The enlightened women of Islam have scaled the peaks of honor and eroism by embracing steadfastness and treading on the exemplary path shown by Janabe Zahra (s.a.). These venerable ladies have changed the course of history and with fresh insight have given a new lease of life to Islamic thought and action so as to allow humans to maintain an equitable balance between his material and spiritual life. This has allowed man to register rapid progress and open new vistas towards the highest pinnacles of development.
From the time man realized that women, despite being physically weaker, are forerunners in matters of development and are beacons in the path of perfection, he has persecuted and oppressed them. History testifies that in ancient times, in the so-called Stone Age, women were at the head of families and tribes and all members were answerable to them. With the passage of time humanity spread far and wide across the face of the earth, dividing into nations with demarcated borders. Not only borders but even resources were demarcated and employed for destructive purposes with the help of technology.
This period marks a decline in the status of women, who were to face the worst and most difficult times thereafter. In Arabia , the condition was most grim. Girls were buried alive and criminals responsible for this heinous act would feel proud about it.
The Apostle of Allah, Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w.a.) rescued women from humiliation and destruction. On divine commandment, he enforced laws for the respect and protection of women, who were the embodiment of sacrifice and mercy. Women too responded with striving in the way of Islam alongside men creating for themselves a special place in history. First and foremost, it was necessary to remove the deep-seated prejudice and bad blood among the Arab tribes and families. These differences that had resulted in many a war were rooted in petty matters like race, language and social status. As an immediate and comprehensive solution to this problem was not feasible, the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), the succor of mankind, instituted laws incorporating love and goodness into the divinely ordained Shariat. With these laws, the Arabs gradually freed themselves from the shackles of vainglory and this also marked the end of the era of slavery.
During the years from the dawn of Islam till the momentous incident of Karbala , we see ample instances of women showing astonishing courage and resilience combined with extraordinary modesty and purity. We highlight only a few examples to underscore this point:
1. The Princess of Arabia, Janabe Khadija (s.a.): Islam has spread largely due to three factors – the ethics of the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.), the wealth of Janbe Khadija (s.a.) and the sword of Ali Ibne Abi Taalib (a.s.).
2. Janabe Zahra (s.a.): History is witness that angels flocked at the door of her house sometimes in the guise of a tailor and sometimes as a beggar. At other times the broken star has come at this very door and even bread from the heavens has been sent to this house. Enumerating the extraordinary and miraculous events happening at this house will involve a lengthy discussion.
3. Janabe Zainab (s.a.): The legendary bravery of this esteemed lady when she was imprisoned, shook the palace of Yazid. Her eloquence reminded people of Ameerul Momineen Ali Ibne Abi Taalib (a.s.). She prevailed over the Kufans and the Syrians along with a handful of prisoners triggering a revolution for which she will be remembered forever.
4.Asma binte Umais (r.a.): She is the one who adorned Islam with the personalities of Muhammad b. Abi Bakr (r.a.) and Abdullah b. Jafar (r.a.). She is the one who warned Ameerul Momineen (a.s.) of Khalid b. Walid’s plot to murder him so that he could take requisite precautions even while praying Namaz.
5. The mother of Wahb (r.a.): In Karbala, this brave lady threw the severed head of her young son towards Yazid’s forces declaring that she will not take back the gift given in the way of Allah
6. The mother of Junaadah Ibne Haaris (r.a.): After the martyrdom of Junaadah Ibne Haaris she sent their little child to the battlefield.
7. The wife of Muslim Ibne Ausaja (r.a.): She sent her child to the battlefield after his father was martyred. There is maternal love on one hand and an undivided focus on the other. This results in a potent combination of bravery and an overwhelming sense of responsibility. In the words of Dr. Ali Qaemi:
“A critical duty that we owe towards the infant girls in our society is to inculcate piety and abstinence in them. This should lead to a life of vigorous activity and not a passive existence.”
Indeed we should nurture women who will take refuge in piety and chastity and play their dutiful role in ushering a generation of chaste and virtuous children. In many ways these women will play an instrumental role in lifting society from the dregs of corruption and immorality to an altogether different plane.
We must keep in mind the divine promise:
“That I will not waste the work of a worker among you, whether male or female.’”
(Surah Ale Imran: Verse 195)
“Men shall have the benefit of what they earn and women shall benefit of what they earn.”
(Surah Nisa: Verse 32)