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170) For Women in Our Community “There is No Glass Ceiling”

12 May 2017

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

إِنَّ الْمُسْلِمِينَ وَالْمُسْلِمَاتِ وَالْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتِ وَالْقَانِتِينَ وَالْقَانِتَاتِ وَالصَّادِقِينَ وَالصَّادِقَاتِ وَالصَّابِرِينَ وَالصَّابِرَاتِ وَالْخَاشِعِينَ وَالْخَاشِعَاتِ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقِينَ وَالْمُتَصَدِّقَاتِ وَالصَّائِمِينَ وَالصَّائِمَاتِ وَالْحَافِظِينَ فُرُوجَهُمْ وَالْحَافِظَاتِ وَالذَّاكِرِينَ اللَّهَ كَثِيرًا وَالذَّاكِرَاتِ أَعَدَّ اللَّهُ لَهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

For Muslim men and women,- for believing men and women, for devout men and women, for true men and women, for men and women who are patient and constant, for men and women who humble themselves, for men and women who give in Charity, for men and women who fast (and deny themselves), for men and women who guard their chastity, and for men and women who engage much in Allah's praise,- for them has Allah prepared forgiveness and great reward.

(Surat al-Ahzab: 35) 

The 22nd of Shabaan is the Urus of Maulatuna Hurratul Malika Arwa binte Ahmad RA. She was an extraordinarily strong, intelligent and accomplished woman,  a fact remarkable in a culture where women were not known for education or independence. Her political acumen and command earned her the name of ‘Bilqis al-Sughra’ (the younger Bilqis, queen of Sheba).  Maulatuna Hurrat-ul-Malika belonged to the Sulayhid dynasty of Yemen, and she ruled their kingdom for over ten years. A woman of vast general knowledge and extremely well informed about the conditions of her subjects, she was a capable and worthy ruler.  In full command, she delegated military and executive powers to luminaries whom she supervised.  Even more importantly, Mustansir Imam appointed Maulatuna Hurrat-ul-Malika to the lofty rutba of Hujjat and made her overall head of the Dawat in Yemen. She was a learned lady, and gave sabaq to many high dignitaries of Dawat. After Amir Imam’s shahadat and at his command, Maulatuna Hurrat-ul-Malika instituted the silsila of Duat Mutlaqeen of the Dawat us-Satr; she is known as the ‘mother’ of the Duat Mutlaqeen.

Maulatuna Hurratul Malika’s example shines forth like a beacon. She achieved the highest ranks in Deen and Dunya. She set the benchmark, especially for Muminaat, for centuries to come.

Syedna Taher Saifuddin RA always said that “I lead my life according to the teachings and guidance (irshadaat) of our Mawali Kiraam.” In the early 1900’s, he empowered women in the community by encouraging them to pursue education, advising them about the importance of their role in their families and simultaneously encouraging them to pursue professions in which they maintained their dignity and respect (lihaaz). He established numerous schools for girls to encourage their parents to educate them. He also encouraged his own family to pursue secular education in addition to Deeni Ta’lim. Syedna Qutbuddin’s aqeelat –Ummul Mu’mineen Sakina Aaisaheba – the daughter of Syedna Taher Saifuddin’s brother Rasul Hudud Ibrahim bhaisaheb Zainuddin was the first girl in Saifee Mahal to attend Cathedral High School with Syedna Taher Saifuddin’s raza and to pursue higher education . Syedna Taher Saifuddin also admitted girls to the Jame’a Saifiyyah and encouraged them pursue Dawat ‘ilm.  On his Golden Jubilee as Dai, Syedna Taher Saifuddin established a youth organization in Dawat for young men – Shababul Eidi-z-Zahabi, and also one for women Bunayyatul Eidi-z-Zahabi.

Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin RA continued the legacy of encouraging women’s education and granting raza to so many in the community to pursue education and respectful careers while fulfilling, along with their husbands, their primary duty to nurture and raise their children. When Syedna Burhanuddin established a college student organization for boys (Tolabaa’ul Kulliyyaatil Mu’minun) he also established one for girls (Taalebatul Kulliyyaatil Muminaat). He also established Burhani Women’s Association.

Syedna Khuzaima Qutbuddin RA throughout his tenure as Syedna Burhanuddin’s RA Mazoon, and then as Da’i, continued the empowerment of women. He led by example. He nurtured and educated his own daughters in the knowledge of Aal-e-Mohammed and encouraged them to pursue secular education to the highest levels. He encouraged them to pursue their careers in a way to serve Dawat. The scholarship program that Syedna Qutbuddin established on his Golden Jubilee as Syedna Burhanuddin’s Mazoon emphasized as one of its priorities the encouragement of girls’ higher education.

The successor of the 51st, 52nd and 53rd Dais, Syedna Taher Fakhruddin TUS continues this legacy. Emphasizing the empowerment of women in our community, in a waaz last year and again in the press meet in March 2017 in Mumbai, Syedna referred to Maulatuna Hurratul Malika and said that in our community “there is no glass ceiling in the role women play in society.”

These words are an inspiration for girls and women in our community. There is no limit to what you can achieve. There is no barrier that stops you from reaching for the stars. Maulatuna Hurratul Malika attained an exalted position in Dawat, and she ruled an entire kingdom.