It is the last day of my Live Below the Line challenge to eat less than £1 ($1.50) worth of food daily and I have much to say and little time, so I wanted to at least bring this up. There is a hadith which I often see used in a way to support women to really dig into their roles at working in the home and serving their families. That’s great stuff, of course, but since I originally read the hadith with context, that wasn’t ever how I saw it.
Narrated ‘Ali bin Abi Talib: Fatima came to the Prophet asking for a servant. He said, “May I inform you of something better than that? When you go to bed, recite “Subhan Allah’ thirty three times, ‘Alhamdulillah’ thirty three times, and ‘Allahu Akbar’ thirty four times. ‘All added, ‘I have never failed to recite it ever since.” Somebody asked, “Even on the night of the battle of Siffin?” He said, “No, even on the night of the battle of Siffin.” (Bukhari)
The thing is, Fatima wasn’t asking for a “servant” meaning “domestic employee.” She was asking for a slave recently captured as war booty. “Slave”- as in someone who is owned by another and has no autonomy.
Now frequently when they refer to the part of the hadith where Fatima (RA) complains about the pain in her hands caused by milling – ““Fatimah complained about the pain caused to her hand by the mill, and some prisoners had been brought to the Prophet….” People say things like “look at how she suffered for her family rather than take on a domestic worker”…. No.
Look at it this way. The Prophet (SAW) was in the process of discouraging the practice of using SLAVES- a social injustice. He suggested to her that is was better that she suffer than force that suffering onto another.
Poverty is not caused by lazy.
Poverty is caused by social injustices.
Narrated Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari: The Prophet said, “Give food to the hungry, pay a visit to the sick and release (set free) the one in captivity (by paying his ransom).” (Bukhari)