One of the main tasks we face as Muslims is to purify our current understanding of Islaam so that it reflects the correct understanding of Islaam. Unfortunately for many Muslim women 'culture' rather than Islaam fundamentally influences their roles as mothers, wives and daughters. Culture and Islaam have become so confused and synonymous that for many people it is difficult to distinguish between them. As Muslims it should be Islaam which is the dominant, driving force in our lives, after all, we are Muslim’s first, second and last: "Say: My worship and my sacrifice, my living and my dying are for Allaah alone, the Lord of the Worlds." (EMQ 6: 162)
The Seerah (biography) of the Rasool-Allaah (saw) cites many examples of where the Prophet (saw) encouraged the Sahaabah (ra) to teach and convey all that they had learnt to their wives. The wives of our beloved Rasool (saw) and the Sahaabiyaat (ra) were shown to be constantly striving to learn and educate themselves about the Deen and the level of their understanding was reflected in their firm obedience to Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw).
Is it not a great honour that the first person to embrace Islaam was a woman, Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid (ra). She was the first woman to bear witness that there is no God worthy of worship except Allaah and that her husband was the Messenger of Allaah (saw). Khadeejah (ra) was a constant source of help and comfort to Muhammad (saw) during his struggle to make the Deen prevail over all other ideologies.
'Aa-ishah (ra) being the wife of Rasool-Allaah (saw) learnt a great deal from him. She used to sit with the women of the community and pass on any knowledge that she would receive from the Prophet (saw).
Long after he had died for as long as she lived, she was a source of immense knowledge and wisdom for the believing men and women, and this is not surprising because she was one of the four people who had transmitted more than two thousand ahaadeeth at her time, the others being Abu Hurayrah, 'Abdullaah bin 'Umar and Anas bin Maalik (may Allah be pleased with them all).
A title of great respect and honour was attributed to all the wives of the Prophet (saw), that of, Umm ul-Mu'mineen (the mother of the believers), which confirmed what the Qur'an clearly states, that no man may marry any of them after they had been married to the Prophet (saw), for Allah (swt) says: "The Prophet is closer to the believers than their own selves, and his wives are as their mothers." (EMQ 3: 16)
Many of the wives of the Prophet (saw) as well as numerous Sahaabiyaat (ra) were present in the battles for Islaam. For example, in the Battle of Hunayn a small group of women stood firm with the Prophet (saw), one of whom was Ummu Sulaym bint Milhaan, the wife of Abu Talhah (ra). Although she was heavily pregnant at the time she had armed herself with a dagger to use against the Kaafiroon Also, Nusaybah Umm Imarah was a great fighter for the Cause. She was present at the Second Pledge of al-'Aqabah and gave Rasool (saw) her allegiance (bay'ah). She was also present at the Battle of Uhud and actually participated in the battle physically.
These few examples clearly reveal the vibrancy of Islaam and the essential spiritual equality, which exists between men and women in Islaam. Muslim women were able to rise to the occasion and were the counterparts, the mirror images of their men, courageous, strong, thoughtful and ready to give all for the cause of al-Islaam.
It is the Muslim woman who has been endowed, blessed with the noble and vital role of a mother as they hold the next generation of Muslims in the palm of their hands. It is our responsibility, our duty, to shape their mentality in accordance with the Islamic mentality. We must ensure that Islaam is taught in its totality as a comprehensive and complete way of life. As Muslim women we are told that our Islaam begins and ends in the home. That is true to a certain extent meaning we must ensure the environment of the home is purely influenced by Islaam so that our children would be brought up only according to Islaam.
The potential scope of da'wah possible in a Muslim woman's life is not yet realised by many. Islaam places great emphasis and value on the family unit and has undoubtedly defined a Muslim women's first priority to be welfare of her family. However, it is not necessary to step outside this role or neglect any of these duties in order to carry the message of Islaam. The duty of carrying the message of Islaam should simultaneously be carried out as it is the core and natural part of our lives. Our weakness as Muslim women is not in creating opportunities for the da'wah of Islaam, but rather recognising and taking up these opportunities as and when they appear.