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Female Muslim Scholars: Past vs. Present (Alimahs, Zalimahs, and Lazymas)

Female Muslim Scholars: Past vs. Present (Alimahs, Zalimahs, and Lazymas)

Bismillahir Rahmanir Rahim

My wife is an ‘alimah.

For the major part of my life I had assumed that her humility, respect, patience, tolerance, love, piety, attachment to the Qur’an, the quality of her khidmah towards myself and my parents, her wonderful rearing of our children, the support she gave me and the great advice and guidance that she offered when it was needed was all a result of her studies in becoming an ‘alimah.

It was only much later on in life that I realised my monumental mistake and profound error.

You may have noticed how I mentioned nothing about my wife’s cooking. This is because, of her many great qualities, I associated her ability to cook good food and make a great cup of tea to the home she came from.

I had been living with a false perception:

I believed I was blessed and fortunate because I had married an ‘alimah.

But this isn’t the case. After 20 years of being married, I now realise that my fortune in having a good marriage is not because my wife is an ‘alimah. Certainly not.

I am fortunate, Alhamdulillah, because my wife came from a good home.

She came from a home where she learnt to have respect for her husband and to look after his family; where she learnt humility; how to carry out khidmah and how to run a home properly with no complaints and demands; to be grateful for everything she has; and to be capable of enduring the hard times which are inevitable within any marriage.

She hadn’t picked them up from madrasah. She went to madrasah with these qualities already present within her. Having gained these qualities from her home and with her tarbiyah having been carried out well, this meant that her studies served as an enrichment and amplification of her already good character, piety and personality.

Her love for Qur’an, her din, her salah, her good character—it was all acquired at home from her parents: from my mother in-law and my father in-law. And I have now come to realise that I am so greatly indebted to both of them for the excellent care and upbringing of their daughter; the mother of my children.

May Allah ﷻ reward them immensely and fill their graves with nur (light). Amin.

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Wondering How I Came to Such a Realisation?

The answer is simple:

I got my son married to a girl who I thought was an ‘alimah, but it turned out that she was actually a zalimah, and a lazyma.

Yes, I had seen many red flags with her family, but I stupidly thought:

She’s an ‘alimah so she’ll be different. She won’t take after her mother. She’ll maintain a good relationship with her in-laws. She’ll serve her husband, look after him well, respect him and be obedient towards him.

I thought that since she had studied Qur’an and Sunnah, her akhlaq would be in accordance to what she had learnt in the Madrasah.

Oh how how very foolish I had been to have assumed that, just because she’d studied to become an ‘alimah, she would have shed the upbringing that she’d received at home and the things that she’d been taught there!

That was my fault, and I admit that I am to blame for this much. And this is precisely the reason I am writing this; so that others do not make the same mistake, especially young ‘ulama’ who are graduating and are keen to marry, possibly thinking that an ‘alimah should be their greatest aspiration for marriage.

To them I will simply say: Don’t be fooled.

Forget focusing on finding an ‘alimah. Look instead for a simple girl from a good and religious home where they are regular in salah, where she has learnt and become accustomed to cooking and cleaning—a home where she remained sheltered from the outside world and where her tarbiyah had been carried out properly.

Such a home will engender within a woman modesty, humility, respect for her husband, as well as the qualities of khidmah and sabr (patience and endurance). This is what you really need; not someone whose ego is so inflated with pride that it has morphed her into an ‘alimah with horns, i.e, a “zalimah,” or someone so “busy with studies” and so averse to work that she has become a complete “lazyma.”

Don’t for a single moment assume that her studying to become an ‘alimah somehow guarantees that her tarbiyah and islah has been carried out effectively. And that’s even if the madrasa is well-known. Often the madrasah is not sufficient for the tarbiyah of the students. The tarbiyah of a woman is usually done within her home, and the greatest influence upon her will be her mother. So look carefully at the family. Examine their relationships with their in-laws and it’ll provide you with some insight as to what your future may be like with such a woman at your side.

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Do your homework. Don’t be naive. Don’t take anything as a given.

Be careful! Be careful! Be careful!

I would actually go even further and say that if she did study all those kutub (books), then make sure you be extra careful in assessing her character, personality and dini maslak (religious affiliations and leanings)—more than you would a normal girl who didn’t study all those kutub.


Because ‘ilm, particularly the very high level of ‘ilm that is taught within a darul ‘ulum, can be a trial for some people and possibly a double-edged sword. It can either imbue in someone humility and obedience towards Allah, or shaytan can deceive them and use it to breed arrogance and pride.

