One of the customs of pre-Islamic Arabia was Zihar, which was an act of divorce that would forbid a wife to a husband as a mother is forbidden upon her son. They would do this by saying, “You are unlawful to me just like my mother.” A woman by the name of Khaulah Bint Tha’labah came to the Prophet(pbuh) to tell him that her husband did Zihar against her. Since no verses were revealed about this issue, the Prophet (pbuh) said that I have nothing to tell you and in another narration he says that he’s haram for you based on that statement. She responds back saying, “Oh Allah’s messenger, he spent my wealth, exhausted my youth and my womb bore abundantly for him. When I became old, unable to bear children, he pronounced Zihar against me. How shall I go and how will my children live?” The Prophet stays silent and aggrieved and she says, “Ya Allah, I direct my complain to you!”
So, guess who answered her? When no one was able to comfort her and no one was able to answer her plea, her Lord answers her from the 7th heaven:
قَدْ سَمِعَ اللَّهُ قَوْلَ الَّتِي تُجَادِلُكَ فِي زَوْجِهَا وَتَشْتَكِي إِلَى اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ يَسْمَعُ تَحَاوُرَكُمَا ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ سَمِيعٌ بَصِيرٌ
Certainly Allah has heard the speech of the one who argues with you, [O Muhammad], concerning her husband and directs her complaint to Allah . And Allah hears your dialogue; indeed, Allah is Hearing and Seeing.
Years later, Umar Ibn Al-Khattab, the Calipha at that time, was walking with some of the companions and he gets stopped by a woman. He listens to her attentively while his head bent down and some of the companions asked him, “Why did you stop all of us just to talk to this old lady?” He says, “This is the lady whose complaint was heard from the 7th heaven. So, how can Umar not listen to her? She should be heard for a longer period of time and with greater attention. By Allah, If she did not take a leave of her own accord, I would have stood with her here till the nightfall.”
This is only one incident in which we notice that an individual’s concerns and complaints shouldn’t be disregarded and ignored. The Prophet (pbuh), the companions (ra) and Allah (swt) didn’t let this woman’s plea go unnoticed. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for our communities today, myself included. How many times do we really listen to the concerns of our sisters? How many times do we provide solutions to the problems that they are facing? How many times do we overlook that they even exist in our communities? This isn’t written to bash our masajid or Islamic organizations, but rather this calls for a start at the individual level. Look within yourself and check how you take the concerns and complaints that others bring to you. Start from there and work your way towards fixing your home, then the community you are living within.
I end with some of the words of the Prophet’s final sermon to the Muslims, “Indeed, I order you to be good to women.”
Maarif Ul Quran – Surah Al-Mujadilah(58)
Prophet’s Last Sermon – Hadith
By Omar Shallan