The thrust is that man should be just and truthful in his social relations.
Say: “Come, I shall recite what your Lord has forbidden to you”:
Do not associate anyone with Him in His divinity.
Be good to your parents.
Do not kill your children for fear of want.
We shall provide for you and for them.
Do not approach shameful deeds, whether open or secret.
Do not take life which Allah has made sacred, except in a just cause.
This He has enjoined upon you so that you may reflect.
And do not approach the property of an orphan except in the best manner until he comes of age.
And give full measure and weight with justice. We do not burden anyone beyond his capacity.
When you speak, be just, even though it be against a near relative.
And fulfill the covenant of Allah. This He has enjoined so that you may remember.
This is My way – the Straight way. Follow it then and do not follow other paths; that will deviate you from His way. This He has enjoined so that you may fear Allah.
And do not approach the property of the orphan except in the best manner until he attains his maturity, and give full measure and weight with justice- We do not impose on any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability. (Al-An`am 6:151-152)
Exploitation of the weaker sections of society is a common sight. The Qur’anic guidance for following the ‘straight way’ covers this aspect of social life as well. For the Qur’an forbids all forms of usurpation or misappropriation of an orphan’s property.
The Qur’an aims at developing such righteousness among man that any wicked thought of taking away an orphan’s belongings should not even cross one’s mind. For the Qur’an instructs that the guardian’s sole concern should be the protection and betterment of the orphan’s interest. He should look after such orphans until they come of age and are in a position to manage their own affairs.
The Islamic stance on ensuring the welfare of orphans has elicited the following tribute from a leading Western social scientist:
“One of the most commendable things which one finds in reading the Qur’an is the solicitude which Muhammad (peace be upon him) shows for the young, and especially for such as have been deprived of their natural guardians. Again and again, he insists upon kind and just treatment being accorded to children.
And working upon his words, the Muhammadan doctors have framed a system of rules concerning the appointment and duties of guardians which is most complete, and extending to the most minute details.” (Robert Roberts, Social Laws of the Quran, London, 1911)
The same Qur’anic concern for extirpating injustice and for promoting peace and cordial relations in society lies at the core of its other directives for acting with honesty and fairness in business transactions.
It goes without saying that fraudulent trade practices make man’s life miserable and breed a host of vices which tarnish man’s spiritual and moral well-being. Let it be clarified that the directive for giving full measure and weight signifies uprightness on man’s part. Included in it, by implication, is the point that man should be conscientious in all that he does. For example, he should perform his duty well and not waste time.
Punctuality in duty is as important as precision in weight and measure. As a trader is forbidden from cheating customers, an employee should faithfully serve his employer. The employer too, stands obliged to act fairly towards his employees. The Qur’anic worldview is all-inclusive.
It is not restricted to the performance of obligatory prayers on time in the prescribed manner. Rather, it seeks that the same spirit of devotion to Allah, which permeates one’s prayer, should also be reflected in every walk of life, especially in a person’s dealings with his fellow human beings.
It is not therefore surprising to note that many components of the Straight Way, as embodied in this passage, relate to man’s social life, not to devotional theology. As part of the same stance, business practices find mention in clear terms in that these affect all members of society. The Qur’an insists that these be characterized by fairness, transparency and justice.
After having prescribed this particular code of conduct and exhorted man to abide by it, failing which he will incur Allah’s wrath, the Qur’an comforts man also with an eye on bolstering his morale.
It is noteworthy that at the conclusion of these commandments the Qur’an records the observation that Allah does not burden man beyond his capacity. Gifted with the numerous faculties and potentials granted to him by Allah, man can easily follow all these commands.
The Qur’an has not set man some gigantic tasks, which are beyond his capacity to accomplish. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions stood this test and performed admirably what was expected of them.
It is not therefore beyond our capacity to emulate them. Implicit in the above assurance is the fact that Allah will condone any lapse on man’s part in pursuing the Straight Way, as long as his intention to observe these directives is pious and sincere.
