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Chapter 10: The Muslim Woman and Her Community/Society

Introduction

When it comes to Islamic duties, the Muslim woman is just like a man: she has a mission in life, and so she is required to be as effective, active and social as her particular circumstances and capabilities allow, mixing with other women as much as she can and dealing with them in accordance with the worthy Islamic attitudes and behaviour that distinguish her from other women.

Wherever the Muslim woman is found, she becomes a beacon of guidance, and a positive source of correction and education, through both her words and her deeds.

The Muslim woman who has been truly guided by the Qur'an and Sunnah has a refined social personality of the highest degree, which qualifies her to undertake her duty of calling other women to Islam, opening their hearts and minds to the guidance of this great religion which elevated the status of women at a remarkably early stage in their history and furnished them with a vast range of the best of characteristics which are outlined in the Qur'an and Sunnah. Islam has made the acquisition of these characteristics a religious duty for which a person will be rewarded, and will be called to account if he or she fails to attain them. These texts succeeded in making the personality of the woman who is sincere towards Allah (SWT) into a brilliant example of the decent, chaste, polite, God-fearing, refined, sociable woman.

The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam stands out in every women's gathering she attends, as she demonstrates the true values of her religion and the practical application of those values by her attaining of those worthy attributes. The make-up of her distinct social character represents a huge store of those Islamic values, which can be seen in her social conduct and dealings with people. From this rich, pure source, the Muslim woman draws her own customs, habits and ways of dealing with others and she cleanses her soul and forms her own Muslim, social personality from the same source.

She has a good attitude towards others

and treats them well

The Muslim woman is of good and noble character, friendly, humble, gentle of speech and tactful. She likes others and is liked by them. By doing so, she is following the example of the Prophet (PBUH) who, as his servant Anas (RAA) reported, was "the best of people in his attitude towards others."1

Anas (RAA) saw more than anyone else of the Prophet's good attitude, and witnessed such good attitudes that no-one could imagine it existed in any human being. He told us of one aspect of that noble attitude of the Prophet (PBUH):

"I served the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) for ten years, and he never said to me `Uff!' (The smallest word of contempt). If I did anything, he never said, `Why did you do that?' And if I did not do something, he never said, `Why did you not do such-and-such?'"2The Prophet (PBUH) was of the best character, as Allah (SWT) said: ( And you [stand] on an exalted standard of character.) (Qur'an 68:4)He (PBUH) repeatedly told his Sahabah of the effect a good attitude would have in forming an Islamic personality and in raising a person's status in the sight of Allah (SWT) and of other people. He (PBUH) told them: "Among the best of you are those who have the best attitude (towards others)."3

"The most beloved to me and the closest to me on the Day of Resurrection will be those of you who have the best attitudes. And the most hateful to me and the furthest from me on the Day of Resurrection will be the prattlers and boasters and al-mutafayhiqun." The Sahabah said, "O Messenger of Allah (PBUH), we understand who the prattlers and boasters are, but who are al-mutafayhiqun?" He (PBUH) said, "The proud and arrogant."4

The Sahabah (RAA) - men and women alike - used to hear the Prophet's noble moral teachings, and they would see with their own eyes the excellent way in which he used to deal with people. So they would obey his words and follow his example. Thus was established their society which has never been equalled by any other in the history of mankind.

Anas (RAA) said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) was merciful. Nobody came to him without receiving a promise of his help, which he would fulfil if he had the means to do so. On one occasion, the iqamah for prayer had been given, when a Bedouin came to him, took hold of his cloak, and said, `I still have some matter outstanding, and I do not want to forget it.' So the Prophet (PBUH) went with him and resolved the matter, then he came back and prayed."5The Prophet (PBUH) did not see anything wrong with listening to the Bedouin and resolving his issue, even though the iqamah had already been given. He did not get upset with the man for pulling on his cloak, or object to resolving the matter before the prayer, because he was building a just society, teaching the Muslims by his example how a Muslim should treat his brother, and showing them the moral principles that should prevail in a Muslim community.

If good attitudes and manners among non-Muslims are the result of a good upbringing and solid education, then among Muslims such good attitudes come, above all, from the guidance of Islam, which makes good attitudes a basic characteristic of the Muslim, one which will raise his status in this world and will weigh heavily in his favour in the Hereafter. No deed will count for more on the Day of Judgement than a man's good attitude, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Nothing will weigh more heavily in the balance of the believing servant on the Day of Resurrection than a good attitude (towards others). Verily Allah (SWT) hates those who utter vile words and obscene speech."6Islam has made this good attitude towards others an essential part of faith, and those who have the best attitude towards others are the most complete in faith, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "The most perfect in faith of the believers are those who are best in their attitude towards others."7Islam also describes those who have the best attitude towards others as being the most beloved to Allah (SWT) of His servants. This is seen in the hadith of Usamah ibn Shurayk, who said: "We were sitting with the Prophet (PBUH) as if there were birds on our heads: none of us were talking. Some people came to him and asked, `Who is the most beloved to Allah (SWT) of His Servants?' He said, `Those who are the best in attitude towards others.'"8It comes as no surprise that the person who has the best attitude towards others should also be the one who is most beloved to Allah (SWT), for good treatment of others is an important feature of Islamic law. It is the most significant deed that can be placed in the balance of the Muslim on the Day of Judgement, as we have seen. It is equivalent to prayer and fasting, the two greatest bases of Islam, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "No greater deed will be placed in the balance than a good attitude towards others. A good attitude towards others will bring a person up to the level of fasting and prayer."9 According to another report, he (PBUH) said: "By virtue of his good attitude towards others, a person may reach the level of one who habitually fasts (during the day) and stands in prayer (at night)."So the Prophet (PBUH) repeatedly emphasized the importance of a good attitude and encouraged his Companions to adopt it, using various methods to instil it in their hearts by his words and deeds. He understood the great impact this good attitude would have in purifying their souls and enhancing their morals and manners. For example, he told Abu Dharr: "O Abu Dharr, shall I not tell you of two qualities which are easy to attain but which will weigh more heavily in the balance?" He said, "Of course, O Messenger of Allah." He said, "You should have a good attitude towards others and remain silent for lengthy periods. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, nothing that people have ever attained is better than these two."10And he (PBUH) said: "A good attitude is a blessing and a bad attitude is a calamity. Piety (birr) lengthens life, and charity will prevent a bad death."11One of his du`a's was: "Allahumma ahsanta khalqi fa ahsin k (O Allah (SWT), You have made my physical constitution good, so make my attitude and behaviour good also)."12The prayer of the Prophet (PBUH), asking Allah (SWT) to make his attitude good when Allah (SWT) had described him in the Qur'an as being ( on an exalted standard of character) (Qur'an 68:4), is a clear indication of his deep concern and earnest desire that the Muslims should continue to seek to increase in good attitudes, no matter what heights they had already scaled, just as their Prophet (PBUH) continued to seek to increase in good attitudes through this du`a'. "Good attitudes" is a comprehensive term which includes all the good characteristics that human beings may acquire, such as modesty, patience, gentleness, forgiveness, tolerance, cheerfulness, truthfulness, trustworthiness, sincerity, straightforwardness, purity of heart, and so on.

The one who sets out to explore the Islamic teachings on social issues will find himself confronted with a host of teachings that encourage every single one of these noble attitudes. This is an indication of the intense concern that Islam has to form the social personality of the Muslim in the most precise fashion. So it does not stop at mentioning generalities, but it also deals with every minor moral issue that may form individual aspects of the integrated social personality. This comprehensiveness does not exist in other social systems as it does in Islam.

The researcher who sets out to explore the character of the Muslim woman has no alternative but to examine all these texts, and to understand the guidance and legislation contained therein. Only then will he be able to fully comprehend the noble social personality that is unique to the true Muslim, man or woman.

She is truthful

The Muslim woman is truthful with all people, because she has absorbed the teachings of Islam which encourages truthfulness and regards it as the chief of virtues, whilst lying is forbidden and regarded as the source of all evils and bad deeds. The Muslim woman believes that truthfulness naturally leads to goodness, which will admit the one who practices it to Paradise, while falsehood leads to iniquity which will send the one who practices it to Hell. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Truthfulness leads to piety (birr), and piety leads to Paradise. A man continues to speak the truth until he is recorded in the sight of Allah (SWT) as a sincere lover of truth (siddiq). Falsehood leads to iniquity and iniquity leads to Hell. A man will continue to speak falsehood until he is recorded in the sight of Allah (SWT) as a liar."13Therefore the Muslim woman is keen to be a sincere lover of truth (siddiqah), striving to be true in all her words and deeds. This is a sublime status which is achieved only by God-fearing Muslim women by means of truthfulness, purity of heart and by virtue of which she is recorded in the sight of Allah (SWT) as an honoured lover of truth.
 
 

She avoids giving false statements

The true Muslim woman whose personality has been moulded by the teachings and guidance of Islam does not give false statements, because to do so is haram:

( . . . And shun the word that is false.) (Qur'an 22:30)Bearing false witness14, besides being haram, does not befit the Muslim woman. It damages her honour and credibility, and marks a person as twisted and worthless in the sight of others. So the Qur'an completely forbids this attitude for the chosen servants of Allah (SWT), men and women alike, just as it forbids other major sins: ( Those who witness no falsehood and, if they pass by futility, they pass it by with honourable [avoidance].) (Qur'an 25:72)Nothing is more indicative of the enormity of this sin than the fact that the Prophet (PBUH) mentioned it as coming after the two most serious sins on the scale of major sins: associating partners with Allah (SWT), and disobedience to parents. Then he repeated it to the Muslims, warning them with the utmost fervour. He (PBUH) said: "Shall I not tell you of the most serious of the major sins?" We said: "Of course, O Messenger of Allah." He said: "Associating anything with Allah (SWT), and diobeying parents." He was reclining, but then he sat up and said: "And bearing false witness," and he kept repeating this until we wished that he would stop (i.e., so that he would not exhaust himself with his fervour)."15
 
 
She gives sincere advice

The true Muslim woman does not only strive to free herself of negative characteristics; she also seeks to offer sincere advice to every woman she comes into contact with who has deviated from the guidance of Allah (SWT) - and how many women there are who have wronged themselves and are in great need of someone to offer them sincere advice and guide them back towards the straight path which Allah (SWT) has commanded all of us to follow.

For the true Muslim woman, offering sincere advice is not just the matter of volunteering to do good out of generosity; it is a duty enjoined by Islam, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Religion is sincerity [or sincere advice]." The Sahabah asked, "To whom?" He said, "To Allah (SWT), to His Book, to His Messenger, to the leaders of the Muslims and to their common folk."16When the Sahabah swore allegiance (bay`ah) to the Prophet (PBUH), they would pledge to observe salah and zakah, and to be sincere towards every Muslim, as is shown in the statement of Jarir ibn `Abdullah (RAA): "I swore allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH) with the pledge that I would establish regular prayer, pay zakah and be sincere to every Muslim."17How brilliantly the Prophet (PBUH) expressed the meaning of nasihah when he said, "Religion is sincerity [or sincere advice]"! He summed up the entire religion in just one word, "nasihah," indicating to every Muslim the value of sincerity and sincere advice, and the great impact that sincere advice has on the lives of individuals, families and societies. When sincerity spreads among a people, they are guided to the straight path; if sincerity is withheld, they will go far astray.

Therefore nasihah was one of the most important matters that Muslims pledged to observe when they swore allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH): it comes after salah and zakah, as we have seen in the hadith of Jabir ibn Abdullah quoted above.

The fact that sincere advice is mentioned in conjunction with salah and zakah in the oath of allegiance given by the great Sahabi Jarir ibn `Abdullah to the Prophet (PBUH) is an indication of its importance in the Islamic scheme of things and in deciding a person's fate in the Hereafter. It is therefore a basic characteristic of the true Muslim who is concerned about his destiny on the Day of Judgement.

In Islam, responsibility is a general duty that applies to men and women alike, each person has responsibilities within his or her own social sphere, as the Prophet (PBUH) explained:

"Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The leader is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock; a woman is the shepherd in the house of her husband and is responsible for her flock; a servant is the shepherd of his master's wealth and is responsible for it. Each of you is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock."18If we understand this, we will realize that the woman's responsibility includes offering sincere advice to everyone around her who can benefit from it.

She guides others to righteous deeds

The Muslim woman whose soul has been purified by Islam and cleansed of the stains of selfishness and love of show guides others to righteous deeds when she knows of them, so that goodness will come to light and people will benefit from it. It is all the same to her whether the good deed is done by herself or by others, because she knows that the one who guides others to do righteous deeds will be rewarded like the one who does the actual deed, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Whoever guides others to do good will have a reward like that of the person who does the good deed."19The Muwoman is the least likely to keep goodness to herself, or to boast to others about doing good, which is the attitude of selwomen who love to show off. It is enough for the Muslim woman who guides others to do good to know that she will be rewarded by Allah (SWT) in either case, and for the true Muslim woman, storing up reward with Allah (SWT) is more important than fame and a good reputation. In this way, goodness spreads throughout the community, and every person will have the opportunity to do whatever Allah (SWT) helps him or her to do.

How many of these deadly psychological disorders are preventing good from being spread in society! For the people who are suffering from them hope that they alone will undertake good deeds to the exclusion of others, but circumstances prevent them from doing so. So goodness and benefits remain locked up waiting for the opportunity that never comes. The true Muslim, man or woman, who seeks to please Allah (SWT) and earn reward from Him is free from such disorders. The true Muslim guides people to do good deeds as soon as he or she is aware of an opportunity, and thus he or she earns a reward from Allah (SWT) equal to the reward of the one who does the good deed itself.

She does not cheat, deceive, or stab in the back

The sincere Muslim woman for whom truthfulness has become a deeply-rooted characteristic does not cheat, deceive or stab in the back, because these worthless characteristics are beneath her. They contradict the values of truthfulness, and do not befit the Muslim woman. Truthfulness requires an attitude of sincerity, straightforwardness, loyalty and fairness, which leaves no room for cheating, lying, trickery, deceit or betrayal.

The Muslim woman who is filled with the guidance of Islam is truthful by nature, and has a complete aversion to cheating, deceiving and back-stabbing, which she sees as a sign of a person's being beyond the pale of Islam, as the Prophet (PBUH) stated in the hadith narrated by Muslim:

"Whoever bears arms against us is not one of us, and whoever cheats us is not one of us."20

According to another report, also narrated by Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) passed by a pile of food (in the market), put his hand in it and felt dampness (although the surface of the pile was dry). He said, "O owner of the food, what is this?" The man said, "it was damaged by rain, O Messenger of Allah." He said, "And you did not put the rain-damaged food on top so that people could see it! Whoever cheats us is not one of us."21

Muslim society is based on purity of human feeling, sincerity towards every Muslim, and fulfilment of promises to every member of the society. If any cheats or traitors are found in that society, they are most certainly alien elements whose character is in direct contrast to the noble character of true Muslims.

Islam views cheating, deception and back-stabbing as heinous crimes which will be a source of shame to the guilty party both in this world and the next. The Prophet (PBUH) announced that on the Day of Resurrection, every traitor would be raised carrying the flag of his betrayal and a caller will cry out in the vast arena of judgement, pointing to him and drawing attention to him:

"Every traitor will have a banner on the Day of Resurrection, and it will be said: `This is the betrayer of so-and-so.'"22How great will be the shame of those traitors, men and women, who thought that their betrayal was long since forgotten, and now here it is, spread out for all to see and carried aloft on banners held by their own hands.

Their shame on the Day of Judgement will increase when they see the Prophet (PBUH), who is the hope of intercession on that great and terrible Day, standing in opposition to them, because they have committed the heinous crime of betrayal, which is a crime of such enormity that it will deprive them of the mercy of Allah (SWT) and the intercession of the Prophet (PBUH):

"Allah (SWT), may He be exalted, said: `There are three whom I will oppose on the Day of Resurrection: a man who gave his word, and then betrayed; a man who sold a free man into slavery and kept the money; and a man who hired someone, benefitted from his labour, then did not pay his wages."23The Muslim woman who has been truly guided by Islam steers clear of all forms of deceit and back-stabbing. They exist in many forms in the world of modern women, but the Muslim woman values herself too highly to include herself among those cheating, deceiving women whom the Prophet (PBUH) considered to be hypocrites: "There are four features, whoever has all of them is a true hypocrite, and whoever has one of them has one of the qualities of a hypocrite until he gives it up: when he is trusted, he is unfaithful; when he speaks, he tells lies; when he make a promise, he proves treacherous; and when he disputes, he resorts to slander."24She keeps her promises

One of the noble attitudes of the true Muslim woman is that she keeps her promises. This attitude is the companion of truthfulness and indeed stems naturally from it.

Keeping promises is a praiseworthy attitude, one that indicates the high level of civility attained by the woman who exhibits it. It helps her to succeed in life, and earns her the love, respect and appreciation of others.

The effects of this attitude in instilling moral and psychological virtues in girls and boys are not unknown; if they see their mothers always keeping their promises, this is the best example that they can be given.

For the Muslim woman, keeping promises is not just the matter of social niceties, something to boast about among her friends and peers; it is one of the basic Islamic characteristics and one of the clearest indicators of sound faith and true Islam. Many texts of the Qur'an and Sunnah emphasize the importance of this quality:

( O you who believe! Fulfil all obligations.) (Qur'an 5:1)

( And fulfil every engagement, for [every] engagement will be enquired into [on the Day of Reckoning].) (Qur'an 17:34)

This is a definitive command from Allah (SWT) to His believing servants, men and women alike, to keep their promises and to fulfil whatever obligations those promises entail. There is no room for escaping or dodging this responsibility. It does not befit the Muslim who has committed himself or herself to then try to get out of keeping the promise. It is his duty to keep his word. In some ayat, the word for "promise" is connected by the grammatical structure of idafah (genitive) to Allah (SWT) Himself, as an indication of its dignity and sanctity, and of the obligation to keep promises: ( Fulfil the Covenant of Allah, when you have entered into it . . .) (Qur'an 16:91)Islam dislikes those prattlers who carelessly make promises without following through and keeping their word: ( O you who believe! Why say you that which you do not? Grievously odious is it in the sight of Allah that you say that which you do not.) (Qur'an 61:2-3)Allah (SWT) does not like His believing servants, male or female, to sink to the level of empty words, promises given with no intention of fulfilment, and all manner of excuses to avoid upholding the commitments made. Such conduct does not befit believing men and women. The tone of the question asked in this ayah is an expression of the extreme disapproval incurred by those believers who commit the sin of saying that which they do not do.

The Prophet (PBUH) said:

"The signs of a hypocrite are three: when he speaks, he lies; when he makes a promise, he breaks it; and when he is entrusted with something, he betrays that trust."25According to a report given by Muslim, he (PBUH) added: "Even if he fasts, prays and thinks that he is a Muslim."26The level of a woman's Islam is not determined only by acts of worship and rituals, but also the extent to which her character is influenced by the teachings and high values of Islam. She does only that which will please Allah (SWT). The Muslim woman who understands and adheres to the teachings of Islam does not break her promises, or cheat others, or betray them, because such acts contradict the morals and values of true Isla, and such attitudes are only found among men and women who are hypocrites.

Let them know this, those women who tell lies to their own children, who make promises then go back on thword, thus planting the seeds of dishonesty and promise-breaking in their children's hearts. Let them know this, those women who make empty, meaningless promises and attach no importance to the word of honour to which they have committed themselves, lest by such carelessness they become hypocrites themselves and earn the punishment of the hypocrites which, as is well known, is a place in the lowest level of Hell.

She is not a hypocrite

The true Muslim woman is frank and open in her words and opinions, and is the furthest removed from hypocrisy, flattery and false praise, because she knows from the teachings of Islam that hypocrisy is haram, and does not befit the true Muslim.

The Prophet (PBUH) has protected us from falling into the mire of hypocrisy and flattery. When Banu `Amir came to him and praised him, saying, "You are our master," he said, "The only Master is Allah (SWT)." When they said, "You are the most excellent and greatest of us," he said, "Say what you want, or a part of it, but do not speak like agents of Shaytan. I do not want you to raise me above the status to which Allah (SWT) has appointed me. I am Muhammad ibn `Abdullah, His Servant and Messenger."27The Prophet (PBUH) prevented people from exaggerating in their praise of others, some of whom may not even be deserving of praise, when he forbade them to describe him as "master," "excellent" and "great," at the time when he was without doubt the greatest of the Messengers, the master of the Muslims and the greatest and most excellent of them. He did this because he understood that if the door of praise was opened to its fullest extent, it might lead to dangerous types of hypocrisy which are unacceptable to a pure Islamic spirit and the truth on which this religion is based. He forbade the Sahabah to praise a man to his face, lest the one who spoke the words crossed the boundary of hypocrisy, or the object of his admiration be filled with feelings of pride, arrogance, superiority and self-admiration.

Bukhari and Muslim narrate that Abu Bakrah (RAA) said:

"A man praised another man in the presence of the Prophet (PBUH), who said: `Woe to you! You have cut your companion's throat!' several times. Then he said: `Whoever of you insists on praising his brother, let him say: "I think So-and-so is such-and-such, and Allah (SWT) knows the exact truth, and I do not confirm anyone's good conduct before Allah (SWT), but I think him to be such-and-such," if he knows that this is the case.'"28If praising a person cannot be avoided, then it must be sincere and based on truth. The praise should be moderate, reserved and without any exaggeration. This is the only way in which a society can rid itself of the diseases of hypocrisy, lies, deceit and sycophancy. In al-Adab al-Mufrad, Bukhari reports from Raja' from Mihjan al-Aslami that the Prophet (PBUH) and Mihjan were in the mosque when the Prophet (PBUH) saw a man praying, bowing and prostrating, and asked, "Who is that?" Mihjan began to praise the man, saying, "O Messenger of Allah, he is So-and-so, and is such-and-such." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Stop. Do not let him hear you, or it will be his downfall!"29

According to a report given by Ahmad, Mihjan said: "O Messenger of Allah, this is so-and-so, one of the best people of Madinah," or "one of the people who prays the most in Madinah." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Do not let him hear you, or it will be his downfall!" - two or three times - "You are an ummah for whom I wish ease."30

The Prophet (PBUH) described hearing praise as being a person's downfall, because of its profound psychological impact on the human mind which by nature loves to hear such words. So the one who is praised begins to feel superior to and to look down on other people. If such praise is repeated by the hypocrites and flatterers - and how many of them there are surrounding those in positions of power and authority! - this will satisfy a strong desire in his heart and will become something he wants to hear regularly. Then he will hate to hear criticism and advice, and will only accept praise, thanks and adulation. No wonder, then, that truth will be lost, justice will be eliminated, morality will be destroyed and society will be corrupted.

For this reason the Prophet (PBUH) ordered his Companions to throw dust in the faces of those who praise others, lest their number, and hence flattery and hypocrisy, increase, which would have had disastrous consequences for the whole Muslim society.

The Sahabah, may Allah (SWT) be pleased with them, used to feel upset when they heard others praising them, although they were the most deserving of such praise, because they feared its disastrous consequences and adhered to the basic principles of Islam that abhor such cheap, empty expressions. Nafi`(RAA) and others said: "A man said to Ibn `Umar (RAA): `O you who are the best of people!' or `O son of the best of people!' Ibn `Umar said: `I am not the best of people, neither am I the son of the best of people. I am just one of the servants of Allah (SWT): I hope for His (mercy) and I fear His (wrath). By Allah (SWT), you will continue to pursue a man (with your praise) until you bring about his downfall.'"31

This is a wise statement from a great Sahabi of the utmost Islamic sensibilities, who adhered to Islamic teachings both in secret and openly.

The Sahabah understood precisely the Prophet's guidance telling them that their words and deeds should be free from hypocrisy. The great difference between that which is done sincerely for the sake of Allah (SWT) and that which is merely hypocrisy and flattery was abundantly clear to them.

Ibn `Umar (RAA) said that some people said to him: "When we enter upon our rulers we tell them something different from what we say when we have left them." Ibn `Umar said: "At the time of the Prophet (PBUH), we used to consider this to be hypocrisy."32

The true Muslim woman is protected by her religion from sinking to the dangerous level of hypocrisy to which many women today have sunk who think that they have not overstepped the bounds of polite flattery. They do not realize that there is a type of flattery that is haram and that they could sink so low without realizing it and fall into the sin of that despised hypocrisy which may lead to their ultimate doom. This happens when they keep quiet and refrain from telling the truth, or when they praise those who do not deserve it.

She is characterized by shyness [haya']

Women are shy by nature, and what I mean here by shyness is the same as the definition of the `ulama': the noble attitude that always motivates a person to keep away from what is abhorrent and to avoid falling short in one's duties towards those who have rights over one. The Prophet (PBUH) was the highest example of shyness, as the great Sahabi Abu Sa`id al-Khudri described him:

"The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was more shy than the virgin hiding away in her own room. If he saw something he disliked, we would know it only from his facial expression."33The Prophet (PBUH) praised the attitude of shyness in a number of ahadith, and explained that it is pure goodness, both for the one who possesses this virtue and for the society in which he lives.

`Imran ibn Husayn (RAA) said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) said: `Shyness brings nothing but good.'"34According to a report given by Muslim, he (PBUH) said: "Shyness is all good."35Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said: "The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Faith has seventy-odd branches. The greatest of them is saying la ilaha ill-Allah, and the least of them is removing something harmful from the road. Shyness is one of the branches of faith."36The true Muslim woman is shy, polite, gentle and sensitive to the feelings of others. She never says or does anything that may harm people or offend their dignity.

The attitude of shyness that is deeply-rooted in her nature is supported by her understanding of the Islamic concepof shyness, which protects her against going wrong or deviating from Islamic teachings in her dealings with others. She does not only feel shy in front of people, but she also feels shy before Allah (SWT). She is careful not to let her faith become by wrongdoing, because shyness is one of the branches of faith. This is the highest level that may be reached by the woman who is characterized by shyness. In this way she is distinguished from the Western woman who has lost the characteristic of shyness.

She is proud and does not beg

One of the features that distinguish the Muslim woman who has truly understood the guidance of Islam is the fact that she is proud and does not beg. If she is faced with difficulties or is afflicted with poverty, she seeks refuge in patience and self-pride, whilst redoubling her efforts to find a way out of the crisis of poverty that has befallen her. It never occurs to her to put herself in the position of begging and asking for help, because Islam thinks too highly of the true Muslim woman to allow her to put herself in such a position. The Muslim woman is urged to be proud, independent and patient - then Allah (SWT) will help her and give her independence and patience:

"Whoever refrains from asking from people, Allah (SWT) will help him. Whoever tries to be independent, Allah (SWT) will enrich him. Whoever tries to be patient, Allah (SWT) will give him patience, and no-one is given a better or vaster gift than patience."37The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam knows that Islam has given the poor some rights over the wealth of the rich, who should give freely without reminders or insults. But at the same time, Islam wants the poor to be independent and not to rely on this right. The higher hand is better than the lower hand, so all Muslims, men and women, should always work so that their hand will not be the lower one. That is more befitting and more honouring to them. So those men and women who have little should increase their efforts and not be dependent on charity and hand-outs. This will save them from losing face. Whenever he spoke from the minbar about charity and refraining from begging, the Prophet (PBUH) would remind the Muslims that "the higher hand is better than the lower, the higher hand is the one that spends, whilst the lower hand is the one that begs."38

She does not interfere in that which

does not concern her

The true Muslim woman is wise and discerning; she does not interfere in that which does not concern her, nor does she concern herself with the private lives of the women around her. She does not stick her nose into their affairs or force herself on them in any way, because this could result in sin or blame on her part. By seeking to avoid interfering in that which does not concern her, she protects herself from vain and idle talk, as she is adhering to a sound Islamic principle that raises the Muslim above such foolishness, furnishes him with the best of attitudes, and guides him towards the best way of dealing with others:

"A sign of a person's being a good Muslim is that he should leave alone that which does not concern him."39Abu Hurayrah (RAA) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Allah (SWT) likes three things for you and dislikes three things. He likes for you to worship Him, not to associate anything with Him, and to hold fast, all together, by the Rope which He (stretches out for you), and not to be divided among yourselves [cf. Al `Imran 3:103]. And He dislikes for you to pass on stories and gossip, to ask too many questions, and to waste money."40The divinely-guided society which has been formed by Islam has no room for passing on stories and gossip, asking too many questions, or interfering in the private affairs of others, because the members of such a society are too busy with something much more important, which is the establishing of the word of Allah (SWT) on earth, taking the banner of Islam to the four corners of the earth, and spreading its values among mankind. Those who are engaged in such great missions do not have the time to indulge in such sins.

She refrains from slandering the honour

of others and seeking out their faults

The God-fearing Muslim woman restrains her tongue and does not seek out people's faults or slander their honour, and she hates to see such talk spread in the Muslim community. She acts in accordance with the guidance of the Qur'an and Sunnah, which issue a severe warning to those corrupt men and women who indulge in slandering the honour of others, that they will suffer a terrible punishment in this world and the next:

( Those who love [to see] scandal published broadcast among the Believers, will have a grievous Penalty in this life and in the Hereafter: Allah knows, and you know not.) (Qur'an 24:19)The one who indulges in the slander of people's honour, and spreads news of scandal throughout the community is just like the one who commits the scandalous deed, as `Ali ibn Abi Talib (RAA) stated: "The one who tells the news of scandal and the one who spread the news are equally sinful."41The true Muslim woman understands that the human shortcomings of some weak or careless women cannot be dealt with by seeking out their faults and mistakes and broadcasting them throughout the community. The way to deal with them is by offering sound advice to the women concerned, encouraging them to obey Allah (SWT), and teaching them to hate disobedience themselves, always being frank without hurting their feelings or being confrontational.

Kind words and a gentle approach in explaining the truth opens hearts and minds, and leads to complete spiritual and physical submission. For this reason, Allah (SWT) forbids the Muslims to spy on one another and seek out one another's faults:

( . . . And spy not on each other . . .) (Qur'an 49:12)Exposing people's shortcomings, seeking out their faults, spying on them and gossiping about them are actions which not only hurt the people concerned; they also harm the greater society in which they live. Therefore the Qur'an issued a stern warning to those who love to spread scandal in the community, because whenever scandal is spread in a community, people's honour is insulted, and rumours, plots and suspicions increase, then the disease of promiscuity becomes widespread, people become immune to acts of disobedience and sin, the bonds of brotherhood are broken, and hatred, enmity, conspiracies and corruption arise. This is what the Prophet (PBUH) referred to when he said: "If you seek out the faults of the Muslims, you will corrupt them, or you will nearly corrupt them."42So the Prophet (PBUH) issued a stern warning to the Muslims against the danger of slandering people's honour and exposing their faults. He threatened that the one who takes such matters lightly would himself be exposed, even if he were hiding in the innermost part of his home:

"Do not hurt the feelings of the servants of Allah (SWT); do not embarrass them; do not seek to expose their faults. Whoever seeks to expose the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah (SWT) will seek to expose his faults and expose him, even if he hides in the innermost part of his home."43

The Prophet (PBUH) was deeply offended by those who were nosey, suspicious or doubtful, or who sought to undermine people's reputation and honour. He would become very angry whenever he heard any news of these aggressors who hurt others. Ibn `Abbas (RAA) described the anger of the Prophet (PBUH) and his harshness towards those who slandered the honour of others:

"The Prophet (PBUH) gave a speech that even reached the ears of virgins in their private rooms. He said: `O you who have spoken the words of faith, but faith has not penetrated your hearts! Do not hurt the feelings of the believers and do not seek out their faults. Whoever seeks out the faults of his Muslim brother, Allah (SWT) will seek out his faults, and whoever's faults are sought out by Allah (SWT) will be exposed, even if he is in the innermost part of his house."44

These harsh words, which were even heard by the virgins secluded in tprivate rooms, reflect the anger felt by the Prophet (PBUH). He started his speech with the words "O you who have spoken the words of faith, but faith has not penetrated your hearts!" How great is the sin of those who are included among those whose hearts are deprived of the blessing of faith!

She does noshow off or boast

The Muslim woman does not slip into the error of pride, boasting and showing off, because her knowledge of Islam protects her from such errors. She understands that the very essence of this religion is sincerity towards Allah (SWT) in word and deed; any trace of a desire to show off will destroy reward, cancel out good deeds, and bring humiliation on the Day of Judgement.

Worshipping Allah (SWT) is the goal behind the creation of mankind and jinn, as the Qur'an says:

( I have only created jinns and men, that they may serve Me.) (Qur'an 51:56)But this worship cannot be accepted unless it is done sincerely for the sake of Allah (SWT): ( And they have been commanded no more than this: to worship Allah, offering Him sincere devotion, being True [in faith] . . .) (Qur'an 98:5)When a Muslim woman's deeds are contaminated with the desire to boast or show off or seek fame and reputation, the good deeds will be invalidated. Her reward will be destroyed and she will be in a clear state of loss. The Qur'an issues a clear and stern warning to those who spend their wealth then remind the beneficiaries of their charity of their gifts in a way that hurts their feelings and offends their dignity: ( O you who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury - like those who spend their substance to be seen of men, but believe neither in Allah nor the Last Day. They are in Parable like a hard, barren rock, on which is a little soil; on it falls heavy rain, which leaves it [just] a bare rock. They will be able to do nothing with aught they have earned. And Allah guides not those who reject faith.) (Qur'an 2:264)Reminding the poor of one's generosity cancels out the reward of these acts of charity, just as pouring water washes away all traces of soil on a smooth stone. The last part of the ayah presents the frightening admonition that those who show off do not deserve the guidance of Allah (SWT) and are counted as kafirs: ( And Allah guides not those who reject faith.)

