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 (peace and blessings be upon him), and obedience to Allah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him).

In what follows are the glad tidings given by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him), to some of the women among his companions.

Narrated 'Ayshah: I did not feel jealous of any of the wives of the Prophet as much as I did of Khadijah (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 (peace and blessings be upon him), said: 'The best women of mankind are four: Mariam daughter of 'Imran, Assiya wife of Pharaoh, Khadijah daughter of Khuwailid, and Fatima the daughter of the Messenger of Allah.' [Bukhari and Muslim]

Narrated Abu Hurayrah: Jibril (Gabriel) came to the Prophet and said, 'O Allah's Apostle! This is Khadijah 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 ahadith 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 (May Allah be pleased with him) 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 honorable among you in the sight of Allah are the most pious.' [Noble Quran 49:13]

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 (peace and blessings be upon him). She knew that the one who cures, ash-Shafi, is Allah, and Allah would answer the Du'a of His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him). We conclude from this 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-iltija' ila 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 (peace and blessings be upon him) 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 (peace and blessings be upon him), says: 'Whenever a hardship affects the Muslim, he will be forgiven for it even when he is picked by a spike.' [Muslim]

And in another Hadith, also narrated by Muslim, Ummu as-Sa'ib cursed fever, to which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) 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 rounded 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 if necessary.

All these may be difficult to achieve for some in the beginning, but when one overcomes herself 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 (peace and blessings be upon him); and then the help of Allah will come, insha'Allah. She (the black woman) preferred being patient, but could not tolerate that her honor, 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 (peace and blessings be upon him). Not only 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 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 Khadijah be greeted by Allah and by Jibril. Ask yourself what made Khadijah be rewarded a Palace in Jannah as no one can imagine. Reading the biography of Khadijah 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, who help us focus on the straight path ...

Acknowledgment: Some of the ideas were expressed in an article written by Haled Abu Sail which appeared in the Da'wah magazine, Iss. 1514, page 32.

Asma' bint Abi Bakr

In the first issue, we learned about the black woman and her love for Allah. Once again we will take a trip back in time and visit another great woman, Asma' bint Abi Bakr, one of the Sahabah (female Companions) of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). This journey requires that we free our minds from the ideas of modernists and pay special attention to the life this blessed companion led, and compare it to our own lives. As always, we will make this trip through the authentic narration from the Scholars of Hadith. Brace yourselves as we now journey back in time to the golden era at the time of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him).

Asma' daughter of Abu Bakr said: "az-Zubair (Ibn al-'Awwam, the cousin of the Prophet, through his aunt) married me. He had neither wealth, slave or anything else like it, except a camel (to get water) and a horse. I used to graze his horse, [provide fodder to it and look after it, and ground dates for his camel. Besides this, I grazed the camel], made arrangements for providing [it with] water and patched up [his] leather bucket and kneaded the flour. But I was not proficient in baking the bread, so my female neighbors used to bake bread for me [and they were sincere women]. And I used to carry on my head the stones (seeds) of the dates from az-Zubair's land which Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) had endowed him, and it was at a distance of two miles (from Madinah).

"As I was one day carrying the stones of dates upon my head I happened to meet Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) along with a group of his Companions. He called me and said to the camel to sit down so that he should make me ride behind him. I felt shy to go with men and I remembered az-Zubair and his ghirah(1), and he was the man having the most ghirah. When the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) understood my shyness, he left. I came to az-Zubair and said: 'The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) met me as I was carrying the stones of the dates on my head, and there was with him a group of his Companions, he said to the camel to sit down so that I mount it, I felt shy from him, and remembered your ghirah.' Whereupon he (az-Zubair) said: 'By Allah, the carrying of dates' stone upon your head is more severe a burden on me than riding with him.' [And I led this life of hardship] until Abu Bakr sent afterwards a female servant who took upon herself the responsibility of looking after the horse and I felt as if she had emancipated me(2)." Remember that Asma' was the sister in law of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)!

