Teaching of the Muhaddithaat

Teaching both men and women

The teaching offered by the muhaddithaat was not restricted to other women, but extended to male students as well. Since the time of the Companions, it has been a well-established practice that women modestly obscured behind the screen may teach hadeeth to male students. Al-Suyuti records this: ‘The ancestors learnt ahadeeth from Aishah and other mothers of the believers, while they narrated hadeeth from behind the curtain.’  {Suyuti, Tadreeb al-Rawi vol. ii, p. 28}

Al-Sakhawi relates how Aishah and other women Companions used to teach from behind the screen.’ {Sakhawi, Fath al-Mughith, vol. ii, p. 211}

On certain occasions, however, where there was no possibility of any private interaction, they could teach directly, without a screen. This is illustrated in the account of how Ibn Rushayd studied under Fatimah al-Batayhiyyah in the mosque of the Prophet.

Teaching in homes

Students would also gather in the homes of many women scholars. Usually the female students would be inside the house directly in front of the teachers, while the male students would remain outside, positioned so as to be able to hear and put questions. One famous teacher who conducted her teaching in this way was Zaynab bint al-Kamaal, who narrated from a large number of teachers. One of her students, Imam Dhahabi, describes her as soft-spoken, patient and polite in manner. He tells how the students of hadeeth crowded around her house, and how she would teach them through most of the day. {al-Durar al-Kaminah, vol. ii, p. 117}

Teaching in mosques and schools

Schools and mosques were also used as teaching venues. One muhaddithah who taught in the mosque of the Prophet in Madina was Umm al-Khayr Fatimah bint Ibrahim bin Mahmud al-Batayhi. Among her teachers were: the famous narrator of Sahih  al-Bukhari, Abu Abdillah al-Husayn ibn al-Mubarak bin Muhammad al-Zabidi (546–631 AH); the Hanafi shaykh, Mahmud bin Ahmad bin Abd al-Sayyid al-Bukhari known as Ibn al-Haasiri (546–636 AH); and Abul-Qasim `Abdullah bin al-Husayn bin Abdillah ibn Rawahah al-Ansaari (560–646 AH). She taught hadeeth in Damascus and other places. Imam Dhahabi, Imam Subki, Ibn Rushayd Sabti and many other great scholars studied under her. Ibn Rushayd came all the way from Fez to do so at a time when she taught in the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah. He recounts how she would lean on the wall of the tomb of the Prophet facing the head of the Prophet. Here she wrote ijazah for him with her own hand. Ibn Rushayd studied under her the  in the treatise Juz Abil-Jahm and others. {Mil al-`aybah, vol. v, p. 21–25}

[Based on notes from al-Muhaddithaat: Women scholars in Islam; Akram Nadwi]


Reading the Red Flags

Below is an excellent article shared by a beautiful friend, Allaah yekremha, about reading the red flags in a relationship. Read it, and if you are in a relationship and you notice any of these signs, don’t just take mental notes about it, but do something to rectify and/or end the relationship.

