By Umm Abdullah (Central New Jersey)
With all the commotion in the media regarding rampant behavior of oblivious Muslim extremist groups, “practicing Muslims” have been stereotyped as those who oppresse and degrade their own women. The minds of young and old, of educated and uneducated, of non-Muslims and even of many Muslims themselves have been indoctrinated by this prevailing stereotype. But is this really what Islam teaches? Is this really how Muslim men are supposed to treat their women?
Instead of allowing the media to influence our judgment by observing the lives of these “practicing Muslims,” why not look to the life of the most practicing Muslim of all time—the beloved Prophet Muhammad ﷺ for the answer?
The Prophet ﷺ was the quintessential example of how a Muslim man should treat his mother, his wife, his daughter, and other women of the society. Aaishah (Allah be pleased with her) was once asked about the manners of the Prophet ﷺ in his home. She replied, “He helps in doing the family duties and when he hears the call of prayer, he goes out.”1 In another narration, Aaishah (Allah be pleased with her) said, “The Prophet ﷺ never beat any woman, any servant, or anything in his possession other than fighting in the way of Allah, The Almighty.”2
The beloved Prophet ﷺ gave importance to the women around him. He consulted his wives in the most delicate and important matters, such as the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah.3 He took utmost care of his daughters. For example, he ordered `Uthmaan bin `Affaan to stay back from the Battle of Badr only so that he may take care of Ruqayyah4 (Allah be pleased with them). He would stop his conversations with great leaders to tend to the women in the community. For example, the Prophet ﷺ left the hand of Adi bin Hatim Taa`i5 (Allah be pleased with him) when a woman cried out to the Prophet ﷺ for help in the middle of their path.6 Most of all, he let every mother loom large over her sons by stating, “Paradise lies beneath the mother’s feet.”7—a status never given to any man of the Ummah!
The women around the Prophet ﷺ could not live, let alone envisage life without him. This was the man who put an end to female infanticide. This was the man who stood up for a woman’s right to inherit, instead of being inherited. This was the man who raised the status of women in the eyes of men. His life itself reflected the fact that he worked to liberate women from all kinds of injustice, maltreatment, and oppression. Instead of indoctrinating our minds with information from the media when judging Islam, we all should be looking at the most perfect, practicing Muslim to walk on the face of the earth, the beloved Prophet ﷺ.
“The most complete of the believers in faith, is the one with the best character. And the best of you are those who are best to their women.”(Jami’ At-Tirmidhi)
1 Sahih Bukhari, #5363
2 Sahih Muslim, #2328
3 The Treaty of Hudaybiyyah was made in the 6th year of Hijrah between the Makkans and the Muslims after the Muslims were stopped from performing `umrah (smaller pilgrimage) that year. One of the conditions of the treaty was that the Muslims would not perform `umrah until the following year. The Sahabah (may Allah be pleased with them) were a bit hesitant to come out of the state of ihraam. Therefore, the Prophet ﷺ consulted his wife about what should be done.
4 Ruqayyah (Allah be pleased with her) was the daughter of the Blessed Prophet ﷺ and the wife of `Uthmaan (may Allah be pleased with him).
5 He was the ruler of the Taa`i mountains and its outskirts at the time of the Beloved Prophet ﷺ.
6 Sahih Muslim
7 Sunan Nisai and Ibn Majah
Featured image (c) Mohammad Alagha