The Qur’anic exhortation to profess and practise justice at all costs is to the fore, once again, in its directive that man should be fair in his testimony. Evidently this directive is not special to the legal sphere. The thrust is that man should be just and truthful in his social relations. This point emerges on studying the above directive in conjunction with the following verses:
O Believers! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against the rich or the poor. For Allah can best protect both. (An-Nisaa’ 4:135)
O Believers! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just. That is next to piety and fearing Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)
The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.
Even though spiritual purification is important seclusion and neglect of worldly responsibilities are not condoned by Islam.
Islam is a way of life that teaches Muslims to focus on bettering themselves by following the Qur’an, the holy book of Islam, and the teachings of the final Prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Prophet Muhammad once said, “Truly I was sent as a Prophet for the purpose of perfecting human character.” (Ahmad) This prophetic tradition defines a very important aspect of Islam: self-improvement through spiritual and physical purity.
An old Arab proverb aptly states: “The one who lacks something cannot give it to others.” This saying establishes the fact that in order for one to spread “good” in terms of his or her character, manners, words or actions, he or she must first strive to possess it. One should not neglect to improve one’s own faults even as they attempt to assist others.
Of course, this does not mean that one has to be perfect in order to be of benefit to others; for instance, some people think that they cannot spread knowledge because they are not scholars. Instead, this adage goes hand in hand with the English saying, “Practice before you preach.” As Prophet Muhammad said, “Who are the learned? Those who practice what they know.”
In Islam, it is of utmost importance for Muslims to seek self-improvement in regards to every aspect of their lives. As a result, one’s good character will impact others and therefore improve society as a whole. This dynamic change all begins at the individual level. In this regard, God says:
Truly God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves. (Ar-Ra`d 13:11)
Before an individual consciously embarks on this journey, he or she must define and cleanse their intention. A pivotal teaching of Islam is derived from the prophetic statement, “All actions are judged by their intentions, and each person will be rewarded according to his or her intention.”
Hence, a desire to genuinely improve oneself, please God, and provide benefit is paramount. On the other hand, having impure intentions such as seeking the admiration of other people or showing off is counterproductive. For these reasons, purifying one’s intentions is critical to the success of one’s pursuit of self-development.
Cleansing of the heart is also a large component of self-improvement because it directly impacts one’s actions. God says in the Qur’an:
God did confer a great favor on the believers when He sent among them an apostle from among themselves, rehearsing unto them the signs of God, sanctifying them, and instructing them in scripture and wisdom, while, before that, they had been in manifest error. (Aal `Imran 3:164)
This verse demonstrates the role of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and the importance of self-improvement in Islam. Prophet Muhammad taught the pagan Arabs of Makkah to believe in the One God and to live righteously; he implored them to renounce idolatry and their impulsive lifestyles. Over the course of 23 years, his message uplifted the status of women, brought God-consciousness among people, and safeguarded the poor and needy.
In doing so, not only did he help individuals to attain self-improvement, he rehabilitated an entire society: racial discrimination was practically eliminated, tribal warfare was replaced with united ties of brotherhood, usury and alcohol were completely forbidden.
Self-development begins at the individual level and requires a vast amount of discipline. Along with striving to become more physically pure by maintaining a healthy and clean body, it is equally important for an individual to maintain his or her spiritual health through righteous actions. Purification of the soul allow an individual to become closer to God and exhibit more positive behavior which will translate into his or her deeds.
In order to purify and enhance oneself, Islam outlines several pragmatic steps:
Core worship, such as prayer, fasting, supplication, etc. Performing these allows Muslims to draw closer to God by increasing the individual’s awareness of God throughout the day.
This will, in turn, decrease his or her likelihood to commit acts that would displease God, enabling people to raise their moral and ethical standards.
Smiling, being kind, and staying positive when interacting with others. This leads to mercifulness and forgiveness, which are attributes which God loves in human beings.
