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Quick Advice for Muslim Women on: Seeking Knowledge

The Road taken by few…

The Prophet (SAW) said “Islaam began as something strange and it will revert to how it began as something strange. So glad tidings of Paradise to the strangers”

The people asked, “Who are they, O Messenger of Allaah?” He answered, “Those who are pious and righteous when the people have become evil.” [Ahmad, ibn Hibban and others, Sahih due to supporting evidences, see Badr al-Badr’s footnotes to Abu Bakr al-Ajari, Kitaab al-Ghurabaa,Kuwait: Dar al-Khulata li-Kitaab al-Islaami, 1983) pp.16-18]

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Asalamoalaykum warahmatullah,

Female presence in Islamic academia is becoming extremely rare. I can give you a list of sub-reasons why but one important thing that Muslim women of today have it all wrong is their priorities. Her role is not to be at workplace,university and/or juggling household chores when it’s time for her Rabb. If she’s taking ages to submit to the Command of her Rabb in something as basic as wearing proper Hijab, then how can she have the heart to face challenges in the path to seeking knowledge? We can blame her parents, misguided husbands, children, the whole world but at the end of the day…who are we kidding? The punishment of grave is scary. I kid you not. And that moment your recipes which you googled while you missed Salah or the thesis you wrote while you delayed Fajr will not come to your aid.

Only the proper knowledge of Allah SWT.

So those of my dear sisters who are willing to learn about Islam and have taken the first few steps to get themselves registered at an Institute or program, I would like to congratulate you!

But at the same time that while you’ve been blessed and chosen amongst a million, you are going to face some major challenges in life. It’s a given. He SWT will test your sincerity in every step you take. The best way to test a Muslimah’s sincerity is by testing her whether she’d stick to her goal despite come what may.

[Please note that by seeking knowledge I do not mean a Muslimah who listens to lectures online, gets an Eeman rush and that’s it. Nor am I referring to a Muslimah who attends double weekend lectures and bobs up and down that she knows everything. I’m referring to women who are following a curriculum, are taking notes, memorizing them and are sharpening their Quraan memorization skills with a long-term Hidfh goal. Also a woman who’s striving to spend her time and effort in learning the Arabic language to understand the Quraan better.]

You will have to use your skill-set to your benefit. Obviously, no Muslim woman has the luxury to just dedicate her time to seeking knowledge. It is just not possible unless you’re gifted some awesome people in your life who understand your situation. And most often such awesome peope don’t exist! So no need to pity yourself! But naturally then you’ll have to get other tasks out of the way and focus on you real goals of life.

 If you’re:

  • a homemaker: you’ll have to be really quick in your household chores so that you dedicate time to seeking knowledge. You can review your Quraan while doing laundry and/or cooking. You just have to be smart about it. What I suggest is just get all your housework done within two hours after Fajr (maximum). You’d be surprised how much you can get done after Fajr. 1 hour after Fajr = 2 hours latter part of the day. Trust me, I am talking from experience after not only learning about the hadith (in which Rasuallah SAW has prayed for his Ummah’s post-Fajr time to have lots of Barkah) but also feeling the barakah.
  • a homemaker and a mother: you’ll have to utilize times when the babies are resting to your advantage. Whether that’s 3am or 5pm, you must try to use that time and not whine. If you’re memorizing the Quraan or want to review your lesson, your best tool would be an iPod or mp3 player. While they’re asleep, you can stay in the room and monitor them and have your mind focussed on your lesson.
  • a career woman: if you work full-time and barely have any energy left by the end of the day, weekends are your best bet. However, don’t expect to move mountains when you have energy of an ant. Take it nice and steady. I suggest you take the public transit so that you can use that time to review your lesson as you commute without you having to worry about parking your car and changing lanes. Lunch breaks can be also used. Divide into 2 halves, one for spiritual nourishment and one half for having your lunch. This will cut down unnecessary talk with colleagues which is a good thing and not a bad thing.
  • a university student: get off social networking websites! You don’t need to check up with every friend and what she’s upto. Use that time to memorize. And yes you can do it. I only realized that know! Don’t waste the time you have because things are not going to become better as you get older. You’ll have more responsibilities and things will get tougher. I highly recommend that you buddy up with someone. Get a teacher if you can. Female of course. Male should be okay if you use a curtain in between and is in the presence of a Mahram inshaa’Allah. Also, choose university courses wisely so that you don’t have to spend a lot of time on them and that you can utilize time for Islamic knowledge.

I have not included a career woman who works and runs a household because I have no advice for her except that she gets rid of one of the two occupations if she wants to seek knowledge seriously. So if she can afford to, then she must resign from work or get help for household chores. By that I do not mean that it’s impossible but it’s advisable for such a Muslimah to not jeopardize her sanity. It would also be better if she utilizes times when she’s off. Allahu ‘Alam.

My humble recommendation would be to follow these routes of seeking knowledge (listed in priorirty):

0) This should already be drilled into you but I’m still going to mention it. You should have the love of Allah SWT and fear of His Punishment as motivational drivers. In addition, you should have proper manners of a student of knowledge. Some of which are: patience, steadfastness, courage, enthusiasm, some level of Zuhd, disinterest in the glitters of this world, focussed foresight and so on inshaa’Allah.

1) memorize the Quraan – make it a 2 years target

2) learn Arabic – make this a 1 .5yr long target depending on whom you’re studying from

3) get registered in an online university/institute if there isn’t any Islamic university in the region you’re residing-usually a Bachelors degree is 3-4 yrs long. After you’re done Bachelors inshaa’Allah, you can register in an online Masters program. To my knowledge there are only 1-2 online universities who have a Masters program.Allahu ‘Alam. Of course nothing beats the on-campus classes.

