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Forgotten Heroines: The Housewifes Lament

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Forgotten Heroines: The Housewifes Lament



Money is tight. The kids are demanding. Skin is raw from all the cooking, cleaning and chores that have to be done every day. There’s absolutely no time to spare for anything else, whether it’s pursuing further education or volunteering for a special cause.


Does this sound familiar? There are Muslim women all over the world who find themselves at home, living life as domestic stay-at-home mums and housewives. It’s a physically and emotionally demanding job and it’s also a pretty thankless one. How can spending all day serving others, instead of being involved in some kind of noble, public cause, ever be truly fulfilling and worth recognition – not just by people, but by Allah (Subhaanahu Wata'ala) Himself?


Fatimah bint Muhammad is known to be one of the four most perfect women in the entire world.


“Prophet Muhammad (Salallaahu Alaihi Wasalaam) drew four lines and said to the Companions, “Do you know what these are?” They said, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said, “The best women of the women of Paradise are Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid, Fatimah bint Muhammad, Maryam bint Imran and Aasiyah bint Muzahim (the wife of the Pharaoh).” (Ahmad)


Yet when we look at the biography of Fatimah bint Muhammad (Salallaahu Alaihi Wasalaam), one could say that in comparison to others amongst the early Muslim women, her life was relatively unremarkable. She grew up during a difficult time for her parents, when her father was being publicly mocked and derided for preaching his message; she lost her mother at a relatively young age and she married her cousin Ali ibn Abi Talib when she was about fifteen years old. Some of the most well-known ahadeeth related by her mention how physically demanding her lifestyle was, such that her hands would crack and bleed from the wheat-grinding that she used to do.


What made Fatimah so special? So special, in fact, that she will forever be known as one of the greatest women of Paradise?


Fatimah bint Muhammad is not known for an act of dramatic courage such as that displayed by Nusaybah bint Ka’b during the battle of Uhud, but she too provides an example for a situation that many Muslim women around the world live and continue to face: the everyday drudgery of life as a wife and mother.


Fatimah may have been the most beloved daughter to the Messenger of Allah, who was also the head of the Islamic State and leader of the Muslim army, but that didn’t mean that her life was one of luxury or ease.


Quite to the contrary, Fatimah was the mother of two young boys and ran her household single-handedly. Life was difficult back then, with none of the technologies that smooth our way through tedious tasks today. She used to grind the wheat for her bread with her own hands, to the point that her hands would crack and bleed. Her husband, ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib, was an employee of one of the Ansaar, but the income was meagre and they struggled to survive on a daily basis.


One day, weary and despairing of the toll that their lifestyle was taking on her, Fatimah decided that she would approach her father, RasulAllah (Salallaahu Alaihi Wasalaam). At the time, the Muslims had won a battle and, as a result, had captured several prisoners and other spoils of war. With the reasoning that as a member of the Ummah, she was entitled to some relief, Fatimah went to visit one of RasulAllah’s homes. She did not find her father present, but seeing her stepmother A’ishah, Fatimah shared the story of her bleeding hands and her wish for a maidservant to take on a share of the burdens.


Fatimah went back to her home, and when RasulAllah returned to his own house, A’ishah told him about his daughter’s visit.


That same night, RasulAllah slipped into his daughter’s home, where she and ‘Ali were already lying in bed.


‘Ali narrates, “I wanted to get up, but the Prophet said, ‘Remain in your place.’ Then he sat down between us until I felt the coolness of his face on my chest. The Prophet said,


‘Shall I teach you a thing which is better than what you have asked me? When you go to bed, say, ‘Allahu akbar’ thirty-four times, and ‘subhanAllah’ thirty-three times, and ‘Alhamdulillah’ thirty-three times for that is better for you both than a servant.’” (Bukhari, Book #57, Hadith #55)


After this, Fatimah never repeated her request for a maid ever again.


