Prayers of Women

Written by | Prayer, Spirituality, Women

Islam states that in the spiritual world, women are regarded equal to men and will be rewarded just like men. Islam also claims that women can also attain high spiritual status through their prayers, supplications and virtuous deeds with the grace of Allah.

The Holy Qur’an clearly mentions the spiritual rewards and blessings which women can achieve and states:

“Surely, men who submit themselves to God and women who submit themselves to Him, and believing men and believing women, and obedient men and obedient women, and truthful men and truthful women, and men steadfast in their faith and steadfast women, and men who are humble and women who are humble, and men who give alms and women who give alms, and men who fast and women who fast, and men who guard their chastity and women who guard their chastity and men who remember Allah much and women who remember Him – Allah has prepared for all of them forgiveness and a great reward” (1)

One of the signs and miracles linked with spiritual advancement is the acceptance of prayers. The Holy Qur’an has given the glad tidings about acceptance of prayers in the following words:

“Pray unto Me; I will answer your prayer” (2)

Almighty Allah mentions that acceptance of prayers is a blessing whose doors are open for both men and women and He listens to all who pray to Him. It states:

“So their Lord answered their prayers saying, I will not allow the work of any worker from among you, whether male or female, to be lost.” (3)

There are many examples of such noble women mentioned in the Holy Qur’an whose prayers were accepted and answered.

One such example is of the mother of Mary (as), mother of Jesus (as).

“Remember when the woman of ‘Imran said, ‘My Lord, I have vowed to Thee what is in my womb to be dedicated to Thy service. So do accept it of me; verily, Thou alone art All-Hearing, All-Knowing’ ” (4)

This prayer is attributed to Mother of Mary, which she said before the birth of the child she was expecting. However, when the child was born, it turned out to be a female child. The woman of Imran was planning to dedicate the child to the service of faith, an act that was usually reserved for only boys. Despite the confusing nature of these events, she continued to pray, and God mentions this incident in the Holy Qur’an:

“But when she was delivered of it, she said, ‘My Lord, I am delivered of a female’ — and Allah knew best what she had brought forth and the male she was thinking of was not like the female she had brought forth — ‘and I have named her Mary, and I commit her and her offspring to Thy protection from Satan, the rejected.’ ” (5)

Although it apparently looked like Mary’s mother’s prayers were not answered, God himself explained that it was not so. It is also noteworthy that when Mary was born, her mother prayed for her and for her offspring at the same time. In the Holy Qur’an Allah states:

“So her Lord accepted her with a gracious acceptance and caused her to grow an excellent growth and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah visited her in the chamber, he found with her provisions. He said, ‘O Mary, whence hast thou this?’ She replied, ‘It is from Allah.’ Surely, Allah gives to whomsoever He pleases without measure.‘ ” (3:38)

Mary was not an ordinary child, as she had very close contact with God from an early age. This closeness led to Allah ultimately choosing her to give birth to a special son even though no man had touched her. The birth of her son, the prophet Jesus (as) was also the fulfilment of the prayer of Mary’s mother who wanted to dedicate her child to God. When an angel gave the news to Mary (as) that she would be blessed with a boy, she was naturally concerned and worried.

The Holy Qur’an records her feelings in these words:

“And the pains of childbirth drove her unto the trunk of a palm-tree. She said, ‘O! would that I had died before this and had become a thing quite forgotten!’ ” (6)

At that time, an angel guided her how to pass this time until the birth of the child. The Holy Qur’an states:

“Then he called her from beneath her, saying, ‘Grieve not. Thy Lord has placed a rivulet below thee…’ ” (7)

The Qur’an stands testimony to the chastity of Mary (as). When people used to question her about the matter, the best reply she had was that she looked towards her son, Jesus (as) and asked if a man of his caliber and qualities could be a result of an unlawful act.

The Holy Qur’an mentions in the following words:

“Then she pointed to him. They said, ‘How can we talk to one who is a child in the cradle?’ ” (8)

Thus, in Jesus (as) and his noble mother Mary (as), the prayer of the woman of Imran was answered. The Holy Qur’an testifies to the noble character of Mary(as) as she has been declared a role model for Muslims.

“And his mother was a truthful woman.” (9)

“And remember when the angels said, ‘O Mary, Allah has chosen thee and purified thee and chosen thee above the women of all peoples’ .” (10)

The Holy Qur’an also mentions the example of Assiya, the wife of Pharaoh, as a role model for Muslims:

“And Allah sets forth for those who believe the example of the wife of Pharaoh when she said, ‘My Lord! build for me a house with Thee in the Garden; and deliver me from Pharaoh and his work, and deliver me from the wrongdoing people…’ ” (11)

The wife of Pharaoh symbolizes those who are in a state of Nafse Lawwama (The Self Reproaching Soul) where she was not able to completely disassociate with evil influences but had recognized the truth despite fear and remained steadfast.

At the turn of the 20th Century, many people were witness to the incidents of acceptance of prayer of another pious woman, Hazrat Sayyedah Nusrat Jehan Begum (ra), the wife of the Promised Messiah and founder of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.

It is reported that Hazrat Nusrat Jehan Begum (ra) was raising a young orphan girl named Aaminah in her household. When Aaminah grew up and got married and neared giving birth to her own child, she got very sick, to the point where her life appeared to be endangered. At that time, a request for prayers was made to Hazrat Nusrat Jehan Begum (ra), who decided to visit her and prayed:

“I didn’t raise you so that I would then have to bring up your orphaned children. May Allah Almighty bless you with health so that you can bring up your own children” (12)

With the grace of Allah, after that prayer, Aaminah started  to improve and was blessed with a healthy child and a subsequent long life.

As we see from the examples of Mary (as), Assiya (as), and Nusrat Jehan Begum (ra), the power of prayer as recorded in history and in the Holy Quran was by no means limited to only men. These women have been role models of spiritual development and have no doubt set a very high standard for all of us to aspire towards and be recipients of God’s favors.

{This article appears in the Fall 2018 issue.}

References

  1. The Holy Qur’an (33:36)
  2. The Holy Qur’an (40:61)
  3. The Holy Qur’an (3:196)
  4. The Holy Qur’an (3:36)
  5. The Holy Qur’an (3:37)
  6. The Holy Qur’an (19:24)
  7. The Holy Qur’an (19:25)
  8. The Holy Qur’an (19:30).
  9. The Holy Qur’an (5:76)
  10. The Holy Qur’an (3:43)
  11. The Holy Qur’an (66:12)
  12. S. N. Saeed, “Seerat-o-Sawaneh,” Hadrat Amman Jan, pp-420.

Last modified: January 2019

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