Inspirational People

Inspiring Women Throughout History – Queen Zubaydah

This post is dedicated to one of two women who is known as one of the Two Queens of Baghdad.

Her name was Zubaydah bin Ja’far and was an Abbasid queen and wife to Harun ar-Rashid. We often hear about him and what an incredible man and Caliph he was but we don’t hear about his wife who was just as incredible. It is often thought that Zubaydah and Harun are one of the main inspirations behind 1001 Arabian Nights though some do say that his mother, Al-Khayzarun, is the inspiration behind Shahrzad.

She was known for her courage, beauty and wisdom and was a patron of the arts and even wrote poetry herself. She was also eloquent in her speech and charming. Not only was she passionate about the arts but she also gave substantial money towards it to try to bring more poets and literary figures and scientists to Baghdad. She also sponsored teachers to teach Islamic studied to students. She had memorised the Quran and was a student of hadith and Arabic literature.

She had a lot of influence during her rule and was able to make some incredible achievements. Her husband regularly spoke to her and asked her for advice regarding all matters regarding running the court and kingdom and he always believed her decisions were wise and correct.

While her husband was away with his army, she had the authority to run the kingdom. She also accompanied her husband on his military excursions and also went to perform Hajj with him. While they were at Hajj she noticed that pilgrims had difficulty accessing clean water so she had engineers build tunnels along the road to Makkah to provide clean water, this is still known as Zubaydah’s river. Because of this, more and more people started using the road as there was access to water and this road became known as Zubaydah’s road.

This wasn’t merely just tunnels though, she had shelters with deep wells and water pools built along with guest houses, masjids and more to provide safety and security for travellers and their caravans and animals. There was also minarets built along the road which lit fires at night to guide travellers. This was all built travelling in the direction of Makkah. These were so well built that they survived for centuries. This road became an area where people from different places could meet and trade and also exchange stories and histories which allowed the area to flourish and become more a built up. She spent billions building this so that people could benefit for centuries to come.

Reflections

10 Things You Can Do In Ramadan If You Can’t Fast

Following on from my previous post about how I am no longer able to fast in Ramadan, I thought I would share some things that I can still do. Especially as I know there are many people who, like me, are unable to fast. Whether it’s because of health reasons or because many women will be on their period at some point and unable to fast then.

There are so many reasons as to why people can’t fast but here are things we can all do regardless of whether we are fasting or not, to be able to increase in our worship and gain that closeness to Allah.

1 Read the Quran – try reading on a daily basis, even if it just a few pages a day. For every letter you read you get rewarded. It is what will help you gain that connection to Allah because He is talking directly to you through the Quran.

2 Listen to the Quran recitation – you can play the Quran recitation during your commute to and from work or any other time during the day especially if you cannot physically pick up the Quran to read at the time.

3 Read the translation of the Quran – read it in a language you understand best. For me, that’s English. I read the Sahih International version as I find that easiest to understand. It will help you to understand the Quran so much better.

4 Read the tafsir of the Quran – the translation only gives us a superficial knowledge of what the Quran is teaching us but reading or watching a lecture on tafsir will give you a much deeper understanding. For reading I recommend Ibn Kathir and listening, I recommend Omar Suleiman or Nouman Ali Khans lectures which are available on YouTube

5 Dhikr – remembering Allah throughout the day and is probably the most easiest form of worship to do. You can recite Alhamdulillah, Subhanallah, Allah Hu Akbar while you are at work, driving, cooking basically doing almost anything.

6 Dua – there are so many duas we can learn and recite and I highly recommend picking a few and making it a goal to learn and implement these. It can be anything from the dua to enter your house or a dua for ease in your studies. Fortress of a Muslim is a great book to have and small enough to fit in your pocket. There are also special times when dua is most accepted so we can make the most of our worship by praying especially in these times. The last third of the night, laylatul qadr, at the time of breaking the fast are some of these times.

