In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w.
The Declining Day (Al-'Asr)
1. By the declining day,
2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss,
3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort
one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance.
LATELY when reading newspapers, sometimes I came across news or articles featuring women doing 'extraordinary feats' - the latest one was about a lady who traveled alone (solo) around the globe crossing over 40 countries in four continents on a motorbike in 370 days.
'Syabas' (congratulation) to that determined lady...Oh what a feat, I really admired her determination; her courage, her sacrifice and her achivement 'won' my heart - yes she had her name crafted in the Malaysia Book of Records as the first Malaysian Muslim women to travel around the world on a motorcycle.
The lady who was also touted as the first Muslim woman to successfully ride a motorcycle around the globe, was quoted as saying although her main motivation was to make Malaysia proud,the mission was also aimed at correcting the negative public perception of Islam and women in Islam.
"Too many people have become Islamophobic and think of Islam as the religion of terrorists, that Islam is rigid and discriminates women and that Islam does not allow women to study or work, and other negative perceptions.
"If they say Islam is rigid, oppressing women to the extent of not letting them to study, then how come I am going around the world riding solo on a motorbike," she was quoted saying.
Many Malaysian Muslims including intellectuals and leaders gave thumbs up to the lady's feat; for example a renowned professor said she support women doing tough outdoor activities including travelling solo around the world, travelling across Antartica or climbing roof top mountains.
Dear readers, I have no grudge against women, but when there are encouragements from top figures that Muslim ladies indulge in 'extraordinary feats' whats more involves travelling and they are looked as examples to our young generation, I was confused and my mind raced back to the many 'tazkirah' (lessons) I attended at 'masjids' around my house.
Regarding 'successful women' who should be looked as examples, what has Allah SWT and His prophet, Muhammad s.a.w. (peace be upon him) had mentioned; that's more important, in fact it is very crucial because we must strive to be successful in this world and the Hereafter.
From the Qur'an (Al-Baqarah, 2:201) we recited our du'a: "Our Lord, give us in this world (that which is) good and in the Hereafter (that which is) good and protect us from punishment of the Fire."
Regarding rules on 'musafir'; (traveler), I heard a few 'hadiths' from some 'ustazs'; one of the 'hadith' read: "Sayyiduna Abu Sa’id al-Khudri r.a. narrates that the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. said: “Let no woman travel for more than three days unless her husband or a 'mahram' is with her." (Sahih Muslim)
Another one read: "Sayyiduna Ibn Abbas r.a. narrates that the Messenger of Allah s.a.w. said: “'A woman must not travel except with a 'mahram' and a man must not enter upon her except if she has a 'mahram'. (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 1763)
One 'ustaz' reminded that no 'Muslimah' (Muslim women) should travel to faraway places without being accompanied by her husband or 'mahram' (unmarriageable kin).
He said even to perform hajj, which is the fifth article in 'Rukun Islam' (Articles of Faith), Muslim female must be accompanied by her husband or 'mahram' then whats more to lesser important obligations such as working, studying and of course holidaying.
So 'the thing' that puzzled me is could a Muslim women travel solo around the globe riding a motorcycle? A few days ago, during a question and answer session after an 'ustaz' had given his 'tazkirah', I posed to him the question.
He said the general understanding is that it is prohibited in the Shariah for a female to travel without a 'mahram' under all circumstances. It is impermissible for a woman to travel the distance of three days (equivalent to 48 miles) without her husband or a ''mahram' accompanying her.
Why are women not allowed to travel without 'mahram'? Firstly, it was Allah's command; just obey it and you be blessed and rewarded handsomely. And if you disobeyed Allah's command after you have the the knowledge about it, then it is up to you; the consequences you bear it yourself.
Regarding the ban, scholars said it was because travel usually causes exhaustion and hardship, and because women are weak and need someone to look after them and stay with them, and things may happen in the absence of her 'mahram' that she is not able to deal with. These are things that are well known and are frequently seen nowadays because of the large number of accidents involving cars and other means of transportation.
