The first days of Islam were very difficult days for the Prophet (PBUH&HP) because he did not have many followers and the infidels could conspire for the Prophet (PBUH&HP) more easily. They even attacked his house to assassinate the Prophet (PBUH&HP), but thanks to Allah, this conspiracy was in vain. But in these difficult days, the Prophet (PBUH&HP) had very valuable companions with him, one of these precious followers was the wife of the Prophet, Lady Khadijah (AS). Now we want to know more about the Prophet's wife and her services to Islam and Muslim women.
Lady Khadijah (AS) was from the Quraysh tribe. Her father was Khuwaylid and her mother was Fatima, daughter of Zaydeh, both of whom were among the most rooted and noble Arab families in the Hejaz. Khuwaylid was the eldest of his tribe during the pre-Islamic period. Before the advent of Islam, Khadijah was considered one of the most prominent Quraysh women, so much so that she was called by the Lady of Quraysh women.
Although she was a beautiful and wealthy woman and had a lot of suitors, she did not accept them and started a business with the big amount of money she had. Until Prophet’s uncle asked his nephew to work for Khadijah like his other relatives, and he went to the Sham business on his behalf, and so it was continued. The decency of Muhammad (PBUH&HP) and his talent, merit, distinguished personality, and reputation for fiduciary duty made him famous in particular and in general that he was called "Muhammad Amin" *. This news and reports made Khadijah fascinated by her lineage, merit, character, and liking.
Lady Khadijah (AS) was the first Muslim woman in promoting Islamic culture and as a role model of a Muslim woman has played a great role and many women have learned lessons from her practical training. She was so faithful that even the Prophet (PBUH&HP) said this about her in various narrations, we will read some of them to know more about her great role and practical lessons:
1) The best women in the world are Khadijah and Maryam, the daughter of Imran (1)
2) One day, the Messenger of God (PBUH&HP) drew four lines. Then he asked: Do you know what these lines are? People said: God and His Messenger are more knowledgeable. The Prophet (PBUH&HP) said: The best women of Paradise are Maryam, the daughter of Imran, Khadijah, the daughter of Khuwaylid, and Fatimah, the daughter of Muhammad (peace be upon her), and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh. (2)
In 24 years of living together with the Holy Prophet of Islam (PBUH&HP), Khadijah performed many services for the religion of Islam. The financial, spiritual, and emotional support of the Prophet (PBUH&HP), the acknowledgment of the Prophet in a time when no one approved of him, and his help against the persecution of the polytheists are some of these valuable services. After marrying the Prophet (PBUH&HP), Khadijah gave her property to him so that he could spend it however he wanted. The Holy Prophet of Islam says in this regard: "No wealth was as useful to me as the wealth of Khadijah."(3)
Khadijah, this noble lady not only believed in the message of the Prophet from the bottom of her heart but also helped him in the face of hardships and denials of polytheists and ill-wishers. While she was alive, she did not allow the persecution of the polytheists to be severe on the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP). When the Messenger of Allah (PBUH&HP) came home with a load of calamity and sorrow, Khadijah comforted him and removed the worry from his mind. The property of Khadijah was used as a suitable tool in the service of Islam and its development from the very beginning. Interestingly, the last part of Khadijah’s property was spent by Imam Ali (AS) during his emigration trip to Medina. Most Muslims traveled with Khadija's property. The last of them was a caravan led by Imam Ali (AS). (4)
She was also the mother of Fatima (AS), from whom the generation of Imams was born. Imam Sadigh (AS) said: "When Khadijah (AS) chose the Holy Prophet (PBUH&HP) as her husband, the women of Mecca turned away from her because of enmity. Not only did they not greet Khadijah; they even prevented other women from visiting her. In this way, a strange terror overwhelmed Khadijah.
Of course, she was more afraid of the Prophet (PBUH&HP) to be harmed than herself. When Khadijah became pregnant with Fatima, Fatima spoke to her in her mother's womb and advised her to be patient, but Khadijah kept this secret from the Prophet until one day she entered and heard that Khadijah was talking with someone. He looked around; but he did not see anyone, he asked: O Khadijah! Who are you talking to? Khadijah, in response, told that she was talking to the child she had in her womb, Prophet (PBUH&HP) replied: “Gabriel informed that this is a girl child. She and her descendants are pure, blessed, and Allah will create my descendants from him. From his generation are born the Imams of the religion and the Almighty, after breaking the revelation, makes them his successors on earth.” (5)
The position and role of lady Khadijah (AS) in the most difficult period of the history of Islam this affair is common knowledge. she played an important role in establishing and spreading Islam during the Besat** period with her material and spiritual support of the Holy Prophet (PBUH). She is a role model for men and women in society because she raised many human values and perfections inside herself. She gave all his wealth, economic facilities, and existence in the way of satisfaction of Allah and also with the spiritual, psychological, and social support for her husband, Prophet (PBUH), in promoting Islam and advancing its goals, thus making his name as a real and true model for a Muslim woman. She died in the tenth year of the Besat and shortly after the death of the Prophet’s uncle, Abu Talib (AS). Muslim women can learn from the practical lessons of lady Khadija (AS) throughout the history of Islam to be behind their husbands in any case and not to withhold any support from him.
