Jumuah lecture on Friday 21 January 2022 (18 Jamadil Thani 1443)
Moulana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid
Ottery, Cape Town
20th Jamadil Thani is the blessed birthday of our dear Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a) and as we are all aware, she is the only surviving daughter of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). She is the link of all his descendants until today and the Day of Judgement (Qiyamah).
She is the one whom Rasulullah (SAWA) described as: Leader of the women of the world, from the first day until the last!
Over the last few weeks, while commemorating her demise and martyrdom, various speakers have explored her noble personality and more towards her tragic departure from this life and her critical role after the demise of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA).
Today, I would like to draw your attention to a different angle of this great lady’s very short life. She passed away very young, according to the different versions of history. Despite this short life, we see that she has left us with an extremely rich and enduring legacy.
LADY FATIMA ZAHRA (S.A) AS THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SOCIO-POLITICAL ROLE OF WOMEN
I wish to focus this discussion on one very important aspect which she manifested, of being a woman and womanhood. Specifically, the role of women in the socio-political sphere of the society.
I do not intend repeating the well-presented discussions held over the past few weeks by our respected scholars, pertaining to the historical details of the issues at play, for which she took a very courageous stand in defense of the divine decree of Imamat.
What I wish to convey is that Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), in principle through her short life, manifested that strong socio-political, revolutionary role of a woman, as established in the Holy Quran.
Generally speaking, people who are supposedly very religious, tend to insist that the principle role of women is confined to the household, at the service of the husband, and also fulfilling her role as a mother, daughter and sister in training the next generation.
Now, there is no doubt or debate concerning this crucial responsibility which women play a leading role in. And indeed, Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a) is also the manifestation of this crucial role within the home.
At the same time, when we analyze the expectation of the Holy Quran, which again manifested in the personality of Lady Fatima (s.a), the role of women in society (generally speaking) as the catalyst for socio-political activism and leadership is often sidelined or under-estimated.
QURAN ESTABLISHES SOCIO-POLITICAL RESPONSIBILITY FOR BOTH GENDERS
When we analyze various verses of the Holy Quran in this regard, then we realize that the perception created by religious people of the role of women appears to be very different to what the Holy Quran describes.
For example, the Holy Quran very clearly speaks about the socio-political role of women in society quite emphatically and does not confine the role of women to be domesticated. In fact, in no way does the Holy Quran categorize the socio-political role of women to be less than men.
The key point I want to make is that the approach of the Holy Quran towards socio-political issues is not gender-based! Rather, it is a responsibility shared equally between both genders.
Let us review a few examples to crystalize the point.
QURAN SPECIFICALLY EMPHASIZES SOCIO-POLITICAL ROLE OF WOMEN
When we look at the issue of bay’at (oath of allegiance), it can rightly be categorized as a socio-political issue. Ultimately, bay’at means that you commit yourself through officially declaring your allegiance to the leadership.
Just believing in Almighty Allah (SWT) and His Rasul (SAWA) is sufficient for one to be a true believer (mu’min) and follower of Islam. So then, why the need for bay’at?
Verse 12 of Surah Mumtahina (chapter 60 of the Holy Quran) is one example where the importance of bay’at is noted, where Almighty Allah (SWT) commands Rasulullah (SAWA) to accept the declaration/oath of allegiance of women. This again highlights the socio-political that women have in society. Otherwise, there is no need for this command if there is no socio-political role for women!
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّبِيُّ إِذَا جَاءَكَ الْمُؤْمِنَاتُ يُبَايِعْنَكَ عَلَىٰ أَنْ لَا يُشْرِكْنَ بِاللَّهِ شَيْئًا وَلَا يَسْرِقْنَ وَلَا يَزْنِينَ وَلَا يَقْتُلْنَ أَوْلَادَهُنَّ وَلَا يَأْتِينَ بِبُهْتَانٍ يَفْتَرِينَهُ بَيْنَ أَيْدِيهِنَّ وَأَرْجُلِهِنَّ وَلَا يَعْصِينَكَ فِي مَعْرُوفٍ ۙ فَبَايِعْهُنَّ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُنَّ اللَّهَ ۖ إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَحِيمٌ
O Prophet! when believing women come to you giving you a pledge that they will not associate aught with Allah, and will not steal, and will not commit fornication, and will not kill their children, and will not bring a calumny which they have forged of themselves, and will not disobey you in what is good, accept their pledge, and ask forgiveness for them from Allah; surely Allah is Forgiving, Merciful.
Other examples are the issue of Jihad (struggle) and Hijra (migration). These are two major realities in Islam when it comes to socio-political issues. We once again see that the Holy Quran does not address these two issues in a gender-based manner, and also mentions women in particular. This again highlights the crucial role of women on the socio-political aspect of society.
WILAYAT THROUGH ENJOINING GOOD AND FORBIDDING EVIL
Another crucial example I wish to cite, to illustrate the point of Islam’s approach not being gender-based, is that of Amr bil ma’ruf wannahi anil munkar (calling towards good and forbidding evil). Of course, this is a core value of social responsibility for believers, which Almighty Allah (SWT) very clearly describes in verse 71 of Surah Tauba (chapter 9 of the Holy Quran):
وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ وَيُقِيمُونَ الصَّلَاةَ وَيُؤْتُونَ الزَّكَاةَ وَيُطِيعُونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ ۚ أُولَٰئِكَ سَيَرْحَمُهُمُ اللَّهُ ۗ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزِيزٌ حَكِيمٌ
The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another: they enjoin what is just, and forbid what is evil: they observe regular prayers, practise regular charity, and obey Allah and His Messenger. On them will Allah pour His mercy: for Allah is Exalted in power, Wise.
