The Counter Crusade

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Aman - Sincerely (lyrics)

you're my heart - yo,
I've gotta let you know,
ain't no supermodels or actresses in video's
more beautiful...

I like the way you speak, with honesty
the way you dress, with modesty
and therefore...
I've got to tell you logically

ain't nobody else that I would rather spend time with
come home from a 9 to 5, sit & unwind with
have a conversation with
you taught me patience is

a virtue not a draw back
you'll never let me fall back
a powerful Muslimah with the beauty of a flower
fast talking, half naked women got nothing on you

they scream, 'youre oppressed'
then fiend, for the respect
you get for just being yourself
so don't let

them get you confused, you ain't gotta dress like them
walk or talk like them, or do your hair like them...
why? Cause you're a symbol of respect and strength
a role model for them so represent - do your thing!

you're more precious, than the treasures
buried in the seas
more exquisite,
than the finest piece of jewelry

...the patience, the pride
...the prayers, the cries
...the sisters, the wives
we love you

the strength, beauty, patience, pride
hope, faith, prayers, cries
mothers, daughters, sisters, wives...
we love you, we love you

you're not a symbol of oppression
more like a symbol of freedom
or one of liberation
a strong sister...

heaven is beneath your mother's feet
never let them tell you different
this is dedicated to the sisters...
and wives, and daughters, and mothers...

who's tears flow freely at times in dark corners
when these over-bearing pressures of life pile upon them
but in our presence, they show nothing but signs
of strength, wisdom, and courage in their beautiful eyes

the navigators of our lives...
educators of our children...
this is for all women

...the patience, the pride
...the prayers, the cries
...the sisters, the wives
we love you
(not the full lyrics)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Reflections on the "Hijab"

Bism Allah ar-Rahman ar-Rahim wa bihamdih

In my last post, Muslim Hijab, Christian Hijab, I talked about the function of what we call the hijab or veil that women wear.

As was said before, the women of Arabia and other parts of the world already wore a headcovering to protect them from the desert sun, just as the men wore turbans. This female headcovering was called a khimar (plural khumur). Now, this khimar, or headcovering, was tied behind their necks, leaving the front of the neck and the area underneath exposed, especially where there was an opening of the dress above the chest, called the jayb, plural juyub, which is translated as "bosoms" in most Quranic translations. Thus the Qur'an told the women to tie the headcover in front and let it drape down to conceal the throat and the dress’s opening at the top.[1]

“Say to believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment save such as is outward; and let them drape their headcoverings (khumur) over their bosoms, and not reveal their adornment . . .” (Qur’an 24:31)

Thus the khimar has two functions:

1) as a headcovering, as it was originally intended, and
2) for the purposes of modesty and the woman's dignity- a new purpose introduced by the Qur'an.

The problem as I see it, is that we've changed the name of this headcovering from khimar to hijab, an improper name. The word hijab means a veil, as in, something to veil the women from men, to keep them hidden. By changing the word khimar to the word hijab, we are changing the function of the headcovering from something that preserves a woman's dignity and keeps her appearance modest, to something that hides her, something that says a woman is meant to be hidden away, veiled from society.

It is well known however that during the time of the Prophet, women were not hidden away like they were something that needed to be veiled. They actively participated in society just like men: The Prophet's first wife Khadija was a businesswoman, a merchant, and his wife Aisha was a scholar. Many women of Medina went to pledge their allegiance to the Prophet Muhammad and invite him to their city in the Treaty of Aqabah. Women would go to the Prophet Muhammad's house once a week for lessons in Islam. They would go to war along side the men, tending the wounded, and in some cases fighting alongside them. A reading of my "Warrior Muslimas" posts 1, 2, 3, and 4 should give one example of how the Prophet Muhammad and his companions envisioned the role of women in society, and how they were never meant to be "veiled" and hidden away.

But words have such powerful effects on the minds of men. By constantly using the word hijab, people are subconsciously agreeing that women are to be veiled, or hidden. They lose their importance in society and are eventually hidden away in their husbands' homes. I think this is a very important factor in what is going on with women in Islamic societies these days. The word used in the Qur'an, in the above verse, is khumur, the plural for khimar. As for the word hijab, it is used in an entirely different, and very specific, context.

