Musa & Safurah: a Courtship, a Romance

by Hena Zuberi

I am from Generation X. Raised on ‘Pretty in Pink’ and Sweet Dreams romance novels, some of my friends read Mills and Boons, others raved about the unattainable love in the Thorn birds; but I preferred the grand passion of Wuthering Heights. That was my idea of a romance – filling each other completely, a religion of love.

It also came from Indian movies; rich girl falls for poor guy, they dance around trees in the rain, then drama ensues from the family, enter Prem Chopra character, the guy runs off with girl, the end. Sometimes, he would dash in with a monologue and take her away while she was getting married to someone else. How many girls are still waiting for their Sir Salman/Saif/Shahrukh Khan to take them away on a white horse in a red lehnga?

When in love, according to Freud, “against all the evidence of  her/his senses, a wo/man who is in love declares ‘I’ and ‘you’ are one, and is prepared to behave as if it were a fact.” This love is so destructive, so impossible. Based on these notions, I have nursed many a heartbroken friend: in ER after she burnt herself with a cigarette because she wasn’t allowed to see him, helping hide another’s bruises under makeup, where he punched her for talking to his buddy. My own quest was less for the pain, more for the eternal flutter in my heart. What were we thinking? Allah made us; He put these feelings in our heart, so why didn’t we ever think of turning to His book to see how ‘boy meets girl’ really works? It’s all in there.

I read of a great courtship, a love story that is so romantic it’s divine. The setting – Madyan, the land of frankincense, I can almost smell it lingering in the air. Historian Abdulla Al-Wohaibi writes that Madyan was “a flourishing ancient town with numerous wells and permanently flowing springs whose water had good taste. There were farms, gardens and groves of palm trees.”

Here we meet Safurah, the daughter of Shuyab `alayhi assalam (peace be upon him) at the side of a gushing spring, ‘keeping back, stopping her sheep from drinking with the sheep of the shepherds.’ And Musa (as), a fugitive on the run for eight days, crossing the burning desert sands from Egypt, feeding off nothing but tree leaves.

Their meeting is a beautiful example of chivalry; a perfect model of what it means to be a man and a woman. She didn’t need him; this was her daily routine and she waited out of her sense of modesty. She and her sister were strong women, after all herding their father’s flock wasn’t easy work. They were surrounded by rowdy men, reminding me of sceners from Liberty market in Lahore, Cairo’s Khan Khaleeli or the Westfield mall in Generic town, U.S.A. where rowdy boys hang out – men yelling, pushing, with little dignity or sense of composure. He, however, was a gentleman amongst the uncouth.

She didn’t need his help, she could have waited until all of the other men were done and then watered her flock, but that’s what makes it so special – that he still stood up to help her. Musa (as) was thirsty too but his sense of doing the right thing was stronger than his fatigue or his hunger. He was honorable – he could have ignored the sisters, could have said “I’m too tired, too important.” He had no relationship with these women. He didn’t know what family or religion they were from. All he saw was someone was being treated unfairly and for the sake of Allah, he was ready to help.

Sisters, a man like that will get you far in life. He will be just with your children, your parents and his parents. He will help you in your faith, your home and your life. As for the ones pushing each other to get the water from the well, they are the same brothers who will keep fighting for the dunya: keep working away for the next promotion, the next beamer, and you will be left on the side like the two sisters from Madyan.

When Musa (as) approached the water, he saw that the shepherds had put over the mouth of the spring an immense rock that could only be moved by ten men. ‘Musa embraced the rock and lifted it out of the spring’s mouth, the veins of his neck and hands standing out as he did so.’ He watered their sheep and put the rock back in its place.

After Musa (as) did this kind act, he went back in the shade of the tree and made du`a’. Unlike some MSA brothers who like to walk the sisters to their apartments and then ask them if they have food in the fridge, he didn’t ask the girls “Hey! I did you a favor, can you help me out now?”

No, he lies down on Allah’s green earth and makes this beautiful du`a’:

“So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he turned back to shade, and said: ‘My Lord! I am truly in need of whatever good that You bestow on me!’” (Qur’an, 28:24)

`Ata’ bin As-Sa’ib said in Tafsir ibn Kathir: “When Musa made that du`a’ the women heard him.”  What a beautiful du`a’ to make for all of us who are looking for a good partner or bliss in our married lives. This one du`a’ to Allah gave Musa (as) a job, a house and a family all at once. When you have nothing left except Allah, than you find that Allah is always enough for you.

