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
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
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
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).
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:
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.
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.
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
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
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), &
12. Al-Bukhaaree & Ahmad.
13. Suratul-Ahzaab (33:33).
14. Al-Bukhaaree & Muslim.
15. Al-Bukhaaree & Muslim.
17. Suratun-Noor (24:55).
18. Suratul-A'raaf (7:179).
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