Lady Nusrat Beygum Amin 3

Her Moral Virtues

Lady Amin was not unaware of the society’s needs. She was also precise in abiding by general rules of good conduct and being considerate towards others, and this had a big influence on her students. Her students say that she was very dignified, yet humble and decent, and she had spiritual charisma.

Lady Amin established a school in Isfahan called Maktab-e Fatemiyyeh, a place where many students quenched their thirst for knowledge and became prolific authors. She taught her Rawesh-e Khoshbakhti, a work based on moral beliefs, in a simple, sweet, and pleasant way. She devoted the rest of her life to teaching, researching, writing, and managing the school. Piety and self-confidence were amongst her qualities. Her love for the glorious Qur’an was apparent as depicted in her commentary of Makhzan al-‘Irfan (15 volumes).

Concerning her discipline, management, and spiritual grandeur, one of her students says:

With regards to the life of Mrs. Amin, she managed her time efficiently. She arranged her programs in a way that she could do all of her work properly. She never dreaded any troubling event as she constantly put her trust in God. She welcomed guests unpretentiously. She attracted youths to Islam through reasoning and without compulsion. Now that I have passed the sweet days of youth, I see that I have received no affection deeper than her genuine kindness, and I did not take anyone’s hand warmer than hers, which taught me the alphabet of the Word of God [i.e. the Qur’an].

I cannot accurately describe her; my tongue is unable to describe her and no pen is able to write it completely… I encourage others to read her works to familiarize themselves with her character. She inspired us - people who were unable to do efficiently and well - and she filled our dark minds with thirst for knowledge. She flied our souls from lowest point of misery to the peak of honor. She forever remains in our memories.(1)

All of her students and those who enjoyed her company learned wisdom first and then academic issues related to Qur’anic sciences. Her manners and lifestyle was the most impressive factor in appealing to her students. Another one of her students says:

The first time I visited her, I was like a spiritually sick person. I deeply felt pain inside myself and I needed to see a qualified [spiritual] physician. Her sayings were effective treatments. That physician, gnostic, and theosophist diagnosed my illness very soon. As she herself said, the medicine prescribed by a physician is bitter, but the result - its cure - is sweet. I talked about my problems and she found out that I needed help. She had the power of insight, and through an in-depth look, she understood others’ needs.

Then, she suggested teaching Feyz Kashani’s Haqayeq to me. She said, ‘I have studied this book several times and I think this would definitely work for you.’ I accepted her suggestion and the class was started. Besides that book, she taught me The Spiritual Journey (Seyr wa Soluk), Morality (Akhlaq) and Resurrection (Ma‘ad).

She also said, ‘The understanding of resurrection originated from my own mind; I have not taken it from anywhere. I wrote what I myself have understood from it on paper.’ If one day I did not go to her, she would send her servant to ask why I had not gone to see her, and I managed to go to her in any way I could. When her servant once came to me and said, ‘The Lady has become sick and would like to see you,’ I went to her, and she said, ‘Recite the surah Fatihah [the chapter The Opening] for me!’ I answered, ‘I am not in a position to recite it for you!’ She said, ‘Recite it to make my heart bright!’ I sat beside her bed, took her hand, and began to recite it seventy times.

As I was reciting, I thought that I am not qualified to do so; after all, she taught mysticism and spirituality; she was a true monotheist. Suddenly, I glanced out the window. I took the trees to witness and implored God, ‘O God! You know that all of these trees will bear testimony that this Lady has prayed so much to You.’ Then I felt that all the trees were praising God. My body began to shiver and I told the Lady what I had seen. She sighed, put her hand on her heart and said that she felt well and calm. Then she recited the surah of Qadr from the Qur’an and got up and told me, ‘Your heart is brightened to some extent. Be careful not to darken it. Follow your heart.’

She was very humble and wished to help everyone good-heartedly, to help people in thought, knowledge, and moralities. She emphasized on acquiring higher education with the intention of having knowledge complemented with action:

[One must acquire] knowledge accompanied with action, purified action together with enlightenment. If one’s knowledge is not purified, it would make vanity and veil its possessor. For such a person, ascent is impossible and his fall is inevitable. She said: ‘Purify your soul, since the Prophets (s) were sent for this.’(2)

Her lineage reached Imam Ali (a) after 30 fathers. She made efforts to establish the status and position of the family of the Prophet (s) in her talks, so much that her love for them is manifested in her work Makhzan al-La’ali fi Manaqib Mawla al-Mawali Ali (a).(3)

Banu Amin and Imam Khomeini

Banu Amin was a supporter and believer of Imam Khomeini and the Islamic revolution of Iran. Accordingly, one of her students said:

In 1359 SC (1980 CE) when she could not leave her house, she kept up with the news of the revolution. When Imam Khomeini spoke on the interpretation of the surah of Fatihah on television, she was captivated by his speech and lessons and asked me to bring his books for her to study them, which I later did. The next day, after she had read the books, she told me, ‘The Imam’s knowledge of God is at a high level.