The Prophet's house was always full of men who came to learn from the Prophet or to learn from him or to pledge allegiance to him. He would also invite men to eat with him, especially poor people who had no food like the ahlul suffa. Since the Prophet's wives would be there, it would have been improper for these men to intrude on the women's privacy, and thus the verse of the hijab was revealed:

O Ye who believe! Enter not the dwellings of the Prophet for a meal without waiting for the proper time, unless permission be granted you. But if ye are invited, enter, and, when your meal is ended, then disperse. Linger not for conversation. Lo! that would cause annoyance to the Prophet, and he would be shy of (asking) you (to go); but Allah is not shy of the truth. And when ye ask anything of (the wives of the Prophet), ask it of them from behind a curtain (hijab). That is purer for your hearts and for their hearts... (Qur'an 33:53)

Thus the hijab was a curtain that separated all the strangers who entered the Prophet's households from the Prophet's wives, to guard the women's' privacy, and that is purer for their hearts.

So what I'm trying to say is, maybe we should stop using the word hijab when we are talking about the woman's headcovering, because the word carries with it certain meanings that are not present in the original word khimar. In the mass psychology of Muslim men, the headcovering has become a symbol of veiling, or hiding, of the women, and that was eventually translated to all aspects of a woman's life, until the Muslim women became veiled completely from the rest of society in certain cases. How different is that from covering one's hair, neck, and chest for the sake of modesty and dignity!

If language did not affect behavior, it could have no meaning. -Kenneth L. Pike

Inshalla from this day forward, I will stop using the word hijab and use the word khimar (pronounced khimaar) instead. And if each one of us starts using the right word and teaches another Muslim to do the same, maybe we can start changing how Muslim men and Muslim women subconsciously view the role of women in society, and instead of seeing them as something that needs to be veiled away and hidden, would start to see them as dignified members who are active in society. Please everyone, try to make the switch.

Words not only affect us temporarily; they change us, they socialize or unsocialize us. -David Riesman

This post does not really fit in with the general purpose of this blog, but I will sidetrack like that sometimes.
1. SunniPath: Why Hijab?

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Gone for a week

Will be going to lebanon for a week.


Sunday, January 15, 2006

Muslim Hijab, Christian Hijab

I don't know why Christians criticize the hijab, or veil, that Muslim women wear. Let's compare what Christianity and Islam say about the veil.


The women of Arabia at the time of the Prophet Muhammad already wore headcovers on their heads to protect them from the heat of the sun, but they wore them tied back behind their necks, leaving the front of the neck bare, as well as the opening at the top of the dress. So the Qur'anic revelation came, telling them that what they were doing was not enough, but that they should let it drape down to conceal the neck and the dress's opening at the top (above the chest).[1]

“Say to believing women, that they cast down their eyes and guard their private parts, and reveal not their adornment save such as is outward; and let them drape their headcoverings over their bosoms, and not reveal their adornment . . .” (Qur’an 24:31)

Thus the hijab in Islam is for the purposes of modesty and dignity.

Now, women wear their hijab when they pray too. This is because if women are to express modesty and dignity before other men, then Allah is even more worthy of it. The Prophet (pbuh) said,

“Allah is more deserving of one’s sense of modesty than people are.”[2]


NOTE: What I present here is the teachings of Paul and their explanation by Christian scholars, not of Prophet Isa (Yeshua) son of Maryam, peace be upon him and his mother.

There are two reasons, according to Paul, why women should wear a veil:

1) The first is because man was created for God's sake, and women were created for man's sake. Therefore, women should have a covering on their head as a sign that they are under the authority of men.

Now I want you to realize that the head of (i.e authority for) every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God. (I Corinthians 11: 3)

For a man ought not to have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of (i.e was made to honor) God; but the woman is the glory of (i.e was made to honor) man. (I Corinthians 11:7)

For indeed man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake. For this reason, and because of the angels, the woman ought to have a sign of authority on her head. (I Corinthians 11:9-10)

A better translation of I Corinthians 11:10 says,

And so, because of this, and also because of the angels, a woman ought to wear something on her head, as a sign that she is under someone's authority.[4]

Contrast "man was not created for the woman's sake, but woman for the man's sake" with the Qur'anic,

" I created the jinn and humankind (al insa) only that they might worship Me." (Qur'an 51:56). Here both men and women are equal in that both of them were created to worship God.

