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Great women in Islamic history – RT Ramadan Edition

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By Tauhierah Salie

The ‘role of women in the 2022 society’ is a conundrum for most Muslim youth.  The young generations face a battle against rising anti-Islamic rhetoric and distorted liberalist proclamations. These have played out as criticism of the Muslimah lifestyle and ‘extremist’ label attached to niqab. What role-models can be found amongst the flurry of fashionistas and phony feminists?

International Women’s Day 2022 carried the tagline “a world free of bias, stereotypes and discrimination; that’s diverse, equitable, and inclusive.”  Controversy around transgender Pennsylvania swimmer, Lia Thomas’s 1.75 second victory over University of Virginia swimmer and Olympic medalist Emma Weyant in the NCAA Division One champion’s 500-yard freestyle on March 15th, continued for weeks.

Debates over what constitutes a ‘real woman’ – and what her role in society may be- have heightened in recent years, in line with the growing acceptance and participation of muslims within the LGBTIQ+ community.

Better yet, Selena Gomez, Margot Robbie and Son Ye Jin topped the 2022 “hottest women in the World” list, while Alessandra Ambrosio, Gigi Paris, Lana Zakocela were deemed the “sexiest”- as per wonderlist.

In the week leading up to Ramadaan 1443, little media focus was placed on spiritual preparation. Instead, media outlets reverberated Actor Will Smith’s slapping of Comedian Chris Rock at the 94th Oscar Academy Awards.  The scrutinizing of the 45-second incident in every way possible, drew scores of reactions, pointing to social media’s grip on society and its flourishing avenues into public conversation AND perception.

In a time where the lines between beauty, success and status are blurred, we look to the birth of Islam centuries ago – and the role of the women of the time.

Greatest women in Islamic history

Sufficient for you among the women of mankind are Mariam bint ‘Imran, Khadijah bint Khuwailid, Fatimah bint Muhammad and Asiyah the wife of Fir’awn.” – Tirmidhi (Sahih)

Below are (very) summarized accounts of their contribution to Islam:


Mariam bint ‘Imran

The “devoutly obedient” Mariam bint Imran was also known as ‘Virgin Mary”. She is the mother of Nabi Esa or Jesus AS and the greatest women of all time. She spent her life in worship and was a gift to her barren parents for their devotion to Allah.

As per Surah Ali ‘Imran verse 37:

“So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.”

After being chastised for carrying Nabi Esa AS in her womb, Allah swt exonerated her by allowing Nabi Esa AS to speak and defend her from the cradle, as baby – this is the first miracle of Nabi Esa.  Her piety has been mentioned multiple times in the Quran. She is also the only woman who has a chapter of the Quran named after her, being Chapter 19.

Allah swt says in the Quran (3:42): “and Mention when the angels said, “O Mary, indeed Allah has purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds.”

Khadijah bint Khuwailid

The wealthy, intelligent and wise businesswoman was the 1st wife of the prophet Muhammad SAW. She RA proposed to him after hearing about his honest and beautiful character. She was well known for her unwavering support and encouragement of the prophet Muhammed SAW, especially when he faced difficulty and criticism from his peers. She suffered alongside him SAW and undertook many sacrifices to support his mission.  Khadija RA passed away in the 10th year after revelation, later to become known as the Year of Sorrow.

According to Sahih Muslim, Angel Jibreel delivered a message to the prophet, guaranteeing Khadija RA “a palace of Jewels in Jannah wherein there is no noise and no toil.”

A popular meme on current day social media reads: ‘In a world full of Kardashians, aspire to be like Khadija RA”

Fatimah bint Muhammad

Among the most complete woman is the daughter of Khadija RA and the Prophet Muhammad SAW. Known to be the biggest supporter of her father and a role model of piety and humility.

The Prophet SAW honoured her so much that when she would arrive, he SAW would stand up, kiss her and put her on his place. He SAW nicknamed her “Al-Zahra” meaning “The Splendid One”. She bore four children, Hassan, Hussain, Zainab and Um Kulthum.

According to Hadeeth, Aaisha RA is reported to have said that she “had not seen anyone who resembled the prophet Muhammad SAW in speech or manner of sitting, more than Faatimah RA”.

Asiyah Bint Muzahim, the wife of Fir’awn

Despite having all the riches of the dunya, she remained firm in her belief in Allah and endured a life of oppression for rejecting Firoun’/Pharaoh’s deity or claims to Godliness. She saved and raised Nabi Musa/Moses AS, whose mother placed him in a basket on the river to protect him from Firoun’s men who went massacred all first-born sons.

Allah says in the Quran (66:11) : “Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.”

The Prophet Muhammad SAW has also mentioned a fifth woman and that is Aisha RA. As narrated by Al-Nisai (Hasan), Nabi Muhammad SAW said:

“The superiority of ‘Aishah to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (the most popular signature dish at the time) to other kinds of food.”

 Aisha Bint Abu Bakr

She was a scholar among the sahabah, and had a great memory and critical understanding of Islamic law or Sharia. She narrated 2 200 ahadeeth and was known for her ‘feisty character’. It was in her lap, that the prophet SAW took his last breath on the dunya.

According to Sahih Al Bukhari, when the prophet SAW was asked, “Who is the most beloved of the people to you?” The reply came: “Aaisha.” And from the men? He SAW said “her father Abu Bakr.”

All of these women, may Allah be pleased with them, acquired perfection in faith through many battles, maintaining their character through devotion, patience and morality. Each led lives of piety, honesty, gratitude and perseverance, through times of hardship and difficulty.


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