THE MUSLIM WOMEN'S IDEAL CHARACTER

In the Qur'an, Allah informs us how belief benefits a woman:

Do not marry women who associate [others with Allah] until they believe. A slave girl who is one of the believers is better for you than a woman who associates [others with Allah], even though she may attract you. And do not marry men who associate [others with Allah] until they believe. A slave who is one of the believers is better for you than a man who associates [others with Allah], even though he may attract you. Such people call you to the Fire, whereas Allah calls you, with His permission, to the Garden and forgiveness. He makes His Signs clear to people so that, hopefully, they will pay heed. ( Surat al-Baqara: 221)

Allah reveals that belief, fear and respect of Allah, and Islamic morality are the foremost causes of the believers' strength of character and virtue. Belief makes all of a person's qualities meaningful. In addition, the Qur'an's morality helps women, and everyone else, to acquire a most strong, solid, and virtuous character. As Allah revealed in the verse, "No indeed! We have given them that by which they are remembered [i.e. their honor, eminence and dignity]" ( Surat al-Mu'minun: 71), this morality gives people their dignity and honor. Therefore, women who live by this morality will be respected and enjoy their deserved honor and dignity.

All Muslims always strive to live by the Qur'an's morality. Women who do so are free from all of the character defects, weaknesses, and prejudices found among unbelievers. Instead, they develop a strong character based on their belief. Believers disregard the suggestions and criticisms of their society, family, or friends and live according to the Qur'an's values and morality.

Maryam is one of the best role models for such women, for during all of the difficult trials that she underwent at the hands of her unbelieving society, she always showed her strength of character and integrity. And, the strength that she derived from her belief in Allah, her sincere submission to Him, and her constant adherence to Islam's values enabled her to preserve her honor and integrity. In fact, she was noted for these qualities among people.

Muslim Women Submit to God

Muslim women believe in Allah with a true heart, submit completely to Him, are aware that there is no other deity, that He is the Lord of every being and thing, and that He is All-Powerful. Therefore, she fears and respects only Him and seeks to win only His good pleasure. She worships only Him, accepts only Him as her closest friend, and seeks only His help. She also knows that only He can direct good and bad toward her, and so lives in the full knowledge that she is dependent on Him. She knows that He keeps her alive, provides and cares for her, and protects and guards her. For these reasons, she has no expectations of other people.

She believes in Allah without the slightest doubt in her heart for her whole life, never losing heart or belief regardless of the circumstances. She knows how to be grateful and content with her closeness to Him both when her life is good and when she is undergoing difficulties. She is in a state of constant submission, certain of our Lord's love, compassion, forgiveness, and providence.

When she encounters a problem, she knows that Allah has provided a solution in the Qur'an, and that what matters most is her continued sincere love, submission, and trust in Allah. She is certain of Allah's promise that He creates everything according to His justice and with wisdom and goodness.

Even if her problems seem to go on forever, she never surrenders to hopelessness or worries when His help will come. Content with what He has sent her way, she maintains her patience and submission, knowing that something good will come out of it. She remembers what the Qur'an says about those who abandon their belief in such times. In addition, she recites "My Lord is with me and will guide me" ( Surat ash-Shu'ara': 62), just as the Prophets did when faced with hardship. Throughout her life, her profound faith enables her to see Allah's compassion, closeness, love, help, and friendship at all times.

This superior character becomes even more distinctive when compared with that of unbelieving women. Some unbelieving women do not show the appropriate degree of submission in their encounters, because they ignore the fact that Allah creates everything and inserts much wisdom and goodness hidden therein. One of the best-known characteristics of such women is their impatience, lack of determination, panic, and throwing tantrums when experiencing various hardships.

Muslim Women Are Dignified

... And the soul and what proportioned and inspired it with depravity or heedfulness; he who purifies it has succeeded, he who covers it up has failed. ( Surat ash-Shams: 7-10)

The above verses warn people about the selfish ego that, when not brought under control, will lead them to limitless evil. A person's fear and respect of Allah, as well as his or her belief in the Hereafter, gives each person the strength and reason to resist these temptations.

Without this awareness, people will follow their desires and not worry about their meeting with Allah in the Hereafter, where they will be held accountable for their deeds. If his ego demands anger, jealousy, or ill-treatment of someone else, he will indulge it. If her selfish ego encourages her to vent her anger or jealous frustration with insinuations, mockery, slander, lies, conspiracies, or hypocritical behavior, she will oblige it without giving it a second thought. Such people will commit all of these sins without reservation, because they believe that they will never have to account for their deeds.

Allah, however, reveals that all of these activities are unconstrained evils called for by the selfish ego. When people act on these impulses, things just get worse. People who cannot control their emotions, even when they know that what they are doing is wrong, show that they are both weak and ignore their conscience. In other words, they seem to grow smaller. It is debasing to be unable to act maturely or respond rationally when their selfish egos suggest otherwise. As Allah reveals, the dignifying and rightful response to such evil suggestions is to ignore them and act conscientiously. This character trait needs to be worked on, for eventually it will earn other people's respect and love and raise the person's ranks in His eyes, as well as in the eyes of other people.