2) The second reason is that an uncovered female head during prayer is disgraceful.

But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying, disgraces her head; for she is one and the same with her whose head is shaved. For if a woman does not cover the head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head. (I Corinthians 11: 5-6)

To quote a Christian explanation of the above sayings,

"The apostle further elaborates on this matter of the woman disgracing her spiritual head or authority, if her head is uncovered--"For she is one and the same with her whose head is shaved" (11:5b). An uncovered Christian woman is as scandalous and reproachful as a bald-headed woman (haircutting was an act of grief - Deut 21:12; or an act of infamy - Isa 7:20)--remember that a woman's hair is a God-given endowment which reveals and highlights her beauty (see 11:15)....

Paul proceeds to argue in such a way that the Christian woman has no option but to have a covering or veil on her head. He argues, "For if a woman does not cover her head, let her also have her hair cut off; but if it is disgraceful for her to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, let her cover her head" (11:6). Notice the tight, irresistible logic. Do you recognize the syllogism (i.e., an argument consisting of two premises and a conclusion)?

Premise 1: Head not covered, then cut hair off

Premise 2: Cut hair or shaved head is a disgrace

Conclusion: Therefore you must have head covered

(for an uncovered head is a disgrace).

Apparently, these Corinthian believers misunderstood the purpose and practice of headcovering. A. R. Fausset writes, "The Corinthian women, on the ground of the abolition of distinction of sex in Christ, claimed equality with men, and, overstepping propriety, came forward to pray and prophesy without the customary headcovering."1 Hence, having laid the foundational Biblical principle which would guide his logic and application, the apostle Paul now proceeds to identify and address the issue or problem concerning the propriety and legitimacy of headcovering. Who is to cover the head?--"Every man who has something on his head [lit. down the head; e.g., a veil or tallith] while praying or prophesying, disgraces his head. But every woman who has her head uncovered [i.e., nothing on the head; e.g., a veil] while praying or prophesying, disgraces her head; for she is one and the same with her whose head is shaved" (11:4,5)."[3]

So I don't know why Christians would criticize Islam for commanding a veil when the New Testament (specifically the writings of Paul) also commands the wearing of a veil.

On a side note, Paul continues,

"Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him" (I Corinthians 11: 14)...

1. SunniPath: Why Hijab?
2. SunniPath: Hijab at home.
3. The Biblical Practice of Headcovering
4. I Corinthians 11. Footnote b.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Abraham and the Sacrifice

Happy Eid everyone!

Here is the Qur'anic account of the story that we celebrate on the Eid al Adha:

So We gave him (Abraham) the good news of a boy, possessing forbearance. And when he attained to working with him, he said: O my son! surely I have seen in a dream that I should sacrifice you; consider then what you see. He said: O my father! do what you are commanded; if Allah please, you will find me of the patient ones. So when they both submitted and he laid him prostrate on his forehead, We called out to him saying: O Ibrahim! You have indeed fulfilled the vision; surely thus do We reward the doers of good. Most surely this is a manifest trial. And We ransomed him with a momentous sacrifice. And We left (this blessing) for him among later generations: "Peace be upon Abraham." Thus do We reward the doers of good.
(Qur'an 37: 101-110).

Some Muslims point out that unlike Jewish belief, the Qur'an never says that God commanded Abraham to sacrifice his son, nor does it say that Allah gave that dream to Abraham, and that the dream might have been from Satan. However it seems to me that it came from God, and God knows best.

The other main difference between the Muslim and Jewish belief in regards to this incident is that according to Islam, it was Ismaa'il (Ishmael) who was to be sacrificed, whereas in the Bible it was Ishaaq (Isaac), peace be upon them both and upon their father. Ismaa'il is the father of the Arabs, and Ishaaq is the father of the Jews. So why would the Old Testament be altered to say that Ishaaq and not Ismaa'il was to be sacrificed?

Because God says in the Old Testament,

"I swear by myself, declares the LORD, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, and through your seed all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me." (Genesis 22: 16-18)

You see, Abraham had only one son back then, one seed. And God promised that through the descendants of that one seed, all the nations of the earth will be blessed! So in order to show their superiority over the other nations of the earth, it would have benefited the Jews greatly to change the word "Ishmael" to "Isaac" in the Old Testament.

