In the name of Allah ,the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

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Chapter 9: The Muslim Woman and Her Friends and Sisters in Islam

She loves them as sisters for the

sake of Allah (SWT)

The way in which the true Muslim woman relates to her friends and sister in Islam is different from the way in which other women conduct their social affairs. Her relationship with her sisters is based on ta'akhi (brotherhood or sisterhood) for the sake of Allah (SWT). This love for the sake of Allah (SWT) is the highest bond that may exist between one human being and another, whether man or woman. It is the bond of faith in Allah (SWT) which Allah (SWT) established between all believers when He said:

( The Believers are but a single brotherhood . . .) (Qur'an 49:10)
 
 
The brotherhood of faith is the strongest of bonds between hearts and minds. It comes as no surprise to see that Muslim sisters enjoy a strong, enduring relationship that is based on love for the sake of Allah (SWT), which is the noblest and purest form of love between human beings. This is a love which is untainted by any worldly interest or ulterior motive. It is the love in which Muslim men and women find the sweetness of faith:

"There are three things that whoever attains them will find the sweetness of faith: if Allah (SWT) and His Messenger are dearer to him than anyone or anything else; if he loves a person solely for the sake of Allah (SWT); and if he would hate to return to kufr after Allah (SWT) has rescued him from it, as much as he would hate to be thrown into the Fire."1

The status of two who love one another

for the sake of Allah (SWT)

Many hadith describe the status of two people who love another for the sake of Allah (SWT), whether they are men or women, and describe the high position in Paradise which Allah (SWT) has prepared for them and the great honour which He will bestow upon them on the Day when mankind is resurrected to meet the Lord of the Worlds.

It is sufficient honour for those who love one another for the sake of (SWT), men and women alike, to know that their almighty Lord will take care of them on the Day of Judgement and will say: "Where are those who loved one another for My glory? Today I will shade them in My shade on the Day when there is no shade but Mine."2Such is the magnificent honour and tremendous reward that will be bestowed upon those who truly loved one another for the sake of Allah (SWT), on that awesome Day.

Love for the sake of Allah (SWT), and not for the sake of anything else in life, is very difficult, and none can attain it except the one who is pure of heart, for whom this world and all its pleasures are as nothing in comparison with the pleasure of Allah (SWT). It is not surprising that Allah (SWT) should give them a status and blessing which is commensurate with their position in this world, above whose concerns they have risen. We see proof of this in the hadith of Mu`adh, who said that the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Allah (SWT) said: `Those who love one another for My glory will have minbars of light, and the Prophets and martyrs will wish that they had the same."3Allah (SWT) bestows upon those who love one another for His sake a gift which is even greater than this status and blessing: that is His precious love which is very difficult to attain. This is proven by the hadith of Abu Hurayrah (RAA) in which the Prophet (PBUH) said: "A man went to visit a brother of his in another village. Allah (SWT) sent an angel to wait for him on the road. When the man came along, the angel asked him, `Where are you headed?' He said, `I am going to visit a brother of mine who lives in this village.' The angel asked, `Have you done him any favour (for which you are now seeking repayment)?' He said, `No, I just love him for the sake of Allah (SWT).' The angel told him, `I am a messenger to you from Allah (SWT), sent to tell you that He loves you as you love your brother for His sake.'"4What a great love, that raises a person to a position where Allah (SWT) loves him and is pleased with him!

The Prophet (PBUH) understood the impact of this strong, pure love in building societies and nations, so he never let any occasion pass without advocating this love and commanding the Muslims to announce their love for one another, in order to open hearts and spread love and purity among the ranks of the ummah.

Anas (RAA) said that a man was with the Prophet (PBUH), when another man passed by. The first man said, "O Messenger of Allah (SWT), indeed I truly love this man." The Prophet (PBUH) asked him, "Have you let him know that?" He said, "No." The Prophet (PBUH) said, "Tell him." He caught up with him and told him, "Truly I love you for the sake of Allah (SWT)," and the man said, "May Allah (SWT) love you who loves me for His sake."5

The Prophet (PBUH) used to do the same thing himself, teaching the Muslims how to build a society based on pure love and brotherhood. One day he took Mu`adh by the hand and said, "O Mu`adh, by Allah (SWT) I love you, so I advise you, O Mu`adh, never forget to recite, after every prayer, `O Allah (SWT), help me to remember You and to give thanks toYou and to worship You properly (Allahumma, a`inni `ala dhikrika wa shukrika wa husni `abadatika).'"6

