The Prophet (SAW)’s upbringing

After his birth, Prophet Muhammad stayed with his mother Amina for a while and then, as per tradition, was handed over to his wet-nurse. The purpose of entrusting children to a wet nurse was so that they could be raised in the desert –a healthier environment in which to grow up when compared to the city– and so that they could learn fluent Arabic. In accordance with this tradition, Prophet Muhammad was given to Halima bint Abi Dhuayb, who was a member of the Sa’d ibn Bakr branch of the Hawazin tribe. In a year of famine, Halima had gone to Makka with her husband and other Bedouin women who earned a living through nursing; however, she was unable to find a child from a rich family to nurse. But when she learned that Muhammad had lost his father she did not hesitate to take him, and she agreed to be his wet nurse so that she would not return home empty-handed. Halima brought Prophet Muhammad back to Makka two years later; however, Amina wanted her child to stay with Halima for a little longer, as she believed that the desert air was good for her child and, according to some accounts, there was a plague in Makka. Prophet Muhammad stayed with his wet nurse until he was five or six years old and was then brought to Makka and handed over to his mother. Halima’s husband was Harith ibn Abdil ’Uzza. The couple’s children, ‘Abd Allah, Unaysa and Shayma, were the Prophet’s foster siblings.

According to narration, Halima and Harith witnessed great abundance and blessing after taking Prophet Muhammad in their care; their camels and sheep began to provide much more milk than they had before. In addition, the sources reveal that the Splitting of the Chest (shaqq al-sadr) incident occurred during the time Prophet Muhammad was staying with his wet nurse. This was an event in which two angels descended to earth, split open Muhammad’s chest, removed his heart and purified it from all evils, washing it with heavenly water and then putting it back in its place. It is recorded that when Halima and Harith learned about this incident they were very anxious as they were unable to explain certain extraordinary characteristics of Muhammad that they had witnessed many times before; they now thought that it would be better for the child to be back with his family.

When Prophet Muhammad reached the age of six, his mother Amina took him in her care, and together with her helper Umm Ayman, took him to Yathrib (Madina). While there, they visited the grave of her husband ‘Abd Allah and the members of the Banu Najjar, who were considered uncles of the family due to ‘Abd al-Muttalib’s mother. After staying in Yathrib for a month Amina, still young at the time, became ill and later died in Abwa –located 190 km from Madina– while on the way back to Makka. It is said that before her death, Amina looked at her child and said: “All living things perish. All things new get old. All things in abundance diminish. All things great disappear. Certainly I too will die, but I will always be remembered, because I leave to the world my son as a benevolent future.” Orphaned with the death of his mother, Muhammad was brought back to Makka by Umm Ayman and entrusted to the care of his grandfather ‘Abd al-Muttalib. Prophet Muhammad revisited Abwa in the sixth year following the Emigration (628 AD) and visited his mother’s grave. Tidying the grave with his own hands, he shed tears as he remembered the affection and compassion of his mother. Greatly affected by his grief, the Companions could not hold back their tears and cried with him.

‘Abd al-Muttalib took great care of Muhammad, as the precious gift from his son ‘Abd Allah, who had died at an early age. He would sit at the table and eat with Muhammad, offer him the seat of honor located in the shadow of the wall of the Ka’ba, take him to the meetings inDar al-Nadwa (Council Hall) over which he presided, and through all his actions, tried his utmost to ensure that his grandson did not feel the absence of fatherly compassion and love. More than eighty years-of-age at the time, ‘Abd al-Muttalib passed away not long after he had handed over the custody and protection of his grandson, then eight years-of-age, to the latter’s paternal uncle, Abu Talib. Abu Talib was born from the same father and mother as the Prophet’s father. He loved his nephew more than his own children, believing that the child had brought fortune to the family, and he made great efforts to raise him well. He would take Muhammad with him on some of his journeys. And so, when the Prophet was nine (or twelve) years old and his uncle had decided to go to Syria for trade, he wanted to accompany Abu Talib. Seeing his nephew’s insistence on this, Abu Talib took the Prophet with him on his journey. The caravan stopped in Bosra, located in Syria. A monk called Bahira, living in a monastery, invited the caravan to join him for a meal. After Bahira told Abu Talib that Muhammad was the awaited Prophet foretold in the Bible, he cautioned Abu Talib against some of the dangers that his nephew could face and advised Abu Talib to protect his nephew well. Upon this warning, Abu Talib ended his journey and returned to Makka.

