The greatest unsung heroes and advocates for Muslim women are the Muslim mothers who work to preserve and pass down faith, character, self-respect, knowledge and dignity to their daughters (and their sons) and to other Muslim women. Most of these women are unknown except by their families and small circles. Some of them have been scholars, activists and teachers themselves, who Allah used to uphold the honorable status of women in Islam, to preserve and spread the religion of Islam.
Muslim Women have as much right to religious knowledge as they do to secular education. One of the most effective ways to empower our women, strengthen them in their struggle for respect, fair treatment, and in their fight against abuse and injustice, is through the acquisition of religious knowledge. I first learned that, from the example of my mother Umm Luqman (May Allah bless her soul). We have so many smart and capable women in our ummah. When a woman learns and understands herself and her religion, and is able to stand intellectually upon the foundations (usool) of our faith, it increases her potency as an advocate for justice and an opponent of oppression by a thousand. The Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم said: “one knowledgeable person is harder against the shaitaan than a thousand (unlearnt) worshippers“. [Bukhaari].
This has been the case for many women in our history such as Aisha bint Abu Bakr, the wife of the Prophet صلي الله عليه و سلم , and and Umm Hasan bint Abi Lawaa’ the female Andalusian (Spanish) scholar who was a great contributor to Muslim intellectual tradition of Spain. She was a descendant of slaves, and she died in Mecca, and was buried there. And there was Fatima bint Ali,(d. 599 a.h). the Muslim woman scholar of Islam from whom famous scholars of hadith such as al-Mizzee, and al-Damyaati, used to narrate hadith (prophetic tradition). There was Umm al-Fadl bint Muhammad al-Maqdasi, one of the Shaykhs of Jalaaludden as-Suyooti), and there was Asmaa bint Asad who was a scholar of Hadith, and was respected by the people Iraq and the followers of Abu Hanifa, as a keen jurist (faqih) and a narrator of Hadith, and Fatimah bin Abbaas al known as Fatima al-Bagh’daadiyya, who was a student of both ibn Taymiyyah, and Shamsuddeen al-Maqdasi. Women used to come from all over to study under her. Ibn Rajab al-Hanbali said that she was a muj’tahid.
Then there was Zaynab bint Makki, al-Haraani (d. 688 h,). She narrated the entire texts of the Musnad of Imam Ahmad, the Jaami’ of at-Tirmidhi, the Sunan of Abu Dawood, and the Book of Zuhd bu Abdllah al-Mubaarik. The scholar and historian ad-Dhahabi said about her, “she possessed more asaaneed (chains of narration), than any woman left in in this world). Then there was Zaynab bint Yahya, the granddaughter of ibn al-‘Izz ibn ‘Abdussalam she died in (d.735 h.)_, and was the only person at her time to have a continuous chain of al-Mu’ajm as-Saghir المعجم الصغير of at-Tabarani! Imam a-Dhahabi said that on the day she died she still had been listening and checking the recitation of her students of Quran. There was the scholar of hadith, Khaatoon, the granddaughter of Salaahuddeen al-Ayoobi, and in modern times we have Ustadha Zaynab Ansari, and my auntie, Dr. Aminah McCloud the well-known professor at Depaul University. I used to babysit her children when I was in my teens. Also, there is Zaynab bint Muhammad al-Ghazaali, the well-known Egyptian scholar and advocate for women, who died in 2005, as well as the intrepid champion for Kashmiri independence, and literacy for Kasmiri women, Asiya Andrabi. and so many other Muslim women of courage, knowledge and determination to make a change.
There is no need for Muslim women to emulate, be programmed by, or to hold in high esteem, disbelieving women or fowl mouthed rappers or (rapperettes) who invite women to kufr, or to disbelieve in Allah and His Messenger, or who call to lewdness, nastiness, bad language and character, or to unclothe yourselves in the name of liberating you, or who glorify fornication and disobedience to Allah be He Exalted and Glorified. No sisters, you are better than that. You don’t have to take your ideology [aqeedah] from them, or from men-hating, reckless, feminist extremists. If you as Muslim woman, have the desire to be an effective advocate for women, and help improve, and raise their condition of the oppressed, then learning your religion correctly will help empower you, strengthen you, and shield you in more ways that you may not realize.
A sister once asked me about where she can go to learn Islam from a women’s perspective. My advice was to learn Islam as Islam, according to what Allah revealed for mankind because knowledge that benefits a woman will benefit men and humanity also and knowledge which benefits men, will benefit women and humanity also. The goal of Shaitaan is turn men and women (particularly, spouses) into enemies, create discord between them, and to break the family, like he is doing through messaging being pumped into our community. Many of these callers to kufr, are a part of his army. Some knowingly and some unknowingly. The aim of Allah for the believer is to join spouses, keep the family whole, and to guide them to the straight path. My dear sisters of Islam, your role in this is essential, therefore I implore you to be vigilant. Sisters; you have to push back. I stand with you in this. – Imam Luqman Ahmad
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Shaykh Abu Laith Luqman Ahmad, a Philadelphia native, is a writer, a researcher and Imam of the Islamic Society of Folsom, in Northern California. He is a former executive committee member of the North America Imams Federation (NAIF), and the CEO of ‘Mosque Without Borders’, an organization that address Muslim sectarianism in the United States. He is also and the author of the book, “Double Edged Slavery“, a critical and authoritative look at the condition of African American and convert Muslims in the United States, and the book: “The Devil’s Deception of the Modern Day Salafi Sect “, a critical look at the ideological underpinning of modern Salafist extremism. He blogs at imamluqman.wordpress.com, and can be reached at email@example.com.