Mar 9, 2011

The Laundry List

By Maryam Abd al Ghafur

I was asked to research what it takes to become a Shaykha. The person asking, wa Allahu Alim, was probably not asking for a laundry list of books and subjects to study. But in the course of my inquiry, I found some things that may not be what immediately comes to mind.

Did you know, the one who taught our Shaykha Umm Abdillah (may Allah preserve her and bless her) Qur'aan was initially not willing to teach her? This woman, who had never married, asked somewhat scornfully, why should she teach Umm Abdillah? After all, Umm Abdillah was young at the time, and unmarried. It was reasonable to assume that she would in fact marry, and then the knowledge would go to waste.

I was stunned by this opinion. Marriage is not obligatory; for the one who has no desire for it or who is unable to fulfill its responsibilities, not marrying is better: marriage is a conditional Sunnah. But to refuse or to be reluctant to teach a woman because she would probably marry and may have children, struck me as being as unjust and unreasonable as refusing to hire a woman who might marry and become a mother and have other demands upon her time.

It occurred to me that this teacher despite being hafiza of Qur'aan, lacked understanding of what she studied, and lacked understanding of the human condition. If formal studies are interrupted, there are the daily lessons of life to provide tests. Not tests of tajweed, rather, tests of 'eeman, of akhlaq and implementing the noble words that are in the blessed and noble Book of Allah subhana wa ta'alaa. And the daily application of what has been learned, of the tafseer explaining these matters, of the ahadeeth that teach the slave precisely how to obey and please the Master of all that exists.These are things that engrave the words upon the heart, and enable the slave to have the Qur'aan as a witness for her, rather than bearing witness against her.

It is related that the Sahabah, radhi Allaahu anhum, would memorize ten ayaat at a time and would not proceed beyond that point until they had implemented what was in those ayaat into their lives. While there is no denying the great importance of studying the 'Arabiya and learning to recite with the proper tajweed, to commit the words to memory without letting them enter the heart does not as much benefit as putting into practice the lessons and laws that are contained in Allaah's Kitaab.

I know of a woman who has committed at least one juz to her memory. Yet she views her children as impediments to her getting what she wants out of life and goes from marriage to marriage without completing her 'iddah. But she has the words in her mind!

I know of another woman who studies quite diligently. Yet she blames Caucasians for the hatred and enmity that exists between differing groups of Africans and Asians. Forgetting and not understanding that Allah did not neglect to tell us who our enemy is. That enemy is one who cannot be seen, although the enemy can and does influence the actions and thoughts of all whom Allah permits.

The list goes on, but you see my point: Umm Abdillah was discouraged by one who had memorized Qur'aan and more, because she would have children and husband with demands and rights upon her time. However, wa lillaahi al Hamd, Umm Abdillah did not waste her precious time, and she studied, and taught others, her children first and foremost. And this is something that women can do, be they married or unmarried, fertile or barren. Women are able to study, not in huge droughts of knowledge by sitting with a book from Fajr until 'Isha, rising only for the salawat, but in smaller swallows. And then, because to teach forces one to understand what is being taught, the lessons are better digested, and passed on to the child at the breast or the younger sister at the masjid. Eventually, as children grow,they no longer require close attention. For the one who is able to stay at home, housework is never ending, but daily scrubbing and scouring is not needed, "only" picking up. We no longer wash clothing by hand, slapping the wet fabric against stones, carrying them to and from the river. Even at the Laundromat, there is the time when the machine is doing all of the work, and the book can come out, the lesson can be listened to on MP3 player or CD.

The laundry list of books is easily acquired, as well as the list of subjects to study. What cannot be taught, however, is taking the time to read about mercy, and then being merciful to the neighbor, the homeless man on the street, the birds whose food is mixed with cigarette butts. Loving Rasul Allah, sall'Allahu alayhe wa salaam, is not just saying, "In Bukharee, Abu Hurairah, radhi Allaah anhu, narrated and it is hasan, it is sahih". It is smiling at your sister, giving of what you have to one who does not have, or, at least pointing her in the direction whereby she may, inshaa Allah, obtain it for herself.

May Allah help me and you, to remember His Words, and to act by them. We cannot afford for His Book to bear witness against us.

Salaamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullaahi.

I'd love to hear your views on this article. Please tell me in the comments section below :)


Masha Allah. Powerful words. It's not easy to strike a chord with writing, but this writer has done it. :)

MashaaAllah TabarakAllah.
FatabarakAllah hu ahsanul khaliqin....Jazak Allah Hu Khairan for this excellent reminder.

I love this, masha'Allah! These days, we have sisters seeking knowledge, but they overlook the implementation. Very important reminder indeed. JazakAllah khayr.

may ALLAH bless the writer as she has explicitly explained what is most times shadowy to many. Jazakallahu khayran. may ALLAH bless you with the best of this world and the akhira.

Assalamualaikum, This is what knowledge is all about... Just living life as it comes is not really life... Without educating women related to deen and worldly matters  V r loosing the best teachers to our children. Our children r like sponges they watch us and learn. What will we teach them without our own knowledge.Isn't that a shame to tell "i dont know go and ask ur teachers in madrasas and schools"?? The Writer has written each and every word what i had in my mind for a long time. Jazakhallahu Khairan. May Allah bless u.

Jazakillah for this beautiful article. Very valid points presented in a wonderful way. Certainly, a little knowledge implemented successfully is much better than a lot of knowledge just stored in the mind for the sake of knowledge.

jazak Allahu khyran, u made a point here and it was about what my mind keeps on thinking about that there are a lot number of ppl with the knowledge of islam, but when it comes to Akhlakiyat, they dont act upon that. May Allah help us, to remember His Words, and to act by them.  We cannot afford for His Book to bear witness against us.Ameen...sum ameen

"Educate a man and you benefit an individual. Educate a woman and you benefit a family"

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