Mu`adh began to spread this pure love among the Muslims throughout the Muslim lands, telling them what he had learned from the Prophet (PBUH) about the great reward that Allah (SWT) had prepared for those who loved one another for His sake, and about His great love for them. In al-Muwatta', Imam Malik gives a report with a sahih isnad from Abu Idris al-Khulani who said: "I entered the mosque of Damascus, where I saw a young man who had a bright smile, and I saw the people gathered around him. When they disagreed on some matter, they referred it to him, and accepted his opinion. I asked who he was, and they told me, `This is Mu`adh ibn Jabal (RAA).' Early the next day, I went to the mosque but I found that he had arrived even earlier than I. He was praying, so I waited until he had finished, then I approached him from in front, greeted him and said, `By Allah (SWT), I love you.' He asked, `For the sake of Allah (SWT)?' I said, `For the sake of Allah (SWT).' He repeated his question, `For the sake of Allah (SWT)?' And I said, `For the sake of Allah (SWT).' So he took hold of my collar, pulled me towards him and said, `I have good news for you. I heard the Prophet (PBUH) say: "Allah (SWT) says: "My love is granted to those who love one another for My sake, who visit one another for My sake, and who spend on one another for My sake.'"'"7The effect of love for the sake of Allah (SWT)

on the life of Muslim men and women

Islam came to build an ideal society based on sincere love and brotherhood, so it had to plant the seeds of love in the hearts of the individuals of which society is composed. Therefore it made this love among believing men and among believing women one of the conditions of faith that will grant admittance to Paradise. This may be seen in the hadith narrated by Imam Muslim from Abu Hurayrah (RAA) in which the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"By the One in Whose hand in 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 that if you do it, you will love one another? Spread salam amongst yourselves."8
 
 
The Prophet (PBUH), with his brilliant and deep insight, understood that nothing could eliminate hatred, jealousy and rivalry from people's hearts but true brotherhood, based on sincere love, friendship and mutual advice, and free of feuds, hatred, insincerity and envy. The way to achieve this is through spreading salam, so that hearts may be opened to sincere love and friendship.

So the Prophet (PBUH) frequently repeated this teaching to his Sahabah, aiming to sow the seed of love in their hearts and nurture them until they bore fruits of that great love that Islam wants for the Muslims, men and women alike.

With this sincere love, the Prophet (PBUH) built the first generation of Muslims, who formed the solid foundation on which the great structure of Islam was built and lit the way for the rest of humto follow.

With this sincere love, the Prophet (PBUH) was able to build a model human society, based on the brotherhood of faith, a society that was remarkable both in its strength, durability and ability to make sacrifices in the cause of jihad to spread Islam throughout the world, and in the solidarity of its members, which the Prophet (PBUH) described in the most marvellous way:

"Believers are like a structure, parts of which support other parts."9

"The believers, in their mutual friendship, mercy and affection, are like one body: if any part of it complains, the rest of the body will also stay awake in pain."10

From the very beginning and throughout history, the Muslim woman has always participated in the building of the Islamic society that is based on the brotherhood of faith, and she is still doing her share of the efforts to spread the blessed virtue of love for the sake of Allah (SWT) in Muslim society, turning to her sisters and friends with an overflowing heart to strengthen the ties of love and sisterhood for the sake of Allah (SWT).

She does not forsake or abandon her sister

The Muslim woman who truly understands the teachings of Islam does not ignore the fact that Islam, which encourages brotherly love and mutual affection, is also the religion that has forbidden brothers and sisters in faith to hate or abandon one another. Islam has explained that two people who truly love one another for the sake of Allah (SWT) will not be separated by the first minor offence that either of them may commit, because the bond of love for the sake of Allah (SWT) is too strong to be broken by such minor matters. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

"No two people who love one another for the sake of Allah (SWT), or for the sake of Islam, will let the first minor offence of either of them come between them."11

Anger may strike a woman in moments of human weakness, and she may hurt her sister, which could provoke harsh feelings and conflicts. In such cases, the Muslim woman should not forget that Islam does not ignore human nature and its vulnerability to changing emotions. For this reason, Islam has defined the length of time during which anger may subside. This time is considered to be three days. After this time has passed, it is forbidden for the two conflicting parties to refuse to seek a reconciliation. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

"It is not permissible for a Muslim to be estranged from his brother for more than three days, both of them turning away from one another when they meet. The better of them is the one who is first to greet the other."12

The word "Muslim" obviously includes both men and women when it occurs in hadith like this, which set out the regulations governing the lives of individuals, families and societies in the world of Islam.

Hence we can see that the Muslim woman whose soul has been shaped by Islam does not persist in ignoring her sister, no matter what the reason. Rather, she will hasten to bring about a reconciliation and greet her with salam, because she knows that the better of them is the one who is the first to greet the other. If her sister returns her salam, both of them will share the reward for the reconciliation, but if she does not return the greeting, then then one who gave the greeting will be absolved of the sin of forsaking her sister, while the one who refused to return the salam will have to bear the burden of that sin alone. This is made clear by the hadith in which Abu Hurayrah said:

"I heard the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) say: `It is not permissible for a man to be estranged from a believer for more than three days. If three days have passed, then he should go and give salam to him; if he returns the salam, then both of them will have share in the reward, and if he does not respond then the one who gave the salam will be absolved of the sin of estrangement."13

