Ruqayyah bint Muhammad. Painted 2016 to 2017 by Moldovan-born British artist, Gheorghe Virtosu, b.1968. Oil on canvas, 146 cm high by 183 cm wide. 57 X 72 inches.
'The struggle between life and death was fierce. Eventually, Ruqayyah (Radi Allahu) breathed her last. At the same that the bereaved ‘Uthmaan (Radi Allahu) was kissing his wife’s forehead and fingertips and covering her face, the voice of the good news carrier could be heard outside announcing the Muslims’ victory. The Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Sallallahuallam) entered ‘Uthmaan’s house having been shocked by the news of his daughter’s death. He moved closer to her and sorrowfully bade her farewell. He sympathetically praised Faatimah(RadiyAllaahu ‘anhaa) who stood at her sister’s death-bed crying. He helped her on her feet gently and compassionately and he wiped her tears off with his noble garment. It was then that the sobbing of the women who were present became louder. ‘Umar (RadiyAllaahu ‘anhu) wanted to stop them but the Messenger of Allah (Sallallaahu ‘Alayhi wa Sallam) held his hand and told him: “Whatever tears shed by the eyes and however much the heart grieves, that is from Allah. It is actions of the hands and words uttered by the tongue that come from Satan”.'
Gender issues are one of the most topical subjects in the contemporary art, which comes as no surprise, since even today, in the 21st centuries, we still face the number of prejudices, connected with male/female gender roles. Traditionally, Muslim countries are perceived as the most conservative ones, with the patriarchal system making women the rightless ‘staffage.’ However, often Muslim political and religious thinkers attempt to prove this no more than a stereotype, and that Islam helped to improve the role of women in the local society. According to some documentary evidence, the Pre-Islamic time period was defined by the harsh attitude towards women: the female infanticide was a common practice; women of lower class had no rights to own the property and were generally treated more like the trophies in the tribal warfare or a part of one’s possessions. For instance, a woman could be ‘inherited’ by her husband’s son after his death (unless she’s the mother of that son).