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All praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and all his Companions.
Hadeeth Seven: “Women are Like Fragile Vessels.”
Anas Ibn Malik (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) narrated that Al-Barā Ibn Mālik used to sing to drive the camels of the men and Anjashah would sing to drive the camels of the women, and he had a nice voice. So the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said to him:
يَا أَنْجَشَةُ، رُوَيْدَكَ سَوْقَكَ بِالْقَوَارِيرِ
“O Anjashah! Be gentle when driving the camels that carry the fragile vessels.” (Al-Adab Al-Mufrad of Al-Bukhāri, no. 1264, declared saheeh by Al-Albānī)
Benefits and lessons:
In a narration, Anas (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) stated, “Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) had a black slave who would join him in some of his journeys and his name was Anjashah (radiyallāhu ‘anhu). He drove forth the mounts with the songs of the camel drivers, so Allah’s Messenger said to him, ‘O Anjashah! Be gentle when you are driving (the camels) that carry the fragile vessels.'” (Muslim 2323) In a narration in Sahīh Al-Bukhārī (no. 6211), he (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “Drive them slowly (take care), O Anjashah! Do not break the fragile vessels.”
Imam Al-Bukhārī (rahimahullāh) has a chapter heading in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad (no. 264) which he named, “The Chapter of Joking.” Under this heading, he narrated from Anas (radiyallāhu ‘anhu), “The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) came to some of his wives, and Umm Sulaym was with them (on a journey), and he said, ‘O Anjashah! Be gentle when driving the camels that carry the fragile vessels.” Abu Qilābah said, “The Prophet spoke with words that if they were spoken by one among you, you would have criticised him for speaking them, that is his saying, ‘Be gentle when driving the camels that carry the fragile vessels.'” (Graded saheeh by Al-Albānī)
The speech of a person is either for him or against him, it is either rewardable or sinful, or it can be allowable (without reward or punishment, i.e., mubāh). Every beneficial word uttered by a person is recorded in his scroll of good deeds, and every type of speech that is sinful and harmful to oneself or others is recorded in his scroll of evil deeds. And whatever is uttered by a person that is not sinful, rather it is permissible and spoken with a good intention, then it is allowed. Furthermore, permissible speech can be a means of goodness and reward. And certain speech that is outwardly permitted, but is said with evil intent leads a person to earn sin. So a believer, should not only consider what he is saying but also the intention behind it.
As for joking which is legislated whose goal is to bring happiness to others, to bring a smile to their faces and to amuse them, then that is allowed and praiseworthy. It is established from the Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) that he would joke but he would never lie or be untruthful when jesting or seeking to make others smile or laugh. And from those examples is this hadeeth where he described the women as fragile vessels. So he spoke truthfully and amusingly about women.
And the fact is that women are like fragile vessels and men should take care of how they deal with and interact with them, whether they are wives, daughters, sisters, mothers, aunts, and so on. Women and men are not the same in their physiological makeup, in their psychology or their emotional responses to situations. Parents should therefore not raise girls in the same manner that they raise boys because they have been created differently. Each of them responds differently to the events that take place around them. Girls and young women should be encouraged to be feminine in the traditional sense: in the way that they speak, dress, behave and interact. This includes nurturing noble characteristics of modesty, polite speech, tenderness, devotion and shyness as well as learning how to manage a home, beautify themselves, dress appropriately in different situations, cook (for family and guests) and raise children. Women should be taught that they are different to men and that they should not be brash and coarse in their mannerisms.
And none of this opposes the virtuous qualities possessed by the best of believing women such as bravery, courage, strength, knowledge and so on, that were found among the righteous women of the past such as Maryam bint ‘Imrān, the mother of Jesus (‘alaihimas-salām), Āsiyah bint Muzāhim the brave wife of Pharaoh, Khadeejah bint Khuwaylid the wife of Muhammad (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) and the first Muslim, Fātimah the daughter of our Prophet and the mother of the believers and Ā’ishah bint Abī Bakr, may Allah be pleased with all of them. The Prophet (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) spoke of their piety, their devotion to Allah and their steadfast adherence to the religion. These are examples to be emulated for believing women in every generation.
In summary, to be feminine is to have qualities and appearance traditionally associated with women, and this is encouraged in Islam. Femininity is not to be confused with feminism!
And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and all his Companions.
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