Why is it that today, regardless of nationality, many Muslim women have a habit of creating drama? What spiritual diseases cause them to act like that? The Mother of Believers had inspiring qualities, but why aren’t we like that today?
The basic characteristic of a "woman" in Islam
Biologically, a woman is the female of the human species, but in Islam, this terminology is an address of honour to those females who have met certain criteria – they are honourable, responsible, keep to their covenant with Allah, are of exemplary behaviour and are educators of the next generation: whether by raising children, or being role models. If one lives merely by satisfying her biological cravings and material needs, Allah will not address her as a woman on the Day of Judgment. On the other hand, if a woman achieves the characteristics described above, Allah will recognise her as a woman, a truly noble title.
Women are endowed with a high degree of emotional intuition and empathy, and this is why Allah has tasked them the role of mothers: to carry, protect and raise the children. Motherhood is a job that demands dedication, determination, sensitivity, compassion, emotion and patience and these qualities are more prevalent in women. Women are more prone to make decisions on emotional inclination rather than men.
This is a natural characteristic: each of us is born with genetic traits (jibillah), and these include our behavioural patterns. It is when the genetic traits are not channelled to the right direction that problems occur.
Emotion, like intellect, is a powerful driving force. When the emotion is driven by dunia, movie stars, fantasies, fiction and drama – in short, lack of a concrete purpose in life - Shaitan and our base selves (nafs) will overpower our actions. All these beautiful emotions will no longer benefit us.
When the woman is filled with envy and jealousy, and carries with her a deep love of dunia (the material life), is heedless of Allah and far away from Him, without contentment or gratitude towards Him or even the people around her, or has no meaningful purpose in life, the emptiness of her soul will be reflected in her behaviour. To fill this vacuum, many create drama, making mountains out of molehills, elevating non-issues into volcanoes. That same emptiness and lack of purpose in life can also be crystalised in other actions and obsessions, such as being overly showy of their children's academic and other dunia achievements.
Then there are those attention seekers whose lives are constantly filled with tears and tragedy, not because the event itself was particularly tragic, but because they chose to magnify them to provoke complicated situations. Their lives are so directionless, hence the creation of drama upon drama over trivial issues. A situation that can be solved with a five minute phone call is dragged for weeks and months, because the thrill is in the drama, not in the peaceful solution.
This disease come from the lack of faith, purpose and direction, underlined by a lack of understanding of what they are living for.
Two Tragedies, One Drama
I know two Muslim women whose fathers were battling terminal cancer at the same time.
The first was in her late teens. She had to make major life adjustments and even postpone her university enrolment because of the financial strain caused by her father's illness. Yet, she constantly returned every issue to Allah and thanked Him for what He had ordained. She never once complained that life was unjust. She took the time to care for him and bring herself closer to Allah. She was prepared for his death, because she knew that there was wisdom behind the events. Her strong faith helped her keep calm, and she displayed patience and maturity before and after his death, even single handedly tending to his burial arrangements as none of the other family members were capable of performing this task.
The second person, double her age, reacted by complaining about everything around her, constantly having meltdowns long after he passed away. From a muscle cramp to the petrol running out in her car, everything had to be exaggerated to a tragedy. She complained about everything, from her appearance to the weather. Much of the drama was self inflicted, such as driving even when the fuel gauge was flashing red. She claimed to have recited the Qur'an three times every Ramadan yet here was neither mention of Allah in her attitude nor any sign of gratitude for what other abundant blessings she had.
The first one was new to Islam and her practical knowledge on Islam was limited. Yet she understood its essence and implemented what little she knew. The second was a native Arabic speaker and highly educated in Islam from childhood, but practiced very little of it, hence the need to channel her life tragedies in a destructive way contrary to the teachings of Islam. It is not how much one knows that ultimately matters, but how much one lives that knowledge.
There is a much simpler scenario. A woman was in the lift, making a short but loud phone call about something trivial. After she hung up, she sighed, rolled her eyes and displayed all sorts of other body language: to hint that she wanted others to ask what the problem was. This behaviour was totally unnecessary, and just a method to prolong her imaginary crisis.
Feelings in Islam, if applied properly, are filled with mercy, caring, sympathy, service, goodness and forgiveness. At its pinnacle is the love of Allah and Rasulullah SAW, of other mu'minoon or good believers, of each other for the sake of goodness. Marriage and raising families are done for the sake of Allah and are guided by His principles. Every emotion is in the right place and priority.
The early women of Islam comprehended the message and lived by it, even in the selection of their husbands. They did not fill their time with idle chatter. Their main concern was the race to jannah. Some were so particular about bettering their children that if their neighbour had more piety than they did, they would request that neighbour to nurse the child so that the child could absorb the blessings of the pious woman through her milk.
The early Muslim women enjoyed emotional freedom. They were not governed by obsession, not even for their children. As an example, when Rasulullah SAW was a baby, he was sent away to be raised by a wet nurse far away in the desert. His mother must have also felt separation anxiety, but she recognised that it was for his own good, because in those days, custom dictated that living in the desert toughened him in preparation for life.
Can women today make that emotional sacrifice?
Today, competition, envy and jealousy in the material life, wealth, image and appearance are rife. This is not what the early Muslim women dedicated their lives to. They cared about their place in jannah, and raised their children well in order to earn the crown of honour in jannah. Their feelings, strength and perseverance were focused on being the queens of their palace in paradise.