Greetings, peace, shalom, salaam, my wanderers of the web. As I begin to write this week’s blog, I’d like to claim caffeine as the biggest evil in the world, at least out of the category of legalized substances produced for mass-distribution. It should be subject to the most stringent type of drug licensing requirements any overtly bureaucratic Western organisation can set. Why, you ask?
Having drastically limited my caffeine consumption over the past few days, primarily due to a lack of sleep deprivation and so on (which was the primary reason for over-consumption in previous weeks), I am officially getting dragged through migraine hell. The pain has reached a stage where I (reasonably) suspect someone to have laced my jar of Nescafe with heroin, and am now going through the withdrawal symptoms. It’s either that, or an invincible Woody the Woodpecker has been accompanying me for the past few days, pecking into my cranium with his pointy beak, excavating for some actual brain. I need to visit a clinic for this, as soon as, or at least talk to Frank. They should give out pamphlets warning us about coffee. Forget Class A substances, that stuff is for the weak and unadventurous. They need to join me on the dark side.
Anyhoo. Typically irrelevant introduction out of the way, something I wanted to consider, albeit belatedly, is an event which came and went, but left un-discussed. Mother’s day. Especially relevant for Muslims, I guess. Primarily because it has implications on our lives beyond those capsulized into a single day. Not to beat a dead horse, as my habit of scrutinizing Hallmark Holidays might suggest, but this is a rather crucial topic.
Over the years, you read, hear, and watch videos of various Shuyookh, Muftis and Ustads. From the point at which you initially begin to practice your faith, to the stage where it becomes the focal point of your life; as it should. The fascinating thing about the knowledge and wisdom I’ve absorbed during this time, partially revolves around the consistency of a particular message. Various Shuyookh and speakers have different styles and also different areas of focus, understandably so. Some focus on the social degradation of our communities, some on spiritual emancipation, and others on the importance of Dawah. Nevertheless, one specific message echoed consistently in every hall and mosque they decorated with words of insight and wisdom. Every time. Without fail. Unanimous importance accredited. And this was nothing other than the importance of our mothers. Every single one of them drove this message home, often to the point of exhaustion.
Yet it remains compelling, that the vast majority of Muslims and Muslimahs, practicing and non-practicing, fail to accredit this message with the importance it deserves. In all our attempts to struggle for the sake of Allah, we remain wholly incapable of fulfilling this fundamental tenant of Islam.
We have sisters fighting for the sake of women’s rights, and brothers seeking to emancipate the Ummah (me included, I am guilty before all else). Yet the only person which Allah swt has granted more rights over us than any other, stumbles around at home, catching a whiff of our shadow, here and there, in all its preoccupation. It’s fascinating to imagine the extent to which we have fooled ourselves. We really have. We strive, sacrifice, and claim, to be in pursuit of paradise. Carry out actions, dawah and social activism soaked in flamboyance, yet completely ignore that our efforts are owned, by right, in a hierarchical structure. And at the tip of that structure, sits your mother. This is a fact of Islam. Black and white. Shia or Sunni, Salafi or Sufi, completely consistent throughout.
Yet most of us ignore this hierarchy. We struggle for the world before we struggle for ourselves. We want to save the Ummah. We want to save Palestine. We want to save Syria. And we definitely should do. But please, all of you reading this, remember the following if you want to remember anything at all; worship your Lord the way He wants to be worshipped. Do not branch-off and create a mosaic structure of practise which fits your comforts. Allah swt has put the rights of your mother before that of the Ummah. Live by these priorities. Live by these realities. We will be held accountable. You don’t pray Tahajjud before getting the five fard prayers out of the way first. Similarly, you don’t attend rallies and spend hours raising awareness for the Ummah, if your mother sits in disdain or discomfort, or unsatisfied. Even slightly.
The point isn’t to disregard the plea of our Ummah, or the importance of intellectual strife; by all means, it is vital, but just to substantiate the critical (yet ignored) priorities which are in place. With the weight of responsibility upon our shoulders, can we even begin to comprehend the expectations Allah swt has decreed? That the ultimate reason a Muslim lives, to attain paradise, lies beneath the lowest and ruddiest part of your mother’s anatomy? Have we truly comprehended that message?
A point specifically for sisters; a man who does not look for Jannah below his mother’s feet, will rarely seek sincere love in his wife’s heart. Choose wisely. Most men who cannot unconditionally love, and devote their efforts to the happiness of an individual who bore them physically and emotionally for decades, will scarcely ever pertain to achieve similar for a woman they are casually introduced to at a marriage-friendly age.
Hazrat Umar (RA) was famously asked by a man who carried (yes, physically carried) his mother during Hajj, whether he bore sufficient recompense for all her sacrifice. Naturally, Hazrat Umar (RA) replied, ‘you haven’t repaid her a single contraction’. SubhanAllah. Not even one contraction. For all of you who have done Hajj, I am sure the mere task of carrying yourself in the now air-conditioned halls and streets of Mecca, was physically strenuous enough. But 600 (DC) Arabia, in the scorching heat, to carry another person on your back; unimaginable. Yet that profound effort didn’t equal a single contraction. Not a single one.
The perplexing issue here is, have we ever come close to carrying our mothers on our back?
I, personally, do not find these stories to be in a category of lessons we can much longer comprehend. It might be the reason why a lot of us seek inspiration and spiritual consumption from sources other than the Quran and Hadith. We struggle to contextualize the related facts and expectations. How do we conceive that the Nabbi (saw) declared our mothers to possess rights (over children) three times greater than those of our fathers? Simple fact, but again, profound implications.
Facts like the above truly mythicize Western notions regarding a lack of rights appropriated to Muslim women. Undeniably, female-rights are almost absent in most Muslim countries. Although the extent to which this is caused by tribal laws, feudal judicial systems and a complete lack of economic and educational development – is grossly downplayed. Inexplicably, one might be tempted to opinion that the current reincarnation of distasteful coverage appropriated to the role of women in Islam, might be fueled by underlying inhibitions of the truth. That being; the status of women in Islam is propelled to a level which societal fallacies won’t be able to reach. Thus the current narrative might be more ardently related to societal dispelling of an ideology which might be “too out of sight and reach”. Why promise her the stars, when you can hand her the flowers scattered around your feet, right?
A further assessment of the rights of Muslim women in financial inheritance, and even more so in matrimony, accentuate this reality further. Although that’s another blog post all-together.
Most of you probably needed scant reminding of the above, although I hope the post served some positive purpose. There is an underlying sense of comfort which might be threatened if we assess the implications of our priorities. How are we seeking to pleasure Allah (swt), and what priorities are we constructing in doing so? Are we worshiping Allah (swt) in the manner which He has ordained, or in a way which we find convenient? Or dare I say, fashionable? These issues are ‘closer to home’ than we think.
I am certain if we knew the importance of every smile on our mothers face, we would lay claim to a million tears in its invocation. May we never regret the extent to which we struggled for our parents, insha’Allah. They are the yellow brick road all the way to Jannah. Let’s not complicate matters and lose track of this fact.
I would like to close the post with a quote, but not one from a soothsayer or philosopher. Rather, this is a quote from someone I know, who lost his mother whilst in his twenties. Upon hearing it, I was significantly shaken, and had no option but to sit and reflect. Needless to say, it is a remark I will never forget. As we talked about the untimely death of his mother, and him dealing with it whilst having an amazing career, being on the path of Allah, and having gained significant respect from his peers and elders, a brief pause ensued, after which he said the following;
‘You know…,I would give up the world just to see her smile at me one last time.’