The two sisters came home with the well-fed sheep, surprising their father Shuyab (as). He asked them what had happened, and they told him what Musa (as) had done. So he sent one of them to call him to meet her father.

She said: “My father is inviting you so that he may reward you for watering our sheep.” In Tafsir ibn Kathir it states
there came to him one of them, walking shyly, meaning she was walking like a free woman. Narrates `Umar ibn-Khattab, may Allah be pleased with him: “She was covering herself from them (Musa) with the folds of her garment.”

Safurah is intelligent and intuitive. Abdullah bin Masud praised three people’s intuition:, Abu Bakr Siddiq (ra) about `Umar ibn-Khattab, Yousuf ‘s (as) companion, and Safurah’s when she asked her father to hire Musa (as). “Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy.” Her father said to her, ”What do you know about that?” She said to him, “He lifted a rock which could only be lifted by ten men, and when I came back with him, I walked ahead of him, but he said to me, walk behind me, and if I get confused about the route, throw a pebble so that I will know which way to go.”

He didn’t follow her, looking at her from behind – subhan’Allah. Imagine the scenario: he was a prince who must have had women throwing themselves at him but he ‘lowers his gaze’, which is the hukum for all Muslim men, but how many really adhere to that? Here Musa (as) is not Safurah’s husband yet, so he asks her to walk behind him, knowing very well that he doesn’t know the way but she does. It wasn’t a matter of ego or superiority; he was concerned about her honor as she was alone, without her sister; this way he was protecting her. Look at their society too – if all the men were such boors, could you put it past those people to gossip about her walking with him?

I often wonder how Musa (as) grew up to be this way? He came from such privilege, so much corruption existed in the court of Pharoah; he could have had any woman he wanted. But he learnt how to honor women from his pious foster mother, `Aasiya (ra); and continued this respect even hundreds of miles from his mother’s eyes. Mothers can be shields for their sons – even if the fathers are Pharoah.

Back to our courtship: Musa (as) takes Safurah’s ‘lead’ by making her throw stones to direct the route. Brothers, there’s a lesson for you here: it’s ok to ask for directions and consulting with a woman. Such a man’s bravado would be insulted today; h would be considered crazy or sexist  asking a woman to walk in his shadow and then make her do all the work! Armed with our liberal arts education, we often undervalue a man’s masculinity. Such hoopla is made over where the husband walks, in front, side by side, behind you. My husband is a foot and some taller than me, so big deal if he sometimes walks faster than me, he’s got longer legs. Other times he walks behind me especially in crowds and he is often there by my side. It doesn’t define us. Shouldn’t it matter more whether he is ahead, behind or by my side spiritually?

Safurah then hired Musa (as) and chooses to marry him under her father’s guidance. There was no long engagement and no endless conversations – no promises of unending love. How many times do we pass up great partners because we haven’t clicked? What did she like about him in those short meetings? First of all, she sees he is not a wimp, he stood up for her when they were strangers, imagine what he would do for her when she becomes his wife.

He complements her life; she needs a man in her household, to help her run her business (we see the same theme in the blessed union of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and our mother, Khadijah (ra). This story reinforces in me the reason why my husband is always going to be the leader of my family. He leads well, so that I may willingly follow.

Musa (as) agrees to the terms Safurah’s family sets for their marriage. She admires his trust in Allah, his ability to problem solve, his strength and his manners. If women looked for his four characteristics in a man, instead of the countless other things we focus on, will we not find our own beautiful Musa?

Further, if we are consumed by the love we have for our spouse, will there be space in our hearts for Allah? Heathcliff and Catherine of Wuthering Heights had replaced God for each other. They needed to fuse their identities and thought they had attained heaven. Bronte’s mysticism notwithstanding, love like theirs is asocial, amoral and irresponsible. After reading Musa and Safurah’s love story though, I learned to love my husband for the right reasons: for his support, his strengths, and his sense of responsibility for the sake of Allah. After ten years, he still makes my heart flutter; but he doesn’t need to complete me. It’s enough that he complements me. And it is this evolving courtship that will inshaAllah knock the tunes out of every Indian movie.