It is known that when Prophet Muhammad was about ten years old he worked as a shepherd for a period of time in order to help his uncle Abu Talib, who had a large family. He would later refer to this time during his Prophethood saying, “There has never been a Prophet who did not herd sheep.” When his Companions asked, “Did you herd sheep O Messenger of God?” he replied, “Yes. I herded the sheep of Makka.”

Abu Talib’s wife Fatima bint Asad took great care of Muhammad, caring for him more than her own children. The Prophet never forgot the goodness of his aunt when he grew up. He would visit her in her house in Madina and would sometimes sleep there in the afternoons. Very grieved when she passed away, the Prophet used his own shirt for her shroud and personally led her funeral prayer. When speaking of his sadness to those around him, he showed his great sense of loyalty with the following words: “I was a child who was in need of her custody. She would feed me even if her children were hungry. She would leave her children and comb my hair. She was like my mother.” Abu Talib stood by his nephew after he became a Prophet and although Prophet Muhammad’s persistent requests that Abu Talib accept Islam were never answered, Abu Talib did his best to protect Prophet Muhammad, both as a child and later when he became a Prophet.

There were frequent wars between the Arab tribes in the Age of Ignorance, so much so that there would even be warfare during the sacred months (Dhu al-Qa’dah, Dhu al-Hijjah, Muharram and Rajab) during which bloodshed was prohibited. Such battles were known as fijar (sacrilegious) wars because of their being fought in the sacred months. The Prophet was compelled to join such a war in his later teens. The most reliable account states that the Prophet and his uncles participated in the great battle that broke out between the Quraysh-Kinanah and Qays-‘Aylan alliances, but that he did not actually fight in the war, rather protecting the belongings of his uncles, deflecting arrows with his shield and then collecting them to give to his uncles. It is thought that he was either fourteen, fifteen, seventeen or twenty years old at the time.

Prophet Muhammad participated in a meeting when he was twenty for a league known as the Hilf al-Fudul (the Alliance of the Virtuous). The Hilf al-Fudulwas drawn up to prevent injustices that were being carried out against the weak and defenseless who came to Makka for pilgrimage or trade, and to prevent the tribal wars that broke out frequently. TheHilf al-Fudul was drawn up under the auspices of Zubayr ibn ‘Abd al-Muttalib, Prophet Muhammad’s uncle, and under the leadership of Jud’an at-Taymi, the richest, oldest and most influential tribal leader in Makka.

Those who joined the league took an oath that they would protect everyone in Makka who encountered injustice, be they natives or foreigners, acting as one and helping each other financially to ensure that justice was served. Prophet Muhammad talked about this alliance, praising it, and said: “I was present in ‘Abd Allah ibn Judan’s house when they concluded a pact so excellent that I would not change my part in it even for a herd of red camels; if I was asked now, in Islam, to take part in it, I would gladly agree.” According to an account by Balazuri, in the Islamic period Abu Jahl refused to pay the price of something that he had purchased from a man who was a member of the Arash. A polytheist who knew the hostility of Abu Jahl towards the Prophet jokingly told the aggrieved trader that he could apply to the Prophet who was in the Ka’ba and that the Prophet would give him his money back. Upon hearing these words, the trader went to the Ka’ba, explained the situation to Prophet Muhammad and asked for his help. The Prophet went to Abu Jahl’s house and took back the money without any confrontation.