Reading the Red Flags


 Getting to know someone for marriage can be a nerve-racking and an exciting experience all at the same time.  Through conversations, a couple seeks to learn about each other and determine compatibly for a lifetime together.  However, many couples get so emotionally attached in the early stages of the relationship that they cannot see or choose to deny red flags that arise.  Being self-reflective and in tune with your feelings is important in identifying potential problems in a relationship.  Divorcees and married couples with significant problems always cite early signs or red-flags that they did not realize were important or did not know would have a major impact on the relationship.  Red flags are signs that something is not sitting well with an individual and can become a source of conflict within the marriage. Not all problems before marriage are signs of a doomed relationship.  Some issues that arise before marriage can be discussed and compromises can be made.  Open communication and problem solving are foundational to a healthy, successful, and happy marriage. It must be said that there are some problems or red flags that indicate deeper personal issues that can only be addressed through individual or pre-marital counseling.
Communication before marriage is vital because it is the only way one can connect with a potential spouse and understand his or her viewpoints.  Communication is not only about the ability to talk, it is also about the ability to listen. Red flags in this area of the relationship are that you do not feel like your potential spouse understands you, nor seeks to understand what is important to you in your life.  If your feelings are dismissed or you are constantly being cut off, then you may be considering someone for marriage who is not a good listener and is not in tune with the feelings of others.  In addition, being criticized and/or spoken to sarcastically are signs of disrespect.  This is a problem because mutual respect between spouses is the cornerstone of a successful marriage.
On the other hand you may feel like thoughts and feelings are shared and heard, but your potential spouse does not share his or her own views and feelings.  This may be an indication that your potential spouse is emotionally unavailable and not ready for the emotional attachment required in a marriage.  A requirement for a successful marriage is that each spouse is emotionally ready to be vulnerable and intimate with another human being.
The way a couple communicates and resolves conflicts are important aspects to consider before marriage.  If a couple is constantly arguing and leaves arguments unresolved, they face serious problems in a marital relationship.  If you find yourself consciously avoiding certain topics out of a fear of your potential spouse’s reaction, then you are not being fully honest in the relationship.  In order to be in an authentic marriage, each spouse must be able to be his or her true self and not shy away from discussing difficult topics.
A potential spouse that expresses extreme emotions, such as uncontrollable anger, excessive fear, or irrational jealousy is a major concern because these could be signs of an abusive partner. A person that tries to control and manipulate another person’s behavior, such as how to dress, how to interact with family and friends, how to live, etc. all signify that this person desires power in the relationship.  When getting to know one another, couples usually mistake this classic red flag as a sign of care and concern rather than a pattern toward an emotionally or even physically abusive relationship.  A potential spouse who is unable to resolve conflicts, admit mistakes, or deal with constructive criticism is likely to be someone who is not able to take personal responsibility in their life.  All of these personal issues are signs that the individual is in need of personal growth and change before attempting to have a healthy marital relationship.
The adage “actions speak louder than words” cannot be truer than when observing the behavior of a potential spouse.  Lack of consistency between what a person says and does is a red flag that the individual cannot be trusted and/or that there are major character flaws. In addition, if your potential spouse says and does things that do not reflect your own values, this is a wake up call that you may not be compatible. Any pattern of dishonesty, rationalizing questionable behavior, or twisting words to his or her benefit is a red flag that the individual has difficulty with personal responsibility and needs time and support to mature emotionally.
Many times, problems in marriages arise because of in-laws and couples do not pay attention to the early predictors of these issues.  A potential spouse that is overly dependent on parents for finances, decision-making and/or emotional security is someone who may not be ready to get married.  A potential spouse who is in an overly dependent family relationship will have difficulty moving into an interdependent relationship with a spouse.  While it is of course natural that both families remain connected to the new couple, the shift to emotional independence from the family is a growth process that is necessary so that the new couple can begin creating their own life together.
Trusting your intuition and addressing uneasy feelings that arise during the process of getting to know someone is important.  Intuition is your compass and is alerting you that something may be wrong in the relationship with your potential spouse.  One must find the courage to follow this intuition.  To continue getting to know someone or proceed toward marriage with these uncertainties can be disastrous.  Many choose to ignore the red flags out of a fear of hurting a persons feelings or what the family and community may say.  Getting married out of a fear of letting others down or because of pressure from others are signs that the relationship is unstable and that is not a foundation for a healthy marriage.  In order to be in a healthy marriage, individuals need to grow up and grow emotionally before they can be in a relationship with another individual.  No one is perfect, but each individual has a responsibility to work on his or her own personal issues and flaws. As ibn Arabi says, “He who knows himself knows his Lord.”  Self reflection is vital to help you understand yourself, your relationship with others, and ultimately help bring you closer to Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He).

The Believing Men and Women, Part I


إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيراً وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْراً عَظِيماً

“Verily, the Muslims (those who submit to Allaah in Islam) men and women, the believers men and women (who believe in Islamic Monotheism), the men and the women who are obedient (to Allaah), the men and women who are truthful (in their speech and deeds), the men and the women who are patient (in performing all the duties which Allaah has ordered and in abstaining from all that Allaah has forbidden), the men and the women who are humble (before their Lord Allaah), the men and the women who give Sadaqat (i.e. Zakat, and alms, etc.), the men and the women who observe Saum (fast) (the obligatory fasting during the month of Ramadan, and the optional Nawafil fasting), the men and the women who guard their chastity (from illegal sexual acts) and the men and the women who remember Allaah much with their hearts and tongues (while sitting, standing, lying, etc. for more than 300 times extra over the remembrance of Allaah during the five compulsory congregational prayers) or praying extra additional Nawafil prayers of night in the last part of night, etc.) Allaah has prepared for them forgiveness and a great reward (i.e. Paradise).”