It goes without saying that the word "man" in the context of this hadith refers to both men and women. The longer the period of estrangement lasts, the greater the sin of both parties becomes, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Whoever forsakes his brother for a year, it is as if he had shed his blood."14

How evil is the crime of forsaking one's brother or sister, according to Islam! How heavy is the burden of the one who is guilty of this crime that is likened to the shedding of blood! The Islamic system of education is based on mutual love and affection, and ongoing contact. Therefore Islam wants Muslim men and women to eliminate hatred and envy from their lives, and not to give any room to those evil characteristics that contradict the brotherhood of faith. Hence Islam is filled with teachings that describe the best ethics ever known since man first walked on the face of the earth:

"Do not break off ties with one another, do not turn away from one another, do not hate one another, do not envy one another. Be brothers, as Allah (SWT) has commanded you."15

"Beware of suspicion, for speaking on the basis of suspicion is the worst kind of lie. Do not seek out one another's faults, do not spy on one another, do not compete with one another, do not envy one another, do not hate one another, and do not turn away from one another. O servants of Allah (SWT), be brothers."16

"Do not envy one another, do not outbid one another (in order to inflate prices), do not hate one another, do not turn away from one another, and do not enter into a transaction when others have already entered into it. O servants of Allah (SWT), be brothers. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He does not oppress him, humiliate him or look down upon him. Taqwa is here" - and so saying, he pointed to his chest three times. "It is evil enough for a man to look down upon his Muslim brother. The whole of a Muslim's being is sacred to another Muslim - his blood, his wealth and his honour are inviolable."17

The Muslim woman who has received a sound Islamic education thinks deeply about these teachings of the Prophet (PBUH), which contain all the most noble characteristics such as love, friendship, brotherhood, sincerity, compassion and selflessness. She will not be able to persist in her hatred, for nobody can do so except the one who is mean and narrow-minded, or has a diseased heart or twisted nature. The true Muslim woman is far removed from such evil characteristics.

Therefore Islam issues a stern warning to those hard-hearted people, men and women alike, who are deviating from true Islam and its spirit of tolerance by insisting on remaining estranged. They are risking an awful fate in the Hereafter: their actions may prevent them from attaining the mercy and forgiveness of Allah (SWT), and may close the doors of Paradise to them. The Prophet (PBUH) said:

"The doors of Paradise are opened on Monday and Thursday, and every servant who does not associate anything with Allah (SWT) will be forgiven, except for the man who bears a grudge against his brother. It will be said, `Wait for these two until they reconcile, wait for these two until they reconcile, wait for these two until they reconcile.'"18

The great Sahabi Abu'l-Darda' (RAA) used to say: "Shall I not tell you about something that is better for you than charity and fasting? Reconcile between your brothers, for hatred diminishes reward."19

How important it is for women to understand and meditate upon this great Sahabi's penetrating insight into the spirit of this religion, which is based on brotherhood and love, when they have arguments and conflicts. Abu'l-Darda', whose intelligence and good sense the Prophet (PBUH) used to trust, understood that hatred cancels out good deeds and destroys rewards, so reconciling the estranged Muslim with his brother is better for him than charity and fasting, because if he were to continue bearing a grudge against his brother, this would negate any reward he might receive for those acts of worship.

She is tolerant and forgiving towards them

The Muslim woman who is truly guided by Islam is tolerant towards her friends and sisters, and does not bear grudges against them. If she becomes angry with one of her sisters, she restrains heanger and freely forgives the one who has committed an error, without seeing any shame in doing so. In fact, she sees this as a good deed which will bring her closer to Allah (SWT):

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

If a person suppresses his or her seething anger, and does not forgive, that anger will turn into resentment and malice, which are more dangerous than anger. When a person forgives and forgets, the flames of anger are extinguished, and his or her soul is cleansed of the effects of anger and hatred. This is the level of ihsan which earns Allah's (SWT) love for those who attain it:

( . . . for Allah loves those who do good.) (Qur'an 3:134)

The Muslim woman who truly adheres to the teachings of Islam is one of this group of muhsinin. She does not allow anger to continue boiling in her heart, because suppressed resentment is a very heavy burden on the soul; rather, she hastens to forgive and forget, thus freeing herself from this burden, and filling her soul with tranquillity and peace of mind.

Something that may help the Muslim woman to reach this difficult level of ihsan is the knowledge that forgiving one's sister is not a source of humiliation or shame, rather it will raise her in status and honour in the sight of Allah (SWT), as the Prophet (PBUH) described:

"Allah (SWT) will not increase His servant when he forgives except in honour. No-one humbles himself for the sake of Allah (SWT) but Allah (SWT) will raise his status."20

If we compare this honour and status with the status of ihsan reached by the woman who is tolerant and forgiving, we will realize what an honour she has attained, for in the sight of Allah (SWT) she is one of the muhsinat, and in the sight of people she is a respected, beloved example.

