I had been dealing with this issue recently, which made me rethink my current commitments. I’m a bit overwhelmed (and that’s an understatement) and it has made me worry about whether I’m going off balance. It made me rethink the whole issue of even doing these ‘extra’ things that I ‘don’t need’ to do by default. The answer, or at least the fodder for the answer (which will come to me also through personally mulling and reflecting) came to me from the Quran.
It’s also interesting that the answer also addresses other situations I’ve been in with some people who have hinted that I’m going overboard. It also addressed issues of responsibilities and obligations, and tahajud.
I had asked this question in a class I took, (about doing tahajud) and the answer given to me was,
“A married woman’s duty is to her husband. There is no need to complete with him in salat. When a woman fulfills her obligation to her husband, she can enter Jannah.”
Thinking back about it, I think my question was misunderstood by the sheikh. He probably thought that I meant that when I wake up for tahajud, that I don’t want to wake my husband up because I’m competing with him. I guess I didn’t really phrase that question well enough. What I meant was is it okay if I don’t feel like waking him up when I do wake up, just because I prefer being alone with Allah. I know that sounds strange, but the question came about because of the hadith that says to wake up your spouse. I honestly don’t like to pray in the presence of another person, especially tahajud.
And maybe also, it’s out of my lack of wisdom that I am still not content with that answer given to me by the sheikh, whom I highly respect and trust by the way. I wonder if I can re-ask my question and make sure he really understands it (as weird as it sounds).
Anyway…from that, it is established that a woman’s obligation is to her husband and raising her children, and that she is not obligated to do more than that, such as volunteering, teaching, etc. I’m talking Islamic volunteering and teaching by the way, not working outside the home or inside. That’s a completely different matter. Not up for debate. And no, the sheikh is not to be blamed for his answer or labeled as chauvinistic, because his answer was specific to my question, so please don’t snort in disgust and think,
Oh, it’s another one of those male scholars…hpthpththtmm
Another issue that was mentioned once by Sister Taimiyyah, that struck me, especially since I am homeschooling, was about raising children. She said something like,
Don’t think that we are the ones educating our children, and that if we do other things such as teaching the Quran or learning it and are busy with it, that our children won’t be nurtured. Allah is the One who is nurturing that child. You as a mother, don’t have to be there with the child ALL the time and think that you do.
Now, that really really struck me deep, and gave me food for thought for a long time. In fact, I’m still thinking about it now. Subhanallah…I have to say there is truth to what she is saying, though I do personally have some problems with it. However, I’ll attribute my problem with it to deficiency in my understanding rather than to any mistake on her part.
From what she said, what I understand, is that we shouldn’t let our children become excuses or reasons or hindrances towards us studying the deen or becoming busy or engaged in spreading it via teaching or volunteering etc.Her context was specifically for us students of Quran and hadith, so keep this in mind. Many times, we mothers may think twice or thrice about taking up serious learning or teaching of the deen, and we may say,
My children needs me. I am responsible for their upbringing. I don’t need to learn seriously or teach anyway. That is not an obligation upon me.
in fact, Allah, is the One nurturing this child, and He is the One with all the power to bring about this child’s learning etc, since it is the child’s rizq anyway. The mother, is not neglecting the child and going out partying or being involved in excessive shopping anyway. She is doing work that is beloved by Allah, and we may think that we mothers have to be there all the time and that if we are not there, the child will not learn, but have tawakkul in Allah, ask Him to make it easy and you will find that this child, with His permission, will learn and grow normally and even wonderfully in the hands of Allah.
My issue with this is finding a balance. I am homeschooling my children, and many times, I feel like I’m abandoning them, especially my youngest one, due to my various commitments to learning and teaching Quran. I don’t want to send them to school. My heart won’t let me. So there are times when I feel so conflicted, especially when I feel overwhelmed. When I think of what Sr Taimiyyah said above, I remind myself to turn to Allah and ask Him to make Z’s learning easy and to help me out, to make it easy in these matters so that I can do these commitments. And subhanallah….Allah is as Samee3, Al BaSeer, Ar Razzzaaq. I find that it has been made easy. Z would do his workbooks by himself, he would come to me and ask to read Quran, he listens to his MP3 and somehow memorizes the ayat number and even the ayaah themselves. I found out because he asked me,
“Ummi, recite surah Al Baqarah ayat 254.”
“You mean 255?”
That’s strange, because he usually asks me to recite 255 because he knows it’s ayatul kursi, and that’s his way of telling me to recite ayatul kursi. So, this was a bit challenging for me because I don’t memorize the ayat number when I do my hifdh, so it took me a while to remember what ayat came before ayatul kursi.
At another occasion, he said,
“Recite Surah Aali Imran ayat 2.”
So I did. We had the Quran open at this time, and when i was done, he pointed to the next ayat and said,
which completely left me gawking. Apparently, he has been listening and looking at the Arabic on his MP3, enough times to remember and recognize this in the mushaf, even. He even pointed out that the Ayat 2 of Aali Imran is like the first ayat of ayatul kursi.
