Author Archives: Fatima

Role of women in preserving Islamic knowledge

A very good article on women scholars of hadith. Further giving weight to the argument that women have the right to be fully participating members of society – not to encourage isolation. Not to be holed up in the 4 walls of her home only to resurface for necessary needs.

During the lifetime of the Prophet (peace be upon him) women were transmitters of prophetic traditions (hadith) and after the death of the Prophet (peace be upon him), many female Companions, particularly the wives of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were viewed as vital custodians of the huge treasure chest of knowledge that they had obtained during their time with the Prophet (peace be upon him). They readily dispensed this rich knowledge when approached for instruction by other Companions. The names of Hafsah, Umm Habeebah, Umm Salama and A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with them) are very familiar to every student of hadith. In fact A’ishah is regarded as one of the most important figures in the whole of hadith literature as both one of the earliest reporters of the largest number of hadiths and also one of their most careful interpreters.
Women also held important positions as scholars of hadith during the time of the Righteous Caliphate. A few traditionists (muhadiths – scholars of hadith) during this time include Hafsah, the daughter of Ibn Seereen, Um ad-Darda and Amrah bint Abdir-Rahman. Iyas ibn Mu’awiyah an important scholar of hadith of the time and a judge, considered Umm Darda to be superior to all other scholars of hadith of the period including famous scholars such as al-Hasan al-Basri and Ibn Seerin. Furthermore, Amrah was considered the greatest authority of traditions related by A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her). The Caliph Umar bin Abdul Aziz once ordered Abu Bakr ibn Hazm, a judge in Madinah (and also her fellow student) to write down all the hadiths known to her.
This transmission and preservation of hadith continued with devout women coming from diverse backgrounds to excel and rise through the ranks of Islamic scholarship. For example, Abidah al-Madaniyah started life as a slave and learned a large number of hadiths. She later married Habeeb Dahhoon, a great muhadith (traditionist) of Spain who took her back to Andalusia. There she related over ten thousand hadiths of the Prophet (peace be upon him) on the authority of her teachers from Madinah.
Zaynab bint Sulayman on the other hand was born into a royal household and had obtained a fine education gaining a mastery of hadith sciences. She enjoyed a reputation as one of the most distinguished muhadithats (woman scholars of hadith) of her time and even counted many important male muhaditheen among her pupils.
To read the full article the link is available here
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BBC: Great British Islam

Great British Islam ~(BBC)  looked at the lives of 3 Englishmen from the Victorian era who converted to Islam. These men were Quilliam, Pickthall and Headley. All 3 of these men were from privileged backgrounds, raised as Christians and were shown to be as much a part of their Victorian society as their fellow peers.

The programme focused on the lives of these three men, and went into some detail about their backgrounds, the circumstances of their conversion and life after embracing Islam.

All three men in their adulthood visited or lived in Muslim-dominant countries (Turkey, India, Egypt, Morocco) and converted shortly thereafter. Following their conversions, they were particularly displeased with Victorian Britains foreign policy and the demonisation of Islam and Muslims in their society – particularly Quilliam who had an open allegiance to the Ottoman caliphate (receiving the title of Shaykh-ul-Islam of the British Isles as a result of this).

In an attempt to dispell the stereotypes and myths of Islam, Quilliam began a publishing press and produced the monthly newsletter “The Crescent” which was widely distributed. It contained details of visits to the Islamic Centre (Liverpool) of notable personalities including representative of the Ottoman caliphate and academics speaking on scientific matters and research at the Liverpool Muslim Institute. He and his peers however were still at heads with larger Victorian society.

Pickthall’s greatest achievement was in translating the Quran from Arabic into English and was the first translation of its kind. He too had, like Quilliam, greivances with Britains foreign policy. Pickthall and Quilliam became acquaintances in Woking and frequented the Shah Jahan Mosque.

What is striking about these individuals and the Muslims of today is the disagreement with Britain foreign policy, a matter which people believe to be a contemporary issue and one that is largely voiced by Muslims of minority ethnic backgrounds. This it seems is an old greivance, and one that shows no signs of disippating anytime soon.

This short programme is available on BBC iplayer and most probably Youtube.

Swiss Minaret Ban Advocate – Converted to Islam

Quite recently there was some furore being made in Switzerland and beyond regarding the banning of minarets on mosques across the country. Much was made and discussed of the decision made by the so-called neutral state, who has a small minority of Muslims residing in its land.

