A study of the history of Islam shows countless examples of women going above and beyond what their circumstances allowed them in order to reach the top. The lessons we can extract from the lives of these women are innumerable. Some common themes and characteristics we find that are relevant to the lives of Muslim women are the following:
1. Have a purpose in life – The mother of Maryam had determined a life plan for a child even before she gave birth. This allowed her to set her goals, values and priorities straight. Furthermore, it showed that she was busy planning for her child’s success and was ready to sacrifice to achieve this.
2. Don’t wait for the perfect circumstances to come about before you take action in life. There will never come a time in your life where the red carpet is laid out for you and all the aspects of your life such as family, health and money are at their peak. The wives of Nuh and Lut were both married to prophets of Allah yet the benefits of having all the right circumstances in their lives did not help them succeed. On the other hand, there was Aasiya, the wife of a tyrant Pharoah, who believed in Allah regardless of the fact that her husband tortured her because of her beliefs. Your circumstances should not dictate your successes or failures.
3. Accept whatever Allah decrees for you – it will allow you to move forward in life. Hajar – the wife of the Prophet Ibrahim- agreed to stay in a barren desert with her infant son simply because Allah commanded it. But, instead of wailing and lamenting over her situation and waiting to die in the desert, she strove to find food and water for her baby. She made the best of the situation she was put in and persevered. We see that she had unshakable faith in Allah, she did not question Ibrahim’s decision to leave her in the desert. She understood that it was the Decree of Allah. Due to this faith, He made a way out for her by providing her with zam zam water. Later, as a result of this provision of water, a tribe came and settled in that area thereby inhabiting it. In Surah Talaq, verses 2-3 Allah says – ‘and whoever fears Allah, He will make a way out for him and will provide for him from sources he never imagined’. Thus, we learn that taqwa is the means for provision and a way out.
4. Have strong trust in Allah. In the story of the mother of Musa, we see pure faith and trust in Allah. She was of the only two women who received revelation from Allah. Fearing for the life of her child, she turned to Allah for a way out. Allah commanded her to throw her child into the river. How would throwing her child in the river protect him? But, her faith did not falter. She had strong and true trust in Allah and so she obeyed. As a result of this trust and reliance, Allah reunited her with her child and protected him.
5. Don’t be afraid to be an early adopter – It’s always easy to do things when it’s the norm and its in style but if you are the first to do something, you will be included in the Sabiqoon – a group of believers that Allah praises in Surah Waqiah – verses 10-13. Khadija, the wife of the Prophet was always remembered and loved by him even after her death. He used to always mention that she was the first to believe in him when everyone else rejected him.
6. Know that Allah will never let your deeds go to waste. It is a promise from Allah. We can see above that as a result of the taqwa, the reliance, the trust, the submission to Allah, He rewarded these women by making ways for them, strengthening their hearts, opening doors for them, and delivering them from their trials. And of course, the eternal rewards of Paradise. So, seek your reward from Allah and never despair. Don’t belittle the “little things” that you do, the little acts of kindness, the hidden acts of good, because Allah sees all that you do and will reward you for it in this life and the next.
We are the legacy of the great women mentioned in the above examples. They embodied these characteristics and achieved eternal success through them. It is now up to us to do the same.