And because a woman by her very nature is prone to becoming crooked, if her tarbiyah has not been effectively carried out within her home, it is more likely that she will become arrogant, proud and argumentative. She will then distort and misapply her Islamic knowledge in order to appease her nafs and ego.

That is why countless senior ‘ulama’ today say that it is preferable for a girl to learn the Qur’an and the basic knowledge of din and to then remain at home, having their tarbiyah and islah done, rather than going out to the girls’ madaris. Even though my wife has studied, we both agree upon this point, and we have decided that we won’t be sending our daughters out to learn. Our daughters will learn at home, as is also the practice of many of our senior Muftis today with regard to their daughters.

Another reason for this outcome is that the girl who is becoming an ‘alimah is also overpampered at home and becomes spoilt. She is allowed by the parents to sleep and abdicate her duties within the home. The parents believe they are doing a service to din by making her life easy so she can study, whereas in reality they are actually setting her up to become a lazyma who will often, because of her lazy habits, be the primary cause for a failed or troublesome marriage. She goes on to expect the same lifestyle when she is married, always making excuses to abdicate her responsibilities within the home, feigning sickness and tiredness from all the dini work she is doing.

She will then accuse her husband of being “too demanding” or “too strict” when he expects only what any man would expect from a marriage and from an “‘alimah,” not realising that he married a zalimah or lazyma instead of a real ‘alimah who has her priorities straight.

So what exactly did they learn that made them this way?

Selective Huquq (rights) and entitlement is the most fitting answer.

This means they focus on learning only their own rights and what others, especially their husbands, “owe” them.

When a girl whose tarbiyah and islah has not been effectively done at home goes to madrasah, in spite of everything that is taught there, they seem to only be capable of focusing on learning how to do the bare minimum.

That is why their catchphrase and life slogan becomes:

‘Its not my duty to __________.’


‘Its not fard upon me to ___________.’

You can fill in the above blanks with numerous things that actually contribute towards a meaningful stable marriage and create unity and love within families such as:

  • Cooking for her husband;
  • Keeping the home clean and tidy;
  • Visiting in-laws;
  • Serving his parents like her own out of love for him;
  • Visiting grandparents;
  • Taking her grandchildren to visit their grandparents;
  • Devoting her time to her husband and children;
  • Smiling;
  • Expressing love;
  • Being thankful;
  • Being a close friend and confidant to her husband;
  • Taking and showing an interest in his interests;
  • Being appreciative;
  • Listening to him;
  • Being supportive; etc.

RELATED: Are Wives Responsible for Housework in Islam?

They have selective forgetfulness when it comes these type of ahadith:

Once, during a khutba, Allah’s Messenger ﷺ addressed the women and instructed them to give sadaqah (optional charity) as he had seen how they made up the majority of the inhabitants of jahannam. When a woman stood up and asked why this was, the Prophet ﷺ replied:

لأنَّكُنَّ تُكْثِرْنَ الشَّكَاةَ، وَتَكْفُرْنَ العَشِيرَ

Because you complain a lot and are ungrateful towards your husbands.
(Bukhari 961, Muslim 885)

Under the explanation of this hadith, the muhaddithin (expert hadith scholars) have stated:

أي: تُنْكِرْنَ فضْلَ أزواجِكُنَّ، وتَجْحَدْنَ حُقوقَهم عليكُنَّ

‘I.e., you reject the authority of your husbands, and you dispute with them regarding their rights over you.’

The system of Allah is that He has made fard what is absolutely essential, i.e., the bare minimum without which the primary maqasid (objectives) of marriage would not be realised. This is the reason why a woman cannot refuse a man’s intent for relations and vice versa, since this (fulfilling the desires in a halal manner) is a primary maqsad (objective) of nikah.

But there is more to a marriage than only this. There are the sunan (prophetic actions and mannerisms), the mustahabbat (encouraged recommendations) and the adab (etiquettes). Of course when it comes to the zalimah, she doesn’t seem to recognise any of this unless it is of some direct benefit to her.

Yes, there are some things that a woman does not have to as a fard obligation, as the zalimahs perpetually remind us, but do they stop to think for a moment what this means? Does this mean that she has to live her married life only doing the bare minimum from what is her duty and nothing else?

This is akin to saying that in salah you don’t have to concentrate, since it’s not a fard of salah, or saying men only have to cover their satr (nakedness) from their navel to their knees when performing salah. This is the bare minimum for salah to be deemed salah but it doesn’t in any way imply that you should be performing salah in this manner all your life.

In the same way, marriage is not just about fulfilling the bare minimum duties (fara’id).

