Fatima: weaning and the concept of restraint

Prophetic Principles of Islamic Interaction

Lesson One — Fatima: weaning and the concept of restraint

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The wealth of barakah in the Messenger of Allah’s life cannot be encompassed. Every word, every move, every look is a cascade of never ending benefit and guidance. In few words and plain actions, he modeled for us the upright way to live by striving to be kind to others and to please our Lord. His words had that amazing ability to be comprehended by a child yet inimitable by a genius: the gift of saying much in few words. Simply put he attributes this ability to his Lord and describes it saying,
أوتيت جوامع الكلم
[blockquote author=”Prophetic Hadith”]“I was granted words encompassing much wisdom.”[/blockquote]

Basics of the Islamic world-view and behavior are gleaned from his sayings, peace and blessings be upon him. How appropriate for us in the month of the Moulid to display these concepts or principles in order to assess the extent of our practice of them, to remind ourselves of how we need to be and to renew our gratefulness to him, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam.
The concept of restraint is an important one in Islam. It starts from our earliest years at the time we are weaned from our mother’s milk. It is a cherished trait in a Muslim’s life; one that is developed and strengthened with fasting – obligatory and voluntary fasting – tahajud, even maintaining one’s wudu’. Waiting for something and bearing difficulty, in other words ‘patience’ are traits related to restraint. Restraint is essential to our ability to carry ourselves in an Islamic manner: to refrain from backbiting, gossiping, venting our anger and arguing.
Fatima, the youngest daughter of the Messenger, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, was named for this concept. Her name means ‘the weaned’ for the status of being weaned is one that shows absence of dependence upon anything or anyone but complete reliance upon Allah. Her name was reflected in her life. For although we know the love and kindness that she may have enjoyed from her parents, yet as a mere child she was subjected to watching her father being abused by the polytheists of Mecca, experienced the embargo against the Muslims when she was around twelve and lost her mother soon thereafter. Perhaps she was the daughter who cried as she washed the dirt from her father’s head (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam) that was thrown on him.  Then as an adolescent, it is she who removes the filthy entrails of a camel that were cast upon him and rages at the polytheists around her.
Sometimes it is the ups and downs of life that cause us to develop self-restraint and self-discipline, but in Fatima’s case, may Allah be pleased with her, it was also by purposeful design on the Messenger’s part, peace and blessing be upon him. True, she lost her mother when she was young, and lost one sister after the other until she was bereft of all three. It is true that she watched her father Muhammad, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, being harmed and then being wounded in Uhud when she in person applied a burning straw to his cut to stop its bleeding. But her weaning of an easy life went beyond what could not be helped. It is narrated that Fatima was of slight build and that in addition to caring for her three young children, al Hasan, al Hussain and Zainab who were close in age, she had to grind her wheat, carry water and keep house. Her husband Ali, may Allah be pleased with, him urged her to ask her father for a servant that would help her with her chores. Her father’s answer, peace and blessing be upon him, was to teach her of tasbeeh to say instead. As a little girl she was not allowed to wear gold though it is permitted for women in Islam, nor were her little ones allowed to wear silver as toddlers.
This is what is meant by restraint: the ability to live your life even when stripped of the ease you are accustomed to… the state of not being handicapped by the absence of comfort. Do you feel lost without your mobile phone? Are you dependent upon your morning juice or tea? Is hot water a daily must for you? How dependent are you on your particular brand of coffee? Can you imagine life without electricity, water, or heat? The Messenger says that the most beloved fasting to Allah SWT was the fasting of Prophet Dawood, he would fast a day and not the next. This fasting every other day that he practiced does not allow the lack of food and drink during daylight hours to become a habit. Each day is like the first day as it is not preceded or followed by a day of fasting. Islam came to strip us of habit: Fajr continuously changes its time; Ramadan travels an average of two times around the year in a person’s lifetime. Worship requires attentiveness, awareness and intention. Restraint also is the ability to hold back your impulsiveness in behavior…it is the state of being more tuned in,to God’s pleasure or displeasure with you, than to the person or people around you.
Concerning this principle of restraint several sayings of our beloved Prophet peace and blessing be upon him, come to mind:
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه قال قال رسول الله عليه وسلم: من حسن إسلام المرء تركه ما لا يعنيه
حديث حسن رواه الترمذي وغيره
[blockquote author=”Hadith hasan – Recorded by Tirmidhi”]On the authority of Abu Hurairah, radiyallahu ‘anhu, that the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu ‘alayhi wasallam, said :“Part of the perfection of someone’s Islam is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.”[/blockquote]
Holding back our curiosity and tongue from asking about and speaking of that which does not concern us requires restraint something that is difficult if we are used to giving in to each passing whim we have. That which does not concern us means that which does not bring us benefit in this life or the next and doesn’t grant us our Lord’s pleasure. Staying away from that which is none of our business unclutters our mind and heart for more lofty thoughts and feelings. Nosiness leads to gheebah which is saying about another that which would displease him; sometimes it stirs feelings of bitterness, jealousy or begrudging.
Another hadith related to restraint comes to mind about being argumentative,
عن أبي أمامة رضي الله عنه قال : قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم: من ترك المراء وهو مبطل بني له بيت في ربض الجنة ومن تركه وهو محق بني له في وسطها ومن حسن خلقه بني له في أعلاها