Abdulla Al-Wohabi, The Northern Hijaz In The Writings of The Arab Geographers 800-1150 B.C., p. 142

Emily Bronte, Imelani. Religion, Metaphysics and Mysticism.

Originally Posted:


New Love


I think I’m obsessed with this specific recitation mashaAllah 🙂

Allahumma Balighna Ramadan!

Women Leaving Men For Women?


Recently, I read this article called Why Women Are Leaving Men for Other Women. SubhanAllah, this article has so many red flags for all of us. I just have this running through my head from Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan’s lecture – families are the basis of society. These families are changing, so obviously, the society is changing. People want to bash this right away, and of course, na’udhobillah, this is great crime in the sight of Allah, but it has a HUGE lesson for us. Why exactly is it happening? How can we make sure it doesn’t happen?

The first lady and her ex-husband, said the following:

“I was in the more powerful role,” says Gomez-Barris, a PhD and an assistant professor in the sociology and American studies and ethnicity departments. “I made more money and was struggling to balance my work and home life.”

“Immersed,” is how Leni puts it. “She lived and breathed USC. All her friends were professors, and eventually I was obsolete. I’m nothing the system considers I should be as a traditional man. I’m not ambitious. I don’t care that much about money. I was brought up among torture survivors, and the most important values were in the emotional realm of human experience, to soothe and support.”

His noble ideals unfortunately clashed with day-to-day realities. “Someone had to care about making money to support our family,” says Gomez-Barris. Despite efforts to save their relationship in counseling, they ended up separating.

So, they couldn’t deal with the woman ‘wearing the pants’ in the relationship. This reminded me of Khadija, (ra), who was older than the Prophet, sall Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, and a very wealthy and successful buisiness woman. Their marriage worked – not just because *he* was a prophet and *she* was one of the mothers of the believers. They were human too. They learned how to respect each other for how they were and to work out how they were going to live. They were ‘garments’ for each other – able to ‘sooth and support’ like what Leni was looking for.

Side Note: If our brothers aren’t going to support our sisters in professional positions, our Ummah isn’t going to get anywhere.

According to science, they can’t fully answer why women are doing this. I have my own theory :). The article mentions:

Many of them say, for example, they are attracted to the person, and not the gender—moved by traits like kindness, intelligence, and humor, which could apply to a man or a woman. Most of all, they long for an emotional connection. And if that comes by way of a female instead of a male, the thrill may override whatever heterosexual orientation they had.

Women have a stronger emotional need that needs to fulfilled (versus the physical needs of men). For these women, men aren’t fulfilling this need for them. So, they turn to women. Perhaps it’s a problem with our society as a whole – as Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan was mentioning in the video I posted. Men come home but they’re not really there – they’re on BlackBerrys and laptops. These women need an outlet to feel appreciated and supported, and to have their needs fulfilled. Other women understand so they turn to that.

“Ironically—or not, as some might argue—it is certain “masculine” qualities that draw many straight-labeled women to female partners; that, in combination with emotional connection, intimacy, and intensity.”

“April is a beautiful, feminine woman,” says Falcon, “yet she’s so much like a guy, analytical but not overly introspective, and, just like my dad, she likes to build things and can fix anything.”

I found it ironic – that the women still looked for women with masculine qualities – it’s like you can’t fully erase the natural way we’re made. One of the ladies kept referring to her partner as ‘him’ and ‘he’ even though *she* is a woman.

Interesting notes about intimacy:

“…And in some ways, the experience is better than in heterosexual sex. Sex with most men is phallic-centered and revolves around intercourse, and that can be limiting and unsatisfying.”


“I enjoyed sex with men,” she says, “but there was a lack of emotional intimacy with them…”

“I found pleasure with men,” she explains, “but I never liked the hierarchy of heterosexual relationships. And after sex, I usually felt empty and almost incidental, as if the man really didn’t see me for me, and I could have been anyone.”

SubhanAllah. These women felt used during intimacy with their men. They didn’t feel loved and needed – but just like anyone else. It was like they weren’t people. SubhanAllah. Shaykh Yasir Qadhi addressed this many times in his email series ‘Like a Garment.’

