Inspirational People

Muslim Women Throughout Islamic History – Zaynab bint Ali

This month I am going to share a little bit about Zaynab bint Ali. She was the daughter of Fatima and Ali (ra) and the granddaughter of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). She like her brothers was named by the Prophet (pbuh). We often hear about her incredible brothers, Hasan and Hussain but she was just as an incredible woman as them.

She was born in year 5 AH in Medina and was only 6 when her mother, Fatima, died. She took on a maternal role for her siblings and so the three siblings were really close. She was also really close to her father, Ali. So much so that when Ali moved the capital, she along with her husband moved with him. She was there when her father was assassinated and again at the battle of Karbala.

When Hussain marched to Karbala to claim leadership she went with him along with most of the household. This is where Hussain was betrayed and where her brother Ḥussain and 72 of her nephews and other brothers were killed. She, became the leader of the ahl al-bayt, and was integral in protecting and standing against those who wanted to kill the rest of her household. She protected her nephew, Ali ibn Ḥussain, from being executed by the caliph at Kufa. She threw herself over him and gave such a passionate speech that they decided to release all the prisoners at Karbala. This effectively saved the Prophet’s (pbuh) family line.

She returned to Medina and on her way back stopped at Karbala to mourn the deaths of all those who had died there. It is unknown when exactly she passed away but she passed away shortly after returning to Medina.

She is known for standing up against oppression and injustice and protecting the most vulnerable. She was eloquent in her speech and a passionate person. She protected and defended her family and was incredible leader who ensured the safe release of the survivors of the massacre at Karbala. She suffered greatly in her life but she upheld the teachings of the Quran and Sunnah and advocated for justice.

Book Recommendations, Muslim Shelf Space

Book Recommendations for Ramadan

Ramadan is fast approaching and it seems that we will be having a second Ramadan in lockdown. As we can’t go to the masjid and attend halaqahs or iftars, it can seem like we can’t benefit in the same ways as before.

Though we can still build our relationship with Allah on our own, through reading some great Islamic books. So here are some recommendations of books I have read and benefited from.

40 On Justice by Omar Suleiman

A History of Islam in 21 Women by Hossein Kamaly

Lessons from Surah Yusuf by Yasir Qadhi

Allah Loves by Omar Suleiman

Show Up by Naima B Robert

Angels in Your Presence by Omar Suleiman

Reclaim Your Heart by Yasmin Mogahed

Al Muhaddithaat by Akram Nadwi

Lessons from Surah Kahf by Yasir Qadhi

Prayers of the Pious by Omar Suleiman

Love and Happiness by Yasmin Mogahed

There are lots of amazing books that will be of benefit so please do share any recommendations!

Lots of these books are also available on scribd and you can use my link where you will get 2 months free and I will also get a month free.

Musings of a Muslimah, Reflections

International Women’s Day – Islam and Feminism

So it’s international women’s day and this year I thought I would try to share my thoughts on Islam and Feminism and what it means to me. This is an area that I am incredibly passionate about and will often speak up about these things regarding issues both with how Muslim women are perceived in the wider community and the treatment of women within Muslim communities.

Islam and feminism is a topic that ignites many varying opinions and I often find myself having long discussions with people about this. Some Muslims believe there is no space for feminism in Islam and some believe that it is the way forward and there are many opinions that range from one end of the spectrum to the other. This is also affected by what the word feminism means to each person and how they interpret it. Me, personally, I am somewhere in the middle.

For me feminism is fighting for justice for all women and people all over the world. However, to me justice and equality isn’t the same thing. Being equal doesn’t necessarily make things just. So I will advocate for justice for all. This to me is exactly what Islam teaches. Islam teaches that we must treat everyone with justice and any act of oppression is sinful and every person who was treated unjustly will get their justice whether it is in this world or the next. This has always brought me peace to know that Allah is The Just and that He will always make sure that we are all given our justice. So for me feminism and Islam go hand in hand.