In salah and other ibadat (acts of worship), the greater the effort you make (in terms of the sunan, mustahabbat and adab), it will be borne of love for Allah and your desire to please Him. And it is also for your own protection, because those who skirt on the boundaries of fard and obligatory duty only are bound to lapse at times and prone to cross the limits into haram.

In the same way, a woman—even if she be labelled as a so called “‘alimah” despite only being concerned about doing the bare minimum fard obligations—will often become a zalimah, crossing the boundaries into neglecting her duties and committing haram.

More importantly, her behaviour will expose lack of love towards her husband and his family, which then will eventually be reciprocated. Whereas she could have easily lived a happy life full of love and contentment had she realised that there is more to marriage than just the bare minimum “duties.”

Non-‘alimahs find this easier to understand.

Marriage is not just about doing the bare minimum. It is about going above and beyond for your husband, your in-laws, and your kids. It is about doing more than just what you have to, out of love and appreciation. This creates a loving environment, fosters good relationships and leads to a happy life, in both the dunya and akhirah.

Zalimahs forget that the anger of the husband invites the anger of Allah. Yet when these matters come up, spurned by their stubbornness and argumentative nature, they make grand statements and claims such as:

“My Allah ﷻ is with me.”

No, dear zalimah, Allah is not with you when your husband is displeased with you.

What is extremely strange with regard to these zalimahs, is that despite of crying “duty, duty” when it comes to their husbands (being inclined to sleeping most of the time, neglecting and delaying their responsibilities within the home until it all piles up, etc.), they are often very regular in nafl (supererogatory) ibadat and nafl fasts. Here they do not consider only what their bare minimum duties are. The double standards they extract from whatever they learnt in madrasah are indeed shocking when the masa’il (rulings) are clear when it comes to a wife needing the permission of her husband to observe nafl fasts and to engage in nafl salah when he is present.

This itself is sufficient to convey the immense right that Allah ﷻ has given to the husband.

If only they would wake up and stop following the mindset and ways of the modern day feminist shayatin (devils) while donning the garb of supposed “‘alimahs.”

By this point, those of you who are loyal to feminism will be fuming with anger because this goes against your teachings of “tame the husband” and all the other anti-Islamic slogans that you peddle. This doesn’t bother me in the least. It is exactly the kind of behaviour, thinking and shaytani (satanic) philosophy that we expect from you. It destroys good marriages and results in the worldwide crisis of failed marriages and broken homes—something we see wherever feminism is pushed.

Those of you whose loyalty is to Islam, and to whom Allah ﷻ and His Rasul ﷺ are more beloved than anything else in the world, will be ready to accept the truth when it is presented before you, and you abandon any prior inclination that you may have had towards the shaytani feminist agenda.

I am writing this piece for this second group, in the hope that boys and their parents would wake up and not make the same mistake that I had made. But I am also hopeful that girls and their parents will learn from this so that this state of affairs can change.

And If you are reading this as a girl who herself studied kitabs or is currently studying, then take stock of yourself. Are you an ‘alimah, a zalimah or a lazyma?

Don’t take offense at these words. They are intended to make sober people and to bring them out of their foolishness, something for which strong medication is needed. If you are able to reflect and introspect and see if any of these undesirable qualities are present within you, then this realisation will serve to be the first step towards changing yourself.

Let the ‘ilm of din humble you and imbue within you the qualities of a good wife. Then you can live a rewarding and contented life in both this life and the next.

Take the example of Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) and how she did khidmah of her husband, the Prophet ﷺ. She was sent salam by Allah ﷻ and Jibra’il (peace be upon him) when she was bringing food to the Prophet ﷺ at the cave of Hira’—not the false concocted perception of an “independent businesswomen” which the feminists seek to portray her as. She was not out and about like the businesswomen of today are.

Take the example of ‘A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who was a model of modesty; and that of Zaynab (may Allah be pleased with her); and the other Ummahat al-Mu’minin (mothers of the believers) who embodied the qualities of simplicity, humility, khidmah for their husband ﷺ, generosity in giving charity, remaining concealed within their homes, and occupying themselves in their free time with household chores and ibadat.

Take the example of Fatimah (may Allah be pleased with her) who developed callouses on her hands because from doing chores.

Don’t take the example of the modern feminists—especially the Muslim ones who shaytan is using to spread immodesty and shamelessness in the ummah.

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Then you will be a true ‘alimah.

But if you are a zalimah or a lazyma and you’re not willing to change your ways and your ideology, then you will have none but yourself to blame for the life of misery that will follow.

May Allah ﷻ grant us all hidayah (guidance) and the tawfiq (ability) to be humble and to accept and follow good, sincere advice. Amin.

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