Prophet Muhammad made his living through trade, like many of the Quraysh in Makka. He embarked on his career in trade by helping Abu Talib, who was involved in trading cloth and grain. Prophet Muhammad continued this trade when his uncle became older. It is known that Prophet Muhammad traveled to various places for purposes of trade, such as to the Hubasha trade fair when he was a teenager, to Yemen once or twice, to the Mushakkar and Daba fairs in eastern Arabia, and even to Abyssinia. As a result of these journeys, Prophet Muhammad not only learned about the necessities of commercial life, but also became acquainted with the people living in certain regions of Arabia, and learned about their languages, dialects, religions, and political and social conditions. There is consensus among the sources that Prophet Muhammad lived an honest life and remained removed from the wrongdoing prevalent in the Age of Ignorance and came to be known, at the age of twenty-five, asMuhammad al-Amin or Al-Amin (the Trustworthy) because of his decency, bravery, compassion, fairness, and his honesty and reliability in commercial life. The Makkan trader ‘Qays ibn Saib stated that he had many commercial dealings with Prophet Muhammad and that he had never come across a partner in trade who was better than he. He said: “When he set out on a journey, I would refer to him some transactions that needed to be carried out for me. After the journey he would not return to his house until he had told me about the transactions in such a way as would make me content. In contrast, when I set out on my travels and he gave me some transactions to perform, upon my return he would only ask whether I was healthy and in good spirits, unlike other people, who only questioned me on issues relating to their business.

Mass Production

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was tasked with the huge responsibility of conveying the guidance of Allah (swt) – a process that spanned 23 years.

 

And yet…he (saw) still made time to be caring and generous with his wives; he still made time to play with children and take care of orphans; he still made time to worship Allah (swt) with great dedication. Needless to say, you won’t find another person as productive as him (peace be upon him).

 

In our journey of attempting to make a living and follow our dreams, we sometimes sideline other important people and things in our lives.

We might work long hours and get home late from the office, barely interacting our kids for a few moments before bedtime. We might neglect our health because we’re too “busy” to care about how we eat and how we exercise. And we might neglect our worship in favour of worldly gains.

 

In a hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him), he says, “Your body has a right over you, your eyes have a right over you and your wife has a right over you.”

 

If you’re continuously neglecting your family, your health, your studies or your worship in favour of something else, then you haven’t achieved the balance that’s necessary for a meaningful, productive life.

 

Find balance in your life and learn how you can become a master of time at www.TimeTravellerOnline.com

You Decide.

A wise old man was sitting at the river bank when he saw a cat that had fallen into the water, flailing around, trying to save itself from drowning.

The man decided to save the cat. He stretched his hand out but was scratched by the cat. He pulled his hand back in pain.

However, a minute later he stretched his hand out again to save the cat, but it scratched him again, and again he pulled his hand back in pain.

Another minute later he was yet again trying for the third time!!

A man, who was nearby watching what was happening, yelled out: “O wise man, you have not learned your lesson the first time, nor the second time, and now you are trying to save the cat a third time?”

The wise man paid no heed to that man’s scolding, and kept on trying until he managed to save the cat.

He then walked over to the man, and patted his shoulder saying: “My son.. it is in the cat’s nature to scratch, and it is in my nature to love and have sympathy. Why do you want me to let the cat’s nature overcome mine !?!!

My son: Treat people according to your nature, not according to theirs, no matter what they are like and no matter how numerous are their actions that harm you and cause you hurt sometimes.

And do not pay heed to all the voices that loudly call out to you to leave behind your good qualities merely because the other party is not deserving of your noble actions.

When you live to give happiness to others, Allah Ta’ala will send you those who will live to give happiness to you.

“Is the reward for good anything but good?” -55:60

Be beautiful in character and hearts will love you.

So never regret the moments you gave happiness to someone, even if that person did not deserve it.