The Muslim woman who has truly understood the teachings of Islam cannot have any trace of hatred or resentment in her heart towards anybody, because she understands precisely the value of forgiveness and purity of heart, and their importance if she seeks Allah's (SWT) forgiveness and pleasure, as the Prophet (PBUH) explained:

"There are three sins, whoever dies free of these sins will be forgiven for anything else, if Allah (SWT) wills: associating anything with Allah (SWT); practising magic or witchcraft; and bearing resentment towards his brother."21

She meets them with a smiling face

The true Muslim woman is cheerful of countenance, always greeting her sisters with warmth and smiles, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Do not think little of any good deed, even if it is just greeting your brother with a cheerful countenance."22

Having a cheerful and friendly face is a good characteristic which Islam encourages and considers to be a good deed which will bring reward, because a cheerful face mirrors a pure soul. This inward and outward purity is one of the distinguishing features of the sincere Muslim. Hence the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"Your smiling at your brother is an act of charity (sadaqah)."23

The Prophet (PBUH) was cheerful of countenance, always greeting his Sahabah with warmth and smiles whenever he saw them, as the great Sahabi Jarir ibn `Abdullah described:

"From the time I embraced Islam, the Messenger of Allah (PBUH) never refused to see me and he never saw me except with a smile on his face."24

Islam wants the ties of friendship and brotherhood/sisterhood to remain strong among the Muslims, so it encouraged them to spread salam, to be cheerful of countenance, to speak gently and to greet one another warmly, so that hearts will remain pure and open, ready to work together in kindness to do good deeds, and capable of carrying out the duties of Islam no matter what effort and sacrifices may be required.

She is sincere towards them

One of the virtues of the true Muslim woman is that she is completely sincere, towards Allah (SWT), His Prophet, and to the leaders and the masses of the Muslims, as is stated in the sahih hadith:

"Religion is sincerity25." We [the Sahabah] asked, "To whom?"

He [the Prophet (PBUH)] said: "To Allah (SWT) (by obeying Him, attributing to Him what He deserves and performing jihad for His sake); to His Book (by reading it, understanding it and applying it to one's daily life); to His Prophet (by respecting him greatly and fighting on his behalf both in his lifetime and after his death, and by following his sunnah); to the rulers of the Muslims (by helping them in their task of leading Muslims to the right path and alerting them if they are heedless); and to their common folk (by being merciful towards them)."26

This attitude makes the Muslim woman sincere towards her sisters. She does not cheat them, mislead them, or conceal anything good from them. When she is always sincere towards them it is not merely for the sake of courtesy or to show off her social manners; she behaves in this way because sincerity is one of the fundamental bases of Islam which the first believers used to pledge to observe in their oath of allegiance (bay`ah) to of the Prophet (PBUH), as Jarir ibn `Abdullah stated:

"I gave allegiance to the Prophet (PBUH) and pledged to observe regular prayer, to pay zakat, and to be sincere towards every Muslim."27

In the hadith quoted above, we see that the Prophet (PBUH) summed up Islam in one word, nasihah, showing that sincerity is the central foundation of the faith. For without sincerity, a person's faith is invalid and his or her Islam is worthless. This is the meaning of the hadith of the Prophet (PBUH):

"None of you truly believes until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself."28

This is impossible to achieve unless one loves one's brother with all sincerity.

A person's liking for his brother what he likes for himself is no easy matter. It is very difficult to attain, and no man or woman can attain it except the one who has received a sound Islamic education, whose heart has been cleansed of all selfishness, hatred, envy and malice, and who is infused with love for others.

The true Muslim woman who feels in the depths of her soul that her love for her sister is one of the conditions of true faith and that her religion is based on sincerity, is more likely to attain that difficult level; indeed, it is something that comes naturally to her in her dealings with her friends and sisters, and she becomes a truthful mirror to them, advising and correcting them, and wishing them nothing but good, as Abu Hurayrah used to say:

"The believer is the mirror of his brother. If he sees any fault in him, he corrects it."29

In these words, Abu Hurayrah was echoing the hadith of the Prophet (PBUH):

"The believer is the mirror of his brother. The believer is the brother of a believer: he protects him from ruin and guards his back."30

It is natural that the true Muslim woman should have this noble attitude towards her sister. She could not do otherwise, even if she wanted to: the person who is living on such an exalted level of purity, love, loyalty and sisterhood cannot come down to the level of hatred, betrayal, malice, selfishness and jealousy. A vessel will leak whatever is in it; musk cannot but smell beautiful; and good soil cannot but bring forth good produce. How beautifully the poet Zuhayr ibn Abi Sulma expressed this:

"Does any plant produce large flowers but the washij (a plant with spear-like leaves)?

Are palm-trees planted anywhere except in the soil which is suitable for them?"31

She is faithful and kind towards them

Islam does not stop at encouraging its followers to respect and be kind to their friends; it also encourages them to be kind to their parents' friends too, in recognition of the virtue of kindness and loyalty and in order to establish these values as an essential part of Islamic life. The books of our heritage are filled with reports of loyalty and kindness that the salaf embodied in their daily lives, so that they became a fine example for all of mankind.