"But the transgressors changed the word from that which had been given them" (Qur'an 2:59)

`How can you say, "We [the Jews] are wise, for we have the law of the LORD," when actually the lying pen of the scribes has handled it falsely?' (From the NIV Bible, Jeremiah 8:8)

Different translation:

"How can you say, 'We are wise, and the law of the LORD is with us'? But, behold, the false pen of the scribes has made it into a lie."  (From the RSV Bible, Jeremiah 8:8)

The problem is, however, that only the word "Ishmael" was changed into "Isaac", leaving the Old Testament with several contradictions. For although that was the only place where it was stated clearly that Ishmael was the son who was sacrificed, many other places in the Old Testament indirectly prove that Ishmael was that son.

The first contradiction is in the very same couple of lines in Genesis 22, where God says, "because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son". Thus, at the time of the sacrifice, Abraham had only one son. Yet who was Abraham's first son, Ishmael or Isaac? (Looks like I reverted to the Biblical spelling of the names).

As the Old Testament tells us, Sarah was barren and could not conceive, so she gave Hagar to Abraham that he would be able to have a son.

"So after Abram had been living in Canaan ten years, Sarai his wife took her Egyptian maidservant Hagar and gave her to her husband to be his wife. He slept with Hagar, and she conceived." (Genesis 16:3),, (Genesis 16:4),

Now we all know that Ishmael was Hagar's son. And he was the first one to be born. Therefore when Abraham was going to sacrifice his one and only son, it must have been Ishmael, as Isaac had not been born yet!

Now Sarah began to hate Hagar after she became pregnant (out of jealousy), and so Hagar ran out into the desert (Genesis 16: 4-8). But an Angel found Hagar in the desert and told her to go back to her mistress Sarah and submit to her (Genesis 16: 9), and that if she did so, "I will so increase your descendants that they will be too numerous to count." (Genesis 16:10),.

Now as was said above, the angel told Hagar that if she returned and submitted to her mistress, God will reward her by making her descendants too numerous to count. Therefore her son would be a blessing to her. This confirms that it was Hagar's son Ishmael who was to be sacrificed, for that one and only seed of Abraham was described as having descendants "as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore" (22:17).

The angel of the LORD also said to her:
       "You are now with child
       and you will have a son.
       You shall name him Ishmael,
       for the LORD has heard of your misery. (Genesis 16: 11)

God heard of her misery and so decided to make her son a blessing for her, a son whose descendants will be too numerous to count, and as was said above, through that one seed (for Isaac was not born yet), "all nations on earth will be blessed".

However, another "verse" was added after this, that completely contradicts all the above verses. It seems there might have been conflict between Arabs and Jews when this verse was added, completely going against the meaning of the previous verse and the one mentioned in the very beginning:

He will be a wild donkey of a man;
       his hand will be against everyone
       and everyone's hand against him,
       and he will live in hostility
       toward all his brothers." (Genesis 16: 12)

How is that possible? According to what was said before, God felt compassion for Hagar because she was hated by Sarah and ran off to the desert. So God, having heard of her misery, decided to give her a blessed son if she returned to her mistress, as a reward. A son whose descendants will be too many to count and will be a blessing to the nations of the earth. So how could God then say that her son will be a "donkey of a man"? It is clearly in contradiction to the rest of the Bible and was added later. And how could it say that he will "live in hostility toward all his brothers" when he DID NOT have any brothers yet?

Finally, it is easy to see that the descendants of Ishmael (Ismaa'il) i.e. the Arabs far outnumber the descendants of Isaac (Ishaaq) i.e. the Jews.

Another major contradiction:

"So Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram gave the name Ishmael to the son she had borne. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael." (Genesis 16: 15-16),

"Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him." (Genesis 21: 5),

Ishmael was born when Abraham was 87 (he was 86 when Hagar became pregnant), Isaac when Abraham was 100. That means there was a difference of about 13 years between Ishmael and Isaac.

Now according to the Bible, Hagar was sent out into the desert ANOTHER TIME, because Sarah had given birth to Isaac and did not want Ishmael to have a part of Isaac's inheritance.