{al-Ahzaab; 35}

This verse was revealed after Umm Salamah radiyAllaahu `anha complained to the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam about the previous revelations being only about men.

It has been recorded by Imam Ahmad that Umm Salamah said: “I said to the Prophet , “Why is it that we are not mentioned in the Qur’aan as men are?” Then one day without my realizing it, he was calling from the minbar and I was combing my hair, so I tied my hair back then I went out to my chamber in my house, and I started listening out, and he was saying from the minbar:

“O people! Verily Allaah says: ‘Verily, the Muslims men and women…’ until the end of the ayah.”

Something that stands out in this verse is the mention of women alongside with men. We see feminists and the western media quick to label Islaam with being a misogynistic religion. Well, this verse being an epitome of equity between the two genders is a slap on their face.

Another lesson that we learn from this is the eagerness of the wives and (female) companions of the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam had to compete with men in that which is good for their hereafter. We don’t see them complaining about not being able to work like men, rather, their concern is solely to seek the Pleasure of their Lord. They were women who had a vision and who made sure they had access to every avenue (as men) to gain the ultimate reward from Allaah (i.e. Paradise).

So Allaah mentions ten sifaat (characteristics) that the believers – both men and women – should have in order to achieve His forgiveness and the greatest of rewards, i.e. Jannah. These sifaat are our key to Jannah, so search your soul for them and try your utmost to not only develop these within yourselves but also perfect them.

Now, to derive maximum benefit from every word in this verse, I will dissect it into different parts by going over every sifah individually. The beauty of this ayah is that it starts with the core of everything that our religion is based on: Islaam (الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ) = submission to Allaah and then followed by Imaan (الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ). Only after that does Allaah bring up the other sifaat. There is great wisdom behind this and that is to ensure that our foundation is sound and strong so that it will be easier for us to implement the sifaat that follow in the rest of this verse. Once we submit to Allaah, and believe that there will be a Day of Reckoning, our minds automatically accept every commandment that comes from Allaah, without question or doubt.

الْمُسْلِمِينَ – is from the root س ل م and from amongst its meanings are: security, immunity, submission, obedience, without blemish and so on. Essentially, it means to submit and surrender to the commands of Allaah. The word سلا م which means peace, also comes from the same root. There are two things to learn from here:

1. A person will not attain peace until he submits himself or herself completely to His Creator. We can acquire as much secular knowledge as we want, read as many books on positive thinking or bask in a  mountain of wealth and luxuries, but our hearts will not be at peace until we surrender to Allaah, i.e. we testify that there is no deity worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam is His Messenger.

2. Secondly, a Muslim as described in a hadeeth mentioned in Kitaab al-Imaan in Saheeh al-Bukhaari, is one from who’s tongue and hands other Muslims are safe [ ‏ ‏المسلم من سلم المسلمون من لسانه ويده]. A grammatical rule of arabic is that when something is mentioned with a definite article, it is indicative of the most perfect meaning of the word. So the word المسلم eludes to the fact that the Muslim is what is described in the hadeeth.  Hence, a Muslim be it man or woman is one who does not harm another Muslim, physically or verbally. We guard each other’s honor, and provide one another safety and security from ourselves (tongues and hands) and others.

In a hadeeth narrated by `Imraan ibn Husayn states that the Prophet sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam said: “I looked into Paradise and I saw that the majority of its people were the poor. And I looked into Hell and I saw that the majority of its people are women.” (al-Bukhaari/ 3241, Muslim/2737)

This is because of our tongues. Very so often this organ prevents us from attaining that which is good and brings us nothing but distress when its void of the remembrance of Allaah. Al-Khattaabi said: “There would be great good in seclusion even were it to bring nothing more than safety from backbiting and from seeing evils which one cannot remove.”

