And the fact that she was in H’ijaab did not prevent her from being politically active, getting on her camel and leading the army against Ali Ralh’iyahallaahu A’nh in the battle of ‘Al-Jamal’ ‘The Camel’.
The whole battle in the year 36 was called Al-Jamal, the battle of the camel. Why? After the camel of A’isha Ralh’iyahllaahu A’nh’aa. Because she was leading the army, the reason for this leading was because she thought she is a protector of Islam. She thought Ali Ralh’iyahllaahu A’nh did not carry out the punishment against the killers of Usmaan, therefore he has to be brought to justice. And she led the army with Zubair, you know Abdulla Bin Zubair’l Awwam and they went after Ali Ralh’iyahllaahu A’nh and of course they were defeated and they reached an agreement and she went back home.
That did not prevent her, you know the fact that she was in H’ijaab and the fact that she was the mother of the believers and the ‘A’aalima’, the scholar of her time did not prevent her from taking an active role in the society at all.
If you are talking about another one, Asma Ralh’iyallaahu A’nhaa, the daughter of Aboobakar Ralh’iyahllaahu A’nhumaa, you know what did Asmaa do? We would not be Muslims today if it weren’t for Asma. Asma, a woman. As a matter of fact she was younger at that time. She was the first one who was struck across her face by Aboojahul because of Islam. And she was the one who was covering the tracks of Rasool (pbuh) and taking the food to him and her father in the migration to Al-Madina. She was playing a very important role. And the same Asmaa married Zubair Al-Awwam and not only Asmaa used to only prepare and take care of his Jihaad horse. He had a specifically trained horse for Jihaad. Not only was she the one who was taking care of that horse, she was the one who was fighting along side of her husband. And she fought in the Yarmook battle against the Romans. Actively engaged in military by the way now just two days ago there was an article in New York Times where they were sending women to Afghanistan still feeling whether women should be actually engaged fully in the battle field or not. Asmaa, the daughter of Aboobakar was engaged fully in the battle field in the battle of Yarmook. The same woman was the mother of Abdulla Bin Zubair who was a Khalifah. And she was the one who raised them. And she was the one who stood up to Al-H’ajjaaj, if anybody knows the history of Al-H’ajjaaj. Al-H’ajjaaj came after killing her son and crucified him. He was a tyrant. Killed her son and then crucified him. And he came to brag “What do you think I did with the enemy of Allah tha’aala”. He is asking his (Asmaa’s son) mother after killing him and crucifying him. She told him, “You ruined his Dhuniya, his world, his life and he ruined your Aa’khirah”. This is a woman. Does she sound scared? Does she sound timid? Does she sound somebody who was just “I can’t talk to men or my modesty…” This is the daughter of Aboobakar Siddeeq Ralh’iyahllaahu A’nhumaa. She said you ruined his life, he ruined your Aa’khirah. That was a position, a political statement against a tyrant ruler where if she had been killed for it Rasool (pbuh) said, “She would be with Hamzaa and equal to him” (because he said Hamzaa- the leader of martyrs). Hamzaa was a man who stood up to an unjust ruler and gave him advice and the ruler killed him. She (Asmaa) is in that category.
The Hayaa, that bashfulness, that modesty did not prevent her from taking that position or to be a force for Islam. Nusaibaa Bin-Ka’b as I mentioned, she was the one who was fighting in the battle of Uhud. We can continue this….
Some of our great scholars in Islam, there teachers were women. Ah-Shaafiee ralh’yahllaahu A’nh (one of the four schools of thought for those who do not know) where people used to say, the sun has not risen on anybody like Al-Imaam Shaafiee in the Ilmu, in the Thaqwaa. His language was a proof. You know when you say the Arabic language was pure at a certain time where you say, when the Arab says this, it means that. Ah-Shaafiee, when he spoke, that was equivalent to that. That was a proof for the Arabic language- this is a valid Arabic word, this is a valid meaning for the Arabic language. Ah-Shaafiee, one of his teachers was a woman, was a great grand child of Rasool (pbuh) and that was Sayyiadha Nafeesa who is buried in Egypt. And Ah-Sayyidha Nafeesa was a scholar. And Imaam Al-Shaafiee used to sit with her when he went to Egypt because she brought him to Egypt. He used to pass by her house and sit and she taught him Hadith. And when he was in his sickness bed, when he was dying he asked that she would come and make Solat Al-Janaaza on him and make Duaa for him. Because she was also a very good worshiper. You know, a righteous woman. Aalim and a righteous woman. Al-Imaam Ahmed as well, he took from her, the same woman. And this is by the way it is not only that.