A while ago, there has been news of the main advocate for the minaret ban, Daniel Streich – member of the Swiss People’s Party has converted to Islam. Supposedly Daniel had converted 2 years ago but this news remained secret until recently. The only coverage of this has been in the Nation and Jewish blog.

Pondering on this, I wonder about the issues this throws up in the air. Whilst being Muslim he was campaigning for a ban on minarets. Perhaps he had introduced this campaign prior to becoming Muslim, and in its duration changed his views.  Or maybe he subscribed to the strict Salafi understanding and wanted the minarets banned in accordance of forbidding “evil innovation -bidah”

Maybe the whole story is a hoax! More to come….

C4’s Indian Winter: Slumming It (Part 1)

As part of Channel 4s Indian Winter, Slumming it which aired last night showed Grand Designs Kevin McCloud spend time in ….the Dharavi slums (which is now in the public knowledge as a result of it being catapulted to fame in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire – the kind of expsoure no amount of news articles and research could’ve mustered up), which is viewed as an inspirational model of community cohesion and sustainable living.

Owing to the typical Western mindset, Kevin is appalled at the lack of sanitation and the banal living arrangements, with children playing amongst “toxic waste”, the waterpipe lines sitting in sewage and diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dyptheria being rife.

He talks alot about the squalor of the slums, and at one point he says to the family he is living with that “in my country cooking on the floor is considered unsanitary”. I am sure this taught Kevin a little about societal norms and ways of living…what he considered to be misery and squalor, inhabitants viewed it as “normal” because they had known only the living standards in which they were in – they had no choice.

Throughout the show, despite references to rats and lack of running water or a flushing loo – he seems genuinely enamoured with how Dharavi functions; they have their own businesses which make billions in revenue a year, unemployment is very low and so is crime.

On the other hand, poor working and living conditions and child labour were realities which were hard to escape from.

One thing which summed up the East/West civilisations dichotomy was when Kevin, in a moment of inspiration said: “We in the West measure beauty in terms of environment ” we have a nice car, a lovely garden” and here it is about human beings.  Beauty is in how they dress. Look at them, they are very smartly dressed and take pride in their appearance. They are the most beautiful people in the world”.  He noted that even amongst the “misery” of their dwellings they were happy, had a cohesive family unit and a sense of belonging. All of the things Western societies, and increasingly developing nations are beginning to lose as they ebb their way into the modern way of living.

Part 2 of Slumming It aired tonight, will pen thoughts on it tomorrow.

Book: Mother Of The Believers by Kamran Pasha

 

Not so long ago, I came across a review on the book Mother of the Believers by Kamran Pasha. Initially I thought it would be typical of a myriad of books available which do little but villify, degrade and mock Islam and the wives of the Prophet (saw), such as Jewel of Medina.

It was therefore a pleasant surprise to come across a book which not only read as a novel from a first person narrative, who’s protagonist is Aisha (ra) herself , but also through this medium attempts to bring life and a voice to the popular wife of Muhammed (saw)

An excerpt from the opening chapter:

PROLOGUE – THE BEGINNING OF THE END

In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

What is faith?

It is a question I have asked myself over the years, dear nephew, and I am no closer to the answer now then I was when my hair was still crimson like the rising dawn, not the pale silver of moonlight as it is today.

I write this for you, because I know I am dying. I do not complain, for there are times I wished I had died many years ago, or better yet, never have been born. My heart looks at the trees, whose life consists of no more than dreams of the sun and memories of the rain, and I envy them. There are times when I wish I were one of the rocks that line the hills beyond Medina, ignored and forgotten by those who tread upon them.

You will protest, I am sure. How could I, Aisha the daughter of Abu Bakr, the most famed woman of her time, wish to trade in my glorious memories for the sleep of the deaf and the dumb of the earth? That is the tricky thing with memories, dear Abdallah, son of my sister. They are like the wind. They come when they wish, and carry with them both the hope of life and the danger of death. We cannot master them. Nay, they are our masters, and rejoice in their capriciousness, carrying our hearts with them wherever they wish.

And now they have taken me, against my will, to this moment, where I sit in my tiny bedroom made of mud brick, only a few feet away from the grave of my beloved, writing this tale. There is much I do not want to recall, but my memories cry out to be recorded, so that they can live in the memories of others when I am gone. …..(To read the rest: source)

Safiyyah writes an insightful and eloquent review of the book at Muslimah Media Watch, where Kamran Pasha himself kindly addressed some of the questions posed by commentators about the themes and concepts.

I ordered the book a few weeks ago and have begun thumbing through it. I shall also post my thoughts on it when I finish reading.

h/t to Achelois for making me aware of the book in the first place!