Monday, November 11, 2013

Women in the Quran: Session #4

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful)

Mariam AS

One of four most perfect women of all time, these stories aren’t without reason. They are for us to look at how we can relate to them.

Reflection: Mariam means one who loves to worship Allah swt. We should try to live up to the meanings within our names.

A lot more specific detail about her in the Quran. Her description is found in Surahs:
Surah Mariam ayahs 16-36,
Surah Al Imran ayahs  42-49,

Surah Mariam was revealed in Makkah because the Quran was being revealed in a time and place where women had no rights. When the Muslims were going to Abyssinia this gave them ways to talk to the Christians about Islam.

Mariam AS is described in different ways in the Quran:
  • A person chosen above others, in Surah Al Imran, she is declared the best woman created. She has complete Yaqeen, or certainty in her belief in Allah.

Prior to the birth of Mariam, her parents were known for their pious. She is the descendant of Imran, a pious lineage, which continued after her. Her parents were very old, her mother makes dua that she has her own child when she is feeding the bird. Many times this comes up; Allah swt grants these people the impossible and grants them miracles. Allah swt granted her dua but Imran passes away before her birth. 

Reflection: Know that Allah has given these examples of miracles to motivate us to make dua during times of need. Mariam AS mother made the vow that whatever is in her womb would be for Allah swt. She was sure it would be a boy because that is what the men do. Through her birth, Allah swt is bringing back honor and the proper status of women in society.

Shortly after she is born, her mother passes away as well. Many people wanted to care for her because she came from a pious family. To decide who raises her they through their names into the river and Zakariyyah AS name came up and he is chosen.

One day Zakariyyah AS finds Mariam AS surrounded by fruits that are out of season.  Mariam AS tells him it is from Allah swt. When he saw all of this he knew that it had to be from Allah swt. It reminded him that all things are possible. 

Reflection: She is teaching a Prophet that Allah swt can give us anything. Like him we have to look at these stories beyond the surface. You can ask for anything that you need because Allah swt can provide it.

Zakariyyah AS was so moved he prayed for a child on the spot. 

Reflection: Part of dua is to mention your weakness and your needs to Allah swt. 

Mariam is told that she will have a son as well.  She gets this news and goes to a faraway place to give birth to Isa AS. He speaks to her and tells her not to despair. He tells her to fast from speaking. Meanwhile, Allah swt provides her with dates and water. 

Reflection: We should attempt to fast from speaking, even if it is just a couple of hours in order to give us time to reflect on ourselves like Mariam AS. 

Reflection: Throughout the Quran whenever Isa AS is mentioned Mariam AS name is with it. This achieve two things: It is confirming that he didn't have a biological father but it is also a way of honoring Mariam AS and her status. 

After the birth she returns to the village. Now, these villagers who once were fighting to take care of her are furious. Because she is fasting from speaking she points to the baby. They continue to slander her. She knows that Allah swt will give Isa AS the ability to speak, “I am the Prophet of Allah…” He addresses the people and also gives comfort to his mother in two sentences.

In most of the other stories people slowly believe. But this is such a powerful sign that the entire village accepted her at once.

Reflection: With every trial and tests, Allah swt brings ease and protection. As we go through these tests we don’t need to concern ourselves with where that ease might come from but just to know with certainty that that ease will come.

Reflection: When we lose people it is hard to think that the pain will go away but Allah swt always mends our heart, over time. Even though in that moment we don’t think it’s possible.

Mariam AS, role model:

Two qualities she had were: Patience and Yaqeen-certainty in her Imaan. These two qualities make people leaders and closer to Allah.

All of us have the ability to be patient, but it is something we have to work on. But sometimes we don’t give ourselves credit for our patience. Are we using this patience for something more positive? We wait for something fun, but when it comes to something more difficult we don’t. Where are we using our patience?

While Mariam AS questioned if it was possible for her to give birth she stayed obedient to Allah swt even after she gave birth and had to face the village. She spent her whole life to please Allah swt and then she had to face the world in a way that made her look as if she is a transgressor.