Prophetic traditions mention that smiling is an act of charity and removing obstacles from the road is a sign of faith; others encourage people to spread good news and exchange gifts as a way of increasing love between people.
Having self-discipline and managing one’s time so that the person is more productive throughout the day:
By (the token of) time (through the ages), verily man is in loss, except such as have faith, and do righteous deeds, and (join together) in the mutual teaching of truth, and of patience and constancy. (Al-`Asr 103:1-3)
Lending a helping hand to those in need. Once Prophet Muhammad was asked: “What actions are most excellent?” He answered: “To gladden the heart of human beings, to feed the hungry, to help the afflicted, to lighten the sorrow of the sorrowful, and to remove the sufferings of the injured.”
Striving to increase one’s knowledge whether it be religious or academic. Working towards becoming an informed and proactive citizen.
According to Prophet Muhammad, “The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim.” (Ibn Majah)
Maintaining good company and friends that will influence the individual in a positive manner.
Prophet Muhammad has stated, “It is better to sit alone than in company with the bad; and it is better still to sit with the good than alone. It is better to speak to a seeker of knowledge than to remain silent; but silence is better than idle words.”
Performing sincere repentance for one’s sins and seeking the mercy and forgiveness of God. Feeling guilty for transgressions that one has made, and then making an active effort to learn from one’s mistakes and never repeat them again:
Your Lord has inscribed for Himself (the rule of) mercy: verily, if any of you did evil in ignorance, and thereafter repented, and amend (his conduct), lo! He is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-An`am 6:54)
As you may have noticed, many of these steps involve interacting with others. Even though spiritual purification is important, it is critical to note that seclusion and neglect of worldly responsibilities are not condoned by Islam.
Prolonged seclusion for the purpose of spiritual purification is in fact inconsistent with Islamic teachings. A large component of self enhancement involves treating others with compassion and respect, and helping the less fortunate. This is not possible if one leads the life of a recluse.
One of the prophetic traditions encourages people to look at those less privileged when making worldly comparisons with others: “When you see a person who has been given more than you in money and beauty, look to those who have been given less.”
This advice is very important because it enables us to be grateful for the blessings we have and be less greedy or miserly. Such an attitude allows one to remain focused on the quest of attaining self-improvement and eternal success in the hereafter rather than the transient materials of this temporary life.
The Virtues of Selfishness!
Self-improvement plays a significant role in the lives of Muslims also due to another key Islamic concept: that every individual will be held accountable for only him/her self in the hereafter. On the Day of Judgment, God will question each soul on its actions, and how it spent time on earth. On that day, each person will solely be concerned about the magnitude of his or her deeds.
The importance of self-development cannot be overemphasized in Islam although it may seem like a selfish endeavor on the surface. However, such “selfishness” may actually be considered a virtue rather than a vice. When one is constantly struggling for self-improvement, he or she becomes more willing to help others and disperse the good that he or she has gained to society at large.
As a result, one person’s efforts contribute towards collective development. Such commitment is not possible in the individual who is self-absorbed for the sake of self-gratification. Therefore, “selfishness” for the purpose of self-improvement and the greater good is the first step to selflessness.
Indeed, the essence of all good deeds stems from a pure and tranquil soul.
Moderation is a separator between excessiveness and remissness, between extremism and extravagance, and between normality and abnormality.
By Editorial Staff
What Is Moderation?
As we discuss the concept of moderation and its implications in Islam, it is essential to examine the places where the concept of moderation or any of it uses is highlighted in the religious texts. The importance of this review stems from the fact that the religious texts stand for the source of rulings and concepts shaping the Islamic view of principles and codes of ethics. But, before going on it is worthy to mention that moderation means to adopt a middle way between both extremes, in all the various walks of life. Moderation is a separator between excessiveness and remissness, between extremism and extravagance, and between normality and abnormality. Islam stresses moderation and equity in everything; in relationships, acts of worship, customs, transactions, social life and human desires.
