Jumuah lecture on Friday 1 March 2019 (23 Jamadi-ul-Thani 1440)
by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider
at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) draws our attention to a number of very important issues in verses 10, 11 and 12 of Surah Tahrim (chapter 66 of the Holy Quran), which discusses different women, as follows:
- Verse 10: the behaviour and ethics of the wives of Nabi Nuh (a.s) and Nabi Lut (a.s), and specifically their betrayal towards their husbands.
- Verse 11: the revolutionary position of Lady Aasiya (s.a).
- Verse 12: the chastity and purity of Lady Mariam (s.a)
THE BETRAYAL OF WOMEN OF 2 NOBLE PROPHETS
Verse 10 of Surah Tahrim reads as follows:
ضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا امْرَأَتَ نُوحٍ وَامْرَأَتَ لُوطٍ ۖ كَانَتَا تَحْتَ عَبْدَيْنِ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا صَالِحَيْنِ فَخَانَتَاهُمَا فَلَمْ يُغْنِيَا عَنْهُمَا مِنَ اللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَقِيلَ ادْخُلَا النَّارَ مَعَ الدَّاخِلِينَ
“Allah sets forth, for an example to the Unbelievers, the wife of Noah and the wife of Lut: they were (respectively) under two of our righteous servants, but they were false to their (husbands), and they profited nothing before Allah on their account, but were told: “Enter ye the Fire along with (others) that enter!”
So this verse is saying that Almighty Allah (SWT) establishes the wives of Nabi Nuh (a.s) and Nabi Lut (a.s) as an example for those who have no faith. These 2 prophets were regarded as His pious, righteous servants, yet they were betrayed by their wives, and the husbands (Nabi Nuh (a.s) and Nabi Lut (a.s)) could not help them after this betrayal.
Naturally, Surah Tahrim speaks about certain issues and backgrounds in the history of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). It then reaches to this point where it says that these 2 women were in the house of 2 Prophets, namely Nabi Nuh (a.s) and Nabi Lut (a.s), but they betrayed their husbands despite being in the house of such noble prophets.
THESE PROPHETS COULD NOT INTERCEDE IN THE ACTIONS OF THEIR WIVES
I need to clarify that “ghiyana” (betrayal) in this context refers to some activities of these wives of the 2 noted prophets in giving up some of the Prophetic secrets. Let it be clear that this betrayal does not refer to anything associated with the chastity of the wives of Nabi Nuh (a.s) and Nabi Lut (a.s).
The whole context of these verses refers to when you speak out about the secrets of the house rather than anything to do with the purity of the wives. This is the opinion of the Ahlul Bait (a.s), without any doubt, and Hadith narrations which are well-known and recorded, which confirms categorically that the wives of prophets have never committed a crime such as adultery or transgressed the borders of chastity for that matter.
Though, the Holy Quran is very clear that betrayal was there, and in the above verse it also states very clearly that their husbands (who were prophets) could note save them. The very important lesson that we learn from this is that being in house of a prophet, or being a wife of the prophet, or being so closely related to a prophet is not the criteria…
Those who are more interested in this topic can look closer at the details in volume 6 of Sahih Bukhari.
LADY AASIYA (S.A) AND HER REVOLUTION THROUGH SUPPLICATION
The next verse ie. verse 11 of Surah Tahrim, reads as follows:
وَضَرَبَ اللَّهُ مَثَلًا لِلَّذِينَ آمَنُوا امْرَأَتَ فِرْعَوْنَ إِذْ قَالَتْ رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِنْدَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنْ فِرْعَوْنَ وَعَمَلِهِ وَنَجِّنِي مِنَ الْقَوْمِ الظَّالِمِينَ
“And Allah sets forth, as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh: Behold she said: “O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those that do wrong.”
So, in these 2 verses ie. 10 and 11 of Surah Tahrim, we see that Almighty Allah (SWT) gave 2 diametrically opposite examples for the disbelievers. On the one hand we have the wife of Prophet Nuh (a.s) and the wife of Prophet Lut (a.s), and on the other hand we have Lady Aasiya (s.a).
A very important point to note is that women are the highlight in both verses, as examples for those who have faith (Imaan) and for those who have disbelief (Kufr). So we note from these verses that these women are examples of good and bad for all, not only females!
The women of Prophet Nuh (a.s) and the wife of Prophet Lut (a.s) lived in the best of conditions, as they were wives of prophets! They are therefore in the most conducive environment for Taqwa (God consciousness) and spiritual nurturing. However, the Quran cites these 2 women as having betrayed their husbands who were prophets.