We see that this verse ties Amr bil ma’ruf wannahi anil munkar (calling towards good and forbidding evil) with Wilayat (guardianship), which for us followers of Ahlul Bait (a.s) is about establishing commitment to leadership and not simply a proclamation of friendship.
This verse therefore establishes quite explicitly that Wilayat is not gender based and the commitment required applies to both men and women.
After accepting Wilayat, it is followed by Amr bil ma’ruf wannahi anil munkar (calling towards good and forbidding evil). The key verb here is calling. Those who follow Wilayat do not simply practice good; they INVITE people towards good and they forbid evil. Accepting Wilayat therefore comes with social responsibility towards good and evil in society.
The list of examples on this point is endless.
QURAN PRESENTS NOTABLE EXAMPLES OF WOMEN’S INFLUENTIAL ROLE IN HISTORY
Another interesting angle is that the Holy Quran usually brings history and historical personalities as examples or ideals for us to follow. Let us understand the women of the Holy Quran, to illustrate the point.
All those women in the Holy Quran mentioned positively undoubtedly have an influential socio-political role. Aasiya, the pious wife of Fir’oun, immediately comes to mind. Also, the noble mother and sister of Nabi Moosa (a.s). And then also Lady Maryam (s.a), whom the Holy Quran describes as purified and chosen!
Now then, who is Lady Maryam (s.a)? This is Lady Maryam (s.a) who resisted against a particular class of clergy, and a particular class of dictatorship and decides to resist.
QUEEN OF SHEBA ILLUSTRATES WOMEN’S INATE NATURE TO ACCEPT PURE TAUHEED
Another great example is the most beautiful story of the Queen of Sheba described in verses 22 – 44 of Surah Naml (chapter 27 of the Holy Quran), where she is the socio-political leader as the head of the state! Important to note here is that the Holy Quran does not admonish her for playing this leading role as a woman!
This particular Surah narrates events from the life of Nabi Sulayman (a.s) and the hoopoe, which is a light, graceful bird, with a yellow crest on its head.
Nabi Sulayman (a.s) asked the bird where it was, and the bird replied he has news of a queen ruling on the land in Saba, in Yemen, where she is operating a huge system and has everything in abundance. This is reported from the bird in verse 23 of Surah Naml (chapter 27 of the Holy Quran).
The bird continues to explain in verse 24 that he found this woman and her people worshipping the sun instead of worshipping Almighty Allah (SWT).
In verse 28, Nabi Sulayman (a.s) asked this bird to take his letter of invitation (da’wah) to the Queen of Sheba.
Verse 30 explains that this letter was very brief, and his invitation to the queen to worship one Allah (SWT) ie. Tauheed. We note that this is the specific verse in the Holy Quran noting the Bismillah.
إِنَّهُ مِنْ سُلَيْمَانَ وَإِنَّهُ بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَٰنِ الرَّحِيمِ
“Surely it is from Sulaiman, and surely it is in the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful.”
Verse 31 explains the contents of this letter from Nabi Sulayman, requesting that the queen come back and surrender in worship before one Lord (SWT). So, this is the letter which reached the Queen of Sheba.
Now, upon receiving this letter, the Queen of Sheba immediately consults those in her inner circle who have a great deal of wisdom. She did not show a dictatorial approach to this letter!
The Quran then narrates the subsequent events between her and Nabi Sulayman (a.s) and the reaction of the others. Moral of the story is that the Holy Quran praises this courageous woman as a pious leader of a nation.
WOMEN OF THE AHLUL BAIT (A.S) PLAYED A LEADING ROLE IN DEFENDING ISLAM
This discussion can surely not be complete without mentioning the most beloved wife of Rasulullah (SAWA), namely Lady Khadijatul Qubra (s.a), which highlights the economic independence of women.
I would like to conclude this discussion with noting the courage and perseverance displayed by her most noble daughter, the leader of women of all times, Lady Fatima Zahra (s.a), when she comes out in the court of the head of state at the time, to deliver a long sermon in front of all the men in her male dominated society, defending her rights.
This again emphasizes the very strong socio-political role played by noble women in the history, which we also see with her daughter Sayyida Zainab (s.a) in the movement of Karbala and post-Karbala. These are women who were the exemplary manifestation of that Quranic definition of women active in society, instead of being confined to domestic issues.
SECOND KHUTBAH – SILENT OPPRESSION OF ISLAMIC LEADER OF COMOROS
In this second khutbah, I would like to highlight quite an important issue which is hardly receiving news coverage, and that is the situation in Comoros, which warrants our protest. A military government rules mercilessly over this extremely poor nation.
One of the very first democratically elected Presidents of the Comoros was Abdallah Mohamed Sambi, from 2006 – 2011, before he was removed. He was a religious scholar and stood for establishing principle Islamic values in the society of Comoros, without necessarily converting Comoros into an Islamic state or Islamic republic.
He was inspired by the Islamic Revolution in Iran and our beloved Imam Khomeini (r.a). In fact, he also studied in the Islamic Seminary (Hauza) in Qom, Iran for a short while.
Unfortunately, this man is under detention by the military government for the past two years and his health has deteriorated quite badly over the past six months. He requires specialized medical care, but the military government blocked his right to travel abroad for medical care on his own expense. This, while there are no official charges levelled against him!
However, with the support from certain Middle East governments and their wealth and corrupt approach which they have polluted the world with, which includes certain African countries, they suppress any opposition voice.
It is our moral responsibility to raise our voices of support for him that he should at least be allowed to travel abroad for medical treatment.
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