She was also always remembering Allah.
When people asked her about Isa AS. She could have tried to speak but she knew there was hikmah in Allah swt's command. Focus on the hereafter and know that everything that we say and do will tie into it. 

As we grow in our piety, Allah will test us more. Passing tests isn’t about where we end up but how we get through it. The absence of this test doesn’t necessarily mean there is an absence of love; it is just a waiting period before the big test. Sometimes we cannot rationalize these tests; we just have to get through it.

What are things that we can do:
By studying her story we can see that the relationship between Allah swt and Mariam was possible with no one involved. Your growth and forgiveness is only between you and Allah, because of this, we should devote time to ibadah. Spend a little bit more time after Fajr to make dhikr, get up early and pray tahajjud. In order to strengthen the protection of Allah try to commit to spending at least ten minutes each day making dhikr without doing anything else.

Human beings naturally want to be in the company of others, Mariam AS was alone in her situation. When you feel like you can’t connect with others, just go outside and make dhikr and think about the fact that the trees, wind and all of nature are all in submission to Allah. 

Friday, November 8, 2013

First Sisters' Talk: Journey Back Home

The sisters' only event, "The Journey Back Home" (Wed. 13 4-6 p.m. in JC meeting room A), is only two days away! Come join us for a light dinner as you learn how you can strengthen your relationship with God [Allah]. Open to all ladies [of all faiths]. The talk will be facilitated by Sister Faiza Alvi insha'Allah.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Women in the Quran: Session #3

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful)

Asiya (AS)
  • 1 of 4 perfect women
  • Each woman had conviction/trust in Allah
    • Keep Allah as your focus in every situation. "Fall in love with Allah (swt)"
  • Each woman thus far has gone through a Transitional Period: 
    • Khadijah (RA) - Acceptance of Islam, Wealth to Poverty
    • Hajra (AS) - Community, Desert
  • These stories aren't given for entertainment but are "templates of guidance" 
    • Take these stories for deep reflection.
  • Not many details on Asiya (AS) in particular but emphasis on the story.
Asiyah (AS) lived with Prophet (Musa AS) and a Tyrant (Firawn), Two complete opposites.

Egypt, Pharoah hears that one of the children of Bani Israel will overthrow him. He alternates between killing the boys of Bani Israel one year and enslaving them the next year. Haroon AS is enslaved but Allah swt tells Musa AS mother to put him in a vessel down the Nile River. This must have been incredibly difficult but she puts her trust in Allah swt. 

Reflection: We encounter hard times and pretend that its not happening but these tests aren't just for those who encounter them but us too. Even on a large, world scale, how do we react? The only reason the previous women discussed and Musa AS mother were able to confront their difficulties the way they did was because they had firm Imaan. Its not about the difficulty but how we handle it.

Musa AS picked up by the family of Pharaoh. Even as a baby he is the source of Pharaoh's downfall. Asiyah AS argues to keep him (Surah Qasas, Verse 9). There is no biological connection between the two but maternal love and compassion. 

Reflection: Allah puts mercy in all of our hearts. We need to live this mercy and spread it to others The mercy of Allah is greater than that of a mother. He doesn't want us to fail.

Meanwhile, the mother of Musa AS is really depressed. Allah swt tells her not to be. He isn't saying not to feel sadness this is something we cannot control but rather that he is there. Inna lilahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon.

Reflection: We need tawakkul or "God consciousness" to cope with the issues in our lives.

**There are two aspects to our Imaan:
1. Gratitude: When we have something.
2. Patience: When we lose something.
Sometimes Allah protects us by not giving us something that we want. 

The mother of Musa AS made a conscious decision eventually that she will do what is pleasing to Allah swt. 

Reflection: We have to learn to rely on Allah to fix our problems whether this is through dua or dhikr, etc.

He is the only one that can help us and remove our difficulties. This is something we have to actively work on, we don't inherit this from righteous people. You have to train your nafs to have the characteristics of a mu'min (believer).