I can however see why many have issues with calling themselves a feminist, the media perpetuates a single type of feminism and many of us have encountered people who believe in this type and that we must all adhere to this or we aren’t feminists. This type is white feminism and I truly hate this brand of feminism. It only advocates for certain women who look like them and that we must all believe in these beliefs. I have been told by white feminists that to truly be free I must take off my hijab and my refusal to do so is in fact internalised misogyny. They don’t think that women can have different views on what is empowerment for them. For many this is the only view of feminism they have seen and so are obviously hesitant to call themselves feminists and be linked to this brand of feminism.

Islam has given women so many rights and yet all we see are the narrative that Muslim women are submissive and oppressed. This is the only narrative the media is willing to show everyone and yet when you actually look at Muslim women we are excelling in so many areas. Yes, there are those who want to keep us submissive and do so in the name of our faith but that doesn’t mean it is the reality of so many of us. It is an issue all over the world no matter what culture or religion you come from. Yet Muslim women are often singled out, even though Muslims come from all walks of life and cultures.

When you look at what Islam actually says about women you will see that we are given such a high status in our faith and we have so many rights from owning property, education, working, our money is ours and so much more. We are to be treated with the utmost respect and when you see Muslim women throughout history you will see they were incredible women. They were scholars, warriors, queens, scientists and more. They were feisty and opinionated and fought for what they believed in. They were not these submissive meek women that people today would have us believe.

Over the years I realised that this is a battle on two fronts, one is the wider society and media that will perpetuate a single harmful narrative and the other is that there are people within the Muslim community who want to keep that patriarchal society where women are controlled by the men in their lives as this is what benefits these men. But more and more we are seeing change, we are seeing that there are so many incredible women excel in so many ways. And at the end of the day whether women choose to study, work or decide to stay at home, be a full time mother (les face it this is a whole full time job) it should be these women’s choices. Not something that is enforced upon them.

For me the more I learnt about Islam and women in Islam the more empowered I felt. I knew my rights, I knew what Islam said about women and it helped me to actually build a better relationship with Allah. I learnt about justice in Islam and how everyone will get their justice for any form of oppression that happens to them and that this is why we need to be extra careful in how we treat people (and even animals and plants) because we will be held accountable for our actions. I spent time learning about Islamic history and especially women throughout history and I was left in awe of how incredible these women were.

My journey started with learning about Khadijah (ra) who was the first person to become Muslim and was the wife of the Prophet (pbuh). She has been my role model since I was a teen and she has been the person who has truly shaped who I am today. She taught me so much and in many ways she saved me. Growing up in a culture that treated women as less, despite that Islam advocates for justice and equality in treatment towards men and women. I felt suffocated at times and it made me push away from my culture and faith but after I learnt about her and how she was a successful businesswoman and did so much for her community, known as the Princess of Quraysh and still perfected her faith. For her there was no contradiction in fighting for justice for women and her faith and it made me re-evaluate and go and learn more which lead me down the path I am on today.

I will continue to advocate for justice for women both within our communities and share how incredible Muslim women are through the blog posts I write and more. I will continue to learn and grow and my journey will continue to change me because I know that the person I was 10 years ago isn’t the person I am now.

If you want to learn more about Muslim women throughout history, I share a monthly blog post series about them. You can find it here.

I have also written a whole post about Khadijah (ra) and how much she means to me which you can read here.

Inspirational People

Inspiring Muslim Women – Queen Amina of Zaria

Amina lived in the 16th Century and became the first woman to become queen in a male dominated society. She was known as a great military strategist and expanded the territory of the Hausa people of North Africa to its largest borders in history.

Born around 1533 in Zazzau, renamed Zaria, (one of the original states of Hausaland). This is now a province in modern day Nigeria. She was born to the ruler of Bakwa and after the death of her father, her brother became the ruler. Her brother passed away after a 10-year rule and it was then that she became Queen.

While her brother had ruled, she had become an incredible military leader, honing her military skills and eventually becoming the leader of Zazzau cavalry. She accumulated great wealth and military awards which earned her the respect of the military and established her authority as the leader of the Zazzau cavalry even before she ruled the city-state. So, she was able to become Queen after the death of her brother.