Moreover, if a woman travels alone she may be approached and tempted to do evil, especially when there is a great deal of corruption. Someone may sit next to her who does not fear Allah and he made may doing 'haraam' (forbidden) actions seem appealing to her. It is perfectly wise that the woman should be accompanied by her 'mahram' when she travels, because the purpose of having her 'mahram' present is to protect her and look after her. Travelling is a situation in which emergencies may arise, no matter what the length of the journey is.
The 'ustaz' said Muslims or Muslimah in specific, should looked upon the lives of 'special and successful women' mentioned in the Qur'an and hadith if they were aiming to be blessed in this world and the Hereafter. Among names mentioned were the Prophet's s.a.w. wives such as Lady Khadijah binti Khauwalid, Aisha' binti Abu Bakar; his daughter Fatimah Az-Zahra; women around his time such as Ummu Sulaim and before the time of the Prophet s.a.w. women such as Aisya' the wife of 'Firaun' (Pharaoh) and Hajar (Hagar), the wife of Prophet Ibrahim a.s.
Reading the lives of these women with heart, one could not help but was tremendously touched and determined to follow their footsteps...of course not all of them but 'a little of it' could be able to guide us in life. They lead lives not to be popular and famous doing 'extraordinary deeds of feats', but only to please their Creator, Allah SWT. They lead lives in line with Allah's order - "And I did not create the jinn and mankind except to worship Me. I do not want from them any provision, nor do I want them to feed Me." (Surah Adh-Dhariyat 51: 56-57)
A renowned writer, Dr Ali Shariati described beautifully how Allah SWT honoured one of the women - Hajar (Hagar) in his book 'Hajj'. This is an excerpt of it: Toward the west of Kaaba there is a semi-circular short wall which is arching towards the Kaaba. It is called Ismail’s Hagar. Hagar signifies lap or skirt. The semi lunar wall resembles a skirt.
Sarah, the wife of Ibrahim had an Ethiopian maid called Hagar. She was a poor and humble servant of Sarah,who was given to Ibrahim
The skirt of Hagar was the area in which Ismail was raised. The house of Hagar is there. Her grave is near the third column of the Kaaba.
What a surprise since no one, not even prophets, are supposed to be buried in mosques but in this case,the house of a maid is located next to Allah’s house! Hagar, the mother of Ismail is buried there. The Kaaba extends toward her grave.
There is a narrow passage between the wall (Hagar’s skirt) and the Kaaba. When circumambulating around Kaaba, Allah commanded that you must go around the wall and not through the passage.
Those who have submitted themselves to the oneness of Allah and those who have accepted His invitation for Hajj touch this skirt when circumambulating the Kaaba. The grave of a maid and a righteous mother is now a part of the Kaaba; it will be circumambulated by man forever!
Allah, the Almighty, in His great and glorious Divinity is all self-sufficient. He needs no one and nothing. Nevertheless, among all His countless and eternal creatures, He has chosen one, humankind, as the noblest of all of them. From among all humanity He has chosen: a woman, from among all women: a slave, and from among all slaves: a black maid!
The weakest and most humiliated one of His creatures was given a place of dignity next to His own house.
The Unknown Soldier has been so chosen in the community of Islam!
The rituals of Hajj are a memory of Hagar. The word Higrah (migration) has its root in her name as does the word mohajir (immigrant). “The ideal immigrant is the one who behaves like Hagar.” (Saying of Muhammad s.a.w.)
In Hagar’s mother-tong her name means “the city”. Even the name of this Ethiopian slave is symbolic of civilization. Furthermore, any migration like hers is a move toward civilization!
Hagar’s grave is in the midst of man’s circumambulation of Kaaba. You, the mohajir (immigrant), who has detached himself from everything and accepted Allah’s invitation to go to Hajj,you will devote your circumambulation of the Kaaba to Allah and at the same time you will be paying homage to the grave of a African maid.
It is difficult to realize. But for those who think they live in freedom and defend humanism, the significance of these incidents transgresses the scope of their understanding!