From the very beginning of the Islamic history, Muslim women have played vital roles in the propagation of the Divine Message (Islam). From the sacrifices of Sumayyah to the collected Ahadith [narrations of the Prophet sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam] of ‘Aa’ishah women have been instrumental in the flourishing and spreading of this religion, the process which is called “Da’wah” in Arabic.
Unfortunately, during our present times, the Islamic revival suffers from weaknesses in its properly qualified personnel, which limits its spreading and restricts the Da’wah work to an elite group of activists, with finite and limited efforts of Da’wah and Tarbiyah (education) being focused on women.
Da’wah amongst women deserves, and should get, far more attention than it does. So far, except in a few instances, women have been distanced from the field of Da’wah work. If we consider the situation of Islamic Da’wah work and the position of women in it today, we can easily find the following problems:
1- Deficiency in Da’wah capabilities among women.
2- The ill-use of existing limited-resources in combination with a lack of personal initiative on the part of women.
3- A neglect or omission of women’s issues in the planning of Islamic Da’wah.
4- Absence of adequate education and the lack of fundamental Islamic knowledge in the Daa’iyaat (female callers) in the field of Da’wah. Only a few of the wives and daughters of Du’aat (male callers) have any worthwhile Islamic knowledge.
5- Most women do not possess a proper understanding of the role of Da’wah made incumbent on their husbands. Because of this, they may not understand the importance of time given to projects outside the home, which in turn, may become a source of tension within the home.
6- The level of general Islamic knowledge among most women is low.
7- Women’s Da’wah programmes, as well as overall Da’wah programmes and institutions are rare and not well organised.
Roots of the problem:
Many obstacles and restraints have been the causes behind the weakness and neglect of Da’wah work amongst women. Once they have been recognised and analysed, viable solutions can be sought and implemented.
One major reason is that many men are not convinced about the importance of women’s role and responsibilities in the field of Da’wah. The Qur’anic verse (which means) “And abide in your houses...” [33:33] has been misinterpreted by many, and so has the concept of “Qawaamah”, or the right/responsibility of stewardship. In many instances, we see men objecting to women’s participation in Da’wah and thus preventing them from fulfilling their role toward their fellow-Muslims and to the larger society in general. Spreading Islam has been made incumbent on all Muslims, men and women.
“It is vital that husbands encourage their wives to participate in Da’wah work,” said Dr ‘Aa’ishah Hamdaan, Director of the Islamic Education Foundation (IEF), based in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA). She has a Ph D in Clinical Psychology with a specialty in child and family issues. She teaches at a private university in the Twin Cities. The main goal of the IEF is to increase the level of awareness and provide training in giving Da’wah amongst Muslim women and men. “They (husbands) should encourage them to spread the message of this religion, perhaps by taking them along when they go out, and by instructing them on the proper ways of giving presentations about Islam,” she added.
A more particular reason is the absence or confusion of priorities in the minds of the callers to Islam. Many of them have been overwhelmed and distracted by the state of the Ummah (Muslim community), even to the extent of ignoring to give proper attention to their homes and families. Their energies having been exhausted in the work outside the home, leaving them with nothing left for their families. This imbalance affects not only the families, but also the community as a whole.
The level of women’s education and awareness of their position and responsibility plays an important role in the field of Da’wah.
A crucial role for the
The reasons women’s participation in Da’wah is important are various and diverse:
1. Women are more capable than men are in communicating with other women. Women are usually more affected by word, deed, and conduct of other women, more so than by men. On the other hand, women are more capable of recognising the particularities and problems associated with women’s education.
2. Women can better comprehend the direction in which women’s Da’wah work should be geared. They can best discern the order of priorities, because they are more familiar with this sphere.
3. Women are freer than men in communicating with other women, either individually for Da’wah activities, or in women’s learning and other forums and places of meeting.
4. Many Muslim women who are in need of guidance, education, and direction lack the presence of men-folk who can provide this service, therefore it makes sense that qualified women in the community should do the job.
5. The need of education with women is greater than that with men. They get pregnant, give birth, and nurse children. The children are more tied to them than they are to their fathers. Women stay at home with their sons and daughters, and thus can bring them up as they please. If they are not allowed to share in the Da’wah efforts of their husbands, a lot of the much-needed results may not be attained.
6. Women have a great effect on their husbands. If they have strong Eemaan (faith) and character, they have a very good chance at helping their husbands become strong as well.
7. Women have a lot of characteristics that stress the importance of their Da’wah role. They should also be taken into account whenever any Da’wah work is planned. Some are:
l Women have the innate ability to communicate strongly what they believe to be true in their hearts. Dr Hamdaan also points out that, “Women are also generally stronger in terms of verbal abilities and emotionality.”
l Women sometimes lack will-power and a sense of direction, and therefore need the assistance of other women to give strength and motivation.