Direct References to Moderation in the Qur’an
Moderation has been reiterated in the Qur’an whether explicitly or implicitly, but in all its uses it confirms equitable and balanced situation in beliefs, conduct and even worship. It covered the man’s relationship with God, people and universe as a whole. In the following lines, we will review the Qur’anic use of the term moderation which is expressed by the term wastiyyah and its derivatives. We will discover how the Qur’an manifested the concept of moderation as being an essential characteristic and element of the Islamic Shari`ah and creed.
First: Almighty Allah says:
Thus We have mad you a wasat (middle) nation… (Al-Baqarah 2:143)
This verse was explained by the Prophet (peace be upon him) himself as narrated by Al-Bukhari from Abu Sa`id Al-Khudri (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet Muhammad said, “Noah will be called on the Day of Resurrection and he will say, ‘Labbaik and Sa`dayk, O my Lord!’ Allah will say, ‘Did you convey the Message?’ Noah will say, ‘Yes.’ His nation will then be asked, ‘Did he convey the Message to you?’ They will say, ‘No Warner came to us.’ Then Allah will say (to Noah), ‘Who will bear witness in your favor?’ He will say, ‘Muhammad and his followers. So they (i.e. Muslims) will testify that he conveyed the Message. And the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves, and that is what is meant by the Statement of Allah:
Thus We have made of you a wasat (middle and just) nation that you may be witnesses over mankind and the Prophet (Muhammad) will be a witness over yourselves. (Al-Baqarah 2:143)
Imam At-Tabari said, “I believe that ‘wasat’ here refers to the center of the thing that lies between its two ends such as the center of the house… I think that Allah gave them this description because of their being of a middle approach in religion; neither they went to extremes like Christians who innovated monasticism and exaggerated in the appreciation of Jesus taking him as a God, nor they show negligence towards their religion as the Jews did when they distorted the Scriptures of God, killed His Prophets, and disbelieved Him. Allah characterized Muslims by moderation and equity because they adopted a moderate way between these extremes of exaggeration and negligence.
Second: Almighty Allah says,
Maintain with care the [obligatory] prayers and [in particular] the middle prayer and stand before Allah , devoutly obedient. (Al-Baqarah 2:238)
The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained this verse in his saying on the battle of the Trench as he said, “They have diverted us from (offering) the middle prayer, the `Asr (Afternoon) prayer. May Allah fill their bellies and their graves with fire, or he said: May Allah stuff their bellies and their graves with fire.” (Muslim)
Third: Allah says,
So its expiation is the feeding of ten needy people from the average of that which you feed your [own] families or clothing them or the freeing of a slave. (Al-Ma’idah 5:89)
The Qur’an asks the person who pays expiation for breaking his oath to offer food to the poor as one choice. However, this food must be an average food that is not too bad or too expensive. It should be a moderate one; an appropriate food.
Fourth: Almighty Allah says,
The most moderate of them said, “Did I not say to you, ‘Why do you not exalt [ Allah ]?’” (Al-Qalam 68:28)
The verse makes mention of the middle one from among the group referring to the one with better reason and opinion or the best or the fairest one from among them.
Indirect References to Moderation in the Qur’an
These verses cited the term moderation explicitly with its uses that do not overstep the linguistic meaning of the origin of the word, namely moderateness. This meaning is approved by the Shari`ah and coincides with other related Qur’anic texts. However, there are many other texts that shed light on the meaning of moderation through other words that refer to this meaning within a Qur’anic approach with clear and established proofs. We will mention some of them as follows:
Almighty Allah says,
Guide us to the straight path. The path of those upon whom You have bestowed favor, not of those who have evoked [Your] anger or of those who are astray. (Al-Fatihah 1:6-7)
The verse states that Allah has described the path with two things: being straight and inconsistent with the path of those who have evoked the anger of God (the Jews) and also the way of Christians who went to extremes in monasticism and worship until they overstep the boundaries of their religion, not only in worship but also in conviction. Thus, since the straight path is contrary to the way of those who committed negligence or extremism, it must be a moderate path. This indicates that the straight path which God has enacted is free from extremism and negligence, which is the core of the Islamic approach of moderation.
