What makes a strong woman? The kind of woman who lives by principle, who is unfazed by weak morals of those around her. One who does not succumb and give in and thereby give up what the Almighty expects of her (and what does the Almighty expect of her? This, I’ll discuss later.)
The kind of woman who does not need validation of her worth from anyone, least of all strangers, least of all creepy, strange men lurking on the internet. Strangers who, by the way, are most unworthy of her time, attention, words, and… her – are most unworthy to look at her.
How does one become her? How does one raise her?
I find myself coming back to these thoughts often. My thoughts conclude to this āyah,
O sister of Aaron, your father was not a man of evil, nor was your mother unchaste. – Maryam:28
This is what was said to Maryam ʿalayhas salām when she returned from her time in seclusion clutching an infant.
It is as if they knew that one who grows up in a stronghold such as the one Maryam grew up in will least likely deviate and become corrupt and unchaste.
What strikes me is the ratio of men to wom(a)n mentioned in the āyah.
It’s often said that the fate of our future generations rests upon the shoulders of the women today. If we want an ummah that’s good enough, women better raise good enough children.
But here in the āyah we’ve got a different formula to raising a strong woman – the kind I described earlier. She needs twice the number of righteous men around her than women. Ah.
Or… perhaps this: one woman, a mother, who’s capable, is enough for the daughter to grow up and become an upright woman.
If you were to look at that conversation, you’ll realise something peculiar, she says, ❝and *I* have named her Maryam…❞, considering the era they lived in, how often do you think a woman got enough freedom to name her child? But she did.
You see, a stronghold isn’t formed overnight by the efforts of one. It needs dedication, effort, sincerity, and the right people to bring it about.
Do you know what hope that Allāh will give you the very best of His bounties which your heart pines for, even though realistically and rationally speaking the mere thought, let alone an actual possibility, is too far-fetched, looks like?
Prophet Zakarīyā had reached old age and his wife was barren, yet this did not deter him from asking Allāh to enrich him from Allāh’s bounties in the form of a righteous child. He made a duʿāʾ of a person not asking out of protocol but asking with completely certainty that not only will it be heard but that it will be answered.
But wait there is more. He asked for a righteous child not for personal gains, not just because he knew a righteous child will bring coolness to his eyes and carry his lineage. But he asked for something that would eventually bring victory to Allāh’s religion. He asked for something that would be a means of closeness to Allāh for him.
[This is] a mention of the mercy of your Lord to His servant Zechariah.
When he called to his Lord a private supplication.
He said, “My Lord, indeed my bones have weakened, and my head has filled with white, and never have I been in my supplication to You, my Lord, unhappy.
And indeed, I fear the successors after me, and my wife has been barren, so give me from Yourself an heir
Who will inherit me and inherit from the family of Jacob. And make him, my Lord, pleasing [to You].” – Maryam:2-6
Many of us are attached to ideas, dreams and hopes, without ever considering these ideas, dreams and hopes in relation to our Greater Purpose. How will these ideas, dreams and hopes enable us to serve our religion better, how will they bring us closer to Allāh, closer to Jannah..?
#ShiftYoParadigm: When you plan and dream and ask — make sure you do so not just for your personal betterment but for the betterment of this dīn.
Our pious predecessors had lofty levels of īmān. Īmān was rooted in their heritage; īmān ran through their veins. It was this īmān that directed and guided their thought processes and decision making.
As a result, they would not carry out any task or approach any project except after ensuring what they were about to get involved in would pay back in benefits and khair towards Islām and the Muslims.
This mentality will help you detach from dreams that are fuelled by mere desires of your nafs which might not necessarily be good for you, to dreams with a much grander potential.
And remember: anything or anyone that does not bring you closer to Allāh or His Book is eventually leading you to your destruction.
Wait, there is still more.
Do you know what the epitome of loyalty looks like?
This: Prophet Zakarīyā stayed with his wife – he did not leave her nor replace her, even though she could not provide him with a child that he so wanted. (She eventually did of course, Allāh had decreed it so.)
Perhaps at the core of it all, this is what makes a relationship tick, and last: Sincere love fillāh, loving-supporting-honouring them even when they have nothing more to offer. Yā Allāh.
ربي إني متفائل بعطائك، فأعطني ما تمنيت
My Lord, I am [forever] optimistic in Your Giving, so give me what my heart yearns for.
He said, “I am the servant of God. He has given me the Book and has appointed me to be a Prophet (30) He has blessed me no matter where I dwell, commanded me to worship Him and pay the religious tax for as long as I live (31) He has commanded me to be good to my parents and has not made me an arrogant rebellious person (32) I was born with peace and I shall die and be brought to life again with peace (33) Such was the true story of Jesus, the son of Mary, about which they dispute bitterly (34) God is too Exalted to have a son. When He decides to bring some thing into existence He needs only command it to exist and it comes into existence (35) "Worship God who is my Lord as well as yours. This is the straight path” (36)
“And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, "Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten.”
But he called her from below her, “Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream.
And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.
So eat and drink and be comforted. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, ‘Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.’ ”
-Surat Maryam (19:23-26)
This is where Maryam (AS) may have lived. These are the foundations of what may be her house, and a little ways away is a shrine to her. It was hard to believe where I was and hard not to get a little emotional standing there and seeing this place. Surat Maryam - especially those specific ayat - has given me comfort and peace beyond anything else. Every time I sit down to read her surah I end up wrapped in a blanket, my eyes full of tears. It was a blessing to be able to come to this place.
And the disbeliever says, “When I have died, am I going to be brought forth alive?”
Does man not remember that We created him before, while he was nothing?
So by your Lord, We will surely gather them and the devils; then We will bring them to be
present around Hell upon their knees.