Ummu Umar Binti Hassaan, the mother of Ummu Umar, so you find them, they were scholars at the same time they were mothers. And they were wives, and they were housewives and scholars. And our great Imaams used to go and learn from them.
Al-Imaam Maalik took from women, studied under women. Al-Imaam Bin Hazam (those who do not know him, he is a literalist) who grew up actually in Q’urthuba- in Spain. He was saying, I was raised by women. I did not even know any man until I became a young man. They (the woman) taught me Quran, they taught me my hand writing, it was by women who taught him that. You have some of our great scholars in history who were actually taught by other women. So I’ll give you an example.
Al-Haafiz Ibn Asaakir by the way when I say Hafiz is a terminology in the science of Hadith. And if my memory says correctly Al-Hafiz is a person who has memorized one million Hadith. And Al-Imaam Ibn Asaakir was a Hafiz and he studied under 80 Muh’ahdhithaa (80 women who were scholars of Hadith) and that’s without traveling. He was on a certain locality and there were eighty women who were capable of teaching him the Hadith.
Now when I say memorize the Hadith, I do not say “G’aala Rasool (pbub)”, you know “Khairukum Man tha’aalal Quraani Wa a’hlamaathi”- “The best of you is the one who learn the Quran and teaches it”. That’s not Hadith. The Hadith comes with a chain. And sometimes and often, the Hadith comes with multiple chains; from so and so otherwise we cannot be fairytale cannot be just “I heard”, It has to be a chain, all the way back to Rasool (pbuh), to the origin. So that when we say somebody memorized the Hadith, they used to memorize the Hadith with multiple chains back to Rasool (pbuh). Now when you say, I’m a Muhahdhith, somebody who has memorized a million Hadith it means on top of that you are able to critique the Hadith. And that is no small task. So Ibn-A’saakir studied under 80 women.
In the second century of Hijrah, Ibn-Hajar mentioned that 824 women (within the 100 year range) who were famous. What were they famous for? For their Figh and Ilmu-Hadith. They were Muj-thahidhaath. And these were the famous ones. You know there are many commons. Many below average, many below the famous status. Yaabi Sakh’aawi mentioned and this is in the fourth century. He mentioned 1070 scholar women in the fourth century. And this by the way are not my numbers. These are documented in books of history. Because if you find what they call ‘the books of Rijaal’, the science of narrators, you find sections that are just for women. Volumes just for women.
Women narrators, women jurists, women Fug’ahaa etc. All of this is something that was common throughout history. And this is not the time to sit and list every name but it is sufficient to say that there are thousands and thousands and thousands of them.
Now did that include every single woman that existed? No. But even among men not every single man was well known for anything. You know most of the people do not opt for this. But if you have at a certain time, you have over a thousand women who are scholars like now you come to the year 2010 and now you say we have a hundred, two hundred, three hundred. Now we brag about how many ‘H’uhfaaz’ we have, memorisers of the Quran. You know we have a thousand, two thousand etc in one locality. At that time you are talking about the 1000 scholars. Their starting step was the memorisation of Quran Al-Kareem. The scholars we are talking about are all women.
Of course when you look at the status of the Muslim Ummah today it has nothing to do with the past. Because not only did the Muslim women declined and we have to understand one thing. There was nothing called Muslim women who just went downhill, it was the Muslim Ummah that went downhill. We as a nation. The best nation has gone downhill. And part of going downhill, part of this decline in the intellectual level of the Muslim Ummah, women were just part of the process. And of course we declined due to different reasons. Some of them are internal and some of them are external. But with the decline, you talk about the negligence of the study of Islam, the negligence of the Arabic language, the negligence of the Quran, being busied by the Jihaad which Muslims did throughout the history etc neglecting the study of Islam and neglecting to continue with the building process, intellectual process while they were expanding etc (during the expansion of the state, building the intellectual process was neglected). So, many factors came in internally. Being impacted by foreign civilizations such as the Hindu civilizations or Hindu ideas, Greek ideas etc, it all contributed to the decline of the Muslim Ummah.