Such people's main concern is to appear to people to be doing good works; they are not concerned with earning the pleasure of Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) has described them as doing apparently good deeds:

( . . . to be seen of men, but little do they hold Allah in remembrance.) (Qur'an 4:142)Thus their deeds will be thrown back in their faces, because they associated something or someone else with Allah (SWT), and Allah (SWT) does not accept any deeds except those which are done purely for His sake, as is stated in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (RAA), in which he reports that he heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: "Allah (SWT) said: `I am so self-sufficient that I am in no need of having an associate. Thus he who does an action for someone else's sake as well as Mine shall have that action renounced by Me to the one whom he associated with Me."45The true Muslim woman is cautious, when doing good deeds, to avoid falling into the dangerous trap into which so many women who seek to do good have fallen, without even realizing it, by seeking praise for their efforts and honourable mention on special occasions. Theirs is a terrible fall indeed.

The Prophet (PBUH) has clearly explained this issue and has referred to the terrible humiliation that those who show off will suffer on that awful Day ( whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he [will prosper] that brings to Allah a sound heart.) (Qur'an 26:88-89).

This is mentioned in another hadith in which Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said:

"I heard the Prophet (PBUH) say: `The first person to be judged on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who was martyred. He will be brought forth and Allah (SWT) will remind him of His blessings, and he will recognize them. Then he will be asked, "What did you do with them?" He will say, "I fought for Your sake until I was martyred." Allah (SWT) will say, "You have lied. You only fought so that people would say, `He is courageous,' and they did say it." Then He will order that he be dragged on his face and thrown into the Fire. Then there will be a man who studied much and taught others, and recited Qur'an. He will be brought forth and Allah (SWT) will remind of His blessings, and he will recognize them. Then he will be asked, "What did you do with them?" He will say, "I studied much, and taught others, and recited Qur'an for Your sake. Allah (SWT) will say, "You have lied. You studied so that people would say, `He is a scholar,' and you recited Qur'an so that they would say, `He is a qari',' and they did say it." Then He will order that he be dragged on his face and thrown into the Fire. Then there will be a man to whom Allah (SWT) gave all types of wealth in abundance. He will be brought forth and Allah (SWT) will remind him of His blessings and he will recognize them. Then he will be asked, "What did you do with them?" He will say, "I have never seen any way in which You would like money to be spent for Your sake without spending it." Allah (SWT) will say, "You have lied. You did that so people would say, `he is generous,' and they did say it." Then He will order that he be dragged on his face and thrown into the Fire."'"46The intelligent Muslim woman who is truly guided by the Qur'an and Sunnah carefully avoids slipping into the sin of boasting in any of its many forms. She is ever keen to devote all of her deeds exclusively to Allah (SWT), seeking His pleasure, and whenever the appalling spectre of pride and boasting looms before her, she remembers and adheres to the teaching of the Prophet (PBUH): "Whoever makes a show of his good deeds so that people will respect him, Allah (SWT) will show what is truly in his heart."47She is fair in her judgements

The Muslim woman may be put in a position where she is required to form an opinion or judgement on some person or matter. This is where her faith, common sense and taqwa reveal themselves. The true Muslim woman judges fairly, and is never unjust, biased or influenced by her own whims, no matter what the circumstances, because she understands from the teachings of Islam that being just and avoiding unfairness are at the very heart of her faith, as stated by clear and unambiguous texts of the Qur'an and Sunnah and expressed in commandments that leave no room for prevarication:

( Allah does command you to render back your Trusts to whom they are due; and when you judge between man and man, that you judge with justice . . .)

(Qur'an 4:58)

Justice as known by the Muslim and the Islamic society is aboslute and pure justice. It is not influenced by friendship, hatred or blood ties: ( O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and do not let the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to Piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do.) (Qur'an 5:8)

( . . . Whenever you speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned . . .) (Qur'an 6:152)

The Prophet (PBUH) set the highest example of justice when Usamah ibn Zayd came to intercede for the Makhzumi woman who had committed theft, and the Prophet (PBUH) had decided to cut off her hand. He said: "Do you intercede concerning one of the punishments decreed by Allah (SWT), O Usamah? By Allah (SWT), even if Fatimah the daughter of Muhammad had committed theft, I would have cut off her hand."48

This is absolute, universal justice which is applied to great and small, prince and commoner, Muslims and non-Muslims. None can escape its grasp, and this is what differentiates justice in Islamic societies from justice in other societies.

History records the impressive story that earns the respect of the institutions of justice throughout the world and at all times: the khalifah `Ali ibn AbTalib stood side by side in court with his Jewish opponent, who had stolen his shield, on equal terms. The qadi, Shurayh, did not let his great respect for the khalifah prevent him from asking him to produce evidence that the Jew had stolen his shield. When the khalifah could not produce such evidence, the qadi ruled in favour of the Jew, and against the khalifah. Islamhistory is full of such examples which indicate the extent to which truth and justice prevailed in the Muslim society.

Therefore the Muslim woman who truly adheres to the teachings of her religion is just in word and deed, and this attitude of hers is reinforced by the fact that truth and justice are an ancient part of her heritage and fairness is a sacred part of her belief.

She does not oppress or mistreat others

To the extent that the Muslim woman is keen to adhere to justice in all her words and deeds, she also avoids oppression (zulm), for oppression is darkness in which male and female oppressors will become lost, as the Prophet (PBUH) explained:

"Keep away from oppression, for oppression is darkness on the Day of Resurrection."49The following hadith qudsi definitively and eloquently expresses Allah's (SWT) prohibition of oppression in a way that leaves no room for prevarication: "O My servants, I have forbidden oppression for Myself and have made it forbidden amongst you, so do not oppress one another."50If Allah (SWT), the Creator, the Sovereign, the Most Holy, the Exalted in Might, the Omnipotent, the Almighty, may He be glorified, has forbidden oppression for Himself, and forbidden it for His servants, does it then befit His weak, mortal servant to commit the sin of oppression against his human brother?

The Prophet (PBUH) forbade Muslim men and women to commit the sin of oppression against their brothers and sisters in faith, no matter what the motives, reasons or circumstances might be. It is unimaginable that a Muslim who is adhering to the strong bonds of brotherhood could commit such a sin:

"A Muslim is the brother of another Muslim: he does not oppress him or forsake him when he is oppressed. Whoever helps his brother, Allah (SWT) will help him; whoever relieves his brother from some distress, Allah (SWT) will relieve him of some of his distress on the Day of Resurrection; whoever covers (the fault of) a Muslim, Allah (SWT) will cover his faults on the Day of Resurrection."51

The Prophet (PBUH) did not stop at forbidding oppression against another Muslim, man or woman; he also forbade Muslims to forsake a brother in faith who was being oppressed, because this act of forsaking an oppressed brother is in itself a terrible form of oppression. He encouraged Muslims to take care of their brothers' needs and to ease their suffering and conceal their faults, as if indicating that the neglect of these virtues constitutes oppression, failure and injustice with regard to the ties of brotherhood that bind the Muslim and his brother.

We have quoted above the texts that enjoin absolute justice which cannot be influenced by love, hatred, bias or ties of blood, and other texts that forbid absolute injustice. This means that justice is to be applied to all people, and that injustice to any people is to be avoided, even if the people concerned are not Muslim. Allah (SWT) commands justice and good treatment of all, and forbids oppression and wrong-doing to all:

( Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for [your] Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: For Allah loves those who are just.) (Qur'an 60:8)She is fair even to those whom

she does not like

Life sometimes imposes on a Muslim woman the burden of having to live or mix with women whom she does not like, such as living in the same house with one of her in-laws or other women with whom she has nothing in common and does not get along well. This is something which happens in many homes, a fact which cannot be denied, for souls are like conscripted soldiers: if they recognize one another, they will become friends, and if they dislike one another, they will go their separate ways, as the Prophet (PBUH) explained in the hadith whose authenticity is agreed upon. How should the Muslim woman who has received a sound Islamic education conduct herself in such a situation? Should she be negative in her dealings, judgements and reactions, or should she be gentle, tactful, fair and wise, even with those whom she does not like?

The answer is that the Muslim woman who is truly guided by Islam should be fair, wise, gentle and tactful. She should not expose her true feelings towards those she dislikes, or expose her cold feelings towards them in the way she behaves towards them and reacts to them. She should greet such women warmly, treat them gently and speak softly to them. This is the attitude adopted by the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions. Abu'l-Darda' (RAA) said:

"We smile at people even if in our hearts we are cursing them."52`Urwah ibn al-Zubayr reported that `A'ishah told him: "A man sought permission to enter upon the Prophet (PBUH), and he said, `Let him in, what a bad son of his tribe (or bad brother of his tribe) he is!' When the man came in, the Prophet (PBUH) spoke to him kindly and gently. I said: `O Messenger of Allah, you said what you said, then you spoke to him kindly.' He said, `O `A'ishah, the worst of the people in the sight of Allah (SWT) is the one who is shunned by others or whom people treat nicely because they fear his sharp tongue.'"53Being companionable, friendly and kind towards people are among the attributes of believing men and women. Being humble, speaking gently and avoiding harshness are approaches that make people like one another and draw closer to one another, as enjoined by Islam, which encourages Muslims to adopt these attitudes in their dealings with others.

The true Muslim woman is not swayed by her emotions when it comes to love and hate. She is moderate, objective, fair and realistic in her treatment and opinions of those woman whom she does not like, and allows herself to be governed by her reason, religion, chivalry and good attitude. She does not bear witness except to the truth, and she does not judge except with justice, following the example of the Mothers of the Believers, who were the epitome of fairness, justice and taqwa in their opinions of one another.

`A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) was the closest of his wives to the Prophet's heart, and her main rival in this regard was Zaynab bint Jahsh. It was natural for there to be jealousy between them, but this jealousy did not prevent either of them from saying what was true about the other and acknowledging her qualities without undermining them.

In Sahih Muslim, `A'ishah says of Zaynab:

"She was the one who was somewhat equal in rank with me in the eyes of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). I have never seen a woman better in piety than Zaynab, or more fearing of Allah (SWT), or more true in speech, or more faithful in upholding the ties of kinship, or more generous in giving charity, or humble enough to work with her hand s in order to earn money that she could spend for the sake of Allah (SWT). However, she was hot-tempered and quick to anger, but she would soon cool down and then take the matter no further."54In Sahih Bukhari, in the context of her telling of the slander incident (al-ifk) concerning which Allah (SWT) Himself confirmed her total innocence, `A'ishah referred to Zaynab's testimony concerning her: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) asked Zaynab bint Jahsh concerning me, saying: `O Zaynab, what did you see? What have you learnt?' She said, `O Messenger of Allah, I protect my hearing and my sight (by refraining from telling lies). I know nothing but good about her.'" Then `A'ishah said: "She is the one who was my main rival, but Allah (SWT) protected her (from telling lies) because of her piety."55Anyone who reads the books of sirah and the biographies of the Sahabah will find many reports of the wives of the Prophets which describe fairness and mutual praise among co-wives.

Among these is Umm Salamah's comment about Zaynab: "Zaynab was very dear to the Prophet (PBUH), and he liked to spend time with her. She was righteous, and frequently stood in prayer at night and fasted during the day. She was skilled (in handicrafts) and used to give everything that she earned in charity to the poor."

When Zaynab died, `A'ishah said: "She has departed praiseworthy and worshipping much, the refuge of the orphans anwidows."56

When Maymunah died, `A'ishah said: "By Allah (SWT), Maymunah has gone. . . But by Allah (SWT) she was one of the most pious of us and one of those who was most faithful in upholding the ties of kinship."57

The wives of the Prophet (PBUH) displayed this attitude of fairness and justice towards co-wives in spite of the jealousy, competition and sensitivity that existed between them. We can only imagine how great and noble their attitude towards other women was. By their behaviour and attitude, they set the highest example for Muslim woman of human co-existence that absorbs all hatred by increasing the power of reason and controls the strength of jealousy - if it is present - by strengthening the feelings of fairness, good treatment and a sense of being above such negative attitudes. Thus the Muslim woman becomes fair towards those women whom she does not like, regardless of the degree of closeness between them, fair when judging them, and wise, rational and tactful in her treatment of them.

She does not rejoice in the misfortunes of others

The sincere Muslim woman who is truly infused with Islamic attitudes does not rejoice in the misfortunes of anyone, because Schadenfreude (malicious enjoyment of others' misfortunes) is a vile, hurtful attitude that should not exist in the God-fearing woman who understands the teachings of her religion. The Prophet (PBUH) forbade this attitude and warned against it:

"Do not express malicious joy at the misfortune of your brother, for Allah (SWT) will have mercy on him and inflict misfortune on you."58There is no room for Schadenfreude in the heart of the Muslim woman in whom Islam has instilled good manners. Instead, she feels sorry for those who are faced with trials and difficulties: she hastens to help them and is filled with compassion for their suffering. Schadenfreude belongs only in those sick hearts that are deprived of the guidance of Islam and that are accustomed to plotting revenge and seeking out means of harming others.

She avoids suspicion

Another attribute of the true Muslim woman is that she does not form unfounded suspicions about anybody. She avoids suspicion as much as possible, as Allah (SWT) has commanded in the Qur'an:

( O you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much [as possible]: for suspicion in some cases is a sin . . .) (Qur'an 49:12)She understands that by being suspicious of others she may fall into sin, especially if she allows her imagination free rein to dream up possibilities and illusions, and accuses them of shameful deeds of which they are innocent. This is the evil suspicion which is forbidden in Islam.

The Prophet (PBUH) issued a stern warning against suspicion and speculation that has no foundation in reality. He (PBUH) said:

"Beware of suspicion, for suspicion is the falsest of speech."59The Prophet (PBUH) counted suspicion as being the falsest of speech. The truly sincere Muslim woman who is keen to speak the truth always would never even allow words that carry the stench of untruth to cross her tongue, so how can she allow herself to fall into the trap of uttering the falsest of speech?

When the Prophet (PBUH) warned against suspicion and called it the falsest of speech, he was directing the Muslims, men and women, to take people at face value, and to avoid speculating about them or doubting them. It is not the attitude of a Muslim, nor is it his business, to uncover people's secrets, to expose their private affairs, or to slander them. Only Allah (SWT) knows what is in people's hearts, and can reveal it or call them to account for it, for only He knows all that is secret and hidden. A man, in contrast, knows nothing of his brother except what he sees him do. This was the approach of the Sahabah and Tabi`in who received the pure and unadulterated guidance of Islam.

`Abd al-Razzaq reported from `Abdullah ibn `Utbah ibn Mas`ud:

"I heard `Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA) say: `People who used to follow the wahy (Revelation) at the time of the Prophet (PBUH), but now the wahy has ceased. So now we take people at face value. If someone appears good to us, we trust him and form a close relationship with him on the basis of what we see of his deeds. We have nothing to do with his inner thoughts, which are for Allah (SWT) to judge. And if someone appears bad to us, we do not trust him or believe him, even if he tells us that his inner thoughts are good."60The true Muslim woman who is adhering to that which will help her to remember Allah (SWT) and do good deeds, will exercise the utmost care in every word she utters concerning her Muslim sister, whether directly or indirectly. She tries to be sure about every judgement she makes about people, always remembering the words of Allah (SWT): ( And pursue not that of which you have no knowledge; for every act of hearing, or of seeing, or of [feeling in] the heart will be enquired into [on the Day of Reckoning].) (Qur'an 17:36)So she does not transgress this wise and definitive prohibition: she does not speak except with knowledge, and she does not pass judgement except with certainty.

The true Muslim woman always reminds herself of the watching angel who is assigned to record every word she utters and every judgement she forms, and this increases her fear of falling into the sin of suspicion:

( Not a word does he utter, but there is a sentinel by him, ready [to note it].) (Qur'an 50:18)The alert Muslim woman understands the responsibility she bears for every word she utters, because she knows that these words may raise her to a position where Allah (SWT) is pleased with her, or they may earn her His wrath, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "A man could utter a word that pleases Allah (SWT), and not realize the consequences of it, for Allah (SWT) may decree that he is pleased with him because of it until the Day he meets Him. Similarly, a man could utter a word that angers Allah (SWT), and not realize the consequences of it, for Allah (SWT) may decree that He is angry with him because of it until the Day of Resurrection."61How great is our responsibility for the words we utter! How serious are the consequences of the words that our garrulous tongues speak so carelessly!

The true Muslim woman who is God-fearing and intelligent does not listen to people's idle talk, or pay attention to the rumours and speculation that are rife in our communities nowadays, especially in the gatherings of foolish and careless women. Consequently she never allows herself to pass on whatever she hears of such rumours without being sure that they are true. She believes that to do so would be the kind of haram lie that was clearly forbidden by the Prophet (PBUH):

"It is enough lying for a man to repeat everything that he hears."62She refrains from backbiting and

spreading malicious gossip

The Muslim woman who truly understands the teachings of Islam is conscious of Allah (SWT), fearing Him in secret and in the open. She carefully avoids uttering any word of slander or malicious gossip that could anger her Lord and include her among those spreaders of malicious gossip who are severely condemned in the Qur'an and Sunnah.

When she reads the words of Allah (SWT):

( . . . Nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, you would abhor it . . . But fear Allah, for Allah is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.) (Qur'an 49:12)she is filled with revulsion for the hateful crime of gossip, which is likened to the eating of her dead sister's flesh. So she hastens to repent, as Allah (SWT) commands at the end of the ayah, encouraging the one who has fallen into the error of backbiting to repent quickly from it.

She aheeds the words of the Prophet (PBUH), who said:

"The Muslim is the one from whose tongue and whose hand the Muslims are safe."63So she feels that gossip is a sin which does not befit the Muslim woman who has uttered the words of the Shahadah, and that the woman who is used to gossip in social gatherings is not among the righteous Muslim women.

`A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said:

"I said to the Prophet (PBUH), `It is enough for you that Safiyyah is such-and-such.'" Snarrators said that she meant she was short of stature. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "You have spoken a word that, if it were to mixed with the waters of the sea, it would contaminate them."64The Muslim woman pays attention to the description of the seven acts that may lead to a person's condemnation, which the Prophet (PBUH) called on people to avoid. In this list, she finds something that is even worse and more dangerous than mere gossip, namely the slander of chaste, innocent believing women, which is a sin that some women fall into in their gatherings: "Avoid (the) seven things that could lead to perdition." It was asked, "O Messenger of Allah, what are they?" He said: "Shirk [associating any partner with Allah (SWT)]; witchcraft (sihr); killing anyone for whom Allah (SWT) has forbidden killing, except in the course of justice; consuming the wealth of the orphan; consuming riba (usury); running away from the battlefield; and slandering chaste and innocent believing women."65The Muslim woman who truly understands this teaching takes the issue of gossip very seriously, and does not indulge in any type of gossip or tolerate anyone to gossip in her company. She defends her sisters from hostile gossip and refutes whatever bad things are being said about them, in accordance with the words of the Prophet (PBUH): "Whoever defends the flesh of his brother in his absence, Allah (SWT) will save him from the Fire."66The true Muslim woman also refrains from spreading malicious gossip, because she understands the dangerous role it plays in spreading evil and corruption in society and breaking the ties of love and friendship between its members, as the Prophet (PBUH) explained: "The best of the servants of Allah (SWT) are those who, when they are seen, Allah (SWT) is remembered (i.e., they are very pious). The worst of the servants of Allah (SWT) are those who spread malicious gossip, cause division between friends, and seek to cause trouble for innocent people."67It is enough for the woman who spreads malicious gossip and causes trouble between friends and splits them up to know that if she persists in her evil ways, there awaits her humiliation in this life and a terrible destiny in the next, as the Prophet (PBUH) declared that the blessings of Paradise will be denied to every person who spreads malicious gossip. This is stated clearly in the sahih hadith: "The one who engages in malicious gossip will not enter Paradise."68What fills the believing woman's heart with fear and horror of the consequences of spreading malicious gossip is the fact that Allah (SWT) will pour His punishment upon the one who engaged in this sin from the moment he or she is laid in the grave. We find this in the hadith which Bukhari, Muslim and others narrated from Ibn `Abbas (RAA): "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) passed by two graves, and said: `They are being punished, but they are not being punished for any major sin. One of them used to spread malicious gossip, and the other used not to clean himself properly after urinating.'" He (Ibn `Abbas) said: "He called for a green branch and split it in two, then planted a piece on each grave and said, `May their punishment be reduced so long as these remain fresh.'"69She avoids cursing and foul language

The Muslim woman who has absorbed the good manners taught by Islam never utters obscene language or foul words, or offends people with curses and insults, bacause she knows that the moral teachings of Islam completely forbid all such talk. Cursing is seen as a sin that damages the quality of a person's adherance to Islam, and the foul-mouthed person is intensely disliked by Allah (SWT).

Ibn Mas`ud (RAA) said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) said: `Cursing a Muslim is a sin and killing him is kufr.'"70The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Allah (SWT) does not love anyone who is foul-mouthed and obscene."71

"Allah (SWT) will hate the disgusting, foul-mouthed person."72

It is a quality that does not befit the Muslim woman who has been guided by the truth of Islam and whose heart has been filled with the sweetness of faith. So she keeps far away from disputes and arguments in which cheap insults and curses are traded. The alert Muslim woman is further encouraged to avoid such moral decadence whenever she remembers the beautiful example set by the Prophet (PBUH) in all his words and deeds. It is known that he never uttered any words that could hurt a person's feelings, damage his reputation or insult his honour.

Anas ibn Malik (RAA), who accompanied the Prophet (PBUH) closely for many years, said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) never used foul language, or cursed, or swore. When he wanted to rebuke someone, he would say, `What is wrong with him? May his forehead be covered with dust!'"73He even refrained from cursing the kafirin who had hardened their hearts to his message. He never spoke a harmful word to them, as the great Sahabi Abu Hurayrah said: "It was said: `O Messenger of Allah, pray against the mushrikin.' He said, `I was not sent as a curse, but I was sent as a mercy.'"74The Prophet (PBUH) excelled in removing the roots of evil, hatred and enmity in people's hearts when he explained to the Muslims that the one who gives his tongue free rein in slandering people and their wealth and honour is the one who is truly ruined in this world and the next. His aggressive attitude towards others will cancel out whatever good deeds he may have done in his life, and on the Day of Judgement he will be abandoned, with no protection from the Fire: "The Prophet (PBUH) said: `Do you know who is the one who is ruined? They said, `It is the one who has no money or possessions.' He said, `The one who is ruined among my ummah is the one who comes on the Day of Resurrection with prayer, fasting and zakat to his credit, but he insulted this one, slandered that one, devoured this one's wealth, shed that one's blood, and beat that one. So some of his hasanat will be given to this one and some to that one. . . And if his hasanat run out before all his victims have been compensated, then some of their sins will be taken and added to his, then he will be thrown into Hell.'"75Not surprisingly, therefore, all of this nonsense is eliminated from the life of true Muslim women. Disputes and arguments which could lead to curses and insults are rare in the community of true Muslim women that is based on the virtues of good manners, respect for the feelings of others, and a refined level of social interaction.

She does not make fun of anybody

The Muslim woman whose personality has been infused with a sense of humility and resistance to pride and arrogance cannot make fun of anybody. The Qur'anic guidance which has instilled those virtues in her also protects her from scorning or despising other women:

( O you who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: it may be that the [latter] are better than the [former]: nor let some women laugh at others: it may be that the [latter] are better than the [former]: nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by [offensive] nicknames: ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, [to be used of one] after he has believed: and those who do not desist are [indeed] doing wrong.) (Qur'an 49:11)The Muslim woman also learns the attitude of modesty and gentleness from the example of the Prophet (PBUH), so she avoids being arrogant and scorning or looking down on others when she reads the words of the Prophet (PBUH) as reported by Muslim, stating that despising her fellow Muslim women is pure evil: "It is sufficient evil for a man to despise his Muslim brother."76She is gentle and kind towards people

It is in the nature of women to be gentle and kind, which is more befitting to them. This is why women are known as the "fairer sex."

The Muslim woman who has truly been guided by Islam is even more kind and gentle towards the women around her, because gentleness and kindness are characteristics which Allah (SWT) loves in His believing servants and which make the one who possesses them dear to others:

( Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel [Evil] with what is better: then will he between whom and you was hatbecome as it were your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint - none but persons of the greatest good fortune.)

(Qur'an 41:34-35)

Many ayat and ahadith reinforce the message that gentleness and kindness are to be encouraged and that they are noble virtues that should prevail in the Muslim community and characterize every Muslim member of that community who truly understands the guidance of Islam. It is sufficient for the Muslim woman to know that kindness is one of the attributes of Allah (SWT) that He has encouraged His servants to adopt in all their affairs. "Allah (SWT) is Kind and loves kindness in all affairs."77Kindness is a tremendous virtue which Allah (SWT) rewards in a way unlike any other: "Allah (SWT) is kind and loves kindness, and He rewards it in a way that He does not reward harshness, and in a way unlike any other."78The Prophet (PBUH) praised kindness, regarding it as an adornment that beautifies and encouraging others to adopt this trait: "There is no kindness in a thing but it makes it beautiful, and there is no absence of kindness in a thing but it makes it repugnant."79The Prophet (PBUH) taught the Muslims to be kind in their dealings with people, and to behave in an exemplary manner as befits the Muslim who is calling people to the religion of Allah (SWT), the Kind and Merciful, no matter how provocative the situation.

Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said:

"A Bedouin urinated in the mosque, and the people got up to sort him out. But the Prophet (PBUH) said, `Leave him be, and throw a bucket of water over his urine, for you have been raised to be easy on people, not hard on them.'"80Kindness, gentleness and tolerance, not harshness, aggression and rebukes, are what open people's hearts to the message of truth. The Prophet (PBUH) used to advise the Muslims: "Be cheerful, not threatening, and make things easy, not difficult."81People are naturally put off by rudeness and harshness, but they are attracted by kindness and gentleness. Hence Allah (SWT) said to His Prophet (PBUH): ( . . . Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you.) (Qur'an 3:159)This is an eternal declaration that applies to every woman who seeks to call other women to Islam. She has to find a good way to reach their hearts, for which purpose she utilizes every means of kindness, gentleness and tact at her disposal. If she encounters any hostility or resistance, then no doubt a kind word will reach their hearts and have the desired effect on the hearts of the women she addresses. This is what Allah (SWT) told His Prophet Musa (PBUH ) and his brother Harun when He sent them to Pharaoh: ( Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; but speak to him mildly; perchance he may take warning or fear [Allah].) (Qur'an 20:43-44)Not surprisingly, kindness, according to Islam, is all goodness. Whoever attains it has been given all goodness, and whoever has been denied it has been denied all goodness. We see this in the hadith narrated by Jarir ibn `Abdullah, who said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: `Whoever has been denied kindness has been denied all goodness.'"82The Prophet (PBUH) explained that this goodness will be bestowed upon individuals, households and peoples when kindness prevails in their lives and is one of their foremost characteristics. We find this in the hadith of `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) in which the Prophet (PBUH) told her: "O `A'ishah, be kind, for if Allah (SWT) wills some good to a household, He guides them to kindness."83According to another report, he (PBUH) said: "If Allah (SWT) wills some good to a household, He instils kindness in them."84Jabir (RAA) said: "The Prophet (PBUH) said: `If Allah (SWT) wills some good to a people, He instils kindness in them.'"85What greater goodness can there be than a characteristic that will protect a man from Hell? As the Prophet (PBUH) said in another hadith: "Shall I not tell you who shall be forbidden from the Fire, or from whom the Fire will be forbidden? It will be forbidden for every gentle, soft-hearted and kind person."86The teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) take man a step further, by instilling in him the attitude of kindness and requiring him to be kind even to the animals he slaughters. This is counted as one of the highest levels that the pious and righteous may reach: "Allah (SWT) has prescribed proficiency87 in all things. Thus if you kill, kill well, and if you slaughter, slaughter well. Let each one of you sharpen his blade and let him spare suffering to the animal he slaughters."88Kindness to dumb animals that are to be slaughtered is indicative of the kindness of the man who slaughters them, and of his mercy towards all living creatures. The more a person understands this and treats all living creatures well, the more kind and gentle a person he is. This is the ultimate goal towards which Islam is guiding the Muslim, so that he is kind even to animals.

The true Muslim woman can imagine the comprehensiveness of the Islamic teachings enjoining kindness upon the sons of Adam, when even animals are included.

She is compassionate and merciful

The Muslim woman who truly understands the teachings of Islam is compassionate and merciful, for she understands that the compassion of people on earth will cause the mercy of heaven to be showered upon them. She knows that the one who does not show compassion towards others will not receive the mercy of Allah (SWT), and that the mercy of Allah (SWT) is not withheld except from the one who is lost and doomed, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Have compassion on those who are on earth so that the One Who is in heaven will have mercy on you."89

"Whoever shoes not show compassion to people, Allah (SWT) will not show mercy to him."90

"Compassion is not taken away except from the one who is doomed."91

The true Muslim woman does not limit her compassion only to her family, children, relatives and friends, but she extends it to include all people. This is in accordance with the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH), which include all people and make compassion a condition of faith: "You will not believe until you have compassion towards one another." They said, "O Messenger of Allah, all of us are compassionate." He said, "It is not the compassion of any of you towards his friend, but it is compassion towards all people and compassion towards the common folk."92This is comprehensive, all-embracing compassion which Islam has awoken in the hearts of Muslim men and women, and made one of their distinguishing characteristics, so that the Muslim community - men and women, rich and poor, all of its members - may become an integrated, caring community filled with compassion, brotherly love and true affection.

The Prophet (PBUH) was a brilliant example of sincere compassion. If he heard a child crying when he was leading the people in prayer, he would shorten the prayer, out of consideration for the mother's feelings and concern for her child.

Bukhari and Muslim report from Anas (RAA) that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"I commenced the prayer, and I intended to make it long, but I heard a child crying, so I cut my prayer short because of the distress I knew his mother would be feeling."93

A Bedouin came to the Prophet (PBUH) and asked, "Do you kiss your sons? For we do not kiss them." He said, "What can I do for you when Allah (SWT) has removed compassion from your heart?"94

Prophet (PBUH) kissed al-Hasan ibn `Ali when al-Aqra` ibn Habis al-Tamimi was sitting with him. Al-Aqra` said: "I have ten children and I have never kissed any of them." The Prophet (PBUH) looked at him and said, "The one who does not show compassion will not be shown mercy."95

`Umar (RAA) wanted to appoint a man to some position of authority over the Muslims, then he heard him say something like al-Aqra` ibn Habis had said, i.e., that he did not kiss his children. So `Umar changed his mind about appointing him and said, "If your heart does not beat with compassion towards your own children, how will you be merciful towards thepeople? By Allah (SWT), I will never appoint you." Then he tore up the document he had prepared concerning the man's appointment.

The Prophet (PBUH) extended the feeling of mercy in the hearts of Muslim men and women to cover animals as well as humans. This is reflected in a number of sahih ahadith, such as that reported by Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah, in which the Prophet (PBUH) said: "A man was walking along the road when he felt very thirsty. He saw a well, so he went down into it, drank his fill, then came out. He saw a dog panting and biting the dust with thirst, and said, `This dog's thirst is as severe as mine was.' So he went back down into the well, filled his shoes with water, held them in his mouth (while he climbed out), and gave the dog water. Allah (SWT) thanked him and forgave him." They asked, "O Messenger of Allah, will we be rewarded for kindness towards animals?" He said, "In every living creature there is reward."96Bukhari and Muslim also narrate from Ibn `Umar that the Prophet (PBUH) said: "A woman was punished because of a cat which she locked up until it died of starvation. She was thrown into Hell. It was said - and Allah (SWT) knows best - `You did not feed her or give her water when you locked her up, neither did you let her roam free so that she could eat of the vermin of the earth.'"97

The Prophet (PBUH) reached such heights of mercy that once, when he and his Companions stopped in some place, a bird appeared above his head, as if she were seeking his help and complaining to him of the wrongdoing of a man who had taken her egg. He said, "Which of you has distressed her by taking her egg?" A man said, "O Messenger of Allah, I have taken it." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Put it back, out of mercy to her."98

The Prophet (PBUH) wanted, in this instance, to instil a sense of all-encompassing mercy in the conscience of the Muslims, men and women alike, so that they would become compassionate by nature, even to animals, because whoever has the heart to be kind to animals will not be harsh towards his human brother.

The Prophet (PBUH) was full of compassion towards humans and animals alike. He never stopped encouraging compassion among people, and sought to instil it deeply in the hearts of Muslim men and women, stating that it was the key to Allah's (SWT) mercy, forgiveness and reward. Allah (SWT) would forgive those who were compassionate, even if they were sinners.

In Sahih Muslim, Abu Hurayrah said:

"The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `A dog was walking around a well, almost dying of thirst, when a Jewish prostitute saw him. She took off her shoe, brought water to him and gave him to drink. She was forgiven because of this deed."99How great is the blessing of compassion and mercy for mankind! What beautiful attributes they are! It is sufficient honour and status to know that the Lord of Glory and Majesty derived His own name from rahmah (mercy, compassion), and is called al-Rahim, al-Rahman.
 
 

She strives for people's benefit and seeks

to protect them from harm

The Muslim woman who has been truly guided by Islam is keen to be constructive and active in good and beneficial deeds, not only for herself, but for all people. So she always looks for opportunities to do good, and hastens to do as much as she can, in obedience to the words of the Qur'an:

( . . .And do good, that you may prosper.)

