Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Dr. Halima Boukerroucha on "You completed me" | Role models for Muslim women

Dr. Halima Boukerroucha
speaking at Putrajaya International Convention Center, Malaysia
26 April 2014


Dr. Halima Boukerroucha was one of two guest speakers at the Yasmin Mogahed's talk held in Putrajaya, Malaysia last Saturday. She is Assistant Professor at the Ahmad Ibrahim Kulliyah of Laws at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.

She began with a story about a man who participated in a race and arrived first. Yet, he was not announced as winner. Puzzled, he asked why not, and was told he ran in the wrong direction.

Dr. Halima said it's important that we be in the right path, do the right thing, in the right way. That's why we need to check ourselves 17 times a day when we recite the Fatihah - "Guide us to the Straight Path. The path of those whom You have bestowed favor..." This is our daily check. And once a week on Fridays we have a general check by reciting Surah Al-Kahf.

The main topic of her speech was on the  role of women in Islam and how Allah completes us, hence the title "You completed me'.

She said, we always talk about rights of women in Islam, is it correct? How to use this right? We need to have a mission and a vision. For a start, we need to understand two points: As a Muslim woman what is our real role? What are the challenges in playing this role?

We must get the concept right. Our role as a Muslim woman is bigger than the typical roles we all know i.e. being a wife, serving husband, being a mother, praying, giving zakat etc. This is just the small picture. We must see the big picture, she said.

Our main mission is to be khalifatullah. Those other things we do like praying and paying zakat, those are tasks. We must be able to relate praying and paying zakat to our main mission as khalifatullah. Only then our solah, alms giving all become perfect.     

Who will teach us about our main role? The Quran. Allah is fair. He completed us.

The real roles of women are:
  • To revive the ummah. To do this we need a revolution and who will make the first step? It's you, sister. 
  • To give birth to an ummah (a nation).
Bani Israel, during the time of Firaun, was a weak nation. Who began the revolution then? It was two women and a young lady. They were mother of Musa; Asiah the wife of Firaun and sister of Musa.

Allah sent them ilham - action plan. Allah said to throw Musa in the Nile river. It's something that contradicts logic. And what could the percentage of success be for throwing a baby in a river? 10%? 20%? But Allah promised Musa's mother that He would return her baby. We need to trust Allah. But can we trust someone we don't know? No, so therefore we must get to know Allah through His Names. Not just by memorizing the Names but from seeing the meaning of the Names in our life, in the Prophet, in sahabah and the things around us. 

The second lady - Asiah, the wife of Firaun, we learned about her in two situations. In the first situation, we saw her as having a common point with Musa's mother. She too wanted to protect baby Musa. She had a creative idea. She thought of breaking the law though it wasn't easy because Firaun was like God. But it's ok because "Allah completed me". So she went ahead convincing Firaun not to kill Musa. And not just that, she also suggested the idea of adopting him. She used her softness. They both only had daughters, they needed a boy, so then Firaun was convinced.

In another situation, we saw Asiah announcing her becoming a Muslim in her bid to challenge Firaun. Asiah, as wife, was in the best position to prove that Firaun was just a normal person. He got sick and had normal needs. She could have kept her Islam secret but she chose to publicly declare it hence denouncing Firaun's claim as God. 

Asiah, before her death, made a prayer asking Allah to build for her a house in Paradise near Him. She was being very specific. She asked for a house when it's understood that when in heaven one could ask for anything and it will be granted. She asked for what she asked because it must have been hard being in her position and making the choices she made as wife of Firaun. It was she who gave a closure to Firaun. She wrapped him up forever.

The third lady was Musa's sister who was entrusted to supervise the baby's cot as it drifted along the Nile river. Did she run or did she swim? We don't know. How did she manage to get the info from the palace and how did she convince the palace guard to let her enter? How did she manage to control her emotions because the baby was in fact her brother? 