Any good husband must realize that a woman’s primary need is emotional. He must take into account the prophetic tradition “The best of you are those who are best to their wives,” [Sahih al-Bukhari], and then strive to be the best to his wife.
Men have been assigned the responsibility by Allah to take care of their wives, and this entails treating them with love and respect, and striving to make them happy. If a husband can fulfill his wife’s primary needs, not only will Allah reward him, his wife will be content with him, and together the couple’s life will be more harmonious. Moreover, when a woman’s needs are fulfilled she will be more willing to fulfill her husband’s needs.
The best way to satisfy a woman’s emotional needs is to listen to her and respond to her with compassion. By listening to her intently, with your undivided attention, and taking a genuine interest in what she has to say, she will feel loved, cherished and important. Realize that when she approaches you with her problems, she doesn’t necessarily want solutions, she just wants sympathy and understanding.

Whoa. So, perhaps many of these women aren’t really lesbian but they go to those means so they can fulfill their needs.

In the Hadith of Jabir, (ra), [Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim] many things were mentioned.

Shaykh Yasir said in reference to the beginning of the hadith: “The Prophet salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam clearly mentioned that both parties should be satisfied with each other. In many Muslim cultures, women’s sexuality is sidelined or even suppressed (through such barbaric practices as FGM – female genital mutilation). Women’s sexuality is no less important than men’s, and it is essential that a woman also be given her due right.” It is our Islamic duty to fulfill the rights of both spouses!

The hadith continues with:

“…so that you can play with her and she can play with you, and you could make her laugh, and she could make you laugh.”

The ending of this part struck me because in order to laugh with someone, you need a relationship with them – ie it is *more* than just phsycial. Shaykh Yasir said: “This understanding is further reinforced by examining the life of our Prophet salla Allahu ‘ alayhi wa sallam. In every sense of the term, he was a loving, caring, gentle, and compassionate husband to his wives. It is even correct and proper to say that he was romantic with his wives in the most ideal and noble of ways. Some of these hadiths will be mentioned in our future correspondence.”

“…Then he said to me, ‘When you enter upon her, then be wise and gentle.'”

In Explanation, Shaykh Yasir said: “The last phrase of the hadith is translated as ‘…then be wise and gentle’. The Arabic is ‘fa-l-kayyis al-kayyis’, which is an emphasis on this word. The word ‘kayyis’ primarily means wisdom, but it also has the connotation of gentleness. Scholars have understood this phrase to mean that Jabir should approach his wife in a gentle and wise manner.” So, perhaps it could mean that don’t use the woman for her body – be wise about it?

In the end, what did the first lady have to say?

Despite this, Gomez-Barris says she and Halberstam have an incredibly fulfilling relationship. “We’re both very fiery. But we work as a team and have good communication. And Jack gives me space to be a mother and an academic,” she says. “Jack is the right person for me.”

She had her needs fulfilled – that’s why she’s happy in this relationship. She got what she couldn’t have in her previous marriage.

This is a huge eye-opener. Why? Because Muslims aren’t immune. If we go into our marriages not knowing how to fullfill the rights and needs of our spouses, some of us will look for other outlets. We *know* homosexuality is haram but Muslims indulge in this, astaghfirullah. (Remember the people of Lut, ‘alayhis salaam, and how they were totally destroyed!) We need to figure out how to make sure that doesn’t happen – by knowing why it happens. We need to go into marriages with *open* eyes so we create a strong, proper foundation for a strong society.

Ustadh Wisam Sharieff gave a talk at ICNA which I caught online in which he was talking pop culture, at one point about the Katy Perry song called ‘I Kissed A Girl.’ Even in the song, she says ‘it feels so wrong, it feels so right.’ She is subconsciouly admitting it isn’t right. Also, it’s like everything is in our media – making people think it’s okay. We’re surrounded by it so we can NOT avoid it. We have to address it, understand it, and make sure we don’t fall into it.

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala keep us far away from that which He hates and make us love that which He loves! Ameen.

No Excuses, Just Results


Today, in AlHuda, we went over verses 64 – 74 of Surah Tawbah. SubhanAllah, these verses are in reference to the hypocrites and a great reminder for us inshaAllah.

