Assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu!
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
Money is tight. The kids are demanding. Skin is raw from all the cooking, cleaning and chores that have to be done every day. There's absolutely no time to spare for anything else, whether it's pursuing further education or volunteering for a special cause.
Does this sound familiar?
There are Muslim women all over the world who find themselves at home, living life as domestic stay-at-home mums and housewives. It's a physically and emotionally demanding job and it's also a pretty thankless one.
How can spending all day serving others, instead of being involved in some kind of noble, public cause, ever be truly fulfilling and worth recognition - not just by people, but by Allah Himself?
Fatima, the daughter of Muhammad (saw) is known to be one of the four most perfect women in the entire world.
"Prophet Muhammad (saw) drew four lines and said to the Companions, "Do you know what these are?" They said, "Allah and His Messenger (saw) know best". He said, "The best women from the women of Paradise are Khadijah (ra) bint Khuwaylid, Fatima (ra) bint Muhammad (saw), Maryam bint Imran and Asiyah bint Muzahim (the wife of Pharaoh)".
What made Fatima (ra) so special? So special, in fact, that she will forever be known as one of the greatest women of Paradise?
Fatima (ra) bint Muhammad (saw) is not known for an act of dramatic courage such as that displayed by Nusaybah bint Ka'b (ra) during the Battle of Uhud, but she too provides an example for a situation that many Muslim women around the world live and continue to face: the everyday drudgery of life as a wife and mother.
Fatima (ra) may have been the most beloved daughter to the Prophet (saw), who was also the head of the Islamic State and leader of the Muslim army, but that didn't mean that her life was one of luxury or ease.
Quite to the contrary, Fatima (ra) was the mother of two young boys and ran her household single-handedly. Life was difficult back then, with none of the technologies that smooth our way through tedious tasks today.
She used to grind the wheat for her bread with her own hands, to the point that her hands would crack and bleed. Her husband, Ali ibn Abi Talib (ra), was an employee of one of the Ansaar, but the income was meagre and they struggled to survive on a daily basis.
One day, weary and despairing of the toll that their lifestyle was taking on her, Fatima (ra) decided that she would approach her father, the Prophet Muhammad (saw). At the time, the Muslims had won a battle and, as a result, had captured several prisoners and other spoils of war.
With the reasoning that as a member of the Ummah, she was entitled to some relief, Fatima (ra) went to visit one of the Prophet's (saw) homes. She did not find her father present, but seeing her stepmother Aisha (ra), Fatima (ra) shared the story of her bleeding hands and her wish for a maidservant to take a share of the burdens.
Fatima (ra) went back to her home, and the when the Prophet (saw) returned to his own house, Aisha (ra) told him about his daughters visit. That same night, the Prophet (saw) slipped into his daughters home, where she and Ali (ra) were already lying in bed.
Ali (ra) narrates, "I wanted to get up, but the Prophet (saw) said, "Remain in your place". Then he sat down between us until I felt the coolness of his face on my chest. The Prophet (saw) said, "Shall I teach you a thing which is better than what you have asked me? When you go to bed, say Allahu Akbar 34 times, Subhanallah 33 times and Alhamdulillah 33 times, for that is better for you both than a servant".
After this, Fatima (ra) never repeated her request for a maid ever again.
It may seem to be a small and insignificant thing, but this was one of the reasons for which Fatima (ra) earned her position as one of the queens of Jannah. Her life was spent quietly serving her Lord, through her sincere intentions behind caring for her husband and children.
Around her, there were many Sahabiyat (female companions) whose lives seemed much more exciting, full of adventure and grandeur. Her stepmother, Aisha (ra), was a great scholar; her great aunt Safiyah bint Abdul Mutallib (ra) was fierce in battle and the women of Madinah were renowned for their boldness in approaching any matter.
Nonetheless, for Fatima (ra), the path to Paradise was simple - though never easy. For every stay-at-home mother and housewife who feels that her life is too consumed by daily drudgery, who worries that her life is too dull to be of consequence, the quiet strength of Fatima (ra) is an inspiration and a reminder that no deed, however small or insignificant, is overlooked by Allah, the Most Compassionate, the Most Just.
And be patient, for indeed, Allah does not allow to be lost the reward of those who do good.
(Surah Hud - Verse 115)
Jannah is not only for the Prophets, the martyrs, the ascetics or the scholars; Jannah is attainable by every Muslimah, no matter her occupation or station in life. In the eyes of Allah, every sincere Muslim woman who pledges her life to pleasing her Lord is a heroine of Islam.