(Qur'an 22:77)

She knows that doing good to others is an act or worship, so long as it is done purely for the sake of Allah (SWT). The door to good deeds is open to all Muslims, to enter whenever they wish and earn the mercy and pleasure of Allah (SWT). There are many aspects to goodness and piety, and they take many forms. Goodness includes all those who work for the sake of Allah (SWT), and any good deed that is done for the sake of Allah (SWT) will be rewarded as an act of charity (sadaqah) in the record of their deeds: "Every good deed is a sadaqah."100

"A good word is a sadaqah."101

The mercy of Allah (SWT) encompasses every Muslim woman whose heart is pure and whose intention is sincerely to please Allah (SWT). It applies to her if she does good, and if she does not do good, so long as she refrains from doing evil:

Abu Musa (RAA) said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) said: `Every Muslim must give charity.' Someone asked, `What if he finds he has nothing with which to give charity?' He said, `Let him work with his two hands and benefit himself and give charity (from his earnings).' Someone said, `What if he does not do that?' He said, `Let him help one who is in desperate need.' Someone said, `What if he does not do that?' He said, `Let him enjoin what is good.' Someone said, `What if he does not do that?' He said, `Let him refrain from doing evil, and that will be an act of charity.'"102The Prophet (PBUH) began this hadith with the words, "Every Muslim must give charity," then he went on to list various types of good deeds and acts of kindness by means of which a Muslim man or woman may earn reward for doing charity. Charity is a duty on the Muslim woman, that is, she must undertake deeds that are socially constructive in her community. If she is unable to do so, or does not do so for any reason, then at least she can restrain her tongue and refrain from doing evil; in this, too, there is reward. Thus both her positive and negative aspects (i.e., what she does and what she does not do) will be directed towards the service of the truth upon which the Muslim community is built. The Muslim is "the one from whose tongue and hand the Muslims are safe."103

So the Muslim woman is always keen to do good, and hastens to do it, hoping that she will be the one to do it. She keeps away from evil, and is determined never to indulge in it. In this way she is one of the best Muslims in the Muslim community, as the Prophet (PBUH) said in the hadith narrated by Imam Ahmad:

"The Prophet (PBUH) stood up before some people who were seated and said: `Shall I tell you the best of you and the worst of you?' The people were silent, so he repeated it three times, then one man said, `Yes, O Messenger of Allah.' He said: `The best of you is the one from whom people expect good deeds, and from whose evil deeds people are safe; the worst of you is the one from whom people expect good deeds but from whose evil deeds people are not safe.'"104The Muslim woman who truly understands her Islam is one of those from whom good deeds are expected and from whose evil deeds people are safe. She is eager to do good deeds in this life, and she knows that her efforts will not be wasted, as she will be rewarded for it in this world and the next: "Whoever relieves a believer of some of the distress of this world, Allah (SWT) will relieve him of some of the distress of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever comes to the aid of one who is going through hardship, Allah (SWT) will come to his aid in this world and the next."105The Muslim woman never spares any effort to do good deeds whenever she is able. How could she do otherwise, when she knows from the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) that failing to do good when one is able to do so carries the threat of losing the blessings of Allah (SWT):

"Never does Allah (SWT) bless a servant with abundant bounty, then some needs of the people are brought to his attention and he feels annoyed and reluctant to help them, but that blessing will be exposed to the threat of loss."106

The Muslim woman does not think little any good deed, no matter how small it may be, so long as it is accompanied by a sincere intention to please Allah (SWT). Doing good may consist of protecting the Muslims from harm, as is brilliantly described in a number of ahadith, for example:

"I have seen a man who was enjoying the luxuries of Paradise because he removed a tree from the side of the road that used to harm the people."107There are two aspects to doing good, and Muslims are obliged to do both of them and to compete with one another in earning the pleasure of Allah (SWT) by doing them. They are: doing good deeds and seeking to benefit the people, and protecting the people from harm.

Seeking to protect the Muslims from harm is no less importantthan doing good and working for their benefit; both count as righteous deeds for which a person will be reward. All societies, no matter what their geographical location or historical era, need both of these deeds, operating in tandem. When both are present, goodness will spread in society, the ties of friendship will be established between its members, and their quality of life will be much improved. This is what Islam seeks to achieve when it constantly encourages Muslims to do good to people and to seek to protect them from harm.

Among the teachings which direct Muslim to protect others from harm is the hadith narrated by Abu Barzah, who said:

"I said, `O Messenger of Allah, teach me something that I may benefit from.' He said, `Remove anything harmful from the path of the Muslims."108According to another report, Abu Barzah said: "O Messenger of Allah, tell me of a deed that will admit me to Paradise." The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Remove anything harmful from the road; this will be an act of charity on your part."What a highly-developed, civil community is the society that Islam has built and instilled in each of its members the idea that the good deeds which will bring one closer to Allah (SWT) and admit one to Paradise include removing anything harmful from the path of the people!

Humanity today is in the greatest need of this highly-developed, civil society that Islam builds, in which every member feels that his contribution to the good of society will bring him closer to Allah (SWT) and grant him entrance to Paradise, even if his good deeds went no further than removing something harmful from the road. There is a huge difference between the society which forms sensitive souls such as these, who cannot bear to see carelessness and backwardness, and the society which pays no attention to the development of its members, so you see them not caring if the garbage and hazardous waste that they throw in the road harms people, and the authorities in those backward societies are obliged to issue laws and regulations to punish those who commit these offences.

How great is the difference between the society that is guided by Islam, whose members hasten to remove anything harmful from the road in obedience to Allah's command and in hope of reward from Him, and the society which has deviated from the guidance of Allah (SWT), whose members do not care on whom their garbage lands when they throw it from their balconies, windows and rooftops!

The civilized Western world has managed to excel in such matters of organization by making individuals become accustomed to respecting the system and following it strictly. But this high level of social organization in the West still falls far short of the true Islamic ideal, for one good reason: the Muslim who has received a sound Islamic education is even stricter and more sincere in adhering to the system, because he believes that stepping beyond the limits is an act of disobedience towards Allah (SWT), Who will punish him on the Day ( whereon neither wealth nor sons will avail, but only he [will prosper] that brings to Allah a sound heart.) (Qur'an 26:88-89). Moreover, the Westerner does not see anything seriously wrong with transgressing the bounds of the system. His conscience may or may not trouble him, but there the matter ends, especially if the authorities are unaware of it.

She helps to alleviate the burden of the debtor

The true Muslim woman is distinguished by the nature of her moral and psychological make-up, and by her tolerant and easy-going personality. So if she is owed anything by her sister and her sister is in difficulty when the time comes to pay the debt, she postpones payment until another time, until the period of hardship is over, in obedience to the words of the Qur'an:

( If the debtor is in difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay . . . ) (Qur'an 2:280)Postponing debts is a generous attitude, one that is encouraged by Islam because it brings about humane standards in one's dealing with one's brother, even if he is in debt.

The Muslim woman who is infused with this humane attitude of postponing payment of her sister's debts is acting in obedience to the commands of Allah (SWT), storing up righteous deeds for her Hereafter that will save her from affliction on the Day of Judgement and shade her in the shade of Allah's Throne on the Day when there is no other shade:

Abu Qutadah (RAA) said:

"I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: Whoever would like Allah (SWT) to save him from the hardship of the Day of Resurrection, let him alleviate the burden of a debtor109, or write off (part of the debt)."110Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `Whoever allows a debtor to postpone payment, or writes off part of the debt, Allah (SWT) will place him under the shade of His Throne on the Day of Resurrection, the Day when there will be no shade except His.'"111The true Muslim woman is able to take the matter further and rise to a higher level, if she is well-off, by letting her sister off paying all or part of the debt. This will earn her a great reward, as Allah (SWT) will compensate her for letting her sister off by letting her off even more, forgiving her for her errors and shortcomings, and saving her from the horror of the Day of Judgement.

Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said:

"The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `There was a man who used to lend money to the people. He used to tell his employee: "If you come across any debtor who is in difficulty, let him off. Perhaps Allah (SWT) will let us off." So when he met Allah (SWT), He let him off.'"112Abu Mas`ud al-Badri (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `A man from among those who were before you was called to account, and no good deeds were found in his record except that he used to have dealings with the people, and he was rich, so he used to tell his employees to let off those debtors who were in difficulty. Allah (SWT), may He be glorified, said: "We should be more generous than he, so let him off."'"113Hudhayfah (RAA) said: "Allah (SWT) brought to account one of His servants to whom he had given wealth, and asked him, `What did you do in the dunya?' He said - and no-one can hide a single thing from Allah (SWT) - `O my Lord, you gave me wealth, and I used to trade with people. It was my habit to be lenient; I would be easy-going with the one who could afford to pay his debt, and I would allow the one who was in difficulty to postpone payment.' Allah (SWT) said, `I should be more generous than you; let My servant off.'" `Uqbah ibn `Amir and Abu Mas`ud al-Ansari said, "We heard something like this from the mouth of the Prophet (PBUH)."114She is generous

One of the characteristics of the Muslim woman who adheres to the teachings of Islam is that she is generous and gives freely; her hands are always stretched forth to give to those who are in need. Whenever she hears the call of one who is in difficulty, or it is appropriate to give generously, she responds to the need.

She is certain that whatever she gives will not go to waste, for it is recorded with One Who has full knowledge of all things:

( . . . And whatever of good you give, be assured that Allah knows it well.) (Qur'an 2:273)She also believes, when she spends her money generously, that whatever she spends will come back to her manifold, and that Allah (SWT) will multiply its rewain this world and the next: ( The parable of those who spend their substance in the way of Allah is that of a grain of corn: it grows seven ears, and each ear has a hundred grains. Allah gives manifold increase to whom He pleases: and Allah cares for all and He knows all things.) (Qur'an 2:261)

( . . . And nothing do you spend in the least [in His Cause] but He replaces it . . .) (Qur'an 34:39)

( . . . Whatever of good you give benefits your own souls, and you shall only do so seeking the `Face'115 of Allah. Whatever good you give, shall be rendered back to you, and you shall not be dealt with unjustly.) (Qur'an 2:272)

She also knows that if she is not saved from the meanness of her own nature and her desire to hoard wealth and treasure, she will eventually lher wealth and it will be wasted, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Every morning that the servants of Allah (SWT) get up, two angels come down. One of them says, `O Allah, give compensation to the one who spends,' and the other says, `O Allah, cause loss to the one who is stingy.'"116And in a hadith qudsi: "Spend, O son of Adam, and I shall spend on you."117The true Muslim woman believes that spending money for the sake of Allah (SWT) will never decrease her wealth in the slightest; rather, it will bless, purify and increase it, as the Prophet (PBUH) stated: "Charity does not decrease wealth . . ."118

She knows that whatever she spends for the sake of Allah (SWT) is in fact that which is truly saved, because it is recorded in the book of her good deeds, whilst everything else will eventually disappear. The Prophet (PBUH) drew the Muslims' attention to this higher understanding of generous giving when he asked `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) what was left of the sheep they had slaughtered. She told him, "Nothing but the shoulder." He said, "Everything except the shoulder is saved."119

The true Muslim woman is highly motivated by all of this to give generously of whatever possessions and goods come to her.

An example of giving on the part of Muslim women is the well-known report narrated by Bukhari from Ibn `Abbas (RAA), who said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) went out on the day of `Eid and prayed two rak`ahs with no prayer before or after them (i.e., he prayed only two rak`ahs). Then he came to the women, and commanded them to give in charity, so they started to give their earrings and necklaces in charity."120According to another report also given by Bukhari: "He (PBUH) came to the women and commanded them to give in charity, so they began to throw their rings into Bilal's cloak."121

A third report by Bukhari, narrating from Ibn `Abbas states that the Prophet (PBUH) prayed two rak`ahs on the day of `Eid with no prayer before or after them (i.e., he prayed only two rak`ahs), then he came to the women, and Bilal was accompanying him; he commanded them to give in charity, and the women began to throw down their earrings.122

The wives of the Prophet (PBUH) and the women of the salaf set the highest example of generous giving, and their deeds are recorded by history in letters of light.

In his biography of `A'ishah given in Siyar a`lam al-nubala', al-Dhahabi states that she gave seventy thousand dirhams in charity, at the time when she was putting patches on her shield.

Mu`awiyah sent her a hundred thousand dirhams, and she gave it all away in charity before evening fell. Her servant said to her, "Why did you not buy a dirham's worth of meat with it?" She said, "Why did you not tell me to do so?"

Mu`awiyah also sent her bracelets worth a hundred thousand, which she shared out among the other wives of the Prophet (PBUH).

Ibn al-Zubayr sent her money in two containers, to the amount of a hundred thousand. She called for a large tray, and began to share the money among the people. When evening came, she said, "O young girl, bring me my fatur (food with which to break fast)," for she, (May Allah be pleased with her), used to fast all the time. The young girl said to her, "O Mother of the Believers, could you not have bought us a dirham's worth of meat?" She said, "Do not rebuke me; if you had reminded me I would have done so."

Her sister Asma' was no less generous. `Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr (RAA) said: "I never saw two women more generous than `A'ishah and Asma', but their ways of being generous were different. `A'ishah would accumulate things and then share them out, whilst Asma' would never keep anything until the next day."

The Prophet's wife Zaynab bint Jahsh used to work with her own hands and give in charity from her earnings. She was the most generous of the Prophet's wives in giving freely and doing good deeds. According to a hadith narrated by Imam Muslim from `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), the Prophet (PBUH) told his wives about Zaynab: "The first of you to join me (after death) will be the one who has the longest hand." `A'ishah said: "They began to measure their hands against one another to see who had the longest hand, and the one who had the longest hands of all of us was Zaynab, because she used to work with her hands and give charity from her earnings."123`Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA) sent Zaynab her annual salary, and when it was brought to her, she said: "May Allah forgive `Umar! Others of my sisters are more capable of sharing this out than I am." They told her, "This is all for you." She said, "Subhan Allah! Pour it out and cover it with a cloth." Then she told Barzah bint Rafi`, the narrator of this report: "Put your hand in and take a handful of it, and take it to Bani So-and-so and Bani So-and-so" - who were orphans or related to her. This was repeated until there was only a little left under the cloth. Barzah bint Rafi` said to Zaynab: "May Allah forgive you, O Mother of the Believers! By Allah (SWT), it is our right to have some." Zaynab said: "What is left under the cloth is for you." (Barzah bint Rafi`) said that they found eighty-five dirhams under the cloth. Zaynab said, "O Allah, do not let me live to receive another payment like this from `Umar," and she died before the time for the next payment came.124

Ibn Sa`d reported that when the money was brought to Zaynab, she started saying, "O Allah, do not let me see this money again next year, for it is a fitnah (temptation)." Then she shared it out among her relatives and those who were in need, until it was all gone. `Umar (RAA) heard about this, and said, "This women is destined for good." He stood at her door and conveyed his salam to her, then said: "I have heard about what you gave out to others. Send her a thousand dirhams to keep for herself." But she did the same thing with that money, and did not even keep a single dirham or dinar for herself.

Among the women to whose generosity history bears witness is Sakinah bint al-Husayn who would give generously of whatever she had. If she had no money, she would take off her own jewellery and give it to those who were destitute.

`Atikah bint Yazid ibn Mu`awiyah gave up all of her money to the poor members of Abu Sufyan's family.

Umm al-Banin, the sister of `Umar ibn `Abd al-`Aziz, was a marvellous example of generous giving. She said, "Everyone has a passion, and my passion is giving." She used to free slaves every week, and equip horsemen to fight for the sake of Allah (SWT). She would say, "Uff to stinginess! If it were a shirt I would not wear it, and if it were a road I would not follow it."125

Zubaydah, the wife of the khalifah Harun al-Rashid, had a channel dug to being water from springs and rain-pools to Makkah, to provide fresh water for the inhabitants of the city and for the pilgrims. This was named `Ayn Zubaydah (the spring of Zubaydah), and was known as one of the wonders of the world at that time. When her treasurer objected to the high cost of this project, she told him: "Do it, even if every single blow of the axe costs a dinar."

If we were to discuss all the women in our history who were pioneers of generous giving, we could fill entire volumes. It is enough for us to know that these kinds of generous, charitable, believing women have never disappeared from Muslim societie, from the dawn of Islam until the present day. In every era and region of the Islamic world, these women have held a noble and prominent position, and their generosity is enshrined in the many awqaf, charitable institutions, schools, mosques, hospitals, etc., that exist throughout the Muslim lands. These women sought out areas of need, poverty, deprivation and misery, and showered their generosity on the less fortunate by establishing charitable institutions that would benefit the Muslims. They wiped away the tears of the orphan, relieved the suffering of the wretched, eased the hardship of the afflicted and clothed the body of the naked.

The Muslim woman who truly understands the teachings of her religion never looks down upon any charitable deed, no matter how small it may be; she strives to do as much as she is able, firmin her conviction that Allah (SWT) will reward her good deeds, no matter how small, as Allah (SWT) says:

( On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear... ) (Qur'an 2:286)She also responds to the words of the Prophet (PBUH): "Protect yourselfs from the Fire even if it is with half a date"126

"O `A'ishah, protect yourself from the Fire, even if it is only with half a date, for it can benefit a hungry person as much as one who has enough to eat."127

The Muslim woman may give charity with whatever she possesses of the food she has at home or her husband's money, so long as he is happy for her to do so. In this case, she will be rewarded for what she spends, her husband will be rewarded for what he has earned, and the treasurer will also be rewarded, as is stated in a number of hadith narrated by Bukhari, Muslim and others, for example: "If a women gives in charity of the food of her house (according to a report given by Muslim: of the house of her husband), without spending in such a way as could cause ruin to her husband, then she will be rewarded for what he earns, and the treasurer will be similarly rewarded, and the reward of any one of them will not detract from the reward of another."128Islam wants the Muslims, men and women, to be constructive, beneficial members of their societies, always helping those who are deprived and destitute, to the best of their abilities. Every good deed is described as an act of charity (sadaqah), as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Every Muslim must give charity." They said, "O Messenger of Allah, what if he cannot do that?" He said, "Then let him help one who is in desperate need." He said, "Then let him do good, and refrain from doing evil, and that will be an act of charity on his part."129Islam has opened wide the doors of good deeds to men and women, rich and poor alike, so that anyone may have the opportunity to do good. Everyone who has uttered the words of the Shahadah is required to do good deeds, which have been termed sadaqah. The poor person need not feel that he is deprived of the chance to take part in doing good in society just because he has little or no money. Every good deed or favour is described as a sadaqah, and the poor man or woman will be rewarded for a good deed just as a rich man or woman will be rewarded for money spent generously: "Every good deed is sadaqah."130Thus Islam guarantees that all members of a society will participate in building, serving and improving it, and that all of them will feel the satisfaction of this participation which will give them back their pride and honour and will bring about their reward.

The generous Muslim woman gives to the poor and needy who are too proud to ask for help, which makes people think that hey are free from want. She tries to seek them out as much as she is able, for they are the first people who should be given help. These are the ones to whom the Prophet (PBUH) referred when he said:

"The poor man is not the one who takes a date or two, or a mouthful or two, then turns away. The poor man is the one who is too proud to ask for anything."131The Muslim woman gives in charity to orphans as much as she is able. If she is well-off, she sponsors an orphan and help to bring him up and educate him, spending on him and taking care of him, hoping for the high status that Allah (SWT) has prepared for the one who sponsors an orphan, which is the status of being in the vicinity of the Prophet (PBUH) in Paradise: "I and the one who sponsors an orphan will be like this in Paradise," and he held up his index and middle fingers and held them apart."132The Muslim woman also strives to help the widow and the poor, following the guidance of her religion, which has promised a great reward to the one who takes care of them, a reward that rivals that earned by the one who fasts during the day and stands in prayer a night, or the one who fights for the sake of Allah (SWT), as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "The one who strives to help the widow and the poor is like the one who fights in jihad for the sake of Allah (SWT)." And I [the narrator] believe he also said: "and like the one who stands at night in prayer without rest and fasts continually without breaking his fast."133Taking care of widows and the poor, and sponsoring orphans, are among the most noble of humane deeds, and are most befitting to the Muslim woman, as they increase her in humanity, honour and gentility.

She does not remind the beneficiaries

her charity

If Allah (SWT) enables the Muslim woman to give generously, she should not fall into the sin of reminding people of her generosity or harming them; she should be keen to keep her giving pure and sincerely for the sake of Allah (SWT), so that she will be one of those whom Allah (SWT) has described in the Qur'an:

( Those who spend their substance in the cause of Allah, and follow not up their gifts with reminders of their generosity or with injury - for them their reward is with their Lord; on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve.) (Qur'an 2:262)The Muslim woman does not forget that there is nothing more likely to cancel out good deeds and destroy the reward of charity than reminding other of it or harming them. Allah (SWT) warns the believers against these deeds in such a way that the believer is shaken and would not even think of reminding others of his charity or harming them: ( O you who believe! Cancel not your charity by reminders of your generosity or by injury. . .)

(Qur'an 2:264)

Reminding the poor man whom need has compelled to accept aid from others is humiliating and disrespectful. It is forbidden by Islam, which counts the one who gives and the one who takes as brothers, between whom there is no difference except in their taqwa and good deeds. A brother does not remind his brother of his charity; he does not humiliate him or cause him to lose face. In a hadith narrated by Muslim from Abu Dharr, the Prophet (PBUH) issued a strong warning to those who remind others of their charity, and counted them among those doomed souls to whom Allah (SWT) will not even speak on the Day of Judgement: "There are three to whom Allah (SWT) will not speak on the Day of Resurrection, nor look at, nor commend them, and theirs will be a severe punishment." The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) repeated this three times. Abu Dharr said, "They are truly lost and doomed. Who are they, O Messenger of Allah?" He said, "The one who lets his garment trail below his ankles (out of pride), the one who reminds people of his charity, and the one who sells his goods by means of making false oaths."134She is patient

The Muslim woman who is truly guided by Islam and who is infused with its noble characteristics trains herself to be patient, to control her anger, to forgive and to respond to an evil deed with something better, in accordance with the words of the Qur'an:

( ... Who restrain anger, and pardon [all] men-for Allah loves those who do good.) (Qur'an 3:134)

( Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel [Evil] with what is better: then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint - none but persons of the greatest good fortune.) (Qur'an 41:34-35)

Selfrestraint at the time of anger, and adopting a calm and patient attitude, are among the most beautiful qualities of Muslim men and women that Allah (SWT) loves to see in His believing servants. This is what was stated by the Prophet (PBUH) in the hadith narrated by Ibn `Abbas (RAA): "The Prophet (PBUH) said to Ashajj `Abd al-Qays: `You have two qualities that Allah (SWT) loves: patience and deliberation."135

Hence the Prophet (PBUH) told the man who came asking him to advise him in just one word: "Do not become angry." The man repeated his request for advice several times, and each time the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Do not become angry."136

The Muslim woman may become angry sometimes, but her anger is for the sake of Allah (SWT), not for her own sake. She may become angry when she sees carelessness, wilful neglect and downright insolence towards matters of religamong women. She has the right to be angry in such situations. This is how the Prophet (PBUH) used to be, as Bukhari and Muslim narrated: "The Prophet (PBUH) never took revenge for his own sake, but if the laws of Allah (SWT) were violated, he would take revenge for the sake of Allah (SWT)."137The Prophet (PBUH) used to become furious, and his face would redden, if he heard some insult to the reputation of Islam, or if he discovered some error or negligence in applying its laws and carrying out its punishments. He became furious the day a man came to him and said, "I always come late to salat al-subh (fajr prayer) because of So-and-so, who always makes the prayer too lenghty." The Prophet (PBUH) was never seen as angry in his rebuke as he was on that day. He said, "O people, there are among you those who put others off from good deeds. When anyone leads the people in prayer, he should keep it short, for behind him are the old, the young, and the one who has a pressing need."138

He also became angry the day he returned from a journey and found a thin curtain covered with pictures in `A'ishah's house. When he saw it, he tore it down and his face reddened. He told her: "O `A'ishah, the people who will be most severely punished by Allah (SWT) on the Day of Resurrection will be those who imitate the creation of Allah (SWT)."139

He also became angry when Usamah ibn Zayd spoke to him concerning the Makhzumi woman who had committed theft, and the Prophet (PBUH) had decreed that the appropriate punishment be carried out on her. The people said, "Who will speak to the Prophet (PBUH) about her?" Then they said, "Who dares to do this but Usamah ibn Zayd, his beloved?" So Usamah spoke to him, and the Prophet (PBUH) said angrily, "Are you interceding to stop one of the punishments ordained by Allah (SWT)?" Then he got up and addressed the people: "Those who came before you were destroyed because when one of their noblemen committed theft, they let him off, but when one of the weak among them committed theft, then they would carry out the punishment on him. By Allah (SWT), if Fatimah the daughter of Muhammad were to commit theft, I would cut off her hand."140

Such was the anger of the Prophet (PBUH), and these are the valid reasons for anger according to Islam. Anger should be for the sake of Allah (SWT), not one's own ego.

The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam and follows the example of the Prophet (PBUH) always keeps his teachings, behavior and deeds in mind, so she controls herself when she feels angry with people, and her anger is only for the sake of Allah (SWT), His religion and the sanctity of His laws.

She is easy-going and does not

bear grudges

The Muslim woman does not bear grudges, and resentment has no room in her heart, because Islam has uprooted hatred from her heart, extinguished the flames of anger, cleansed her soul of enmity, and planted the seeds of sisterly love, tolerance and forgiveness.

Islam has uncompromisingly declared war on ignorance, tribalism, hostility, enmity and revenge, and has made forgiveness, tolerance, love and kindness dear to the hearts of Muslim men and women. Allah (SWT) says:

( ... Who restrain anger, and pardon all men - for Allah loves those who do good.) (Qur'an 3:134)This is praise for those who restrain their anger and do not bear grudges, who have raised themselves to the level of forgiveness and tolerance, which is a high level indeed, and very difficult to attain. None can reach it except those who are pure of heart and have shed the inclination towards hostility, enmity and revenge and thus earned the right to reach the level of ihsan, and Allah (SWT) loves those who do good (al-muhsinun).

Through this noble teaching, Islam was able to penetrate the hearts of the believers, and cleanse and purify them, so that hearts that had been dominated by anger and hatred became hearts that were filled with love and devotion.

One of the most striking examples of this miraculous change of heart is the story of Hind bint `Utbah, whose heart before she embraced Islam was filled with the poison of hatred and enmity towards the Prophet (PBUH) and his family and companions. On the day of the Conquest of Makkah, the Prophet (PBUH) even declared that her blood might be shed with impunity, as a punishment for her having mutilated the body of his uncle Hamzah (RAA) on the day of Uhud. When we embraced Islam and faith penetrated deep into her heart, she came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said: "O Messenger of Allah, there was no family on earth that I would have loved to see humiliated more than your family, but from this day on, there is no family on earth I would love to see honoured more than your family."141

For the sake of Allah (SWT) and His Religion, blood feuds will be forgotten, hostility will vanish, those who previously hated one another will become friends, and the inclination towards enmity will be uprooted.

In the most brilliant fashion, the Qur'an raises the human soul to this difficult, high level. It states that the one who has been treated unjustly has the right to defend himself and resist oppression (an eye for an eye), but it does not allow the one who has been wronged to be overtaken by the desire for revenge. Rather, it gently leads him or her towards the level of patience, tolerance and forgiveness, and states that this is something that takes a great deal of determination and willpower:

( And those who, when an oppressive wrong is inflicted on them, [are not cowed but] help and defend themselves. The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto [in degree]: but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from Allah: for Allah loves not those who do wrong.

But indeed if any do help and defend themselves after a wrong [done] to them, against such is no cause of blame. The blame is only against those who oppress men with wrongdoing and insolently transgress beyond bounds through the land, defying right and justice: for such there will be a Penalty grievous.

But indeed if any show patience and forgive, that would truly be an exercise of courageous will and resolution in the conduct of affairs.) (Qur'an 42:39-43)

When Abu Bakr (RAA) was overwhelmed with sorrow because of the slander he heard uttered against his daughter `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), he vowed to himself to cut off his help to those ungrateful recipients of his bounty who had joined in the sinful gossip. But Allah, Who knew the purity of Abu Bakr's heart and his devotion to Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, did not allow him to be taken over by the desire for revenge that crossed his mind, so He guided him back towards his essential good nature and purity of heart, and motivated him to strive for the higher level of tolerance and forgiveness: ( Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah's cause: Let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.) (Qur'an 24:22)Interactions between individuals in an Islamic society that is founded on the brotherhood of faith are not based on an attitude of watching for counting mistakes, or the desire for revenge, or defensiveness; they are based on brotherhood, overlooking errors and tolerance. This is what Islam and the brotherhood of faith call for: ( Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel [Evil] with what is better: then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint - none but persons of the greatest good fortune.) (Qur'an 41: 34-35)If evil is always repaid with evil, the result will be intense hatred and bitter grudges. But if evil is repaid with good, it will extinguish the fires of hatred, calm people down, and remove their grudges. The two women who were enemies will become true friends when one of them speaks a kind word or smiles compassionately at the other. This is a great victory for the one who evil with something better, and turned enmity into friendship, hatred to love. No one attains this but persons of the greatest good fortune, as the Qur'an states. Such a person responds to the evil she faces with a measure of patience and self-control, and repels it with something good.

This is the attitude of true believing women in a Muslim community that is based on love, friendship and tolerance. Many ayat and hadith reinforce this message and seek to instill this attitude in believers' hearts, always training them to adopt that attitude of forgiveness that will leave no trace of hatred, resentment or malice:

( . . . So overlook [any human faults] with gracious forgiveness.) (Qur'an 15:85)The Prophet (PBUH), by his words and deeds, was a living example of this worthy human virtue of tolerance and forgiveness, and he urged others to adopt it also.

`A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) never struck any person, woman or servant with his hand, except when he was fighting in the way of Allah (SWT), and he never took offence at anything and sought revenge for it, except when one of the laws of Allah (SWT) had been violated, and then he would take revenge for the sake of Allah (SWT)."142He (PBUH) used to follow the commands of Allah (SWT): ( Hold to forgiveness; command what is right; but turn away from the ignorant.) (Qur'an 7:199)By the following the command of Allah (SWT), ( . . . Repel Evil with what is better . . . ) (Qur'an 41:34)the Prophet (PBUH) was a unique example of this sublime attitude, which encompassed and appealed to all people. He did not repay their evil with evil, rather he repelled it with an attitude of forgiveness and good manners, turning away from the ignorant and repelling evil with something better.

Anas (RAA) said:

"I was walking with the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), and he was wearing a Najrani cloak with a stiff collar. A Bedouin came up to him and grabbed him roughly, and I looked at the Prophet's shoulder and saw the mark left by his collar because of this rough approach. Then the Bedouin said, `O Muhammad, order that I be given some of the wealth of Allah (SWT) that you have!' The Prophet (PBUH) turned to him and smiled, then ordered that he be given something."143

The attitude of forgiveness was so deeply entrenched in his noble heart that he even forgave the Jewish woman who sent him poisoned mutton, as Bukhari, Muslim and others narrate. This Jewish woman sent a gift of poisoned mutton to the Prophet (PBUH), and he and a group of his Companions began to eat it, then he said, "Stop! It is poisoned!" The woman was brought to the Prophet (PBUH) and he asked her, " What made you do that?" She said: "I wanted to know if you were really a Prophet, in which case Allah (SWT) would warn you and the poison would not harm you. If you were not a Prophet, then we would have been rid of you." The Companions asked, "Shall we kill her?" He said, "No," and forgave her.144

When the tribe of Daws rebelled and refused to follow the commands of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, al-Tufayl ibn `Amr al-Dawsi came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said, "Daws have rebelled, so pray to Allah (SWT) against them." The Prophet (PBUH) faced the qiblah and raised his hands, and the people said, "They are finished!" But the Prophet (PBUH), who was merciful and tolerant, and did not want to see the punishment of Allah (SWT) befall people, prayed for Daws, saying, "O Allah, guide Daws and bring them here; O Allah, guide Daws and bring them here; O Allah, guide Daws and bring them here."145

The Prophet (PBUH) instilled in people's hearts the attitude of always forgiving and being tolerant, even when faced with harshness and being boycotted. With the deep insight with which Allah (SWT) had endowed him, he understood that people respond better to tolerance than to harshness. Therefore when `Uqbah ibn `Amir asked him, "O Messenger of Allah, tell me the best of deeds," he told him, "O `Uqbah, maintain ties with the one who cuts you off, give to the one who deprives you, and do not seek revenge on the one who wrongs you." According to another report, he said, "Forgive the one who wrongs you."146The Mothers of the Believers, (May Allah be pleased with them) also adopted this sublime attitude. An example of this is the attitude of Safiyyah (May Allah be pleased with her) towards her female slave who went to the khalifah `Umar ibn al-Khattab and said, "O Amir al-Mu'minin, Safiyyah loves the Sabbath (Saturday) and maintains ties with the Jews." `Umar sent for Safiyyah and questioned her about that. She replied: "As far as the Sabbath is concerned, I have not love it since Allah (SWT) replaced it with Jumu`ah (Friday) for me. As for the jews, I have relatives among them with whom I uphold the ties of kinship." Then she turned to her slave and asked her what had made her tell such a lie. The slave woman answered, "Shaytan." Safiyyah distinguished herself by responding to evil with something better. She told the slave woman: "Go, you are free."147

No doubt Safiyyah was one of those to whom the words of the Qur'an applied:

( Nor can Goodness and Evil be equal. Repel [Evil] with what is better: then will he between whom and you was hatred become as it were your friend and intimate! And no one will be granted such goodness except those who exercise patience and self-restraint - none but persons of the greatest good fortune.) (Qur'an 41:34-35)She was most certainly a person of the greatest good fortune.

She is easy on people, not hard

The Muslim woman who truly understands the teachings of Islam is easy on people, not hard, because making things easy for others is the best attitude that Allah (SWT) likes to see in His believing servants:

( . . . Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties . . . ) (Qur'an 2:185)Therefore the Prophet (PBUH) encouraged the Muslims to be easy on people, and forbade them to make things difficult: "Teach and make things easy, do not make them difficult. If any of you becomes angry, let him keep silent."148The woman who resorts to making things difficult and complicating matters when the teachings of Islam are so clear is a woman who is neither pious nor sound; nobody does such a thing except the one whose nature is twisted wand mean-spirited and whose education is lacking. The Muslim woman who is straightforward and is obedient to Allah (SWT) and the teachings of Islam does not like to cause difficulties or complicate matters. In this way he is following the example of the Prophet (PBUH) whom `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) described as follows: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was never faced with the choice between two things but he took the easier of the two, so long as it was not a sin. If it was a sin, he would be the furthest of the people from it. And the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) never took revenge for himself, but if the bounds of Allah (SWT) were transgressed, then he would take revenge for the sake of Allah (SWT)."149The true Muslim woman adheres to the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH); she does not go beyond the limits set by him, or disobey his commands.

