Monday, 28 April 2008

Journey to motherhood....

All praise to Allah Subhana Wa Tawala, recently I have been blessed with the wonderful opportunity of being a mother .While I was pregnant with my baby boy, I tried to study the Islamic aspect of motherhood and to my sheer amazement were engulfed with lots of beautiful sayings about the importance and blessings of being a mother. Unfortunately in these day and age, people tend to look down on this noble profession due to ignorance.

Here I would like to share with you some of the wonderful things I have learned from the study insha-Allah.

Believe it or not, we are living in a society where having a good secular education and a good career is seen as the symbol of so-called success. In last couple of decades we have been witnessing a huge change in how people see their hopes and aspirations. The pace of life has become really fast, in fact super-fast. Hardy anybody seems to have time to ponder upon the changes and perhaps most importantly the effect it has brought in our life. We are living in a consumer-driven society where what we can afford is more important then what we really need to be happy and satisfied with our life. Logos and brands are seen as very vital possession to acquire. In order to afford all the glitz and glamour, we all are busy in gaining as much money as possible. Thus, due to this material obsession we tend to forget our real goal in life which is to follow and obey the commands of our Creator.

In the holy Qur'an Allah SWT has told us the reason of our creation. We are solely created to worship Him. Only through worshiping Him we can get satisfaction and real success in this life and in the hereafter. Though most of us are busy with gaining wealth and showing it off we tend to be suffering more with lack of happiness than ever before. It used to be assumed that the rich are the happiest but close observation of their life shows the sheer sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction they experience with their life. It proves the ultimate truth of the existence of a Creator without whose help we will never be able to be truly happy. We do not know what exactly can make us happy but He knows as He has created us.

Our Creator has allocated every single one of us with certain roles and with roles come responsibilities. I don’t care how ‘backdated’ I may sound saying this but I firmly believe that men should be the bread winner and women should handle the household activities. As far as I understand, there is no problem in Islam regarding career women but there must be a balance. Women who work but neglect their vital duty as daughters, wives, mothers and sisters cannot be excused of their guilt. However, if the situation they are in necessitates that then that’s a different issue. The vast resources of our faith provides us with plenty of example of great women who not only excelled as wives and mothers but had a tremendous career as scholars, teachers, businesswomen and the list goes on masha-Allah.

Now let us delve in Islamic perspectives on motherhood ….

If we ponder upon the Quran and the Sunnah of the our beloved prophet (SAW) , we can find lots of examples of great women whose lives first and foremost evolve around the role as mother. Allah mentions couple of female role models for Muslims in the Qur’an: Maryam (A) – mother of Isa (Jesus) AS, Aasiya- Pharaoh's wife, wife of Imran better known as mother of Maryam (AS) and so on. In terms of Pharaoh's’s wife it can be argued that she was the foster mother of Musa AS (Moses). These noble women have sacrificed a lot to bring up such great offspring. They are regarded as the best women and are seen as perfect role model for us. One of the main reasons of their high status in Islam was their total devotion to Allah SWT which necessitates fulfilling the responsibilities set by the Creator. Here societal demands couldn’t stop them from performing their duty towards Allah SWT. They did not compromise their strong relation with Allah SWT just to please the people around them, which is just the opposite of what we tend to do now a days unfortunately.

The life and sayings (Sunnah) of our prophet Muhammad SAW also provides us with great examples of women who rarely failed in their duty as mothers. His wife Khadija RAW and his daughter Fatima RAW are two of the greatest women in Islam. However, as Islam is a lifestyle with wonderful balance that’s why we also have the great example of Ayesha RAW who was not a biological mother to anyone but she is regarded as one of the most prominent mothers of the believer (Ummul Muminin) as she was a great scholar who shared her tremendous knowledge with her community. Being a teacher is also a very important aspect in a mother’s life. In Islam mothers and fathers are the main teachers for their children. The Muslim women should never forget that the mother’s responsibility in bringing up the children and forming their characters is greater than that of the father, because children tend to be closer to their mother and spend more time with her. She is more likely to be aware about their behavioural, emotional and intellectual development during their childhood and the difficult time of teenage years.

There are some verses I came across in the Qur’an which I would like to mention here as it gives me sheer joy and satisfaction as a mother.

“And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship. And she brings him fort with hardship and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him is thirty months, till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years, he says: “My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and that I may do righteous good deeds such as please You, and make my offspring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance and truly I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will).” Al-Ahqaf 46: 15

"The mothers shall give suck to their children for two whole years, that’s for those parents who desire to complete the term of sucking, but the father of the child shall bear the cost of the mother’s food and clothing on a reasonable basis. No person shall have a burden laid on him greater than he can bear. No mother shall be treated unfairly on account of her child, nor father on account of his child.” Al-Baqarah 2:233

Thus we can see the Qur’an elevates kindness to parents and especially mothers to a status second only to the worship of Allah: “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him and to parents good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age while with you, say not to them so much as “uff” [an expression of disapproval or irritation] and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say: “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up when I was small.” 17:23-24 See also 31:14 and 29:8

Now if we shade some light on the Sunnah we can see lots of wonderful sayings on motherhood. A man came to Allah's Apostle and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man said. "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man further said, "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man asked for the fourth time, "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your father”. It reminds me of one of my very close friend who told me that this hadith makes her feel like mothers are given all the medals – gold, silver and bronze and fathers are left with the consolation prize! Moreover, Islam teaches us that "Heaven is at the feet of mothers."

Its been narrated Al-Mughira: The Prophet said, "Allah has forbidden us ( 1 ) to be disrespectful to our mothers (2) to withhold (what we should give) or (3) demand (what we do not deserve), and (4) to bury our daughters alive. The Sunnah teaches us the best women are the one who are virtuous; they are the most affectionate to children, and the most careful of their husband's property. Subhanallah the list goes on. I don’t want to bore you with too much information! That’s why I would like to stop here.

While going through the difficulties of pregnancy the wisdom of the Qur’an and our dear prophet’s sayings made me feel content with my situation alhamdulillah. I would advise all the sisters to study the religious texts to know more about this great profession while they are pregnant or if possible even before that as it will definitely make you feel prepared ( a bit actually as there is no end to knowledge!) for the big day Insha-Allah ! The day when I was finally able to hold my tiny bundle of joy I was feeling ecstatic but at the same time I was feeling overwhelmed with such a huge responsibility. There are so many things to learn and learning takes time. That’s why it’s best to prepare ourselves as proper Muslim mother from the very beginning Insha-Allah. We must remember that we will be questioned by Allah SWT on the day of judgement about this mammoth task as a mother- whether we have full filled our duty and helped them to be good practising Muslim or we neglected our task and as a result our children ended up as ungrateful servants of Allah SWT! Will we be able to come up with any valid excuse on that day?