"But Sarah saw that the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham was mocking, and she said to Abraham, "Get rid of that slave woman and her son, for that slave woman's son will never share in the inheritance with my son Isaac." (Genesis 21: 9-10),

That would mean that when Ishmael went with his mother to the desert the second time, he was 13 years old! But that clearly does not fit into the story as it continues:

"Early the next morning Abraham took some food and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. He set them on her shoulders and then sent her off with the boy. She went on her way and wandered in the desert of Beersheba.

When the water in the skin was gone, she put the boy under one of the bushes. Then she went off and sat down nearby, about a bowshot away, for she thought, "I cannot watch the boy die." And as she sat there nearby, she began to sob.

God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, "What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation."

Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water. So she went and filled the skin with water and gave the boy a drink.

 God was with the boy as he grew up...."
(Genesis 21: 14-20),

According to this story, Ishmael was still a little boy when Isaac was born, and Hagar was sent off to the desert with him (Ishmael). He was a little boy who cried when they ran out of water, and she lifted him up and gave him water to drink. But if Isaac had been born by then, that would make Ishmael 13 yrs old, at least. How do we explain the contradiction?

The reason is because the part about Sarah telling Abraham to get rid of Hagar and her son is false. It was added later to explain why Hagar was sent off to the desert with her son. Whoever wrote it, explained it by saying that Sarah's son had been born and she was jealous and greedy so she sent them away so that they don't share of the inheritance that Abraham would leave to Isaac.

The Islamic Traditions, however, tell us a completely different account. Abraham was commanded by God to take Hagar and Ishmael to the desert and leave them in His care. Ishmael was still a young child or baby. Isaac had not been born yet. There was no hatred between Sarah and Hagar. They were friends and wives on equal terms and there was no jealousy between them (may God be pleased with them and him, and keep their names far from such accusations). Yes Ishmael was still a child when Hagar went to the desert again, and Isaac would be born 13 years later. The story of the sacrifice happened when Ishmael had become old enough to work with his father, probably between age 10-12, while he was still Abraham's only son.

So what's the lesson for today? It was Ishmael who was to be sacrificed by Abraham, for Isaac was yet to be born (peace be upon all three of them).

And what's the other lesson for today? If you want to change a detail in a story, you better be real good or you'll create many contradictions!

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Warrior Muslimas 4: The Lone Warrior

Before getting to our formidable warrior Muslima, we should first learn a little about a man of the name of Zarrar ibn al Azwar. Zarrar was a great Muslim warrior who was known as "The Naked Warrior" because he would throw off his armor and shirt when fighting an enemy to show his desire for martyrdom. Zarrar was popular among the Muslim fighters and was used to boost their morale, as he did in the Battle of Ajnadayn when he challenged Byzantine champions to duels before the battle. He yelled out: "I am the death of the pale faces (cowards), I am the killer of Romans; I am the scourge sent upon you, I am Zarrar Ibn al Azwar". He is said to have slain several Byzantine champions who accepted his duels, including the governers of Tiberias and Amman.[1]

Zarrar was Khalid ibn al Walid's* commander in one of his campaigns during the caliphate of Abu Bakr (r.a), and was commanded to fight the Byzantine army, but was captured. Khalid pursued the Byzantines and saw a lone warrior, attacking and killing enemy soldiers, and then withdrawing. Attacking, killing, withdrawing again. Khalid demanded that the warrior identify himself, so the warrior removed the head covering and said, "I am Khawla, sister of Zarrar!" She was fighting to rescue her brother.

Khalid was very impressed by her courage and skill with the spear so he asked her to join the war party against the Byzantines to free Zarrar. They ambushed the Byzantine contingent that guarded Zarrar, and Khawla fought visciously and killed many men ending the battle with a decisive victory for the Muslims and freedom for her beloved brother.[2]

* The famous Muslim general with only one equal in known history: Alexander the Great
1. Battle of Ajnadayn
2. Women and Traditional Muslim Fighting Arts

Friday, January 06, 2006

In the footsteps of Hagar

I'm not done yet with the "Warrior Muslimas" series, but since the days of Hajj are almost over and I'm in them middle of this whole women's theme, I thought I'd post this:

The Tawaf is about Abraham, the Sa‘y is about Hagar. Only in Islam is a woman the initiator of a form of worship. [1]

