Sunday, June 09, 2013

Love in the Time of Quraysh

Love in the Time of Quraysh

Love is a powerful theme that features throughout history, with the power to launch a thousand ships or destroy a country. Zainab bint RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) is an example of the strength of love and a Muslim woman’s patience and courage. 
Although her story does not feature as prominently in Islamic history as some other Sahabiyaat such as her mother, Khadijah, or her step-mother A’ishah, she experienced one of the most difficult struggles faced by Muslim women: the battle between true love and spiritual conviction.

Zainab bint RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) married her maternal cousin Abu’l ‘Aas ibn Rabee’ before the onset of her father’s prophethood. They loved each other dearly, and their marriage was one of the happiest in all of Makkah.
The first year of RasulAllah’s Prophethood was a difficult one for Zainab. She instantly believed in her father’s Divine Message, but unfortunately, Abu’l ‘Aas refused to accept Islam. Citing the anger of Quraysh as an excuse, Abu’l ‘Aas continued to love and protect his wife, but did not choose to share her faith.
When RasulAllah made his hijrah to Madinah, Zainab requested that she be allowed to stay with her husband, who was still a non-Muslim. In the months that followed, she was the only believer left within the boundaries of Makkah.
Parted from her family, isolated from other Muslims, Zainab found comfort in the love that she shared with Abu’l ‘Aas.
However, after the Battle of Badr, during which Abu’l ‘Aas was taken prisoner by the Muslims, the command came from Allah that no Muslim woman was allowed to stay with her non-Muslim husband. RasulAllah accepted Abu’l ‘Aas’ ransom payment and released him, but he also instructed him to send Zainab to Madinah.
 As much as this second parting with her husband made her heart ache even more, Zainab’s commitment to Allah’s Pleasure over her own demanded that she obey His Command.
Her arduous journey to Madinah, which involved her being ambushed and suffering a miscarriage, reminded her every moment that she was sacrificing the safety and solace of her husband’s love for a life of difficulty. Instead of turning back, instead of using her husband’s protection for her practice of Islam as an excuse to defy the direct order of Allah, she drew upon the strength of her emaan to overcome the pain of losing the love of her life.
Zainab remained in Madinah, refusing to remarry, while Abu’l ‘Aas continued to live in Makkah, anguished at the separation from his wife. Eventually, a sequence of events resulted in his recapture by the Muslims, who brought him to Madinah. Overwhelmed to know that her beloved was near, Zainab publicly announced that she was providing sanctuary to Abu’l ‘Aas. Smiling, RasulAllah accepted her claim of protection and released him into her care, but with the warning that they could not live together as husband and wife. After some time, Abu’l ‘Aas finally accepted Islam, and their reunion was complete.
Today, many Muslim women try to justify their choice to marry non-Muslim men by saying that these men love them for who they are and respect their faith. But if the daughter of the Messenger of Allah was commanded to leave her non-Muslim husband, who loved her passionately and never prevented her from practicing Islam, how can we make the excuse that our transient, mortal love is worth defying Allah?

It is sincere sacrifice, out of true love for Allah, that will grant us both the sweetness of mortal love as well as that of the Divine. It is the decision to choose our love for the Divine over the transience of worldly love, that will truly determine the strength of our spiritual courage and make us worthy of Allah’s Divine Love in return. 

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at 

Friday, June 07, 2013

Coming of Age in a New World

Modern society marks the transition from childhood into adolescence with contemporary constructs such as issues of identity and angst. For young Muslimahs in the West, these struggles are compounded with further questions about religion, spirituality, and their place as citizens in societies whose values are often at great odds with those of Islam’s.

Ama bint Khalid was one of the first young Muslimahs to grow up in a non-Muslim environment, and whose love for the Messenger of Allah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) blossomed in her heart before she ever met him. Her parents were amongst the earliest believers in RasulAllah, and were of those who made the first hijrah (emigration) to Abyssinia.