The same meaning is also shown clearly in Allah’s saying,
Mankind was [of] one religion [before their deviation]; then Allah sent the prophets as bringers of good tidings and warners and sent down with them the Scripture in truth to judge between the people concerning that in which they differed. And none differed over the Scripture except those who were given it – after the clear proofs came to them – out of jealous animosity among themselves. And Allah guided those who believed to the truth concerning that over which they had differed, by His permission. And Allah guides whom He wills to a straight path. (Al-Baqarah 2:213)
The above mentioned verses prove and lay the grounds of the moderate approach established by the Qur’an.
However, the whole verses and chapters of the Qur’an call to moderation, justice, equity and other related concepts. Almighty Allah says,
Indeed! This Qur’an guides to that which is straightest. (Al-Israa’ 17:9)
The word ‘straightest’ refers to the safety valve of the Muslim nation, the nation of the Qur’an, which protects it from swerving from the straight path. It is the guidance of the Glorious Qur’an with its proper commands and regulations that conflicts not with sound minds and natural inclinations. Rather, the discourse of the Qur’an, in all its issues, goes in line with the soundest views and theories and observes both the material and spiritual sides on equal levels.
On the authority of Abu Hurairah (Allah be pleased with him) who said: the Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and grant him peace) said:
Whoever relieves the grief of a believer in this world, God will relieve his grief in the Hereafter. Whoever relieves the difficulties of a person in debt in this world, God will relieve his difficulties in this world and the Hereafter. Whoever conceals the faults of a believer, God will conceal his faults in this world and the Hereafter. God will aid His servant so long as the servant aids his fellow believers. Whoever follows a path to seek knowledge, God will make the path to Paradise easy for him. When people gather together, in one of the houses of God, to recite the Book of God and study it, tranquility descends upon them, mercy covers them, the angels surround them, and God mentions them to those who are in His presence. Whoever is slowed down by his deeds will not be hastened forward by his lineage. (Muslim)
This is a hadith from among a collection of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, compiled by Imam An-Nawawi. It is a very famous and well-studied collection of forty-two hadiths known as An-Nawawi’s Forty Hadith. Its value lies in the fact that the hadiths in this collection cover fundamental aspects of the religion of Islam. Hadith number thirty-six is often referred to as the hadith of righteousness.
However, while it does list comprehensively a number of qualities one would expect to find in a righteous person, it also deals with virtues, rulings, principles, and manners. There are several lessons embedded in this hadith, and each sentence adds an in-depth feature to one very basic principle; that believers are like family to one another. There are certain obligations that believers have towards each other and this hadith, in a different version, states it very succinctly as, ‘Whoever is fulfilling the needs of his brother, God is fulfilling his needs.’ (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
1. Relieving the grief of a believer
‘Whoever is fulfilling the needs of his brother, God is fulfilling his needs.’
This is a lesson in how to attain the help of God by helping one of His servants. Sometimes when a person feels as if he is swamped with difficulty, God, in answer to his supplication, will send help from an unexpected source. Often this source is in the form of another Muslim. The word grief in this hadith refers to a great difficulty or a hardship. If a believer relieves the grief of another believer, God recognizes that act and will reward the person in the Hereafter by relieving the grief, fear, and distress that he or she feels on the Day of Judgment.
2. Alleviating the difficulties of those in debt
Being indebted to somebody is a terrible feeling. That debt is usually of a financial nature and Prophet Muhammad explains to us that alleviating the debt of somebody, who is having difficulties meeting the terms of his debt is an act that is loved by God, so much so that He says He will alleviate that person’s difficulties in this world and in the Hereafter. Helping those in debt can be achieved in several ways, including giving extra time or canceling the debt completely.