One thing all pilgrims must do in the hajj is the Sa'y (Running). It takes place in a corridor called the Masa'a (the place of Sa'y), which runs between two foothills. Here pilgrims walk back and forth seven times at a brisk pace in a rite that imitates the steps of Hagar, Ishmael's mother in the Torah, who rushed between the hills in search of life-giving water for her infant son (or a caravan passing through to help them). The story and the rite express the effort required in a person's search for salvation. The sudden appearance of a well in this desert landscape is the core of a miracle that Muslims believe saved Hagar and saved a branch of Abraham's family in Mecca. Not accidentally, this rite places a mother's story at the heart of the Hajj.[2]

It's also interesting that according to the Bible, Sarah was angry at Hagar and drove Hagar out into the desert. In the Islamic version of the story, Hagar and Sarah were friends and wives on equal terms. However God commanded Abraham to take Hagar and her son to the desert, and to leave them in His care.

1. Contentions, by Abdal-Hakim Murad.
2. Virtual Hajj

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Warrior Muslimas 3: Mightier than Men

Excerpted from the book: The Ideal Muslimah by Dr. Muhammad Ali al-Hashemi

One of the most distinguished women who took part in the battle of Uhud, if not the most distinguished of them, was Nasibah bint Ka'b al-Maziniyyah, Umm Umarah (May Allah be pleased with her). At the beginning of the battle, she was bringing water and tending the wounded, as the other women were doing. When the battle was going in the favour of the Muslims, the archers disobeyed the command of the Prophet, and this turned the victory into defeat...

At this point, Nasibah went forward, with her sword unsheathed and her bow in her hand, to join the small group who were standing firm with the Prophet, acting as a human shield to protect him from the arrows of the mushrikin. Every time danger approached the Prophet she hastened to protect him. The Messenger of Allah noticed this, and later said, "Wherever I turned, to the left or the right, I saw her fighting for me."

Her son Umarah also described what happened on that tremendous day: "On that day, I was wounded in my left hand. A man who seemed to be as tall as a palm-tree struck me, then went away without pursuing me to finish me off. The blood began to flow copiously, so the Messenger of Allah told me, 'Bind up your wound.' My mother came to me, and she was wearing a waist-wrapper, which she had brought for the purpose of wrapping wounds. She dressed my wound, whilst the Prophet was looking on. Then she told me, 'Get up, my son, and fight the people.' The Prophet said, 'Who could bear what you are putting up with, O Umm Umarah?'

She [later] said: The man who had struck my son came by, and the Messenger of Allah said, 'This is the one who struck your son.' I intercepted him and hit him in the thigh, and he collapsed. I saw the Messenger of Allah smiling so broadly that I could see his back teeth. He said, 'You have taken your revenge, O Umm Umarah!' Then we struck him with our weapons until we killed him*, and the Prophet said: 'Praise be to Allah, who granted you victory over him, gave you the satisfaction of taking revenge on your enemy, and let you see the vengeance for yourself."

On this day, Nasibah herself received many wounds whilst she was fighting the people and striking their chests. The Prophet saw her, and called to her son, "Your mother! Your mother! See to her wounds, may Allah bless you and your household! Your mother has fought better than so-and-so." When his mother heard what the Prophet said, she said, "Pray to Allah that we may accompany you in Paradise." He said, "O Allah, make them my companions in Paradise." She said, " I do not care what befalls me in this world."

Umm Umarah's jihad was not confined to the battle of Uhud. She was also present on a number of other occasions, namely the treaty of Aqabah, Al-Hudaybiyah, Khaybar and Hunayn. Her heroic conduct at Hunayn was no less marvellous than her heroic conduct at Uhud. At the time of Abu Bakr's Caliphate, she was present at Al-Yamamah where she fought brilliantly and received eleven wounds as well as losing her hand. It is no surprise that the Prophet gave her the good news that she would enter Paradise, and that she was later held in high esteem by the Caliph Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq and his commander Khalid Ibn Al-Walid and then by Caliph Umar Ibn Al-Khattab.

* She hit him on his thighs and he fell on his knees, but he was huge and was still able to kill her so she had to finish him off. This does not go against the command of the Prophet: "Do not kill a wounded person nor run after a fleeing one or kill a captive."

( I removed all the (swt) and the (saw) to make the flow easier, and changed Khalifa to Caliph )

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Warrior Muslimas 2: Rumaysa bint Milhan

In the previous post I discussed the role of women in society and the military, supporting this active role with the story of Umm Haram bint Milhan, who asked the Prophet of Allah (pbuh) to pray that she join a Muslim expedition of warriors to Cyprus, and he prayed to God that she would. This did in fact take place during the Caliphate of Uthman (r.a.), and her resting place in Cyprus is now one of the holiest sites for Muslims.

