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Inspirational women in Islam

Inspirational women in Islam

The topic of inspirational women in Islam undoubtedly begins with our beloved mother and remarkable figure of Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her). All the blessings we have from the message of the Prophet (peace be upon him) owe half their share to her, as she was his support. Her love and trust in him, provided the foundation for the Prophet (peace be upon him) to deliver his message. She backed him financially and emotionally. To me, she is probably the most inspiring woman. He biography is filled with her love and care – her character are an inspiration.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to go back to her in difficult times. We know that when he received the very first revelation, he was shaking and rushed back to Khadija, who embraced him, supported him, and strengthened him through her trust in him. We know the rest of the story – she took him to Waraqah bin Nawfal, her cousin and his journey began.

Khadija was a very successful businesswoman. Indeed the Prophet (peace be upon him) was employed by her, so she was his boss! He was under her guardianship. So she was his boss in two ways – the head of her business as well as the boss of the house.

When you read Islamic history and literature, you cannot deny the contribution of  ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) to our knowledge. She preserved his legacy as the most educated wife. She kept the knowledge of the divine message in her chest. She was such an authority that she was the one to whom the companions referred after the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away, for the details about many of his narrations. She was the source of the Sunnah in Madinah. Imam al-Zarkashi, in his book ‘Al Ijaba’ fi massadrakatuh ‘Aisha ala-sahaba enumerated the countless occasions that ‘Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) would correct the companions, inlcuding Umar (may Allah be pleased with him), and other important figures. She would explain “No, this wasn’t the case. The case was ‘1, 2, 3.’ You missed number 3.” Or, “You missed number 1,” or something along these lines.

In the domain of knowledge, physics, maths, and so on, in every single field, we had very advanced female scholars in our history. Just as an example, Karima Al Marwaziyya, was one of the most renowned scholars of hadith. Her copy of Bukhari is considered the most authentic verified copy. She was the top in her field. Many of our sisters are top in their fields today, but we need to increase this more insha’Allah, in different ways.

Fatima al Fihriya established Al Qarawiyyin, the first university and is another inspirational lady. I usually hate to distinguish between female scholars and male scholars, because Allah Almighty addressed the believers in the Quran as “Oh you who believe.” He did not call them separately, because both are equal in the sight of Allah Almighty. Of course we have some specific talents which Allah Almighty has given females more than males, and vice versa. They both complement each other.

It is our duty to bring back the inspirational practices, not just stories. Rather than just talking about history, we have many inspirational stories around us today. We need to bring their achievements to the forefront and showcase them. These traditional, practical and inspirational stories from our history connect us to our traditions and show us that Islam is based on knowledge since day one. When the first verse was revealed, it was ‘Iqra’. And ‘Iqra’ it’s an indication of knowledge. And the first ayah Allah Almighty revealed was “Recite”, or “Read”, which is the access to knowledge. Any success story has to be based on knowledge. So we ask Allah Almighty to bring back these knowledgeable scholars to our community, from among our men and women. Ameen.

Based on the talk given by Shaykh Haytham Tamim to the MCF on 22nd April 2024

Transcribed by Zayna Sheikh

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Shaykh Haytham Tamim is the founder and main teacher of the Utrujj Foundation. He has provided a leading vision for Islamic learning in the UK, which has influenced the way Islamic knowledge is disseminated. He has orchestrated the design and delivery of over 200 unique courses since Utrujj started in 2001. His extensive expertise spans over 30 years across the main Islamic jurisprudence schools of thought. He has studied with some of the foremost scholars in their expertise; he holds some of the highest Ijazahs (certificates) in Quran, Hadith (the Prophetic traditions) and Fiqh (Islamic rulings). His own gift for teaching was evident when he gave his first sermon to a large audience at the age of 17 and went on to serve as a senior lecturer of Islamic transactions and comparative jurisprudence at the Islamic University of Beirut (Shariah College). He has continued to teach; travelling around the UK, Europe and wider afield, and won the 2015 BISCA award (British Imams & Scholars Contributions & Achievements Awards) for Outstanding Contribution to Education and Teaching.