3. Concealing the faults of a believer
The general rule that scholars derive from this section of the hadith is that believers should not reveal the faults of their fellow believers. Nowadays we often see or hear some people taking other’s faults as a type of amusement. They mock and ridicule, revealing perceived minor transgressions that may or may not be true. As Muslims, we should be concerned about our own faults not the faults of others and constantly try to improve ourselves. The one who conceals faults rather than reveals them will have his or her own faults concealed by God in this world and in the Hereafter.
4. God will come to the aid of the one who aids his fellow believer
Coming to the aid of fellow believers is something that Muslims should take very seriously. Prophet Muhammad reminded us many times that we should love for our brother or sister what we would love for ourselves.
If we truly cared about each other, there would be very few needy people in Muslim communities.
5. Seeking knowledge
Seeking beneficial knowledge is a very rewarding act. God might make the path to Paradise easy for those seeking knowledge in several ways. They might be guided to Paradise through knowledge, or God might make it easy for a person to benefit what they learn, thus they will walk a path to Paradise, or make crossing the bridge above the Hellfire easy and thus enter Paradise. There are many people who seek knowledge but find no blessings in the knowledge they gain. Therefore the believer should seek knowledge with good and sincere intentions.
6. The virtue of gathering in the mosque
This lesson informs us about a very rewardable and preferred act; gathering in the mosques to recite, listen and study the Quran or to attend lectures and classes. This can result in very specific rewards. They are imbued with tranquility, resulting in relief from the stress and strife that plague modern-day societies, the mercy of God descends as the angels surround them, and God mentions them to whoever is in His presence.
7. Lineage is of no benefit to the one who lags behind in his good deeds
Behaving well and doing good deeds and actions is the key to rewards leading to Paradise. If the believer is lacking in this area, his lineage, meaning his family name, tribe or ancestry will not be of any benefit regardless of their wealth or status.
This hadith a very comprehensive and contains at least seven important lessons. It outlines the morals and manners that should be embedded in the behavior of every believer. It outlines some of the obligations we have towards each other and emphasizes that Islam expects us to treat one another as if we were close family members. Whatever we can do to alleviate the difficulties of another person we should do, with the pure intention to please God.
There is a bridge that will be established over Hell extending to Paradise that everyone has to cross. Some will not make it and fall into the Hellfire whilst others will successfully cross it.
A man has been arrested after antisemitic abuse was directed towards a Jewish family on the London Underground.
The suspect, whose name and age has not been released by police, was held in Birmingham on Saturday night on suspicion of committing a racially aggravated public order offence and he remains in custody.
His arrest came after a man was filmed reading anti-Jewish Bible passages to two young boys in skullcaps while they were travelling with their family on the Northern Line.
Wearing a cap and hoody, the man is seen in the video threatening a man off-camera after he tries to intervene before a woman in a hijab – Asma Shuweikh – confronts him.
The mother-of-two, from London, told the PA news agency she “wouldn’t hesitate to do it again”
“I would have loved more people to come up and say something, because if everyone did, I do not think it would have escalated in the way that it did,” she said.
She said when she saw what was happening she knew she “had to confront him”.
“Being a mother-of-two, I know what it’s like to be in that situation and I would want someone to help if I was in that situation,” she said.
She said the couple was travelling with three children, and she wanted to deflect the man’s attention away from them.
She said: “He was quite aggressive and was getting in my face.”
Fellow commuter Chris Atkins took the video after catching the Tube heading south on the Charing Cross branch of the line at midday on Friday.
“The Muslim woman didn’t take any shit from him and really, really took him to task, very firmly and persistently,” Mr Atkins said.
“In this day and age we are told how intolerant everyone is and all religions hate each other and there you had a Muslim woman sticking up for some Jewish children.”