An example of this is the hadith narrated by Imam Muslim in his Sahih from Ibn `Umar (RAA), in which the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"The best kind of goodness (b) is that a man should keep in touch with and respect his father's friend."32

The Prophet (PBUH) used to nurture the souls of the Muslims and plant the seeds of faithfulness in them whenever he found an opportunity to tell them something of his guidance. A man of Banu Salamah came to him and asked: "O Messenger of Allah, is there any deed of kindness and respect that I can do for my parents after they die?" He said, "Yes, pray for them, ask forgiveness for them, fulfil their promises after they die, keep in contact with your relatives - for you have no relatives except through them - and honour their friends."33

The Prophet (PBUH) set the highest example of faithfulness and kindness by taking care of Khadijah's friends after she died. He never forgot them or neglected to treat them kindly. The Prophet's concern for the friends of Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her) upset `A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her), who felt jealous of her. This is clear from the words of `A'ishah:

"I never felt jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet (PBUH) as I did of Khadijah (May Allah be pleased with her), although I had never seen her. But he used to mention her often, and sometimes he would slaughter a sheep, butcher the meat, and send it to Khadijah's friends. One time I said to him, `It is as if there were no other woman in the world but Khadijah!' He said, `She was such-and-such, and I had children by her.'"34

According to another report: "He used to slaughter a sheep and send to her friends a goodly amount of it."35

By this example, the Prophet (PBUH) expanded the concept of faithfulness and kindness to include the distant friends of deceased parents and wives. So what about our own friends who are still alive!

She is kind to them

The Muslim woman who is truly guided by Islam is never arrogant towards her sisters and friends; she is never sullen towards them, and never uses harsh words with them. She is always kind, gentle and friendly towards them, treating them well and speaking nicely to them. The words of Allah (SWT) describing the believers, men and women, as being ( . . . lowly [or humble] with the believers, mighty against the kafirun . . .) (Qur'an 5:54) are sufficient to give her the most vivid picture of how the Muslim woman should be with her friends and sisters. The ideal situation is to be so gentle and kind that it almost looks like humility.

When the Muslim woman hears the Prophet's teachings she finds strong evidence in support of kindness towards others; it is described as something that may adorn every aspect of life, as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"There is no kindness in a thing but it adds beauty to it, and there is no absence of kindness but it disfigures a thing."36

When the Muslim woman studies the life of the Prophet (PBUH), she is impressed by the magnificent nature of his character, his overwhelming gentleness and his utmost kindness in his dealings with people. He was never known to scowl at anybody, or to speak harshly, or to be severe or harsh-hearted. Allah (SWT) indeed spoke the truth when He said:

( . . . Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you . . .) (Qur'an 3:159)

Anas (RAA), his servant and constant companion, described his noble character thus:

"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 something, he never said `Why did you do that?' and if I did not do something, he never said `Why did you not do that?'"37

Anas also said:

"The Prophet (PBUH) never used obscene language, or uttered curses and insults. If he wanted to rebuke someone, he would say, `What is the matter with him, may his forehead be covered with dust!38'"39

She does not gossip about them

The alert Muslim woman does not allow herself to be drawn into gossip or to attend gatherings where gossip takes place. She restrains her tongue and refrains from gossiping in general, and avoids backbiting about her friends and sisters in particular. She regards it as her duty to prevent gatherings from sinking to the level of cheap gossip, because gossip is clearly haram according to the words of the Qur'an:

( . . . Nor speak ill of each other behind their back. 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)

The Muslim woman always refrains from indulging in any talk that could lead to gossip. From her understanding of Islam, she knows that it is the tongue that may lead its owner to Hell, as stated in the hadith in which the Prophet (PBUH) warned Mu`adh ibn Jabal. He took hold of his tongue and said, "Restrain this." Mu`adh said, "O Messenger of Allah, will we be held responsible for what we say?" The Prophet (PBUH) said: "May your mother be bereft of you! Is there anything that causes people to be thrown into Hell on their faces (or he said: on their noses) but the harvest of their tongues?"40

Gossip is an evil characteristic which does not befit the Muslim woman who has been guided by Islam. Such a woman refuses to be two-faced, hypocritical or fickle, gossiping about her friends and sisters in their absence, then when she meets them, she smiles warmly and makes a display of friendship. She knows that such fickleness is haram according to Islam, which is based on straightforwardness, honesty and frankness. Such good qualities come naturally to believing men and women, for Islam has made them despise inconsistency, fickleness and hypocrisy. These characteristics are regarded as so loathsome by Islam that the one who possesses them is described as being two-faced, and those who are two-faced, men and women alike, are among the worst of people in the sight of Allah (SWT), as the Prophet (PBUH) said:

"You will find among the worst people in the sight of Allah (SWT) on the Day of Judgement, the one who is two-faced, who approaches some people in one way and some in another."41

The true Muslim woman is straightforward and consistent, never two-faced. She is always bright and cheerful, and treats all people in the same, noble, manner. She never forgets that the woman who is two-faced is a hypocrite: Islam and hypocrisy do not go together, and the woman who is a hypocrite will be in the lowest level of Hell.

