By Haled Abu Sail
Paradise is for believing men and women. We often hear speakers in Friday prayer or in admonitions talking about Paradise and all of us find our hearts, minds and thoughts tuned on to that ‘frequency’. However, majority of the speakers talk about Paradise as if it were a house for men only. Reality is not like that. Paradise is for the believing men and women. The only price for it is sound belief in Allah, love of Allah and His Messenger (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and obedience to Allah and His Messenger salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam.
In what follows are the glad tidings given by the Messenger of Allah (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) to some of the women among his companions.
Narrated ‘Aisha (radhiya Allahu anha): I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadija (although) she died before he married me, for I often heard him mentioning her, and Allah had told him to give her the good tidings that she would have a palace of Qasab (i.e. pipes of precious stones and pearls in Paradise), and whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would send her women-friends a good share of it. [Sahih al-Bukhari] Anas reports that the Messenger of Allah, (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: ‘The best women of mankind are four: Mariam daughter of `Imraan, Assiya wife of Pharaoh, Khadija daughter of Khuwailid, and Fatima the daughter of the Messenger of Allah.’ [Bukhari and Muslim] Narrated Abu Hurairah: Jibriel (Gabriel) came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Allah’s Apostle! This is Khadija coming to you with a dish having meat soup (or some food or drink). When she reaches you, greet her on behalf of her Lord (i.e. Allah) and on my behalf, and give her the glad tidings of having a Qasab (palace in Paradise) wherein there will be neither any noise nor any fatigue (trouble).’ [al-Bukhari]
Narrated ‘Ata bin Abi Rabah: Ibn ‘Abbas said to me, ‘Shall I show you a woman of the people of Paradise?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘This black woman came to the Prophet and said, ‘I get attacks of epilepsy and my body becomes uncovered; please invoke Allah for me.’ The Prophet said (to her), ‘If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise; and if you wish, I will invoke Allah to cure you.’ She said, ‘I will remain patient,’ and added, ‘but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.’ So he invoked Allah for her.’ [al-Bukhari]
The aforementioned ahadeeth clearly state the stature of some of the women given the glad tidings of Jannah (Paradise). What can the women of today do in order to achieve that pinnacle of success-Paradise?
To do so one MUST learn how these women lived, how they behaved, how they spoke, how they dressed, how they walked, etc. In this issue of al-Mu’minah we will try to learn from the black woman mentioned in the last Hadith, insha’Allah. The black woman is not even known by her name, or her exact whereabouts, rather she is known by her deeds, her faith, her modesty, her chastity, and for her being an inmate of Paradise. And, in the end, that is what matters most. When Abdullah Ibn Abbas (radhiya Allahu anhu) said ‘this black woman’, he did not mean to point at her race or to belittle her in any way. Indeed, he but meant to teach the people around him a great principle of Islam which is mentioned in the verse, [in the meaning of] : O people! We have created you from a man and a woman and made you into peoples and tribes so that you may know each other, verily the most honourable among you in the sight of Allah are the most pious.
The same principle is mentioned in the Hadith: ‘Allah does not look at your pictures (shapes) and bodies but He looks at your hearts (and your deeds).’ [Muslim] She (the black woman) was physically sick, yet she sought cure in the du`a of the Messenger of Allah, (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam). She knew that the one who cures, ash-Shaafee, is Allah, and Allah would answer the du`a of His Messenger (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam). We conclude from that, that du`a heals all diseases, be they of the body or of the heart. When commenting on this Hadith, al-Hafidh Ibn Hajar said: ‘It is inferred from this hadith that the cure of diseases through du`a and supplication to Allah (wa al-iltijaa’ ilaa Allah) is the most successful way of healing, but this cannot be fulfilled unless two conditions are satisfied: pure intention and sincere trust in the effectiveness of the du`a, and righteousness and reliance on Allah.
The fact that the Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: ‘If you wish, be patient and you will have (enter) Paradise’ is a proof for the virtue and reward of patience during sickness. In another Hadith, he, (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam), says: ‘Whenever a hardship affects the Muslim, he will be forgiven for it, even when he is pricked by a spike.’ [Muslim]
And in another Hadith, also narrated by Muslim, Ummu as-Sa’ib cursed fever, to which the Prophet (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) told her: ‘Do not curse fever, for it takes away the sins like the blaze [fire] takes away the impurities of iron.’ The black woman preferred the suffering of this world, to get the eternal reward of Paradise! She suffered from sickness, yet her pain and discomfort did not force her to forego pleasing Allah! And no matter who one is, if one is in the path of Allah, one will encounter difficulties, because Paradise is surrounded by hardships. If things are easy and life is rosy, then one must check oneself; are we following the true Islam? Especially in this western environment it may be difficult for a young woman to wear the dress of modesty, the hijab (even though it is mandatory), not to talk to men and keep away from them (which is also mandatory), except when necessary.
All these may be difficult to achieve for some in the beginning, but when one overcomes oneself for the sake of Allah, then all the other obstacles become baseless. So, how to overcome oneself? By knowing Allah by His names and attributes; by loving and obeying Allah and His Messenger, (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam) and then the help of Allah will come, insha’Allah. She (the black woman) preferred being patient, but could not tolerate that her honour, her modesty and her chastity be damaged or even touched, nor that any part of her body be uncovered, though she had no control over it. Indeed she was a real slave and servant of Allah; she was a faithful, a believer, a Muslimah, a righteous and pious woman, a truthful woman, and she was loyal to Allah and His Messenger (salla Allahu alaihi wa sallam). Besides having these awe-inspiring qualities, she was also a wise and a great woman, as her memorable words rang ...: ‘... but I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me that I may not become uncovered.’
If words are to be written in Gold, these words should be written in gold ... Remember this simple equation:
Iman + Suffering + Patience = Paradise
It can also be inferred that the righteous Muslim woman inherently loves to be covered, loves modesty and chastity and hates revealing her body and her beauty. The black woman, (radhiya Allahu ‘anha) could sustain being so sick but could not bear to be uncovered in front of people.
The issue, one must understand, is not of black or white or Arab or non-Arab, rich or poor, noble [with lineage] or not, it is rather of a creed so deeply rooted in the hearts of Muslims like blood flows in the arteries and veins of people. They are those who are totally committed to Islam. Fourteen Hundred years of history showed that Muslim women could sustain hunger, poverty, sickness but could never sustain disobeying Allah. The wife would tell her husband when leaving for work: ‘Fear Allah in us, for we can sustain hunger and thirst but we cannot sustain Hell fire [i.e. do not acquire unlawful earning].’
Dear sisters, ask yourself what made Khadija (radhiya Allahu ‘anha) be greeted by Allah (Subhanahu wa Ta‘ala) and by Jibreel (alaihi as-Salaam). Ask yourself what made Khadija be rewarded a Palace in Jannah as no one can imagine. Reading the biography of Khadija and others like her in greatness, one would wish to be at their service; to carry their shoes, wash their clothes, to serve them in any possible way and get du‘a from them. It is sad that we just don’t know the great personalities of this Ummah. If only we strive to study the lives of the righteous that preceded us, we would find in them immense guidance for our existence, and if we know them and follow them we could be in the forefront of mankind ...
It is said, ‘Iman (faith) is not by hope, it is rather what occurs in the heart and is proved by the deeds [maa waqa`a fil qalbi wa saddaqahul-`amal].’ We leave you to think about this and pray to Allah to make us all among the dwellers of Paradise and to bestow upon us the faith and the patience that lead us to Paradise. And to bless the present Muslim Ummah with many women like the black woman, (radhiya Allahu `anha) (may Allah be pleased with her), who help us focus on the straight path ...