For International Women’s Day members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim women’s and girls’ auxiliaries have been writing about women who inspire them.
Some have chosen figures from history while others write about women in their personal lives who have inspired them.
What we learn is that no matter who the women are, whether significant historical figures or personal friends, all women have their own strengths and the ability to inspire us if we are willing to be inspired.
She Inspires Me…
Hazrat Khadija (may Allah be pleased with her)
By Maleeha Mansur, Hayes,UK
A woman of wealth and honour, with the world at her feet, served upon day and night, the Queen of Arabia. However, the comforts of her life did not blind her spiritual sight. Her purity and nobility superseded all her worldly treasures, such that she immediately recognised the piety of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and firmly grasped hold of this righteousness.
She inspired me for she willingly forsook a life of luxury and grandeur for meekness and righteousness. She exchanged the treasures of the world for the treasures of the Hereafter. She was a woman in this world but not of this world.
Inspiring women! By Riyya Ahmad (age 12), Aldershot, UK
Muslim women have served as heroic leaders!
One of the inspiring women in Islam is Hazrat Khadija. She was very wealthy but still clothed the poor and fed them. She was the wife of the Holy Prophet (peace be on him). Khadija was his support beam. She always gave to charity and faced many hardships when her husband founded Islam. She played an important role in the foundation of the first Islamic society.
Muslim women of our generation continue to play an important role in society.
My second inspiring woman is Malala Yousufzai and many have heard her story; she is a young girl who fought for the rights of education. Malala faced many hardships, for instance, being shot in the head by the Taliban, but that never stopped her. She became the world’s youngest Nobel Prize winner when she won the Nobel peace prize in 2014. Malala exemplifies that you can do anything, if you believe in it. She once said “they thought that the bullet would silence us but they failed, nothing changed in life, except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, courage and fervour was born”
The world without these women would be a horrible place to live in; they have changed it so much. Don’t think you can’t either.
Sabah Javaid Khan, Cheam, UK
For her unfaltering faith through adversity.
For her stoic determination to keep her young family safe during the treacherous partition of India,
For carrying such enormous burdens of responsibility from the tender age of 16, showing extraordinary patience and wisdom, yet expecting no worldly recognition.
Such beautiful humility & dignity.
Such a simple soul.
For being the embodiment of a believing woman throughout every stage of her 94 years on this Earth, living on through the legacy of the 10 children she raised and now through their progeny.
Because I find myself asking “what would she have done?” when I try to navigate my own life’s hurdles.
It is her values that hold her most dear, and her example that I wish to follow.
She is my inspiration.
Sayyeda Begum, my maternal grandmother.
(Mother of Imam Ataul Mujeeb Rashed)
By Zohra Jonnud , Aldershot, UK
Mary Seacole was a mixed race nurse from Jamaica who, after being turned down for jobs with both the War office and Florence Nightingale travelled independently to nurse using her mother’s herbal remedies during the Crimean War.
She set up a hospital close to the front line and helped even those who could not afford treatment. Her manner was kind, friendly and motherly which is what set her apart from other female nurses of the time.
After the war she went bankrupt; however in 1857, 80,000 people turned out to honour her as a hero. They donated money to her and she received an award from Queen Victoria and was employed by the Princess of Wales.
She inspires me for the way she fought against prejudice and adversity with a kind and loving heart.
Star Against A Dark Sky
By Ayesha Malik, Tilford, UK
It is often said trials test the limits of our soul. That what doesn’t kill us, only makes us stronger. A precious diamond is indeed defined by how often it is cut and human trials have been known to define outcomes of human character in similar ways. I have believed from a very young age that it is our response to tribulation that shapes the contours of our inner strength and tenacity and defines our outlook on life and the world. As someone once said, “without these trials, life would be a straight flat road to nowhere; safe and comfortable, but dull and utterly pointless.”
Human responses to trials are as diverse as humanity itself. Yet, with the many people that enter one’s life along the way, there are certain individuals that have for me shone like stars against a dark sky.
One of these is Nasira Bhatti, my husband’s aunt who was widowed in her late 20s when her husband passed away suddenly from a heart attack. She was left to raise two infants on her own in Pakistan, a son and a daughter. Just a few years following her husband’s tragic demise, Nasira Bhatti’s son, then 8, took a fatal fall from the rooftop of his Rawalpindi home. Barely in her mid-30s, she was widow and a grieving mother, yet her resilience and fortitude and her faith in God have not only been unshakeable but awe-inspiring. Nasira Bhatti single-handedly raised her daughter, Amatul Mateen, who went on to earn her Masters from Kings College London and a PhD from the University of Oxford – the only girl in her family to have done so.
The dignity and infallible grace, the positivity and immense fortitude with which Nasira Bhatti has grappled with her deeply perplexing personal challenges, the courage and steadfastness she has exhibited in confronting her darkest days make her exemplary and an inspiration to all around her. Notwithstanding her difficult journey, she has always been and continues to be a hugely beneficial and positive presence, always selflessly yearning to help others. It is this towering resolve and reservoir of faith that continues to be a beacon of inspiration for me personally and to many who know her.
By Sadia Rana, London, UK
Marie Curie inspires me, as she was the first individual to win the Nobel Prize twice, as well as the first woman to win it. She had huge amounts of difficulty thrown at her; educational restrictions against women, migration from her home country for education, appalling living conditions whilst studying in Paris, due to heating problems and housing issues. Yet her research was far reaching and is still applied and taught to students today.
Jessica Ennis-Hill inspires me, not because she is an elite athlete, but as an extreme hard worker. She balances her home life with her professional life and undergoes extreme physical and mental discomfort for years at a stretch. It may only be for achieving physical prowess, but the main point is that she works hard, sacrifices a lot, puts herself under immense pressure and stress to achieve something she believes in.
Mrs. Majeeda Shahnawaz
By Hamdah Farooqi, London, UK
I knew her as our Karachi Lajna President, (Ahmadiyya Muslim Women’s auxiliary) when I was growing up in Karachi Pakistan.
My mother was working with her for Lajna services, I therefore had the opportunity to see Mrs Shahnawaz very regularly. Also as she was the President of Lajna, I saw her at most Lajna and Nasirat (girls group) meetings, held at the Mosque.
By the time I arrived in the UK, Mrs Shahnawaz had already taken permanent residence and had undertaken services in Lajna UK.
I always found her to be a very kind and gentle lady, always looking out for the comfort of others. Arranging meetings and activities to enhance knowledge and empowerment of women.
In her own right, she was considered a V.I.P. She was well known in Pakistani women’s social circles, where she participated in charity work with organisations like APWA: All Pakistan Women’s Association. She would get invited to many women’s events in London as well.
Mrs Shahnawaz would invite some of her social contacts to her house, where she would also invite members of Lajna, to have exposure to those circles, so as to have the confidence to mingle with important personalities, from amongst the women.
Had Mrs Shahnawaz, chosen to spend her time in comfort and leisurely pursuits, there would not have been any blame on her as she was a big contributor to charities and a pious person, but her desire to serve humanity and community, always kept her busy, working on different projects, and she worked hard for these causes.
I had the great good fortune of working with Mrs Shahnawaz for nearly three decades. I saw first-hand how she treated people as equals, her unfailing humility and deep dedication to help others never failed to impress me.
I remember her angelic reactions and responses with love, respect and admiration.
…Now Who Inspires You?