Words Amatulla Z.
Header Credits Alifiya M. (@alifillusions)
August 18th 2020, pehli raat actually, was the 100th anniversary of the passing of the 19th amendment to the constitution in the United States. This historic legislation gave women the right to vote, a much-celebrated milestone in womens’ fight for equality.
The weeks prior to Ashara, the news was full of stories of the fight for the vote, women’s liberation, how far women had come in the last 100 years and how far they hadn’t. The pandemic brought all of this to the fore in a new way – women found that with everyone at home once again they were picking up a huge share of domestic duties, holding everyone’s lives together until they were scraping inside themselves for something more to give.
All of this was swirling in my mind as I settled down for Ashara waaz. Also, I am an older woman now. My perspective is broader, stretched over more years, and I now see that in many ways, life gets even more complicated as you get older. Children’s small problems turn into adolescents’ bigger problems, you know more people caring for aging parents, dealing with sickness or financial trouble or whatever it is. I know significantly more burnt out women who feel taken for granted, treated badly, or unfairly compensated, or angry at society’s expectations of women. I began to examine a question that sounds like an old cliché – “the role of women in Islam.”
It was a lot of expectations to bring to Ashara. “What will you tell me about women, MoulaTUS?” I wondered. “Where do we fit into the story? Do you hear us when we cry?”
And then the waaz began.
The first waaz of course, right at the start is about Faatir, and I discover later that this is where FatemaAS gets her name, and somewhere, for me, this is a sign that she is at the beginning.
I am a woman, listening for stories of women – and I find them everywhere. Told with a love and a consideration and a respect for the thoughts and concerns of women that fills all the gaping holes in me that are yearning for consideration of my thoughts and feelings. The stories of Karbala – so much of what we heard was the perspective of the women. Moulatuna Umme KulsumAS who tries to spare the Sayyedaat the people’s stares. The way they cover their faces with their hair. How she discloses her personal anguish to her brother that she has no children to give up to Imam HusainAS.
Imam Husain’sAS shahadat itself – in one waaz we heard the image described in the words of Fizza. We even know her name. This woman, her name and her words have come down to us through the centuries, still preserved, still repeated, still remembered. Of course at every turn is the courage of Moulatuna ZainabAS – her witness, her khidmat, her arguments to the oppressors. The brutality is narrated via her survival of it.
In one waaz there is Maulatena Hurratul MalekaRA, the only one who is able to understand the message the Imam sends her. And of course, everywhere, there is Maulatena FatemaAS – at the beginning, in the middle of PanjetanAS, and the one that saves us at the end – “FatemaAS si sagla na guna maaf”. This year we heard about her light, all the people that she saved with hidayat, the magic of the tasbeeh she left us…and so much more.
By the end of Ashara, all the broken parts of me are mended, as broken-ness is mended by love. I have found in these histories and in these stories the integral part that the women played, and I have found my worth restated as their lives and responses are given importance, remembered and retold. Long forgotten is any piece of doubt that women play second fiddle in Islam. Moula TUS has just proved otherwise.