Islam has provided everything for both men and women. It gave women everything —freedom, economic rights, political rights, social rights, public and private rights. Islam gave women rights in the family granted by no other society. Women may talk of liberation in Christian society, Jewish society, or pagan society, but in Islamic society it is a grave error to speak of the liberation of women. The Muslim woman must study Islam so she will know that it is Islam that has given her all her rights.
Known For: Founder, Muslim Women’s Association; Human Rights Activist
Dates: Jan. 1917 – Aug. 2005
In 1936, at the age of 18, Zaynab Al-Ghazali started the group Muslim Women’s Association, which had the mission of encouraging Muslim women to sincerely incorporate Islam into their everyday lives. Al-Ghazali was also a staunch supporter of the Society of Muslim Brothers.
Ms. Al-Ghazali strongly believed that Islam equipped Muslim women with a strong tradition of individual rights that facilitate women’s inclusion in society. At the same time, she encouraged Muslim women to appreciate their distinctive roles as wives and mothers in a Islamic household. Similarly, she regarded Muslim men as having a significant part to play as support systems for their wives, rather than posing as obstacles in their fulfillment of goals outside the home.
Although Ms. Al-Ghazali had initially supported the Egyptian Revolution of 1952, she grew increasingly disenchanted with what she perceived as their opposition to Islam and organized to support the orphans and widows of the member of the Society of Muslim Brothers, which had been sentenced to death. As the Egyptian government became increasingly suspicious of groups like Muslim Women’s Association and the Muslim Brothers, these groups were banned and their leaders imprisoned. In 1966 she was sentenced to hard labor for life, but was released in 1971.
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.
Dear brother in Islam, we would like to thank you for your question and we appreciate the confidence you have in us. We hope our efforts meet your expectations.
With regard to your question, Muzammil Siddiqi, former head of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) and member of the Fiqh Council of North America, answers:
“What a good discussion you had! I am so pleased to read that you had a discussion with your friends on the issue of Da`wah. A lot of Muslims nowadays are not concerned about Da`wah; it does not find much place in their discussions, and unfortunately they waste their time and resources on useless matters. May Allah bless you and reward you for considering this important subject.
We should first understand what Da`wah is. Da`wah means to invite people to the way of Allah, the Almighty; to call unto them to know the truth and follow it.
Da`wah is done in two ways. The first one is through example, through being a role model. In the Qur’anic terminology it is called “being witnesses towards mankind” (Shuhada’ `ala an-nasi). It is the duty of every Muslim, male or female, young or old, to be a witness of Almighty Allah among the people. When people see a Muslim, they should see a good person, a person of truth, of sincerity and of virtue. A Muslim’s life should be an open invitation through which people see the beauty of Islam and find it an interesting code of ethics and teachings to follow. Allah, Most High, says in the Qur’an: “Thus we have appointed you a middle community in order that you may be witnesses towards humankind and that the Messenger may be a witness towards you…” (Al-Baqarah:143). All Muslims must give Da`wah through their good Islamic life as individuals, as families and as communities. People who come into contact with them should see Islam as a living and practical faith that makes the life of human beings better.
Another way of giving Da`wah is through teaching, preaching, communication, engaging in dialogues, discussions and debates, writing books and articles, giving lectures, etc. Almighty Allah says: “Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious. ” (An-Nahl: 125) Of course this requires deep knowledge, preparation and training. Muslims should use the most effective and appropriate methods of Da`wah in every place and time. Nowadays, for example, Da`wah requires modern ways such as the use of radio, television, Internet in addition to the person-to-person preaching and teaching.
I know that every Muslim would not have time to go throught this kind of training and give Da`wah in this way. But some people must prepare themselves and engage in this field, as Allah the Exalted says, “And the believers should not all go out to fight. Of every troop of them, a party only should go forth, that they (who are left behind) may gain sound knowledge in religion, and that they may warn their folk when they return to them, so that they may beware.” (At-Tawbah 9:122)
Thus, giving Da`wah with proper training and specialization is regarded as Fard Kifayah (collective obligation). That means in every community some people must take the proper Da`wah training and should do this work in a systematic and methodical way on behalf of all other members of the community. If some people do this work, then there is no blame on others, but if no one does it all Muslims of the community are considered sinners. It is the duty of all Muslims to support this work by providing facilities and funds so that it can be done in a proper manner.”
Our negligence in the matters of Da`wah is twofold: on the one hand the common Muslims are not living exemplary Islamic life in order to be the witnesses of Allah among nations. On the other hand, those who are doing the work of Da`wah are generally sincere Muslims, but they have very little training and education. There are very few Muslim organizations who are doing the Da`wah work in an educated and trained way. But, unfortunately, those few organizations that exist find very little support from Muslims. There are many missionary organizations of other religions that have unlimited resources and they are covering the whole globe with their missions. Conversely, Islamic Da`wah is barely surviving.
With all the propaganda that is going on against Islam and Muslims these days, it has become the duty of all Muslims, their organizations and states to devote their efforts to Da`wah with wisdom, good preaching and sound arguments.
May Allah help us in this direction!”