives and daughters of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. and the believing women. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {O wives of the Prophet..}[Quran 33:32]

Moreover, the story of Maryam (Mary), may Allaah exalt her mention, was mentioned in more than one Soorah of the Quran. The story of the mother of Prophet Moosa (Moses), may Allaah exalt his mention, was mentioned in Soorat Al-Qasas. The story of the Ifk (falsehood) incident was mentioned in Soorat An-Noor. This story is considered to be a declaration of the innocence of ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, and of virtuous Muslim women.

The incident of the Ifk (falsehood) is related to what I have mentioned earlier, because observant women may encounter similar harm from hypocrites and deviant people, so they should be ready to face it. If women assume that they will be saved from a trial like this, it must be remembered that ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, would have been worthier of being safe from such slander.

A long time ago, I saw a shameful cartoon in a newspaper in Kuwait and I thought to myself that the Kuwaiti press had gone beyond the bounds of propriety and had taken too much liberty. Perhaps such actions could be to blame for what befell Kuwait.

Some years ago, when young women who attended the University of Kuwait began adhering to the Islamic dress code, by putting on Hijaab (Islamic covering), the Kuwaiti press expressed annoyance. The press launched campaigns against religiously observant Muslim women. As part of the campaign, the famous cartoonist, Nagi Al-Ali, who later faced his doom when he was shot dead in Britain, drew a cartoon of a young woman in Hijaab with a strand of hair on her chest, being asked by another young woman, who did not cover up, whose beard hair that was.

This cartoon slandered women in Hijaab and accused them of having unlawful relationships with men with beards. The cartoon mocked religiously observant men and women. The cartoonist in question has already received his punishment in the worldly life and will be reckoned by Allaah The Almighty, The Just for what he did.

The incident of the Ifk (falsehood) shook the house of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, to the extent that some of the Companions, may Allaah be pleased with them, thought ill of ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her, until Allaah The Almighty declared her innocence. Let me advise Muslim women who are attacked and falsely accused of wrongdoing to be patient just like ‘Aa’ishah, may Allaah be pleased with her.

The wife of Fir‘awn (Pharaoh), was a believing woman who observed patience. This woman is mentioned in Soorat At-Tahreem.

Also, the wife of Ibraaheem (Abraham), may Allaah exalt his mention, was mentioned in more than one Soorah.

Another story is that of the Queen of Saba’ (Sheba) which was mentioned in Soorat An-Naml. A poet composed poems about this queen saying that if all women were like this queen, women would be superior to men. It is worth mentioning that this queen was a wise woman even before she became a Muslim. As a ruler, she was never a dictator, but she used to consult her eminent helpers. Allaah The Almighty Says (what means): {I would not decide a matter until you witness [for] me.}[Quran 27:32] She was not too proud to believe; because she had a sound mind and thanks to the grace of Allaah The Almighty, she was guided to believe in Prophet Sulaymaan (Solomon), may Allaah exalt his mention.

This story should be contemplated over, as it contains many lessons that have been pointed out by scholars and exegetes.

Women in the Sunnah

There are many Hadeeths of the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, that deal with women. The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:

· “Be advised to be good to women.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]
· “Be gentle to women.”

Abu Hurayrah, may Allaah be pleased with him, said, ‘A man came to the Messenger of Allaah and asked him, “Who is most entitled to my best companionship?”The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Your mother.” The man said, “Who is next?”The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Your mother.” The man further asked, “Who is next?” The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said: “Your mother.” The man asked for the fourth time, “Who is next?” The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, said:“Your father.” [Al-Bukhaari and Muslim]

The Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, used to allocate some time to answering women’s questions and to help them to solve their problems.

One of the brilliant examples of women is that of the two women from Al-Ansaar who participated in the pledge of Al-‘Aqabah, despite the arduous circumstances. This proves that women can be brave and that they can fulfill important roles in certain situations.

Women in the past also participated in Jihaad and we can recall the story of Umm ‘Atiyyah, may Allaah be pleased with her, who participated in seven battles with the Prophet, sallallaahu ‘alayhi wa sallam. She used to treat the injured, serve the fighters and guard their belongings. (The issue of the permissibility of working as a nurse needs further discussion, as scholars have stated certain conditions for this, but this is not the suitable context to discuss this issue.)

Thus, the status of women in the Sunnah is clear and one need not talk about it at length.