As a result, Ama was one of a handful of young Muslims who grew up in a distinctly Christian society. Though she undoubtedly faced difficulties and challenges, her identity as a Muslim was strengthened by her circumstances, rather than weakened or driven to compromise. Her parents would regularly share with her and remind her of the reason for which they emigrated: their belief in Allah and His Messenger. They would tell her stories about RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) – his kindness, his generosity, his concern for others even if they were not his family or friends, and how he worked so hard to save everyone from the terrifying punishment of the Hereafter. Long before she ever met him, Ama loved this amazing man of whom her parents spoke so fondly.

Ama was a young girl with faced with a massive challenge: living and growing up in a country foreign to her family, struggling to learn a new language and a new culture and, more importantly, retaining the faith for which they had emigrated in the first place. In the midst of this utter strangeness, she fiercely held onto her belief in God and His Messenger, her savior. 
Though the challenges are many, young Muslims in the 21st century are not the first to experience isolation, alienation, and negative propaganda directly concentrated on their faith. Youth such as Ama bint Khalid and Ali ibn Abi Talib, both of whom were raised upon Islam from a very young age, grew up in a society where they were labeled as either crazy people, terrorists, or both. Most Muslim teenagers often think that they have little in common with famous and awe-inspiring Sahaabah of the Prophet’s time, but the truth is that their struggles were very similar to those we are going through today.

Today, young Muslims in the West have far more available and at their disposal than Ama bint Khalid had over 1400 years ago. Masjid youth groups, Islamic schools, youth conferences, CDs and DVDs; these resources provide not only knowledge, but a strength of solidarity for young Muslims growing up in non-Muslim societies.

Teenage Muslim girls who are trying to juggle their non-Muslim school environment, culturally different home environment, and plain old teen hormones need look no further than Ama bint Khalid to feel both comforted and inspired. If Ama could do it – in a time when there was no internet, no halaal takeout, and no varieties of cute hijaabs – why can’t you?

Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 73, Number 22:
    Narrated Sa'id:
    Um Khalid bint Khalid bin Said said, "I came to Allah's Messenger along with my father and I was wearing a yellow shirt. Allah's Messenger said, "Sanah Sanah!" ('Abdullah, the sub-narrator said, "It means, 'Nice, nice!' in the Ethiopian language.") Um Khalid added, "Then I started playing with the seal of Prophethood. My father admonished me. But Allah's Apostle said (to my father), "Leave her," Allah's Apostle (then addressing me) said, "May you live so long that your dress gets worn out, and you will mend it many times, and then wear another till it gets worn out (i.e. May Allah prolong your life)." (The sub-narrator, 'Abdullah aid, "That garment (which she was wearing) remained usable for a long time)

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at 

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Forgotten Heroines - Introduction

Muslim women in the West today are in a seemingly unique position: often straddling two worlds, that of their family’s ethnic culture and that of their Western country of residence; struggling to both revive their faith and their intellect; managing a balancing act of family and career.

Often, we feel alone, stranded in circumstances for which there is no textbook manual on how to do it all right. Surely we can’t be the only generation of Muslim women to face such trials! And, in fact, we aren’t. Islamic history books are filled with stories of exemplary Muslim women, young and old, who navigated cultures spanning from Asia and Arabia to Europe.

These inspiring women came of age in environments eerily similar to our own:  Fatimah bint Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam), whose early teen years were spent struggling through the difficult first days of Islam in Makkah; and  Ama bint Khalid, who grew up in the Christian country of Abyssinia during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam). They dealt with feelings of isolation, cultural differences, and the struggles faced by the pioneers of a new way. They fell in love, fought in wars, and achieved heights of scholarship envied by men.

From the Sahaabiyaat (female Companions) to shaykhaat (female scholars) in our own times, Muslim women have always had powerful female figures to look up to and emulate. Unfortunately, however, these inspiring women have been forgotten and marginalized by their own people, to the detriment of all Muslims, both men and women.

Now, we hope to revive and relive our neglected history. By bringing to light not only the exploits of these heroines, but their humanity as well, we aim to build a direct connection and sense of relevance between the current generations of Muslim women, and those who created legacies before us.

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at