She is not envious

How often does the ordinary women fall into the sin of en, when she sees many of those who are inferior to her in beauty, knowledge land intelligence wallowing in riches and luxury when she does not even have the smallest part of what they enjoy? The alert, truly-guided Muslim woman, however, is saved from stumbling into such error because she has learnt, from the teachings of Islam, that everything that happens in life happens according to the will and decree of Allah (SWT). The pleasures of this life, no matter how great, are as nothing in comparison to the reward that Allah (SWT) has prepared for those believing women who are content with what Allah (SWT) has given them. The true value of a woman rests in her level of taqwa and good deeds, not in her transient worldly earnings. The more these values are reinforced in the woman's soul, the purer and more tranquil her soul becomes, and she will become one of the people of Paradise who have earned the pleasure of Allah(SWT), even if her acts are worship are few. Imam Ahmad reported, with a sahih isnad from Anas ibn Malik:

"We were sitting with the Prophet (PBUH) and he said, `One of the people of Paradise will now come to you,' and a man of the Ansar came along, his beard dripping from his wudu', and carrying his sandals in his left hand. The next day, the Prophet (PBUH) said the same thing, and the same man appeared, looking the same as he had on the previous day. On the third day, the Prophet (PBUH) again said the same thing, and the same man appeared again. When the Prophet (PBUH) left, `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As followed the man and said, `I have fallen out with my father and sworn that I will not enter his house for three (days), and I thought that I could stay with you until the time is up.' He said, `That's fine.'" Anas said: `"Abdullah used to tell how he stayed with him for those three nights and never saw the man get up to pray at night, but when he awoke and turned over in his sleep, he would mention Allah (SWT) and say `Allahu akbar,' until he got up for salat al-fajr. `Abdullah said: `But I never heard him say anything but good. When the three days were over and I had begun to think that his deeds were nothing remarkable, I said, "O servant of Allah! There was no quarrel between me and my father, but I heard the Prophet (PBUH) say three times, `One of the people of Paradise will come to you,' and you appeared each time, so I wanted to come and stay with you to see what you did, so that I could follow your example, but I did not see you do anything out of the ordinary. What is it that has raised you to such a great status as the Prophet (PBUH) said?" The man said, "It is only what you have seen." When I turned away, he called me back and said, "It is only what you have seen, but I do not hold anything against any Muslim in my heart, and I do not envy anyone for the blessings that Allah (SWT) has bestowed on him." `Abdullah said: `This is what raised you to that great status, and this is what we could not achieve.'"150This hadith indicates the effects of having a heart that is free of hatred, envy, malice and treachery, and its impact on deciding a person's fate in the Hereafter, raising his status in the sight of Allah (SWT) and making his deeds acceptable, even if they are few. These effects can be clearly seen in the example of this man whose acts of worship were few, but he would enter Paradise because of the purity of his heart and the fact that people were safe from harm on his part. These effects are in direct contrast with the woman about whom the Prophet (PBUH) was asked; although she spent her nights in prayer and her days in fasting, she used to insult and mistreat her neighbours, so the Prophet (PBUH) said: "She will be in Hell."151

The person who weighs heavily in the balance of Islam (i.e., is successful) is the one whose heart is always pure and free from hatred, malice, envy and resentment, even if his acts of worship are few. A person who performs many acts of worship when his or her heart is filled with feelings of resentment, envy and hatred, is merely performing an outward, mechanical action that clearly has no solid foundation of faith. Hence it has no effect in purifying his soul of envy which the Prophet (PBUH) stated does not belong in the heart of the one who has true faith:

"Faith and envy do not go together in the heart of the believer."152Damurah ibn Tha`labah (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `The people will do fine so long as they do not envy one another.'"153The true Muslim woman is the one who combines proper worship with purity of heart, uncontaminated by envy, malice and hatred. In this way she may scale the heights of true taqwa and attain a high status in the sight of Allah (SWT), and also earn the love and respect of other people in this world. Thus she will become a solid brick in the structure of a pure, cohesive Muslim community that deserves to carry the message of Allah (SWT) to mankind.

She avoids boasting and seeking fame

Among the attributes of the Muslim woman who understands and follows the teachings of Islam are her humility, truthfulness and realistic approach. She does not have an attitude of superiority, self-admiration and telling lies, and she does not claim to have more than she actually has in order to show off to her friends and peers under false pretences.

She tries to avoid such unpleasant habits, because they do not befit the nature of a woman whose personality has been moulded by the principles of Islam. A woman came to the Prophet (PBUH) asking whether she would be permitted to say that her husband had given her something which he had not given her, in order to boast and show off. The Prophet (PBUH) replied:

"The one who creates a false impression of having been given something which he was not given is like the one who wears the garment of falsehood."154Islam is a religion that is based on sincerity, purity, humility and realism; it abhors deception, haughtiness, arrogance, conceit and false claims. So it hates to see its followers boasting under false pretences, looking down on other, or hoarding wealth for love of fame. It sharply criticizes those who adopt such attitudes, just as it rebukes the one who wears the garment of falsehood.

Her speech is not exaggerated

or affected

The true Muslim is natural in her behavior and conduct; she does not exaggerate or affect her speech in order to attract attention, because these are sickening, hateful attributes that do not exist in people of sound nature. Only those who are twisted or whose sound nature is lacking speak in an exaggerated or affected manner. For this reason the Prophet (PBUH) was very harsh on those men and women who exaggerate in their speech, and after his death, Abu Bakr and `Umar were similarly harsh on them, to the extent that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said:

"By Him besides Whom there is no other god, I never saw anyone who was harsher on those who exaggerate in their speech than the Messenger of Allah (PBUH), and I never saw anyone who was harsher on them after his death than Abu Bakr, and I think that `Umar feared the most for them of all people on earth."155She has a likeable personality

The Muslim woman is keen to be like by others, through her good deeds and through the positive effect she has on them, as well as by having a good reputation in society.

People's love for her is a sign that Allah (SWT) loves her too, because in this case He opens people's hearts to her and makes her accepted and well-liked by everyone she meets or she hear about her. Concerning this, the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"When Allah (SWT) loves a person, he calls Jibril and says: `I love So-and-so, so love him.' So Jibril will love him, and will call out in the heavens: `Allah (SWT) loves So-and-so, so love him.' Then the people of heaven will love him, and he will be well-accepted on earth. If Allah (SWT) hates a person, he calls Jibril and says: `I hate So-and-so, so hate him., So Jibril will hate him, and will call out in the heavens: `Allah (SWT) hates So-and-so, so hate him.' Then the people of heaven will hate him, and he will be despised on earth."156This is the unseen, divreason why some Muslim men and women enjoy the love of others towards them. It is the love of Allah (SWT) which He has spread among the people of heaven and earth, and makes those fortunate people will-accepted on earth, or else His hatred causes them to be despised on earth.

No-one can earn the love of Allah (SWT) except the one who turns to Him seeking His pleasure, and no-one earns His hatred except the one who turns away from His guidance and disobeys Him.

The good news of Allah's love and pleasure is given only to believing men and women, those who believe and do good works, which are commended by other people. Allah (SWT) will hasten to bring them glad tidings in their own lifetimes, so He causes people to praise them and love them, as is seen in the sahih hadith narrated by Muslim from Abu Dharr, who said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) was asked, `What do you think of a man who does a good deed, and people praise him for it? He said, `That is gtidings for the believer that he has received in this world." According to another report also narrated by Muslim: "and the people love him for it."157The Muslim woman who has the best characteristics and is adhering to the limits set by Allah (SWT), doing what He commands and avoiding what He forbids, is the woman who deserves to receive these glad tidings in this world. She deserves to be loved by everyone who knows her or hears of her good deeds, such as tolerance, turning away form ignorant women, responding to evil with good, helping the poor and destitute, wanting the best for others, denying herself, speaking the truth, refraining from talking unnecessarily, being fair in her judgement and treatment of others, avoiding malicious gossip and hurting others, and other righteous attitudes and virtues that Islam encourages and describes as an adornment for the Muslim woman. Such a woman has truly understood the teachings of her religion; she has earned the love of people in this world and the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and Paradise in the Hereafter.
 
 

She is friendly and likeable

The sensitive Muslim woman is friendly and likeable. She makes friends with other women and mixes with them, and they in turn like to meet her and make friends with her, because of her gentle, refined, attractive character and good treatment of them. These are the best characteristics that a woman may attain, as they entitle her to mix with other women, earn their trust and have an influence on them. Women will only listen to the one whom they like and trust and feel comfortable with, and they will only be persuaded by a woman who brings with her an attitude of trust, friendship and respect.

Hence there are many hadith which commend the type of person who is friendly and liked by others. Such a person, whether man or woman, is one of those chosen ones who are beloved by the Prophet (PBUH) and will be closest to him on the Day of Judgement:

"Shall I not tell you who among you is most beloved to me and will be closest to me on the Day of Resurrection?" He repeated it three or two times, and they said, "Yes, O Messenger of Allah." He said, "Those of you who are the best in attitude and character."158 Some reports add: "Those who are down to earth and humble, who get along with others and with whom others feel comfortable."One of the most important attributes of the Muslim woman is that she gets along with others and others feel comfortable with her. She likes people and they like her. If she is not like this, then she will not be able to convey the message or achieve anything of significance. Whoever is like that has no goodness in him, as in the hadith: "The believer gets along with people and they feel comfortable with him. There is no goodness in the one who does not get along with people and with whom they do not feel comfortable."159The Prophet (PBUH) set the highest example of good behavior towards people. He was skillful in softening their hearts and called them to follow him in word and deed. He demonstrated how to reach people's hearts and win their love and admiration. He was always cheerful and easy-going, never harsh. When he came to any gathering, he would sit wherever there was a free space, and he told others to do likewise. He treated everyone equally, so that no-one who was present in a gathering would feel that anyone else was receiving preferential treatment. If anyone came to him and asked for something, he would give it to them, or at least respond with kind words. His good attitude extended to everyone and he was like a father to them. The people gathered around him were truly equal, distinguished only by their level of taqwa. They were humble, respecting their elders, showing compassion to young ones, giving priority to those in need, and taking care of strangers.

The Prophet (PBUH) never disappointed anyone who came to ask from him. There are three characteristics that he did not possess: he was not argumentative, he did not talk too much, and he did not concern himself with matters that were not his business. There are three things that he never did to people: he never criticized anyone, he never said "Shame on you!" to anyone, and he never looked for anyone's faults. He never said anything but that for which he hoped to earn reward. When he spoke, the people around him would listen earnestly, sitting still as if there were birds on their heads. When he was silent, then they would speak. They never argued with one another in his presence. They would smile at whatever he smiled at, and would be impressed by whatever impressed him. He would be patient with a stranger who might be harsh in his requests or questions, and his Companions would ask the stranger to speak gently. He said, "If you see someone in need, then help him." He never accepted praise except from someone who was thanking him for a favour, and he never cut off anyone who was speaking; he would wait until the person indicated that he had finished, or stood up.160

`A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) tells us that the used to be cautious of the worst type of people, and he would speak gently to them and treat them well. A man sought permission to enter upon him and he said, "Let him in, what a bad brother of his tribe he is!" When the man came in, he spoke gently to him. `A'ishah said, "O Messenger of Allah, you said what you said, then you spoke gently to him." He said, "O `A'ishah, the worst of people is the one whom people avoid (or are gentle towards) because they fear his slander."161No doubt the mature Muslim woman who is receptive to the guidance of Islam follows in the footsteps of her Prophet (PBUH) in her dealings with all people, whether they are good or bad, so that she will be liked, well accepted and respected among all the women who know her or hear of her.

She keeps secrets

It is obvious to the mature, wise Muslim woman that keeping secrets is one of the best characteristics that a person, man or woman, can have. Keeping secrets is a sign of a person's maturity, moral strength, wisdom and balanced personality. Therefore the true Muslim woman keeps those secrets that Islam urges her to keep. This was the attitude of the best personalities of Islam, and was one of their most beautiful characteristics.

One of the best examples of this virtue and the determination to adhere to tit among the most prominent Sahabah was the attitude of Abu Bakr and `Uthman towards `Umar when he offered them his daughter Hafsah's hand in marriage after she was widowed, and their concealing the secret of the Prophet (PBUH) from him.

Imam Bukhari reports from `Abdullah ibn `Umar that `Umar said, concerning events after his daughter Hafsah was widowed:

"I met `Uthman ibn `Affan (RAA) and offered him Hafsah's hand in marriage. I said, `If you wish, I will marry Hafsah to you.' He said: `I will think about it.' A few days passed, then he met me and said, `I think that I do not wish to get married just now.' Then I met Abu Bakr al-Siddiq (RAA), and said, `If you wish, I will marry Hafsah bint `Umar to you.' Abu Bakr remained silent and made no reply to me, and I was more upset with him than with `Uthman. A few days passe, then the Prophet (PBUH) asked for her hand, and I gave her to him in marriage. Abu Bakr met me and said, `Perhaps you are angry with me for when you offered me Hafsah's hand and I did not reply?' I said, `Yes.' He said, `Nothing kept me from answering you except the fact that I knew the Prophet (PBUH) had mentioned her, and I could not disclose the secret of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). If he had decided not to marry her, then I would have married her.'"162The virtue of keeping secrets was not confined only to the men of the salaf, it also included women and children whose hearts were filled with the guidance of Islam. We see this in the report given by Imam Muslim from Anas (RAA), who said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) came to me while I was playing with some other boys. He greeted me, then sent me on an errand. I was late coming home to my mother, and when I came, she asked, `What kept you so long?' I said, `The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) sent me on an erra.' She asked me, `What errand?' I said, `It is a secret.' She said, `Do not tell anyone the secret of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH).' Anas said: By Allah (SWT), if I had told anyone about it, I would have told you, O Thabit."163Umm Anas saw that her son was keen to keep the secret entrusted to him by the Prophet (PBUH), so she reinforced this keen attitude by telling him not to disclose this secret to anyone. So Anas did not speak of it to anyone, not even the great Sahabi Thabit al-Bunani, who was the spokesman of the Prophet (PBUH), and one of those who were promised Paradise. She did not allow her curiosity to make her quiz her young son about the secret he was keeping from her. This is true Islamic tarbiyah (education, upbringing), and this is the sublime level to which it raised men, women and children alike.

Telling secrets is one of the worst habits a person could have, and the worst form of this habit is disclosing secrets that relate to the intimacies of married life. A person who is afflicted with this abhorrent habit will be among the worst people on the Day of Judgement, as the Prophet (PBUH) explained:

"The most evil of people in the sight of Allah (SWT) on the Day of Resurrection will be a man who was intimate with his wife, then went and told others about her secrets."164Private matters should remain utterly secret, known only to those concerned. No-one broadcasts his private matters except the person who is somewhat crazy, stupid and unsound, and whose attitude is dirty, cheap and shameless. Muslim men and women are protected from such folly by the noble characteristics that they have learned from their religion.
 
 

She is of cheerful Countenance

It is clear to the Muslim woman that one of the most important factors in her success both in her private life with her husband and in her social life in general, is that she should be of cheerful countenance, smiling often and overflowing with warmth. Allah (SWT) of this will endear her to people and open their hearts to her. It is also the good attitude, positive personality and physical attractiveness encouraged by Islam.

In Sahih Muslim, it is reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Do not think little of any good deed, even if it is just meeting your brother with a cheerful countenance."165The Prophet (PBUH) taught that the Muslim should smile at his brother, and he never met any of his Sahabah without smiling at them, as is reported in the hadith of the great Sahabi Jarir ibn `Abdullah, who said: "The Prophet (PBUH) never refused to see me, after I embraced Islam, and he never saw me without smiling at me."166The Muslim woman who is cheerful and smiles a lot brings joy to her husband's heart, which increases his love and respect for her. This is also the attitude which she brings to the social circle of women with whom she mixes: nothing spreads love and affection in a community like a smiling face and a happy and content soul. These are characteristics which are most befitting to the gentle, polite Muslim woman who seeks to call others to Islam, because it is through these attitudes that she will be able to reach people's hearts.
 
 

She is lighthearted and has a sense of humour

The true Muslim woman is lighthearted and has a sense of humour; she is kind in her treatment of others and gentle in her speech. She does not disdain to joke with her sisters and friends on appropriate occasions. But the Muslim woman's jokes are distinguished by their legitimate Islamic nature, and never sink to the level of being cheap, dirty or stupid.

The Prophet (PBUH) used to joke with his Companions, but his jokes never went beyond the bounds of truth. It was narrated that the Sahabah said to the Prophet (PBUH): "You joke with us." He said, "But I never say anything except the truth."167The Sahabah took the same approach to humour. There are many delightful and entertaining reports about the jokes exchanged between the Prophet (PBUH) and his Companions. Among the reports related in the books of hadith and sirah is that which tells of how the Prophet (PBUH) used to joke with the small child of one of his Sahabah, a boy called Abu `Umayr, who had a little bird he used to play with. One day he saw the child looking sad, so he asked, "Why do I see Abu `Umayr looking sad?" The Sahabah told him, "The nughar168 which he used to play with has died, O Messenger of Allah." The Prophet (PBUH) began to gently joke with the child, saying, "O Abu `Umayr, what happened to the nughayr?"169

A man came to the Prophet (PBUH) to ask him to give him a beast to ride. The Prophet (PBUH) jokingly told him: "I will give you the offspring of a she-camel to ride." He said, "O Messenger of Allah, what shall I do with the offspring of a she-camel? The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Are riding-camels born except from she-camels?"170

Imam Ahmad reported from Anas (RAA) that there was a man from the desert people whose name was Zahir. He used to bring gifts from the desert to the Prophet (PBUH), and in return the Prophet (PBUH) would provide him with whatever he needed when he went out to fight. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Zahir is our man of the desert, and we are his town-dwellers." The Prophet (PBUH) loved him very much, and he (Zahir) was an ugly man. One day the Prophet (PBUH) came to him whilst he was selling some goods. He embraced him from behind. The man could not see him, so he said, "Let me go! Who is this?" Then he turned around and recognised the Prophet (PBUH), so he tried to move closer to him once he knew who it was. The Prophet (PBUH) started saying, "Who will buy this slave?" Zahir said, "O Messenger of Allah, you will find me unsellable." The Prophet (PBUH) said, "But in the sight of Allah (SWT) you are not unsellable," or he said, "But in the sight of Allah (SWT) you are valuable."171

An old woman came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said, "O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah (SWT) that I will enter Paradise." He said jokingly, "O Mother of So-and-so, no old women will enter Paradise." The old woman went away crying, so the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Tell her that she will not enter Paradise as an old woman, for Allah (SWT) says: `We have created [their Companions] of special creation, and made them virgin-pure [and undefiled]' (Qur'an 56:35-36)."172

One of the hadith that reflect the Prophet's sense of humour and enjoyment of fun is the report narrated by Imam Ahmad from `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), who said: "I went out with the Prophet (PBUH) on a journey. At that time I was still young and was quite slender. The Prophet (PBUH) told the people, `Go on ahead,' and they went on ahead, then he said to me, `Come, let us have a race.' So I raced with him, and I won. He let the matter rest until I had gained weight. Later, I accompanied him on another journey. He told the people, `Go on ahead,' and they went on ahead. He said to me, `Come, let us have a race.' So I raced with him, and he won. He began to laugh, and said, `This is for that.'"173The Prophet (PBUH), the imam, leader and teacher of the Muslims, liked to joke and have fun sometimes, no matter how busy he was with theburdens of leadership and the effort to establish the Islamic state, direct the forces of jihad, and so on. All of this did not keep him from engaging in entertaining jokes and lighthearted fun that would make his Companions - or his wives, on other occasions - feel happy.

Another example is the report narrated by `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), who said:

"I came to the Prophet (PBUH) with some harirah (a dish made with flour and milk) that I had cooked for him, and told Sawdah (May Allah be pleased with her), as the Prophet (PBUH) was sitting between me and her - `Eat.' She refused, so I said, `Either you eat, or I will fill your face!' She still refused, so I put my hand in the harirah and daubed her face with it. The Prophet (PBUH) laughed, put some harirah in her hand, and said, `Do the same to her!'" According to another report: "He lowered his knee (moved out of the way) so that she could get her own back on me, then she took some from the plate and wiped my face with it, and the Prophet (PBUH) laughed."174These repoare a clear indication of the tolerance of Islam and its followers, and of the kind of lightheartedness and humour that it wants to see in the Muslims. It is a quality that is liked in the serious Muslim woman, for it adds beauty, attraction and influence to her character.

She tries to make people happy

The Muslim woman is keen, in her conversations with other women, to bring happiness to them and make them feel cheerful and lively by means of the good news and pleasant jokes that she tells them. Making people happy, within the framework of that which is permitted, is an Islamic duty that is strongly encouraged, so that the environment of the believers, men and women, may be filled with friendliness, happiness and joy, ready to undertake serious work and the sacrifices and difficulties that it entails.

For this reason Islam tells us that the reward of one who makes Muslims happy will be the greater happiness that Allah (SWT) will bestow upon him on the Day of Resurrection:

"Whoever meets his Muslim brother and makes him happy with something that Allah (SWT) likes, Allah (SWT) will make him happy on the Day of Resurrection."175The clever Muslim woman will find different ways to make her sisters happy in ways that are permitted - a warm greeting, a kind word, a clever comment, a pleasant joke, good news, a friendly smile, a sincerely-meant visit, a charming gift, always keeping in touch, sincere help, comforting consolation - which will open their hearts, sow the seeds of love and strengthen the ties of friendship and sisterhood.

She is not over-strict

Another of the qualities of the true Muslim woman is that she is not over-strict, and does not go to extremes with regard to matters that Islam has permitted on certain occasions, such as the singing that is permitted on Eid and at weddings, or watching some entertaining games or sports, so long as they are not accompanied by any form of corruption that may lead to fitnah.

Although she may accept to watch or join in entertainment on certain occasions, she does not make this her main concern in life. She follows the teachings of Islam which permit fun and entertainment on occasion, as is reported in a number of sahih hadith.

In Sahih Bukhari, `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) is reported to have arranged a marriage for a woman who was an orphan under her care, to a man of the Ansar. The Prophet (PBUH) asked her: "O `A'ishah, what sort of fun and entertainment do you have? For the Ansar love fun and entertainment."176Imam Bukhari also narrates from `A'ishah: "The Prophet (PBUH) entered upon me when there were two young girls singing the songs of Bu`ath177. He lay down on his bed and turned his face away. Then Abu Bakr entered, and told me off, saying: `Musical instruments of Shaytan in the house of the Prophet (PBUH)!' The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) turned to him and said: `Let them be.' When he was no longer paying attention, I signalled to them, and they left."178

According to another report, also narrated by Bukhari, the Prophet (PBUH) said: "O Abu Bakr, every nation has a day of celebration, and this is our day of celebration."179

Another report narrated by Bukhari from `A'ishah says: "It was the day of Eid, and the black people were playing with shields and spears. Either I asked the Prophet (PBUH), or he said to me: `Would you like to watch?' I said, `Yes.' So he let me stand behind him, his cheek against my cheek, and he was saying, `Carry on, O Banu Arfidah180!' When I got tired, he asked me, `Have you had enough?' I said, `Yes.' He said, `Then go.'"181Ibn Hijr reported a number of versions of this hadith from `A'ishah, such as that recorded by al-Zuhri: ". . . Until I ['A'ishah] was the one who had had enough."182Muslim also narrates from al-Zuhri: "Then he stayed standing there for my sake until I was the one who decided to leave."183Al-Nisa'i reports from Yazid ibn Marwan: "The Prophet (PBUH) said: `Have you had enough? Have you had enough?' She said, `I decided to say No, just to see how where I stood with him (i.e. how much he loved me).'"184Al-Nisa'i reports from Abu Salamah from `A'ishah: "I said, `O Messenger of Allah, do not rush.' So he remained standing for my sake, then said, `Have you had enough?' I said, `Do not rush.' . . . It was not that I wanted to watch them, but I wanted all the women to know how I stood with him."In the chapter on marriage, there is a report narrated by al-Zuhri which adds: "You should understand that young girls like to have fun."185In Fath al-Bari186 al-Siraj reports via Abu'l-Zinad from `Urwah from `A'ishah that the Prophet (PBUH) said on that day: "Let the Jews know that in our religion there is room for entertainment, and I have been sent with a tolerant, pure religion."Tirmidhi reports in his Sunan that `A'ishah said: "The Prophet (PBUH) was sitting, and we heard some noise and children's voices outside. The Prophet (PBUH) stood up, and saw an Abyssinian woman dancing, with children around her. He said, `O `A'ishah, come and see!' So I came, and put my chin on his shoulder, looking through the gap between his head and his shoulder. He asked me, `Have you had enough?' and I decided to say No, just to see where I stood with him. Suddenly `Umar appeared, and the people scattered. The Prophet (PBUH) said: `I can see that the devils among jinn and mankind flee from `Umar!' [`A'ishah] said: then I went back."187.These and similar texts, as understood in the books of hadith, are clear evidence of the Prophet's kind and gentle treatment of his wife, and his eagerness to make her happy. They are also proof of the tolerance and ease of Islam, and its concern that women should be allowed to enjoy the kinds of fun and entertainment that it has permitted, unlike some of those overstrict people nowadays who regard such fun as a serious crime for which women should be severely punished by being imprisoned (in the home).

The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam should be very serious in her attitude, concentrating on noble aims and shunning frivolities. But this should not stop her from having fun occasionally, in ways that are permitted by Islam, which leaves room for such entertainment. The wise Lawgiver understands the nature of people and their inclination to relax and have fun from time to time, so that they can then return refreshed to their serious pursuits, with renewed vigour, stronger determination, and more prepared to shoulder the burdens of their responsibilities. This is the balanced, integrated, wise approach that Islam brings.

She is not arrogant or proud

The true Muslim woman is not arrogant or proud; she does not look down her nose at other women who may be inferior to her in terms of beauty, wealth, lineage or status, because the Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam knows that arrogance and pride in this world will deny a woman the blessings of the Hereafter, which Allah (SWT) will deny to men and women who are arrogant. These blessings are only for those who shun arrogance and pride in world:

( That House of the Hereafter We shall give to those who intend not high-handedness or mischief on earth: and the End is [best] for the righteous.) (Qur'an 28:83)She also knows that Allah (SWT) does not love those who arrogantly boast: ( And swell not your cheek [for pride] at men, nor walk in insolence through the earth: for Allah loves not any arrogant boaster.) (Qur'an 31:18)Whoever examines the hadith texts will be astonished at the attention given by the Prophet (PBUH) to eradicating arrogance from people's hearts by forbidding it, deterring it and warning those men and women who were afflicted with it that they stand to lose everything in the Hereafter for the sake of an atom's-weight of pride that the Shaytan has placed in their hearts. Such people are among the arrogant ones to whom Allah (SWT) has denied entry to Paradise, as is stated in the hadith narrated by Muslim: "No one will enter Paradise who has an atom's-weight of pride in his heart." A man asked, "What if a man likes his clothes and his shoes to look good?" He said, "Allah (SWT) is Beautiful and loves beauty (i.e. wanting to loogood is not pride or arrogance). Pride is denying the truth and despising people."188Harithah ibn Wahb (RAA) said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: `Shall I not tell you about the people of Hell? Everyone who is harsh, proud, disdainful and arrogant."189It is enough for those arrogant, proud women who boast to their friends to know of the moral humiliation that Allah (SWT) has prepared for them in the Hereafter: Allah (SWT) will not even look at them or speak to them or praise them, and this will be the ultimate humiliation.

The Prophet (PBUH) said:

"On the Day of Resurrection, Allah (SWT) will not look at those who let their garments trail on the ground out of arrogance."190

"There are three whom Allah (SWT) will not speak to, or praise, or look at on the Day of Judgement, and they will have a severe punishment: an old man who commits adultery, a king who tells lies, and a poor man who is arrogant."191

Pride is one of the divine attributes and weak human creatures have no right to it. Those who are arrogant and proud transgress into the realm of the divine, vying with the Almighty Creator for one of His sublime attributes, so they deserve the severe punishment to which the Prophet (PBUH) referred: "Allah (SWT) says: `Might is My cloak and pride is My garment. Whoever vies with Me for either of them, I will punish him.'"192Many hadith warn the believers against being tempted by pride at moments of human weakness. The Prophet (PBUH) used various methods to warn them so that the pious believers would be protected from the awful disease of arrogance. For example: "Whoever thinks highly of himself, or walks with an arrogant attitude, will meet Allah (SWT) when He is angry with him."193
 
 
She is humble and modest

It comes as no surprise that the Muslim woman who understands anything of the teachings of Islam should be humble and modest, gentle, tolerant and kind in her dealings with others. She finds hadith which complement those that warn men and women against arrogance, texts that encourage modesty and humility, promising everyone who humbles himself for the sake of Allah (SWT) that he or she will be raised in status, as the Prophet (PBUH) said in the hadith narrated by Muslim:

"No one is humble for the sake of Allah (SWT), but Allah (SWT) will raise him in status."194

"Allah (SWT) told me that you should be so humble towards one another that no one should boast to anyone else and no one should oppress anyone."195

The Muslim woman who studies the life of the Prophet (PBUH) will find in his sublime character a unique, living example of modesty, humility, gentleness, genuineness, noble attitudes and tolerance. Whenever he passed a group of boys playing, he would stop and greet them, joking naturally with them. His high status as Prophet and leader of the ummah did not prevent him from being spontaneous and natural with others. Anas (RAA) said that he passed by a group of children and greeted them. He added, "The Prophet (PBUH) used to do that."196

Anas (RAA) gave another account of the Prophet's humility: he reported that one of the slave-women of Madinah used to take the Prophet's hand and lead him about wherever she wanted, until he had sorted out her needs.197

Tamim ibn Usayd came to Madinah to ask about the rules of Islam. He was a stranger, but he did not find any barrier or guard between him and the Prophet (PBUH), the first men in the Islamic state, who was on the minbar addressing the people. Tamim came forward to ask some questions, and the Prophet (PBUH) welcomed him with all warmth, humility and compassion. Tamim tells the story, as was related by Imam Muslim: "I came to the Prophet (PBUH) whilst he was giving a speech. I said, `O Messenger of Allah, a stranger has come to ask about his religion; he does not know what his religion is.' The Prophet (PBUH) welcomed me, interrupted his speech, and came to me. A chair was brought for him, so he sat down and began to teach me from what Allah (SWT) had taught him. Then he resumed his speech and finished what he had been saying."198The Prophet (PBUH) used to instil the attitude of humility, based on tolerance, gentleness and a good nature, in the hearts of his Companions. He (PBUH) said: "If I were to be invited to a simple meal of a sheep's foot or leg, or if I were to be offered this food as a gift, I would accept."199This is modesty in its purest form and human greatness of the highest degree.
 
 

She is moderate with regard to her

clothing and appearance

The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam adheres to the principle of modesty in all things, and especially in the way she dresses and looks. She is keen to look good, but without any extravagance, excess or conceit. She does not blindly follow those who throw aside new clothes after wearing them only once and exhaust themselves trying to keep up with the latest fashion, which is forever changing, as is the habit of some foolish, ignorant women who have nothing better to do. On the other hand, she does not neglect her clothes or appearance, and she tries to look good in moderation.

She abides by the limits of moderation set out in the Qur'an, which describes moderation as one of the qualities of the believing servants of Allah (SWT), men and women alike:

( Those who, when they spend, are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just [balance] between those [extremes].) (Qur'an 25:67)The Muslim woman is careful not to fall victim to the enslavement of fashion and those behind it, who are people who have no fear of Allah (SWT) and do not have the best interests of women - especially Muslim women - at heart. She is careful to avoid this enslavement which the Prophet (PBUH) warned against and told us that it is a source of great misery: "Wretched is the slave of the dinar, dirham and fancy clothes of velvet and silk! If he is given, he is pleased, and if he is not given, he is displeased."200The Muslim woman is protected by the teachings of Islam from falling into the error of arrogance or conceit regarding her appearance, and other deeds which may lead to a person's downfall, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "There was a man who walked with pride because of his fine cloak and because he was pleased with himself. Allah (SWT) caused him to sink in the earth, and he will go on sinking into it until the Day of Resurrection."201The Muslim woman uses means of adornment that are within the limits of what is permitted by Islam. She wears elegant, expensive clothes, which are among the good things permitted by Allah (SWT), without going to extremes of excess. This is the moderation advocated and encouraged by Islam, and there is a huge difference between the wise, moderate woman, and the foolish, empty-headed woman who goes to extremes.

The Muslim woman avoids both extremes with regard to her dress and appearance. She does not exaggerate or go to extreme limits of excess, neither does she neglect her clothes and appearance to the poiof appearing to be miserly or ascetic, thinking that this asceticism is a form of worship that will earn her the pleasure of Allah (SWT).

The woman who wears beautiful clothes to show off in front of her friends is a sinner, because Allah (SWT) does not love every arrogant boaster. But the one who wears beautiful clothes to display the bounty of Allah (SWT) and seeking His help, is an obedient servant who will be rewarded.

The one who neglects her appearance out of stinginess enjoys no position of respect among people, and will have no reward from Allah (SWT). The one who neglects her appearance out of an attitude of other-worldliness, thinking that she is worshipping Allah (SWT) by denying herself what is permitted, is also a sinner, as Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyah, may Allah (SWT) have mercy on him, said.202 The essence of a woman's happiness in this world and the next is purposefulness, moderation and balance. This is the attitude of the Muslim woman who understands and adheres to the teachings of Islam. So her clothes are clean, beautiful, neat and suited to the Muslim woman, demonstrating Allah's blessings to her without going to the extreme of showing off.