Twitter users hailed Shuweikh a “hero”.
Reported by the Press Association, Shuweikh said she got off the Underground after two stops and did not realise the video was going viral until a friend texted her to say she had seen her on Twitter.
She created a Twitter account so she could see the reaction.
“It was so heartwarming to see the responses and see what people were saying. I can’t take all the credit because a lot of other people were involved.
I would not hesitate to do it again.”
Press Association/ Independent
By Maria Zain
Women and the Society
A woman in today’s society is not free from scrutiny about how she meant to dress, behave, or appear in public. The public eye falls on every woman who strolls within its purview and its perception is often one that is rigid and judgmental. Physical beauty essentially becomes the talk of the season, every season, as the definition of physical beauty changes like the clouds.
One season, beautiful women are those who are skinny with a certain haircut – maybe one that is straight – so the trend follows: women of all ages begin to “diet” into the prescribed form of beauty and cough up their savings for rebonding hair treatments.The next season’s color of beauty is sandy dust and pointed shoes to elongate the legs. The trend then forces women to adhere to the “norm” by scouring beauty stores for sandy dust hair dye and shoe stores for pointy shoes.
Islam prescribes hijab for Muslim women to protect themselves from this shallow definition of perfection.
Islam and Material Perfection
Physical beauty is a never-ending debate. Face lifts, new diets, clothes, and more clothes and cosmetics represent lucrative industries where the perception of beauty changes and alters and is ultimately forced upon women who fall prey to this form of material perfection. Islam has other ideas, though. It prescribes hijab for Muslim women to protect themselves from this shallow definition of perfection. With the use of this Muslim dress code, women are no longer required to follow trends of the season.
Women are allowed in their homes and to their spouses to make their eyes look bigger, put on make-up and they are even “allowed” to be a little overweight. Physical beauty in Islam is guarded through the sanctity of marriage where spouses are described as being “garments” for each other.
The perfect woman is therefore defined differently in Islam. Though a woman may still be physically attractive to her husband, her public image is a different one, where her inner beauty plays a far more prominent role in her appearance and behavior.
The Women of Perfection
The four perfect women recognized by Islam are well known by Muslims. They are: the Virgin Mary, the mother of Prophet Jesus, Asya, the wife of Pharaoh, Lady Khadijah, the Prophet’s first wife, and Lady Fatimah, the youngest daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
Fatimah the daughter of Prophet Muhammad, in particular, was a young girl during the time Islam was introduced. So from her youth – as a daughter, later a wife and a mother – the perfection of a Muslim as defined by Islam surfaces through Lady Fatimah.
Lady Fatimah is described to be one of the great women in Islam. She played an important role in her father’s mission, thus is recognized as the perfect role model for women. The below verse describes the sanctity of the Prophet’s household, including Lady Fatima.
[And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former times of ignorance; and establish regular Prayer, and give regular Charity; and obey Allah and His Messenger. And Allah only wishes to remove all abomination from you, ye members of the Family, and to make you pure and spotless.] (Al-Azhab 33:33)
In many reports, she was barely five when Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation at Mount Hira’. As a child, she had witnessed gross calamities inflicted upon her parents and even at times she fell victim to the taunts of the Quraish. Unlike some children today who have to deal with playground bullying or peer pressure, Lady Fatima endured physical, mental and spiritual pain as she watched her father being humiliated by the pagan Arabs as they labeled him as being “mentally insane.”
One story even relays a scene at the Kabah where one of the Prophet’s opponents discarded rubbish on Prophet Muhammad’s head while he was prostrating to God. With a teary eye and a wrenched heart, the young Fatimah cleaned her father as he pacified his favorite daughter by telling her that he could endure personal insults, as long as they were not directed towards Islam. Maybe it was through Lady Fatimah’s endurance throughout her childhood that Prophet Muhammad held her in high regard throughout his lifetime.