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage/
Strengthening the man’s work
The work of the Muslim woman in the field of Da’wah (call to Islam) strengthens the man’s work, and expands it into areas where her effectiveness supersedes that of the man. The woman’s role does not end at door. She can be greatly effective by being a good example to others, by being good-hearted, kindly spoken, and of friendly conduct. She can offer assistance, and share concerns as well as joys. She can also use all appropriate opportunities to educate, guide and call others through observing the conditions of those whom she addresses.
Examples are needed
Women, who understood their role, started educating themselves and achieving their rights to education. Look at the Hadith [narration attributed to Prophet Muhammad sallallaahu ‘alaihi wa sallam] narrated by Abu Sa’eed that a women said to the Prophet “The men are keeping you busy and we do not get enough attention from you; would you specify a day for us, women? He promised them a day to meet them and educate and admonish them.” [Al-Bukhari]
The fruits of this understanding and concern by the women companions of the Prophet and the attention he gave them, are shining examples and a source of pride for Muslim women.
Muslim women played a great role in sacrifice and service for the religion of Allah. Sumayyah gave up her life when Abu Jahl, the head of disbelievers, killed her for becoming a Muslim. She was the first Muslim, and woman, killed in Islam. Khadeejah the first wife of the Prophet who was very rich, spent a lot of her money to support the Da’wah. Umm Salamah left her husband and saw her children persecuted when she migrated. Umm Imaarah fought in defense of the Prophet in the battle of Uhud. Tending the wounded in battles was the role Muslim Women played throughout history.
Building successful Da’wah Programmes
There are conditions that must be met for women’s Da’wah work to succeed and achieve its expected outcome:
First: important guidelines
There are important points that should be used as guidelines when planning or doing Da’wah work:
Typically, the woman’s main job is at home. This is clearly stated in Qur’an and Hadith. Allah Almighty Says (what means), “And abide in your houses...” [Qur’an 33:33] Of course women can go out for Salaah (prayer) in the Masjid (mosque), participate in any other activities she may need and to do Da’wah. However, none of these activities should conflict with her essential duties at home as wife and mother.
2- There are special injunctions regarding women, such as the mixing of men and women that must be observed in any Da’wah activity and under any circumstances.
a) Proper Hijaab (Islamic woman dress) must be observed at all times.
b) Woman cannot travel without a male companion who is her Mahram (her husband or a man with whom marriage is unlawful).
c) Woman cannot intermix freely with men who are not directly related to her.
d) Women cannot exit from their homes except by permission of those who are in charge of them and care for them, i.e. their husbands or fathers, etc.
3- The enemies of Islam usually exploit these injunctions and use them to defame Islam as demeaning to women. Some Du’aat (callers to Islam) get affected by these allegations and they are thereby led to be lax and unmindful. The true Du’aat guided by the Sunnah (the way/ tradition of the Prophet ) must be mindful, lest they be affected by the lusts and whims of society.
4- Men have the original right in Da’wah activities to take the lead as was the case in the age at the Prophet and the excellent generations that followed. Women’s role in Da’wah work is undeniable, provided the appropriate guidelines are adhered to.
Second: Objectives of the programme:
Any Da’wah programme directed towards women should strive to, at least, serve the following ends:
1- Strengthening Eemaan (faith): This comes about by increasing worship, remembrance of Allah (Thikr), and reflection on Allah’s names, His power and creation in ourselves and in the universe. There is great power in reflection. And its positive impact on one’s heart and Eemaan is almost limitless. This, however, would not be possible without the inculcation of the right understanding of certain issues related to our Aqeedah (Belief); the emphasis has to be on Tawheed (Monotheism).
2- Increasing knowledge: One cannot achieve much without knowledge. Special emphasis has to be put on the basics of Islam and on subjects that the Daa’iyah (caller to Islam) needs in her environments. Knowledge should be spread about deviant thoughts, ideas, groups and sects. Awareness must be raised concerning those who do not like to see the spreading of Islam and who are gaining grounds in the hearts and minds of people.
3- Building of the Da’wah personality: Da’wah requires sacrifices and, therefore, women must be prepared to bear the burdens of calling to Islam. This comes through awakening them to the conditions of the Muslims and the endeavours of the enemies of Islam. Leadership, responsibility and individual initiative should be taught. Theoretical and practical educational faculties must be nurtured. The Daa’iyah must be taught the necessary social skills and the importance of Da’wah through good example and conduct. They also must be taught the value of time, its management and how to use Halaal (lawful) fun activities during their times of leisure.
4- Building up immunity to sin: This includes recognising the ills of sins, particularly those relating to women, and blocking the way to them by shunning the means leading to them and the places where they exist.