With regards to the first point, we often think that saying the shahaadah is sufficient for entrance into Jannah but we are only deceiving ourselves. The saying of Wahb ibn Munabbih summarizes the above very well. He was once asked: “Is not the testification that ‘none has the right to be worshipped save Allaah’ the key to Paradise?” He replied: “Ofcourse, by every key has its teeth: if you bring a key that has teeth, the door shall open; but if not, it will not.” [Bukhaari, Kitaab Janaa’iz]

Tips for self-betterment:

1. Make a habit of renewing your Imaan every day. Every morning you wake up, renew your commitment with Allaah and every night before going to bed, take your soul and your deeds into account.

2. Be sure to never leave your salaah. Its an act of submission to Allaah so make every effort to pray on time and perfect your salaah. It is the key to improving your connection with your Creator.

3. Repent, repent, repent! You can never repent enough.

4. Avoid backbiting, gossip and unnecessary talk. If you are in a gathering of women thats full of gossip, excuse yourself and leave. Seclusion in a cave is better than sitting in company like that.

5. Some of the righteous Salaf have said that, it is a sign of the slaves fiqh (knowledge of the religion) that he concerns himself with enhancing the status of his Imaan when it experiences a decrease. So identify the things that decrease your Imaan and once you do, stay away from them. Likewise, keep yourself constantly busy with things that increase your Imaan.

You can also follow my series posted on MuslimahSource.

Women scholars and the Qur’aan.

Abu Sa’d al-Sam’ani said about Fatimah bint Abi ‘Ali al-Daqqaq al-Naysaburiyyah (d. 480): “She was the pride of the women of her time, no parallel of her has been seen for her character. She was a scholar of the Book of Allaah and virtuous.”
(Tareekh al-Islaam by al-Dhahabi)

Al-Sayrafini said: “She knew the book of Allaah by heart, recited it day and night and knew its meaning.” (al-Muntakhb min kitaab al-siyaaq li al-tareekh Naysabur, al-Sayrafini)

Sayyidah bint `Abd al-Ghani al-Ghirnatiyyah (d. 647), brought up in Murcia (Spain), excelled in Qur’anic studies. Adh-Dhahabi says: “She knew the whole Qur’aan by heart.”

In the ninth century Bayram bint Ahmad ibn Muhammad al-Dayrutiyyah mastered the seven recitations under the tuition of al-Shams ibn al-Sa’igh, studying in the company of his daughter Fatimah. Then this Fatimah moved, along with her father to Jerusalem, and practised reading of the Qur’aan with teachers there. (al-Sakhaawi, al-Daw’ al-Laami`)

Fatimah bint Shams al-Din Muhammad ibn Yusuf al-Dayruti (9th c.), also excelled in the seven recitations and memorized ash-Shaatibiyyah. She studied with several teachers before going on to teach the different recitations to both men and women. (al-Sakhaawi, al-Daw’ al-Laami`; 106)

Niqaab – A Detoxification of our Characters [Part II]

Read Part I here

The Naamisah and Mutanammisah

One of the most common sins women commit is plucking their eyebrows. As grave as this sin is – keeping in mind that the woman who plucks and gets it plucked is cursed – for some odd reason its pushed all the way down on the list of bad habits or sins to quit.

It was narrated that ‘Abd-Allaah said: “Allaah has cursed the women who do tattoos and those who ask for tattoos to be done, those who ask for their eyebrows to be plucked, and the women ask for their teeth to be filed for the purpose of beautification, changing the creation of Allaah.” A woman from the tribe of Bani Asad whose name was Umm Ya’qoob heard of that and she came and said, “I have heard that you have cursed So and so and So and so.” He said, “Why should I not curse those whom the Messenger of Allaah sallallaahu `alayhi wasallam cursed and who are mentioned in the Book of Allaah?’ She said, “I have read what is between the two covers [of the Qur’aan], and I did not find anything in it like what you have said.” He said, “If you have read it, have you not read that Allaah says,

‘And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad) gives you, take it; and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain (from it)’

[al-Hashr 59:7]?”

