In the Name of Allâh, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful. This is a series on the roles and duties of the Muslim woman with examples of stories from the time of the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ), his companions, and the later generations who followed them in faith. This is a series titled “THE MUSLIM WOMAN AND HER HUSBAND”.
This is the third in the series. Please read and benefit from it in’shaa’Allaah Ta’ala.
SHE DOES NOT DISCLOSE HIS SECRETS.
The chaste Muslim woman does not disclose her husband’s secrets, and does not talk to anyone about whatever secrets and other matters there may be between him and her. The serious Muslim woman is above that; she would never sink to the level of such cheap and shameless talk as goes on amongst the lowest type of people. Her time is too precious to be wasted in such vulgar behavior. She would never accept for herself to be counted as one of those people whom the Prophet described as one of the worst types:
“Among the worst type of people in the sight of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) on the Day of Judgment is a man who enjoys his wife’s intimate company, and she enjoys his intimate company, then one of them goes and discloses the secret of the other.” (Sahīh Muslim, 10/8; Al-targheeb wa’l-tarheeb, 3/86).
Talking about that which is private between a husband and wife is one of the most abhorrent ways of disclosing secrets. No one does such a thing but the worst type of people. There are some secrets the disclosure of which is not as bad as disclosing this secret, but in any case, telling secrets at all is disliked and is unacceptable. Keeping secrets in itself is a worthy and virtuous deed, whilst disclosing them is a serious error and shortcoming, from which nobody can be immune except the infallible Prophet (ﷺ). The disclosure of a secret that the Prophet had entrusted to Hafsah, who told it to ‘A’ishah, led to the plotting and intrigue in his household that caused him to keep away from his wives for a whole month, because he was so upset with them. (The story of the Prophet’s keeping way from his wives is narrated by al-Al-Bukhaari, Muslim and others. See Fath al-Bari, 5/116, and 8/656; Surat al-Tahrim; Sahīh Muslim, 7/195). Concerning this, the following ayah was revealed:
“When the Prophet (ﷺ) disclosed a matter of confidence to one of his consorts, and she then divulged it [to another], and Allah made it known to him, he confirmed part thereof and repudiated a part. Then when he told her thereof, she said, ‘Who told you this?’ He said, ‘He told me Who knows and is well-acquainted [with all things].) (66:3).
The two women concerned are then confronted with their error, and called to repent, so that they might draw closer to Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) after having distanced themselves by their deed, otherwise Allâh would be his (the Prophet’s) Protector, and Jibril and the righteous believers would also support him:
“If you two turn in repentance to Him, your hearts are indeed so inclined; but if you back up each other against him, truly Allâh is his Protector, and Gabriel, and [every] righteous one among those who believe – and furthermore, the angels – will back [him] up.) (66:4).
Then they are issued with a stern warning and the terrifying prospect that if they persist in their error, they may lose the honor of being the wives of the Prophet (ﷺ):
“It may be, if he divorced you [all], that Allâh will give him in exchange Consorts better than you – who submit [their wills], who believe, who are devout, who turn to Allâh in repentance, who worship [in humility], who travel [for Faith] and fast – previously married or virgins.” (66:5).
This incident presents a valuable lesson to the Muslim woman on the importance of keeping her husband’s secret, and the effect this confidentiality has on the stability of the individual and the home. One of the greatest blessings that Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) has bestowed on the Muslims in particular, and on mankind in general, is that he has made the public and private life of His Messenger like an open book, in which can be read the teachings of this ‘aqeedah and its practical application in real life. Nothing is secret or hidden: matters and events that people usually keep secret are discussed openly in the Qur’an and Sunnah, even unavoidable human weaknesses. All of these issues are presented in order to teach people right from wrong.
The Sahaabah, may Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) be pleased with them, understood that the Prophet’s life was entirely devoted to Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) and His message, so why should they keep secret or conceal any aspect of his life? The stories that have been narrated about his life, his household and his wives represent a practical application of the words he preached, and for this reason, the Sahaabah (may Allâh reward them with all good) transmitted the most precise details of his life, and did not fail to record any aspect of his daily life, whether it was major or minor. This is part of the way in which Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) caused the life of his Prophet to be recorded, including details of the precise way in which Islamic teachings were applied in his life. This is in addition to the Qur’anic references to the Prophet’s life, which form a record that will remain until heaven and earth pass away.
SHE STANDS BY HIM AND OFFERS HER ADVICE.
One of the laws that Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) has decreed for this life is that men and women should work together to cultivate and populate the earth and run the affairs of life therein. Man cannot do without woman, and vice versa. Hence the laws of Islam teach men and women to co-operate in all matters. Islam encourages a man to help his wife, as much as he is able; the Prophet (ﷺ), who is the example for all Muslims, used to help and serve his family until he went out to pray, as the Mother of the Believers ‘A’ishah said. (See Fath al-Bari, 2/162).
Just as Islam expects a man to help his wife with housework and running household affairs, so the woman is also expected to help him in dealing with the outside world and to play her role in life by offering her opinions and advice, and supporting him in practical terms.
History tells us that Muslim women engaged in jihad side by side with men, marching to war with them, bringing water to the thirsty, tending the wounded, setting broken bones, stemming the flow of blood, encouraging the soldiers, and sometimes joining in the actual fighting, running back and forth between the swords and spears, standing firm when some of the brave men had fled. Their courageous conduct in battle was praised by the Prophet (ﷺ), as we have described previously.
However, women’s contribution to public life did not stop on the battlefield; women also stood side-by-side with men at times of peace, offering their valuable opinions, soothing their hearts at times of stress and supporting them during times of hardship.
History has recorded many names of great Muslim men who used to seek and follow the advice of their wives, foremost among whom is the Prophet (ﷺ) himself, who sometimes followed the advice of Khadijah, Umm Salamah, ‘A’ishah and others among his wives (May Allâh be pleased with them all). ‘Abdullah ibn al-Zubayr used to follow the advice of his mother Asma’, al-Walid ibn ‘Abd al-Malik used to follow the advice of his wife Umm al-Banin bint ‘Abd al-‘Aziz ibn Marwan, and Harun al-Rashid used to follow the advice of his wife Zubaydah, and there are many other such examples in the history of Islam.
The true, sincere Muslim woman understands the heavy burden that Islam has placed on her shoulders, by obliging her to be a good wife to her husband, to surround him with care and meet his every need, to give him enjoyment, and to renew his energy so that he may fulfill his mission in life. So she does not withhold her advice when she sees that he needs it, and she never hesitates to stand by his side, encouraging him, supporting him and offering advice and consolation.
The first Muslim woman, Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (رضي الله عنه) is the best example of a woman who influenced her husband. The Prophet (ﷺ) came to her on the day of the first Revelation, anxious, trembling and shaking all over. He told her, “Cover me, cover me!” She hastened to offer her help and support, advising him and thinking of a practical way of helping him. Al-Bukhaari and Muslim report the story told by ‘A’ishah of how the Revelation commenced, and the marvelous way in which Khadijah responded by supporting her husband:
“The Revelation started in the form of a dream that came true, he never saw a dream but it would clearly come to pass. Then he was made to like seclusion, so he would go and stay alone in the cave of Hira’, praying and worshipping for many nights at a time, before coming back to his family to collect supplies for another period of seclusion. Then the truth came suddenly, when he was in the cave of Hira’. The angel came to him and said ‘Read!’ He said I am not a reader.’ [The Prophet said:] ‘The angel embraced me and squeezed me until I nearly passed out, then released me, and said, ‘Read!’ I said, ‘I am not a reader.’ The angels embraced me a second time, squeezed me until I nearly passed out, then released me and said, ‘Read!’ I said, ‘I am not a reader.’ The angel embraced me a third time and squeezed me until I nearly passed out, then released me and said:
“Read! In the name of your Lord and Cherisher, who created – created man, out of a [mere] clot of congealed blood: Read! And your Lord is Most Bountiful – He Who taught [the use of] the Pen – taught man that which he knew not.” (96:1-5).
The Messenger of Allâh came back to Khadijah, trembling all over, and said, “Cover me, cover me!”. They covered him up until he calmed down, then he said to Khadijah, “O Khadijah, what is wrong with me?” He told her what had happened, then said, “I fear for myself.” Khadijah said: “No, rather be of good cheer, for by Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) would never forsake you. By Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), you uphold the ties of kinship, speak the truth, spend money on the needy, give money to the penniless, honor your guests and help those beset by difficulties. She took him to Waraqah ibn Nawfal ibn Asad ibn ‘Abd al-‘Uzza, who was her cousin, the son of her father’s brother. He was a man who had become a Christian during the time of jahiliyyah; he could write the Arabic script and he had written as much of the Gospel in Arabic as Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) willed. He was an old man who had become blind. Khadijah said to him, “O Uncle, listen to your nephew.” Waraqah ibn Nawfal said, “O son of my brother, what has happened?” The Messenger of Allah told him what had happened, and Waraqah said to him, “This is al-Namus (i.e., Jibril), who was sent down to Musa (ﷺ). I wish that I were a young man, and could be alive when your people cast you out.” The Messenger of Allâh asked, “Will they really cast me out?” Waraqah said, “Yes. No man has ever come with what you have brought, but his people were hostile towards him. If I live to see that day I will give you all the support I can.” (Fath al-Bari, 1/23; Sahīh Muslim, 2/197).
This report is strong evidence of Khadijah’s wifely perfection, wisdom, strength of character, steadfastness, understanding and deep insight. She knew the Prophet’s outstanding character, good conduct and purity of heart, and this made her certain that Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) would never forsake a man such as Muhammad or permit any bad fate to befall him. She knew that behind this remarkable new event that had overwhelmed the Messenger of Allâh lay something great that Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) had prepared for His Messenger, so she spoke her kind and sweet words of encouragement, filling him with confidence, tranquility and firm conviction: “Be of good cheer, O cousin, and stand firm. By the One in Whose hand is the soul of Khadijah, I hope that you will be the Prophet of this nation.” (Al-sirah, 1/254). Then she took him to her cousin Waraqah ibn Nawfal, who had knowledge of the Torah and Gospel, and told him what had happened to the Prophet.
The first Mother of the Believers, Khadijah (رضي الله عنه), was a sincere adviser in the way of Islam to the Prophet (ﷺ). She had already earned the great status and lasting fame of being the first person to believe in Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) and His Messenger (ﷺ), and she stood beside her husband the Prophet, supporting him and helping him to bear the worst oppression and persecution that he faced at the beginning of his mission; she endured along with him every hardship and difficulty that he was confronted with.
Ibn Hisham says in his Seerah: “Khadijah had faith, and believed in what he brought from Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى). In this way, Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) helped His Prophet (ﷺ). Whenever he heard any hateful words of rejection or disbelief that upset him, Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) would cause his spirits to be lifted when he came back to her. She encouraged him to be patient, believed in him, and made it easier for him to bear whatever the people said or did. May Allâh have mercy on her.” (Ibid., 1/257).
She was a woman who always spoke the truth, and carried this burden sincerely. It is no surprise that she earned the pleasure of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) and deserved to be honored by Him, so He conveyed the greeting of salam to her through His Messengers Jibril and Muhammad (ﷺ), and gave her glad tidings of a house in Paradise, as is stated in the hadîth narrated by Abu Hurayrah:
“Jibril came to the Prophet and said: ‘O Messenger of Allâh, Khadijah is coming to you with vessels containing food and drink. When she comes to you, convey to her the greeting of salam from her Lord and from me, and give her the glad tidings of a house of pearls in Paradise, in which there is no noise or hard work.” (Al-Bukhaari & Muslim. See Sharh al-Sunnah, 14/155).
The true Muslim woman puts her mind to good work, thinks hard and gives advice to her husband at times when he may be most in need of advice. By doing so, she does a great favor for her husband, and this is one of the ways in which she may treat him well.
Another of these great stories which feature correct advice given by a woman is the reaction of the Muslims to the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah, and Umm Salamah’s reaction, which demonstrated her deep insight and great wisdom.