Muslim women have enough dignity and character to reject such debasing behavior for small gains. Allah informs us of the conspiring nature of unbelieving women: "He saw the shirt torn at the back and said: 'The source of this is women's deviousness. Without a doubt your guile is very great'" (Surah Yusuf: 28). Unbelieving women often try to resolve situations by conspiring, intriguing, or lying instead of seeking rational solutions. Indulging Satan's suggestions, they fall back on hypocrisy, cowardice, or devious methods. Believing women, on the other hand, resolve their problems by honesty, openness, and sincerity, for their awareness of Allah totally removes them from such inappropriate behavior.

Muslim Women Are Not Emotional

Unbelievers think that being emotional is an important part of the human character. According to this view, the resulting behavior is a feeling that needs to be experienced. Such behavioral defects as being angry, upset, and introverted, or weeping, complaining, and apathy, are encouraged, for they supposedly come from the heart. This view is completely wrong. In unbelieving societies, such emotionalism, especially that seen in women, is responsible for a weak personality. And, as we saw above, people with weak personalities are, to a great extent, unable to think rationally or logically and thus cannot make appropriate decisions.

Muslim women know the selfish ego's qualities and how to fight them, for their personalities and lives are defined by the Qur'an. They know that emotionalism clouds the mind, prevents reality from being seen as it is, and causes weakness and irresolution. In addition, they are very well aware that such stereotypical qualities as being sentimental, upset, introverted, angry, and envious are not consistent with the believers' character, because Allah does not like it and tells Muslims to refrain from it.

These behavioral defects issue from flawed beliefs and the lack of sufficient awareness of certain facts. People who easily surrender to them have either forgotten or else continue to deny the fact that Allah is All-Powerful; creates everything according to His wisdom, justice, and goodness; creates whatever He wills; and answers all prayers.

Genuine surrender and dedication to Him, as well as knowing that He controls everything, results in seeing goodness in everything and prevents inappropriate emotion-based behavior. Muslim women guard themselves against all such behavioral defects out of their strong love, and fear and respect of Allah. They seek to be role models of Islamic behavior, personality, and high morality, as the following verse reveals: "Those who say: 'Our Lord, give us joy in our wives and children and make us a good example for those who guard against evil'" ( Surat al-Furqan: 74). Thus, they never give way to depression or emotionalism.

Avoiding these non-Islamic character traits, they acquire a strong personality in order to serve as examples to other women and act in full awareness of this responsibility. By cleansing their ego from wickedness, they find generosity and contentment in both worlds and thus live happy lives: "It is the people who are safeguarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful" ( Surat al-Hashr: 9).

Muslim Women Are Brave

A common stereotype, often held by unbelieving men, is that women do not have the necessary patience and maturity to deal with certain stressful situations. In fact, they believe that women actually make matters worse and become liabilities. There is an element of truth in this claim. Whereas men tend to remain cool even in very dangerous situations and just deal with it courageously, unbelieving women often surrender to fear and panic, thereby escalating the situation and making it even more difficult for themselves. For this reason, men are often forced to calm their women down while trying to resolve the situation.

Such a situation is inconceivable for Muslim women, for their love, trust, dedication, and submission to Allah help them develop a strong, courageous, and brave personality. They know that Allah will test them with hardship and that those who remain firm in their submission and dedication to Him will be rewarded with His mercy. This makes them even more determined, as Allah reveals below:

Many a Prophet has been killed, when there were many thousands with him. They did not give up in the face of what assailed them in the Way of Allah, nor did they weaken, nor did they yield. Allah loves the steadfast. (Surah Al 'Imran: 146)

Those who, when disaster strikes them, say: "We belong to Allah, and to Him we will return." ( Surat al-Baqara: 156)

Those to whom people said: "The people have gathered against you, so fear them." But that merely increased their faith, and they said: "Allah is enough for us and the Best of Guardians." (Surah Al 'Imran: 173)

This bravery is based on their lack of concern for their worldly life, for they know that their submission and trust in Allah will be rewarded in the best possible way. Allah gave life and will take it back again, just as He gave everything else (e.g., health, youth, and property) and will take it all back again. Aware of this truth, and that Allah creates everything according to His wisdom and goodness, they maintain their peace of mind. As a result, believing women never lose heart in the face of danger, hardship, or personal risk.

Furthermore, their courage is reflected in their determination to observe the limits that Allah has imposed upon humanity. Whatever the situation, they do not make compromises with the Qur'an's morality or fear or respect any thing or being other than Allah. Allah reveals this quality in the verse given below:

those who conveyed Allah's Message and had fear [and respect] of Him, fearing [and respecting] no one except Allah. Allah suffices as a Reckoner. ( Surat al-Ahzab: 39)

Muslim women acquire honor, integrity, and respect by adhering to the limits that Allah has established for humanity. A person's virtuous and chaste nature can be determined from his or her behavior, conversation, movements, facial expressions, and even from a smile. A chaste woman has a natural aura of well-being, a radiant personality, and a trustworthy character. As Allah reveals, Muslims are recognized by these qualities. In fact, "their mark is on their faces, the traces of prostration..." ( Surat al-Fath: 29)

NOTES:

21. Sahih al-Bukhari hadiths.

22. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Risale-i Nur Collection, Barla Lahikasi (Barla Letters), 78.

23. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Risale-i Nur Collection, The Flashes Collection: The Twenty-first Flash.

24. Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, The Risale-i Nur Collection, Mesnevi-i Nuriye ("The seed-bed" of the Risale-i Nur), 215.

25. Sahih al-Bukhari hadiths.