Lesson 1: Women are powerful: The Power of Giving Birth
Hawa, the first woman to have descended to earth is a unique individual whom Allah swt indirectly mentions in the Quran. The mother of all mothers, she is the first woman to have experienced pregnancy, the pain of childbirth and the joys and duties of motherhood.
Imagine going through pregnancy without a booklet, nurse, manual, doula or doctors to check your heart rate, blood pressure etc. during your most vulnerable moment. Imagine not having the option of an epidural, forced to endure the pangs of childbirth equipped with nothing but sheer will, determination and faith in Allah swt. That was Hawa, may Allah be pleased with her. Through her came children, and from her female descendants, so too will children only be born. From the dawn of time until the end of time, women (with the permission of Allah swt) will be granted the blessing, privilege and power of bringing life into this world.
Lesson 2: Women are not the originators of Evil
I once had a conversation with a woman in university about the pain of monthly periods. I was shocked and intrigued when having discussed symptoms of menstrual cramps, she concluded with “ it’s all Eve’s fault us women are suffering.” Eve? What did stomach cramps, uterine discomfort, general fatigue, bloating and possible nausea have anything to do with Eve? My whole life I had simply attributed menstrual cramps to be cleansing since the cramps were caused by your uterus trying to expel its lining. I had also considered cramps to be a way for women to gainhasanatsince they sometimes endure pain, are excused from prayer, fasting, and touching the holy Quran (According to some madhahib).
Abu Hurairah also reports that Allah's Messenger, peace be upon him, said: "For every misfortune, illness, anxiety, grief, or hurt that afflicts a Muslim -even the hurt caused by the pricking of a thorn - Allah removes some of his sins."
However, upon further inquiry, I realised she attributed the pain and suffering of all women to Eve, and her decision to eat from the tree inJannah. Not only that, but she also believed that Eve was tempted first by Shaytan to eat from the tree and then tempt Adam to also eat from the very same tree. In our understanding as Muslims of the event, Allah swt does not single out Hawa or Eve as the co- conspirator behind Adam’s literal downfall to earth. No, Allah swt tells us in the Quran,
“Then they both ate of that tree” (Quran 20:121-122)
Both have fallen victim to Shaytan’s whispers. Eve was not the cause of Adam’s downfall.
Lesson 3: “And no bearer of burdens shall bear another’s burden” (Quran 35:18)
From lesson number 2, we derive our last lesson. Adam and Eve made a mistake and surely Hawa (may Allah be pleased with her) repented from it sincerely. Allah swt mentions in the Quran their duas asking Him to forgive them,
“Our Lord! We have wronged ourselves. If you forgive us not and bestow not upon us Your Mercy, we shall certainly be of the losers.” (Quran 7:23)
Know that women and men are not responsible for, nor do they bear the independent sins and actions of other people. Each individual is responsible for their own actions. A woman is not responsible for the actions of her mother and vice versa. We women do not suffer from menstrual cramps or childbirth because Hawa (my Allah be pleased with her) was supposedly first to eat from the forbidden tree. We endure childbirth and menstrual cramps to remind us of how powerful and giving our bodies are, giving life (with the permission of Allah swt) and how much reward we get from any trials we go through in life, if faced bravely, awaiting the mercy of Allah with patience and perseverance.
We all have powerful women in our lives.It could be your mom, mother-in-law, friend, boss or a teacher. Get them a gift this Eid to show your love and appreciation.