From forging a sense of community to providing an iman boost, the benefits of attending a weekly halaqah are many. Fahmeeda Gill shares seven good reasons to get you out of your house on the path of knowledge.
When was the last time you attended an Islamic talk or listened to a khutbah? In many areas, mosques are not even accessible to women, while children and childcare may make some courses out of your reach. Learning is still an obligation on every Muslim, and your weekly sisters' halaqa may be your solution and inspiration.
The Arabic word 'halaqah' means a ring and it is used to refer to a circle of Islamic knowledge. Historically, the transmission of knowledge usually took place in the masjids, a practice that can be traced back to the Prophet (S). This tradition was preserved by the Companions (RA) and their successors and scholars throughout the history of Islam up until the present day.
Many ahadith extol the virtues of halaqahs as well as the etiquettes that should be observed. Moreover, this has been one of the main ways in which women learned about Islam from the outset. As a hadith tells us: "A woman came to the Messenger of Allah (S) and said: 'O Messenger of Allah, the men have taken all your time; give us a day when we can come to you and you can teach us what Allah has taught you.' He said, 'Gather together on such and such a day in such and such a place.' So they gathered and the Messenger of Allah (S) came to them and taught them what Allah had taught him" (Bukhari and Muslim).
If that is not enough, here are 7 more reasons to inspire you:
1 Seeking knowledge is a duty upon every Muslim: How much time do you set aside for learning the deen? For most of us, life is a blur of work and/or studies, family, housework, salah, some Qur'an and the odd talk. There are ample opportunities to learn about Islam via the internet or Islamic books. However, these methods are not an adequate substitute for attending a halaqah. Alone, you are more vulnerable to the ploys of shaytan, not least of which is procrastination in the face of other "more pressing" priorities. In addition, when leaving your home to learn, you are rewarded for every step you take in the pursuit of knowledge.
2 Benefitting from the blessings of the circles of knowledge: "Whenever some people gather in one of Allah's houses(mosques) to recite the book of Allah and study it among themselves – then calmness (tranquillity) descends upon them, the angels surround them, mercy covers them, and Allah mentions them to those who are with him" (Muslim). Subhanallah, how many of us are striving to benefit from this hadith?
3 Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil: The Prophet (S) said, "By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allah will certainly soon send His punishment onto you. Then you will make supplication and it will not be accepted" (At-Tirmidhi). This duty is incumbent upon all of us especially given the trials we are witnessing at present. Most of us may revile what we see in our hearts, but feel ill-equipped to challenge and make a change. Attending a halaqah will give you both the knowledge and confidence to make a difference - and to do so with wisdom.
4 Forging a sense of sisterhood: A hadith tells us that on the day of Judgement, seven groups of people will be under the shade of the throne of Allah. Among them will be "two (people) who love each other for the sake of Allah, meeting and parting for that reason alone..." (Bukhari). Halaqas are a wonderful way to get to know and to love your sisters in Islam.
5 Akhlaq and Self-Discipline: Instead of fitting your life around deen, you will learn to organise your life around your commitment to the deen in general and learning in particular. This can enable you to develop a positive competitive spirit towards learning. Group activities encourage you to learn and observe the etiquettes of gatherings, to interact with different personalities and to encourage only positive speech.
6 Iman Rush: As you establish the commitment to attending and take your learning seriously, taking notes etc. you will immediately feel your iman is boosted. Just being in the company of other righteous sisters can inspire and humble you and make you grateful for the favours of Allah (SWT).
7 Most beloved deeds by Allah: "The Prophet (S) told us that these are the most regular constant deeds even though they are few (Bukhari). It is hard to sustain our efforts to learn consistently and we tend to have periods of activity and long periods of inactivity unless we are incredibly self-disciplined. Even if we multi-task, listen to talks or Qur'an as we cook, we still hit blips or have interruptions. A weekly halaqah offers a regular space for you to learn at a steady pace and this knowledge can be reinforced by immediately sharing what you learn with your family.
What are you waiting for? I am praying to Allah (SWT) that you will now be motivated to get to your local halaqah or, if you are homebound, to find an online halaqah.
This article was first published in SISTERS, the magazine for fabulous Muslim women. Visit the SISTERS website at www.sisters-magazine.com to read more articles - and download a complimentary issue!