I felt her anguish, pain and confusion.
I couldn’t tell her off for uttering those words. Neither could I bring myself to present her with those old images that attempt to exemplify the status of women in Islam.
As a Muslim woman she felt that she was under the spotlight, all the time. Whatever she says and does is under scrutiny. Whatever she doesn’t say and doesn’t do is also under scrutiny. She felt like a damned creature by her fellow human beings.
In her attempts to practice Islamic teachings her shortcomings were pointed out first or her strict adherence criticised instead of being encouraged and advised in a gentle manner. In her attempts to fulfil her roles as a daughter, sister, wife or mother, she is told that she could’ve done better rather than being told what she was doing well. In her attempts to be part of society and greater community she was seen as oppressed and someone who needs liberation rather than being appreciated for her actions and willingness to participate. She was expected to be fluid enough and transparent enough to fit into any situation without disturbing the status quo.
Among this confusion she ended up becoming so fluid and transparent that she no longer had a sense of who she was. She had become invisible but in reality that was not what she wanted. She wanted to be acknowledged for the human being she is. To feel that she is loved and accepted with all her flaws because in her heart she knows that no one can attain perfection.
My dear sister, know that you are loved and honoured by your creator Allah. He has made you in the best of forms and he has placed you on this earth for you have a great purpose. A purpose that is great because it will give you satisfaction and closeness to your Lord. Seek not the approval of others because you are right in that no one can attain perfection. Instead, seek the Perfect, the Wise and All Merciful Allah.
Know that what he has given you of talents, skills and abilities are for you to draw nearer to him. Know that when you shine bright in service through him you are acknowledging and being grateful for what he’s given you. Know that when you listen to the lessons your ‘shortcomings’ and past drawbacks are teaching you you’ll be able to hear lessons you’ll use on the journey ahead.
My Madrassa Years
I was passing by her classroom and heard her telling the students off. Like really telling them off for not revising, for not doing their homework. Telling them off for not appreciating the value of their religion and faith. For not having that pride that would make one strive and put in the effort.
I do not know the trigger for all of this but I have an inkling for how it managed to progress to projecting the future of the Ummah. In her words and the deep emotions they carried I heard myself. Once upon a time I was also a teacher of young people and teens. I had felt so much frustration in their indifference. In their attitude that came across as if they were doing me and their parents a favour by attending the school on the weekends. I on the other hand felt like it was their duty to attend. How else will they learn their deen?!
After what feels like a million years and many tough lessons I believe the frustration was coming from within me because of me.
We were sat at her place and she was telling me about a woman she knew whose husband had passed away. The issue wasn’t the ‘widow’ status. The issue was that this woman knew nothing about her husband’s business affairs. Absolutely nothing.
Not long after the death of the husband, it happened that his uncle relocated to the same city and took over the running of his nephew’s business. Now, we won’t turn this into a drama and imagine how the uncle may have embezzled or changed everything into his ownership! I have no idea what happened next.
When my friend was telling me this story (no names were mentioned!), she was trying to make a point. The wife needs to know her husband’s business, what he does, how he runs things , what he owes and what he is owed. Otherwise, it won’t be only the calamity of losing her husband but also the calamity of losing hers and her children’s livelihood.
Aims and goals are curious things. They tell us that we want to do more and/or do better. A sort of sign that is pointing to our search for increase or betterment. I wonder, are these pursuits seeking to fill an empty space or adorn what is already wholesome?
I made it to the school just in time. The session’s facilitator and the second speaker were already in the classroom waiting for the students to be brought in by their teacher. The second speaker was Rosemary; dressed in trousers and shirt in shades of red. She’s probably in her late sixties with features that presented a sweet and friendly type of person.
I came to revisit the topic of ‘waliul Allah’, translated to a close friend or ally of Allah, and thought it would be nice to have company… Welcome.
Allah tells us about his close friends or allies in verses 62-63 of surah Yunus:
Indeed, the allies of Allah there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve. Those who believed and were conscious of Allah
Usually, the discussion quickly moves on to who isn’t a wali. It begins with explaining that ‘saint’ isn’t a suitable translation of ‘wali’ because it carries connotations inappropriate to the Islamic context. These include holiness, guarantee of heaven for the wali and their performance of miracles. The discussion rightly continues on to warn against those who “perform miracles” to take advantage of others who are spiritually, mentally and/or emotionally vulnerable.
How about considering this topic of walihood from a different angle? Grasp the matter from a different side and check how it feels.
I am building a glossary to explain terms that you come across here at Muslimah etc. and may be unfamiliar with. If you can’t find a word here, please let me know in the comments section.
Note that I am spelling the words by way of transliteration. So, try and read the word out loud and you may find that you’ve come across it before, it just looks different.
Many thanks & happy reading!