The Great Women of Islam
The contributions of women in Islam is indisputable. Some women have had a great role and status in Islam and are, therefore, revered and appreciated in Islamic history.
The Prophet ﷺ said:
“Sufficient for you among the women of mankind are Mariam bint ‘Imran, Khadijah bint Khuwailid, Fatimah bint Muhammad and Asiyah the wife of Fir’awn.”
Al Tirmidhi (Sahih)
The Prophet has also mentioned a fifth woman and that is Aisha, whereby he ﷺ said:
“The superiority of ‘Aishah to other women is like the superiority of Tharid (the most popular signature dish at the time) to other kinds of food.”
Here are some of the greatest Muslim women in Islamic history in more detail.So who are these women and why are they so special?
1. Khadijah Bint Khuwaylid
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“The best of its women is Khadijah bint Khuwailid, and the best of its women is Mariam bint ‘Imran (Virgin Mary)”
Khadijah was the first wife of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. She was a wealthy merchant and was able to successfully run the business her late father left her. Despite her wealth, she always helped the poor and made sure to support all her family. Khadijah was the biggest advocate of the Prophet ﷺ. She was there for the Prophetﷺ when the revelation came to Him for the first time. She always stood by Himﷺ, despite people going against his message of Islam in the beginning.
Following the Prophethood of Muhammad ﷺ, she went through a great amount of suffering and undertook many sacrifices to support his mission. The Prophet never forgot her great service to himself and the Islamic faith. He would in fact always remind others of her great favor years after her passing.
Aisha says in a narration:
“….The Prophet (ﷺ) used to mention her (Khadija) very often, and whenever he slaughtered a sheep, he would cut its parts and send them to the women friends of Khadija. When I sometimes said to him, “(You treat Khadija in such a way) as if there is no woman on earth except Khadija,” he would say, “Khadija was such-and-such, and from her I had children.”
2. Aisha Bint Abu Bakr
Aisha was the wife of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and the daughter of Abu Bakr As-Siddiq. She is one of the most renowned Mothers of the believers and is considered one of the greatest scholars of Islam.
Many narrations of the Prophet ﷺ are narrated by Aisha due to her proximity to the Messenger and her great understanding of the Quran and Islam.
The Prophet ﷺ was once asked, “O Allah’s Messenger! Who amongst all the people is the dearest to you?”He replied, “Aisha”.
The Companion then asked, “Out of the men?”
He replied: “Her father.”
Many companions would always go to Aisha for consultation in religious matters, her intellect and scholastic abilities are a role model for women. Aisha’s status in Islam breaks the stereotype that only men can be scholars of Islam.
3. Maryam Bint Imran (Virgin Mary)
Maryam, the mother of Jesus, Eesa, is one of the most revered women in Islam. Her story features in detail in the Quran, and she, in fact, has an entire chapter named after her.
The Quran actually sheds light on the story of Maryam prior to her birth, whereby we learn of her mother’s supplication for a righteous child.
“But when she delivered her, she said, “My Lord, I have delivered a female.” And Allah was most knowing of what she delivered, “And the male is not like the female. And I have named her Mary, and I seek refuge for her in You and [for] her descendants from Satan, the expelled [from the mercy of Allah ].”
And surely Maryam lived on to dedicate her life to worshipping Allah. Her immense piety is in fact reiterated in the Quran on multiple occasions.
“So her Lord accepted her with good acceptance and caused her to grow in a good manner and put her in the care of Zechariah. Every time Zechariah entered upon her in the prayer chamber, he found with her provision. He said, “O Mary, from where is this [coming] to you?” She said, “It is from Allah. Indeed, Allah provides for whom He wills without account.”
“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.
Despite all the hardships she faced from people accusing her chastity she remained steadfast and obeyed Allah with unceasing faith.
4. Aasiyah the Pharaoh’s wife
Another woman who is given great stature in Islam is the wife of Pharaoh, Aasiyah. Despite being the wife of one of the greatest tyrants, she still believed in Allah. She chose leave all the wealth and accepted to be tortured by the Pharaoh for believing in Allah.
In the Quran, Allah refers to her as an “example for the believers”. Allah also makes mention of her supplication for a Palace in Paradise near Allah.
“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.”
5. Fatimah Bint Muhammad
Fatimah is the daughter of Prophet Muhammadﷺ from his first wife Khadijah. She was known to be the biggest supporter of her father and she accompanied him from the beginning of his journey as a Prophet. She is a role model of faith, humility, purity, sacrifice and patience. Prophet Muhammad ﷺ used to stand up when she’d come into the room and kiss her forehead.
He ﷺ said:
“Fatimah is a part of me, and he who makes her angry, makes me angry.”
She was nicknamed “Al-Zahra” by the Prophet, which means “The Splendid One”. She also married the cousin of the Prophet, Ali Ibn Abi Taleb, and gave birth to four children, Hassan, Hussain, Zainab and Um Kulthum. She lived a life of simplicity and often experienced great hardship and poverty.
The Prophet also informed her on his deathbed that she would be a leader of the women in Paradise.
These were women distinguished by sabr who found the true friendship of Allah through their unfailing steadfastness in the face of grinding sacrifices.
May Allah elevate the ranks of these great women and guide us to follow in their noble footsteps.