Musa AS grows up in a house where he has everything and is told by Allah to tell the head of this household that he has transgressed BUT he has the support of Asiya AS. 

**Every type of people are in the Quran. It doesn't matter who you are. You need to find yourself. 

**Stick of Musa AS:
We always say that we dont haev resources to change the worlds problems BUT Musa AS uses this stick. Allaj set puts the power within the stick to enable Musa AS to change the world around him. 
Obviously its not the same as sticking a pencil into the Mason Pond but Allah swt can put barakah in our time, money, etc. Allah swt has the power to make the smallest effort great. How much of an effort are we making?

While Musa AS is preaching Asiyah AS stays firm to her beliefs. Pharaoh kills a woman in front of her and punishes her extensively but she never backs down. Eventually she passes away because of such torture but not without making the following dua

"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 of people." (Surah Tahrim, verse 11)

All of her struggles make her an example. She had all the luxuries of this world but gives it all up for Allah swt. She asks for nearness to Allah first.

Reflection: We have trouble giving up some things, she gave it all up. Her knowledge of Allah and jannah was enough for her to get through any punishment Pharaoh threw at her. 

She had one of the most difficult situations. Her husband believed that he was God. We aren't dealing with people half this difficult  She made an independent choice to forsake the dunya for the akhirah. She knew that her relationship with Allah swt was the defining feature of self worth, of who we are. 

Reflection: Don't be afraid to follow the path of Allah. If you are, there is no way to fail.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Women in the Quran: Session #2

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful)

Dhul Hijjah, The First Ten Days
  • ·  Good deeds done in this month are the most beloved to Allah (SWT)
  • ·   Just as the Hajji’s are going on a journey of spiritual purification, we should also try to make an effort.
o   Give extra attention to prayer
§  On time?
§  Don’t forget to pray the Sunnahs.
§  Add some Nafl Rakaat!
o   Try to fast the nine days, especially the day before Eid!
o   Seek Forgiveness..
§  From Allah (SWT)
§  From people you may have wronged.
o   Show gratitude to Allah.
o   Let your professor or boss know beforehand, take Eid off, pray and celebrate!
o   Sacrifice…
§  What will you sacrifice to get closer to Allah (SWT)?

Khadijah (RA)

  • One of four perfect women, the other four are:

o   Mariam (as), Asiyah (as) and Fatima Zahra (as)
  • Known as “al-Tahirah”, or Purity.
  • She was fifteen years older than the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) and was married twice.
Part 1: Beginnings
  • ·    Khadijah's (RA) parents died when she was young and as a result she inherited the family business early on.
o   Her experience of life, her losses, and sacrifice were all beneficial to the Prophet (Pbuh).

Broken Stereotype #1:  Even in this male dominated workforce, Khadijah (RA) was intelligent and successful. She took an active management and leadership role in the family business. Khadijah (RA) not only succeeded, but she made it so that the businessmen around her depended upon her in order to function.
  • Eventually she hears about a man named “al-Amin”, the Prophet (SAW), she hires him for a trade expedition. By hiring him, Khadijah (RA) overlooks the status of her workers and chooses to look at their merit.
  • Because of his good character, Khadijah (RA) becomes interested in the Prophet (SAW). After two marriages, she was planning on remaining single, but she saw someone with great character who could help her become a better person.
Broken Stereotype #2: Khadijah (RA) shows interest in the relationship first and relates this to her friend, Nafisah.

Reflection: Know what you are looking for in a future spouse and know what your parents are looking for before the marriage process.

  • The Prophet (Pbuh) and Khadijah (RA) get married.
Broken Stereotype #3: Older woman, younger man. Khadijah (RA) even provides the mahr, or dowry for the Prophet (Pbuh) but his family returns it and pays for it.