She loves noble thinand always aims high

The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam is concerned only with noble matters, and shuns those trivial, cheap matters that do not deserve the attention of the serious, refined person. She builds her relationships with other women on this basis of high concerns and noble aims. She has no room in her life for making friends with foolish, empty-headed prattlers or for keeping busy with trivial matters. She has no time to spend on idle talk and foolish issues. This is what Allah (SWT) loves to see in His believing servants, men and women, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Allah is noble (karim) and loves noble people. He loves noble things and hates foolishness."203She is concerned about the

affairs of the Muslims

The Muslim woman who truly understands the teachings of Islam is not concerned only with her own household, husband and children; she takes an interest in the affairs of the Muslims in general. By doing so she is following the guidance of Islam which counts all Muslims as a single brotherhood, and compares them, because of their mutual love, affection and compassion, to a single body: if one part of it suffers , the rest of the body will stay awake in pain.204 Islam also likens the believers to a solid structure, in which some bricks support others.205

The modern Muslim woman's concern for Muslim individuals, families, societies and the ummah as a whole, stems from her Islamic character, her adherence to the teachings of Islam, her Islamic world-view, and her sense of the responsibilities that Islam has given to every Muslim man and woman to convey and expound its teachings.

Islamic history is filled with many examples of virtuous women who were renowned for their concern about the Muslims, men and women. One example is the report given by Imam Muslim from Salim, the freed slave of Shaddad, who said:

"I entered upon `A'ishah, the wife of the Prophet (PBUH) on the day that Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas died. `Abd al-Rahman ibn Abi Bakr also came in, and performed wudu' in `A'ishah's presence. She said, `O `Abd al-Rahman! Perform your wudu' properly, as I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: "Woe to the heels because of Hell-fire."'"206`A'ishah noticed that her brother `Abd al-Rahman had not washed his heels properly in wudu', and she did not keep silent about what she had seen. She reminded him that it was essential to perform wudu' properly, as she had heard from the Prophet (PBUH). This is an example of the kind of commendable concern that is the duty of every Muslim man and woman whenever there is a need to enjoin what is good or forbid what is evil. When `Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA) was stabbed, and he felt that death was near, he told his son `Abdullah: "Go to `A'ishah, say salam to her, and ask her permission for me to be buried in her house alongside the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) and Abu Bakr. So `Abdullah came to her and conveyed this message. She said, "Certainly, he is most welcome." Then she said: "O my son, convey my salam to `Umar, and tell him: Do not leave the ummah of Muhammad without a protector. Appoint a successor to take care of them. Do not leave them untended after your death, for I fear fitnah for them."207This was a far-sighted, common-sense attitude of concern for the ummah, that they should not be left without a leader to govern their affairs and maintain their unity and security.

In these words of `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), the modern Muslim woman has a prime example which will help her to understand the essence of Islam, her responsibilities towards her religion and her ummah, and the importance of being concerned about the affairs of the Muslims. This will give her insight and understanding that will enable her to undertake her duties of contributing to the revival of Islam and calling Muslim men and women to return to the position of being the Best of Peoples evolved for mankind, as Allah (SWT) wants them to be.

She honours her guest

The true Muslim woman is happy to welcome guests, and hastens to honour them, in response to the call of faith in Allah (SWT) and the Last Day, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Whoever believes in Allah (SWT) and the Last Day, let him honour his guest."208The Muslim woman who honours her guest thus confirms that she is a believer in Allah (SWT) and the Last Day. Therefore this honouring of the guest is called a reward that is given to the guest as if thanking him for the opportunity he has given to his host to do a good deed, put his faith into practice, and please Allah (SWT): "`Whoever believes in Allah (SWT) and the Last Day, let him honour his guest by giving him his reward.' They asked, `What is his reward, O Messenger of Allah?' He said: `One day and one night. The right of hospitality is three days, and anything beyond that is an act of charity.'"209Honouring guests is regarded in Islam as a great deed which is encouraged, and for which the sincere Muslim woman will be rewarded. But Islam regulated it and set limits for it. The "reward" of the guest is one day and one night, then comes the duty of hospitality, which is three days. Anything beyond that is an act of charity which will be recorded among the good deeds of the hospitable, generous woman.

In Islam, honouring the guest is not a matter of choice to be followed or not according to one's mood or personal feelings. It is a duty on the Muslim, man or woman, who must hasten to fulfil this duty as soon as a guest knocks on the door or enters one's yard:

"Accommodating a guest for one night is an absolute duty on every Muslim. Whoever gets up in the morning and finds a guest waiting in his yard has a duty to fulfil, and it is up to him what he will do about it."210Those who do not like to receive a guest and close their doors to him are not good people, as is stated in the hadith reported by Imam Ahmad, in which the Prophet (PBUH) said: "There is no goodness in the one who is not hospitable."211Islam has made hospitality the duty of every Muslim man and woman, and considers it to be the guest's right. No Muslim should fall short in carrying out this duty. If a spirit of miserliness has overtaken a people to the extent that they deny their guest his right, then Islam permits the guest to take his right from them. This is seen in the hadith narrated by Bukhari, Muslim and others from `Uqbah ibn `Amir, who said: "I said, `O Messenger of Allah, you are sending us to people who do not feed us. What do you think about this?' He said, `If you go to a people and they order that something appropriate be brought (i.e., food and drink), then accept it, and if they do not do that, then take the things you as a guest are entitled to, that they should have provided.'"212Hospitality is a basic Islamic attitude, so you will never find a Muslim woman whose Islam is genuine being stingy to her guest, no matter what her or her husband's cir. Islam has taught her that the food of two people will feed three, and that the food of three will feed four. So she need never worry about an unexpected guest knocking suddenly at her door. Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `The food of two people is enough for three, and the food of three is enough for four.'"213Jabir (RAA) said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: `The food of one is enough for two, the food of two is enough for four, and the food of four is enough for eight."214The Muslim woman whose personality has been cleansed and moulded by Islam does not worry about there being too many people at the table, unlike the Western woman who does not receive a guest for whom she has not prepared food in advance. The Muslim woman welcomes her guests even if the visit is unannounced, and invites them to share her family's food, no matter that her own share may be reduced by a few mouthfuls. The true Muslim woman prefers hunger to ignoring the rights of this guest, whom Allah (SWT) and His Messenger have commanded her to honour. Indeed, Allah (SWT) will bless the food of one so that it will become enough for two, and He will bless the food of two so that it will become enough for four, and so on. There is no neefor that dryness and inhospitability from which Western-influenced materialistic people are suffering in both East and West. The righteous salaf set the highest example of honouring one's guest, so much so that Allah (SWT) Himself commended the way in which some of them honoured their guests. An example of this is the hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (RAA). A man came to the Prophet (PBUH) and he sent word to his wives (to prepare food). They said, "We have nothing but water." So the Prophet (PBUH) said, "Who will play host to this man?" One of the Ansar said: "I will." So he took the man to his wife and told her: "Honour the guest of the Messenger of Allah." She said, "We do not have anything but the boys' food." He said, "Prepare the food, light the lamp, and put the boys to sleep if they want some supper." So she prepared the food, lit the lamp, and put the boys to sleep. Then she got up as if to adjust the lamp, but she extinguished it. The couple pretended to eat (with their guest), but in fact they went to bed hungry. The next morning, the Ansari went to the Prophet (PBUH), who told him: "Allah (SWT) has commended what you two did last night." Allah (SWT) revealed:

( . . . But [they] give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their [own lot]. And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls - they are the ones that achieve prosperity.) (Qur'an 59:9)215

The Muslim woman is generous and hospitable, she welcomes guests no matter when they arrive, and never worries about the sudden arrival of guests. In this way she provides the best help to enable her husband to be generous and hospitable like her, welcoming guests and hastening to honour them with a cheerful, smiling face, as the poet216 said:

"I smile at my guest and make him smile before he brings in his luggage, as if I had plenty to offer him at the time when I am suffering hardship. Hospitality does not consist of piling up food in front of him; the face of the generous man is the essence of hospitality."

She prefers others over herself

The true Muslim woman prefers others over herself, even if she is poor and does not have much, because Islam teaches its followers to do so. This selflessness is a basic characteristic of the true Muslim, which distinguishes him or her from other people.

The Ansar, (May Allah be pleased with them), were the first pioneers in selflessness after the Prophet (PBUH) himself. A verse of the Qur'an was revealed commending their unique selflessness, which would remain for all time a shining example to humanity of how generosity and selflessness should be. They welcomed their Muhajir brothers, who had nothing, and gave them everything:

( But those who before them, had homes [in Madinah] and had adopted the Faith - show their affection to such as came to them for refuge, and entertain no desire in their hearts for things given to the [latter], but give them preference over themselves, even though poverty was their [own lot]. And those saved from the covetousness of their own souls - they are the ones that achieve prosperity.) (Qur'an 59:9)The life of the Prophet (PBUH) abounded with selflessness, and he also instilled this attitude in the hearts of the first Muslims. Sahl ibn Sa`d (RAA) reported: "A woman brought a woven garment (burdah) and said, `I wove it with my own hands for you to wear.' The Prophet (PBUH) took it, as he needed it. He came out to us, wearing it wrapped around his waist. So-and-so said, `Give it to me, how nice it is!' The Prophet (PBUH) said, `Of course.' The Prophet (PBUH) was sitting in a gathering, and when he came back, he folded up the burdah and sent it to that man. The people told the man: `You should not have done that. The Prophet (PBUH) wore it because he needed it, then you asked for it and you knew that he does not refuse requests.' He said, `I did not ask for it so that I could wear it. I asked for it so that it could be my shroud.'" Sahl said: "And (later on) it was his shroud."217The Prophet (PBUH) used to feel happy whenever he saw his teaching of selflessness bearing fruits in the Muslims' lives when there was some crisis such as drought or famine. This is seen in his words: "When a number of their men are killed in battle, or they do not have enough food for their children, the Ash`aris [a tribe] gather whatever they have in one cloth and share it out equally. They belong to me and I belong to them."218How beautiful is the attitude of selflessness that we learn about from the Ansar, the Ash`aris and others like them! How great is the virtue of the Prophet (PBUH) who implanted this attitude in the hearts of the first generation of Muslim men and women, from whom successive generations of Muslims inherited it until it became a basic characteristic of the Islamic society.

She checks her customs and habits

against Islamic standards

The Muslim woman who has insight into the rulings of Islam does not accept every tradition and custom that is widely accepted by others, for there may be customs that are derived from ancient or modern jahili traditions which go against Islam. These are unacceptable to the Muslim woman, even if everybody else accepts them unanimously.

The Muslim woman does not decorate her house with statues or pictures (of animate objects), neither does she keep a dog at home, unless it is a guard dog, because the Prophet (PBUH) has forbidden all of that. The sahih hadith on this matter are very emphatic in their prohibition, and there is no room for prevarication or excuses:

Ibn `Umar (RAA) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Those who make these images will be punished on the Day of Resurrection and will be told: `Give life to that which you have created.'"219`A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) returned from a journey, and I had covered a small window with a curtain that had images on it. When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) saw it, his face changed colour (with anger) and he said, `O `A'ishah! Those who will be the most severely punished by Allah (SWT) on the Day of Resurrection will be those who imitated the creation of Allah (SWT).' She said: So we cut it up and made one or two pillows from it."220Ibn `Abbas (RAA) said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: `Every maker of images will be in the Fire; every image that he made will be brought to life and will punish him in Hell." Ibn `Abbas said: "So if you must do that, make pictures of trees and inanimate objects."221Abu Talhah (RAA) said that the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: "The angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or an image."222`A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: "Jibril (PBUH ) promised to come to the Prophet (PBUH) at a certain time. That time came and went, and hedid not come. The Prophet (PBUH) was holding a stick in his hand, which he threw aside, saying, `Allah (SWT) does not break His promise and neither do His Messengers.' Then he turned around and saw a puppy underneath his bed. He said, `When did this dog get in?' I said, `By Allah, I did not even notice it.' He gave orders that it should be taken out, and it was removed. Then Jibril (PBUH ) came to him, and the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, `You promised to come and I was waiting for you, but you did not come.' He said, `The dog that was in your house prevented me. We do not enter a house where there is a dog or an image.'"223There are many hadith which prohibit pictures and statues, and the wisdom behind this prohibition is apparent especially nowadays when hypocrites, sycophants and those possessed by greed and ambition encourage tyrants in their oppression. One of their favoured methods is to erect statues to them, both during their lifetimes and after their deaths, thus turning them into gods and demigods seated on thrones of glory, whipping the backs of the oppressed.

Islam brought the doctrine of Tawhid, and destroyed the statues of shirk and jahiliyyah fifteen hundred years ago. It will not permit these graven images to come back into the lives of Muslim men and women, whether it be in the name of commemorating a leader, honouring aartist or glorifying a scientist, poet or writer. The Islamic society is a monotheistic society where glorification, sanctification and veneration are only for Allah (SWT). So there is no room in the Islamic society for these statues and images.

As far as keeping a dog is concerned, there is nothing wrong with that if the dog is kept for hunting or farming purposes, as in the hadith of Ibn `Umar (RAA), who said:

"I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: `Whoever keeps a dog, unless it is a dog for hunting or herding livestock, his reward will decrease by two qirats every day.'"224Keeping dogs in the house after the Western fashion, spoiling them, manufacturing special food and shampoo for them, setting up "beauty parlours" for them and all the other things on which people in the West and the U.S. spend millions upon millions of dollars annually. . . All of this has nothing whatsoever to do with Islam and its tolerant customs. The psychological state of Westerners, and the dry, materialistic life they lead, had driven them to these extremes in caring for their dogs, to compensate for the lack of human love in their social lives. But the social life of Islam is filled with human emotion, so Muslims have no need to go to such absurd extremes.225

The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam does not eat or drink from vessels of gold or silver, no matter how rich she may be or how luxurious a life she may enjoy, because to do so is haram according to Islam. We find this prohibition in a number of definitive, sahih hadith.

Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Whoever drinks from a vessel of silver, it is as if he is throwing Hell-fire into his stomach."226According to a report given by Muslim, the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Whoever eats or drinks from vessels of gold or silver" - (in another report: whoever drinks from a vessel of gold or silver) - " it is as if he is throwing fire from Hell into his stomach."227The alert Muslim woman, no matter where she lives, examines every custom that is followed in her society and measures it against the rulings, values and principles of Islam. Whatever is compatible with Islam, she accepts, but whatever contradicts Islam, she rejects outright, whether it is a custom relating to betrothal and marriage, or in family or social life. What matters is whether the custom is compatible with Islam, not how widely it is spread among people.
 
 

She follows Islamic manners in the way

she eats and drinks

The alert Muslim woman is distinguished by her keenness to follow Islamic etiquette in the way she eats and drinks. If you were to see her at the table eating food, or if you saw the way she sets the table, you would know her by the Islamic manners that she has adopted in the way she eats, drinks and sets the table.

She does not begin to eat until she has mentioned the name of Allah (SWT), and she eats with her right hand from the food directly in front of her228, according to the teaching of the Prophet (PBUH):

"Mention the name of Allah (SWT), eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you."229If she forgets to mention the name of Allah (SWT) at the beginning of her meal, she will rectify that by saying: "Bismillahi awwalahu wa akhirahu (in the name of Allah (SWT) at its beginning and at its end)," as is taught in the hadith narrated by `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her): "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `Whenever any of you eats, let him mention the name of Allah (SWT), may He be glorified. If he forgets to mention the name of Allah (SWT) at the beginning, let him say "Bismillahi awwalahu wa akhirahu."'"230The second issue is eating with the right hand. The Muslim woman who is acting according to Islamic manners eats and drinks with her right hand. The commandment to eat with the right hand, and the prohibition of eating with the left hand, are clearly reported in numerous hadith, for example: "When any one of you eats, let him eat with his right hand, and if he drinks, let him drink with his right hand, for the Shaytan eats with his left hand and drinks with his left hand."231

"None of you should eat with his left hand or drink with his left hand, for the Shaytan eats with his left hand and drinks with his left hand." Nafi` added that the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Do not give or take with it (the left hand)."232

If the Prophet (PBUH) saw anyone eating with his left hand, he would tell him to stop, and would teach him the proper manners. If the person arrogantly persisted, he would rebuke him more sternly and pray against him. Salamah ibn al-Akwa`(RAA) said that a man ate with his left hand in the presence of the Prophet (PBUH). He said, "Eat with your right hand." The man said, "I cannot." He said, "May you never be able to use it!" The only thing that stopped him was arrogance, and he never raised his right hand to his mouth after that.233

The Prophet (PBUH) always liked to start things from the right, and he encouraged others to do likewise. Bukhari, Muslim and Malik report from Anas that the Prophet (PBUH) was given some milk that had been mixed with water from the well. There was a Bedouin sitting on his right, and Abu Bakr al-Siddiq was sitting on his left. He drank some of the milk, then he passed it to the Bedouin and said: "Start on the right and pass to the right."234On one occasion, he asked a young boy235 seated on his right to give up his turn for some elders, but the boy insisted on taking his turn and obtaining barakah (blessing) from the left-over of the Prophet (PBUH), and the Prophet (PBUH) did not criticize or rebuke him for doing so. Suhayl ibn Sa`d (RAA) described the incident: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) was given something to drink, and he drank some of it. There was a young boy on his right, and some old men on his left. He asked the boy, `Will you let me give some to these men?' The boy said, `No, by Allah (SWT), I will not give up my share from you to anyone.' So the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) put it in his hand."236There are many such reports and texts that definitively show that using the right hand is an important aspect of Islamic manners, which the true Muslim adopts readily and does not try to find excuses. This is what the Sahabah and Tabi`in used to do, without exception. When `Umar ibn al-Khattab (RAA) was the khalifah, he used to patrol the city himself and check up on the people. Once, he saw a man eating with his left hand, so he told him, "O servant of Allah, eat with your right hand." He saw him a second time eating with his left hand, so he hit him with his whip and said, "O servant of Allah, eat with your right hand." He saw him a third time eating with his left h, so he hit him with his whip and said angrily, "O servant of Allah, your right hand!" The man replied, "O Amir al-Mu'minin, it is busy." `Umar said, "What is keeping it busy?" He said, "The day of Mu'tah237." `Umar began to weep, and came to the man apologizing and consoling him. He asked him, "Who helps you make wudu`? Who helps you with what you need?" Then he ordered that the man should be treated fairly and taken care of.

`Umar's concern for this aspect of the conduct of one of the people demonstrates the importance of this apparently minor issue. It is indicative of the Muslim's personality and unique identity. `Umar was very keen to apply this rule to the Muslims, so he did not allow them to take it lightly or ignore it.

I would like to address this to those Muslim ladies who have adopted Western table manners which dictate that the fork should be held in the left hand, and the knife in the right, so that the food is cut with the right hand and placed in the mouth with the left. These people follow this practice without adjusting it, so that they are eating with their left hands, contradictory to the teachings of their religion. They do not bother to move the fork to the right hand and the knife to the left, so that they may eat with their right hand, because they do not want to change this Western "etiquette." This is just one example of the moral defeat from which our ummah is suffering at the hands of m, which we are following slavishly without adjusting or adapting foreign customs to suit our own identity, religion and values. The true Muslim should be the furthest removed from such blind, ignorant imitation.

The true Muslim woman who is proud of her religion and its noble guidance in all aspects of life insists on eating with her right hand and calls on others to do likewise. She is not ashamed to announce it in gatherings where people still adhere slavishly to practices that have come from the West, so that she may explain it to those men and women who are ignorant and careless, and bring them back to their senses. Then they will follow the sunnah and eat and drink with their right hands.

With regard to the third issue, eating from what is nearest to one, this is in accordance with the Islamic manners of eating. The Prophet (PBUH) clearly commanded this, along with mentioning the name of Allah (SWT) and eating with the right hand. It is recorded in numerous hadith, such as the report of `Umar ibn Abi Salamah (RAA), who said:

"I was a young boy under the care of the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). My hand used to wander all over the plate, so the Prophet (PBUH) told me: `O young boy, mention the name of Allah (SWT), eat with your right hand, and eat from what is directly in front of you.'"238When the Muslim woman eats with her hand, she does so in a nice, good-mannered fashion, as the Prophet (PBUH) used to do. He used to eat with just three fingers; he did not plunge his whole hand into the food in a way that would put others off. This was reported by Ka`b ibn Malik: "I saw the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) eating with three fingers, and when he had finished he would lick them."239The Prophet (PBUH) commanded people to lick their fingers and clean their plates, as Jabir (RAA) reported that he said: "You do not know where in the food is the blessing."240Anas (RAA) said: "When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) ate, he would lick his three fingers. He said: `If any of you drops a mouthful, let him pick it up, remove the dirt, and eat it, and not leave it for the Shaytan.' He commanded us to clean our plates and said: `You do not know in which part of your food is the blessing.'"241Besides seeking the blessing in the food, this Prophetic teaching also encourages Muslims to clean their hands and their plates. Cleaning them of whatever food is left befits the person who is clean and well mannered, and is indicative of his or her sensitivity and good taste. The West has now adopted this good practice which was commanded by the Prophet (PBUH) fifteen hundred years ago: nowadays the Europeans clear their plates and do not leave anything.

Of course, the sensitive, well-mannered Muslim woman does not eat noisily, making disgusting sounds, nor does she take large mouthfuls such as would cause her to make a revolting spectacle of herself.

When she has finished eating, she praises Allah (SWT) as the Prophet (PBUH) taught us to do, thanking Allah (SWT) for His blessing and seeking the reward of those who give praise and thanks.

Abu Umamah (RAA) said that when the Prophet (PBUH) finished his meal, he would say:

"Al-hamdu lillahi kathiran tayyiban mubarakan fihi, ghayra makfiyyin wa la muwadda`in wa la mustaghnan `anhu, rabbana (Praise be to Allah, much good and blessed praise. O our Lord, we cannot compensate Your favour, nor leave it nor dispense with it)."242Mu`adh ibn Anas (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `Whoever eats a meal then says Al-hamdu lillahi alladhi at`amani hadha wa razaqanihi min ghayri hawlin minni wa la quwwatin (Praise be to Allah (SWT) Who fed me and bestowed this provision upon me with no power or ability on my part)', will be forgiven for the sins committed prior to it."243The well-mannered Muslim woman does not criticize food, no matter what it is, following the teaching and example of the Prophet (PBUH). Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) never criticized food. If he liked it, he ate it, and if he did not like it, he left it."244The Muslim woman's manners with regard to drinking are also derived from the teachings of Islam, which impart good manners to man in every aspect of life.

After mentioning the name of Allah (SWT), she drinks in two or three draughts. She does not breathe into the cup, nor does she drink from the mouth of the jug or bottle if she can help it. She should not breathe into her drink, and she should drink sitting down if she can.

Drinking in two or three draughts is what the Prophet (PBUH) used to do, as Anas (RAA) reported:

"The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to breathe three times245 when drinking."246The Prophet (PBUH) discouraged drinking in one draught: "Do not drink in one draught like camels do; drink in two or three. Mention the name of Allah (SWT) when you drink, and give praise to Him when you finish drinking."247The Prophet (PBUH) forbade blowing into one's drink, as is mentioned in the hadith of Abu Sa`id al-Khudri: "A man said, `I see some dirt in it.' The Prophet (PBUH) said, `Then pour it out.' He said, `One draught is not enough for me.' The Prophet (PBUH) said, `Take the cup away from your mouth, then take a breath.'"248The hadith on the manners of drinking make it clear that it is better for the well-mannered Muslim woman to avoid drinking from the mouth of the bottle or jug if she can, and to drink sitting down if possible. This is preferable, but drinking from the mouth of the jug or while standing are permitted, because the Prophet (PBUH) did so on occasion.

Spreading the greeting of Islam

One of the distinctive aspects of the Muslim woman's social conduct is her insistence on the greeting of Islam, which she gives to every Muslim man and woman she meets, in accordance with the rules of giving salam outlined by Islam, which command us to spread salam in a number of ayat and hadith.

In Islam, greeting with salam is a clearly defined etiquette which has been commanded by Almighty Allah (SWT) in His Book, and rules and regulations concerning this greeting have been set out in numerous hadith to which the scholars of hadith devoted entire chapters called kitab al-salam or bab al-salam.

Allah (SWT) commanded the Muslims to greet one another with salam in clear, definitive terms in the Qur'an:

( O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and saluted those in them . . .) (Qur'an 24:27)Allah (SWT) commanded the Muslims to return the greeting with something similar or something better, hence it is an obligation on the one who hears a greeting to return it, and not to ignore it: ( When a [courteous] greeting is offyou, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or [at least] of equal courtesy . . .) (Qur'an 4:86)The Prophet (PBUH) strongly encouraged the Muslims to spread salam and to greet those they know and those they do not know. `Abdullah ibn `Amr ibn al-`As (RAA) said: "A man asked the Prophet (PBUH), `Which type of Islam is the best?' He said, `To feed people, and to say salam to those you know and those you do not know.'"249Greeting with salam is one of the seven things which the Prophet (PBUH) commanded his Companions, and the Muslim ummah after them, to adhere to. They were listed by al-Bara' ibn `Azib (RAA): "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) commanded us to do seven things: to visit the sick, to attend funerals, to bless someone when he sneezes, to support the weak, to help the one who is oppressed, to spread salam, and to help people fulfil their oaths."250The Prophet (PBUH) placed great emphasis on salam and encouraged Muslims to use this greeting in many hadith, because he understood its effects in spreading brotherly love and strengthening the ties of love, closeness and friendship between individuals and groups. He described it as something which would lead to love, and love would lead to faith, and faith would lead to Paradise: "By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you will not enter Paradise until you believe, and you will not believe until you love one another. Shall I not tell you of something which if you do it, you will love one another? Spread salam amongst yourselves."251He (PBUH) also said that the one who initiated the greeting would be closer to Allah (SWT) and more deserving of His pleasure, favour and blessing: "The closest of the people to Allah (SWT) is the one who starts the greeting of salam."252

`Abdullah ibn `Umar (RAA) used to go to the market in the morning, and he did not pass by anybody without saying salam to him. One day he was asked, "What do you do in the market, when you do not sell anything, or ask about prices, or haggle, or join any gatherings?" He said, "We go there in the morning for the purpose of saying salam to whoever we meet."253

In Islam, greeting with salam is not considered to be the matter of a social custom defined by men, that may be changed and adapted according to time and circumstances. Greeting with salam is a clearly-defined etiquette which has been commanded by Almighty Allah (SWT) in His Book, and rules and regulations concerning this greeting have been set out, as described above. There is only one form of the greeting, to which Muslim men and women who are aware of Islamic manners and are keen to apply Islamic teachings adhere. It is: "al-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu (peace be upon you, and the mercy and blessings of Allah (SWT))." The man or woman who is initiating the greeting says it like this - in the plural form - even if he or she is greeting only one person. The man or woman thus addressed responds: "wa`alaykum al-salam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu."254The Muslim woman who is keen to be distinguished by her Islamic identity adheres to this blessed form of greeting, which is the original greeting of Islam, and does not substitute any other kind of greeting.

This correct Islamic greeting should not be replaced by other greetings, such as the old-fashioned Arabic greeting "`im sabahan," or modern greetings such as "sabah al-khayr," "good morning," or "bonjour" (in Arabic, English and French, respectively), and other usages which are spreading in the Muslim societies that have deviated from the guidance of Islam.

This Islamic greeting is the greeting which Allah (SWT) chose for His creation from the time of Adam, to whom He taught it and commanded him to greet the angels with it. He wanted Adam's descendants in all times and places to use this greeting, because of its meaning of peace which is something most beloved by man regardless of where or when he lives. This divinely-ordained greeting is preserved nowhere except in the ummah of Islam which has adhered to the true way and has not changed it or deviated from it. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

"When Allah (SWT) created Adam (PBUH ), He told him, `Go and greet those' - a group of angels who were sitting - `and listen to how they greet you, for it will be your greeting and that of your descendants. So he said: `al-salamu `alaykum,' and they responded, `wa `alayka al-salamu wa rahmatullah.' They added `wa rahmatullah.'"255No wonder this form is such a blessed greeting, for it comes from Allah (SWT), Who commanded us to adopt it as our greeting and never to replace it with anything else: ( . . . But if you enter houses, salute each other - a greeting or blessing and purity as from Allah . . . ) (Qur'an 24:61)Therefore Jibril (PBUH ) used this form of the greeting when he she used the same form in returning the greeting. This is reported in the hadith from `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her): "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) told me: `This is Jibril who is saying salam to you.' She said, I said: `Wa `alayhi al-salamu wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu (and upon him be peace and the mercy and blessings of Allah (SWT).)'"256There are also rules concerning the greeting of salam, which the true Muslim tries to adhere to and apply properly in his or her own social life. These rules are summed up in the hadith reported by Bukhari and others from Abu Hurayrah (RAA): "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `The one who is riding should say salam to the one who is walking, the one who is walking to the one who is sitting, and the smaller group to the larger group.'"257 A report narrated by Bukhari adds the words "And the young to the old."258

The greeting is given to men and women alike, as Asma' bint Yazid (May Allah be pleased with her) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) passed by the mosque one day when a group of women were sitting there and he waved his hand to them in greeting.259

The greeting is also to be given to children, to acquaint them with the manners of greeting and giving salam. It is reported that Anas (RAA) passed by some children and greeted them with salam, then said, "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to do that."260

When the greeting is given at night, it should be spoken softly and in a quiet voice, so that those who are awake might hear it without disturbing those who are asleep. This is what the Prophet (PBUH) used to do, according to the lengthy hadith of al-Miqdad (RAA) in which he says: "We used to put aside the Prophet's share of the milk and he would come at night and greet us in such a way as not to wake those who were asleep, but those who were awake would hear it. So the Prophet (PBUH) came and greeted us as he usually did . . ."261Salam should be given when joining a gathering and when leaving it. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "When any one of you comes to a gathering, let him say salam, and when he wants to leave, let him say salam. The former is not more important than the latter."262The Muslim woman who is distinguished by her true Islamic manners understands the sublime teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) concerning the greeting of salam and its etiquette. She follows this etiquette precisely in her private and social life, and encourages others to do likewise.

She does not enter a house other than

her own without permission

The Muslim woman who is truly guided by Islam does not enter a house other than her own without seeking permission and saying salam to the people who live there. This seeking permission is a divine commandment which is not to be evaded or ignored:

( O you who believe! Enter not houses other than your own, until you have asked permission and saluted those in them: that is best for you, in order that you may heed [what is seemly]. If you find no one in the house, enter not until permission is given to you: if you are asked to go back, go back: that makes for greater purity for yourselves: and Allah knows well all that you do . . .

But when the children among you come of age, let them [also] ask for permission, as do those senior to them [in age] . . . ) (Qur'an 24:27-28, 59)

The Muslim woman should neveven think of seeking permission to enter a house that she is not permitted to enter, such as a house where there are only non-mahram men present. When she seeks permission to enter, it is to go to where there are other women or men who are permitted to see her (i.e. mahram), and no one else - in accordance with the commands of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger.

There are certain manners in seeking permission which Islam urges Muslim men and women to follow whenever they want to visit somebody:

(1) The woman who is seeking permission to enter should not stand squarely in front of the door, but to the right or left of it. This is what the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to do. `Abdullah ibn Busr, the Companion of the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Whenever the Prophet (PBUH) came to a door seeking permission to enter, he did not stand facing it; he would stand to the right or the left. If he was given permission, he would enter, otherwise he would leave."263The rule of seeking permission has been given to protect privacy, as Sahl ibn Sa`d (RAA) reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Seeking permission has been made a rule for the sake of not seeing264."265Therefore the man or woman who is seeking permission is not allowed to stand facing the door, as this would allow him or her to see inside when the door is opened.

(2) She should say salam and then ask for permission. Seeking permission before saying salam is incorrect. This is the teaching of the Prophet (PBUH) as given in the hadith of Rib`i ibn Hirash who said:

"A man of Bani `Amir told us that he had sought permto enter upon the Prophet (PBUH), who was in a house. He said, `Shall I get in?' The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) told his servant, `Go out to this person and teach him how to seek permission to enter. Tell him to say "Al-salam `alaykum, may I enter?"' The man heard, so he said `Al-salam `alaykum, may I enter?' Then the Prophet (PBUH) gave him permission and he entered."266(3) She should identify herself clearly when asked "Who are you?" by giving her name or kunyah. She should not reply in vague terms, such as "It is me." The Prophet (PBUH) disliked such an answer from a person knocking at the door, as such words do not give a clear idea of the person's identity. He said that a person should state his or her name clearly when asking to come in. Jabir (RAA) said: "I came to the Prophet (PBUH) and knocked at the door. He said, `Who is this?' I answered, `Me,' and he said, `Me? Me?' as if he disliked this answer."267The Prophet (PBUH) thus taught us that the sunnah when seeking permission to enter is to state one's name clearly. This is what he and his noble companions used to do.

