The Pharaoh’s wife; Aasiyah, The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam’s wife; Khadijah, Jesus’s alayhi salam mother; Maryam, and The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam’s daughter; Faatimah. What do they all share in common? They are the best of all women, as indicated in this hadith:
Anas reports that the Messenger of Allaah, salla Allaahu alaihi wa sallam, said: ‘The best women of mankind are four: Mariam daughter of `Imraan, Assiya wife of Pharaoh, Khadija daughter of Khuwailid, and Fatima the daughter of the Messenger of Allaah.’ [Bukhari and Muslim]
In Surah Tahrim, it’s very interesting to note that Allah mentions various women.
10: Sahih International: Allah presents an example of those who disbelieved: the wife of Noah and the wife of Lot. They were under two of Our righteous servants but betrayed them, so those prophets did not avail them from Allah at all, and it was said, “Enter the Fire with those who enter.” [Surah Tahrim: 66:10]
The wives of Lut and Nuh were wives of Allah’s prophets, but they ended up being disbelievers, thus punished. By association of being prophets’ wives, they didn’t gain anything, thereby dispelling the concept that just because you come fromn a lineage of so and so or are the people of so and so would definitely grant you great favor from Allah. How unjust it would be if you could get a free ticket to Paradise just because you’re a relative of so and so. And how illogical.
Then Allah mentions,
11: Sahih International: And Allah presents an example of those who believed: the wife of Pharaoh, when she said, “My Lord, build for me near You a house in Paradise and save me from Pharaoh and his deeds and save me from the wrongdoing people.” [Surah Tahrim; 66:11]
The wife of the Pharaoh of Egypt, whom the people regard as their god. She was a queen, surrounded by luxury, wealth, and palaces, and what did she ask for? A meager house. But what is so special about that house? That it be near to Allah Azza wajall. She could have had anything she wanted, being the Pharaoh’s wife, but she chose to forgo all that in compensation for a greater eternal reward with Allah in Paradise. Little wonder that she is one of the four greatest women, huh?
Next, Allah mentions,
12: Sahih International: And [the example of] Mary, the daughter of ‘Imran, who guarded her chastity, so We blew into [her garment] through Our angel, and she believed in the words of her Lord and His scriptures and was of the devoutly obedient. [Surah Tahrim; 66:12]
The mother of Isa (Jesus) alayhi salam, who bore accusations on her chastity, yet remained obedient. Allah described her as being qaanitoon (obedient), and this is one of the special qualities that these women possess, that merits them a mention and such a high ranking in the eyes of Allah.
When we talk about great women, some names immediately come to mind; Aishah, Khadijah, Asiyah, Maryam, Fatimah. Each of them are from different spheres, with unique qualities, and talents that we, the women of today can relate to.
Aisha is well known as most probably the greatest female scholar in Islam, having memorized and taught so many ahadeeth of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam to both males and females. Such was her love for knowledge that once she asked Abu Hurayrah how come he had more ahadeeth than her, and he responded,
“While you were beautifying yourself, I managed to get more hadith out of the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam.”
What does this tell us? It tells us one, of a balanced life of Muslim women. Aisha wasn’t sitting learning all the time, but she also beautified herself for her husband. She didn’t neglect her womanly tendencies or duties while learning intensively.
Fatimah, the prophet’s sallallahu alayhi wasallam’s beloved daughter, is well known as a homemaker, and where she excelled is in raising her children. We can see the similarity between her and Maryam, who both were great mothers to great sons.
So we have a queen, a scholar, and mothers. This shows the wide spectrum of spheres women occupy and regardless of which it is, women can attain righteousness and the pleasure of Allah. A woman with many children might not be able to do as many voluntary works in the community towards contributing for Islam, but she can channel her energy and time towards raising her children in the path of Allah. A woman who has no children might not be able to do this, but she has other avenues in which she may contribute to the path of Allah, and in this we see the beauty of decrees ordained by Allah on women. Some women have baby after baby, while other remain childless for years.Yet, whatever situation a woman is in, she is able to attain the pleasure of Allah in her own sphere, in her own way, subhanallah.
What all the women mentioned above have in common is stated in this ayah:
5: Sahih International: Perhaps his Lord, if he divorced you [all], would substitute for him wives better than you – submitting [to Allah ], believing, devoutly obedient, repentant, worshipping, and traveling – [ones] previously married and virgins. [Surah Tahrim; 66:5]
Muslimat (submitting to Allah), Mu’minaat(believing), qaanitaat (devoutly obedient), taa’ibat (repentant), ‘aabidaat (worshipping), and saa’ihaat (travelling).
So, no matter which sphere or niche we women are in, we can attain the pleasure of Allah in our own niches, by striving to embrace the qualities mentioned in this verse, inshaallah. Mine is definitely calling out to me loud and clear.