Then we see on the other hand that the wife of Fir’oun lives in the most terrible conditions where polytheist (Shirk) and disbelief (Kufr) is ruling strong. However, in this most adverse environment, we see Lady Aasiya (s.a) emerge, to the point where the Holy Quran refers to her as the example.
We know very well from Hadith narrations who Lady Aasiya (s.a) was. She was the wife of the most powerful Pharaoh, who confronted Prophet Musa (a.s). She lived in the greatest lap of luxury and all the resources at her disposal. However, all that luxury, affluence and power of influence is cast aside when Nabi Musa (a.s) enters and she realises the truth of his divine message. She therefore surrenders before the truth!
LADY AASIYA: TRIUMPH OVER THE WORST ADVERSITY
This is really an evergreen lesson for us all. We often give the excuse that we are in a bad environment, living under pressure, and conditions are not good. Who can be living under more challenging conditions than Lady Aasiya (s.a), the wife of Fir’oun? She rejects all the luxury and spoils of this dunya and surrenders before the truth.
We further note in history that Fir’oun tries his level best to convince her against continuing on this righteous path, but she resists, until he punishes her in the most terrible way, by ordering for her to be tied in chains and brought to the front of the palace to be publicly executed. This is what history has recorded for us, and according to some historical records, a huge rock was placed on her chest.
The Holy Quran refers to this particular point in verse 11 of Surah Tahrim (cited above), that at the point where Lady Aasiya (s.a) is under the most intense pressure and shackled, about to be killed, she raises her hands in dua, and what a beautiful supplication she makes while in this condition!
She implores from Almighty Allah (SWT) with a most beautiful, inspiring message, asking for a house in heaven close to her Lord (SWT)! This is the greatest insult to Fir’oun, as the lap of luxury and extravagance in his palace meant absolutely nothing to her. This gives us a glimpse into the mentality of this amazing woman!
رَبِّ ابْنِ لِي عِنْدَكَ بَيْتًا فِي الْجَنَّةِ
“O my Lord! Build for me, in nearness to Thee, a mansion in the Garden”
Verse 11 of Surah Tahrim (chapter 66 of the Holy Quran)
LADY AASIYA FORSAKES WORLDLY PLESSURE FOR DIVINE SOLACE
The next point I want to highlight is that she does not only ask for Jannah (paradise). At the end of the day, paradise is somehow an expression in material form of the blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT). She is not satisfied with being granted Jannah only, since she is asking for a house in Jannah, close to Almighty Allah (SWT)!
She then goes further to implore from Almighty Allah (SWT) to be rescued from her husband Fir’oun and his actions. This shows the vision of Lady Aasiya (s.a) and her clear ideology. She is not worried about an individual, but rather, she is worried about their actions! She does not want to be freed from an individual by the name of Fir’oun. Instead, what she wants is to be freed from the system of injustice and oppression.
This is why she is asking Almighty Allah (SWT) to protect her from Fir’oun and his actions. Then, this verse 11 of Surah Tahrim concludes with the dua of Lady Aasiya (s.a) requesting to be freed from the environment where injustice and oppression is widespread.
So, in summary, Lady Aasiya (s.a) makes 3 requests in this verse:
- A house in Jannah close to her Lord (SWT); and
- Be rescued from Fir’oun and his deeds; and
- Be rescued from the environment of injustice and oppression
This is Lady Aasiya (s.a)!
LADY MARIAM (S.A) AND LADY FATIMA (S.A): LEADERS OF THE WOMEN OF THE WORLD
The second example I want to discuss is the chastity and purity of Lady Mariam (s.a), which is the basis of verse 12 of Surah Tahrim:
وَمَرْيَمَ ابْنَتَ عِمْرَانَ الَّتِي أَحْصَنَتْ فَرْجَهَا فَنَفَخْنَا فِيهِ مِنْ رُوحِنَا وَصَدَّقَتْ بِكَلِمَاتِ رَبِّهَا وَكُتُبِهِ وَكَانَتْ مِنَ الْقَانِتِينَ
“And Mary the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (her body) of Our spirit; and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and of His Revelations, and was one of the devout (servants).”
Women in the Holy Quran and in Islam have reached to supreme levels of ideological clarity and commitment!
It is a most appropriate time to talk about the birthday celebration over the past week of a lady who is regarded as the leader of the women of the worlds across all the ages and times. She is none other than the beloved daughter of Rasulullah (SAWA), namely Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a).
