Monday, June 29, 2015

Womentrepreneur: The Longest Arm



All over the world, women engage in handicrafts, an activity that preserves aspects of different cultures and heritages as well as being a source of income in a global economy where women often suffer the brunt of poverty. Some women enjoy great success and move on to build companies based both within and outside of their homes – earning themselves the title of “womentrepreneurs.”

Umm al-Mu’mineen Zaynab bint Jahsh (radhiAllahu ‘anha) was one such woman:  she was known to be skilled with her hands, and ran a successful home-based business making and selling crafts.

Zaynab is most well-known due to the story surrounding her marriage to RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) after her divorce from his freed-slave and adopted son, Zaid ibn Harith.
She used to spend a great deal of time with her home-based business, and it is said that she was extremely skilled in both tanning skins and piercing pearls for jewelry and other adornments. She then donated the proceeds of her work to those in need, making her beloved amongst the poor.

One day, RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) went to his wives and said:

“The fastest of you to follow me [after death] will be the one who has the longer arms.” (Sahih Muslim)

A’ishah bint Abi Bakr (radhiAllahu ‘anha) described how, eager to know which of them it would be, all the wives of RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) measured each others' arms against a wall, and Zaynab was disappointed - she was more petite in comparison to the other wives, and so her arms were the shortest.

Yet after the death of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam), the true meaning of his prophecy became clear: it was Zaynab bint Jahsh who indeed had 'the longest arm' - and it was she who passed away in the year 20 AH.

There are many Muslim women who love doing arts and crafts, but are made to feel guilty that they're "wasting their time" or that “it’s just a hobby.” The truth is, just doing what you enjoy doing can be a wonderful way of gaining ajr (reward) and, in fact, turning it into a source of sadaqah jaariyah (continuous charity).

RasulAllah (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, "The most beloved action to Allah is the most continuous, even if little." (Muslim)

Entrepreneurship can most certainly be a method of making, selling, and giving in charity regularly, thereby earning us the love of Allah through something that we love doing as well.
In addition, some studies have found that engaging in creative activity contributes to higher levels of happiness[1] – which, for Muslims, can feed into a positive cycle of sharing that joy with others in the form of a smile, closer emotional bonds with our loved ones, and higher levels of Emaan and Taqwah… all of which are ways of increasing in reward and growing closer to Al-Musawwir, the Shaper of all creation.

Islamic history is also a testament to the power of the arts; pottery, metal-work, clothing, and many other such artifacts remain symbols of Islam’s influence and reach throughout the world. Undoubtedly, Muslim women were of those who fashioned such items and left behind an incredible legacy for us to witness and remember.

Muslim women today are just as creative and hardworking as the women of yesteryear, and entrepreneurship remains an option for them to not only engage the senses and contribute to a tradition of Islamic craftsmanship, but to follow in the footsteps of Umm al-Mu’mineen Zaynab bint Jahsh (radhiAllahu ‘anha).

For those of us who may not be so creatively inclined, we should consider it of equal importance to support those Muslim women who do expend precious time and resources in these painstaking and beautiful efforts. Heroism doesn’t necessarily have to be a dramatic act on a grand scale; sometimes, the greatest of heroes can be found amongst those who stretch their arms out in small but regular acts of charity.

Zainab bint Younus (AnonyMouse) is a young woman who finds constant inspiration in the lives of the Sahabiyaat and other great women in Islamic history. She hopes that every Muslimah is able to identify with the struggles of these inspirational women and follow in their footsteps to become a part of a new generation of powerful Muslim women. She blogs at http://www.thesalafifeminist.blogspot.com 

4 comments:

Husna said...

Assalam alaykum, sorry if I'm confusing 2 "Zainab"s but is it not Zainab bint Khuzaimah who was described to have the "longest arm"?

AnonyMouse said...

Wa 'alaikumus-salaam wa rahmatullaahi wa baraaatuh,

Zainab bint Khuzaimah was Umm al-Masaakeen and died during the lifetime of RasulAllah (sallAllahu 'alayhi wa sallam) :)

Anonymous said...

Awesome right up. May Allah Subhanuwa Tha'lah bless our women and sustain whichever endeavour they embark upon. Ameen

Ihsan Ibrahim said...
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