True to tradition, Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan had a harem, but among his four queens, Mumtaz Mahal was the one he loved most. Everyone loved her on account of her beauty and her personality; people praised her especially for her elegance, grace, humility and great compassion. Queen Mumtaz was the favourite, the one who had the greater worth in the eyes of the emperor, and the one he trusted the most. When she died, in 1631, the emperor could not be comforted. So he decided to build her a tomb, the magnificence of which would parallel the depth of his love. This mausoleum, the Taj Mahal, is still a world-famous landmark due to its beauty and size.
(Taj Mahal in Agra, India. Photo: JLB888, stocksnap.io)
The value we attribute to people is often based on their importance to us, what we are willing to do, give or sacrifice for them. Mumtaz was so important to Shah Jahan, that while she was alive, he constantly honoured her and showered her with precious gifts, and after her death, he dedicated a majestic monument to her.
However, the subjective importance of someone to us should not be the only measure of their worth or value. The literal meanings of these words imply notions of valour, courage and strength, after the fashion of the warriors of old whom people referred to as “brave men of valour”. The Hebrew word used to refer to “worthy women”, in the Bible, conveys the notions of warrior-like courage and strength.
In the eyes of God, the value of a woman therefore has to do with her courage, her ability to face and conquer adversity, her strength, and her discernment.
Moreover, the common meaning of the terms worth or value in the dictionary is associated with the virtues of a person, meaning the moral and natural qualities which make a person worthy of esteem and respect.
In the book of Proverbs, the virtues of a praiseworthy woman are described as follows: honest, dependable, caring, hard-working, creative, prosperous, and visionary (Proverbs 31.10-31).
The worth of a woman is partly measured by the love others have for her, but this cannot be the only measure, because there are many worthy women who are deprived of love and feel hurt or even oppressed. In the eyes of God also, a woman’s worth is measured foremost by the value of her inner pearls: virtues which grow in the garden of her heart. Her worth is reflected first of all in the person she aspires to become, not only for her own benefit, but for that of others around her; what determines the true worth of a woman is her thoughts, her beliefs, her knowledge, and the qualities she wants to develop.
A woman plays several roles throughout her life: she is a daughter, a sister, a friend, a niece, a spouse, a mother and a grandmother, among others. In each role, she influences the people around her differently. Since everything God does is “good”, let us be “women of worth” who play their role well, and do what is good in the eyes of God. Let us thank God for the privileges, the responsibilities and the challenges our roles bring: they match the great worth which He sees in us. Let us also celebrate the women of worth in our lives and thank God for them, for their example and their presence.