Dr. Halima said, when you have a vision and a mission, you will develop your abilities. You will acquire the necessary skills. So be active and learn how to apply the skills. Women are known to perform under stress. If a woman is convinced about something, and she wants to do it, she will do it. 
The second of the two roles is to give birth to an ummah that never existed. The person or rather the woman who did this was none other than Siti Hajjar. She gave us three formulas:   
  • Give full submission/trust in Allah.
  • Have patience.
  • Doing her best.
Hajjar trusted Allah. By right Allah should have tested Ibrahim because he is a prophet, and not test a woman and a child. Hajjar surely demonstrated a great deal of patience, being left alone in the dessert with her baby and husband only visiting her once a year. Hajjar did her best to find food and water for Ismail. She could have just sat and prayed for Allah to help because afterall Ibrahim had left her there on Allah's order. Instead, she gave her best in dealing with the situation. She walked back and forth seven times. And at certain times she ran. That was the only "tool" she had in her effort to get help from any passing caravans. Then Allah gave her more than what she was hoping for. Allah gave her 3-in-1. Zamzam is water, meat and medicine - all three. Hajar was in fact the first woman in history to have made a business contract. She asked for food in exchange of water. From Siti Hajjar, an ummah was born.

We must imitate Siti Hajjar 100%. When we give our best like Hajjar did, the impact will go beyond our time. We learn from her that we have to walk fast at a certain point. So don't you go out from Sai'e (Safa and Marwah) if you don't have an action plan. Consider this. Hajjar was asked to fulfil this mission before Ibrahim was asked to build the Kaabah. Why? Kaabah is a symbol of aqidah/tawhid. We can't have a symbol out of something that does not exist. Aqidah is a deep concept. So is patience. Hajjar established the concept and transmitted it to her son Ismail. The results of which we saw in Ismail who helped build the Kaabah when he was asked to help his father and most significantly he was willing to be slaughtered. 

We see a common point between Siti Hajjar and Asiah. They were both mothers defending their babies. It's the same theme. We must understand the relationship between a mother and a nation. Mother is derived from the Arabic word umm and nation in Arabic is ummah. Ummah is derived from umm. We are not just talking about mothers but someone who is an educator and anyone who does tarbiyah.

Make sure you don't get the wrong concept. Know your main roles. Remember, Allah completed us. Have a vision and a mission. Actively acquire skills and the abilities. Allah already gave us the role models.


In the second part of her talk, Dr. Halima listed the challenges and some advice to overcome them.
  • Don't wait until you come to a decision-making position and only then you would do the best. Don't wait until you get a job or become a director. Hajjar didn't wait. Asiah didn't wait. You should start wherever you are. Make a difference wherever you are.
  • Free yourself from slavery. You cannot be a slave if you want to give birth to a nation. Free yourself from slavery of desires (shahwah), from wealth, sex and position that is not according to shari'a. When you are not controlling your desires, you are a slave.
  • Don't link success to popularity. You need not be a famous speaker, lawyer or activist. Your action is the most powerful "speech" you can give. The mother of Musa was not popular. Don't judge yourself by your achievements but also by the seeds you plant. But in fact, you are popular. Because as in a hadith narrated by At Tirmidhi, we know that the creations of the heaven and earth, ants in the hole and even fish in the sea, all do istighfar for a person who teaches other people good things. You are not just popular in your village or city, but the universe. Allah knows you. Allah bless you with rahmah. No need to have your photos everywhere. You are famous if you have a vision and a mission and you work for it.
  • Don't wait for two things. Don't wait until things get better. Asiah didn't wait. Mother of Musa didn't wait for Allah to grant hidayah to Firaun. Don't wait for a man to motivate you. Allah appointed Adam and Hawa as khalifah at the same time. Musa's father was not in the picture at all. As for Asiah, Firaun was a strong man but he was the problem. Hajjar was on her own when her husband was busy as a prophet and only visited her occasionally. Remember, Allah completed you. You can play your role with or without the help of a man. But you cannot discover your skills and abilities if you don't have vision and mission. You will become great when you start playing your real role. And remember, if you can't do great things, do small things in a great way.     
Allahu a'lam.
May I be forgiven for any errors and omissions in my note taking.


  1. Love this! Full of gems thank you.!

  2. jazakallahu khairan khatira sister, thank you for your time typing the notes. it really refreshes back everything :)