Asma' reported: "I performed the household duties of az-Zubair and he had a horse, I used to look after it. Nothing was (more) for me than looking after the horse. I used to bring grass for it and looked after it, then I got a servant as Allah's Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) had some prisoners of war in his possession. He gave me a female servant. She then began to look after the horse and thus relieved me of this burden. A person came and he said: 'Mother of Abdullah, I am a destitute person and I intend that I should start business under the shadow of your house.' I (Asma') said: 'If I grant you permission, az Zubair may not agree to that, so you come and make a demand of it when az-Zubair is also present there.'"

He came accordingly and said: 'Mother of Abdullah, I am a destitute person. I intend to start small business in the shadow of your house. I said: 'Is there not in Madinah (any place for starting the business) except my house?' Az-Zubair said: 'Why is it that you prohibit the destitute man to start business here?' So he started business and he (earned so much) that we sold our slave-girl to him. Az-Zubair came to me while the money was in my lap. He said: 'Give this to me.' I said: '(I intend) to spend it in charity.'" [Muslim]

Notice how Asma' had been in favor of allowing that person to start business under the shadow of their house, but she did not like to do anything which could be a source of annoyance or disgust to her husband. She, therefore, posed a question in order to solicit the opinion of her husband and when his reaction was found favorable, she agreed to this proposal.

Dear Sister, Allah has made you a protected jewel in Islam whom the liberalists are trying to make an object of trade, and the modernists [among Muslims] are trying to strip you of your modesty and shyness. Read these ahadith carefully, over and over, and ponder on them very deeply. They contain a gold mine for both women and men

Asma' had the following credits to her personality (among others):

She was one of the most noble women of Arabia at that time.

The daughter of the pure and the noble Abu Bakr, the leader of his tribe, and the first Caliph of Islam.

The sister-in-law of the best of mankind. Muhammad, who named her "Thatun-Nitaqayn" (the one with two belts), for her heroic act during the Hijrah [migration] of the Prophet and Abu Bakr, from Makkah to Madinah.

The sister of the most knowledgeable woman, 'Aishah who is among the only seven Companions of the Prophet who narrated more than a thousand ahadith.

The wife of az-Zubair Ibn al-'Awwaam, one of the ten people promised Paradise by the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him). Az-Zubair was brave, courageous and defended the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) with his sword.

The mother of amirul-mu'minin 'Abdullah Ibn az-Zubair who was given bay'a in Hijaz and was killed by al-Hajjaaj(3): and

The mother of 'Urwah, who when he entered in prayer he would forget about this life. It was 'Urwah who when his leg had to be cut, was told to drink wine as an anesthesia but refused to drink wine and instead, gave instructions to cut it while he was in prayer. They did, and he did not feel anything until he woke up.

Asma' was one of the most noble personalities, yet was veiled and shy in front of men. She refused to be with men, mingle with them, ride among them or go with them - and by Allah, the men being talked about were no ordinary men! They were the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions. She served her husband as a true wife should, staying at home to take care of her household. She was very careful at guarding and preserving her honor, and the honor of her husband. Did she ever pressure az-Zubair by reminding him of her honorable lineage as the daughter of the noble Abu Bakr? She was patient for the hardship she went through, and was loving and respectful towards her husband. Can a woman be richer than Asma'?

Her father, Abu Bakr, was a rich merchant. Yet, she carried stones of dates on her head, and walked miles to get water and date seeds. She also dealt with horses and camels [which she did not do in her father' s house], baked bread, pleased her husband, yet would not take decisions without him, even if it were an obvious decision for the pleasure of Allah.

Dear sister, wake up! Realize that the modernists and liberalists are leading you to a path other than the path of the Believers. Allah says (the meaning (of which is):

And whoever contends with, and contradicts the Messenger after guidance has been clearly conveyed to him, and chooses a path other than that of the Faithful Believers, We shall leave him in the Path he has chosen and land him in Hell, what an evil refuge!" [Noble Quran 4:115] (4).

