Since I was a young girl I wanted to be an ‘Aalimah, a woman who had true knowledge of Islam and fiqh. My dad is a Deobandi ‘Aalim and UK Shari’ah Council Judge and he had brought us up to know that seeking knowledge of the Deen was Number One. The highest you could reach. So at age 16 after doing well in my GCSEs (Alhamdulillah) he took me to Cairo and left me there.
Yes, I used to get lost every day, chatted up by unsavoury characters (anyone unmarried, whose been to Egypt will know what I mean ), and slowly but surely, I learned Arabic, travelled, met Al Azhar students from around the world with their many varying talents, widened my horizons, studied in Al-Azhar, became street-wise. I was adamant that I would study Shari’ah in Al Azhar, and studied there for two years and passed my exams, when due to unforeseen circumstances I had to return to the UK. Here, Allah blessed me to get engaged at age 18 and married at 19 and go on to have 3 kids (so far). I wasn’t really looking to get married and really wanted to go back to Al-Azhar.
I wondered how I could seek knowledge and be married. So my dad suggested I make it a part of my dowry. One thing that I did, and that I would encourage sisters who are serious about seeking knowledge to do is to mention it when they meet prospective spouses and then put it in their marriage contracts.
My dowry for example, was a sum of money and “provision to study the Shari’ah (or Islamic Studies) up to degree level.” ( I was an expensive wife! )
This has a profound impact on the way your husband and you yourself perceive your seeking knowledge. No matter what happens later, he will honour your efforts to seek knowledge because it was mentioned from day one. Many sisters complain that their husbands don’t see the value in them seeking knowledge or don’t help them to be able to seek knowledge (by looking after the kids etc). But I assure you, if it is a part of your dowry, then he will insha Allah value it more. Many husbands of course do help their wives even if it isn’t mentioned in the marriage contract. But this way, you can be sure.
My husband (may Allah bless him) actually took me to Makkah (Ummul Qura) and applied for me and Sharjah University, but due to his job issues, we couldn’t take the places there. Plan B was to study through distance learning – The American Open University was an alternative. Then practically speaking, you have to realise that there will be times when you can’t study and times when you can. And then maximise your time usage, even when you have kids, after their needs are met. Dedicate some time every day. Commitment is what is needed-never giving up.
Steve Coveys book: The Seven Habits has really helped me too. I’d recommend it to sisters who are struggling to achieve their goals: have a mission statement, begin with the end in mind etc Are great habits we can adopt. You can get a summarised version of the 7 habits on audio which is really useful because you can internalise the 7 habits in a shorter length of time.
As Sheikh Tawfique Chowdhury always says: “Reach for the stars!”
Sisters – You can see Sr.Fatima Barkatullah at the upcoming conferences:
- iERA Seeds of Change, Sunday May 20th, London
- Mercy Mission BeingME Sisters Conference, June 2nd, London
- Mercy Mission BeingME Sisters Conference, June 3rd, Manchester
Source : http://muslimmotherhood.blogspot.co.uk/