And suffice in the fact that you have a Lord Who will reward you for good with good.

____________

“The entire Deen is (about) good character, so whoever exceeds you in good character, has exceeded you in the Deen.” 

– Ibn al Qayyum (Rahmatullahi ‘alayh)

Take 5!

If you’re young, in good health, have a comfortable amount of money in the bank, and have some free time – you’re life is the motherload of productivity potential. 

Prophet Muhammad (saw) said, 

“Take benefit of five before five: 
Your youth before your old age
your health before your sickness
your wealth before your poverty
your free time before you arepreoccupied
and your life before your death.” 

We all know this hadith and nod our heads solemnly when we hear it at Friday khutbahs. 

But then we go home and spend hours sprawled in front of our screens, finally crawl into bed at 3am, and snooze the fajr alarm five times before getting up. Oh, is that the sun? 

Guess you missed fajr. Again. 

How many times have you resolved that tomorrow is going to be different? 

And woke up the next day to the sun on your face.  Again. 

Time is the one thing on earth that all humans are equal in. From Presidents of countries, to paupers in the street, to you … we all share the same 24 hours. 

Yet some have mastered it, and some use it as a wonderful one-size-fits-all excuse.  “I don’t have enough Time!” 

How can you not love him?

Love is difficult to measure; it is dynamic, beautiful, dangerous, bittersweet, fluctuating, and abstract. It can lead you to the highest clouds of happiness, but it can also sink you through the depths of a dark abyss.

Throughout one’s life, different forms of love are experienced at varying degrees, but one type of love that is a constant for the sincere believer is the love of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.

There are many reasons to love Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, as will be elaborated on in an upcoming article, but before we dive into the signs of true love, let us be reminded of one of the most heart-moving narrations that would increase a believer’s love, in which Aisha RA said:

“Once, when I saw the Prophet being cheerful, I said to him: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Supplicate to Allah for me!’

He said, ‘O Allah! Forgive ‘Aisha her past and future sins, what she has concealed as well as what she has made apparent.’

So I began smiling, to the point that my head fell into the lap of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ out of joy.

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said to me: ‘Does my du’a (supplication) make you happy?’ I replied: ‘And how can your du’a not make me happy?’

He then said: ‘By Allah, it is the supplication that I make for my Ummah in every prayer.’ ” [1]

How can you not love the Prophet of Allah ﷺ when he supplicated for you in every prayer? The Prophet ﷺ cared more for us than we care for ourselves; he loved us more than we love ourselves. The proof of that is that he constantly prayed for his Ummah and struggled for 23 years in order to convey the message of Allah, and yet oftentimes we fall short with regards to our own spiritual well-being.

We may claim to love Prophet Muhammad, to ourselves and others, but let us examine some surefire signs that prove the authenticity of our love.

1. Imitating and emulating him

We frequently see society around us imitating sports players, movie stars, people of power, and other famous celebrities, out of love for their personalities, hairstyles, clothes, behavior, or speech.

Perhaps the greatest sign of your love for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ is that your life is essentially a sequence of decisions that are guided by your desire to imitate Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. As the famous saying goes, “Your actions are louder than your words.” If you claim to love the Prophet ﷺ, then imitating him is a sign that your claim is authentic. It can therefore be said that the more you sincerely and correctly imitate the Messenger of Allah, the more love you have for him.

Perhaps one of the greatest calamities is when, for example, a passionate believer goes through a sudden spiritual change, and he attempts to implement — and enforce — the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ in some areas, but he completely overlooks the manners of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ without realizing that sound character is a part of faith, and one of the greatest ways to follow the Messenger of Allah ﷺ. Thus, if you wish to imitate and emulate the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, then exemplify his manners alongside the jurisprudential issues.

Action item:
Ask yourself: Are my decisions reflective of a believer who imitates and emulates the Messenger of Allah? What do my manners reflect? How do I treat my parents, wife/husband, children, community members, my superiors and employees, Muslims and non-Muslims? 

