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ROLE OF WOMEN IN DAWAH

FROM A TAPE by Shaikh Saleem al Hilaalee


This da'wah - calling people, propagating the Deen of al-Islaam - is an extremely important form of worship. Allah (S) says: "AND WHO IS BETTER IN SPEECH THAN HE WHO INVITES (MEN) TO ALLAH (HIS RELIGION) AND DOES RIGHTEOUS DEEDS, AND SAYS, 'I AM ONE OF THE
MUSLIMS'."
(2)

Giving da'wah is one of the best ways that a person can get close to Allah (S). This statement of Allah ("And who is better...") applies to the Muslim, both man and woman; when either one of them takes on the responsibility of da'wah they must do so in the way which has been legislated for them. The first thing which is incumbent upon the woman in her role as a da'eeah is that she acquire the necessary, basic knowledge of Islaam and those affairs concerning her Deen. The Prophet (s) said: "The seeking of knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim." (3) He (s) did not distinguish between the man and the woman in this, thus this statement applies to both equally. A person must have knowledge before he can speak or commence any action.
Allah (S) says: "SO KNOW (O MUHAMMAD [S]) THAT LA ILAHA ILLALLAH (NONE HAS THE RIGHT TO BE WORSHIPPED EXCEPT ALLAH)." (4) The most important knowledge for the sister to obtain is that of Tawheed. When the Prophet (s) sent Mu'adh ibn Jabal (r) as governor of Yemen, at the time of his departure he instructed him thus: "You will soon find yourself in a community of the People of the Book, so first call them to testify that there is no god (worthy of worship) but Allah..." (5)The caller should therefore know that the issue of Tawheed is the most important affair which the Prophet (s) brought to the people. He (s) said: "The head of all affairs is Islaam..." (6) By this, he (s) meant the issue of Tawheed.

The scholars of al-Islaam have divided the knowledge of Tawheed into three categories:

1) Ruboobeeyah (Lordship of Allah). A person must believe, having firm conviction in his heart, that Allah is the Lord of everything. It is the understanding of the Muslim that Allah is the One Who gives life, causes death, provides sustenance for His creation and restricts sustenance from whoever He chooses. Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah is connected with the Actions of Allah, and along with this the Muslim must automatically believe that Allah is the Only One to be worshipped -

2) 'Ebaadah (singling out Allah in worship). Allah says: "O MANKIND! WORSHIP YOUR LORD (ALLAH), WHO CREATED YOU AND THOSE WHO WERE BEFORE YOU SO THAT YOU MAY BECOME AL-MUTTAQUN (THE PIOUS)." (7) And He (S) says: "AND I (ALLAH) CREATED NOT THE JINNS AND MEN EXCEPT THEY SHOULD WORSHIP ME (ALONE)." (8) The one who worships Allah, establishing both Tawheed ar-Ruboobeeyah and Tawheed al-Ulooheeyah, must understand that if he does not do this according to the correct understanding and with its proper application, there will be no benefit in his action. The way of the people of jaahiliyyah (the time of ignorance before the Prophethood of Muhammd [s]) was that they used to take for worship gods and lords other than Allah, loving them as they loved Allah and in some cases loving them even more than they loved Allah. Allah says about them: "IF YOU WERE TO ASK THEM 'WHO HAS CREATED THE HEAVENS AND THE EARTH AND SUBJECTED THE SUN AND THE MOON?', THEY WILL SURELY REPLY, 'ALLAH'." (9) This Ayah shows that the people used to believe in Allah as Lord, but Allah also says about them: "AND OF MANKIND ARE SOME WHO TAKE (FOR WORSHIP) OTHERS BESIDES ALLAH AS RIVALS (TO ALLAH). THEY LOVE THEM AS THEY LOVE ALLAH. BUT THOSE WHO BELIEVE LOVE ALLAH MORE (THAN ANYTHING
ELSE)."
(10)

So, from this we can see that true worship of Allah is only according to that which He has legislated; it is doing everything that Allah (S) loves from those actions which are apparent or hidden. For one's deeds to be accepted by Allah they must therefore satisfy two conditions: 1, they must be performed with total and complete sincerity to Allah and 2, they must be performed in compliance with the Sunnah (legislated way) and Minhaj (methodology) of His Prophet (s).

3) Asmaa wa-Sifaat (Names & Attributes of Allah). The servant of Allah must acquaint himself with his Lord by learning about His Beautiful Names, which Allah describes in the Qur'aan as "AL-ASMAA AL-HUSNAA" (11), and he must believe in them according to the way they were revealed in the Qur'aan and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (s).
After the Muslim woman, keen upon being a caller to Islam, learns about this issue of Tawheed and its three divisions, it is now imperative for her to learn about those things which are obligatory upon her person; that which is obligatory upon her (as a Muslim woman) as opposed to other people, in order for her to please Allah (S).