Abu Dharr (RAA) said:

"I went out one night and saw the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) walking on his own. I began to walk in the shadows cast by the moonlight. He turned around and saw me, so he said, `Who is this?' and I said, `Abu Dharr.'"268Umm Hani' (May Allah be pleased with her) said: "I came to the Prophet's house while he was having ghusl. Fatimah was screening him and he said, `Who is this?' I said, `I am Umm Hani''"269(4) She should go back if she is asked to do so, without getting upset or angry. This is the commandment of Allah (SWT) in the Qur'an: ( . . . If you are asked to go back, go back: that makes for greater purity for yourselves: and Allah knows well all that you do.) (Qur'an 24:28)The Prophet (PBUH) taught that permission to enter should only be sought three times, then if permission is given one may enter, otherwise one should go back. Abu Musa al-Ash`ari (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `Seek permission to enter three times, then if permission is given to you, enter, otherwise go back.'"270Abu Musa once asked `Umar for permission to enter, and it was not given, so he went away. `Umar called him to come back, and they had a lengthy conversation about seeking permission and going away. It is useful to quote this conversation, to demonstrate how meticulous the Sahabah were in finding out the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) and in applying them. Abu Musa said: "I sought permission to enter upon `Umar three times, and permission was not given, so I went away. `Umar called me back and said: `O servant of Allah (SWT), did you find it hard to be kept waiting at my door? You should know that people find it just as hard to be kept waiting at your door.' I said, `No, I asked permission from you three times and it was not given, so I went away [and we were commanded to do this].' He said, `From whom did you hear this?' I said, `I heard it from the Prophet (PBUH).' He said, `Have you heard something from the Prophet (PBUH) that we have not heard? If you do not bring some evidence for this I will make an example of you.' So I went out until I came to a group of the Ansar who were sitting in the mosque. I asked them about it and they said, `Does anyone doubt you concerning this?' So I told them what `Umar had said. They said, `No one but the youngest of us will come with you.' So Abu Sa`id al-Khudri - or Abu Mas`ud - came with me to `Umar, and told him, `We went out with the Prophet (PBUH) to visit Sa`d ibn `Ubadah. When we got there, [the Prophet (PBUH)] said salam, but no permission to enter was given. He said salam a second and a third time, but no permission was given. He said, `We have done what we had to,' then he went away. Sa`d came after him and said, `O Messenger of Allah, by the One Who sent you with the truth, you did not say salam but I heard you and returned the greeting, but I wanted to increase the number of times you said salam to me and my household.'"Abu Musa said: "By Allah (SWT), I was being honest in what I reported of the words of the Messenger of Allah. He (`Umar) said: `I agree, but I wanted to be sure.'"271

In another report narrated by Muslim, it states that when this hadith was proven, `Umar rebuked himself, as it were, by saying "Was any teaching of the Messenger of Allah hidden from me? My business in the market kept me busy."272

These are the Islamic rules and manners pertaining to seeking permission to enter a house. No doubt the true Muslim woman who is keen to follow Islamic etiquette will apply these rules in her everyday life, each time she knocks on a door to seek permission to enter, and she will also teach these manners to her sons and daughters.

She sits wherever she finds room in a gathering

Another aspect of the manners of the true Muslim woman is that she sits wherever she finds room when she joins a gathering where other women have arrived before her and found a place to sit. This is a refined social etiquette that is derived from the example, in word and deed, of the Prophet (PBUH), and is a sign of good taste, sensitivity and politeness in the person who adopts it.

Such a refined Muslim woman does not force her way through the group of women who are sitting, or push them aside in order to force them to make space for her. This is in accordance with the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH) which he taught his Companions to adopt when they joined his gathering.

Jabir ibn Samurah (RAA) said:

"When we came to the Prophet (PBUH), we would sit wherever we found room."273The well-mannered Muslim woman avoids pushing between two people, and comes between them only with their permission, if it is necessary to do so. Pushing between two people without their permission is something which the Prophet (PBUH) forbade and warned against: "It is not permitted for a man to come between two people except with their permission."274Pushing between two people, whether in a gathering or in other circumstances, is odd behaviour which Islam has made clear is disliked. Muslims are to avoid such behaviour. There are many hadith and athar (reports) to that effect; these reports are narrated in the masculine form, as they were spoken to the men who were usually around the Prophet (PBUH), to remind them of correct Islamic manners, but these rules apply equally to women. The laws and commandments of Islam are addressed to all Muslims, and both men and women are responsiblfor obeying its commands and following its guidance.

One of these reports is that of Sa`id al-Maqbari who said:

"I passed by Ibn `Umar and there was a man with him talking to him. I stood by them, and Ibn `Umar slapped my chest and said: `If you find two people talking, do not stand by them and do not sit with them, until you have asked their permission.' I said, `May Allah (SWT) guide you, O Abu `Abdul-Rahman! I only hoped to hear something good from you both.'"275If someone gets up to let her sit in her place, she should not accept. This is better and more noble, and it is closer to the practice of the Sahabah, may Allah be pleased with them. Ibn `Umar (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `None of you should make another get up then sit in his place. All of you should move up and make space (for a latecomer)."276 If anyone stood up to give his place to him, Ibn `Umar would never accept it.277On such occasions, the Muslim woman always abides by the guidance of Islam and the conduct of the Sahabah, may Allah be pleased with them. So she attains the social manners that are encouraged by Islam, and earns the reward of Allah (SWT) for following the Sunnah of His Prophet (PBUH).

She does not converse privately with another woman

when a third is present

Islam came to form human beings who are sensitive and civil, with an awareness and understanding of the feelings of others. Therefore Islam has set out social and moral guidelines that are at the heart of this religion, and we are commanded to follow these guidelines and apply them in our own lives.

One of the guidelines laid down by the Prophet (PBUH) is that two people should not talk pbetween themselves when a third person is present:

"If you are three, two should not converse privately to the exclusion of the other, until more people join you, because that will make him sad."278The Muslim woman whose solid grounding in Islamic teaching has given her intelligence, sensitivity and good manners, avoids whispering and conversing privately when she is in a group of no more than three women. She is careful not to hurt the feelings of the third woman, lest she feel excluded and offended. If there is an urgent need for two of them to converse privately, then they must ask the permission of the third woman, speak briefly, then apologize to her.

This is the attitude of the Muslim woman who is truly guided by Islam, and this is the civil way in which she deals with other women. She learns all this from the teachings of Islam and the stories of the Sahabah, whose lives and manners were so completely permeated with the teachings and morals of Islam, that they never ignored these sensitive issues in their dealings with people. This is reflected in many reports which describe their careful respect for human feelings. An example is the report given by Imam Malik in al-Muwatta', from `Abdullah ibn Dinar who said:

"Ibn `Umar and I were at the house of Khalid ibn `Uqbah, which was in the market, when a man came in wanting to speak to him (Ibn `Umar) in private. I was the only other person present, so Ibn `Umar called another man to make our number up to four. Then he told me and the newcomer, `Move a little way off together, for I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say, "Two should not converse privately to the exclusion of another."'"279The Muslim woman who is truly guided by the teachings of Islam and the way in which the best of generations (i.e. the Sahabah) applied them follows the example of Ibn `Umar (RAA), who did not want to listen to a man who had come in off the street suddenly to converse with him in private, because he knew that there was a third person present whose feelings could be hurt if he asked him to move away on his own. He waited to listen to the man who wanted to converse in private, until he had called a fourth man, then he explained to all of them that this was the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH), and repeated the hadith to them, reminding the Muslims that this is the approach they should take when they find themselves in such situations, respecting people's feelings and following the sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH).

How fine are the social manners encouraged by Islam! How great is the honour which Islam bestows upon human beings and the respect and consideration it shows towards their feelings!

She respects elders and distinguished people

Islam brought a host of fine social rules which instil an attitude of chivalry, nobility, good manners and politeness in the heart of the Muslim. One of the most prominent of these teachings is to give due respect to elders and those who are deserving of respect (such as scholars, etc.)

The Muslim woman who is truly guided by Islam does not neglect to follow this most essential, basic Islamic ruling, which gives the Muslim woman her genuine identity in the Islamic society. Whoever lacks this quality forfeits his or her membership in this community and no longer has the honour of belonging to the ummah of Islam, as the Prophet (PBUH) stated:

"He does not belong to my ummah who does not honour our elders, show compassion to our young ones, and pay due respect to our scholars."280

Respect for elders and giving them priority over those who are younger, are indications of a community's or society's level of civility, of its members' understanding of the rules of human morality, and of their high level of good manners. This is just as true of women as it is of men. Hence the Prophet (PBUH) was keen to reinforce this understanding in the hearts of the Muslims, whilst he was raising the structure of the Islamic society. Among the evidence of his concern to achieve this are his words to `Abdul-Rahman ibn Sahl, who was speaking although he was the youngest member of the delegation that had come to the Prophet (PBUH). The Prophet (PBUH) told him, "Let someone who is older than you speak, let someone who is older than you speak." So Abdul-Rahman fell silent, and someone who was older than him spoke.281

When the modern Muslim woman shows respect to a lady who is older than her, or honours a woman who is deserving of respect, she is doing a worthwhile moral duty that in fact is a part of worship, because honouring one's elders and those who are distinguished is part of glorifying Allah (SWT), as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Part of glorifying Allah (SWT) is honouring the grey-haired (i.e., older) Muslim, the one who has learnt the Qur'an by heart without exaggerating about it or ignoring its teachings, and honouring the just ruler."282By behaving in this way, the Muslim woman follows the command of the Prophet (PBUH) to give people their rightful positions in the Islamic society. Imam Muslim mentions this at the beginning of his Sahih, where he says: "It was reported that `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said, `The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) ordered us to put people in their rightful positions.'"283The Muslim woman should not forget that giving people their rightful position means recognizing their positions and giving priority to elders, scholars, those who have memorised the Qur'an, those who are wise and those who are distinguished, whether they are men or women.

She does not look into other people's houses

Another of the qualities of the well-mannered Muslim woman is that she does not look around the home of her host or seek to inspect its contents. This is not behaviour that befits the wise, decent Muslim woman; it is a hateful, undesirable attitude. The Prophet (PBUH) warned those who let their gaze wander in gatherings and try to see things that are none of their business, and he said that it was permissible to put their eyes out:

"Whoever looks into someone's home without their permission, then it is permissible for the people of the house to put their eyes out."284She avoids yawning in a gathering

as much as she can

The Muslim woman who is sensitive and well-mannered does not yawn in a gathering if she can help it. If the urge to yawn overtakes her, then she tries to resist it as much as possible. This is what the Prophet (PBUH) advised:

"If any of you wantsto yawn, then let him suppress it as much as possible."285If the urge to yawn cannot be resisted, then she should cover her mouth with her hand, as the Prophet (PBUH) commanded: "If any of you yawns, let him cover his mouth with his hand so that the Shaytan does not enter."286Yawning in front of others is unpleasant and off-putting. It does not befit the decent person. Therefore he or she must resist the urge to yawn, or at least cover his or her open mouth with his or her hand, so that the others present need not see it. The Prophet (PBUH) taught the Muslims, men and women, how to behave properly in a social setting so that they will not put people off or make them feel that they are bored with them and want to leave them or want them to leave. This is the way in which the polite Muslim woman who follows Islamic etiquette conducts herself.

She follows Islamic etiquette

when she sneezes

It is no secret to the Muslim woman that just as Islam has defined the manners governing the act of yawning in gatherings, it has also defined the etiquette to be observed when one sneezes. Islam teaches the Muslims, men and women, how they should behave when they sneeze, what they should say to the one who sneezes, and how they should pray for him or her.

Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) said: `Allah (SWT) likes the act of sneezing and dislikes the act of yawning. When any one of you sneezes and says "al-hamdu-lillah", then he has the right to hear every Muslim say "yarhamuk Allah." But yawning is from the Shaytan, so if any of you feels the urge to yawn, he should resist it as much as he can, for when any of you yawns, the Shaytan laughs at him."287This simple reflex action does not occur in the Muslim's life being regulated by certain manners which make the Muslims feel, in the depths of their heart, that this religion came to reform all issues in this life, great and small like, and to give them certain words to say which would constantly connect humanity to Allah (SWT), the Lord of the Worlds.

When a Muslim woman sneezes, she should say "Al-hamdu lillah," and the one who hears her should say, "yarhamuk Allah." Then she must respond to her sister's du`a' by saying "yahdikum Allah wa yuslih balakum (may Allah guide you and correct your thinking)." This is the teaching of the Prophet (PBUH) according to the hadith narrated by Bukhari:

"When any one of you sneezes, let him say `al-hamdu lillah,' and let his brother or companions say `yarhamuk Allah.' And if he says `yarhamuk Allah,' let the first one say, `yahdikum Allah wa yuslih balakum.'"288This du`a', yarhamuk Allah, is said to the one who sneezes in response to his or her saying al-hamdu lillah. If he or she does not say al-hamdu lillah, then there is no obligation to respond in this way. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "When any of you sneezes and praises Allah (SWT), then respond to him [by saying yarhamuk Allah], but if he does not praise Allah (SWT), then do not respond to him."289Anas (RAA) said: "Two men sneezed in the presence of the Prophet (PBUH), and he responded to one of them and not the other. The one to whom he did not respond said, `So-and-so sneezed and you responded. I sneezed and you did not respond.' He said, `He praised Allah (SWT), but you did not.'"290Discussing these words which the Prophet (PBUH) encouraged the Muslims to say when someone sneezes highlights their ultimate aim, which is to mention and praise Allah (SWT), and to strengthen the ties of brotherhood and friendship among all Muslims, men and women. The one who sneezes praises Allah (SWT) for relief from some sensitivity or irritation which he had in his nose, and the one who hears him praise Allah (SWT) prays for mercy for him, because the one who praises Allah (SWT) deserves mercy. The one who sneezes then responds with a longer and more comprehensive du`a' which is full of meanings of goodness, love and friendship.

Thus Islam takes these involuntary actions of Muslims and makes them into opportunities for remembering and praising Allah (SWT) and reinforcing the feelings of brotherhood (and sisterhood), love and compassion in their hearts.

Another of the good manners to be observed when sneezing is to place one's hand over one's mouth and to make as little noise as possible. This is what the Prophet (PBUH) used to do. Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said,

"When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) sneezed, he used to place his hand or part of his garment over his mouth and thus reduce the noise he made."291The well-mannered Muslim woman who is aware of Islamic etiquette does not forget, in such situations where a person may be taken by surprise, to conduct herself in the manner prescribed by the Prophet (PBUH) and to use the same words that he is reported to have used when he sneezed. This is the etiquette to be observed, in obedience to the words of the Prophet (PBUH), whenever she or another person sneezes, or in response to a sister who "blesses" her (says yarhamuk Allah) when she sneezes.

She does not seek the divorce of another woman

so that she may take her place

The true Muslim woman feels that she is living in a Muslim community, whose members are her brothers and sisters. In such a divinely-guided community, cheating, deceit, treachery and all the other vile attitudes that are rampant in societies that have deviated from the guidance of Allah (SWT), are forbidden.

One of the worst of these attitudes is that of the woman who looks at a married man with the intention of snatching him from his wife once they are divorced so that he will be all hers. The true Muslim woman is the furthest removed from this vile attitude, which the Prophet (PBUH) forbade when he forbade a numbers of other, similarly evil attitudes and practices. We see this in the hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (RAA), who said:

"The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said: `Do not outbid one another (in order to raise prices artificially)292; do not undercut one another293; a town-dweller should not sell something on behalf of a Bedouin294; a man should not propose to a woman to whom his brother has already proposed; a woman should not ask for the divorce of another so that she might deprive her of everything that belongs to her.295"296According to a report narrated by Bukhari, also from Abu Hurayrah, the Prophet (PBUH) said: "It is not permitted for a woman to ask for her sister's divorce so that she may take everything she has, for she will have what has been decreed for her."297The Muslim woman is the sister of another, and believes that what Allah (SWT) has decreed for her must surely happen. She cannot be a true believer unless she likes for her sister what she likes for herself, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "None of you truly believes until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself."298The Muslim woman is protected by her knowledge and faith from falling into the trap of this sin. She is saved from such appalling error by her obedience to Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, and by her acceptance of the high human values that Islam has made part of her nature. She does not avoid this sin only to be protected from the scandal that surrounds a woman who commits such a vile deed; a woman could conceal her evil schemes and thus be spared social blame, but she can never escape the punishment of Allah (SWT), Who knows what is secret and what is yet more hidden. [Ta-Ha 20:7]

She chooses the work that suits

her feminine nature

Islam has spared women the burden of having to work to earn a living, and has made it obligatory on her father, brother, husband or other male relative to support her. So the Muslim woman does not seek work outside the home unless there is pressing financial need due to the lack of a relative or spouse to maintain her honourably, or her community needs her to work in a specialised area such as befits her feminine nature and will not compromise her honour or religion.

Islam has made it obligatory for a man to spend on his family, and has given him the responsibility of earning the costs of living, so that his wife may devote herself being a wife and mother, creating a joyful and pleasant atmosphere in the home and organising and running its affairs.

This is the Islamic view of woman and the family, and this is the Islamic philosophy of marriage and family life.

The Western philosophy of women's role, the home, the family and children is based on the opposite of this. When a girl reaches a certain age - usually seventeen years old - neither her father, her brother nor any of her male relatives are obliged to support her. She has to look for work to support herself, and to save whatever she can to offer to her future husband. If she gets married, she has to help her husband with the expenses of the home and children. When she gets old, if she is still able to earn, she must continue to work to earn a living, even if her children are rich.

No doubt the wise Muslim woman understands the huge difference between the position of the Muslim woman and the position of women in the West. The Muslim woman is honoured, protected, and guaranteed a decent living; the Western woman works hard and is subjected to exhaustion and humiliation, especially when she reaches old age.

Since the end of the last century, Western thinkers have continually complained about the plight of Western women. They have warned their people about the impending collapse of Western civilization, due to women's going out to work, the disintegration of the family and the neglect of the children.

The great Islamic da`i Dr. Mustafa al-Siba`i, may Allah have mercy on him, collected a number of comments by Western thinkers in his book Al-mar'ah bayna al-fiqh wa'l-qanun (Woman between fiqh and law). These comments reflect the severe anger and deep anguish felt by those thinkers when they see how low the position of women in the West has become. We wilook here at a few of these comments that give a vivid impression of the state of women in the West.

The French economic philosopher Jules Simon said: "Women have started to work in textile factories and printing presses, etc. . .. The government is employing them in factories, where they may earn a few francs. But on the other hand, this has utterly destroyed the bases of family life. Yes, the husband may benefit from his wife's earnings, but apart from that, his earnings have decreased because now she is competing with him for work."

He also commented: "There are other, higher-class women, who work as book-keepers or store-keepers, or who are employed by the government in the field of education. Many of them work for the telegraph service, the post office, the railways or the Bank of France, but these positions are taking them away from their families completely."299

"A woman must remain a woman, because with this quality she can find happiness or bring it to others. Let us reform the position of women, but let us not change them. Let us beware of turning them into men, because that would make them lose much, and we would lose everything. Nature300 has done everything perfectly, so let us study it and try to improve it, and let us beware of anything that could take us away from its laws."301

The famous English writer Anna Ward said: "It is better for our daughters to work as servants in houses or like servants at home. This is better, and less disastrous than letting them work in factories, where a girl become dirty and her life is destroyed. I wish that our country was like the lands of the Muslims, where modesty, chastity and purity are like a garment. Servants and slaves there live the best life, where they are treated like the children of the house and no-one harms their honour. Yes, it is a source of shame for England that we make our daughters examples of promiscuity by mixing so much with men. Why do we not try to pursue that which makes a girl do work that agrees with her natural temperament, by staying at home, and leaving men's work for the men, to keep her honour safe."302

The Western woman envies the Muslim woman, and wishes that she could have some of the rights, honour, protection and stability that the Muslim woman enjoys. There are many proofs of this, some of which have been quoted above (see p 86 of orig.). Another example is the comment of an Italian student of law at Oxford University, after she had heard something of the rights of women in Islam and how Islam gave women all kinds of respect by sparing her the obligation to earn a living so that she may devote herself to caring for her husband and family. This Italian girl said: "I envy the Muslim woman, and wish that I had been born in your country."303

This reality sunk into the minds of the leaders of the women's movement in the Arab world, especially those who were reasonable and fair. Salma al-Haffar al-Kazbari, who visited Europe and America more than once, commented in the Damascus newspaper al-Ayyam (September 3, 1962), in response to Professor Shafiq Jabri's remarks on the misery of the American woman in his book Ard al-sihr (The land of magic):

"The well-travelled scholar noted, for example, that the Americans teach their children from a very early age to love machines and heroism in their games. He also remarked that the women have started to do men's work, in car factories and street-cleaning, and he felt sorry for the misery of the woman who spends her youth and her life doing something that does not suit her feminine nature and attitude. What Professor Jabri has to say made me feel happy, because I came back from my own trip to the United States five years ago, feeling sorry for the plight of women to which they have been drawn by the currents of blind equality. I felt sorry for their struggle to earn a living, for they have even lost their freedom, that absolute freedom for which they strived for so long. Now they have become prisoners of machines and of time. It is too difficult to go back now, and unfortunately it is true that women have lost the dearest and best things granted to them by nature, by which I mean their femininity, and their happiness. Continuous, exhausting work has caused them to lose the small paradise which is the natural refuge of men and women alike. Children cannot grow and flourish without the presence of a woman who stays at home with them. It is in the home and in the bosom of the family that the happiness of society and individuals rests; the family is the source of inspiration, goodness and genius."

Throwing women into the battlefield of work, where they must compete with men to take their place or share their positions, when there is no need to do so and the interests of society as a whole do not require it, is indeed a grave mistake. It is a great loss that nations and peoples suffer from at times of decline, tribulation and error. The Muslim woman who is guided by the Qur'an and Sunnah does not accept to be thrown into that battlefield, and refuses to become some cheap commodity that is fought over by the greedy capitalists, or some gaudy doll whose company is enjoyed by immoral so-called men. She rejects, with fierce pride, that false "progress" that calls for women to come out uncovered, almost naked and adorned with make up, to work alongside men in offices. With this wise, balanced, honourable attitude, she is in fact doing a great service to her society and nation, by calling for an end to this ridiculous competition of women with men in the workplace, and the resulting corruption, neglect of the family, and waste of money. This is the best good deed a woman can do, as was reflected by the comments of the ruler of North Korea to the Women's Union conference held in his country in 1981:

"We make women enter society, but the reason for that is definitely not a lack of workers. Frankly speaking, the burden borne now by the state because of women's going out is greater than any benefits that may result from women's going out to work. . . So why do we want women to go out and be active in society? Because the main aim is to make women become revolutionary, so that they will become part of the working class through their social activity. Our party encourages women to go out and be active in revolutiwomen and making them part of the working class, no matter how great a burden this places on the state."

No doubt the truly-guided Muslim woman knows exactly where she stands when she realises the great difference between the laws of Islam and the laws of jahiliyyah. So she chooses the laws of Allah (SWT), and does not pay any attention to the nonsense calls of jahiliyyah that come from here and there every so often:

( Do they then seek a judgement of [the Days of] Ignorance? But who, for a people whose faith is assured, can give better judgement than Allah?) (Qur'an 5:50)She does not imitate men

The Muslim woman who is proud of her Islamic identity does not imitate men at all, because she knows that for a woman to imitate men, or a man to imitate women, is forbidden by Islam. The wisdom and eternal law of Allah (SWT) dictate that men have a character distinct from that of women, and vice versa. This distinction is essential for both sexes, because each of them has its own unique role to play in life. The distinction between the basic functions and roles of each sex is based on the differences in character between them; in other words, men and women have different characters and personalities.

Islam put things in order when it defined the role in life of both men and women, and directed each to do that for which they were created. Going against this divinely-ordained definition is a rebellion against the laws of nature according to which Allah (SWT) created man, and is a distortion of the sound, original nature of man. This is surely abhorrent to both sexes, and nothing is more indicative of this than the fact that women despise those effeminate men who imitate women, and men despise those coarse, rough women who act like men. The universe cannot be cultivated and populated properly, and humanity cannot achieve true happi, unless the sexes are clearly differentiated, so that each may appreciate and enjoy the unique character of the other, and both may work together to achieve those aims.

For all these reasons, Islamic teachings issue a severe and clear warning to men who imitate women and women who imitate men.

Ibn `Abbas (RAA) said:

"The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) cursed the men who act like women and the women who act like men."304In another report, Ibn `Abbas said: "The Prophet (PBUH) cursed men who act effeminate and women who act like men, and said, `Expel them from your houses.' The Prophet (PBUH) expelled So-and-so [a man], and Abu Bakr expelled So-and-so [a woman]."305Abu Hurayrah (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) cursed the man who dresses like a woman and the woman who dresses like a man."306When the Muslims were in good shape, governed by the shari`ah of Allah (SWT) and guided by the light of Islam, there was no trace of this problem of men and women resembling one another. But nowadays, when the light of Islam has dimmed in our societies, we find many young girls wearing tight, body-hugging trousers and unisex shirts, with uncovered heads and arms, who look like young men; and we find effeminate men, wearing chains of gold around their necks that dangle on their bare chests, and with long flowing hair that makes them look like young women. It is very difficult to tell the difference between them.

These shameful scenes, that may be seen in some Islamic countries that have been overcome by al-ghazw al-fikri (intellectual colonialism) and whose youth are spiritually defeated, are alien to the Islamic ummah and its values and customs. They have come to us from both the corrupt West and faithless East, which have been overwhelmed by waves of hippies, existentialism, frivolity and nihilism, and other deviant ideas that have misguided humanity and caused great suffering, as they have led people far away from their true, sound nature (fitrah) and distorted them, bringing the worst problems and diseases to those people as a result.

We have also suffered from the fall-out of all this, which overtook the lives of men and women who deviated from the guidance of Allah (SWT) in some Muslim countries after the collapse of the khilafah and the disintegration of the ummah. Many Islamic values were lost, and these deviant men and women became alienated from the ummah, rebelling against its true, original values and distinct character.

She calls people to the truth

The true Muslim woman understands that mankind was not created in vain, but was created to fulfil a purpose, which is to worship Allah (SWT):

( I have only created Jinns and men, that they may serve Me.) (Qur'an 51:56)Worshipping Allah (SWT) may be done through any positive, constructive action undertaken to cultivate and populate the world, to make the word of Allah (SWT) supreme on earth, and to apply His laws in life. All of these constitute part of that truth to which Muslim men and women are required to call people.

Hence the true Muslim woman is aware of her duty to call as many other women as possible to the truth in which she believes, seeking thereby the great reward which Allah (SWT) has promised those who sincerely call others to the truth, as the Prophet (PBUH) said to `Ali (RAA):

"By Allah (SWT), if Allah (SWT) were to guide just one man through you it would be better for you than red camels."307A good word which the Muslim woman says to other women who are careless about matters of religion, or to a woman who has deviated from the guidance of Allah (SWT), will have an effect on them, and will come back to the sister who calls others to Allah (SWT) with a great reward that is worth more than red camels, which were the most precious and sought-after wealth among the Arabs at that time. In addition, a reward like that of the ones who are guided at her hands will also be given to her, as the Prophet (PBUH) said: "Whoever calls people to the truth will have a reward like that of those who follow him, without it detracting in the least from their reward."308The Muslim woman does not think little of whatever knowledge she has if she is calling other women to Allah (SWT). It is sufficient for her to convey whatever knowledge she has learned, or heard from other peoples' preaching, even if it is just one ayah from the Book of Allah (SWT). This is what the Prophet (PBUH) used to tell his Companions to do: "Convey (knowledge) from me even if it is just one ayah . . ."309This is because whether or not a person is guided may depend on just one word of this ayah which may touch her heart and ignite the spark of faith, so that her heart and her life will be illuminated with the light of guidance.

The Muslim woman who is calling others to Allah (SWT) does not spare any effort in calling other women to the truth - and how great is the need for this call in these times - seeking the pleasure of Allah (SWT) and spreading awareness among those women who were not fortunate enough to receive this teaching and guidance previously, and thus proving that she likes for her sister what she likes for herself. These are the characteristics of the woman who calls others to Allah (SWT), that distinguish her from ordinary women. They are noble, worthy characteristics that were highly praised and encouraged by the Prophet (PBUH):

"May Allah (SWT) make his face shine, the one who hears something from us and conveys it as he hears it, for perhaps the one to whom it is conveyed will understand it better than the one who conveyed it."310The Muslim woman who is truly guided by the Qur'an and Sunnah is like a lighted lamp that shows travellers the way on the darkest night. She cannot conceal her light from her sisters who are stumbling in the darkness when she has seen the great reward that Allah (SWT) has prepared for true, sincere callers to the truth.

She enjoins what is good and

forbids what is evil

The duty of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil (al-amr bi'l-ma`ruf wa'l-nahy `an al-munkar) is not confined only to men; it applies equally to men and women, as is stated in the Qur'an:

( The Believers, men and women, are protectors, one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regulprayers, practice regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His Mercy: for Allah is Exalted in Power, Wise.) (Qur'an 9:71)Islam gave women a high social standing when it gave her this great social responsibility of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil. For the first time in history, women were to be the ones issuing instructions, whereas everywhere else except in Islam they had been the ones to receive instructions

In response to this responsibility, which in fact is a great honour, the Muslim woman rises up to carry out the duty of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, within the limits of what suits her feminine nature. Within the limits of her own specialised field, she confronts evil - which is no small matter in the world of women - whenever she sees it, and she opposes it with reason, deliberation, wisdom and a clever, good approach. She tries to remove it with her hand, if she is able to and if doing so will not lead to worse consequences. If she cannot remove it by her actions, then she speaks out to explain what is right, and if she is not able to do so, then she opposes it in her heart, and starts to think of ways and means of opposing and eradicating it. These are the means of opposing evil that were set out by the Prophet (PBUH):

"Whoever of you sees an evil action, let him change it with his hand, and if he is not able to do so, then with his tongue, and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart - and that is the weakest of faith."311

When the alert Muslim woman undertakes this duty of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, she is in effect being sincere towards her wayward or negligent Muslim sisters, for religion is sincerity (or sincere advice), as the Prophet (PBUH) explained most eloquently when he summed up Islam in one word: nasihah. If that is indeed the case, then the Muslimwoman has no option but to enjoin what is good and forbid what is wrong, in order to fulfil the definition of sincerity as stated by the Prophet (PBUH):

"Religion is sincerity (nasihah)." We asked, "To whom?" He said, "To Allah (SWT), to His Book, to His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk."312The Muslim woman's speaking out to offer nasihah and to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil in women's circles will lead to the correction of many unIslamic customs, traditions and habits that are prevalent among some women. How many such practices there are among women who neglect or deviate from Islam; the Muslim woman who confronts these customs and explains the correct Islamic point of view is doing the best thing she can for her society and ummah, and she is one of the best of people: A man stood up whilst the Prophet (PBUH) was on the minbar and asked: "O Messenger of Allah, which of the people is the best?" He said, "The best of the people are those are most well-versed in Qur'an, those who are most pious, those who most enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and those who are most respectful towards their relatives."313The alert Muslim woman is a woman with a mission. She never remains silent about falsehood or fails to uphold the truth or accepts any deviation. She always strives to benefit her sisters in the Muslim community, and save them from their own shortcomings, backwardness, ignorance and deviations. She undertakes her duty of enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, in obedience to the command of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, and to protect herself from the punishment of Allah (SWT) which befalls those societies where no voice is raised to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. When Abu Bakr (RAA) became the khalifah, he ascended the minbar, praised Allah (SWT), then said, "O people, you recite the ayah, ( `O you who believe! Guard your own souls: if you follow [right] guidance no hurt can come to you from those who stray . . .') (Qur'an 5:105) and you are misinterpreting it. Verily I heard the Prophet (PBUH) say: `Those people who see some evil and do not oppose it or seek change will shortly all be punished by Allah (SWT).'"314The Muslim woman who is sincere in her Islam, whose faith is strong and whose mind is open to the guidance of Islam, is always active in the cause of goodness, enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil, offering sincere advice and reforming corrupt situations. She does not accept negativity, passiveness, negligence or vacillation in herself, and never accepts any compromise or deviance in matters of Islam and its rituals. Religion and `aqidah are serious matters; it is no joke, and it is not permitted to remain silent about any deviance or error in religious matters, otherwise we will end up like the Jews, who earned Allah's wrath when they vacillated and became careless with regard to their religion: "Among the people who came before you, the children of Israel, if any one of them did wrong, one of them would denounce him so that he could say that he had done his duty, but the next day he would sit and eat with him as if he had never seen him do anything wrong the day before. When Allah (SWT) saw this attitude of theirs, he turned the hearts of some of them against others and cursed them by the tongue of Dawud and `Isa ibn Maryam, because they disobeyed and persisted in excesses [cf. Qur'an 5:78]. By the One in Whose hand is my soul, you must enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil, and you must stay the hand of the wrongdoer and give him a stern warning to adhere to the truth, otherwise Allah (SWT) will surely turn the hearts of some of you against others, and curse you as He has cursed them."315She is wise and eloquent in her da`wah

The Muslim woman who seeks to call others to Allah (SWT) is eloquent and clever in her da`wah, speaking wisely and without being pushy to those whom she calls, and taking into account their intellectual levels and social positions. With this wise and good preaching, she is able to reach their hearts and minds, just as the Qur'an advises:

( Invite [all] to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching . . .) (Qur'an 16:125)The sister who is calling others is careful not to be long-winded or boring, and she avoids over-burdening her audience. She does not speak for too long, or discuss matters that are difficult to understand. She introduces the idea that she wants to convey in a brief and clear fashion, using attractive and interesting methods, and presenting the information in stages, so that her audience will understand it easily and will be eager to put their new knowledge into practice. This is what the Prophet (PBUH) used to do in his own preaching, as the great Sahabi `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud (RAA) tells us. He used to preach a little at a time to the people, every Thursday. A man said to him, "I wish that you would teach us every day." He said, "What prevents me from doing so is the fact that I would hate to bore you. I show consideration towards you by choosing a suitable time to teach you, just as the Prophet (PBUH) used to do with us, for fear of making us bored."316

One of the most important qualities of the wise and eloquent da`iyah is that she is gentle with the women she is calling. She is patient with the slowness or inability to understand on the part of some of them, their ignorance of many matters of religion, their repeated mistakes and their many tedious questions, following the example of the master of all those men and women who call others to the way of Allah (SWT) - the Prophet (PBUH) - who was the supreme example of patience, kindness and open-heartedness. He responded to questioners like a tolerant, caring guide and gently-correcting teacher, never frustrated by their slowness to understand, or irritated by their many questions and the need to repeat the same answers many times until they understood and left him, content with the lesson they had learned.