In this post I will present the example of her sister, Rumaysa bint Milhan, who later became known as Umm Sulaym. As I mentioned in the previous post, the Prophet had a special compassion for Rumaysa and her sister and would often visit them and eat at their houses. When asked about it, he replied that their brother was killed fighting right beside him.

Rumaysa (r.a.) was one of the first women of Medina to accept Islam and taught it to her young son Anas ibn Malik (r.a), infuriating her husband, but that husband was killed by an enemy of his. Afterwards, a man called Abu Talhah came to ask her hand, and she made his conversion to Islam as her mahr (dowry) instead of the gold and silver that he had offered. She actually lectured him about the stupidity of worshipping a piece of wood when he was proposing to her! Abu Talhah became a very devout and ascetic Muslim and they were among those who gave their allegiance to the Prophet at the second Pledge of Aqabah, inviting him to their city.

Rumaysa and Abu Talhah had an exemplary Muslim family life, devoted to the Prophet and the service of Muslims and Islam. The Prophet used to visit their home. Sometimes when the time of Prayer came, he would pray on a mat provided by Rumaysa. Sometimes also he would have a siesta in their house and, as he slept, she would wipe the perspiration from his forehead. Once when the Prophet awoke from his siesta, he asked: "Umm Sulaym, what are you doing?" "I am taking these (drops of perspiration) as a barakah (blessing) which comes from you ," she replied.[1]

She said that ""His sweat smelt nicer than the nicest perfume," and her son Anas would say that "his sweat was pearl-like".[2]

Rumaysa was noted for her great courage and bravery. During the Battle of Uhud, she carried a dagger in the folds of her dress. She gave water to and tended the wounded and she made attempts to defend the Prophet when the tide of battle was turning against him. At the Battle of Khandaq, the Prophet saw her carrying a dagger and he asked her what she was doing with it. She said: "It is to fight those who desert."

"She was devoted to the Prophet and dedicated her son Anas to his service. She took the responsibility of educating her children and she played an active part in public life, sharing with the other Muslims the hardships and the joys of building a community and living for the pleasure of God."

1. Rumaysa's Biography
2. The Sealed Nectar

Monday, January 02, 2006

Warrior Muslimas 1: Women's Role in the Military

DA wrote a great post recently about Muslimas being more involved in sport and activity and how they should be encouraged and not discouraged by the Muslim brothers out there. The post doesn't need anything added to it, so I decided to write a series of posts on a related topic: female Muslim warriors. I think this should help encourage the activity of Muslim women out there in society and maybe encourage them to take up martial arts or something else that is useful to them.


Whenever the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) went to Quba', he used to visit Umm Haram bint Milhan, who would feed him. She was the wife of 'Ubada bin al-Samit. One day, the Prophet went to her house and she gave him a meal... He fell asleep. He woke up laughing.

She asked him: 'What makes you laugh, O Messenger of Allah?"
He said, "Some people of my followers were displayed before me as warriors fighting for the Cause of Allah and sailing over this sea, kings on thrones."

She said, "O Messenger of Allah! Invoke Allah that He may make me one of them." He invoked (Allah) for her and then laid down his head and slept again. Then once again he woke up laughing.

She asked: "What makes you laugh, O Messenger of Allah?"
He said, "some people of my followers were displayed before me as warriors fighting for the Cause of Allah", and repeated what he had said the first time.

She said, "O Messenger of Allah! Invoke Allah that He may make me one of them."
He said, "You will be amongst the first ones."

Umm Haram sailed out to sea during the reign of Mu'awiyah bin Abi Sufyan..."

(reported by Bukhari, Muslim, al-Tirmidhi, Abu Dawud, and al-Nisa'i). *

Commentary by Saudi diplomat and poet, Ghazi Algosaibi

According to Algosaibi, the debate over the role of women in society,

"does not take place in the refined courts of jurisprudence. It is a psychological, political, social and cultural struggle between men who believe that the recognition of women's rights enriches their own lives, and men who believe that such recognition negates their masculinity. This kind of dispute can only continue indefinitely. No amount of debate and discussion could bring it to a conclusion.