First, the characteristic of making fun of the deen – Allah, His Messenger, and His Ayaat  – is mentioned. SubhanAllah, making fun of the deen is everywhere – in the media, in people, in conversations, everywhere. Even little things count! It’s a huge thing. A GEM from this: Anything we don’t understand – we don’t have a right to mock it. Allah is All-Knowing. You aren’t.

Then the excuse is mentioned: “We were only jesting and having fun.” SubhanAllah, making fun of deen isn’t something fun. They presented an excuse to somehow make it ‘okay.’ GEM: To present an excuse AFTER a mistake is a GREATER crime.

What about us? Anything goes wrong and we have a million excuses (myself first – astaghfirullah). Who presented the first excuse? Shaytan. He said he was better than Adam (as) because he was made of fire and not clay – where did that get him?

So live by the words of Shaykh Muhammad Alshareef: No Excuses, Just Results.

The traist mentioned later of the hypocrites are 3: 1) They forbid good 2) Command evil 3) Stop from spending in good. They also forgot the rememberance of Allah. In turn, Allah will treat them as if He has forgotten them. What are the characteristics of the believers? The exact opposite: 1) Command good 2) Forbid evil 3) Spend in good. Believers Remember Allah – in the best of way: Salah. Allah will remember them. Which are we? When you do good, Allah grants you the tawfique to do good – and the opposite is true.

We need to take lesson from these stories and those of the Nations before us – because that’s what they’re here for!

GEM: Verse 71: The word ‘Awliyaa is used for the believers – showing their loyalty to each other. It wasn’t used in reference to the hypocrites in verse 67 showing that the hypocrites aren’t loyal to the believers OR to other hypocrites.

What’s the end result? Eternal punishment in Hell of the hypocrites and disbelievers and the curse of Allah. For the believers, eternal bliss and enjoyment in Jannah and Allah’s pleasure. Take your pick. (Not going to lie – the description of Jannah is off the hook, mashaAllah).

May Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala grant us the Tawfique to please Him and Him Alone.

Will Be Back…


Okay, another long break – sigh you never know when life hits you. InshaAllah I will be back sooner than later – got a few posts that need to go up.

PS Apparently there’s a new like feature? Cool mashaAllah 🙂

Modern Feminisms

A few reflections on how feminism has evolved, and women in light of Islam.

I recently read an article which brought to mind how Islam deals with women. All these years, women have been trying to please themselves, men, the world – all unattainable pleasures, whereas they don’t realize the immense rights they have been given by Allah Himself, the Supreme Creator, through the Qur’an and Sunnah. In the end, the only One we can truly please is Allah Himself – by obeying His Commands.

According to the article, women are now back to the point of being used for their bodies, and it’s okay with them since they “allow” it. Forget what the original feminists wanted to achieve. Women feel that, since they have what they fought for, they can now do whatever they want. Even though the early feminists worked hard to achieve certain rights, current feminists and women in general have changed the plan and decided to just “live their lives,” following the glam and glitter many industries offer them.

This leads us to a very important question during this state of confusion: What exactly does Islam say about women?

The Prophet salla Allahu ‘alayhi wasallam said “The whole world is a provision, and the best object of benefit of the world is the pious woman.” [Saheeh al-Jami’]

In his last Khutbah, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, he said:

O People, it is true that you have certain rights with regard to your women, but they also have rights over you. Remember that you have taken them as your wives only under Allah’s trust and with His permission. If they abide by your right then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them for they are your partners and committed helpers. And it is your right that they do not make friends with any one of whom you do not approve, as well as never to be unchaste.