She avoids arguing with them, making hurtful jokes

and breaking promises

Among the good manners of the true Muslim woman are a sense of moderation, wisdom and tact. She does not exhaust her friends with irritating arguments, she does not annoy them with hurtful jokes, and she does not break a promise that she has made to them. In this, she follows the guidance of the Prophet (PBUH):

"Do not argue with your brother, do not joke excessively with him, do not make a promise to him then break it."42

Excessive arguing is a repulsive habit that fills people's hearts with hatred and disgust; making hurtful jokes destroys the purity of a friendship between two sisters; and breaking promises weakens the ties of sisterhood and friendship, and destroys mutual respect. The alert Muslim woman avoids behaving in such a way that makes a person despicable.

She is generous and honours her sisters

The Muslim woman who understands the teachings of her religion is generous and gives freely to her friends and sisters. Her approach is friendly and sincere when she invites them, she welcomes them warmly and offers them food generously.

Friendly gatherings over food strengthen the ties of sisterhood and friendship between sisters, filling their lives with the sense of noble human emotions that have been lost by the Western woman raised in a materialistic culture, who has been filled with the spirit of opportunism, selfishness and individualism. The Western woman is suffering from spiritual emptiness and emotional dryness which result in a feeling of being deprived of true friendship and sincere friends. This is the situation of Westerners in general, and Western women in particular, and they compensate for it by devoting themselves to caring for their dogs, to makup for the lack of human emotional warmth drained from them by their materialistic philosophy. A French report states that there are seven million dogs in France, a country whose population is fifty-two million. These dogs live with their owners like one of the family. It is no longer strange in French restaurants to see a dog and its owner eating together at the same table. When an official of the animal welfare organization in Paris was asked, "Why do the French treat their dogs like they treat themselves?" he answered, "Because they want someone to love, but they cannot find any person to love."43

The materialistic man, whether in the West or in the East, can no longer find a true, sincere friend in his own society on whom to bestow his love and affection. So he turns to these animals in whom he finds more gentleness and faithfulness than in the people around him. Can man become any more emotionally degenerate than this extreme love for animals when he has lost the blessing of faith and guidance?

This emotional degeneration from which Westerners are suffering and which has dried up the human feelings in their souls, is one of the first things that attracted the attention of emigrant Arab writers, both Muslim and non-Muslim. They noticed that the materialistic lifestyle that has overtaken Western societies has made men into machines who know nothing in life but work, productivity and fierce competition, who do not know what it is to smile warmly at a friend. They are overwhelmed by the haste and crowds of this machine-like existence. Seeing all of this alarmed those Arab writers, who had grown up in the Islamic world and breathed its spirit of tolerance, and whose hearts were filled with brotherly love. So they began earnestly calling the Westerners towards the values of love and brotherhood. One of them was Nasib Aridah, who raised the banner of this humane call to the Westerner whose heart was stained with materialism and who had been blinded and deafened by the roar of the machines:

"O my friend, O my companion, O my colleague, my love for you is not out of curiosity or a desire to impose on you./

Answer me with the words `O my brother!' O my friend, and repeat it, for these are the sweetest words./

If you wish to walk alone, or if you grow bored of me,/

then go ahead, but you will hear my voice, calling `O my brother,' bearing the message,/

and the echo of my love will reach you wherever you are, so you will understand its beauty and its glory."44

The burden of materialistic life in the West became too much for Yusuf As`ad Ghanim to bear, and he could no longer stand this life which was full of problems and sinking in the ocean of materialism, and was devoid of the fresh air of spirituality, brotherhood and affection. So he began to long for the Arab countries of the Islamic world, the lands of Prophethood and spirituality, the home of love, brotherhood and purity. He wished that he could live in an Arab tent, and leave behind the civilized world with all its noise and glaring lights:

"If I were to live a short life in any Arab land, I would thank Allah (SWT) for a short but rich life in a world where He is loved in the hearts of its people. I got so tired of the West that tiredness itself got bored of me. Take your cars and planes, and give me a camel and a horse. Take the Western world, land, sea and sky, and give me an Arab tent which I will pitch on one of the mountains of my homeland Lebanon, or on the banks of Barada or the shores of the Tigris and Euphrates, in the suburbs of `Amman, in the deserts of Saudi Arabia, in the unknown regions of Yemen, on the slopes of the Pyramids, in the oases of Libya. . . Give me an Arab tent, and I will weigh it against the entire world and emerge a winner. . ."45

Many writings by emigrant Arab writers share the same tone, but it is sufficient to give just a few examples here. All of their writings express the emigrants' longing for the emotional richness that they missed when they came to the West, an experience which awoke in them feelings of longing for the East where Islam had spread love, brotherhood, mutual affection and solidarity.

