Away from ‘celebrity scholars’, Mahdia Sarfaraz identifies several women right within our inner circles, who consistently serve their communities like beacons of light.
My friend and I, two Muslim women, were sitting by the lake where we had created countless child memories, reminiscing about the past and wondering at how much we had changed over the years. Suddenly, my heart filled with such emotion and excitement. With joy and pride I exclaimed “I love being a woman!”
Who just said that? Did that just come out of my mouth? Did I truly love being a woman?
The answer was yes…and it had taken me 23 years to realize that.
Always putting themselves down
The words caught me off guard. Those words felt so strange but yet felt so right. Never before had I even dreamed of saying those simple but empowering words. So why now? What had changed?
One of the oft-repeated stories in my family was about a cousin of mine who had exclaimed, “Then a girl should just die!” after being being confronted with narrow, shallow women’s roles. We would nod knowingly every time that story was narrated. Why wouldn’t we? We knew exactly what she was talking about.
Growing up, the women in my life seemed to lead unhappy lives. They were putting themselves down, constantly feeling the need to tweak and change themselves physically, and complaining about the responsibilities they were given as a woman.
These were strong women who had fled war, started life in a foreign country and raised their children with honour and dignity. Yet they just didn’t seem to be happy with themselves. Something was missing.
Muslim Women of perfection
Ten years later, I am blessed with the opportunity of meeting Muslim women who carry themselves with such honour, dignity and grace. These women are not only amazing wives but amazing mothers, and not only amazing mothers but amazing leaders, and not only amazing leaders but sincere, devout and pleased slaves of Allah (May Allah be pleased with them). Everything they do, they do with perfection, not because they are perfectionists but because they desire to do everything with Ihsan (excellence) purely for the pleasure of their Lord.
You might ask, “How do you know it is all sincere work?”
The fruits of their work are so clear that they can only indicate that the source was sincerity. May Allah increase them in all the good.
A beacon of light
I have had the blessing of spending some time with Ustadha Umm Umar, the backbone of Seekershub Academy. Not only is she a beacon of light on her own home, but she is also facilitating the spread of the light of Islam in homes all over the globe.
“All over the globe,” is something extremely significant, influence that others will never even come close to reaching. One of the most impirtant things she taught me, was the importance of making every single action meaningful and intentional as a means of drawing closer to Allah. Even something as small as washing a cup, or giving salams to a fellow sister transformed from“just do it,” to“just do it for Allah.”
Modestly and strength for His sake
I have also had the honour of spending time with Ustadha Saiema Syed Din, who is a beautiful example of how to be a modest and strong woman. I have never seen her neglect one for the other. There is always a beautiful combination of both; modesty and strength solely for the sake of Allah.
Here is the example of a woman who not only fills the role of wife and mother, but also the role of a leader. She brings the light of the Prophetic Character into the hearts of the children she teaches at Lote Tree Foundation, as well as their families. In fact, Shaykh Faraz Rabbani has mentioned countless times that the most well-behaved kids in the community are students from Lote Tree.
Not from her tongue, but from her heart
Being someone who lacks adab, I was embarrassed to be given the task of serving our teacher Ustadha Shehnaz Karim at the Seekershub Toronto Retreat in September 2015. Despite my shame, I was very grateful for the fruits that came forth from that heavy task.
My heart could sense that her every word flowed not from her tongue, but directly from her heart, where the love of Allah and His Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) resides. During our morning classes on the patio, the sisters would be transfixed, almost forgetting to go for breakfast as the words Ustadha Shehnaz spoke nourished them much more than food ever could. The main lesson she taught me was, “Be with Allah, fall in love with Him and all else will fall into place.”
Life changing? You bet!
Holding up the torches of light
Every moment with our beloved teachers has been fruitful. These teachers are amongst many other women, holding up the torches of light. It is up to us to take our candles to them, to light them up and start spreading that light to our hearts, homes, and communities.
May Allah increase our teachers in goodness (khair) and well-being (a’fiya) and gather us all together with our Beloved Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) in the gardens of Paradise. Aameen.
By Mahdia Sarfaraz