- Al Umdah Ibn Tariq (page 405)
- Sirat Ibn Hisham (first Volume - Page 168)
- Encyclopedia of Shia (second volume – page 47)
- Encyclopedia of Shia (second volume – page 49)
- Encyclopedia of Shia (third volume – page 46)
* Amin means a trustee and someone who is trusted to keep the treasure of others while he does not betray or abuse the trust others gave him.
** Besat refers to the election of Prophet Mohammad (PBUHHP) as a prophet and the beginning of his mission
Those who are not Muslim and committed to religion may think that Muslim women cover themselves in front of men. They do not wear make-up. They do not have boyfriends. They do not take part in mixed parties with men where they can dress up and flirt, and dance with music. What is the sort of life that they have? How do they enjoy life?
Also, non-Muslim women may look at the eastern type of Muslim women’s lifestyle and say: do they not get bored of staying home and raising children and taking care of their husband all the time? Do they not want some time for themselves?
This way of thinking makes some of them so worried about Muslim women that they start campaigns for defending Muslim women and try to awaken them for their very normal rights!
On the other hand, many Muslim women and I, when looking at the lifestyle of non-Muslim women, think to ourselves that they do not cover themselves in the presence of their marriageable kin (non-Mahram) men.
They dance with any man! They spend a lot of time dressing up and wearing make-up to go to nightclubs or parties to present themselves to men! So that one man may say: “you look so beautiful!”, and they say: “Thanks, I’m flattered!”
They go to the same swimming pools that men go, nearly nude! Forget about Islamic cover, where does modesty go?! They taste different boys in life before they get married, or let’s say they allow different boys to taste them! What is that sort of life? Do they not get offended by being degraded so much?
Muslim women may look at non-Muslim women’s western type of lifestyle and say: do they not get bored when they do not have big family gatherings, where all children and grandchildren come together around their grandparents? Do they not miss big parties in which instead of drinking and going out of mind, people sit together and talk about their issues and find out if one of the group has a problem, then everyone tries to sort it out?!
Now as a Muslim woman with the background of growing up in a huge eastern family, and then experiencing the Western lifestyle for many years, let me tell you what Muslim women do for fun. What they enjoy in life and why they stick to the eastern lifestyle without getting bored.
In my definition, the eastern Islamic lifestyle does not belong to the East only; rather it has remained in the East while it has disappeared in the West. You may find many people in the East who live a western lifestyle. You may as well find people in the West who live an eastern lifestyle.
I would like to list a few characteristics that are bold in an eastern Islamic lifestyle:
The high amount of respect that people have towards each other, especially the respect for the elderly or the teachers.
The importance of family.
The priority of the community over the individual.
Definition of freedom; In their social life, People are free as far as their freedom does not disturb others, while in western lifestyle people are free to do what they wish to do as long as it is not against the social rules; no matter if it may bother other individuals.
Ethics and human values are stronger than law.
The above points and many other similar points come together and shape a viewpoint about humans and life. And it is due to that point of view that eastern or western lifestyle develops.
As long as we do not become familiar with other people’s ideologies, we will not recognize the difference of opinions about the same issues.
When Muslim women, all over the world, have a tendency towards the eastern lifestyle, that has been completed by the Islamic teachings, in many cases, they will no more enjoy the same things that non-Muslims like. No matter in which part of the world you live as a Muslim, but when you are a Muslim, your mindset is shaped in a way that you enjoy the Islamic lifestyle.
With the sort of ideology that Muslim women have, they no more enjoy exhibiting their bodies for their marriageable kins (non-Mahram). They do not enjoy flirting with different guys all the time or going to nightclubs. While at the same time many of them may enjoy having lots of children and being in big families, in which they come together now and then, in order to empower themselves with the energy of the community.
The Islamic lifestyle gives us a vision and a spiritual goal (unlike most of the western goals which are materialistic). A Muslim woman (like a Muslim man) defines her activities in harmony with her beliefs, to help her achieve her spiritual goal in life. Therefore, she defines her fun activities in a way that does not contradict her path of growth.