These things are:

The Prayer.
She must strive to learn the correct way of performing the Islamic Prayer. The Prophet (s) said: "Pray as you have seen me praying." (12) This order of the Prophet (s) was made to both the men and the women and he (s) did not distinguish between the two sexes in this obligation. So the woman should educate herself about the Prayer according to the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (s). She must be aware of the rulings concerning at-Tahaarah (purification), as it is a condition of the Salaah and as such her Prayer will not be accepted without its correctness.

The Fasting
.
She should acquaint herself with the way in which the Prophet (s) used to fast, as again there is no distinction between the man and the woman with regards to this obligation. She must know about the days upon which it is permissible for her to fast and which days it is not permissible for her to do so. Likewise, she should know the correct procedure to undertake should she miss a fast etc.

The Zakaah
.
If this Muslim woman is one whom Allah has blessed with a lot of money or property, it is upon her to educate herself as to the rulings concerning its purification (zakaah), for her sake and the sake of al-Islaam, and spending in the Cause of Allah. The Hajj. She should then learn the fiqh (rulings) of Hajj according to the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (s). These things are considered "al-Furood al-A'yaan" - that which is obligatory upon the Muslim (in this case the Muslim woman) to know. Also included in this is the knowledge of the affairs concerning her husband, her children and her household, as the true and rightful place of the da'wah of the woman is in her home. She must educate herself as to how to provide the correct tarbiyah (Islamic upbringing and education) of her children. She must be aware of the rights her husband has over her, in order that she does not become oppressive to him by asking for more than what he possesses, and so that she does not fall into those mistakes for which she will be held accountable. Likewise, she must be aware of her rights over her husband, so that he will not oppress her.

This Muslim woman must also attain the knowledge of those issues concerning the marriage itself i.e. the rulings of the nikah (marriage); rulings concerning the custody of children (e.g. after divorce); rulings concerning the Khul' (divorce petitioned by the wife), as the majority of problems that arise concerning marriage and divorce come as a result of the ignorance which is rampant amongst the brothers and the sisters. Thus the successful woman is the one who makes herself aware of these issues. Allah has ordered that the woman should remain in her house. He (S) says: "AND STAY IN YOUR HOUSES..." (13) We understand from this Ayah that the woman should not leave her home except in necessity, otherwise it is not permissible for her to do so, and this is the fitrah (natural disposition) upon which Allah has created the woman. The Prophet (s) said: "A woman is a caretaker of her husband's house and children, and is responsible for them."14 Thus, the woman's leaving of the home without necessity is the cause of much distress and fasaad (evil). Her da'wah should begin in her home - teaching her children how to love Allah and His Messenger (s), how to hold on to their Islaamic identity and maintain a healthy sense of honour in al-Islaam, etc. Also, along with this, is the woman's helping her husband to accomplish his task of da'wah, and we see that this help is of two types in the Sunnah of the Prophet (s):

1. The first can be found in the example of Khadeejah (r), who helped her husband (the Prophet [s]) in his da'wah by way of encouraging words, and because of the position that she took in this, his da'wah became firmly established and consistent. When the Prophet (s) came from the Cave of Hira' after being visited by Jibreel [Gabriel] (as) with the first revelation, he went to Khadeejah (r) and told her what had happened to him. She said, 'I swear by Allah! He will not curse you nor forsake you because you connect the ties of kinship and help the needy and the poor', then she took him (s) to her cousin Waraqa ibn Nawfal (r), whereupon the Prophet (s) told him what had taken place on the mountain. This shows the da'wah of a woman by way of encouragement of her husband in his da'wah, and in her becoming the "Qurratu-'ayn" (coolness of the eye) to her husband because of her helping him, he will in turn be able to become an effective da'ee.

2. The second way in which the woman gives da'wah by helping her husband is in the instance where he, as a seeker of knowledge and one whose help is sought after by the people, is confronted by a question which he feels embarrassed to answer in detail (e.g. in those issues concerning women) and so she steps in, taking upon herself the task of informing the women concerning those issues which are reasons of shyness. Once, a woman asked the Prophet (s) how to wash herself after menstruation. She mentioned that he taught her how to take a bath (ghusl) and then told her to take a piece of cotton with musk and purify herself. She said, 'How should I purify myself with that?' He (s) said, "Purify yourself with it, subhaanAllah!" and covered his face. 'Aa'ishah said, "I dragged her to my side for I had understood what the Prophet (s) had intended, and I said (to her), 'Apply this cotton with musk to the trace of blood'." (15)

There are some other issues which, maybe due to the woman's ignorance of her role and her place in giving da'wah; or her weaknesses in facing the many trials that can discourage her from this noble task; or maybe even due to her ignorance of the rulings concerning this Deen of al-Islaam, may cause the Muslim woman difficulty and thus need to be mentioned. Firstly, if the woman is ignorant of her role and her place in da'wah, this will cause her to leave her home unnecessarily. In doing so, she may fall into such sins as free-mixing with the opposite sex and attending conferences where there is evil taking place and things that are not sanctioned by al-Islaam. Allah has made this ikhtilaat (free-mixing amongst the sexes) prohibited in the Deen and likewise everything which leads to it is also impermissible. So the woman cannot use her giving da'wah as an excuse to mix with the people. Islaam does not support the theory of 'the ends justify the means', instead the means must be honourable and the ends must also be honourable.

