Faiza Mirza, Gillingham, UK
Faiza Mirza Sahiba is a full-time mother and serving as the local sadr of Lajna Imaillah Gillingham, UK and on the Voice of Islam Radio as a lead producer for the Drive Time Show and social media team.
We live in a world where feminism has almost become a muddled word. What is female empowerment? Is it to match men or to celebrate our uniqueness? With movements, and influencers blurring the lines as to what a woman is and what her rights are, we seem to be taking steps backwards in the modern world. Take one of the highest accolades a woman can have entrusted to her – motherhood. It just “isn’t enough” for a woman to focus on her progeny and in essence the future of the world. Mothers are pushed to focus on the here and now as opposed to the morrow – regardless of the impact this may have on their children.
Islam, on the other hand, truly champions women’s rights by ensuring mothers have no such pressure put on them. Islam recognises how challenging a job motherhood is and has raised the status of righteous mothers by saying under their feet can Paradise be attained. (Sunan al-Nasa’i, Kitab al-jihad, babu r-rukhsati fi t-takhallufi li mun lahu walidah)
Being members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community we are constantly reminded of this:
“An imam who leads the prayers [at a mosque] cannot guarantee that those who are following him in prayers will be sent to heaven! On the contrary, such narrations are found that if an improper thought crosses the imam’s mind then he bears the burden of all the inappropriate thoughts of all those following him. How would he guarantee heaven for them? A woman on the other hand is someone who in respect of being a mother prepares good Imams for the future and thus leads them to heaven. She raises good citizens. She raises good scientists. She raises good rulers for the country. Therefore, the status of women is much higher in Islam. A true Muslim woman, an Ahmadi Muslim woman, therefore, should have no inferiority complex.” (Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Jalsa Salana UK 2017, www.alislam.org/articles/preparing-for-tomorrow-raising-pious-children/)
The truth of the matter is that Islam has ensured equality of men and women by way of equity. Arbitrary equality in itself upsets the natural balance of order, but by entrusting males and females to do what they are designed to do, i.e. provide for, or nurture their family respectively, society is able to flourish.
A mother’s priority is her children and Hazrat Khalifatul Masih Vaa has reminded women that motherhood is no small task. He said:
“We are those who believe in the Imam of the Age and proclaim that this most ardent devotee and servant of the Holy Prophetsa was to be sent by Allah Almighty in the Latter Days so that he may bring the world closer to God Almighty and inform them about the virtues of the religion of Islam. Thus, under the current circumstances, it is imperative that we work hard and more diligently. We have to save not only ourselves from the world’s absurdities and evils, but, as I said, we also have to save the next generations and have to train them in a way that this awakening goes on and on, and one generation after another can not only benefit from the blessings of Allah the Exalted but also fulfils the rights owed to Allah and worships Him and continues to follow His commandments.” (Jalsa UK 2018, Huzoor’s Address from Ladies Jalsa Gah, www.youtube.com/watch?v=GOzlhN2kij8, accessed 1 August 2022)
Being a stay-at-home mother is a blessing that no one should take lightly. It has its challenges but many rewards too. And it in no way stops a woman from achieving her goals if done whilst keeping her priorities in mind. Islam reminds us that we must “seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave”. So, who is to say motherhood means the end of our achievements? After all, by being members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community we should be ever ready to serve the Khalifa to propagate the message of true Islam to the corners of the Earth. This is why we proclaim in the Lajna pledge that:
“I shall always be ready to sacrifice my life, property, time and children for the cause of faith and nation.”
How can we be of service to the Jamaat if motherhood stops at just raising children and we forget to focus on being the best version of ourselves? The greater Jihad is where we better ourselves both spiritually and work toward the good of this world too. After all, “seeking knowledge is an obligation of every Muslim”. So why not use motherhood to grow with our children and work on being the best role model for them? Surely actions speak louder than words. Hence, it is no good to us saying we need to be ever ready to serve the Jamaat if we ourselves struggle to make time for our faith. Service to the Jamaat is something we should always see as a favour bestowed upon us by God Almighty that is temporary and can be taken away at any time. Thus, when the opportunity arises we should jump at the chance. Remember, Allah and the Jamaat are not in need of any one of us – to serve is an honour and we are ultimately the beneficiaries of such commitments. Some of these rewards only Allah knows, but others shine forth as I personally have seen and so have my children.