It’s always interesting to note that these words were uttered at the time when, elsewhere in the world, it was being debated as to whether or not women were humans! With that in mind, I wanted to explore the place of women in Islam from several angles:

General Status

Even in the West, women today, if you read up on the issue, still haven’t achieved the social or economic status of men. If we look to the famous women in the time of the Prophet salla Alalhu alayhi wasallam, we can see that Khadija, radia Allahu ‘anha, was a business woman and A’isha, radhia Allahu ‘anha, was a scholar. Those could be the equivalents of today’s CEO and Professor. In some narrations, A’isha has even been described as being knowledgable in the medicine of the time – so she was a “doctor” too! Ibn Abi Dawood said, “Her peers in the realm of the taabi’aat (the generation of women following the Prophet’s companions) were Hafsa bint Seereen, Amrah bint Abdur-Rahman, followed by Umm Darda’aa.” This shows that even after the time of A’isha,  education was encouraged for both men and women. Women rose up in the ranks of education. Women even accompanied the men to battles, nursing them, encouraging them, tending to them.  These women were strong and knowledgeable in their religion. In turn, they raised amazing children. (Imam Bukhari and Imam Maalik, to name just two, were both raised by single mothers – and now they are scholars mentioned constantly, even to this day!)

Shaykh Saed Rageah once asked in class he taught: What exactly makes or breaks a society? Our answers were along the lines of money, righteous people, education, hikmah, and so on. Shaykh Saed kept asking and finally he turned to us and said “It’s women. If someone wants to destroy a society, they go for its women.” How true is that? Immodest women will break a society. They do whatever they want, not caring about themselves or anyone else. Modest women, focused women, educated women, become one-half of society – the “glue” that holds society together. They then raise the other half of society. A society like that will be successful, by the mercy of Allah.

An interesting example to compare this to is that of the Ancient Greeks. Their women just lived in their chambers of the house. They didn’t get out much or interact with the world. They just had children and raised them. Prostitutes of the time, however, were well-verse in current issues, music, and poetry. They could hold intellectual conversations with the men who came to them. In turn, the men probably spent more quality time with them than their wives. This shows the importantly crucial role of a woman, as an educated individual, a mother, a wife, and a member of society. The maintenance of society rests on the shoulders of women!


At the time of the Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, burying daughters alive was a prevalent practice. In Surat an-Nahl, Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala paints a picture of a man’s common reaction to the birth of a daughter when He says, “And when the news of (the birth of) a female (child) is brought to any of them, his face becomes dark, and he is filled with inward grief!” [16:58]. Today, in places like China and India, aborting your daughter has become a prevalent practice (to the extent that in China, they’re expecting men to outnumber women 30 million to 1!).

Anas, radia Allahu ‘anhu, reported that “The Prophet salla Allahu`alayhi wa sallam said: He who raises two daughters until puberty will be with me in Paradise like this,’ and he symbolized the proximity by showing two of his fingers with a slight gap between them” [Muslim]. This is the status given to daughters, and the status given to men for raising their daughters – what more do we want?


Mothers are also given immense status in Islam. Jannah is at their feet, as the Messenger salla Allahu `alayhi wa sallam indicated. It is narrated (by Imam Ahmad and others) that if a woman dies during childbirth, she is a martyr. In some cultures, dying in childbirth is seen as a trip straight to Hell, whereas in Islam, dying in childbirth or in the forty days after is seen as martyrdom. So much emphasis and respect is placed on mothers.

Then there is the famous hadith so many of us are familiar with that reports:

A man came to the Prophet salla Allahu `alayhi wasallam and asked, “Who is most worthy of my love and respect?” The Prophet salla Allahu `alayhi wasallam replied, “Your mother.” The man asked, “And then who?” He said, “Then your mother.” The man asked, “And then who?” He said, “Then your mother.” The man asked (a forth time), “And then who?”  He said, ”Then your father.

As Sheikh Muhammad ibn Faqih once put it, “If this was the Olympics, your mother would get the gold, silver and bronze, and your father would go home crying.” The sacrifice that mothers go through of time, effort, and giving their whole lives to raise children is not  in vain. Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala gives them immense respect and massive reward in the Hereafter.


This is just a scratch on the surface of what women are given in Islam. In the end, we could sit here arguing day and night over women’s rights. It’s not worth it. Islam has given women their due right, from their Creator – seeing as He created them, He would know what exactly is best for them. We women need to submit – become true Muslims – and accpet our God-given statuses. Nothing else will make us happy, as we see in the ebb and flow of feminist movements, running after one thing and then another, never satisfied or content.

It is only through our God-given rights and duties that we will please Allah and enter Jannah. Is that not what we’ve been subconscioulsy searching for this whole time – an eternity of happiness?

Originally posted on IGIC: