Tuesday, May 28, 2013

‘A Pious Mother is Priceless’

Commodification of culture has become a rampant phenomenon in our times. It has pervaded almost all of our social institutions including family and religions.  Commercial interests are thus, increasingly driving and shaping the people’s latent cultural consciousness and traditional values and practices by promoting “combo-packages” and “special offers” on ‘festival’ occasions. Thus, it has become a ‘trend’ of our times- to commemorate/ celebrate a particular day in the year for various otherwise worthy causes and events. Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Children’s Day, Family Day, etc. are illustrative examples.  In his Friday Sermon of May 24, 2013 Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius took note of these contemporary trends in the context of the recent celebration of Mother’s Day in Mauritius and elsewhere. While rejecting such commercially-induced and market (and debt) - driven practices which trivialises our sense of who we are, the Khalifatullah (atba) underscores the importance of parents and especially the mother in the social engineering and nation-building process.  

In an age in which the rights of the elderly parents are being disrespected by their own children and the old people are increasingly staring at a bleak and un-cared future, nation after nation is forced to bring in legislations and other protective, welfare measures to ensure the human and fundamental rights of the elderly. Islam offers an august space and status to the mother and exhorts Muslim children to be grateful for their parents’ selfless sacrifices and redeem the debt they owe when they grow up and their parents need them the most. Islamic teachings and normative expectations are a signpost for Muslims in fulfilling their spiritual and moral responsibilities, points out the Khalifatullah.

Read the Extracts from the Friday Sermon:

“We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him.” (31:15)

The verse which I recited before you is long, but I have recited only the part which concerns the subject which I shall develop today, on parents, especially the mother. The fact that Allah has mentioned parents in the same verse as Himself – whereby Allah says: “Be grateful to Me and to your parents…” – shows the extent to which we should strive in our efforts to serve our parents – mother and father – who sacrificed so much for us. Doing so will help us to become better people and attract the pleasure of Allah upon us.

The importance of a mother in the life of a human being is unquestionable. Indeed, both the Quran and Hadiths have elaborated on this subject in details. Unfortunately today, the contemporary Muslims and the modern society in general have given importance to a single Mother’s Day, so much so that this has taken quite a commercial twist. For Muslims to begin to adopt a single day out of the whole year to express gratitude and show a materialistic form of affection is a selfish endeavour.

Islam has no need of things that are innovated by others, be it Mother’s Day or anything else. Its teachings on the honouring of mothers mean that it has no need for an innovated Mother’s Day. On the contrary, it encourages that children honour their parents, and be especially more tender and considerate to their mother because of the hardships she bore through: (1) pregnancy, (2) giving birth and (3) breastfeeding.

The Hadith reported by Abu Huraira and which is found in both the Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim give a clear idea of the importance of a mother. A man came and asked the Holy Prophet of Allah (pbuh), as to whom is more deserving of his fine treatment, and the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) gave him thrice the same answer to his questions, that his mother comes first, and the fourth time told him that his father comes afterwards. Therefore, we see that a mother is three times deserving of fine treatment from a believer.

Children in general should strive to honour their mother and, father also but unfortunately modern children nowadays so very willingly forget the value of their parents, especially their mother who has sacrificed a lot to give birth to them.

Motherhood is a career, and those who take it up must try and excel at it. It is the duty of every mother to look into better techniques and strategies of parenting. A wide variety of material is available, both Islamic and secular, but the sources of the information which are of utmost importance is the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

A good mother has outstanding qualities. No one can replace her in the life of her children if she is pious, considerate, selflessness and full of love for her Maker, Almighty Allah. It is these qualities which assure that she will become the best university for the construction of her child. These qualities act as cement, sand and water which assures the good construction of a mosque in her house, such a mosque which is devoted to the cause of Allah, and that mosque is none other than her child or children. She needs to find in herself these qualities in order to carve with her love, discipline and Islamic instructions the future of next generations of Muslims. Such a mother thus assures the continuation of the Islamic traditions, but if she lacks these qualities or has let herself be immersed in the westernised lifestyle and ignored her Muslim duties towards her home and children, therefore, nothing good shall be derived from her and her children shall be at a lost, losing the essence of the spiritual inheritance they were entitled to when Allah made them born in a Muslim family.