A Loving Daughter, Loyal Wife, and Doting Mother
When she was older, and even married, she would nurse her father through to recovery when he was injured during war. It was reported that on occasions where food was scarce, he would visit his daughter first to ensure that she had enough sustenance, before tending to his own needs. Similarly, Lady Fatimah would visit her father if he were in need, without regretting any sacrifices she would make for him.
Also, when Lady Fatima entered a room that was occupied by Prophet Muhammad, he would immediately rise to greet her, kiss her forehead, and offer her his vacated seat. She would return the gesture when their roles were reversed. Her marriage to Ali ibn Abi Talib, the Prophet’s cousin, was a happy one. The wedding is often described as one of the most lavish weddings in Madinah. It was sponsored by her father, as Ali was a poor man.
In fact, Lady Fatimah was the only one of Prophet Muhammad’s daughters who did not marry a rich merchant. Prophet Muhammad encouraged the union, knowing very well that Ali was a pious Muslim and one that would look after his youngest daughter until death parted them. Lady Fatimah braced married life bravely and worked to help her husband to provide for their family. Besides the grueling conditions that she worked in, she was also a mother to two baby boys the older is named Hassan and the younger is Hussein.
She was a loving daughter, loyal wife, and doting mother. She persisted through the hardship that burdened her throughout her life, without even a whimper. How many women today are able to do that without being swayed by the latest fashion statements?
Contemporary culture often talks about the physical appearance of a woman, one that has to be inherently attractive. But Muslims, and Muslim women in particular, learn that inner beauty outweighs beauty on the outside. This has been portrayed by pious Muslim women who observe the Muslim dress code and adhere to good Muslim behavior.
They are those who provide for the needy, relieve the burdens of their husbands, raise their children as believers, love their parents, and strive for personal improvement, whether it is through their careers, interests, or hobbies. Every act of a good Muslim is done for the sake of Allah.
Are Muslim daughters today growing up to be remotely close in demonstrating Lady Fatimah’s demeanor and faith? Fatimah was exposed to violence and oppression at a young age and she blossomed into becoming one of the most pious Muslims in the history of Islam, and is recognized by Allah as one of the perfect Muslim women.
It does not mean that young Muslim daughters today have to be exposed to violence and oppression the way Prophet Muhammad and his family had been to flourish into becoming believing women.
But the overwhelming levels of materialism that is inherent in today’s culture, especially the shallow definition of perfection, dampens hopes that young Muslim women today will prescribe to Lady Fatimah’s formula in striving for perfection.
Perfection that Lasts
There is only one Fatimah, the one and only Lady Fatimah. To Fatimah the Prophet Muhammad said: “Thou art the highest of the women of the people of Paradise, excepting only the Virgin Mary, daughter of Imran,” (Lings, 1983).
It is difficult for women not to be swayed by the idea of contemporary perfection. The media bullies women into thinking that without a certain asset, accessory, or cosmetic case, they will fade into becoming bland individuals for being less attractive and less perfect. Imagine striving for perfection amidst fashion faux-pas and the latest cosmetic discoveries.
Now imagine striving to socialize with Lady Fatimah in Paradise. Imagine mingling with her amongst other believers who withdrew from the pressures of contemporary perfection. The reminder of Lady Fatimah as a perfect Muslim woman is one to lean on, whether a Muslim woman is a daughter, wife or mother. Regardless of personal interests, hobbies, networks, social circles, or career prospects, a woman’s duty – like that of a Muslim man’s – is towards Allah and his covenants.
The shallow world of materialism has no place in the hearts of believing Muslim women.
Source: muslimsincalgary.ca with some modifications
About the author:
Originally from Malaysia, Maria Zain was a freelance writer based in Nottingham, United Kindgom. Maria was also a certified Childbirth Educator (AMANI Birth Institute), and a home-educating Muslim mother of six. She passed away on 28 December 2014. May Allah have mercy on her!