She said, “Of course.” He said, “He forbade that.” She said, “I think your wife does it.” He said, “Go and look.” So she went and looked and she did not see what she was looking for. He said, “If she had been like that, she would not be with us.”

[Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 4604; Muslim, 2125]

Ibn Hajar rahimahullaah said in Fath al-Bari [10/377] concerning the meaning of plucking the eyebrows:

“The mutanammisah is the one who asks another to pluck her eyebrows, and the naamisah is the one who does it. Al-nimaas means removing the hair of the face with tweezers. It was said that the word nimaas refers specifically to removing hair from the eyebrows in order to reduce them or make them straight. Abu Dawood said in al-Sunan: al-naamisah is the one who plucks the eyebrows in order to reduce them.”

Usually the first thing you see a woman giving up is make up. Yes, makeup should most definitely be avoided when going outside but shaping of the eye brows carries a much more severe punishment as the hadeeth clearly states!

Why is that? The first and only reason that comes to mind is the lack of khashyatillaah (fear of Allaah). Its because the heart is void of taqwa and so the nafs is willing to give up that which is easier upon it. This is a trick from shaytan because he makes the act thats given up seem highly significant in comparison to that which should take precedence over it. Like the hadeeth in al-Bukhaari states:

“Among the words people obtained from the First Prophecy are : If you feel no shame, then do as you wish.”

If the heart feels no shame when committing a sin knowing that its Creator is always watching its every whisper and move, then that heart is dead. That is the heart that is void of fear of Allaah.

Allaah created us in the most perfect of forms. He not only gave us beautiful bodies but He also blessed us with intellect and wisdom. Not sure why we use the latter so less.

Giving up this sin for some maybe the hardest thing to do, but do it for the sake of Allaah. So this week when your hand reaches out for the tweezer, pick it up and trash it. Don’t think twice. Don’t hesitate, because you are doing it for the sake of the One who did not create you in vain, rather He created you to worship and obey Him. Let’s be among those who readily proclaim: sami`na wa ata`na.

To be continued…

Niqaab – A Detoxification of our Characters [Part I]


I have been wanting to write about niqaab for a while now. I often find sisters who wear niqaab trying to impose it on hijaabis and sometimes even non-hijaabis. And that really irritates me. I’ll tell you why:

Why do we wear niqaab? “To conceal beauty”, “to avoid fitnah“, “to guard our chastity”, are some of the many answers. But what we fail to hear most of the time is that niqaab is an act that is done to bring oneself one step closer to Allaah. So in essence, we wear it because we want to please Allaah seeking reward solely from Him.

That being established, what is the purpose of niqaab? It is to guard our chastity, yes but what does that entail? Is niqaab just a piece of cloth that covers our face so that non-Mahram men cannot see  us? Why is it better for us to cover our face?

The reason being: not attracting attention towards ourselves.

There are so many things women do to attract attention to themselves. And often times you will find niqaabis who will do whatever they can to convince you into wearing it, falling into the same trap. I will bi ‘idhnillaah go through some of them here. But before I do, I wish to state that niqaab is something I love and I admire those who wear it with the correct understanding of it. I am in no way discouraging sisters from wearing it, in fact I urge those who can to put it on but only after understanding all that comes along with it.

We have to understand, niqaab is like a detoxification of our characters. We have to follow certain rules that truly guard our chastity, and it is these rules that exude hayaa’ in a woman. And mind you, these rules should be followed by a Muslim woman who wishes to obey her Creator and please Him whether or not she covers her face. Reminds me of a quote from Dr. Fatima Nasif said:

“If hayaa’ is beautiful in a man, it is even more beautiful in a woman. If it is virtuous in a man, it is even more virtuous in a woman, as it only increases her in elegance. So, the pinnacle of good in a woman is her hayaa’, and the pinnacle of evil in a woman is her boldness and forwardness. Hayaa’ is the watchful and vigilant protector of her virtue, and is her personal security guard that does not allow for any entity to violate her honor, or to cross into her space. And it is what prevents any filth from residing in an area that has been occupied by virtue. In fact, it separates between these two with all the power and resolve that is possible.”

To be continued..