It may seem to be a small, insignificant thing, but subhanAllah this was one of the reasons for which Fatimah earned her position as one of the queens of Jannah. Her life was spent quietly serving her Lord, through her sincere intentions behind caring for her husband and children. Around her, there were many sahabiyaat whose lives seemed much more exciting, full of adventure and grandeur. Her stepmother, A’ishah, was a great scholar; her great-aunt Safiyyah bint Abdul-Muttalib was fierce in battle and the women of Madinah were renowned for their boldness in approaching any matter.


Nonetheless, for Fatimah bint RasulAllah, the path to Paradise was simple – though never easy. For every stay-at-home-mother and housewife who feels that her life is too consumed by daily drudgery, who worries that her life is too dull to be of consequence, the quiet strength of Fatimah bint RasulAllah is an inspiration and a reminder that no deed, however small or seemingly insignificant, is overlooked by Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Just.


For indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good. (Surah Hud, verse 115)


Jannah is not only for the Prophets, the martyrs, the ascetics, or the scholars; Jannah is attainable by every Muslimah, no matter her occupation or station in life. In the eyes of Allah, every sincere Muslim woman who pledges her life to pleasing her Lord is a heroine of Islam.


Zainab bint Yunus

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Reciting Tasbeeh-e-Faatimi before Retiring to Bed


One should recite Tasbeeh-e-Faatimi before retiring to bed: i.e. 33 times Subhaanallah, 33 times Alhamdulillah, and 34 times Allahu Akbar.


عن علي رضي الله عنه أن فاطمة رضي الله عنها أتت النبي صلى الله عليه وسلم تشكو إليه ما تلقى في يدها من الرحى وبلغها أنه جاءه رقيق فلم تصادفه فذكرت ذلك لعائشة فلما جاء أخبرته عائشة قال فجاءنا وقد أخذنا مضاجعنا فذهبنا نقوم فقال على مكانكما فجاء فقعد بيني وبينها حتى وجدت برد قدميه على بطني فقال ألا أدلكما على خير مما سألتما إذا أخذتما مضاجعكما أو أويتما إلى فراشكما فسبحا ثلاثا وثلاثين واحمدا ثلاثا وثلاثين وكبرا أربعا وثلاثين فهو خير لكما من خادم. و في رواية: قال علي : فما تركته منذ سمعته من رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قيل له : ولا ليلة صفين ؟ قال : ولا ليلة صفين. (البخاري رقم 5361)


Hadhrat Ali (Radhiallahu Anhu) reports that on one occasion Hadhrat Faatimah (Radhiallahu Anha) went to the house of Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) to complain about the difficulty she was experiencing while using the handmill. The news reached her that Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) had received some slaves (so she had thought that she would request Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) for a slave to assist her in her daily chores). However, (upon reaching the home) she did not find Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) present, hence she informed Hadhrat Aaisha (Radhiallahu Anha) of her reason for coming. When Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) reached home, Hadhrat Aaisha (Radhiallahu Anha) informed him regarding the request of Hadhrat Faatima (Radhiallahu Anha). Subsequently, Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) then came to our home at the time we were retiring to bed. (Upon seeing him) we intended to wake up (out of respect for him), but Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) told us to remain as we were. He then came and sat between us until I could feel the coolness of his feet on my stomach (i.e. due to being seated so close to us in between, his mubaarak feet touched the side of my body). He then said: “Should I not show you something better than what you had requested (i.e. better than me giving you a slave to assist you in your daily chores)? Before retiring to bed, then recite Subhaanallah 33 times, Alhamdulillah 33 times and Allahu Akbar 34 times, for certainly this is better for you (in assisting you in your daily chores) than acquiring a slave. (According to another narration) Hadhrat Ali (Radhiallahu Anhu) further said: “I did not leave out this practice from the time I heard it from Rasulullah (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam).” Someone present asked: “Not even on the night of Siffeen (i.e. the night of the battle of Siffeen)?” He replied: “Not even on the night of Siffeen.”   

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