If anyone wants to - God forbid - smear his reputation or insult him, tell that person on my behalf that a calamity awaits him. Beware! Do not ever – God forbid – insult him, since it is due to his great knowledge that he can do extraordinary things.’ A goldsmith knows the value of gold, and a lapidist knows the value of gems.(4)

Likewise, Imam Khomeini respected Banu Amin, as he would ask about her at times. One of the seminarians in Isfahan says accordingly, “Now and then I went to visit the Imam and he asked about Lady Amin’s health and work, and when I went to the Lady Banu’s house, she would send her regards to him, and would pray for his health and success in achieving Islamic aims.”(5)

Lady Amin’s Works

Her works reflect her refined soul. According to a quote from one of her relatives, “She did not have any slip of the pen when she took pen to write” and this signifies unseen divine assistances to her. She wanted to remain unknown and signed her books with the pen name of “Iranian Lady” or “Isfahani Lady.” Her published works are as follows:

1. Arba‘in al-Hashimiyyah

Her first valuable work in Arabic(6) includes forty hadiths in monotheism, Divine attributes, ethics, and religious rulings with philosophical, mystical, and jurisprudential themes. The book’s accuracy motivated the scholars of Najaf and religious authorities to assess the Lady in the areas of fiqh, usul,(7) and other disciplines [mentioned in her book]. She passed all exams successfully and gained her the degree of ijtihad.(8)

2. Jami’ al-Shitat

This book, compiled by Sheikh Murtada Mazahir, consists of Lady Amin’s detailed answers to questions asked by scholars such as Muhammad Ali Qadi Tabataba’i, Sheikh Muhammad Taha Hindawi Najafi Zadeh and Sayyid Hasan Husayni.(9)

3. Ma‘ad ya Akharin Seyr-e Bashar

This book, consisting of nine articles, pertains to the spiritual aspect that people inevitably encounter in the course of perfection to move towards the Hereafter and Resurrection.(10)

4. Nafahat al-Rahmanryyah fi al-Waridat al-Qalbiyyah

This book is about the mystical experiences of the author had in her journey towards Allah. In the Nafha (impression) no. 21 of this book, she states:

On the ninth night of the month of Muharram 1359 SC (1980 CE), I was sitting and thinking to myself as to whether I love the world or not? How much do I love the world? And I was preaching to myself. Suddenly, an unseen voice told me, ‘You love the world not because of the world, but because the world is a manifestation of the beauty and glory of God, the Exalted, and every corner of the world you look, you find your Beloved.’ When I heard this, I found that my love for the world is not for the sake of it, but it is because the world is the place of emanation of the beauty and glory of God.

Thus, I prayed God to bestow me a life long enough to see His beauty and glory, to hear His attributes from scholars, to speak of His beauty and glory for people, to write about His beauty and glory, to serve Him, and to wholeheartedly work to bring awareness to the people. In Nafha, she stated, “Then, God granted me forty years to write a commentary on the Qur’an to guide people.”(11)

Nafahat is her only book in Arabic among her books that have not been translated to Farsi. The reason for this is mentioned by one of her students:

She hesitated to give the book to anyone when she was alive, because it was about her own mystical experiences. I can remember that a woman had written a letter and asked for the book Nafahat (Impressions). She said, ‘I fear to hand this book to everyone because they may falsely label me.’ But eventually, she sent the book to that woman. After two months, a letter came from that woman which made her very sad. She told me, ‘Do you see what happened? I am labeled a Sufi. That is why I did not want to give the book to everyone.’ That is why the book is not translated yet.

5. Akhlaq (Morality)

This book is a commentary on Ibn Miskiwayh’s Taharah al-Akhlaq, a part of which has been translated and Lady Amin’s comment about that part has been added to it as marginal notes. The book is both scholarly and practical.(12)

6. Tafsir Makhzan al-‘Irfan

This book is a comprehensive commentary of the Qur’an published in 15 volumes in Farsi. After writing a commentary on the first two sections of the Qur’an, Lady Amin continued writing a commentary until the last section (the 30th juz’) as she feared having a short life, and she finished that commentary near the end of her life. This way, this noble mujtahidah became the only female exegete of the Islamic world who has written a complete commentary on the Qur’an from the beginning until the end.(13)

7. Ravesh Khoshbakhti va Towsiyeh beh Khaharan-e Imani

In this book, the meaning of happiness and prosperity and the way to achieve it has been clarified using beneficial advice to sisters in faith. In doing so, she first explains the two elements of happiness, i.e. “comfort and health” and “mental health, free-mindedness, and peace of the soul” which are achieved by observing the two essential principles of “true beliefs and faith in the origin and the Hereafter” and “good moral conduct.” In this way, she explained the principles of religion. She ends the book with a discussion on entreating the Imams (a), fighting with superstitions and obsession, some advice to the sisters, privileges, characteristics and dignity of women, moral refinement, and principles of good conduct.(14)