2. Studying his seerah

When you love someone, you’ll find yourself learning more about that individual’s actions, sayings, and history. Many of the companions used to teach their children about the life of the Prophet ﷺ at a young age, and before many other subjects.

Every Muslim that is able to should study the life of the Prophet ﷺ to some extent; his mercy, love, compassion, dedication, speech, exalted manners, his concern for the Ummah, and the hardships he endured in order to fulfill his role of conveying the message of the Creator to the creation. This may entail reading a summarized book of the seerah, such as “When the Moon Split”, or covering an advanced book or in-depth video series, but ultimately, everyone should try to cover the basics at least once.

How can you love someone so much but have no passion to learn more about him? It’s a harsh question that many of us need to ask ourselves, and the reality is that the more love you have for the Prophet ﷺ, the more eager you’ll find yourself in learning about him. An indisputable benefit is that studying the seerah will increase your love for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ.

Action item:

If you haven’t yet, study the seerah on a basic level, alone or with family. If you have studied the basics, then move on to a more advanced and in-depth resource.
3. Studying what he conveyed

Prophet Muhammad ﷺ was sent with the greatest and final gift to from the Creator to the creation: the Qur’an. Thus, one sign of love of the Messenger ﷺ is reciting, studying, understanding, implementing, and teaching what he conveyed. The Qur’an is a light for every darkness, a cure for every illness, a guidance for every misguidance, and it was delivered and conveyed by the Messenger that was sent to us for our own happiness and success, in both this life and the Hereafter.

Action item:

Recite the Qur’an on a daily basis, even if in small quantities, and remember that consistency is key. Include with your recitation a basic study of understanding through authentic Tafseer(exegesis) so that your recitation brings about comprehension, concentration, and implementation.

4. Sending salutations upon him

Saying “Allahumma sallee ‘ala Muhammad” in any of its appropriate variations is asking Allah to send peace and blessings and mercy upon the beloved Messenger, and every time you do it, Allah will send upon you 10 times the blessings and mercy in your life [2]. Furthermore, every time you send salutations upon him, an angel appointed next to the Messenger ﷺ conveys your prayers to him. [ 3] Finally, the more you send prayers upon him, the closer you’ll be to him on the Day of Resurrection and the more of his intercession you’ll have on that significant day.

Action item:

Try to begin the basic habit of sending 10 prayers upon him in the morning and 10 in the evening [4], and increase your habit from there throughout the day and night, especially when you remember him or when his name is mentioned.

5. Loving what/whom he loved

This includes acts of worship, such as fasting Mondays and Thursdays or praying at night, and countless sunnan, such as using the siwak or wearing white garments. This sign also includes the people he loved and those who loved him, such as Abu Bakr  and Umar , and the Prophet’s wife, Aisha , as well as his entire family and the companions in their entirety. This is a litmus test for many who claim to love the Messenger but believe in fabrications against his beloved and noble companions.

6. Remembering him and wishing to be with him

When you love someone, you find yourself thinking about them often. The more you love the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, the more you’ll refer back to his life and the more you’ll pray that Allah grants you reunion with him in the Hereafter, in the highest levels of Paradise.

Action item: Include in your daily supplications a du’a for companionship with the Prophet ﷺ.

7. Encouraging others to learn about and emulate him

A sign of loving someone is that you want others to know about your beloved, especially when they delivered to you the only means of salvation and success. It’s easy to encourage friends and family to partake in leisure, vacations, or other forms of entertainment; what we oftentimes forget when we’re growing spiritually is to encourage others to grow with us. A believer who encourages others to study the life and teachings of the Prophet ﷺ has some apparent signs of loving the Prophet ﷺ himself.

Action item: Share this article with others to increase their love for the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, and encourage others to study the seerah andSunnah of the Prophetfrequently.

O Allah! Send your peace and blessings upon your Messenger, his family, and those who follow him until the Day of Resurrection.

O Allah! Grant us true and complete love for your Messenger and his Sunnah and allow us to be upon his path until the day we return to You.

O Allah! Grant us companionship with your Messenger in the highest levels of Paradise!

Footnotes/References

1. Tirmidhi

2. Muslim – “Whoever sends blessings upon me, Allah will send blessings upon him tenfold.”

3. Nasa’i – “Allah has angels who go around on earth, conveying to me the salaam of my ummah.”

4. Based on the narration of at-Tabaraani, “Whoever sends salutations upon me ten times in the morning and ten times in the evening will be encompassed by my intercession on the Day of Resurrection.” The narration’s authenticity is disputed by a few scholars of hadith, but it has a sound classification according to al-Haythami, as-Suyuti, al-Mundhiri, and others.

The Last Sermon

“Last Sermon”

1426 years ago Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) delivered this sermon on the 9th of Dhul Hijjah, 10 AH on the foot of Mount Arafah.

After praising and thanking Allah he said:

    O People, lend me an attentive ear, for I know not whether after this year, I shall ever be amongst you again. Therefore listen to what I am saying to you very carefully and take these words to those who could not be present here today.

    O People, just as you regard this month, this day, this city as Sacred, so regard the life and property of every Muslim as a sacred trust. Return the goods entrusted to you to their rightful owners. Hurt no one so that no one may hurt you. Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Allah has forbidden you to take usury (interest), therefore all interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer any inequity. Allah has Judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn ‘Abd’ul Muttalib (Prophet’s uncle) shall henceforth be waived…

    Beware of Satan, for the safety of your religion. He has lost all hope that he will ever be able to lead you astray in big things, so beware of following him in small things.

    O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

    O People, listen to me in earnest, worship Allah, say your five daily prayers (Salah), fast during the month of Ramadan, and give your wealth in Zakat. Perform Hajj if you can afford to.

    All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to yourselves.

    Remember, one day you will appear before Allah and answer your deeds. So beware, do not stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone.

    O People, no prophet or apostle will come after me and no new faith will be born. Reason well, therefore, O People, and understand words which I convey to you. I leave behind me two things, the Qur’an and my example, the Sunnah and if you follow these you will never go astray.

    All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness, O Allah, that I have conveyed your message to your people.

Empowerment of Women

Empowerment of Women Speech by Sister Yasmin Mogahed

When the companion of the Prophet, pbuh, entered a town to bring them the message of Islam, he put it very beautifully. He said, “I have come to free you from the servitude of the slave and bring you to the servitude of the Lord of the slave.”

Within this statement lies a powerful treasure. Locked within these words, is the key to empowerment and the only real path to liberation.

You see, the moment you or I allow anything, other than our Creator, to define our success, our failure, our happiness, or our worth, we have entered into a silent, but destructive form of slavery. That thing which defines my self worth, my success and my failure is what controls me. And it becomes my Master.

The master which has defined a woman’s worth, has taken many forms throughout time. One of the most prevalent standards made for woman, has been the standard of men. But what we so often forget is that God has honored the woman by giving her value in relation to Himself—not in relation to men. Yet, as some ideologies erased God from the scene, there was no standard left—but men. As a result the woman was forced to find her value in relation to a man. And in so doing she had accepted a faulty assumption. She had accepted that man is the standard, and thus a woman can never be a full human being until she becomes just like a man: the standard.

When a man cut his hair short, she wanted to cut her hair short. When a man joined the army, she wanted to join the army. When a man smoked cigarettes or drank alcohol, she wanted to smoke cigarettes and drink alcohol. Often she wanted these things for no other reason than because the “standard” had them.

What she didn’t recognize was that God dignifies both men and women in their distinctiveness–not in their sameness. When we accept men as the standard, suddenly anything uniquely feminine becomes by definition inferior. Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a full-time mother—a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigned supreme.

As soon as we accepted that everything a man has and does is better, all that followed was just a knee jerk reaction: if men have it—we want it too. If men pray in the front rows, we assume this is better, so we want to pray in the front rows too. If men lead prayer, we assume the imam is closer to God, so we want to lead prayer too. Somewhere along the line we’d accepted the notion that having a position of worldly leadership is some indication of one’s position with God.

But a Muslim woman does not need to degrade herself in this way. She has God as the standard. She has God to give her value; she doesn’t need a man to do this.
Given our privilege as women, we only degrade ourselves by trying to be something we’re not–and in all honesty–don’t want to be: a man. As women, we will never reach true liberation until we stop trying to mimic men, and value the beauty in our own God-given distinctiveness.

And yet, in society, there is another prevalent “master” which has defined for women their worth. And that is the so-called standard of beauty. Since the time we were little, we as women, have been taught a very clear message by society. And that message is: “Be thin. Be sexy. Be attractive. Or…be nothing.”

So we were told to put on their make-up and wear their short skirts. Instructed to give our lives, our bodies, our dignity for the cause of being pretty. We came to believe that no matter what we did, we were worthy only to the degree that we could please and be beautiful for men. So we spent our lives on the cover of Cosmo and we gave our bodies for advertisers to sell.

We were slaves, but they taught us we were free. We were their object, but they swore it was success. Because they taught you that the purpose of your life was to be on display, to attract and be beautiful for men. They had you believe that your body was created to market their cars.

But they lied.

Your body, your soul was created for something higher. Something so much higher.

God says in the Quran: ‘Verily, the most honored of you in the sight of God is the one who is most righteous’ (Quran 49:13).
So you are honored. But it is not by your relationship to men—either being them, or pleasing them. Your value as a woman is not measured by the size of your waist or the number of men who like you. Your worth as a human being is measured on a higher scale: a scale of righteousness and piety. And your purpose in life–despite what the fashion magazines say–is something more sublime than just looking good for men.

Our completion comes from God and our relationship with Him. And yet, from the time we were little, we, as women, have been taught, that we will never reach completion until a man comes to complete us. Like Cinderella we were taught that we are helpless unless a prince comes to save us. Like Sleeping Beauty, we were told that our life doesn’t fully begin, until Prince Charming kisses us. But here’s the thing: no prince can complete you. And no knight can save you. Only God can.

Your prince is only a human being. God may send him to be your companion—but not your savior. The coolness of your eyes—not the air in your lungs. Your air is in God. Your salvation and completion are in His nearness—not the nearness to any created thing. Not the nearness to a prince, not the nearness to fashion or beauty or style.

And so I ask you to unlearn. I ask you to stand up and tell the world that you are a slave to nothing—not to fashion, not to beauty, not to men. You are a slave to God and God alone. I ask you to tell the world that you’re not here to please men with your body; You’re here to please God. So to those who mean well and wish to ‘liberate’ you, just smile and say: “Thanks, but no thanks.”

Tell them you’re not here to be on display. And your body is not for public consumption. Make sure the world knows that you will never be reduced to an object, or a pair of legs to sell shoes. You are a soul, a mind, a servant of God. And your worth is defined by the beauty of that soul, that heart, that moral character. So, you don’t worship their beauty standards; you don’t submit to their fashion sense. Your submission is to something higher.

Therefore, in answering the question of where and how a woman can find empowerment, I find myself led back to the statement of our Prophet’s companion. I find myself led back to the realization that true liberation and empowerment lies only in freeing oneself from all other masters, all other definitions. All other standards.

As Muslim women, we have been liberated from this silent bondage. We don’t need society’s standard of beauty or fashion, to define our worth. We don’t need to become just like men to be honored, and we don’t need to wait for a prince to save or complete us. Our worth, our honor, our salvation, and our completion lies not in the slave.

But, in the Lord of the slave.