Therefore, the woman should not go to the university, for example, on the premise of giving da'wah, as we find that in these institutions there are women who are not properly clothed and there is present those things which have been clearly defined as destructive to the sons and daughters of Aadam; lewdness and evil, about which we are all aware.

Thus when the woman is ignorant of her role and her place in giving da'wah, it is likely that she will meet up with women who are upon other than that which is correct i.e. they may be sufis, masons, women who do not dress properly or follow the correct understanding of Islaam. When this happens, the woman can easily fall into the trap of shaytaan and be used and abused to accomplish the goals of those people who are astray.

Many sisters feel a pressure in practising what Allah has made obligatory upon them i.e. that they must dress a certain way; they must remain in their homes; the society in which they live views them as being backwards and illiterate, so it must be understood that this type of pressure comes as a result of one's belief in Islaam as the Religion of Truth. If the woman is to take Allah as her Lord and the Only One to be worshipped, then that belief necessitates that the people will make fun of and ridicule her.

The Prophet (s) prepared us for this type of response when he said: "Islam began as something strange and will return as something strange, so Tuba (a place or a tree in Paradise ) for the strangers." (16) Therefore, the one who wants to practise and be upon al-Islaam is going to be strange, and the stranger does not harmonize with the people who are around him - as whilst he is upon one thing the people are upon another. The way he thinks, the way he acts, his customs, the way he dresses etc. are all different from the ways of the people. Like the sheep who has been misplaced from his herd; whenever he finds himself with sheep from another herd he is always uncomfortable and uneasy until he returns to his own herd. Also, the sister must understand that she is not alone in her being subjugated to this type of ridicule. Likewise, the men are subject to the same types of abuse etc., and at times it is even worse for them as they are the ones who are constantly going out and interacting directly with these non-Muslims.

But whoever is patient and waits for his reward with Allah (S) can be sure that the reward for his patience is that Allah will give him al-Aman (security and safety) from the ridicule of the ignorants and the oppressors. "ALLAH HAS PROMISED THOSE AMONG YOU WHO BELIEVE, AND DO RIGHTEOUS GOOD DEEDS, THAT HE WILL CERTAINLY GRANT THEM SUCCESSION TO (THE PRESENT RULERS) IN THE EARTH, AS HE GRANTED IT TO THOSE BEFORE THEM, AND THAT HE WILL GRANT THEM THE AUTHORITY TO PRACTISE THEIR RELIGION, THAT WHICH HE HAS CHOSEN FOR THEM (I.E. ISLAAM). AND HE WILL SURELY GIVE THEM IN EXCHANGE A SAFE SECURITY AFTER THEIR FEAR (PROVIDED) THEY (BELIEVERS) WORSHIP ME AND DO NOT ASSOCIATE ANYTHING (IN WORSHIP) WITH ME." (17)

Know, O Muslim, that Allah will not cause to be lost any of your actions, strive to become a person who finds honour in being a Muslim and being upon his Religion; not like those whom Allah describes as: "...LIKE CATTLE, NAY EVEN MORE ASTRAY; THOSE! THEY ARE THE HEEDLESS ONES" (18), whose only concern is to eat, drink, sleep, and fulfill their sexual desires. May Allah protect us from the oppression of the oppressors and give us the clear opening between us and them, verily He is the All-Hearing - He Hears the du'a, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you all.

1. Taken from the tape "The Role of Women In Da'wah" by Shaikh Saleem al-Hilaalee
2. Suratu-Fussilat (41:33).
3. Ibn Maajah & al-Bayhaqee.
4. Suratu-Muhammad (47:19).
5. Al-Bukhaaree & Muslim.
6. At-Tirmidhee & Ibn Maajah.
7. Suratul-Baqarah (2:21).
8. Suratudh-Dhaariyaat (51:56).
9. Suratul-'Ankaboot (29:61).
10. Suratul-Baqarah (2:165).
11. Suratul-A'raaf (7:180), Suratul-Israa' (17:110), Suratu-TaaHaa (20:8), & Suratul-Hashr (59:24).
12. Al-Bukhaaree & Ahmad.
13. Suratul-Ahzaab (33:33).
14. Al-Bukhaaree & Muslim.
15. Al-Bukhaaree & Muslim.
16. Muslim.
17. Suratun-Noor (24:55).
18. Suratul-A'raaf (7:179).
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