An example of this gentle approach is the account of the Sahabi Mu`awiyah ibn al-Hakam al-Sulami (RAA), who said:

"Whilst I was praying with the Prophet (PBUH), one of the men in the congsneezed, so I said, `Yarhamuk Allah (may Allah have mercy on you).' The people glared at me, so I said, `May my mother be bereft of me! What are you staring at me like that for?' They began to strike their thighs with their hands, and when I realised that they were telling me to be quiet, I fell silent. The Prophet (PBUH), may my father and mother be sacrificed for him, finished the prayer, and I have never seen a better teacher than he, before or since. By Allah (SWT), he did not rebuke me or strike me or insult me. He merely said, `This prayer should contain nothing of the everyday speech of men; it is just tasbih, takbir and the recitation of Qur'an,' or words to that effect. I said, `O Messenger of Allah, I am still very close to the time of jahiliyyah (i.e., I am very new in Islam). Allah (SWT) has brought us Islam, yet there are some among us who still go to soothsayers.' He said, `Never go to them.' I said, `And there are some who are superstitious.' He said, `That is just something that they imagine; it should not stop them from going ahead with their plans.'"317Another characteristic of the successful da`iyah, and one of the most attractive and influential methods she can use, is that she does not directly confront wrongdoers with their deeds, or those who are failing with their shortcomings. Rather she is gentle in her approach when she addresses them, hinting at their wrongdoing or shortcomings indirectly rather than stating them bluntly, and asking them, gently and wisely, to rid themselves of whatever bad deeds or failings they have. She is careful not to hurt their feelings or put them off her da`wah. This wise, gentle approach is more effective in treating social ills and moral and psychological complaints, and it is the method followed by the Prophet (PBUH), as `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: "When the Prophet (PBUH) heard that someone had done something wrong, he did not say `What is wrong withso-and-so that he says (such-and-such)?' Rather, he would say, `What is wrong with some people that they say such-and-such?. . ."318Another important feature of the da`iyah, that will guarantee her success, is that she speaks clearly to her audience and repeats her words without boring them until she is certain that they have understood and that her words have reached their hearts. This is what the Prophet (PBUH) used to do, as Anas (RAA) said: "The Prophet (PBUH) used to repeat things three times when he spoke, so that they would be understood. When he came to a people, he would greet them with salam three times."319`A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: "The speech of the Prophet was very clear. Everyone who heard it understood it."320She mixes with righteous women

In her social life, the Muslim woman seeks to make friends with righteous women, so that they will be close friends and sisters to her, and she will be able to co-operate with them in righteousness, taqwa and good deeds, and in guiding and teaching other women who may have little awareness of Islam. Mixing with righteous women always brings goodness, benefits and a great reward, and deepens women's sound understanding of Islam. For this reason it was encouraged in the Qur'an:

( And keep your soul content with those who call on their Lord morning and evening, seeking His Face, and let not your eyes pass beyond them, seeking the pomp and glitter of this Life; nor obey any whose heart We have permitted to neglect the remembrance of Us, one who follows his own desires, whose case has gone beyond all bounds.) (Qur'an 18:28)The true Muslim woman only makes friends with noble, virtuous, righteous, pious women, as the poet said: "Mixing with people of noble character, you will be counted as one of them, So do not take anyone else for a friend."

The true Muslim woman does not find it difficult to mix with righteous women, even if they are apparently below her own socio-economic level. What really counts is a woman's essential personality, not her physical appearance or wealth. Musa (PBUH ), the Prophet of Allah, followed the righteous servant so that he might learn from him, saying with all good manners and respect:

( May I follow you on the footing that you teach me something of the [Higher] Truth which you have been taught?) (Qur'an 18:66)When the righteous servant answered: ( Verily, you will not be able to have patience with me!) (Qur'an 18:67)Musa said, with all politeness and respect: ( You will find me, if Allah so will, [truly] patient: nor shall I disobey you in aught.) (Qur'an 18:69)When choosing friends from among the righteous women, the Muslim woman does not forget that people are like metals, some of which are precious while others are base, as the Prophet (PBUH) explained when describing different types of people: "People are metals like gold and silver. The best of them at the time of Jahiliyyah will be the best of them in Islam, if they truly understand. Souls are like conscripted soldiers: if they recognise one another, they will become friends, and if they dislike one another, they will go their separate ways."321The Muslim woman also knows from the teachings of her religion that friends are of two types: the righteous friend and the bad friend. The good friend is like the bearer of musk: when she sits with her, there is an atmosphere of relaxation, generosity, perfume and happiness. The bad friend is like the one who operates the bellows: when one sits with her, there is the heat of flames, smoke, stench and an atmosphere of gloom. The Prophet (PBUH) gave the best analogy of this: "The good companion and the bad companion are like the bearer of musk and the one who pumps the bellows. With the bearer of musk, either he will give you a share, or you will buy from him, or you will smell a pleasant scent from him; but with the one who pumps the bellows, either he will burn your clothes or you will smell a foul stench from him."322Therefore the Sahabah used to encourage one another to visit good people who would remind them of Allah (SWT) and fill their hearts with fear of Allah (SWT), religious teaching and respect. Anas (RAA) reported the following incident: "Abu Bakr said to `Umar (RAA), after the Prophet (PBUH) had died, `Let us go and visit Umm Ayman323 as the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) used to do.' When they reached her, she wept, so they asked her, `Why do you weep? What is with Allah (SWT) is better for the Prophet (PBUH) (than this world).' She said, `I am not weeping because I do not know that what is with Allah (SWT) is better for the Prophet (PBUH). I am weeping because the Revelation from Heaven has ceased.' She moved them deeply with these words, and they began to weep with her."324The gatherings of righteous women, where Allah (SWT) is remembered and the conversation is serious and beneficial, are surrounded by the angels and shaded by Allah (SWT) with His mercy. In such gatherings, souls and minds are purified and refreshed. It befits righteous, believing women to increase their attendance at such gatherings and benefit from them, as this will do them good in this world and bring them a high status in the Hereafter.

She strives to reconcile between

Muslim women

The Muslim community is distinguished by the fact that it is a community in which brotherhood prevails, a society that is filled with love, communication, understanding, tolerance and purity. However, it is still a human society, and as such it cannot be entirely free of occasional disputes and conflicts which may arise among its members from time to time and lead to division and a breaking of ties.

But these disputes, which emerge sometimes in the Muslim community, soon disappear, because of the divine guidance that the members of this community have received, which reinforces the feelings of brotherhood, love and closeness among them, and destroys the roots of hatred and enmity, and because of the good efforts for reconciliation that Islam urges its followers to make whenever there is a dispute between close friends, where the Shaytan has caused conflict and division betweethem. We have seen above how Islam forbids two disputing Muslims to forsake one another for more than three days:

"It is not permitted for a believer to forsake another for more than three days. If three days have passed, let him meet him and greet him with salam. If he returns the greeting, then they will both share in the reward, and if he does not return the greeting, then the one who initiated the greeting will be free of blame."325

Islam also commands the Muslims, men and women, to reconcile between two conflicting parties:

( If two parties among the Believers fall into a quarrel, make peace between them: but if one of them transgresses beyond bounds against the other, then fight [all of you] against the one that transgresses until it complies, then make peace between them with justice, and be fair: for Allah loves those who are fair [and just].) (Qur'an 49:9)The society of believing men and women should be governed by justice, love and brotherhood: ( The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: so make peace and reconciliation between your two [contending] brothers; and fear Allah, that you may receive Mercy.) (Qur'an 49:10)Therefore the Muslim woman is required to reconcile between her disputing sisters, following the guidance of Islam. Islam has permitted women to add words for the purpose of bringing disputing parties together and softening stony hearts. Such comments are not considered to be the kinds of lies that are haram, and the one who says them is not regarded as a liar or a sinner. We find evidence of this in the hadith of Umm Kalthum bint `Uqbah ibn Abi Mu`ayt (May Allah be pleased with her), who said: "I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: `He is not a liar who reconciles between people by telling them good news or saying something good.'"326According to a report narrated by Muslim, she added: "I did not hear him permit anything of what people might say except in three cases." She meant: war, reconciling between people, and the speech of a man to his wife or a wife to her husba.327
 
 
She mixes with other women and

puts up with their insults

The active Muslim woman is a woman with a mission who has a message to deliver. Whoever undertakes this important mission should prepare herself to be patient and steadfast, and to make sacrifices along the way.

The active Muslim woman has no other choice but to put up with the bad attitude and rude reactions of some women, their misinterpretation of her aims, their mocking of her call to adhere to the morals and manners of Islam, their shallow and confused thinking, their slow response to the truth, their focus on themselves and their own interests, their concern with foolish, trivial matters, their devotion to this world and its pleasures, their failure to take the Hereafter into account or to follow the commandments of Islam, and other foolish things that may annoy the da`iyahs and make them, in moments of irritation and frustration, think of isolating themselves and keeping away from people, and abandoning their work for the sake of Allah (SWT). This is what all those men and women who seek to call others to Allah (SWT) face in every place and time.

For this reason the Prophet (PBUH) sought to strengthen the resolve of the believers and reassure them, by announcing that those who have patience in treading the long and difficult path of da`wah are better, according to the scale of taqwa and righteous deeds, than those who have no patience:

"The believer who mixes with people and bears their insults with patience is better than the one who does not mix with people or bear their insults with patience."328The Prophet (PBUH), and the other Prophets before him, represent the supreme example of patience in the face of people's misbehaviour, suspicions and foolishness. The da`i needs to hold fast to this example every time he feels his patience running out, or that he is under stress and overwhelmed by the insults and hostility of people.

One example of the Prophet's supreme patience comes in a report given by Bukhari and Muslim. The Prophet (PBUH) divided some goods as he usually did, but one of the Ansar said, "By Allah (SWT), this division was not done for the sake of Allah (SWT)." The Prophet (PBUH) heard these unjust words and was deeply offended by them. His expression changed and he became angry, but then he said, "Musa suffered worse insults than these, and he bore them with patience." With these few words, the Prophet's anger was dispelled and his noble, forgiving heart was soothed.

This is the attitude of the Prophets and the sincere da`is in every time and place: patience in the face of people's insults, suspicions and rumours. Without this patience, the da`wah could not continue and the da`is could not persevere.

The clever Muslim woman who calls other to Allah (SWT) is not lacking in intelligence; she is able to understand the psychology, intellectual level and social position of her audience, and she addresses each type of woman in the way that will be most appropriate and effective.

She repays favours and is grateful for them

One of the characteristics of the true Muslim woman is that she is faithful and loyal: she appreciates favours and thanks the one who does them, following the command of the Prophet (PBUH):

"Whoever has a good turn done to him should return the favour."329

"Whoever seeks refuge with Allah (SWT), then grant him protection . . . and whoever does you a good turn, then return the favour."330

For the alert Muslim woman, gratitude for favours is a religious matter encouraged by the teachings of the Prophet (PBUH). It is not merely the matter of social courtesy dictated by mood or whatever interests may be at stake. The one who does a favour deserves to be thanked, even if no particular interest is served by her deed. It is sufficient that she has done a favour, and for this she deserves to be sincerely thanked. This is what Islam expects of Muslim men and women. One thanks the other person for her good intentions and chivalrous motives, and for hastening to do good, regardless of the actual or potential outcome in terms of one's interests and desires.

The concern of Islam to establish this attitude in the heart of the Muslim reached the extent that gratitude towards Allah (SWT) is deemed to be incomplete and imperfect without gratitude towards people for their favours and good deeds. The one who does not thank people for their acts of kindness or find a word to say that will make them feel chivalrous, is an ungrateful wretch who does not appreciate blessings or give thanks for them. Such a one is not qualified to give thanks to Allah (SWT), the Giver of all blessings and favours. Concerning this the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"He does not give thanks to Allah (SWT) who does not give thanks to people."331The wise Muslim woman does not forget that thanking the one who has done a favour encourages good deeds and makes people become accustomed to acknowledging and appreciating good deeds. All of this will strengthen the ties of friendship between the members of a community, open their hearts to love, and motivate them to do good deeds. This is what Islam aims to instil and reinforce in the Islamic society.

She visits the sick

Visiting the sick is one of the Islamic social customs that was established and encouraged by the Prophet (PBUH), who made it a duty on every Muslim man and woman, and made it a right that one Muslim may expect from another:

"The rights of a Muslim over his brother are five: he should return his salam, visit the sick, attend funerals, accept invitations, and `bless' a person (by saying yarhamuk Allah) when he sneezes."332According to another report, the Prophet (PBUH) said: "The rights of the Muslim over his brother are six." It was asked, "What are they?" The Prophet (PBUH) said: "When you meet him, greet him with salam; when he invites you, accept his invitation; when he seeks your advice, advise him; when he sneezes and says al-hamdu-lillah, `bless' him (by saying yarhamuk Allah); when he is ill, visit him; and when he dies, accompany him (to his grave)."333When the Muslim woman visits the sick, she does not feel that she is merely doing a favour or trying to be nice; she feels that she is doing an Islamic duty that the Prophet (PBUH) urged Muslims to do: "Feed the hungry, visit the sick, and ransom the prisoners of war."334Al-Bara' ibn `Azib (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) commanded us to visit the sick, to attend funerals, to `bless' someone when he sneezes, to fulfil all oaths, to come to the aid of the oppressed, to accept invitations, and to greet everyone with salam."335When the Muslim woman visits the sick, she does not feel that this is a burdensome duty that could depress her because of the atmosphere of gloom and despair that may surround the sick person. On the contrary, she senses a feeling of spiritual joy and satisfaction which none can feel except those who truly understand the hadith which describes the goodness, reward and blessing contained in such visits. The Prophet (PBUH) said: "Allah (SWT) will say on the Day of Resurrection: `O son of Adam, I fell ill and you did not visit Me.' He will say, `O Lord, how could I visit You when You are the Lord of the Worlds?' He will say, `Did you not know that My servant so-and-so had fallen ill, and you did not visit him? Did you not know that had you visited him, you would have found Me with him? O son of Adam, I asked you for food and you did not feed Me.' He will say, `O Lord, how could I feed you when You are the Lord of the Worlds?' He will say, `Did you not know that My servant so-and-so asked you for food, and you did not feed him? Did you not know that had you fed him you would surely have found that [i.e., the reward for doing so] with Me? O son of Adam, I asked you to give Me to drink and you did not give Me to drink.' He will say, `O Lord, how could I give You to drink when You are the Lord of the Worlds?' He will say, `My servant so-and-so asked you to give him to drink and you did not give him to drink. Had you given him to drink you would surely have found that with him.'"336How blessed is such a visit, and how great a good deed, which aman undertakes to do for his sick brother, when by doing so he is in the presence of the Almighty Lord who witnesses his noble deed and rewards him generously for it. Is there any greater and more blessed visit which is honoured and blessed and encouraged by the Lord of Heaven and Earth? How great is the misery and loss that will befall the one who failed in this duty! How great will be his humiliation when the Almighty Lord declares, before all present: "O son of Adam, I fell ill and you did not visit Me . . . Did you not know that My servant so-and-so had fallen ill, and you did not visit him? Did you not know that had you visited him, you would have found Me with him?" We will leave to our imagination the sense of regret, humiliation and shame that will overwhelm the man who neglected to visit his sick brother, at the time when such regret will be of no avail.

The sick person in an Islamic community feels that he is not alone at his hour of need; the empathy and prayers of the people around him envelop him and alleviate his suffering. This is the pinnacle of human civility and emotion. No other nation in history has ever known such a level of emotional and social responsibility as exists in the ummah of Islam.

The sick person in the West may find a hospital to admit him and a doctor to give him medicine, but rarely will he find a healing touch, compassionate word, kindly smile, sincere prayers, or true empathy. The materialistic philosophy that has taken over Westerners' lives has extinguished the light of human emotion, destroyed brotherly feelings towards one's fellow-man, and removed any motives but materialistic ones for doing good deeds.

The Westerner does not have any motive to visit the sick, unless he feels that he may gain some material benefit from this visit sooner or later. In contrast, we find that the Muslim is motivated to visit the sick in the hope of earning the reward which Allah (SWT) has prepared for the one who gets his feet dusty (i.e., goes out and about) for His sake.

There are many hadith texts on this topic, which awaken feelings of brotherhood in the Muslim's heart and strongly motivate him to visit his sick brother. For example:

"When the Muslim visits his (sick) Muslim brother, he will remain in the fruits of Paradise337 until he returns."338

"No Muslim visits a (sick) Muslim in the morning but seventy thousand angels will bless him until the evening, and if he visits him in the evening, seventy thousand angels will bless him until the morning, and fruits from Paradise will be his."339

With his deep insight into human psychology, the Prophet (PBUH) understood the positive impact of such visits on the sick person and his family, so he never neglected to visit the sick and speak to them the kindest words of prayer and consolation. He was the epitome of such kindness, which led him to visit a young Jewish boy who used to serve him, as Anas (RAA) narrated: "A young Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet (PBUH). He fell ill, so the Prophet (PBUH) went to visit him. He sat by his head and told him, `Enter Islam.' The boy looked to his father, who was present with him. His father said, `Obey Abu'l-Qasim.' So the boy entered Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) left, saying, `Praise be to Allah, Who has saved him from the Fire."340When visiting this sick Jewish boy, the Prophet (PBUH) did not neglect to call him to Islam, because he knew the effects his visit would have on the boy and his father, who were overwhelmed by his generosity, kindness and gentle approach. So they responded to him, this visit bore fruits of guidance, and the Prophet (PBUH) left praising Allah (SWT) that a soul had been saved from the Fire. What a great man, and what a wise and eloquent da`i the Prophet (PBUH) was!

The Prophet (PBUH) was so concerned about visiting the sick that he set out principles and guidelines for so doing, which were followed by the Sahabah and recorded in the books of Sunnah.

One of these practices is to sit at the head of the sick person, as we have seen in the story of the Jewish boy, and as Ibn `Abbas (RAA) said:

"When the Prophet (PBUH) visited a sick person, he would sit at his head then say seven times: `I ask Almighty Allah (SWT), the Lord of the Mighty Throne, to heal you.'"341Another of these practices is to wipe the body of the sick person with the right hand and pray for him, as `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) reported: "The Prophet (PBUH) used to visit some of his relatives and wipe them with his right hand, saying `O Allah, Lord of mankind, remove the suffering. Heal for You are the Healer. There is no healing except for Your healing, the healing which leaves no trace of sickness.'"342Ibn `Abbas (RAA) said: "The Prophet (PBUH) went to visit a Bedouin who was sick, and whenever he visited a sick person, he would say, `No worry, (it is) purification343, in sha Allah."344The Muslim woman whom Islam has filled with a sense of great humanity hastens to visit the sick whenever she hears news of someone's illness. She does not try to postpone or avoid such visits, because she feels the importance of them in the depths of her heart, as the Prophet (PBUH) described it and as the virtuous early Muslim women put it into practice in the most praiseworthy fashion. They did not only visit women who were sick; they also visited men, within the framework of modesty and avoiding fitnah. In Sahih Bukhari, it states that Umm al-Darda' visited an Ansari man who lived in the mosque (when he was sick).The same source also gives the following account: "Qutaybah told us, from Malik, from Hisham ibn `Urwah, from his father, from `A'ishah who said: `When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) came to Madinah, Abu Bakr and Bilal, may Allah be pleased with them, fell ill. I entered upon them and said, "O my father, how are you feeling? O Bilal, how are you feeling?"'"345The earliest Muslim women understood the meaning of visiting the sick and the role it plays in maintaining the ties of friend, compassion and affection. So they hastened to perform this noble duty, lifting the spirits of the sick person, wiping away the tears of the grief-stricken, alleviating the burden of distress, strengthening the ties of brotherhood, and consoling the distressed. The modern Muslim woman could do well to follow the example of the early Muslim women and revive this praiseworthy sunnah

She does not wail over the dead

The Muslim woman who knows the teachings of her religion has insight and is balanced and self-controlled. When she is stricken by the death of one of those whom she loves, she does not let grief make her lose her senses, as is the case with shallow, ignorant women who fall apart with grief. She bears it with patience, hoping for reward from Allah (SWT), and follows the guidance of Islam in her behaviour at this difficult time.

She never wails over the deceased, because wailing is not an Islamic deed; it is the practice of the kuffar, and one of the customs of jahiliyyah. The Prophet (PBUH) was very explicit in his emphatic prohibition of wailing, to the extent that it was regarded as kufr:

"There are two qualities in people that are indicative of kufr: casting doubts on a person's lineage, and wailing over the dead."346The Prophet (PBUH) effectively excluded from the Muslim community those men and women who wail and eulogise the dead when he said: "He is not one of us who strikes his cheeks, or tears his garment, or speaks the words of jahiliyyah."347The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of Islam knows that death is real, that everyone on this earth is mortal and that this life is merely a corridor to the Hereafter, where eternity will be in the presence of Allah (SWT). So there is no need for this uncontrollable grief which makes a person become unbalanced and lose his reason so that he starts to strike his own face and tear his clothes, screaming with grief and loss.

The Sahabah understood this ruling of Islam, even though they had only very recently left the jahiliyyah behind. They used to forbid themselves to eulogise the dead or raise their voices or scream or tear their clothes, which were actions done by women at the of jahiliyyah. They knew that Islam does not accept the deeds of jahiliyyah and will not permit them to return from time to time, and they used to condemn such actions just as the Prophet (PBUH) did.

Abu Burdah ibn Abi Musa said:

"Abu Musa suffered from some pain, and fell into a coma. His head was in the lap of a woman from his family. She shouted at him, but he was not able to respond. When he came to, he said: `I shun whatever the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) shunned, for he shunned every women who raises her voice, cuts her hair and tears her clothes (at the time of disaster).'"348Although Islam has forbidden senseless jahili actions like sticking one's cheeks, tearing one's garment, wailing and eulogising, it recognises the grief that overwhelms the heart and the tears that softly flow at the departure of a loved one. All of this is part of the legitimate human emotion and gentle compassion that Allah (SWT) has instilled in people's hearts, as was demonstrated by the Prophet (PBUH) in his words and deeds.

Usamah ibn Zayd said:

"We were with the Prophet (PBUH) when one of his daughters sent for him, calling him to come and telling him that her boy - or son - was dying. The Prophet (PBUH) said: `Go back to her and tell her that whatever Allah (SWT) gives and takes belongs to Him, and everything has its appointed time with Him. Tell her to have patience and to seek reward from Allah (SWT).' The one who conveyed this message came back and said: `She swore that you should come to her.' The Prophet (PBUH) got up, as did Sa`d ibn `Ubadah and Mu`adh ibn Jabal, and I went with them. The boy was lifted up to him, and his soul was making a sound like water being poured into an empty container (i.e., the death-rattle). The Prophet's eye's filled with tears, and Sa`d said to him, `What is this, O Messenger of Allah?' He said, `This is the compassion that Allah (SWT) has placed in the hearts of His servants, and Allah (SWT) will show compassion to those of His servants who have compassion.'"349`Abdullah ibn `Umar (RAA) said: Sa'd ibn `Ubadah fell ill with some complaint that he suffered from, and the Prophet (PBUH) came to visit him, accompanied by `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf, Sa`d ibn Abi Waqqas and `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud. When he entered and found him in a coma, he asked, `Has he passed away?' They said, `No, O Messenger of Allah.' The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) wept, and when the people saw him weeping, they wept too. He said, `Are you not listening? Allah (SWT) will not punish a man for the tears that fall from his eyes or for the grief that he feels in his heart, but He will either punish or have mercy on a man because of this,' and he pointed to his tongue."350Anas (RAA) said: "The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) entered upon his son Ibrahim as he was surrendering his soul (i.e., dying). Tears began to well up in the Prophet's eyes. `Abd al-Rahman ibn `Awf said to him, `Even you, O Messenger of Allah?' He said, `O Ibn `Awf, this is compassion.' Then he wept some more and said, `The eyes shed tears, and the heart feels grief, but we say only what which will please our Lord. And truly we are deeply grieved by your departure, O Ibrahim.'"351The Prophet (PBUH) approved of expressing grief by letting tears flow, because people have no power to restrain tears at times of grief, but he forbade every deed that can inflame and exacerbate grief. Shedding tears, in moderation, can help to soothe the pain of grief, but wailing, eulogising, screaming and other jahili actions only increase the anguish and make a person more prone to collapse. These actions are what the Arabs used to do at the time of jahiliyyah, when a person would even request it before his death, so that others would come and wail over the dead, enumerating his good qualities and exaggerating about the impact of this bereavement. An example of this is to be seen in the poetry of Tarafah ibn al-`Abd: "When I die, mention my qualities as befits me, and rend your garments for me, O daughter of Ma`bad. Do not make me like a man whose aspirations are not my aspirations, who could not do what I could do, or play the role I play."

All of this is forbidden by Islam most emphatically, because it is a waste of energy and contradicts the acceptance of Allah's will and decree; it also opens the way for the Shaytan to lead people astray and cause fitnah. The Prophet (PBUH) referred to this, in the hadith narrated by Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her), who said:

"When Abu Salamah died, I said, `He is a stranger in a strange land. I shall certainly cry over him a such a way that people will talk about it.' I prepared myself to cry over him, but a woman who was coming from the high places of Madinah to help me (in crying and wailing) was met the Messenger of Allah (PBUH). He asked, `Do you want to let the Shaytan enter a house from which Allah (SWT) has expelled him twice?'352 So I stopped crying, and I did not cry."353The Prophet's concern to forbid wailing, especially among women, reached such a level that when he accepted the oath of allegiance (bay`ah) from women, he asked them to pledge to keep away from wailing. This is seen in the hadith narrated by Bukhari and Muslim from Umm `Atiyah who said: "The Prophet (PBUH) accepted the pledge of allegiance from us on the basis that we would not wail."354According to a report narrated by Muslim also from Umm `Atiyah, she said: "When the ayah ( when believing women come to you to take the oath of fealty to you, that they will not associate in worship any other thing except Allah . . . And that they will not disobey you in any just matter . . .) (Qur'an 60:12) was revealed, she said, part of that was wailing."355The Prophet (PBUH) warned the woman who wails over the dead that if she does not repent before her own death, she will be raised on the Day of Resurrection in a most fearful state: "The woman who wails, and does not repent befoshe dies, will be raised on the Day of Resurrection wearing a shirt of tar and a garment of scabs."356He also warned that the angels of mercy would be kept away from her, and she would be deprived of their du`a' for her, as long as she insisted on wailing and making grief worse. This is seen in the hadith narrated by Ahmad: "The angels will not pray for the one who wails and laments."357Because of this clear, definitive prohibition of wailing, screaming, eulogising, tearing one's garments and other jahili actions, the Muslim woman can do nothing but submit to the commands of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, and keep away from everything that could compromise the purity of her faith in the will and decree of Allah (SWT). She does not just stop there, however, she also calls women who may be unaware of this to obey the laws of Allah (SWT) and to keep away from wailing, once they have understood the commandments of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger.

She does not attend funerals

The Muslim woman who truly understands the teachings of Islam does not attend funerals, in obedience to the command of the Prophet (PBUH), as reported by Umm `Atiyah (May Allah be pleased with her):

"We were forbidden to attend funerals, but not strictly."358In this case, women's position is the opposite of men's position. Islam encourages men to attend funerals and to accompany the body until it is buried, but it dislikes women to do so, because their presence could result in inappropriate situations that would compromise the dignity of death and the funeral rites. Accompanying the deceased until the burial offers a great lesson to those who do it, and seeking forgiveness for the deceased, and thinking of the meaning of death that touches every living thing: ( Wherever you are, death will find you out, even if you are in towers built up strong and high! . . .) (Qur'an 4:78)The Prophet (PBUH) discouraged women from attending funerals (made it makruh), but did not forbid it outright, because his discouraging it should be enough to make the obedient Muslim woman refrain from doing it. This is a sign of the strength of her Islam, her sincere obedience to Allah (SWT) and His Messenger, and her willingness to adopt the attitude, which is better and more be.
 

Footnotes:

  1. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah 13/235, Kitab al-fada'il, bab husn khalqihi (PBUH).
  2. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 336, Bab husn al-khalq.
  3. Fath al-Bari, 10/456, Kitab al-adab, bab husn al-khulq; Sahih Muslim, 15/78, Kitab al-fada'il, bab kathrah haya'ihi (PBUH).
  4. Reported by Tirmidhi, 4/249, in Abwab al-birr, 70. He said it is a hasan hadith.
  5. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/375, Bab sakhawah al-nafs.
  6. Reported by Tirmidhi 3/244, in Abwab al-birr, bab husn al-khalq. He said it is a hasan sahih hadith.
  7. Reported by Tirmidhi, 2/315, in Abwab al-rida', 11. He said it is a hasan sahih hadith.
  8. Reported by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir, 1/181, 183. The men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih.
  9. Reported by Tirmidhi, 3/245, in Abwab al-birr wa'l-silah, 61. The men of its isnad are thiqat.
  10. Reported by Abu Ya'la and al-Tabarani in al-Awsat; the men of Abu Ya'la are thiqat. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/22.
  11. Reported by Ahmad, 3/502; its men are thiqat.
  12. Reported by Ahmad, 1/403; its men are rijal al-sahih.
  13. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 50, Bab al-sidq.
  14. Shahadat al-zur may be interpreted in the following ways: bearing false witness by giving evidence that is false; assisting in something which implies fraud or falsehood; attending the gatherings of the kuffar on the occasion of their festivals. [Translator]
  15. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 689, Bab ghalaz tahrim shahadah al-zur.
  16. Sahih Muslim, 2/37, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan an al-din al-nasihah.
  17. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/92, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab al-nasihah.
  18. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 10/61, Kitab al-imarah wa'l-qada', bab al-ra'i mas'ul 'an ri'atihi.
  19. Sahih Muslim, 13/38, Kitab al-imarah, bab fadl i'anah al-ghazi fi sabil-Allah.
  20. Sahih Muslim, 2/108, Kitab al-iman, bab qawl al-Nabi (PBUH) man ghashshana fa laysa minna.
  21. Sahih Muslim, 2/109, Kitab al-iman, bab man ghashshana fa laysa minna.
  22. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 10/71-73, Kitab al-imarah wa'l-qada', bab wa'id al-ghadr; Riyad al-Salihin, 705, bab tahrim al-ghadr.
  23. Fath al-Bari, 4/417, Kitab al-buyu', bab ithm man ba'a hurran.
  24. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 1/74, Kitab al-iman, bab 'alamat al-nifaq.
  25. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 1/72, Kitab al-iman, bab 'alamat al-nifaq.
  26. Sahih Muslim, 2/48, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan khisal al-munafiq.
  27. Hayat al-Sahabah 3/99.
  28. Fath al-Bari, 10/476, Kitab al-adab, bab ma yukrah min al-tamaduh; Sahih Muslim, 18/126, Kitab al-zuhd, bab al-nahi 'an ifrat fi'l-madh.
  29. See al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/433, Bab yuhtha fi wujuh al-maddahin.
  30. Reported by Ahmad, 5/32; its isnad is sahih.
  31. Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/103.
  32. Fath al-bari, 13/170, Kitab al-ahkam, bab ma yukrah min thana' al-sultan.
  33. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 364, Kitab al-adab, bab al-haya' wa fadlulu.
  34. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyadh al-Salihin, 363, Kitab al-adab, bab fi'l-haya' wa fadluhu.
  35. Sahih Muslim, 2/7, Kitab al-iman, bab al-haya' shu'bah min al-iman.
  36. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 363, Kitab al-adab, bab 363.
  37. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 35, Bab al-sabr.
  38. Sahih Muslim, 7/124, Kitab al-zakat, bab bayan an al-yad al-'uliya khayr min al-yad al-sufla.
  39. Reported by Tirmidhi, 3/382, Abwab al-zuhd, 8; Ibn Majah, 2/1316, Kitab al-fitan, bab kaff al-lisan 'an al-fitnah.
  40. Sahih Muslim, 12/10, Kitab al-aqdiyah, bab al-nahi 'an kathrah al-masa'il min ghayri hajah.
  41. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/419, Bab man sami'a bi fahishah fa afshaha.
  42. Reported with a sahih isnad by Abu Dawud, 4/375, Kitab al-adab, bab fi al-nahi 'an al-tajassus.
  43. Reported with a hasan isnad by Ahmad, 5/279.
  44. Reported by al-Tabarani; the men of its isnad are thiqat. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/94.
  45. Sahih Muslim, 18/115, Kitab al-zuhd, bab tahrim al-riya'.
  46. Sahih Muslim, 13/50, Kitab al-imarah, bab man qatila li'l-riya' wa'l-sum'ah.
  47. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 10/323, Kitab al-riqaq, bab al-riya' wa'l-sam'ah.
  48. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah 10/328, Kitab al-hudud, bab qat' yad al-sharif wa'l-mar'ah wa'l-shafa'ah fi'l-hadd.
  49. Sahih Muslim, 16/143, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab tahrim al-zulm.
  50. Sahih Muslim, 16/132, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab tahrim al-zulm.
  51. Fath al-Bari, 5/97, Kitab al-muzalim, bab la yazlum al-Muslimu al-Muslima wa la yuslimuhu.
  52. Fath al-Bari, 10/527, Kitab al-adab, bab al-madarah ma'a al-nas.
  53. Fath al-Bari, 10/528, Kitab al-adab, bab al-madarah ma'a al-nas.
  54. Sahih Muslim, 15/206, Kitab fada'il al-Sahabah, bab fada'il Umm al-Mu'minin 'A'ishah.
  55. Fath al-Bari, 8/455, Kitab al-tafsir, bab law la idh sami'timuhu zann al-mu'minina wa'l-mu'minat bi anfusihim khayran [al-Nur 24:12]
  56. Al-Samt al-Thamin, 110; al-Isti'ab, 4/1851; al-Isabah, 8/93.
  57. Al-Isabah, 8/192.
  58. Reported by Tirmidhi, 4/662, Kitab sifat al-qiyamah, 54. He said it is a hasan sahih hadith.
  59. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/109, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab ma la yajuz min al-zann.
  60. Hayat al-Sahabah, 2/151
  61. A sahih hadith narrated by Malik in al-Muwatta', 2/975, Kitab al-kalam, bab ma yu'mar bihi min al-tahaffuz fi'l-kalam.
  62. Sahih Muslim, 1/73, Introduction, Bab al-nahy 'an al-hadith bi kulli ma sami'a.
  63. Sahih Muslim, 2/12, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan tafadul al-Islam.
  64. Reported by Abu Dawud, 4/371, Kitab al-adab, bab fi'l-ghibah; Tirmidhi, 4/660, Kitab sifat al-qiyamah, 51; he said it is a hasan sahih hadith.
  65. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 1/86, Kitab al-iman, bab al-kaba'ir.
  66. Reported with a hasan isnad by Ahmad, 6/461.
  67. Reported with a sahih isnad by Ahmad, 4/227.
  68. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/147, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab wa'id al-namam.
  69. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 1/370, Kitab al-taharah, bab al-istitar 'inda qada' al-hajah.
  70. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 1/76, Kitab al-iman, bab 'alamat al-nifaq.
  71. Reported by Ahmad and al-Tabarani; the men of itsisnad are thiqat. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/64.
  72. Reported by al-Tabarani; the men of its isnad are thiqat. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/64.
  73. Fath al-Bari, 10/452, Kitab al-adab, bab lam yakun al-Nabi (PBUH) fashishan wala mutafahhishan.
  74. Sahih Muslim, 16/150, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab man la'anahu al-Nabi (PBUH).
  75. Sahih Muslim, 16/135, Kitab al-birr a'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab tahrim al-zulm.
  76. Sahih Muslim, 16/121, Kitab al-birr, bab tahrim zulm al-Muslim wa khadhlihi wa ihtiqarihi.
  77. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 340, Bab al-hilm wa'l-anah wa'l-rifq.
  78. Sahih Muslim, 16/146, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl al-rifq.
  79. Sahih Muslim, 16/146, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl al-rifq.
  80. Fath al-Bari, 1/323, Kitab al-wudu', bab sabb al-ma' 'ala'l-bul fi'l-masjid.
  81. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 10/67, Kitab al-imarah wa'l-qada', bab ma 'ala al-walah min al-taysir.
  82. Sahih Muslim, 16/145, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl al-rifq.
  83. Reported by Ahmad, 6/104; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih.
  84. Reported by Ahmad, 6/104; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih.
  85. Reported by al-Bazzar; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/18, bab ma ja'a fi'l-rifq.
  86. Reported by Tirmidhi, 4/654, in Kitab siffah al-qiyamah, 45; he said it is a hasan hadith.
  87. The word translated here as proficiency is ihsan, which also has connotations of doing well, decency, etc. [Translator]
  88. Sahih Muslim, 13/106, Kitab al-sayd, bab al-amr bi ihsan al-dhabh.
  89. Reported by al-Tabarani; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/187, Bab rahmat al-nas.
  90. Reported with a hasan isnad by al-Tabarani. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/187, Bab rahmat al-nas.
  91. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/466, Bab irham man fi'l-ard.
  92. Reported by al-Tabarani; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/186, Bab rahmat al-nas.
  93. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 3/410, Kitab al-salat, bab al-takhfif li amr yahduth.
  94. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/34, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab rahmat al-walad wa taqbilihi.
  95. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/34, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab rahmat al-walad wa taqbilihi.
  96. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 2/229, Kitab al-salah, bab fadl salah al-'iswa'l-fajr fi'l-jama'ah.
  97. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 6/171, Kitab al-zakat, bab fadl saqi al-ma'.
  98. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/472, Bab akhdh al-bayd min al-hammarah.
  99. Sahih Muslim, 14/242, Kitab qatl al-hayyat wa nahwaha, bab fadl saqi al-baha'im.
  100. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 6/142, Kitab al-zakat, bab kullu ma'ruf sadaqah.
  101. From a hadith whose authenticity is Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 6/145, Kitab al-zakat, bab kullu ma'ruf sadaqah.
  102. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 6/143, Kitab al-zakat, bab kullu ma'ruf sadaqah.
  103. Fath al-Bari, 1/53, Kitab al-iman, bab al-Muslim man salima al-Muslim min lisanihi wa yadihi.
  104. Reported by Ahmad; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/183, Bab fiman yurji khayrahu.
  105. Sahih Muslim, 17/21, Kitab al-dhikr wa'l-du'a', bab fadl al-ijtima' 'ala tilawah al-Qur'an wa 'ala'l-dhikr.
  106. Reported with a jayyid isnad by al-Tabarani in al-Awsat. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/192, Bab fadl qada' al-hawa'ij.
  107. Sahih Muslim, 16/171, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl izalah al-adha 'an al-tariq.
  108. Sahih Muslim, 16/171, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl izalah al-adha 'an al-tariq.
  109. i.e., by postponing the payment, if he is the one to whom it is owed, or by paying off the debt for him. [Author]
  110. Sahih Muslim, 10/227, Kitab al-musaqah wa'l-muzari'ah, bab fadl inzar al-mu'sir.
  111. A hasan sahih hadith, narrated by Tirmidhi, 3/590, in Kitab al-buyu', bab ma ja'a fi inzar al-mu'sir.
  112. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 8/196, Kitab al-buyu', bab thawab man anzara mu'siran.
  113. Sahih Muslim, 10/227, Kitab al-musaqah wa'l-muzari'ah, bab fadl inzar al-mu'sir.
  114. Sahih Muslim, 10/225, Kitab al-musaqah wa'l-muzari'ah, bab fadl inzar al-mu'sir.
  115. 'Face' here is the literal translation of the Arabic word 'wajh', which in this context may also mean the sake, cause or presence of Allah. [Translator]
  116. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 6/155, Kitab al-zakat, bab ma yukrah min imsak al-mal.
  117. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 301, bab al-karam wa'l-jud wa'l-infaq fi wujuh al-khayr.
  118. Sahih Muslim, 16/141, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab istihbab al-'afu wa'l-tawadu'.
  119. Reported by Tirmidhi, 4/644, In Kitab siffat al-qiyamah, 33. The reward for everything except the shoulder would be stored up for them in the Hereafter, as they had given it all away in charity. The part that they had kept for themselves, the shoulder, had in effect been "spent" as it carried no such reward. [Translator]
  120. Fath al-Bari, 10/330, Kitab al-libas, bab al-qala'id wa'l-sakhab li'l-nisa'.
  121. Fath al-Bari, 10/330, Kitab al-libas, bab al-khatim li'l-nisa'.
  122. Fath al-Bari, 10/331, Kitab al-libas, bab al-qurt li'l-nisa'.
  123. Sahih Muslim, 16/8, Kitab fada'il al-sahabah, bab fada'il umm al-mu'minin Zaynab.
  124. Ibn Sa'd, al-Tabaqat, 8/109, 110; Sifat al-Safwah, 2/48,49; Siyar A'lam al-Nubala', 2/212.
  125. Ibn al-Jawzi, Ahkam al-nisa', p. 446.
  126. See Fath al-Bari, 3/283, Kitab al-zakat, bab ittaqu al-nar wa law bi shiqq tamarah. [Check]
  127. Reported with a sahih isnad by Ahmad, 6/79.
  128. Fath al-Bari, 3/293, Kitab al-zakat, bab man amara khadimahu bi'l-sadaqah.
  129. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 6/143, Kitab al-zakat, bab kullu ma'rufin sadaqah.
  130. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 6/142, Kitab al-zakat, bab kullu ma'rufin sadaqah
  131. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 167, Bab mulatafah al-yatim wa'l-masakin.
  132. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/43, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab thawab kafil al-yatim.
  133. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/45, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab thawab kafil al-yatim.
  134. Sahih Muslim, 2/114, Kitab al-iman, bab tahrim isbal al-izar wa'l-mann bi'l-atiyah.
  135. Sahih Muslim, 1/189, Kitab al-iman, bab mubayi'ah wafd 'Abd al-Qays.
  136. Fath al-Bari, 10/519, Kitab al-adab, bab al-hadhr min al-ghadab.
  137. Fath al-Bari, 10/519, Kitab al-munaqib, bab siffah al-Nabi (PBUH); Sahih Muslim, 15/83, Kitab al-fada'il, bab muba'idatahihi (PBUH) li'l-atham.
  138. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 3/409, Kitab al-salat, bab al-iman yukhaffif al-salat; this version is that given by Muslim.
  139. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 12/128, Kitab al-libas, bab al-tasawir; this version is that given by Muslim.
  140. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 10/328, Kitab al-hudud, bab qata'yad al-sharif wa'l-mar'ah wa'l-shafa'ah fi'l-hadd..
  141. Fath al-Bari, 7/141, Kitab munqib al-Ansar, bab dhikr Hind bint 'Utbah.
  142. Sahih Muslim, 15/84, Kitab al-fada'il, bab muba'idatihi (PBUH) li'l-atham.
  143. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyadh al-Salihin, 344, Bab al-'afu wa'l- 'rad 'an al-jahilin.
  144. Reported by Bukhari and Muslim with similar wording. See Fath al-Bari, 7/497, Kitab al-maghazi, bab al-shat al-masmumah and 5/230, Kitab al-hibbah, bab qabul al-hadiyah min al-mushrikin; Sahih Muslim, 14/178, Kitab al-salam, bab al-samm.
  145. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 5/150, Kitab al-da'wat, bat al-du'a li'l-kuffar bi'l-hidayah
  146. Reported by Ahmad and al-Tabarani; the men of Ahmad's isnad are thiqat . See Majma'al-Zawa'id, 8/188, Bab makarim al-akhlaq.
  147. Ibn'Abd al-Barr, al-Isti'ab, 4/1872; Ibn Hijr, al-Isabah, 8/127.
  148. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1?342, Bab al-'afu wa'l-sufh 'an al-nas.
  149. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-sunnah, 13/260, Kitab al-fada'il, bab ikhtiyarihi aysar al-amrayn (PBUH).
  150. Musnad Ahmad, 3/166.
  151. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/210, Bab la yu'dhi jarahu
  152. Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, 10/466, Kitab al-siyar, bab fadl al-jihad.
  153. Reported by al Tabarani; the men of its isnad are thiqat. See Majma'al-Zawa'id, 8/78, Bab maja'a fi'l-hasad wa'l-zann.
  154. Sahih Muslim, 14/110, Kitab al-libas wa'l-zinah,, bab al-nahy 'an al-tazwir fi'l-libas wa ghayrihi..
  155. Reported by Abu Ya'la and al-Tabarani; the men of its isnad are thiqat. See Majma'al-Zawa'id, 10/125, Bab maja'a fi'l-mutan''amin wa'l-mutanatta'in.
  156. Sahih Muslim, 16/184, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab idha ahabba Allah 'abdan.
  157. Sahih Muslim, 16/189, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab idha ahabba Allah 'abdan
  158. Reported with a jayyid isnad by Ahmad, 2/185.
  159. Reported by Ahmad and al-Bazzar; the men of Ahmad's isnad are rijal al-sahih. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/87, Bab al-mu'min ya'laf wa yu'lif.
  160. See Hayat al-Sahabah, 1/22, 23
  161. Fath al-Bari, 10/471, Kitab al-adab, bab ma yajuz min ightiyab ahl al-fasad wa'l-rayab; Sahih Muslim, 16/144, Kitab al-birr wa'lsillat wa'l-adab, bab mudarah man yutqi fuhshihi.
  162. Fath al-Bari, 9/175, Kitab al-nikah and 7/317, Kitab al-baghazi, bab 'ard al-insan ibnatahu 'ala ahl al-khayr
  163. Sahih Muslim, 16/41, Kitab fada 'il al-Sahabah,, bab fada'il Anas. Thabit is the name of the Tabi'i who narrated this hadith from Anas.
  164. Sahih Muslim, 10/8, Kitab al-nikah, bab tahrim ifsha' sirr al-mar'ah.
  165. Sahih Muslim, 16/177, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab istihbab talaqah al-wajh.
  166. Fath al-Bari, 10/504, Kitab al-adab, bab al-tabassum wa'l-dahk; Sahih Muslim, 16/35, Kitab fada'il al-Sahabah, bab fada'il Jarir ibn 'Abdullah.
  167. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/365, Bab al-mazah.
  168. Nughar: a small bird, like a sparrow. [Author]
  169. Nughayr: diminutive of nughar [Author]. In Arabic, this is play on words because of the rhyme between the boy's name and that of the bird [Translator]. This story was narrated in Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/149.
  170. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/366, Bab al-mazah.
  171. Reported by Ahmad; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 9/368, Bab ma ja'a fi Zahir ibn Hizam.
  172. Reported by Tirmidhi in al-Shama'il, 111; it is hasan because of the existence of corroborating reports.
  173. A sahih hadith narrated by Ahmad, 6/264 and Abu Dawud, 3/41, Kitab al-jihad, bab fi al-sabaq 'ala'l-rajul.
  174. Reported by Abu Ya'la; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih, except for Muhammad ibn 'Amr ibn 'Alqamah, whose hadith is hasan. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 4/316.
  175. Reported with a hasan isnad by al-Tabarani in al-Saghir. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/193, Bab fadl qada' al-hawa'ij.
  176. Fath al-Bari, 9/225, Kitab al-nikah, bab al-niswah allati yahdina al-mar'ah ila zawjiha.
  177. Bu'ath: a place in the environs of Madinah where war took place between the Aws and Khazraj before Islam. It was knas the battle of Bu'ath, and poets composed many verses about it. [Author]
  178. Fath al-Bari, 2/440, Kitab al-'idayn, bab al-hirab wa'l-daraq yawm al-'id.
  179. Fath al-Bari, 2/445, Kitab al-'idayn, bab sunnah al-'idayn li ahl al-Islam.
  180. Banu Arfidah: a nickname given to Abyssinians. [Author]
  181. Fath al-Bari, 2/440, Kitab al-'idayn, bab al-hirab wa'l-daraq yawm al-'id.
  182. Fath al-Bari, 2/440, Kitab al-'idayn, bab al-hirab wa'l-daraq yawm al-'id.
  183. Fath al-Bari, 2/440, Kitab al-'idayn, bab al-hirab wa'l-daraq yawm al-'id.
  184. Fath al-Bari, 2/440, Kitab al-'idayn, bab al-hirab wa'l-daraq yawm al-'id.
  185. See the reports given in Fath al-Bari, 2/444.
  186. Fath al-Bari, 2/440, Kitab al-'idayn, bab al-hirab wa'l-daraq yawm al-'id.
  187. Reported by Tirmidhi in Manaqib 'Umar. He said: it is a hasan sahih gharib hadith; this version is gharib. See 621, Kitab al-manaqib, 18.
  188. Sahih Muslim, 2/89, Kitab al-iman, bab tahrim al-kibr.
  189. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyadh al-Salihin, 334, Bab tahrim al-kibr wa'l-i'jab.
  190. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 12/9, Kitab al-libas, bab taqsir al-thiyab.
  191. Sahih Muslim, 2/115, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan al-thalatha alladhina la yukallimuhum Allah yawm al-qiyamah.
  192. Sahih Muslim, 16/173, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab tahrim al-kibr; also narrated by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/9, Bab al-kibr.
  193. Narrated by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/7, Bab al-kibr.
  194. Sahih Muslim, 16/141, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'-adab, bab istihbab al-'afu wa'l-tawadu'.
  195. Sahih Muslim, 18/200, Kitab al-jannah wa siffat na'imiha wa ahliha, bab al-siffat allati yu'raf biha fi'l-dunya ahl al-jannah.
  196. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyadh al-Salihin, 331, Bab al-tawadu'.
  197. Fath al-Bari, 10/489, Kitab al-adab, bab al-kibr.
  198. Sahih Muslim, 6/165, Kitab al-jumu'ah, bab al-ta'lim fi'l-khutbah.
  199. Fath al-Bari, 5/199, Kitab al-hibbah, bab al-qalil min al-hibbah.
  200. Fath al-Bari, 6/81, Kitab al-jihad, bab al-hirasah fi'l-ghazu fi sabil-Allah.
  201. Sahih Muslim, 14/64, Kitab al-libas wa'l-zinah, bab tahrim al-tabakhtur fi'l-mashi.
  202. Fatawa Ibn Taymiyah, 22/138, 139.
  203. Reported by al-Tabarani in al-Kabir; the men of its isnad are thiqat. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/188, Bab makarim al-akhlaq.
  204. Sahih Muslim, 16/140, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab tarahum al-mu'minin wa ta'atufihim.
  205. Sahih Muslim, 16/139, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab tarahum al-mu'minin wa ta'atufihim.
  206. Sahih Muslim, 3/128, Kitab al-taharah, bab wujub ghusl al-rijlayn.
  207. Tabaqat ibn Sa'd, 3/363.
  208. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 14/312, Kitab al-riqaq, bab hifz al-lisan.
  209. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyadh al-Salihin, 379, Kitab al-adab, bab ikram al-dayf.
  210. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/207, Bab ja'izah al-dayf..
  211. Reported by Imam Ahmad, 4/155; its men are rijal al-sahih.
  212. Narrated by Bukhari, Muslim and others. See al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/210, Bab idha asbaha al-dayf mahruman.
  213. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 11/320, Kitab al-at'imah, bab ta'am al-ithnayn yakfi al-thalathah.
  214. Sahih Muslim, 14/22, Kitab al-ashribah, bab fadilah al-mawasah fi'l-ta'am al-qalil.
  215. Fath al-Bari, 8/631, Kitab al-tafsir, bab wa yu'thirun 'ala anfusihim; Sahih Muslim, 4/12, Kitab al-ashribah, bab ikram al-dayf.
  216. i.e., Hatim al-Ta'iyy, as in al-'Aqad al-Farid, 1/236.
  217. Fath al-Bari, 3/143, Kitab al-ja'izah, bab man ista'adda al-kafn and 4/318, Kitab al-buyu', bab al-nissaj.
  218. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyadh al-Salihin, 310, Bab al-ithar wa'l-masawah.
  219. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 741, Kitab al-umur al-munhi 'anha, bab tahrim al-suwar.
  220. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyadh al-Salihin, 742, Kitab al-umur al-munhi 'anha, bab tahrim al-suwar.
  221. Ibid.
  222. Ibid.
  223. Sahih Muslim, 14/81, Kitab al-libas wa'l-zinah, bab tahrim taswir al-hayawan.
  224. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 744, Kitab al-umur al-munhi 'anha, bab tahrim ittikhadh al-kalb illa li sayd aw mashiyah.
  225. See discussion of this deviation on pp. [ch9, love for the sake of Allah]
  226. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 788, Kitab al-umur al-munhi 'anha, bab tahrim isti'mal ina' al-dhahab wa'l-fuddah.
  227. Sahih Muslim, 14/29-30, Kitab al-libas wa'l-zinah, bab tahrim isti'mal awani al-dhahab wa'l-fuddah.
  228. The custom at the time of the Prophet (PBUH) was for all present to eat from one dish or platter; this is still the custom in some Muslim countries [Translator].
  229. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 394, Kitab adab al-ta'am, bab al-tasmiyah fi awwalihi al-hamd fi akhirihi.
  230. Reported by Abu Dawud, 3/475, Kitab al-at'imah, bab al-tasmiyah; Tirmidhi, 4/288, Kitab al-at'imah, bab ma ja'a fi'l-tasmiyah 'ala'l-ta'am.
  231. Sahih Muslim, 13/191, Kitab al-ashribah, bab adab al-ta'am wa'l-shirab.
  232. Sahih Muslim, 13/192, Kitab al-ashribah, bab adab al-ta'am wa'l-shirab.
  233. Ibid.
  234. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 11/385, Kitab al-ashribah, bab al-bida'ah bi'l-ayman.
  235. This was Ibn 'Abbas [Author].
  236. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 11/386, Kitab al-ashribah, bab al-bida'ah bi'l-ayman.
  237. i.e., he lost his hand in the battle of Mu'tah. [Author]
  238. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 399, Kitab adab al-ta'am, bab al-akl mima yalih. [?]
  239. Sahih Muslim, 13/204, Kitab al-ashribah, bab istihbab la'q al-asabi'.
  240. Sahih Muslim, 13/207, Kitab al-ashribah, bab istihbab la'q al-asabi'.
  241. Ibid.
  242. Fath al-Bari, 9/580, Kitab al-at'imah, bab ma yaqul idha faragha min ta'amihi.
  243. Reported by Abu Dawud, 4/63, Kitab al-libas, chapter 1; and Tirmidhi , 5/508, Kitab al-da'wat, 56. He said it is a hasan hadith.
  244. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 11/290, Kitab al-at'imah, bab la yu'ib al-ta'am.
  245. i.e., he would pause and take a breath outside the cup. [Author]
  246. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 406, Kitab adab al-ta'am, bab fi adab al-shirab.
  247. Reported by Tirmidhi, 4/302, Kitab al-ashribah, 13. He said it is a hasan hadith.
  248. Reported by Tirmidhi, 4/304, Kitab al-ashribah, 15. He sit is a hasan sahih hadith
  249. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 12/260, Kitab al-isti'dhan, bab fadl al-salam.
  250. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyadh al-Salihin, 437, Kitab al-salam, bab fadl al-salam; this wording is taken from a report narrated by Bukhari.
  251. Sahih Muslim, 2/35, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan annahu la yadkhul al-jannah illa al-mu'minun.
  252. Reported with a jayyid isnad by Abu Dawud, 5/380, Kitab al-adab, bab fi fadl man bada'a al-salam.
  253. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/465, Bab man kharaja yusallim wa yusallam 'alayhi.
  254. The greeting should always be spoken in Arabic, regardless of whatever one's native tongue is or whatever language is being spoken at any given time. [Translator]
  255. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 437, Kitab al-salam, bab fi fadl al-salam.
  256. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 439, Kitab al-salam, bab kayfiyyah al-salam.
  257. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 440, Kitab al-salam, bab fi adab al-salam.
  258. Reported by Bukhari. See Riyad al-Salihin, 44, Kitab al-salam, bab fi adab al-salam.
  259. Reported by Tirmidhi, 5/58, in Kitab al-isti'dhan, bab ma ja'a fi'l-taslim 'ala'l-nisa'. He said it is a hasan hadith.
  260. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 442, Kitab al-salam, bab al-salam 'ala'l-subyan.
  261. Sahih Muslim, 14/14, Kitab al-ashribah, bab ikram al-dayf. See also Riyad al-Salihin, 439.
  262. Reported by Abu Dawud, 5/386, Kitab al-adab, bab fi'l-salam; Tirmidhi, 5/62, Kitab al-isti'dhan, 15. Tirmidhi said it is a hasan hadith.
  263. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/513, Bab kayfa yaqum 'ind al-bab..
  264. i.e., so that the one seeking permission will not see anything that the people whose house it is do not want him to see. [Translator]
  265. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 445, Kitab al-salam, bab al-isti'dhan wa adabihi.
  266. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/518, Bab idha qala: udkhul? wa lam yusallim; se also Riyad al-Salihin, 445.
  267. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 447, Kitab al-salam, bab fi bayan an al-sunnah an yusammi al-musta'dhin nafsahu.
  268. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 447, Kitab al-salam, bab fi bayan an al-sunnah an yusammi al-musta'dhin nafsahu.
  269. Ibid.
  270. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 445, Kitab al-salam, bab fi'l-isti'dhan wa adabihi.
  271. Fath al-Bari, 11/26, Kitab al-isti'dhan, bab al-taslim wa'l-isti'dhan; Sahih Mu, 14/130, Kitab al-adab, bab al-isti'dhan.
  272. Sahih Muslim, 14/134, Kitab al-adab, bab al-isti'dhan.
  273. Reported by Abu Dawud, 5/164, in Kitab al-isti'dhan, 16, and Tirmidhi, 5/73, Kitab al-isti'dhan, 29. Tirmidhi said it is a hasan sahih gharib hadith.
  274. Reported by Abu Dawud, 5/175, Kitab al-adab, 24, and Tirmidhi, 5/44, Kitab al-adab, 11. Tirmidhi said it is a hasan hadith.
  275. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad,2/580, Bab idha ra'a qawman yatanajuna fala yudkhul ma'ahum.
  276. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 12/296, 297, Kitab al-isti'dhan, bab la yuqim al-rajul min majlisihi idha hadara. [??]
  277. Sahih Muslim, 14/161, Kitab al-salam, bab tahrim iqamah al-insan min mawdu'ihi.
  278. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/90, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab la yunaja ithnan duna al-thalith.
  279. Al-Muwatta', 2/988, Kitab al-kalam (6).
  280. Reported with a hasan isnad by Ahmad and altabarani. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 8/14, bab tawfir al-kabir wa rahmat al-saghir.
  281. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 207, Bab tawfir al-'ulama' wa'l-kibar wa ahl al-fadl.
  282. A hasan hadith narrated by Abu Dawud, 5/184, Kitab al-adab, 23.
  283. Sahih Muslim, 1/55
  284. Sahih Muslim, 14/138, Kitab al-adab, bab tahrim al-nazr fi bayt ghayrihi.
  285. Fath al-Bari, 10/611, Kitab al-adab, bab idha tatha'ab fa layada' yadahu 'ala fihi; Sahih Muslim, 18/123, Kitab al-zuhd, bab kirahah al-tatha'ub.
  286. Sahih Muslim, 18/122, Kitab al-zuhd, bab kirahah al-tatha'ub.
  287. Fath al-Bari, 10/611, Kitab al-adab, bab idha tatha'ab fa layada' yadahu 'ala fihi
  288. Fath al-Bari, 10/608, Kitab al-adab, bab idha tatha'ab fa layada' yadahu 'ala fihi
  289. Sahih Muslim, 18/121, Kitab al-zuhd, bab tashmiyah al-'atish.
  290. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 448, Kitab al-salam, bab istihbab tashmiyah al-'atish.
  291. Reported by Abu Dawud, 5/288, Kitab al-adab, 98; Tirmidhi, 5/86, Kitab al-adab, 6. Tirmidhi said it is a hasan sahih hadith.
  292. i.e., a person should not raise the price of something he has no intention of buying, in order to mislead another. [Author]
  293. i.e., do not ask a person to return something he has bought so that you may sell him something similar for a lower price. [Author]
  294. i.e., he should not act as an agent for him, controlling prices in a way that harms the community. [Author]
  295. i.e., she should not ask a man to divorce his wife and marry her instead, so that she will enjoy all the comforts and good treatment that were previously enjoyed by the one who is divorced. [Author]
  296. Fath al-Bari, 4/352, 353, Kitab al-buyu', bab la yabi' 'ala bay' akhihi; Sahih Muslim, 9/198, Kitab al-nikah, bab tahrim khutbah al-rajul 'ala khutbah akhihi. This version is that narrated by Muslim.
  297. Fath al-Bari, 9/219, Kitab al-nikah, bab al-shurut allati la tukhall fi'l-nikah ???
  298. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/60, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab yuhibb li-akhihi ma yuhibb linafsihi.
  299. Al-mar'ah bayna al-fiqh wa'l-qanun, 176.
  300. This is an atheistic Western expression, which refers to "nature" instead of Allah the Creator, after the West turned its back on religion. [Author]
  301. Al-mar'ah bayna al-fiqh wa'l-qanun, 178.
  302. Al-mar'ah bayna al-fiqh wa'l-qanun, 179.
  303. Al-mar'ah bayna al-fiqh wa'l-qanun, 181.
  304. See Fath al-Bari, 10/332, Kitab al-libas, bab al-mutashabbihin bi'l-nisa' wa'l-mutashabbihat bi'l-rijal.
  305. See Fath al-Bari, 10/333, Kitab al-libas, bab ikhraj al-mutashabbihin bi'l-nisa' min al-buyut.
  306. A sahih hadith narrated by Abu Dawud, 4/86, Kitab al-libas, 31; Ibn Hibban (13) 63, Kitab al-hizr wa'l-ibahah, bab al-la'n.
  307. Fath al-Bari, 7/476, Kitab al-maghazi, bab ghazwah Khaybar.
  308. Sahih Muslim, 16/227, Kitab al-'ilm, bab man sanna sunnah hasanah [??]
  309. Fath al-Bari, 6/496, Kitab hadith al-anbiya', bab ma dhukira 'an Bani Isra'il.
  310. Reported by Tirmidhi, 5/34, in Kitab al-'ilm, 7; he said it is a hasan sahih hadith.
  311. Sahih Muslim, 2/22, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan kawn al-nahy 'an al-munkar min al-iman.
  312. Sahih Muslim, 2/37, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan an al-din nasihah.
  313. Reported by Ahmad and al-Tabarani; the men of their isnads are thiqat. See Majma' al-Zawa'id, 7/263, Bab fi ahl al-ma'ruf wa ahl al-munkar.
  314. Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/233.
  315. Reported by al-Tabarani, 10/146; the men of its isnad are rijal al-sahih.
  316. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 374, Kitab al-adab, bab fi'l-wa'z wa'l-iqtisad fihi.
  317. Sahih Muslim, 5/20, Kitab al-masajid, bab tahrim al-kalam fi'l-salah.
  318. Hayat al-Sahabah, 3/129.
  319. Fath al-Bari, 1/188, Kitab al-'ilm, bab man a'ada al-hadith thalathan li yufham 'anhu.
  320. Reported by Abu Dawud, 4/360, Kitab al-adab, 21; its isnad is sahih.
  321. Sahih Muslim, 16/185, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab al-arwah junud mujannadah.
  322. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 211, Bab ziyarat ahl al-khayr wa majalisatihim.
  323. Umm Ayman was the Prophet's nursemaid during his childhood. When he grew up, he gave her her freedom and married her to Zayd ibn Harithah. He used to honour her and treat her with kindness and respect, and say, "Umm Ayman is my mother." [Author]
  324. Sahih Muslim, 16/9, Kitab fada'il al-Sahabah, bab fada'il Umm Ayman.
  325. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/505, Bab inna al-salam yujzi min al-sawm.
  326. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 687, Kitab al-umur al-munhi 'anha, bab bayan ma yajuz min al-kadhb.
  327. Sahih Muslim, 16/157, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab tahrim al-kadhb wa bayan ma yubah fihi.
  328. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/478, Bab alladhi yusbir 'ala adha al-nas.
  329. A hasan jayyid gharib hadith narrated by Tirmidhi, 4/380, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, 87.
  330. Reported by Abu Dawud, 2/172, Kitab al-zakah; Ahmad, 2/68. Its isnad is sahih.
  331. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/310, Bab man lam yashkur al-nas.
  332. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 452, Bab 'iyadah al-marid.
  333. Sahih Muslim, 14/143, Kitab al-salam, bab min haqq al-Muslim li'l-Muslim radd al-salam.
  334. Fath al-Bari, /517, Kitab al-at'imah, bab kulu min tayyibat ma razaqnakum.
  335. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 451, Kitab 'iyadah al-marid, bab 'iyadah al-marid.
  336. Sahih Muslim, 16/125, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl 'iyadah al-marid.
  337. A metaphor for the reward earned [Translator].
  338. Sahih Muslim, 16/125, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl 'iyadah al-marid.
  339. Reported by Tirmidhi, 3/292, Kitab al-jana'iz, 2. He said it is a hasan hadith.
  340. Fath al-Bari, 3/219, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab hal yu'rad 'ala al-sabi al-Islam?
  341. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad,1/633, Bab ayna yaq'ud al-'a'id.
  342. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Riyad al-Salihin, 454, Kitab 'iyadah al-marid, bab fima yad'u bihi li'l-marid.
  343. i.e., may your sickness be an expiation and cleanse you of your sins [Author].
  344. Fath al-Bari, 10/118.
  345. Fath al-Bari, 10/117, Kitab al-murda [?], bab 'iyadah al-nisa' al-rijal.
  346. Sahih Muslim, 2/57, Kitab al-iman, bab itlaq al-kufr 'ala al-ta'an fi'l-nasab wa'l-niyahah.
  347. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 5/436, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab al-nahy 'an al-niyahah wa'l-nadab.
  348. Sahih Muslim, 2/110, Kitab al-iman, bab tahrim darab al-khudud wa shiqq al-juyub.
  349. Sahih Muslim, 6/224, 225, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab al-bika' [?] 'ala'l-mayyit.
  350. (Bukhari and Muslim), See Sharh al-Sunnah, 5/429, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab al-bika' 'ala al-mayit.
  351. Reported by Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 463, Kitab 'iyadah al-marid, bab jawaz al-bika' 'ala al-mayit bi ghayri nadab wa la niyahah.
  352. The first time was when Abu Salamah surrendered his soul (died), and some of his family were grief-stricken. The Prophet (SAAS) told them, "Do not pray for anything but good for yourselves, for the angels are saying 'Amin' to whatever you say," then he prayed for Abu Salamah. The second time was when Umm Salamah started telling herself that she would exaggerate in her crying for him, then she changed her mind. [Author]
  353. Sahih Muslim, 6/224, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab al-bika' 'ala al-mayit.
  354. Fath al-Bari, 3/176, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab ma yunha min al-nawh wa'l-bika'; Sahih Muslim, 6/237, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab tahrim al-niyahah.
  355. Sahih Muslim, 6/238, Kitab l-jana'iz, bab tahrim al-niyahah.
  356. Sahih Muslim, 6/235, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab tahrim al-niyahah.
  357. Imam Ahmad, al-Musnad, 2/362; the men of its isnad are thiqat.
  358. Fath al-Bari, 3/144, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab ittiba' al-nisa' al-jana'iz; Sahih Musli, 7/2, Kitab al-jana'iz, bab nahy al-nisa' 'an ittiba' al-jana'iz.
 


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