Category Archives: Muslim Women

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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Search for the Truth or Tooth?

The Muslim Sufi channel on Sky called Noor TV run by Pir Alauddin Siddqui from Birmingham features an interesting debate show on Sunday Evening called Search for the Truth. The format of the show consists of an incredibly biased individual who “chairs” the debate, along with a seemingly keen learner who is there to extrapolate convincing arguments from each debatee of which there are two.

The first of the debating panel is a sister of Salafi orientation with the typical characteristics of harshness, being dismissive and zealous. The other is our Sufi sister, probably a die hard Mureed of the Pir saab, with the typical Sufi persona. Together, they debate the most controversial issues ranging from Shirk, grave worshipping to kissing the feet of pious people. We have been watching this show for a while and the conclusion is almost always predictably in favour of the Sufis at the expense of the Salafi sister’s shortcomings and inability to formulate a convincing argument – at least not to her panelist, the channel or the audience mainly beause they are all sufis.

The show almost always typically ends with the Salafi sister left to say, ‘I will go back to my Shaykha and come back on this’ only they never continue with the same topic again, not that she would anyway. The arguments are convincing although surprisingly the notes of the presenter, the keen learner and the debater are all somehow synchorised and often gang up on the Salafi sister.

The last debate was on kissing the feet of the Pious, the sufi sister quoted a Hadith in favour of it which was denied by the Salafi sister as it did not exist in her version of Adab al-Mufrad of Imam Bukhari compiled by her Shaykh Al-Bani. The response which followed from all three Sufi panelists was not based on a discussion on strength of hadith neither the classfication, rather an attack was launched on Al-Bani, accusing him of tempering with the original texts – a debate the Salafi sister could not win. She failed to mention that Al-Bani was a Muhadith well qualified in sciences of Hadith possessing the necessary skills to scruitanise and reclassify hadith, a process of Renewal (tajdid) which is far from corrupting or tempering, but rather is a process of purification and preservation.

Anyway, week in week out they are debating complex issues using references which are literally read out from pieces of paper. There is lots of arguing and every effort is made to show the weakness in Salafi methodology in favour of an Islam which revolves around Shrines, Peers, kissing the hands and feet of the ‘pious’, Khatm, yarween sharif and such. Don’t get me wrong, I am not Salafi or anything but I certainly do not take any of these practices seriously.

As for the show, I think its a complete sham and a setup. If the Salafi sister was sincerely there to propogate the Salafi manhaj, she would do her “research” and present her arguments more convincingly and soundly rather than by ranting “and you should stop doing xyz, seriously-its bida’h” or “Memona can never break this argument, I say we finish the show here!” and expecting them to agree. The sufiesque sister on the other hand regularly goes off topic and begins to link random points to her arguments to make them seem more lofty, tolerant and inclusive, using the “impressionable keen learner” to acquiese with her point much to the chair’s satisfaction who often also sides with her and regularly joins the debate.

Makes for good Sunday night entertainment as long as you are not Salafi!

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!