This same Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a) reaches to the level where our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is recorded to have said in authentic Hadith narrations that Allah (SWT) is pleased with the pleasure of Fatima (s.a) and angry with the anger of Fatima (s.a).
Someone asked our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), that the Holy Quran refers to Lady Mariam (s.a) as the leader of the women of the world, while Rasulullah (SAWA) is referring to his own daughter as the leader of the women of the world. So the question of this person to Rasulullah (SAWA) was to determine who is really the leader of the women of the world?
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) explained that Lady Mariam (s.a) is the leader of the women of her time, whereas Lady Fatima (s.a) is the leader of the women of all times!
Again, looking at the women from whom Lady Fatima (s.a) is the central point shows us that on the one hand, she is the daughter of Lady Gadija al-Kubra (s.a), and on the other hand she is the mother of Lady Zainab (s.a)!
It is recorded in history that when Lady Gadija al-Kubra (s.a) was on her deathbed, our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) came to her and said that she should convey his salaams to her friends. She was perplexed and so she asked Rasulullah (SAWA) what does he mean? Rasulullah (SAWA) explained that the best women of paradise are:
- Lady Gadija al-Kubra (s.a)
- Lady Mariam (s.a)
- Lady Aasiya (s.a)
- Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a)
He then told Lady Gadija al-Kubra (s.a) that very soon 3 of them will be united in paradise, and Rasulullah (SAWA) conveys his salaams to them.
Then, after Lady Fatima (s.a), we see what she produced in the form of Lady Zainab (s.a). This is the status of women in Islam!
EXPLOITATION OF RELIGION IN SOUTH AFRICA
There is a very serious issue occurring in our country currently, and that is the exploitation of religion. I am not only referring to this problem amongst Muslims. Instead, I am referring to this problem on a broader scale.
There is a lot of talk about regulating and producing some form of code of conduct for religions and for religious clergy. This is quite a long story which is common knowledge, where we notice different people claiming to be a prophet, and trying to prove some sort of resurrection, and fool the masses in the process.
This is indeed an important issue, and we Muslims are not absolved from this. The big debate is how do we practice our religion in this democratic society where our constitution grants us complete freedom of religion and practice of any faith tradition. Indeed, we need to reflect on this and respond appropriately to this very serious challenge in our country today.
Sometimes in religious circles or congregations, certain issues mushroom into a complete disaster, where the lives of the people are in danger and properties are damaged. This is where religion carries the image of terrorism, as we experienced first-hand last year in Durban and Malmesbury.
SANCTITY OF PLACES OF WORSHIP IS BEING VIOLATED
Recently, we also know of the fire which occurred in a mosque in Durban, which practically burnt down the whole mosque. There are different stories emerging from this incident, apparently stemming from 2 groups fighting for control of the mosque, resulting in this tragic scenario.
We strongly condemn using violence and exploiting the sanctity of the mosque and house of Almighty Allah (SWT) to push any agenda based upon factional differences or sectarian interpretation.
It is indeed very sad. This horrible terrorist attack on the Imam Hussain Mosque in Durban, in May last year, was (I think) the first of its nature in the history of South Africa, but unfortunately, it is not the last one. We have a number of incidents occurring subsequently, where the sanctity of places of worship have been assaulted. This is really very serious.
I would also like to mention the loss of one of our very dear brothers, who use to attend Jumuah over here. He was brother Yunus Kaskar, a brother with great revolutionary spirit. This man expressed his revolutionary message and spirit in the form of beautiful art. May the infinite blessings of Almighty Allah (SWT) envelope his soul, Insha Allah.
INDIA-PAKISTAN TENSIONS IN THE WAKE OF THE PULWANA ATTACKS
I would also like to mention briefly about the tensions brewing in the Indo-Pak subcontinent. Again, what is really sinister in this is the involvement of Israel, and how they are somehow involved whenever Muslims are under attack or being assaulted. The issue of Kashmir and the oppression committed against the people of Kashmir is not something which we can hide.
Unfortunately, the Indian government and the Indian army are responsible for heinous crimes in recent months, in addition to this problem which continues unresolved for many, many years. This has resulted in people being left with no option other than to respond.
Now, to divert the attention, we see what is before us in the form of tense rhetoric towards Pakistan. We hope sense will prevail and that these 2 nuclear powers will not go further towards war, which will result in nothing other than the loss of human life and suffering.