رواه أبو داود والترمذي واللفظ له وابن ماجه والبيهقي
[blockquote author=”Tirmidhi”]Rasul Allah (sal Allahu alaihi wa sallam) said: “Whoever does not argue when he is in the wrong will have a home built for him on the edge of Paradise. Whoever avoids it when he in the right will have a home built for him in the middle of Paradise. And whoever improves his own character, a home will be built for him in the highest part of Paradise.” [/blockquote]
Arguing, an indicator of one’s ego (in the negative sense), is the cause for much wasted time and breeds bad feelings between both sides with no good result. Think of the restraint required to hold back from proving your point of view if you are convinced of it and think of the extra restraint required to hold back from arguing when you know you are right.
The containment of one’s anger is another trait that requires self-restraint, so much so that the Prophet peace and blessing be upon him said,
 ليس الشديد بِالصُّرَعَةِ ، إنما الشديد الذي يملك نفسه عند الغضب
رواه البخاري
[blockquote author=”Prophetic Hadith”]“True strength is not physical; it is the ability to be in command of one’s self in anger.”[/blockquote]
Think of how destructive the expression of anger is to a relationship. Think of the hurtful actions and words that leave deep scars. Thing of the restraint needed to not indulge one’s self in venting feelings of indignation and offense.
It is significant to notice how the sahaba were normal human beings with faults and weaknesses similar to our own. It is significant to notice that what set them apart were small but consistent and very sincere, difficult deeds. Self-restraint is what Muslims would fall upon often in order to react as they should to the various difficult or tempting circumstances of life.
And yet, self-restraint does not figure high on our list of priorities as parents. Too often our children lead a pampered life that encourages them to feel that getting what they want is their right and anyone asking them to do what does not please them is being mean and unfair. No doubt it would help them internalize the concept if we were to practice it more; no doubt more self-restraint on our part in our mundane daily interaction with family, friends and events would trickle down to their sub-conscious and surface in their behavior. Unfortunately, not only is their behavior a reflection of our own weakness in this area, moreover we have developed a concept of parenthood that is defined by how supportive, understanding and giving we are. Unconditional love has been twisted to mean unconditional acceptance of conduct: a totally unacceptable concept in Islam. Behavior in Islam is always commented on frankly, albeit the person remains unlabeled and free to adopt alternative actions. Limits are a relief not a burden upon children and setting them according to our tenets of belief shows the importance of our deen and how deeply we care for and value our children.
There is a need in this day and age for Muslim parents to liberate their minds of the dogma they are fed and declare their independence of theories of upbringing that do not necessarily fit with our view of life. There is a need for us to be selective and clear-headed and to connect our thinking strongly to our belief system. We lament the fact that our children are affected by society and how hard it is to raise them as different, when we ourselves are just as guilty in being affected by all we are taught concerning the upbringing of our children and what to expect and what is defined as the norm. Perhaps the saying, ‘Deprivation is good for the soul’ is not so far from the truth. To be weaned of dependence upon material luxuries gives one the back bone needed for one to act and react properly by Islamic standards.
May Allah be pleased with Fatima bint Muhammad, radiaAllahu anha, who was the beloved daughter of the our most beloved Messenger, sallalahu alayhi wa sallam, whose life puts our complaints, our frivolous dependencies and brazen prying thoughts to shame. Al Sayidah Fatima – whose very name reminds us of how we ought to be.