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage
Training in the field of Da’wah
On the theoretical side of this step, training women to work in the field of Da’wah (call to Islam) may need to consider the following aspects:
- Educational preparation through providing a good presentation of appropriate materials.
- Psychological preparation by ensuring that the women callers have faith in Allah, sincerity, hopefulness, pride in Islam, patience, and knowledge of the conditions and environments of those they are addressing.
- Social preparation by having the women Daa’iyaat (callers to Islam) live an Islamic life in the family and society in a practical application of Islam. They should abide by the ethics of Islam and of the Da’wah.
Adequate practical training and
preparation is a must
This involves training female callers in speaking and writing to be able to bring Allah’s religion to the people through speeches, lessons, lectures, and writing.
Writing and publishing must not be neglected in an age when people are easily reached by and engrossed in all sorts of books, booklets, newspapers, and articles. Writings should both be eloquent and convincing, through sincere, sound and documented arguments. Writing is the form of Da’wah which is, in many ways, one of the most appropriate and important means for women. They can write at home and thus make use of their spare time. They can in this way reach all classes of society.
Areas of Da’wah for women
The educational fields: These are related to the ennoblement of the spirit and the purification of the soul through faith. The minds and souls can thus be touched. These fields are to be found in mosques, schools, associations, Da’wah groups, and others.
The social fields: These relate to bodily and psychological health as well as to social development and interaction between people that reflect positively on the realisation of spiritual education and the formation of Muslim character.
Both sides, spiritual and physical, are tied together and they should both be fulfilled in balance. To give the upper hand to the soul would be asceticism, and to the body would be hedonism. Fulfilling the physical needs has often been cause for many people embracing the guidance of Islam. Preachers of Christianity today, concentrate on this approach. It is difficult for the hungry, the naked, or the sick and homeless to listen to sermons.
More specific examples of what women can take part in as Da’wah are:
1. The Home: This is surely the most fertile and most effective channel. Almighty Allah has ordained both husbands and wives as nurturers for each other and the family. The mother shares with the father the responsibilities of educating and nurturing each other and their children in all physical, moral, psychological, social, and external aspects. Members of the family are gathered together in the home for many hours and this creates harmony among them as well as affords an opportunity for presenting good examples and guidance.
2. The Muslim Community: Charity, advice, and direction can be offered to relatives, neighbours, and the needy.
3. The Islamic School: Educational activities and curriculums can be used for the guidance of girl students as well as women teachers and staff.
4. The Masjid (Mosque): Women should be allowed to go to the Masaajid (pl. of Masjid) to benefit from the lessons held there. The Masjid is a suitable place for some of the women activities like Qur’an study groups and other training.
5. Hospitals, Prisons, and Social Welfare Institutions, Women’s Colleges or Universities: “Women-only conferences can also be incorporated into already scheduled major conferences, thus providing them with someone to travel with,”
What we sow we reap
1. Banishing ignorance, increasing intellectual broad-mindedness, and the creation of qualified women Da’wah cadres. These results have a lasting and beneficial influence, not only on women and the Muslim community, but also on the whole society at large.2. Rectifying conduct and restitution of many erroneous practices that have come to be social phenomenon in many societies.
3. Women’s place and status in Islam would be highlighted and Muslim women would attain a better awareness of their rights and duties.
4. Efforts would be geared toward the cultivating of our young people, in order to ensure the Ummah (Muslim community) virtuous Muslims in the generations to come.
5. A sense of belonging to Islam would be fostered, and the key Muslim rite of enjoining good and forbidding evil would be upheld.
6. An important financial tributary for Da’wah work would be secured; i.e., women’s charitable spending.
It is time that Muslims who profess to follow the Sunnah rethink the issue of Da’wah among women and by women. We should remember Khadeejah, ‘Aa’ishah, Sumayyah and many Muslim women throughout our history, and what they did for Islam and learn from it.
We also have to realise that mere talk and emotionalism are useless. We need to do something about our immediate situation now. Education, preparation, and qualification of women will be the key to our future success.
Throughout history, the yardstick used to measure the well-being of any society has been the condition of its women. Let us therefore, strive to improve the intellectual, spiritual and emotional condition of the Muslim woman by allowing her to fulfill all the Allah-given abilities and responsibilities made incumbent on her.
As mentioned in the article, women Da’wah is very important. We have to be careful not to fall in what a lot of Muslims they fell into with the good intentions of giving Da’wah (intermingling men and women, people with lack of knowledge altering the Deen and thinking that they have the authority since they are calling to Islam, etc.). Women who work in the field of Da’wah should be away from men’s environment. Women don’t need to be part of a the board members of a masjid for example to be active in Da’wah!. So it needs to be stressed that things are done in the environment of women and women alone.
Article source: http://www.islamweb.net/emainpage