8. Makhzan al-La’ali fi Manaqib Mawla al-Mawali Ali (a)

This book studies the virtues of Imam Ali (a).(15)

9. Seyr wa Suluk dar Rawish Awliya’ wa Tariq Seyr Su‘ada

This book discusses intuition, illumination and journey towards Allah. About finitude and perpetuity, Lady Amin mentions in a part of this book:

…unless you die from your self, you would not become eternal to Him; and unless you lose what you have, you would not enter the realm of divine; and unless you begin a very long journey with hope, you would not settle down in the dwelling of safety and calmness; unless you take the trouble of ascesis and worship, you would not achieve peace; unless you taste the bitterness of separation, you would not taste the sweetness of reunion; unless you extinguish the fire of your anger, you would not receive divine mercy; unless you be patient on hardships, you would not be pleased with the sweetness of eternal blessings; unless you abandon unreal natural pleasures, you would not become the beloved of God; you would become king of the kings if you wear the necklace of servitude; If you practice ascesis and depart towards God, you would reside in the closeness of God… .(16)

The same theme is found in most of Lady Amin’s works, which mostly include advice on educational instructions and methods of self-purification, described in Seyr wa Suluk, regarding intuition and journey towards God. She explains the stages of the spiritual journey as follows:

The one who journeys towards God and is thirsty to reach closeness to Him must first fully struggle with the self by preventing it from pleasure-seeking, and fueling one’s carnal desires. He or she must also be contented with what is necessary in this world and wear the necklace of obedience and servitude to God. (17)

In reply to the question, “What is the best jihad for women today?” Lady Amin answered: Currently, the most important action of a woman is that they fight with their worldly temptations and pleasure- seeking soul regarding jewelry, clothes, and new fashions. Although this may seem difficult at the beginning, with practice, they soon will achieve spiritual excellence. In other words, the best jihad for them is to modestly cover themselves. (18)

In a message to young women, she said, “Among the most significant attributes of women is modesty; so much so that the scholars of ethics have said: ‘The greatest dignity of women before the wise of the society is in their modesty.’

Conclusion

In a generation infiltrated with mainstream figures that lure today’s adolescents and young adults to disregard true exemplars, Sayyida Nusrat Beygum Amin is a model of a woman in the modern era with remarkable accomplishments. As an exceptional jurisprudent and theologian in the 20th century, she was given permission of ijtihad by scholars and in turn granted permission of ijtihad to imminent distinguished male and female scholars.

With her avid love for God as an incentive to study in a variety of disciplines to reach higher levels of spirituality and moral fineness, she was a prolific author in the fields of literature, Islamic law, Qur’anic interpretation, and ethics, and she demonstrated her sociopolitical activism in the movement against Reza Khan’s false propaganda. Upon glancing at her lifetime of devoted service to Islam, she is indeed a role model people can apply to their modern lives.

The Author: Tayyebeh Cheraghi (19)
Translated by:Sayyedeh Zahra Mirfendereski

NOTES:

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1. Women’s Office for Cultural Studies, Ibid, (speech of Ms. Ghazi), p. 158.

2. Ibid. pp. 162 – 163.

3. Muhammad Husayn Riyahi, Nazari bar Shakhsiyyat va Zendegi Banu Amin, Saheb Tafsir Makhzan al-Irfan, Ettela’at Daily, No. 20019, p. 7.

4. Majmu‘ih Maqalat Farhangi Banovan, ibid., (Dr. Ghazf’s Speech), p. 164.

5. Sayyid Mustafa Hadavi, ibid., p. 47, quoted from Hujjat al-Islam wa al-Muslimin Sayyid Kamal Faqih Imani.

6. Translated to Persian by Ms. Homayuni, her student.

7. Principles of fiqh.

8. Capability of making a religious judgment.

9. Ibid., Nasir Baqeri Bidhendi, p. 40.

10. Ibid., The Deputy of Research of The Center for Management of Seminaries for Sisters, pp. 38 – 57.

11. Office for Cultural Studies of Women, Ibid., p. 159.

12. The Deputy of Research of The Center for Management of Seminaries for Sisters, p. 58.

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid.

16. Ibid. p.59.

17. Office for Cultural Studies of Women, Ibid., Ms. Zahra Shoja‘i quoted from Seyr wa Suluk dar Rawish Awliya’ wa Tariq Seyr Su‘ada, p. 146.

18. i.e. their hair and the curves of their bodies.

19. A researcher graduate of Jami‘ah al-Zahra Seminary.