Which path leads you to happiness of this world and the hereafter, to the pleasure of Allah and the company of Asma' in Paradise? Is it the path of tabarruj(5) and sufur(6) and Ikhtilat(7) or the path of Hijab and Modesty?

Remember the golden words of Asma' when she said: "I felt shy to go with men, and I remembered az-Zubair and his ghirah." Remember also what the black woman said: "But I become uncovered, so please invoke Allah for me [make du'a to Allah for me] that I may not become uncovered." This illustrates what kind of a pure and clean society it was, and what kind of amazing women they were. They were the followers of the Qur'an and the Sunnah, the Salaf that we are proud to follow. We ask you to think about this, and pray to Allah to make us all among the pure women and men whom Allah is pleased with, and whom the Messenger of Allah will be pleased and happy to meet in Paradise, for they followed his Sunnah though they never met him, and they followed the practice of his Companions though they never met them either.

Imagine, dear sister, that you are among the blessed ones who succeeded in passing over the Sirat(8), and found in front of you the Hawdh (pool) of the Prophet and you drank from it. Imagine yourself entering Jannah and finding the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) who is happy to see you. Imagine you are among those whom he called "my brethren"(9). Imagine yourself among the blessed ones when the veil will be withdrawn, and the people of the Paradise "will not have known anything dearer to them than looking upon the Countenance of their Lord." [Muslim] Indeed, the reward of Allah is invaluable; the reward of Allah is Paradise; its price is following and practicing the Qur'an and the Sunnah the way that Asma' and az-Zubair and all the Sahabah did.

Back home to the fifteenth century Hijrah [twentieth of the Christian era] ...

We hope and pray that after journeying through these authentic ahadith with us, we can put into practice all that we have learnt. We remind you that our happiness, the pleasure of our eyes and the comfort of our hearts start with you by your following of the Qur'an and the Sunnah and the practice of the Salaf:

We hope to see you insha'Allah in our next trip to the golden age through some other ayahs of the Qur'an and the authentic ahadith.

(1) the feeling of honor a man has towards the female members of his family.
(2) al-Bukhari, Muslim and Ahmad; additional narration in brackets "[ ]" are from Muslim.
(3) Abdullah Ibn az-Zubair sought advice from his mother Asma' in fighting al Hajjaaj and his amir Abdul Malik after these two called him to surrender in peace. She replied: lf you went out [in fighting] to revive the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet, know that the goat does not get tortured by slaughtering [i.e. once slain, it does not feel anything when the skin is removed]. So die on the truth. But if you went out seeking the worldly life, then there is no goodness in you alive or dead. My Son! Die with honor and dignity and do not surrender. [Musnad al Haiku] After this meeting with Asma' Abdullah went out to fight ...he was killed in Makkah ... May Allah have Mercy on him and be pleased with him.
(4) The faithful believers are the Sahabah [the companions of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)]. Shaikh-ul-lslam Ibn Taymiyah commented on this verse "All who contradict and oppose the Messenger after the right path has been clearly shown to them have followed other than the Path of the believers, and all who follow other than the Path of the believers have contradicted and opposed the Messenger after the right Path has been shown to them. If one thinks that he is following the Path of the Faithful believers and is mistaken, he is in the same position as one who thinks he is following the Messenger and is mistaken"
(5) Displaying one's beauty
(6) Revealing beauty
(7) Mingling with men
(8) The narrow bridge hanging over hell.
(9) Part of the hadith from Sahih Muslim which continues: '...the Sahabah replied "Aren't we your brethren?'"He said: "You are my companions; my brethren are people who come later, believe in me (and obviously follow me), even though they did not see me."' This hadith will be the subject of one of our future articles, where it will be referenced appropriately and mentioned in its entirety, insha'Allah.