Islam planted the seeds of love and brotherhood in the souls of its followers, and encouraged them to make friends and exhange invitations and visits. Those who invite others to these kinds of gatherings are described as being among the best of people:

"The best of you is the one who offers food freely and returns the greeting of salam."46

The Prophet (PBUH) gave good news to those who are generous, men and women alike, that they will be among those who will enter Paradise in peace:

"Spread salam, offer food generously, uphold the ties of kinship, stand in prayer at night when people are sleeping, and enter Paradise in peace."47

The Prophet (PBUH) further encouraged these generous people with the promise of special chambers in Paradise:

"In Paradise there are rooms whose outside can be seen from the inside, and whose inside can be seen from the outside. Allah (SWT) has prepared them for those who feed others generously, who are gentle in speech, who fast continuously, and who stand in prayer at night when people are sleeping."48

She prays for her sisters in their absence

The sincere Muslim woman whose heart is filled with the sweetness of faith likes for her Muslim sister what she likes for herself. So she never forgets to pray for her in her absence, a du`a' that is filled with the warmth of sincere love and sisterhood. She knows that such du`a's are the quickest to be answered because of their sincerity and warmth of feeling and the noble intention behind them. This is confirmed by the words of the Prophet (PBUH):

"The quickest prayer to be answered is a man's supplication for his brother in his absence."49

The Sahabah understood this and used to ask their brothers to pray for them whenever they were in a situation where their prayers would be answered. Men and women alike shared this virtue, which is indicative of the high level of the entire society during that golden period of our history. Bukhari reports, in al-Adab al-Mufrad, from Safwan ibn `Abdullah ibn `Safwan, whose wife was al-Darda' bint Abi'l-Darda'. He said:

"I came to visit them in Damascus, and found Umm al-Darda' in the house, but Abu'l-Darda' was not there. She said, `Do you want to go for Hajj?' I said, `Yes.' She said, `Pray for me, for the Prophet (PBUH) used to say, "The Muslim's prayer for his absent brother will be answered. There is an angel at his head who, whenever he prays for his brother, says, `Amin, and you shall have likewise.'"'" He (Safwan) said, "I met Abu'l-Darda'

in the market and he told me something similar, reporting from the Prophet (PBUH)."50

The Prophet (PBUH) instilled team spirit in the souls of Muslim men and women at every opportunity, strengthening the ties of love for the sake of Allah (SWT) between them, spreading an attitude of selflessness, and uprooting the inclination towards individualism and selfishness, in order that the Muslim society should be infused with feelings of love, close ties, solidarity and selflessness.

One of the brillliant ways in which he instilled this team spirit was his response to the man who prayed out loud: "O Allah (SWT), forgive me and Muhammad only." He told him, "You have denied it to many people."51

In this way, the Prophet (PBUH) did not just correct this man alone, but he effectively instilled team spirit in the entire ummah of Islam, and taught every Muslim man and women, no matter when or where they lived, that it is not right for anyone who has uttered the words of the Shahadah to keep goodness to himself, because the believer should always like for his brother what he likes for himself.

In conclusion, then, this is how the Muslim woman who has received a sound Islamic education should be: she loves her sisters for the sake of Allah (SWT), and her sisterly love towards them is sincere and in their best interests; she likes for them what she likes for herself; she is keen to maintain the ties of love and sisterhood between them, and she does not cut them or forsake them; she is tolerant and forgiving of their mistakes and faults; she does not bear any hatred, envy or malice towards them; she always greets them with a cheerful, smiling face; she is kind and loyal towards them; she does not gossip about them; she does not hurt their feelings by being hostile or arguing with them; she is generous to them; she prays for them in their absence.

It is no surprise that the Muslim woman whose personality has been cleansed and moulded by Islam should have such noble characteristics. This is the miracle that Islam has wrought in the education and forming of human character, no matter where or when a man or woman lives.
 
 

Footnotes:

  1. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 1/49, Kitab al-iman, bab halawat al-iman.
  2. Sahih Muslim, 16/123, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl al-hubb fi Allah.
  3. Reported by Tirmidhi, 4/24, Bab ma ja'a fi al-hubb fi-Allah; he said, it is a sahih hasan hadith.
  4. Sahih Muslim, 16/124, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl al-hubb fi-Allah.
  5. Reported with a sahih isnad by Abu Dawud, 4/452, Kitab al-adab, bab akhbar al-rajul bi mahabbatihi ilayh.
  6. Reported with a sahih isnad by Ahmad, 5/245.
  7. Reported by Malik in al-Muwatta', 2/953, Kitab al-shi'r, bab ma ja'a fi'l-muthabbayn fi-Allah.
  8. Sahih Muslim, 2/35, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan annahu la yadkhul al-jannah illa'l-mu'minin.
  9. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/47, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab ta'awun al-mu'minin wa tarahumuhum.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/493, Bab hijrah al-Muslim.
  12. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/100, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab al-nahy 'an hijran al-ikhwan.
  13. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/505, Bab inna al-salam yujzi' min al-sawm.
  14. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/497, Bab man hajara akhahu sanah.
  15. Sahih Muslim, 16/120, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab tahrim al-zann wa'l-tajassus wa'l-tanafus.
  16. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/109, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab ma la yajuz min al-zann.
  17. Sahih Muslim, 16/120, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab tahrim zulm al-Muslim wa khadhaluhu wa ihtiqarahu.
  18. Sahih Muslim, 16/122, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab al-nahy 'an al-shahna'.
  19. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/505, Bab al-shahna'.
  20. Sahih Muslim, 16/141, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab istihbab al-'afuw wa'l-tawadu'.
  21. Repoted by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/505, Bab al-shahna'.
  22. Sahih Muslim, 16/177, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab istihbab talaqah al-wajh 'ind al-liqa'.
  23. Reported by Tirmidhi, 3/228, Abwab al-birr, 36. He said it is hasan gharib.
  24. 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.
  25. Nasihah is an Arabic word that may be translated by a number of words in English. The most common translation is "good advice," but it also carries connotations of sincerity, integrity, and "doing justice to a person or situation." [Translator]
  26. Sahih Muslim, 2/37, Kitab al-iman, bab bayan an al-din nasihah. The explanations in brackets are adapted from those given in the English translation of Sahih Bukhari by Dr. Muhammad Muhsin Khan (Vol. 1, p. 48). [Translator]
  27. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 1/63, Kitab al-iman, bab al-bay'ah 'ala'l-Islam.
  28. Bukhari and Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 13/60, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah, bab yuhibbu li akhihi ma yuhibbu li nafsihi.
  29. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/333, Bab al-Muslim mir'ah akhihi.
  30. Ibid.
  31. Sharh Diwan Zuhayr, 115, published by Dar al-Kutub al-Misriyyah.
  32. Sahih Muslim, 16/110, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl silah asdiqa' al-abb wa'l-umm.
  33. Reported by Ibn Hibban in his Sahih, 2/162, Kitab al-birr wa'l-ihsan, bab haqq al-walidayn.
  34. Fath al-Bari, 7/133, Kitab manaqib al-Ansar, bab tazwij al-Nabi (SAAS) Khadijah wa fadliha; Sahih Muslim, 15/201, Kitab al-fada'il, bab fada'il Khadijah.
  35. Fath al-Bari, 7/133, Kitab manaqib al-Ansar, bab tazwij al-Nabi (SAAS) Khadijah wa fadliha.
  36. Sahih Muslim, 16/146, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab fadl al-rifq.
  37. Bukhari and Muslim. See Riyad al-Salihin, 336, Bab husn al-khalq.
  38. It has been suggested that what was meant by this expression was that the Prophet (PBUH) was praying that the person would increase his sujud, i.e. pray more, as this would guide and reform him. [Author]
  39. Fath al-Bari, 10/452, Kitab al-adab, bab lam yakun al-Nabi (PBUH) fashishan wa la mutafahhishan.
  40. A sahih hasan hadith narrated by Ibn Majah, 2/1315, Kitab al-fitan.
  41. Fath al-Bari, 10/474, Kitab al-adab, bab ma qila fi dhi'l-wajhayn; Sahih Muslim, 16/157, Kitab al-birr wa'l-silah wa'l-adab, bab dhamm dhi'l-wajhayn.
  42. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 1/485, bab la ta'id akhaka shay'an fa tukhlifahu.
  43. Prof. Wahid al-Din Khan, Wujub tatbiq al-shari'ah alislamiyyah fi kulli zaman wa makan ("The necessity of applying Islamic shari'ah in every time and place"), in al-Mujtama', No. 325, Kuwait, 24 Dhu'l-Qi'dah 1396/16 November 1976.
  44. Diwan al-arwah al-ha'irah, qism al-naz'ah al-insaniyyah.
  45. See 'Isa al-Na'uri, Adab al-Mahjar, Dar al-Ma'arif bi Misr, p. 527
  46. A hasan hadith narrated by Ahmad, 6/16.
  47. A sahih hadith narrated by Ahmad, 2/295, and al-Hakim 4/129, Kitab al-at'amah.
  48. A hasan hadith narrated by Ahmad, 5/343 and Ibn Hibban, 2/262, Kitab al-birr wa'l-ihsan, bab ifsha' al-salam wa it'am al-ta'am.
  49. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/83, Bab du'a' al-akh bi zahr al-ghayb.
  50. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/84, Bab al-du'a' bi zahr al-ghayb.
  51. Reported by Bukhari in al-Adab al-Mufrad, 2/85, Bab al-du'a' bi zahr al-ghayb.