A mother’s love is unequalled, humanly speaking. Whether young or old, healthy or handicapped, obedient or troublesome, the child is still cherished by the mother. This love may be displayed in various forms. Sometimes children misinterpret scolding and rebukes to be a sign of lack of love. It is important to assure the child that he is always loved, even when his behaviour deserves that disciplinary measures be taken. Such a child becomes confident and happy, and will never seek solace elsewhere.

If a mother’s love is that pure and selfless, then let it be known that Allah’s love for His servants exceeds the love that a mother has for her children. Narrated by Umar Ibn al-Khattab (ra) that some prisoners were brought before the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) and amongst them was a woman who was frantically searching for someone in the crowd. When she found a baby amongst the prisoners, she took it in her arms, cradled it next to her chest and suckled it. So the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said: “Do you think that this woman would ever throw her child into the fire?” We said: “By Allah, Never!” So he said: “Allah is more merciful to His believing servants than that mother could ever be to her child.” (Bukhari & Muslim)

The value of Allah’s love cannot be estimated as His love encompasses His own Being. Allah is Love and He is the distributor of love. He endowed a mother with such feelings which shall act as a protective shield for her children, and thus assures that the latter are preserved from any danger.

Unfortunately, with the rise of industrialization and now technology and so-called modern and more developed world, mothers have to a large extent break the bond with their children when they opted for a freedom promoted by the insistence of the West. This is especially true when they encouraged their own women, the western women and girls and also the Muslim women to come out of their four walls to interact in society through the working environment. This has to a large extent contributed in the neglecting of the growth and moral and spiritual education of their children. A natural way of life established by Allah has been deformed through the years to accommodate the western point of view of freedom of women and giving them their rights. Therefore the perspective of the mother has somewhat changed, especially in the western-cultured countries, and nowadays even the Muslim women are falling prey to it.

Of course, there exists exception to the rules when a woman has no option but to work for a living, to rear her child or children, but what about the case of a woman, who feels “suffocated” in the house, and feels the need to go out and meet people? Islam is a precious religion and its teachings are to be preserved. There is always a wisdom why Allah has established the place of the woman as being her home, because therein she is the mistress and highly important teacher and lecturer for the future generations. She is priceless if she is pious, and feels the needs to teach her children in religion, with religious values and grooming them as true and well-behaved citizens of the country and brothers or sisters in religion (Islam). She has the task to form a human being so that he is mentally, physically, morally and spiritually prepared to face the world.

Therefore her importance is unquestioned. And a sole day to celebrate her continuous achievements is not enough and Islam thus does not encourage that such innovations as Mother’s Day tarnish the true value of a Mother or even that of a Father. Mothers and Fathers’ Day must be celebrated on a daily basis, first of all, when true believers and concerned children recognise their worth and pray for them, asking for their salvation from the Almighty. Like the Holy Quran encourages, praying in this way: “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up (when I was) small.” (17: 25)

And this consideration and love for their parents bring them to shower them with their attention, love and obedience whenever they call their children to discharge of a duty on their behalf. The children must bear in mind that they can never ever repay their parents for the selfless sacrifice they made for their overall welfare, and that the time shall come when their parents shall become old and vulnerable and in a helpless state, and that it shall be their turn to return back the good deeds (to a certain extent) to their parents. This is the cycle of life.

Man is born a baby, then an infant, then an adolescent, then marries and become a husband, then becomes a father and grows old enough (generally speaking) to return back to the state of their prime innocence (babyhood), forgetting quite easily their lifetime spent on earth. Mercy and love therefore is required from the children, that they get connected with the true essence of life and good way of living, so that tomorrow, when they in turn get old also their children shall be ready to treat them in a good way.

But all in all, the first duty of a true believer remains to Allah, then to his parents, his family and society in general. Obedience to Allah must come first, especially concerning the matters of faith. (Quran 29: 9). May Allah bless you all and enable you to comply with His teachings to the fullest. Insha-Allah, Ameen.