Umm Salamah (رضي الله عنه) was one of those who were with the Prophet when he went to Makkah to perform ‘Umrah in 6 AH (After Hijrah). This is the journey that was interrupted by Quraysh, who prevented the Prophet and his Companions from reaching the Ka‘bah. The treaty of al-Hudaybiyah was drawn up between the Prophet and Quraysh. This was a peace-treaty which was intended to put an end to the fighting for ten years; it was also agreed that if anyone from Quraysh came to Muhammad without the permission of his guardian, he would be returned, but if any of the Muslims came to Quraysh, he would not be returned, and that the Muslims would go back that year without entering Makkah, etc.
By virtue of his deep understanding that was derived from the guidance of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى), the Prophet (ﷺ) understood that this treaty, which appeared to be quite unfair to the Muslims, was in fact something good and represented a great victory for Islam and the Muslims.
The Sahaabah, however, were dismayed when they learned the content of the treaty. They saw it as unfair and unjust, especially as they had the upper hand at that time. ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab expressed the angry feelings of the Sahaabah when he went to Abu Bakr and asked him: “Is he not the Messenger of Allâh?” Abu Bakr said, “Of course.” “Are we not Muslims?” “Yes.” “Are they not mushrikin?” “Yes.” “Why should we accept this deal which is so humiliating to our religion?” Abu Bakr warned him, “O ‘Umar, follow his orders. I bear witness that he is the Messenger of Allâh.” Umar said, “And I bear witness that he is the Messenger of Allâh.” Then ‘Umar went to the Messenger of Allâh (ﷺ), and asked him questions similar to those he had asked Abu Bakr. But when he asked, “Why should we accept this deal which is so humiliating to our religion?” the Prophet replied, “I am the servant of Allâh (سُبْحَانَهُ وَتَعَالٰى) and His Messenger; I will never disobey His command, and He will never forsake me.” (Al-Sirah, 3/331; Fath al-Bari, 6/281; Sahīh Muslim, 12/141).
Then ‘Umar realized that his haste to oppose the treaty was a mistake. He used to say, “I kept giving charity, fasting, praying and freeing slaves because of what I had done and said on that day, until I hoped that ultimately it would be good for me (because it made me perform so many good deeds).” (Al-Sirah 3/331).
When the Prophet (ﷺ) had ratified the treaty, he commanded his Companions to get up, slaughter their sacrificial animals, and shave their heads, but none of them got up (The Prophet (ﷺ) was telling his Companions to end the state of ihram which they had entered in order to perform ‘Umrah. They had been prevented from entering Makkah, and were to wait until the following year to perform ‘Umrah, but they did not want to abandon their hope of performing ‘Umrah on this occasion. They did not want to accept the deal that had been struck with the Quraysh, hence they were reluctant to end their ihram. [Translator]). He told them three times to do this, but not one of them responded. He went to his wife Umm Salamah, and told her what he was facing from the people. At this point the wisdom and intelligence of Umm Salamah become quite clear: she told him, “O Messenger of Allâh, go out and do not speak to any of them until you have sacrificed your animal and shaved your head.” The Prophet (ﷺ) took her advice, and did as she suggested. When the Sahaabah saw that, they rushed to sacrifice their animals, pushing one another aside, and some of them began to shave one another’s heads, until they were almost fighting with one another because of their distress and grief, and their regret for having disobeyed the Prophet. (Zad al-Ma’ad, 3:295, al-Tabari, 2/124)
After that, the Muslims came back to their senses, and they understood the Prophet’s great wisdom in agreeing to this treaty, which in fact was a manifest victory, because many more people entered Islam after it than had before. In Sahīh Muslim it states that the ayah,
“Verily We have granted you a manifest Victory” (48:1) referred to the treaty of al-Hudaybiyah. The Prophet (ﷺ) sent for ‘Umar and recited this ayah to him. ‘Umar said, “O Messenger of Allâh, it is really a victory?” He said, “Yes,” so then ‘Umar felt at peace. (Sahīh Muslim, 12/141).
In’shaa’Allaah the series will be continued in the next post. Jazakumu’Allaah khairan for reading. Subhanaka Allaahumma wabihamdika, asha’adu an ‘lailla ila anta, astaghifiruka wa atooybu ilayka.