Recently a sister and I were talking about the lack of Islamic talks we now attend, we both come from a life, where we were busy with regular Islamic reminders, which kept us focused. We then both said something, that I really liked; we both attend Islamic circles, with the intention to take something away from it, it doesn’t have to be a whole tafsir of a surah, something small, something that makes us think about making a change in ourselves and in how we function. I liked this conversation because, that’s what I do, when I attend a class or a circle, I make tons of notes, you’ll see my pen moving the fastest, but I usually only concentrate on one piece of information from a whole list of things that is spoken about. I’ve always done this, because I then remember the entire class based on this one take home message I choose.
And this is what I was telling this sister, how the first time I had met her was at the masjid when she delivered an amazing reminder about the use of time. May Allah reward her, ameen.
So, anyways, couple of weeks ago, at the family halaqah at our local masjid, the imam spoke about our mother of the believers, Zainab bint Jahsh (ra). I attended thinking; well I know her story, her marriage to Zaid (ra) and then the Prophet (saw), what kind of take-home message, will I have this time?
The imam started the talk with the disclaimer that his halaqa isn’t going to concentrate on the usual orientalist controversy around Zainab’s (ra) marriage to the Prophet (saw), he made a point by saying he wants to talk more about her and her family. So he told us about her siblings and how they had all accepted Islam in its early days. So straight away I liked it, I thought, this imam knows what I’m thinking, alhamdhulillah.
He did mention Zainab’s (ra) marriages, but he spoke about it from Zaid’s, Zainab’s (ra) and the Prophet’s (saw) firm faith in Allah and His words point of view. I was still waiting to learn more, more about her, as a woman, away from the controversy that surrounds her biography.
The imam continued, and he gave a list of things that she did all the time, that is often overlooked, and it is in this list, I found inspiration to do something different this Ramadan.
Here’s what the imam shared, this is what made Zainab (ra) who she was;
- Her piety and devoutness – she built a masjid within her home and spent most of her time there.
- Generosity – She was known for her generosity, she would give anything she had. During the khilafah of Umar bin Khattab (ra) he gave all the wives of the Prophet (saw) 12,000 dirhams annually, she initially refused this, one year she took it but gave ALL of it away in charity. She came from a wealthy family, she was from the Quraish, a cousin of the Prophet (saw) but she would make crafts at home and sell them, any money she would get, she used to spend in charity.
- Righteousness – When Aisha (ra) was horribly accused, it was Zainab (ra) who came to her defence. She didn’t have to, she was a co-wife, but she did, she did because she understood and recognised right and wrong.
So I attended the circle, thinking what can I take from it. I took loads, and although I didn’t think about it initially, I’ve been thinking about it afterwards, a lot. She did things beloved to Allah, she made her salah special, she gave it worth by dedicating a prayer area within the home, she spent in the way of Allah, with everything she had, and she stood up for someone, when not many people did. This is what I took from the life of Zainab bint Jahsh (ra), things that we can all try and do, things I can try and do.
So, at home, our tiny, tiny home, we’ve attempted to build a Ramadan masjid, for my children, the ameer and myself. When I say children, I mean the four year old, because the ten month old, I’m sure is plotting to demolish it. We won’t be able to pray in congregation in there, but for individual ibadah, it is a perfect sweet, small area. We can recite quran, read some books and use it to get away and remember Allah. We might make a few changes along the way, but we are all looking forward to using it, inshaAllah.
These lives of blessed people are nice to listen to, but it’s even nicer when their lives can do something to ours.
May Allah raise the ranks of our Mother Zainab (ra) and any good we can do from the lessons from her life, may He accept them from us. Ameen.