7 Increase in Islamic Knowledge – pick a topic you want to learn more about and focus on learning something new about it. It could be anything learning about the Prophet (saw) or the mothers of the believers or self improvement or anything else. Learning more will help us to gain that connection with Allah. It can be reading, audio, watching lectures, attending a course.

8 Making Istighfar – seeking forgiveness is something we are all taught we should do regularly. None of us are perfect so our worship won’t be perfect. We forget, we make mistakes, we commit sins. And so we should also seek forgiveness for those.

9 Feed a fasting person – if we can’t fast we can still help those who are fasting. Maybe make something and give it to a neighbour or send money through a charity so they can provide food for those who fast and can’t afford to buy food to open their fast. We gain the reward for feeding a fasting a fasting person.

10 Give in charity or volunteer for a charity – we are always more generous in Ramadan, and there are always charities that are doing great work across the world in need of funding. Even if you can’t afford to give money, maybe volunteering a few hours to help them is an act of charity too. Smiling is a charity, helping an elderly neighbour, babysitting or helping out a friend or family member, so many possibilities.

There is so many more things we can all do to try to benefit the most from this month but don’t compare yourself to what others are doing. Allah knows what you are doing and He will not compare you to anyone. Do your best to take advantage of this Ramadan as the rewards are innumerous.

PS. Even if you are fasting you can still do all of these too! 🙂

I hope you find this beneficial and I hope you all have a wonderful Ramadan.

Reflections

It’s Ramadan! But I can’t fast…

Ramadan has always been one of my favourite times of the year. I love the community feel and how much I can connect with Allah. Though for the past couple years, due to my long term health conditions, it’s no longer possible for me to fast. I have medication I need to take regularly and not taking it means my health can rapidly deteriorate.

So for last couple years are the first time since I started fasting as a kid, I cannot keep these or any fasts. And coming to terms with that, saying it has been difficult, is putting it mildly. I so desperately wanted to be able to fast the first year the doctors advised against it that I did actually try fasting despite what they said. And yes, it took me weeks to recover from fasting for those first two days. And not only that, but it affected my whole Ramadan.

I felt like something I love was being snatched away from me. I felt isolated, lonely and upset. I even felt ashamed that I can’t fast. It was a horrible mix of emotions and I really struggled with it. I holed myself away from people to save myself the embarrassment of having to say that I cannot fast. Because I don’t look ill, you can’t see my pain or health problems like you can see a broken bone. And people told me “i’m too young to be this ill” it made me doubt whether I actually was unwell enough to be exempt from fasting.

But this will be the third year in which I can’t fast and I feel like I am finally coming to terms with it and accepting that it’s okay. That the fact that I am exempt from fasting is a mercy from Allah, He has allowed me to not fast as it would be detrimental to my health but as I would fast if I was healthy and able, I will still get the reward for fasting inshaAllah.

Being able to take my medication regularly and eat means my body won’t shut down and i won’t be in agonising pain so that I can do other acts of worship. I can pray during the day and pray taraweeh at night even if it’s at home. I can go to the masjid when they have talks going on. It means I am not struggling to even get myself out of bed so I can make the most of this month by doing all other things. I can read Quran, study tafsir and learn some new supplications.

I know it’s still something not really discussed in Muslim circles, I get people asking if I’m really unable to fast as if I’m making excuses to avoid it. I get stared at (by men mostly) if they see me eat of drink during the day. But I do think it’s getting better. I remember it being a lot worse when I was younger so I am hopeful that people will realise that actually not everyone can fast for a number of reasons from health to periods.

It can make people like me feel really self conscious about eating in public even though it may be necessary for us, I need to eat something before I take my tablets so I have no choice. I’ve felt isolated before because I struggle with the way people stare so I won’t go out but now I’m learning that I have nothing to be ashamed of. So please if you see someone eating in Ramadan don’t make them uncomfortable they most likely have a legitimate reason for not fasting.

I had never imagined that one day I would not be able to fast, not while I was young. I may be able to fast again one day, it really depends on my health but I plan to make the most of the month in whatever way possible.