Part 2: Revelation
  • The Prophet (Pbuh) is terrified and runs to the comforts of his home and spouse, saying to Khadijah (RA) “Cover me, Cover me!”.
  • She gives him a blanket and reminds him that he is a good person and remains positive.
Reflection: When consoling anyone. Don’t freak out, talk down to, or ask questions first. Let them be and Listen.
  • After this she takes a proactive role and takes him to her cousin, Waraqa bin Nawfal.
Part 3: Post Revelation
  • Khadijah (RA) is rejected by her community and loses two sons. She bears these hardships with an enormous level of patience.
o    She was a long term visionary, to her Islam was the priority NOT an obstacle.
o    She stuck to her principles, even if it meant losing her status and wealth.
  • Meanwhile, she single handedly funds Islam. She supported those who accepted Islam and were rejected by their families and tribes.
Reflection: Belief is not enough; we must back it up with action.
  • The Quraysh cut off her money supply by boycotting her for 65 years. They had no food and were forced to rely on prickly desert plants BUT she NEVER gave up.
o    Her drive was her conviction in Allah and the hereafter.

Part 4: Legacy
  • The year she passed away was known as the year of sadness.
  • The Prophet (Pbuh) talks about her so much that Aishah (RA) became jealous of her even though at this point Khadijah (RA) had passed away. He kept up with her family and friends even when he was already responsible for a great number of people.
o    Part of what made her so special to the Prophet (Pbuh) was that when others had mocked at him and turned their backs on him, she was the one that supported him.


Khadijah’s (RA) effort to keep Islam alive was so strong that Allah (SWT) through Gibraeel (as) gave her greetings. With her money and resources she made an investment in us, she was the backbone of Islam. Even if we don’t have money, we still have time and energy. Using these resources we can follow in the footsteps of Khadijah (RA), we have the ability to maintain her legacy and keep Islam alive. 

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Women in the Quran: Session #1

Bismillah ir-Rahman ir-Rahim (In the name of God, the compassionate, the merciful)

Part 1: Developing a relationship with the Qur’an

The prophet (peace be upon him) has left us with the greatest blessing of all time- the words of God (may He be exalted). The purpose of our five sessions will be to develop a relationship with the Quran by studying the verses that discuss the women in the Quran and reflecting on these verses. Allah (swt) says, "[This is] a blessed Book (the Quran) which We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], that they might reflect upon its verses and that those of understanding would be reminded." [Quran 38:29]. Some of us have spent this past Ramadan in reading and reflecting the Qur’an. Are we investing the same amount of time and putting in the same amount of effort as we did during Ramadan in developing this relationship with the Qur’an? It is important that we continue to put in the effort to maintain this relationship with the Qur'an beyond Ramadan (all 365 days of the year).

Some tips:
  • Set a daily allocated time to read the Quran and study the meanings of the verses you read. Perhaps, set 10 minutes in day to read it- this can be before/after fajr, during your commute to school, or before you sleep. The point is to be consistent in reading it.
  • Make it a habit: make reading and studying the Qur’an a part of your routine. It should be like brushing your teeth in the morning. Make it a habit that you continuously and consistently do and you feel unhappy and incomplete if you have not done it.
  • But I don’t know how to read the Qur'an or I don’t understand it. Join a Qur'an class or attend a learning circle related to the Qur’an.

Friend analogy:

When you are trying to befriend someone and get to know him/her, what are some of the things you try to find out about him/her? Some of the things you may want to know about the person are where he/she was born, what are his/her characteristics, and what are his/her different names (first name, middle name, last name, maybe nicknames). Furthermore, if you want to keep a relationship with that individual, you invest time and put in the effort.

Similarly, if you want to develop and maintain a relationship with the Qur'an, you must first get to know the Qur'an.

Know the names of the Qur’an: Often times, names can reveal a characteristic of a person (but not necessarily). The Qur’an, however, has about 14 names and all of these names reveal a certain aspect and characteristic of the Qur’an. For example, one of its name is Al-Furqan, the criterion for right and wrong. As the name states, the Qur’an helps us to judge between right and wrong and guides us to make the right decisions.

Know its context: As we go through the verses, it is important to understand when and where these verses were revealed. In order to better understand the Qur’an, it is important to get to know who received the Qur’an [Prophet (pbuh)] and who sent the verses [Allah (swt)].

