It happened during the hype of celebrating Women’s Independence day, where women all over the world were celebrated for their eminent achievements politically, economically and socially. I showed a list of 2016’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women in the World compiled by Forbes to my mother. She said “Well, that is interesting, but do they have any lists on influential Muslim women?”
It got me thinking, what about from a religious perspective, who were ones renowned as the best women in the Islamic World? After some research I came upon the ‘Sayyidatun An-Nisa Al’alamin’, roughly translated as The Leaders of the Women of the World.
“WHO WERE THE SAYYIDATUN AN-NISA AL’ALAMIN?”
The Prophet Muhammad SAW mentioned, “The best women of the world are Maryam, the daughter of Imran. Khadeejah binti Khuwayylid, Fatimah binti Muhammad and Asiah, the wife of Pharaoh.” (Sahih At-Tarmidhi)
I was astounded, out of all the influential women sung by the media, they have nothing compared to these four women highly praised by the Prophet Muhammad SAW. These four women were able to make changes to the world that we share today. Their determination, commitment and sacrifice were the very reasons that contributes to the colossal growth of Islam these days. They shared two common attributes that they have earned to be bestowed as The Women of the World or Sayyidatun An-Nisa Al’alamin.
- Firstly, they had a solid foundation of Iman (faith) in Allah SWT that they were impartial to anything that could bring doubt into their heart. Their faith flowed so deep that it was impossible to be manipulated merely with what they saw and heard.
- Secondly, they were good wives and/or mother.
Caught between the curiosity that grows on me and my undying thirst eager to learn more, I decided to jump down the rabbit hole feeling more determined than ever to know more about the Sayyidatun An-Nisa Al’alamin.
- Maryam, The Daughter of Imran.
Maryam, a two-syllable word looked upon in positive light. A name that millions of daughters share all around the world. A name that was repeatedly mentioned in the Quran and as a tribute to Maryam, Allah SWT dedicated one chapter named after her.
From the past, present and for the imminent future, all women were encouraged to look up to Maryam binti Imran. A pious woman, mentioned time after time, in the Quran and hadith in highest regard as an inspirational model, highlighting feminine characteristics and modest behavior.
Some of her prominent characteristic mentioned in the Quran are:
- Unlike any other women, Allah made her the one and only in the world.
“And [mention] when the angels said: O Mary, indeed Allah has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of the worlds”.[Quran 3:42]
- Maryam was blessed with an offspring who would be honored in the world and in the Hereafter. [Quran, surah Al-Imran:45]
- Allah has confirmed her truthfulness in the Quran – a testimony in her favor till the end of time. [Quran Surah Al-Maidah 5:75]
To this day, Maryam binti Imran’s identity was placed in highest respect as a noble and true Muslimah idolized by many women all around the globe.
- Asiya, The Wife of Pharaoh.
Life as a wife to a dictator could not have been any easier- but that was how Asiya binti Muhazzim led her life. With immense love for her faith and paradise as her sole motivation, she would not succumb to failure even when she had to face her husband, the Pharaoh of Egypt. Plausibly, this was one of the reasons why the Prophet Muhammad SAW praised her as one of the Sayyidatun An-Nisa Al’alamin.
Based on a hadith, “One day, Prophet Muhammad was sitting with his companions and he drew four lines and then he asked, “Do you know what this is?” And they replied, “Allah and His Messenger know best.” He said that,
“The best of the women of Paradise are Khadijah, daughter of Khuwailid, Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad, Asiya the wife of Firaun, and daughter of Muhazzim and Mariam, daughter of Imraan.” (Sahih Imam Ahmad)
Regardless of all the hardship she was going through, Asiya was able to smile throughout her torture, because Allah answered her prayers and enabled her to actually see her home in paradise. This proves that with profound faith, Asiya has the capability to go against the pharaoh and in return, Allah SWT has the power to make light of any of the struggles.
Moreover, despite being attached to a tyrant husband with ‘Godly’ ambition, Asiya did not let the dire circumstances degrade her self-worth. All of the glittering worldly wealth readily available at her disposal was ignored as she truly understood that her self-worth only mattered when it came to her relationship with her Creator. By prioritising the hereafter, Asiya found inspiration for how she should feel and define herself worthy as a true Muslim.
To be continued with Part 2 of ‘The Leaders of the Women of the World’, the story of two beloved women in Prophet Muhammad’s lifetime.