Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Muslim Woman & Free Time

As Salaamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh! I hope this finds you close to Allah & in the best of health and Iman.


By Sr. A. Mosher

Free time. Everyone seems to wish they had more of it. Being a wife and
the mother of seven children I have often thought to myself that if only
I had some free time I would … What would I do? Here we come to a
universal truth about free time. It is used in one of two ways. Either
it is put to good use or it is wasted, sometimes in sinful use. Of
course, we will all agree that performing some sort of 'ibaadah would be
the ideal use of free time. However, we often forget that the
performance of 'ibaadah is the very reason for our life on earth. Allah,
ta'aalaa says:

I have not created jinn and humans except so that they may worship.
[Adh-Dhaariyaat 56]

Allah did not create humans without reason. Nor did He create them for
the sake of spending their time in pointless activity. He created them
for 'ibaadah in the complete meaning of 'ibaadah - worship of Him as the
one Almighty Lord of the Worlds. 'Ibaadah refers not just to ritual,
physical, and mental acts of 'ibaadah such as salaah, siyaam, zakaah,
and Hajj. These are the arkaan of 'ibaadah. The true and complete
meaning of the word 'ibaadah includes much more. As Ibn Taymiyah puts
it, 'ibaadah is "a comprehensive word that refers to all that Allah
loves and all that pleases Him."

So…how does all this tie in with a woman and free time? If we
examine the question and take a deeper look at exactly how 'ibaadah is
performed in a woman's life, the desire for "free time" takes on a new
meaning. Adh-Dhahabee related in Sayr A'laam An-Nubalaa from Asmaa bint
Yazeed ibn As-Sakan (radiallahu 'anhaa) that she went to the Prophet
(sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) and said, "O Messenger of Allaah, may my
father and mother be sacrificed for you. I have come to you on behalf of
the women. Verily Allaah has sent you to men and women. We have believed
in you. We do not go out and we remain in your homes. We are your source
of physical pleasure. We carry your children. A man goes out to pray
jum'ah and jamaa'ah, and follows the janaazah. And if you go out for
hajj, or 'umrah, or jihaad, we look after your wealth. We wash your
clothing. We raise your children. Shall we not share in the reward?" The
Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) turned to his Companions and
said, "Have you ever heard anything a woman has said better than what
she has said?" Then he said to her, "Understand O woman, and inform the
other women. Indeed a woman's perfection of her relationship with her
husband, her seeking his pleasure, and doing that which he approves of
is equivalent to all of that." Asmaa left exclaiming "Laa ilaaha
illallaah. "

Here, the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa sallam) explains an important
aspect of 'ibaadah which applies uniquely to women. He informs us of the
way to her success and how she has been granted this distinguished form
of worship, one that many of us complain about. It is equivalent to
jihaad, praying jum'ah and jamaa'ah. It is commensurate to participating
in the janaazah, performance of hajj and 'umrah. This 'ibaadah is the
perfection of her relationship with her husband her seeking his
pleasure, obeying him, and doing that which he approves of. It is the
caring for her children and her home and remaining within her home.
Allah, ta'aalaa, in His incomparable mercy, has provided her with other
deeds which replace those deeds that men usually perform, so that she
may achieve equal reward.

One might argue that most all women participate in these actions on a
daily basis, even the disbelieving women. However, the concerns of a
Muslim woman are nobler. She sets her sights high in her actions. She is
aware that her every act, when performed Islamically, is an expression
of her worship of Allaah, ta'aalaa. What is it that makes a woman wish
for free time? Usually it is a need for a more personal time period
wherein she may direct her energies into something that she would
individually benefit from and enjoy. There is nothing wrong with this
and indeed, when done with the correct intention, this too falls into
'ibaadah. However, the waste of free time is an evil that many of us
succumb to. The world is filled with opportunities for us to waste our
time. Shaytaan whispers here and there and before you know it we've
intended well but failed to follow through. All of us are prone to
wasting our time or failing to take opportunities to use our time well.
This is how it happens:

Tasweef - Putting things off until "later". It is very easy to fall into
a rut of aspiring to do good while not putting forth a sincere effort.
Success in doing good things with our time is much like repentance. Is
repentance sincere if you just think about it, express your desire to
repent, and then say, "Oh, maybe I'll repent next month"? Similarly, if
you wish to memorize Qur-aan, or further your knowledge, but continually
put your efforts on a back burner, you've fallen into tasweef. In order
to succeed at something we must first rectify our intention, then make
sure that the thing we are aspiring to is in accordance with the Qur-aan
and Sunnah, and finally we must step forward with a firm foot. We must
be serious in our commitment.

Going Out. Affairs outside our home can be harmful as well as haraam.
Would you even think that going shopping could fall into this? Don't be
surprised. Islam directs that a woman is primarily meant to remain in
her home. She may come out for her needs. If she goes out, according to
the conditions of the sharee'ah, for a need which her husband cannot
fulfill for her, then there is nothing against that. But, sometimes we
fall into a western mentality of role sharing. Now there is nothing
wrong with a husband helping his wife out and vice-versa. However, a
woman taking over responsibilities of the husband with the intention of
"making things easier on him" is skirting on the questionable. This is
particularly so when we talk of shopping and other such needed but not
always necessary tasks. A better way would be to organize herself and
her household affairs and that of her children by simplifying her
lifestyle and cutting back on the unnecessary. A Muslim woman's constant
going to the markets to make the household purchases and her desire to
do so is wrong. Some women have no intention to purchase anything. They
just want to walk around the market and see what's new. Maybe there's a
new style, new material, something nice. So she has no true need to go
out. And we know the hadeeth of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa
sallam) who said, "If a woman goes out of her home Shaytaan will attract
attention to her presence." [At-Tirmidhi Saheeh] meaning he will draw
attention to her presence and make use of the opportunity either in
tempting her or tempting others through her. If a woman remains in her
home then shaytaan cannot do this. The Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa
sallam) also said that if a woman goes out of her home she "appears in
the form of a shaytaan and she leaves in the form of shaytaan." [Muslim]
How? The scholars have said that shaytaan comes to those who are before
her and make her coming out appear attractive to those who are looking.
And when she leaves he makes her appear attractive to those who are
present and see her leaving. So she causes people to look at her and she
causes their temptation. Allaah, ta'aalaa and His Messenger,
sallaallaahu 'alayhi wa sallam, have ordered us to remain in our homes
and to come out only for true need to do so.

"And remain in your homes" are the words of Allaah addressed to the
believing women and the wives of the Prophet (sallallahu 'alaihi wa
sallam). The word in the aayah, "qarna" means to remain and adhere.
Allaah has ordered the woman to adhere, to stay, and not merely to sit,
in her home. She should accustom herself to staying home and not going
out. And if she does go out she should feel uncomfortable in doing so. A
sign of eemaan of a true believing woman is her feeling that her home is
where she belongs. And a sign of a diseased heart is that of a woman who
feels uncomfortable staying at home. Examine your heart for the
stirrings of disease. Treat yourself by applying Allaah's command. By
rectifying our hearts contentment can be bred and truly appreciated.

The Telephone. Ah, the telephone. A wonderful invention it was, without
doubt. It did away with a lot of travel, sending messages by hand, and
unexpected visitors. But it also brought us the opportunity for wasting
large blocks of our time and, sometimes, committing serious sin such as
talking about things that are none of our business. A telephone does
indeed fulfill a need for us as women. It provides us with an
opportunity to "visit" with our friends and family without leaving our
homes. We can share a cup of tea with a friend as a relaxation from the
occupation of daily chores. But, it can also steal valuable time that
can be put to more beneficial use. Use it with attention and care or you
will find that it will use you.

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