Can a woman do it all? Princess Asma could!

Can a woman do it all? Princess Asma could!

It is true that a woman is the one responsible for  proper family functioning; in charge of housekeeping, raising children but it’s even more true that if she wants to fulfill those commitments properly and the way God wishes and commands, she has to have great knowledge, wisdom and be well acquainted with science, religious as well as other aspects of modern education.

A woman should not allow herself to be too attached to family and household commitments, which will distract her from being commited to herself and her intellectual development. That doesn’t mean that she will perform those tasks in a sloppy manner or that she will not do them at all; it means that she will properly plan her time, taking care of priorities, so that everyone around her is satisfied, herself most of all.

It is very easy to get used to home lethargy and develop everyday routine of domestic chores which practically fulfill the whole day so at the end of the day a woman didn’t manage to do anything for herself, for her soul and intelect. As for the employed women, they aren’t far from this scheme of everyday routines either and after their job is complete they come home and all they do are endless household chores until late at night. A woman who has true knowledge about Islam, about our Prophet’s (p.b.u.h.)  instructions, knows that we shouldn’t exaggerate about anything and that we will be asked from Allah Almighty about our day and  how we spent it. So don’t let another day pass without doing someting for ourselves, our community and society.

That is why in today’s column I wanted to write about an inspiring Muslim woman who resisted being put in a classic mould of a housewife and managed to put all her commitments in balance, although she had a large family which needed her every day.

What Muslim woman needs today is knowledge about her own religion. That knowledge is easily found everywhere, in form of books, religious magazines, internet and the responsibility of today’s woman for not knowing deeply and truly her religion is much bigger than that of women from the past who didn’t have this many opportunities to learn. The story about this woman will show that all it takes for doing good deeds are will, a good idea and a great heart. Her contribution to the society where she lived has left everlasting consquences because she did what was the most important, despite all her commitments, she generously spread the knowledge acquired in the circle of her family in an original way to her compatriots.

Nana Asma’u was daughter of Usman dan Fodi, who was not only a famous scholar of his time, but also a poet, soical activist and extremely creative intelectual. Asma was lucky that in her home she gained motivation for her activism, her father being well-educated, which many of us didn’t have but that cannot be an excuse for our lethargy, considering that Allah gave us all the intellect aiming for cognition.

She is considered one of the special women of the nineteenth century inside of Islamic corpus. She was born in 1793 in today’s Nigeria. The princess of impressive lineage was named after a heroine from Islamic history Asma bint Abi Bakr, who strongly contributed spreading Islam.

She grew up in a family cherishing islam. Not only did she learn the Qur’an by heart in her childhood but also was educated in most islamic studies and learnt four foreign languages. Nurtured by learning, as early as in her childhood Asma knew she had to do something with the knowledge she had, it couldn’t be for its own purpose

Asma believed that women had their role in society and with her own example she showed to her compatriots that learning is the first fard of every Muslim woman, One of her greatest achievements is collecting the work of her father after he died, when she was only 27. The level of respect she received from the scientific community is seen from this act, where they trusted her with extremely serious and responsible work. This job required someone of trust but also acquainted with the ideas and thoughts of her father.

Being pregnant with her third child she finished translating the Qur’an to her mother tongue, which shows her great desire to make Islam more approachable to the women of that region, who probably didn’t know the meaning of the Qur’an. That was the beginning of her mission.

This young intellecutal saw a great need for teaching women in Sokoto region and further. She saw that the women were not present in scientific and educated circles, closed in their homes and attached to their family duties, with no knowledge or motivation for anything.

Asma created a brilliant programme of teaching women. She knew it would be difficult to take the women out of their houses and to change their habits and routines of living, so she decided that teaching should be in the comfort of home so they would slowly enter the world of learning and reading about their faith. She gathered educated women in her community and educated them as teachers. This group, known as jajis  travelled around the neigbouring places to teach women about Islam. This movement was called as Yan-taru movement , which means ‘those who are gathering together’  and ‘sorority’ . Asma taught jajis  to use poetry, creativity and modern teaching methods in teaching.

With the help of Allah, Asma revolutionised the way of teaching Islam in her community. She eased the process of learning through interesting methods and materials in her mother tongue. Her legacy is legacy of scientific activism and her name is still present in West Africa.

We can take so many lessons from Asma’s fruitful life, filled with practical faith, true commitment to helping others, especially women who are mostly afflicted by lack of educational experience. A woman is, above all, a being of emotions, an empathetic being feeling the needs and problems of others and she will do her best to help the one in need. A woman is also a creative being, full of imagination and ideas when it is necessary to find a way to transmit the knowledge, help and motivation to others. The most natural job for a woman is to participate in upbringing and education, because she instinctively knows to find an approach to everyone, discovering each character in a very short period. Asma used her creativity, knowledge and femininity for the best cause. Her enterprise was an act of striving on Allah’s Path, the act of helping His faith. The method she used can be paired by its originality and creativity to today’s associations for education of women, so it is maybe a forerunner of all present associations offering women environment for education, socializing and transferring experiences. They give woman a corner only for herself. Asma’s originality of holding classes in the houses of those needy women is a mark that her goal was carrying the mission of spreading God’s truth. Her goal was Jannah.

What are our goals? Did we find a way to be useful to ourselves and others. May Asma and her sentential story help us to find answers to our questions. Let’s find ourselves in social activism and spread the knowledge Allah has given us. If we are those in need of knowledge, let us not waste time and start searching for it. Until it is too late.

Author: Šejla Mujić Kevrić

Translator: E. Hodžić

This article was originally published here:

© Divithana, 2013