Friday, July 20, 2012

Ramadan Challenge Day 1: Hazrat Maryam AS

As I grow older, my anxiety in how I would want my nephews and sons, and nieces and daughters to grow up has increased considerably. I feel sandwiched between the hypocrisies of our society in general and how media tends to portray women largely. In (local, international and to a great degree digital) media I either see us Muslim women as commercialised physical objects or reduced to create a form of Islamophobia which begins and ends with how reduced a woman’s status is in Islam.

It became more and more important for me to defy the "common-sense" statements about women in our every day lives impacted in my opinion directly by all factors of society and including media in this globalised society.

This Ramadan I have taken up the challenge of writing 30 posts on Muslim women for the 30 days of Ramadan and for me personally, I thought there would be no one better than Maryam (RA) to begin the month with. 

Born to Hazrat Emran and Hannah, and mother of Prophet Essa (Jesus) the story of Hazrat Maryam, as dictated in the chapter called "Maryam" in the Holy Quran, reminds me of:
  1. The power of dua
  2. The strength in piety
  3. The gift of a daughter and a woman

The power of dua
During Ramadan we all increase our efforts in dua and ibadah. Maryam’s story can be a reminder of the power in dua. It was her mother's dua that was granted by God and Maryam grew up to become the mother of a Prophet (purely by the miracle of Allah without any physical intervention). The birth of Prophet Essa (or Jesus) was a further miracle when he spoke in defence of his mother's piety in his cradle.

Hazrat Maryam`s ALAYHAS SALAAM (PEACE BE UPON HER)was the daughter of Hazrat Emraan and Hazrat Hannah.  In her old age, Hazrat Hannah ALAYHAS SALAAM (PEACE BE UPON HER) was expecting a child and expecting to have a son, made an oath that the child would be a servant of Allah, free from all wordly affairs. Allah, in his wisdom, blessed her with a daughter instead. 
The Holy Qur'an says: 

Behold! When the wife of Imraan said: "O my Lord! I do dedicate unto Thee what is in my womb for Thy service.  So accept this of me; for thou Hearest and Knowest all things."  When she delivered, she said: "O my Lord! Behold! I am delivered of a female child!"

(Surah Ale-Emraan:35-36)

However, Allah did accept Hannah's dua and not only granted her a daughter that was pious but who also grew up to be the mother of a Prophet. She was accepted for the service of Almighty Allah as an example and memory for all generations to come. It will be her son Essa ibn Maryam who will return as Messiah before the day of Judgement. How much better can a mother's (Hannah's) dua?   

The strength in piety
The second aspect of Hazrat Maryam's story is the strength of her character and piety. Hazrat Maryam ALAYHAS SALAAM (PEACE BE UPON HER)grew up under Allah's most special protection.  Allah sustained her, and her upbringing was an absolutely pure one. The Holy Qur'an, shares this childhood miracle of Hazrat Maryam ALAYHAS SALAAM (PEACE BE UPON HER)

"Right graciously did her Lord accept her, He made her grow in purity and beauty, to the care of Zakariyya (Alayhis-Salaam) was she assigned, every time he (Zakariyya) entered (her) chamber to see her, he found her supplied with sustenance.  He said: "O Maryam! Whence (comes) this to you?" She said: "From Allah.  For Allah provides sustenance to whom He pleases without measure."

(Surah Ale-Emraan:37)

It shows to me what a woman, unaccompanied by a husband, can still achieve (if God wills) based on the strength of her faith in God. It shows to me how your children and loved ones can be protected from all evils in society if your prayers are with them and if their faith is rightly placed.  

Note: Hazrat Zakariyya Peace Be Upon Him was appointed to look after Hazrat Maryam ALAYHAS SALAAM (PEACE BE UPON HER)when she was in the service of Allah. 

The gift of a daughter and a woman

Everyone loves their children but there is an underlying feeling, perhaps even unsaid belief, that sons carry the name of their fathers and hence continue the lineage. As against Islam as that can be - there is a level of pride still prevalent amongst many Muslims associated with a son's birth over a daughter's. 

The Holy Prophet (May Peace Be Upon Him) said that whosoever brings up three daughters with complete sincerety, feeding them and providing them their rights until they grow up, will enter Paradise. A companion of the Prophet asked him regarding those that have two daughters, and the Prophet Muhammad replied "him too." 

Scholars say that if someone had asked him about raising one daughter with sincerety, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) would have said the same for such a parent. Given that context and seeing how an entire chapter of the Qur'an is dedicated to a single woman and her story, is a source of great comfort and strength to me that in prayer, sincerety, piety and faith in Allah lies the strength of a woman who can then achieve miracles and statuses higher than imaginable.   


It became important for me to research on Muslim women in the past and present, to re-focus on how and for what purpose we have been created, why we should be extremely proud of who we are, to gain the enlightenment to bring up our sons to honour women and grant them their rightful status, and the strength to bring up our daughters as strong, proud, and well-guided women. 

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