4) Teach- the above will take 5-7 years of your life and in the process you will have to start teaching what you learn so that you don’t lose the knowledge!

5) Self-study and Initiate educational projects- explore scholarly Arabic texts and begin dedicated self-study of course after getting advice from a Shaykh. Self-study is now possible because you can differentiate falsehood from truth. You also have basics in your head and you can easily grasp what’s being said in an Arabic text. In this process, try to benefit the Ummah in any creative way you like. It depends on what the community that you’re living in lacks. Do they lack Hifdh programs? Maybe you could start that. Do they lack tafseer classes? You can begin those and train other potential teachers who will continue this when you’re no more in leadership position.

[In the process, don’t forget to purify your intentions before,during and after the tasks! Make tons of duaa as well!]

***

Things to remember in this process:

  • Know the difference between what’s fardh on you and what’s recommended for you! This knowledge will help you prioritize your family/work life as well as your studies.
  • Don’t expect anyone to appreciate your hardwork except Allah SWT.
  • Don’t get disappointed if things don’t go as planned. If you made duaa and your intention was correct, Allah SWT is then helping you accomplish something greater that you could ever imagine! Be optimistic and expect the best from Allah SWT when in calamities.
  • It’s okay to feel lonely on this road! We were born alone and we’re going to end up alone in the grave. Compare the joy of the company of the Prophets and companions vs. the sadness that comes with loneliness of this dunia. What’s more beloved to you? Inshaa’Allah you’ll get the former in Akhira as you make Allah SWT’s Pleasure your primary goal.
  • Oppose your emotions. If you don’t feel like doing anything because you’re upset, force yourself to! It works just fine.
  • Don’t let anyone control your emotions or be the source of happiness/sadness. Only achieving your study goals should excite you or make you upset.
  • Reward yourself often by halal pleasures in life.
  • Above all, be polite, affectionate and have an open-door policy for your family as much as possible because you have to show them that those who start educating themselves about Islam do have a healthy family life.
  • Be vigilant of your enemy! He’s going to try his best to make your deeds null and void so guard your good deeds by not showing off or being arrogant in any way.
  • Sleep early and eat healthy. Fasting helps a lot as well and helps maintain focus.
  • Play! Yes have a ‘play-time’ in which you can run around or play sports or even ball with your family/kids/friends. A special time in which you can literally get rid of mental toxins and worries.
  • In addition, since you’d be busy with your books most of the time, allot a special day in the week in which you would go to a nearby park and review Quraan there. Don’t lose touch with nature and recite the Quraan or your lessons to the trees, the flowers…so all of them become witness of your dedication to Islam on the day of Judgement inshaa’Allah.
  • Smile! You have been crowned with this special responsibility. You are indeed blessed and Allah SWT loves you inshaa’Allah.

My dream is to see lots of Muslim women proficient in the Quraan. My dream is to see mothers who are like the mothers of Imam Ahmad (R), Imam Bukhari (R) and are like the repentant Quraishi woman of Al Ghamidiya R). That specific woman who’s repentance could cover the over 2000 Sahabi as said by Rasualalah SAW. 

My dream is to see properly covered sisters who have their hearts connected to Allah SWT despite doing their daily tasks. Women who are loving but when it comes to their Deen, they are like fierce warriors. Women who embrace every Command of Allah SWT with open arms. Women who wake up their family members for Qiyaam al layl and if you walk the street you see Muslim households alive in the last part of the night. A household in which people are either praying Nawafil, memorizing the Quraan or doing Suhoor even though it’s not Ramadan.

Can I dream big?

I don’t know. But I know there’s a lot of work that needs to be done.

And in order to accomplish such big goals, I have to change my ‘Ibadah habits.

The change begins within me.

And if I pass all tests like Ibrahim AS (not to the same level of course) and  if I make a duaa like he AS did for a Messenger to rise amongst his generation, then I know Allah SWT saved this story for me to implement it. It took several hundred years before we saw the result. And that result was Rasulalah SAW. Allahu Akbar! An answered duaa which helped generations and generations of Muslims. Such barakah in that blessed duaa of Ibrahim AS makes me yearn to meet him in Jannatul Firdaus al ‘Ala inshaa’Allah.

I feel I too can make a duaa. Of course I may not be a good Muslim but I know I have hope.

I have hope to dream big by making a duaa that may Allah SWT make us plant seeds which grow into wonderful Muslimahs , hence wonderful Daee’yahs, who eventually give birth to generations of righteous children…who become leaders of Muttaquun.

Words and tears won’t make wheels of Qadr go in the direction of victory. Of course we all have tawakul considering how easily we sleep at nights with problems thundering our thresholds…

…regardless, we need to learn how to tie the camel first!

And learning will require awareness of the fact that that the camel needs to be tied!

Occupying our time with useless activities will only blinden us to our problems.

We need to learn to value our time!

We need to wake up!

We need to know what awaits us if we don’t become part of the solution!

Let’s promise to ourselves that we’ll begin by helping ourselves first inshaa’Allah.

Remember how Salman al Farsi sought knowledge? He was a stranger who yearned.

What he yearned, he sought.

And what he sought, he definitely got! [bi’itnillah]

May Allah SWT make it easy for all of us.Ameen.

And Allah SWT knows best.

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