[box title=”The Prophetic Principles of Islamic Interaction Series:” box style=”light” rounded=”true”]

  • The concept of restraint
  • The concept of sadaqa
  • The concept of formality (between men and women)
  • The concept of anonymity
  • The concept of making others happy
  • The concept of kindness and gentleness
  • The concept of itqan





11 responses to “Fatima: weaning and the concept of restraint”

  1. Maryam Salman

    Jazakullah. Very important lesson to know and implement, inshallah

  2. Abbake Omeira

    Thank you for reminding us of the importance of holding our tongues and controlling our tempers. Something that I am in constant need of improving in myself.

  3. Alhumdulilah for the joy and opportunity to be reminded. May Allah forgive me for my constant dsobedience. Restraint is indeed difficult and I ask you for your du’aa for me today. Please 🙂

  4. thankful

    Jazakum Allah alf khair for this. It is full of important ideas that need to be brought up and have sort of been neglected in our current thinking. Thank you as well for reminding us of the example of Lady Fatima (may God be well Pleased with her!) – strangely, we forget her example often as women of today, though we could benefit so much from keeping her and her journey in mind…so thank you for this!!

  5. sommieh flower (Um Tahera)

    Jazak Allah for these inspiring posts. I am becoming a fan of your blog.

  6. Assalaamualaikumwrwb!
    A much needed reminder and nudge to get life sorted.
    May Allah Bless and Guide us all on the right path. Allahumma Ameen?

  7. Sheza Mansoor

    Assalaamu ‘alaykum wrwb,
    JazakhAllahu khairan for such a beautiful reminder. We need to take the example of Sayyida Fatima (radiAllahu anha) and implement it in our daily lives. In today’s time, it’s necessary to remind ourselves that when we feel the workload is hard, whether it’s at home or outside of home, we have the tasbeeh of Fatimah Zahra (radiAllahu anha) that we can read even if we’re in a rush. It’s truly a gift from Allah (SWT) to Prophet (S) to Fatima (R) to us! And, after all, even when we’re in a rush we don’t forget to pick up our cell phones or take care of other daily errands. May Allah (SWT) give us the tawfiq to recognize this beautiful gift and to apply it to our daily lives.

    Wa ‘alaykum assalaam wrwb.

  8. Elaine Imady

    Beautifully put. I hope I can make the concept of restraint a more essential part of my life.

  9. Assalam akaikum!
    Jazaki Allah Khiaran!
    I’m one of those who needs to be reminded of all these very important concepts in our life. May Allah help us and guide us the right path.
    We constantly need your duaà.

  10. Sana S Ahmed

    Jazakallah khairun for the beautifully written piece. Self-restraint is something that needs practice and strengthening. Insha’Allah, Fatima (r) life will be one that we should emulate and serve as a stark reminder for us.

  11. Asa wr wb,
    I love reading this article. I especially loved the ahadith because it made me realize what things I need to truly work on to build my character.
    jzk khair!

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