Yesterday, at his speech therapy, the new therapist who was working with him said to me,
“He’s a wonderful reader! He’s so visual. We were doing irregular plurals and I noticed that just when hearing the words, it’s harder for him than if I tell him, ‘just change that to an O’ and I can see him visualizing it in his head and he gets it. So I thought I’d just give you this paper and he can just read it. What grade is he going into this fall? 1st? Oh, he’s definitely ready!”
Z being able to read is not a surprise to me. Alhamdulillah, with this child, I started doing Glenn Doman when he was an infant. instead of surrounding him with toys, I surrounded him with books. Seriously. he would be lying in his crib, and there I was, showing him a book. He looked at the pages, and just seemed to soak them in. I stopped the Glenn Doman method for a while because I had to deal with his allergies, but I resumed it after. I didn’t do it consistently because he wasn’t paying much attention, so I dropped it. But, apparently, he had gained enough visual pathways in his brains to know how to read subhanallah. I noticed that he is doing this too with the Quran. However, I don’t really want him to read the Quran at that pace, not yet anyway. I am focusing right now on teaching him to decode and pay attention to each harakah. After that, he can go faster. So, subhanallah…there are times when I am still conflicted despite these though. I am thinking,
‘Is this shaytaan whispering to me so I would stop this work of learning and teaching?’
Subhanallah…there are times when I just….don’t know …what to think anymore.
So, yesterday, at Z’s therapy, I listened to the word analysis and tafseer of this week’s lesson. In particular, Sr. Taimiyyah’s extraction of lessons from An Nisaa 95-96 sent me spuriously taking notes on top of my old notes. As she was going over these, I kept thinking to myself,
and even got teary-eyed at some points..and felt overtaken with a feeling of gratitude, love for Allah, and this feeling that subhanallah…He is watching, He knows the troubles of my heart, He is Ar Rahmaan Ar Raheem. I can’t encapsulate that particular feeling in any word. All I can say about that feeling is that it has this actual physical sensation in my chest. I also thought to myself,
Subhanallah, please Allah, make me worthy of these. I feel like I’m a fake, that I have shortcomings that may ruin my chances of getting this virtue, Your promises, Your pleasure and being of those who are described here. PLEASE let me be of them. Please don’t let me ruin my own good deeds. Please prevent me from complaining or showing off or doing mann and azhaa.
Seriously, many times, I feel like a fake, like a hypocrite, because subhanallah, I know my faults, I hate them, I strive to get rid of them, but it’s so hard. I hate myself when I act in a certain way or speak in a certain way that doesn’t befit the student of Quran. Subhanallah..and then it just feels like my whole day is ruined and that I just want to quit. It’s like a huge battle going on in my mind and heart when this happens…subhanallah. But I also remember His mercy, and forgiveness, and that gives me ongoing hope. And I also remember the root meaning of IBLIS – to despair of His mercy. I cannot despair of His mercy and forgiveness, for that is what shaytaan wants. And then I remember that it is only by His will that I am doing all these good things…it’s not my own doing..it’s His tawfeeq. So hold on to it, ask Him to preserve and increase it and to not let me drift, and if I do, please pull me back closer ya Allah. Don’t let me leave You. Please don’t.
Now on to the ayaat and lessons:- An Nisaa 4:95-96
Not equal are those believers remaining [at home] – other than the disabled – and the mujahideen, [who strive and fight] in the cause of Allah with their wealth and their lives. Allah has preferred the mujahideen through their wealth and their lives over those who remain [behind], by degrees. And to both Allah has promised the best [reward]. But Allah has preferred the mujahideen over those who remain [behind] with a great reward –
Degrees [of high position] from Him and forgiveness and mercy. And Allah is ever Forgiving and Merciful.
There are 2 levels in any actions that a person does:
- level of obligation (fardh)
- level of sacrifice (optional/extra)
- this ayah proves that doing jihaad is fardh kifaayah, because, in ayah 95 “wakullan wa3adallaahul 7husnaa” (to all, Allah promised good), but, “wafadhhalallaahu mujaahidoona 3alal qaa3ideena ajran 3adzheema (and He has preferred those who strive utmost over those who sit, a great reward)
- when a person does fardh kifaayah, he gets a level higher. However, how do we view fardh kifaayah? “Oh, it’s just fardh kifaayah, someone in the community just needs to do it, then I don’t have to do it. It’s just extra. it’s not obligatory on me if someone else already does it. It’s not fardh 3ain anyway.
- a person who does fardh kifaayah is a selfless person. a mujaahid (one who strives utmost) well wishes for others and wants good for others. In the case of teaching the Quran and conveying it, he wants to badly share this Quran with others and not keep it for himself. A person may have the attitude of “Oh, I know all this now, I’ll just focus on my own ibaadah, my own recitation, my own hifdh. I don’t need to teach it, I need to focus on myself.” This is keeping the treasure of Quran to oneself and not feeling that it needs to be shared. Of course, if a person wants to focus on learning and improving and later on so that he can teach it, that’s a different matter.