Finally, keeping in mind all the above, there is no difference between Muslim men and Muslim women in terms of having fun. It might be a matter of modesty in relationships, which is recommended not only for women but also for men. Suggestions about different types of lawful (Halal) fun is available in an article with the title “What is lawful (Halal) fun?”.
Overall, Muslim women can have all sorts of fun that do not contradict the Islamic values and do not deviate them from their central roles such as motherhood as well. (Please note that by motherhood Islam does not mean only giving birth to the baby and feeding her/him. But the most important social role of a mother is to nurture the child to grow up into a great human).
You may wonder why Muslim women do not take part in some sports. Are certain types of sports forbidden (Haram) for women in Islam? Are women in Islam not allowed to enjoy themselves doing such recreational activities? Well, actually the question whether women in Islam can play sports is somehow same as the question if Muslims can eat or drink!!
And the answer is like, of course we can eat and drink! But, Islam always wants us to observe some rulings for our personal or social benefit. For example, drugs or alcoholic drinks that could lead to intoxication are forbidden in Islam, since they are far more harmful to the people and the society than they are beneficial [i]. So we can enjoy all the tasty foods and drink that God has kindly given to us [ii], and we should always be careful not to go further than such limits.
In the same way, we can say that generally speaking; there is nothing wrong with playing sports in Islam, both for men and women. Conversely, Islam encourages us all to do what makes us strong and healthy!  Still, there are things to keep in mind since according to Islam, we are not supposed to receive harm, nor to harm others .
Take gambling for example, which has become a part of many games and sports today, and which walks many people on the road to their ruin! When playing sports, then, we should take care that it doesn’t include any kind of gambling. The same is with sports which might lead to serious injuries to oneself or another person.
And how about women in Islam? Is there any special rule for them? Well, women are asked so much to observe Hijab and modesty, both in their covering and manners –as much as men are asked to take care of their sight, and maybe as much as both genders fail to do so! [iii]
Certainly, we know that it’s not really easy to conform to these rules. Women have extremely beautiful and charming bodies, which makes it the more trying for them to hold back the inclination (maybe the same applies to some male bodybuilders who tend to expose their bodies much more than cover it!).
Of course, it is all fine if you can take part in your favorite kind of sport in segregated places where there are no male spectators, or if there can be a special and verified covering for women in Islam, as we see many women doing martial arts, for example, with a headscarf, in order to be safe from sickly looks [iv] and to cherish what God has bidden them at all times.
Still, you may be interested in a type of sport which finds no way to go along with the Islamic tips on covering and modesty. You think to yourself, “Why can’t I go swimming at mixed pools? I’m not doing anything wrong, just wearing a comfortable suit for swimming! It’s men’s duty not to look at me in a bad way?” Well, quite so.
But what if some of them may fail to do so? Had you not better protect yourself from that? If you go to an outdoor swimming pool in the winter, YOU are not doing anything wrong. But the weather is cold! And regardless of your real intentions, it will harm you anyway! Unless you protect yourself from catching it with a jacket [v].
Think of how women’s body has become a, so to say, cheap commodity today, due to the lack of such considerations in some women. Think of how we could experience less abusive behaviors and more enduring families if all women preserved a certain level of covering and modesty and if all men protected their sight from what they shouldn’t look at [vi] Not to mention the heavenly reward that God has kept in store for those who listen to His instructions, and that is surely greater than the worldly benefit!
If you have made up your mind to live as a practicing Muslim, you be sure that you are doing the right thing, no matter what others say, and no matter what the circumstances. You can also be sure that God loves you very much for taking the trouble! And it never means that a Muslim woman who fails to do so is excluded from the Islamic Community (Ummah) and God’s mercy.
So, to sum up, what we said, Islam has no opposition to women’s sport. It just asks them to be modest before everyone and covered before non-Mahram men. If they think that the kind of sport they are to take up conforms to these suggestions, which a good many sports does, they can go for it without any restriction.
And if it doesn’t, they can find a way which goes closest to what God requires of them, or maybe they can think again and pick another type of sport for themselves.
[i] Quran, 2:219
[ii] Quran, 7:32
[iii] Quran, 24:30,31
[iv] Quran, 33:32
[v] You can read more about “the Islamic Etiquette of Looking” here.
[vi] You can have a look at our article about “Hijab” here.
- Bihar al-Anwar, vol. 78, p. 174, Sahih al-Muslim, vol. 4, no. 2052
- Wasa’il al-Shi’a, vol. 26, p. 14, Al-Mu’jam al-Awsat, vol. 1, p. 90