We have truly been blessed as a family that for the last six years we have been able to serve the Voice of Islam Radio. The station is one of the Jamaat’s latest tabligh platforms and airs 24/7 across DAB in 4 cities and expanding. At the inauguration of the station, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa said:
“The purpose of the Voice of Islam is to inform people of the true teachings of Islam and to make it abundantly clear that Islam’s teachings perfectly conform and relate to the needs of every era and every person. God willing, the listeners of this radio station will come to recognise that Islam’s teachings are of peace, love and compassion for all of mankind.” (www.pressahmadiyya.com/press-releases/2016/02/head-of-ahmadiyya-muslim-community-launches-voice-of-islam-radio-to-spread-the-peaceful-teachings-of-islam/)
To serve on this station as a producer and for the social media team from the comfort of my home and around my children’s schedule is such a blessing. Not only am I listening in to how Islam is the solution to today’s issues, but my children have also been hearing these positive messages. Service to the Jamaat as a mother is such a blessing that it has huge ripple effects. Mothers don’t have the luxury of locking themselves into an office to get what they need to get done, but by doing what is needed around the children and their daily duties the children are able to understand the importance of giving time to faith as well. They see that there is something bigger than just looking out for number 1 – a stark difference from what they might experience in the secular world.
This life is about saving for the morrow – and the time is now:
يٰۤاَيُّهَا الَّذِيۡنَ اٰمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ وَلۡتَنۡظُرۡ نَفۡسٌ مَّا قَدَّمَتۡ لِغَدٍ ۚ وَاتَّقُوا اللّٰهَ ؕ اِنَّ اللّٰهَ خَبِيۡرٌۢ بِمَا تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ
“O ye who believe! fear Allah; and let (every) soul look to what it sends forth for the morrow. And fear Allah; verily Allah is Well-Aware of what you do.” (Surah al-Hashr, Ch. 59: V.19)
Whenever we are serving Jamaat we need to remember who we are doing it for – God alone. It is not so that we can be seen or appreciated by anyone but Him who we hope will accept our sacrifices to save for our “morrow”. We serve the Jamaat only for God and attaining His pleasure and this is what every mother should tell their children.
Likewise, this mindset will encourage children to prioritise their faith, whether that be by attending different mosque functions, or serving mankind with the various charity drives the Jamaat holds.
So, when it comes to Jalsa, just as we were raised by our parents, we know as members of UK Jamaat, it’s a time to be of service to the Jamaat. And we are quite fortunate that as a family we can serve on the Voice of Islam stalls on the men’s and women’s sides. Both the stalls serve the same purpose; to promote the radio and to recruit new team members for the ever-growing station. Having my husband and sons managing the men’s stall certainly makes communicating easier should we have any stock issues or if any questions arise.
The children are in their own element those three days as they make new friends or find old ones to help them sell promotional items. The look of joy on their faces when they come back having sold what they took out to go remote selling with is priceless and they usually have a story or two about how some “aunty” or “uncle” was very kind to them. It is those moments that help them get over the early starts and late finishes during the Jalsa days and it is those stories that they take home. My daughter will often recite her favourite Jalsa story where we decided to hold a “win a radio” competition at Jalsa 2019. Turns out the winner lived in France – we really hope she got the DAB radio to work back there!
Regardless of us being a relatively new department at Jalsa, you feel as one with the rest of the volunteers, sharing the same goal to ensure you serve and reap the benefits of this blessed gathering. Our nazim is always ensuring the team on both sides are well looked after – which is always appreciated and adds to the memories for the children.
Meeting listeners of the station is always a highlight for me personally. Hearing feedback on how different shows have impacted people is lovely to share with the hard-working producers of those shows. At the last Jalsa, a lady was telling us about how she was stuck in heavy traffic coming into Jalsa on Saturday, but the positive outcome was that she was able to listen to the “Faith in Focus” Lajna special show which she resonated so much with. She was so inspired she wanted to also be part of the station and contribute to it.
The final day of Jalsa is always a bit of a memorable one for the team as we try to promote VOI merchandise to those leaving the Jalsa – a little token of the three days and a reminder that the spiritual uplift can continue by staying tuned into the Voice of Islam Radio, whether that be on DAB (London, Machester, Edinburgh and Bradford) or globally on webstream (www.voiceofislam.co.uk).
Jalsa memories are precious – they are unique and no other worldly event can match those feelings we have. At the heart of it all is reminding ourselves of the purpose of Jalsa and the need to serve with the utmost humility. We are part of a beautiful Jamaat that champions women’s rights, elevates mothers to their true worth, promotes family values and above all gives us the opportunity to worship and serve God Almighty in the hope of attaining His pleasure and saving for our morrows. This is the only pathway to success for any family. May Allah accept our sacrifices.
As Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa said on Khilafat Day, 27 May 2022:
“So long as every Ahmadi remains attached to Khilafat, they will continue to inherit the blessings of Allah the Almighty. In order to achieve this, we must ensure that our actions are in line with the teachings of God Almighty. It is only then that we will benefit from this bounty and this is what Allah the Almighty has promised; those whose faith is accompanied by actions which comply with ways outlined by God, they will continue to reap the blessings of Khilafat. In other words, we will reap these benefits when we have complete faith in Allah the Almighty accompanied by fulfilling the rights of His worship and when our every action is in search of attaining Allah the Almighty’s pleasure.” (Al Hakam, 24 June 2022, Issue 223, p. 23)