Hadith which I have quoted here shows with incomparable clarity how the Prophet, the Imam who leads us to True Guidance, sees women's role in society (and in the military!): he believed it should include going out to sea on military expeditions in the company of men." [1]

Umm Haram's tomb

" Nestled on the edge of a salt lake in southern Cyprus, one of Islam's most important shrines has been restored and now sits as a beacon of hope for the Mediterranean island's ethnic division.

  The United Nations heralded the completion of renovation work at Hala Sultan Tekke mosque at the end of a four-year project that brought together both Greek and Turkish Cypriots to achieve a common goal.

  The mosque is the island's most sacred monument for the mainly Muslim Turkish Cypriots but, ironically, the picture-postcard edifice lies in the Greek Orthodox south of the island.

  "This is not just a symbol of the past, but a symbol of the future where Greek and Turkish Cypriots can come together," said United Nations Development Program (UNDP) manager Andrew Russell.

 Muslims worldwide revere the ancient site because it reputedly contains the burial place of the Prophet Mohammed's paternal aunt Umm Haram (Hala Sultan in Turkish).

  However, other scholars believe she was the prophet's wet nurse.**

  According to legend, Umm Haram died after falling off her mule and breaking her neck during the first Arab raids on Cyprus around AD 647. That same night a divine power supposedly placed three giant stones where she lay.

  In 1760 Sheikh Hasan discovered Hala Sultan's grave and began spreading the word about her healing powers and a tomb was built there.

  The complex -- comprising a mosque, mausoleum, minaret, cemetery and living quarters for men and women -- was built in its present form while the island was still under Ottoman rule and completed in around 1816.

 "During the Ottoman period in Cyprus, Ottoman-flagged ships used to fly their flags at half-mast when off the shores of Larnaca and salute Hala Sultan (Umm Haram) with cannon shots," said Turkish Cypriot archaeologist Tuncer Bağışkan.

 "Let Hala Sultan be a permanent symbol of how the two communities can build a brighter future," said Greek Cypriot engineer Elias Karasselos, who worked on the mosque. "[2]

* On that expedition to Cyprus: Mu'awiya asked the Caliph Umar for permission to send an expedition to Cyprus, and Umar forbade him from doing so. When Uthman became Caliph, Mu'awiya asked him but Uthman refused also because Umar had refused. Many years later, Mu'awiya asked him for permission again, and Uthman said that Mu'awiya may undertake the expedition only if:
1) only volunteers went, and not a single person may go against his will or be commanded to go.
2) Mu'awiya and his wife went with them.
Otherwise Uthman would not allow the expedition. Mu'awiya therefore sailed to Cyprus with his wife, and Umm Haram and her husband went too. There was barely any fighting (they easily overpowered a small Byzantine garrison), and the people of Cyprus agreed to pay a tribute to the Muslims and to refrain from aiding the Greeks against the Muslims.

Three or four years later, the Cypriots broke the agreement and gave ships to the Greeks to support their expeditions, so Mu'awiya was forced to fight them (to stop them from aiding the powerful Byzantine threat), and reached a permanent agreement where the Cypriots would pay a tribute and warn the Muslims of any Greek danger. This was the expedition that the Prophet saw in his second dream.

During the Abbasid Caliphate, al-Mansur said of the Cypriots, "We shall, above everyone else, do justice to them, and not enrich ourselves by oppressing them".

** Umm Haram was neither the Prophet's wet nurse nor his aunt. The Prophet (pbuh) liked to visit her house and the house of her sister Rumaysa and eat with them. He had great respect for Umm Haram, and her husband was one of the greatest of the Prophet's companions.

1. Algosaibi, Ghazi A. Revolution in the Sunnah. London: Saqi Books, 2004.
2. To read full article, click here. Username: gobacktotexas; Password: Bush (courtesy of

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Concerning Humility

A Lesson from "The Orchard" by Saadi of Shiraz.

Thou, O creature of God, wast created of the dust; therefore, be humble as the dust. Be not covetous, nor oppressive, nor headstrong. Thou art from the dust; be not like fire. When the terrible fire raised his head in pride, the dust prostrated itself in humility. And since the fire was arrogant and the dust was meek, from the former were the demons formed, and from the latter mankind.