She ruled for 34 years and during this time she continued to lead and expand her kingdom and lead an army of 20,000 men. She opened up many trade routes and it is believed that she was the first person to form a government of the Hausa people.

She brought incredible wealth from gold to crops to the land. She also introduced metal armour including chain mail and iron helmets to her army. She built and fortified the walls around her lands, known as Amina’s walls, and these were used as the prototype for all the walls built in the Hausa states. Many of these walls still exist to this day and have become an incredible testament to her reign as Queen and military leader.

She refused to marry, instead focusing on her reign and was given the name Amina, daughter of Nikatau, a woman as capable as a man. She is still remembered as a brave, fierce and intelligent leader.

Book Recommendations, Booksish Discussions, Muslim Shelf Space

Why You Should Read We Hunt the Flame by Hafsah Faizal

We Free the Stars is finally out today and if you haven’t read We Hunt the Flame yet and need some incentive then here are some reasons why you should absolutely pick up this duology! So here are some reasons as to why you absolutely NEED to pick up these books!

The World That Hafsah Has Created

This is an ancient Arabia inspired world and the world building is incredible. We are completely immersed in the world right from the beginning. The intricate details makes you feel like you’re standing right there with the characters. I love that feeling because it will make you feel everything so much more deeply and vividly. The smells and tastes and feeling the heat and the sand. It created an incredible experience when reading.

The Character Arcs

The character development for the characters over the two books was incredible. Our two main characters have such wonderful growth, learning to see that they are more than what they have been made into and I really loved reading their journey. Zafira is a hunter and has been singlehandedly keeping her whole village fed despite their opinions on women and it was so wonderful to see her work through her own self worth and how powerful she is. Nasir has known only pain and killing and his journey was really difficult but seeing him slowly realise he can be more, he can love and be loved was so incredible to see. Altair is my absolute favourite and I am so happy that we got to see more of him and his journey in the books too. He has a painful journey and is full of secrets so we slowly learn more about him and trust me you will fall more and more in love with him with each revelation.

Enemies to Lovers Trope

If you’re a fan of enemies to lovers then you will love this book. The tension and angst and the slow build up will leave you screaming for more. The way they start off by literally trying to kill each other and slowly learn to work together despite their differences. The tentative way they begin to trust each other when they haven’t been able to trust anyone else in this way. It’s pure perfection. Also We Free the Stars takes the sexual tension and turns it full and I was LIVING for their every single interaction.

Zafira is a Feminist Icon

She alone is able to go into the forest in search of food and keep her village alive and avoiding starvation but she has to hide who she truly is because a woman is not worth anything in her caliphate. Everyone thinks the famed hunter is a man and she has kept it this way to help her people. But as she is leaving she reveals who she truly is and vows to show them what a woman can do. The courage and strength we see from her time and time again showing everyone that women are more than capable of achieving great things. She also goes through her own journey of learning who she is and what she is truly capable of no matter what men claim about women. I loved how Hafsah wove this all into the story.

The Banter and Friendship the Zumra Have Together

I loved seeing the banter between the zumra. The sassy remarks they make at each other and how they have light moments despite being in such perilous situations. Altair and Zafira are really sarcastic with each other and I loved seeing it. I love seeing how close they get during their journey even though they start out not trusting each other.

Hafsah’s Beautiful Writing

Hafsah has such a way with words. Her writing is lyrical and lush and I found myself tabbing away at the beautiful quotes in these books. The writing is vivid and descriptive and will evoke so much emotion while you are reading.

I will leave you with some of my favourite quotes from We Hunt the Flame:

“If I told you my name, would you bow?” His voice was soft. A melancholy caress. He lifted his chin when understanding dawned on her face. “Or would you flee?”

Together, we will raise the dunes from the earth, and rain death from the sky. Together, we are capable of anything.

A life without purpose may be no life, but a life without love is nothing but an existence.

There was nothing more respectable and dangerous than a woman of confidence.

Everyone go read We Hunt the Flame and then pick up We Free the Stars because this duology is incredible and deserves all the love.

Disclaimer: Please note I am not responsible for the emotional mess that this duology will leave you in.