We must also realize that all the stories in the Qur’an are not just meant to be told as bedtime stories. These stories are there to be studied- to learn from them and apply all the wisdom we gain from them in our lives.

Part 2: Hajar (a.s)

Hajar (a.s) was the second wife of Ibrahim (a.s) and the mother of Prophet Ishmael (a.s). When Ishmael was still nursing, God chose to test the faith of his beloved Abraham and told him to take Hagar and Ishmael to a barren valley of Bakka, later to be called Mecca. Therefore, Prophet Ibrahim (a.s) travels with Hagar (a.s) and baby Ishmael (a.s) to the valley of Bakka and leaves them there with a skin of water and leather bag full of dates, as instructed by God. As Ibrahim begins walking away leaving them behind, Hagar gets anxious and confused about what is happening. Hagar calls after him, asking him, “O Abraham, where are you going, leaving us in this valley where there is no person whose company we can enjoy, nor is there anything here?” Abraham hurries his pace. Finally, Hagar asks, “why are you leaving us? Did Allah (swt) ask you to do this?” Suddenly, Abraham stops, turns back and replies with an affirmative (“yes”). To this she says, “I am satisfied to be with God!”

Reflection: She is content with the decision and has full conviction that Allah (swt) will take care of them.

Hajar remains in the place while Ibrahim proceeds to leave them. When Ibrahim reaches a narrow pass in the mountain, he stops there and makes dua:

“Our Lord! I have settled some of my offspring in a valley barren from any cultivation, by you Sacred House, our Lord, so they may establish the prayer. So make the hearts of people yearn towards them, and provide them with all types of fruits that they may be grateful.” (Quran 14:37)

After a while, the water and dates finish and Hagar starts to worry. She begins to search for water as her baby is crying out of hunger and thirst. She leaves Ishmael under a tree and begins to climb a rocky incline of a nearby hill. In an attempt to find signs of water or help, she runs between the two hills of Safa and Marwa (one of the rituals of Hajj).

Reflection: when we have tests, we can’t just wait for something to happen, we have to be proactive. Just like how Hagar goes out and tries to find water and help to improve her conditions.

After running back and forth seven times, she becomes really tired and fatigued. Suddenly, she looks down in the valley and sees an angel (Gabriel) standing next to her son, Ishmael. The angel digs into the ground with his heel next to the baby, and water comes gushing out. It was a miracle! Hagar tries to make a basin around it to keep it from flowing out, and fills her skin. “Do not be afraid of being neglected,” the angel says, “for this is the House of God which will be built by this boy and his father, and God never neglects his people.” This well, called Zamzam, is flowing to this day in the city of Mecca in the Arabian Peninsula.

Reflection: When we are afflicted with calamities and difficulties, we should not give up and get overwhelmed. Realize that Allah (swt) will never give you something more than you can handle. These tests are meant to make us closer to Allah (swt). We have to have full conviction in Allah (swt) and also understand that there is wisdom behind everything he does- just because it is not apparent, does not mean that it is not there.

  •  Islamic unity is one of the outstanding features of hajj. This unity is based on Islam by holding firm to the rope of Allah.
  • All men wear the same white piece of cloth; it doesn’t matter whether you are rich or poor- no distinction
  • Everyone performs the same rituals
  • Muslims from around the world- of all races, ethnicity, age- gather to perform Hajj- all differences aside. In front of God, everyone is equal and only distinguished based on their character and faith (iman).

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Great first Halaqa Session!

We had a very inspirational and informative first session with Sister Hanaa Alhamdulillah! :) If you weren't able to attend the first session, make sure to attend the next one on Tuesday, October 8th insha'Allah! Those who have a class time conflict- we'll be posting our notes on our blog.

Friday, September 20, 2013

MSA Ladies' Brunch!

Jazakullah Khayr to everyone who turned up to the brunch. It was so awesome meeting all of you and hearing your ideas! A special thank you to those of you that helped during setup and cleanup. For those of you that couldn't make it, so sorry we missed you. We hope to see you soon, Insha'Allah! :-)