- in order to attain a higher darajaat (as in ayat 96), you have to sacrifice. A person may sacrifice the details of her housekeeping and cooking in order to engage in serious learning and teaching of the Quran. Whereas before she can cook 3 dishes for dinner, now she can only cook 1. She is content with that. She may also no longer be able to whip up desserts or polish her silverware regularly. She may have to spend less time on Facebook, and be content with the basic necessities such as when shopping for her chidlren’s clothes or preparing food for her family and even in decorating her house. She has to manage her schedule and time such that she can fulfill her obligations AND do this extra task of learning and teaching the Quran. This will at times result in loss of leisure time.
- those who can’t do these things but have a sincere and intense yearning to do them, will get the same reward (those who sit (qaa3idoon) but has yearning to go out and be a mujaahidoon). However, for some of us, just the thought of sacrificing our comfort and frills in our lifestyle scares us. We don’t even want to sacrifice in the first place. “Oh…I can’t do that!” If we would just make the sincere intention, even if we can’t do it, we would get the same reward inshaaAllah. Subhanallah..how merciful Allah truly is. Zayd Ibn Thabit said that the prophet saw dictated this ayah to him, and while Zayd was writing it, Ibn Maktoom came and said, “Oh Rasulullah (sallallaahu alayhi wasallam), if I have the power, I would definitely take part in jihaad.” At this, Allah revealed the part of the ayah that mentions that ‘not the same are the believers who sit without any genuine reason (uli dharar) and those who strive utmost in the way of Allah…’ Zayd said that at the time of this revelation, the prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam’s thigh was upon his and it became so heavy that it felt as if it would break his thigh. So, originally, this ayah didn’t contain the mention of ulu dharar. Subhanallah…
- Those who strive utmost (the mujahidoon) do their best, they spend their money AND their time (of themselves). This is a degree above those doing only the obligations
- Jihaad is what attains high levels in Aakhirah. At different times and different places, the jihaad will be different. Jihad can be different for different people. For one person, it may be praying the nawaafil prayer, for another it may be reciting Quran regularly, and for another it may be managing learning and household duties, etc. In Makkah, jihaad was not participating in battles, but rather, it was spreading the Quran. May be the same for us now. So, do whatever you can do in your own capacity for each person’s jihad may be unique to him or herself. With regards to Quran, first, learn the Quran yourself, and tell yourself that I’m doing jihaad, and aspire for higher levels in this journey
Benefits of a Mujaahid:-
- he attains higher levels in jannah
- he gets ajran azdheema (great reward)
- he gets forgiveness
Lesson from this:-
The person who has the attitude that fulfilling his obligations is enough is just looking at his good deeds. He is not looking at his sins. A mujaahid knows he is not doing enough, so he strives to do more, he seeks more, and through this he also attains Allah’s maghfirah (forgiveness).
It occurred to me that another perspective on this that may refute the above is that a person who is focusing on his obligations is worried about him not truly fulfilling his obligations and that is why he is just doing his obligations because he knows he falls short. So he wants to focus and perfect the fulfillment of the obligations and so, puts the extra stuff aside. He doesn’t want to do too much that he would be violating the fulfillment of his obligations.
To be honest, this is what holds me back a bit and makes me question this. But again, it may just be a deficiency in my understanding. I’m mulling over it and I’m thinking that this may be directed at those who are content with just doing the bare minimum of the deen, and not bothered to go a step higher (in the deen), and at the same time, fills his time with pursuing other things. Meaning, he has the time and energy and opportunity to pursue high aspirations in other matters, but when it comes to the deen, he is content with just the bare minimum. For example, instead of striving to puts in his nawafil prayers each time and striving to establish them so they become a regular part of his day, he spends that time working on the landscaping of his backyard, or cooking up a MUST (regular) weekend barbeque for his friends, etc. Basically, doing all these extra stuff is not as important to him, and he is content with doing the basic requirements. And Allah knows best.
In the end, the more you do, the more you’ll get, and vice versa. The darajaat of Jannah are not cheap. it requires sacrifice. We should set higher goals for ourselves. More importantly, if we have been given tawfeeq to do this, DO NOT look down on other people. Being a mujaahid is a blessing from Allah, a HUGE blessing. As is with human nature, it’s so easy to get carried away and feel a sense of entitlement or to attribute things to ourselves and forget Allah’s role. Especially in the thick of being busy in striving, it’s also so easy to feel contempt at others who may not be doing what you are doing. Subhanallah, this is a check we all should keep a tab on all the time. We may all be mujaahid in our own capacity, and so, may Allah accept it from us, and grant us what is granted to a mujaahid as stated in these ayaat. Ameen!