By Samuel Gonzalez
“Paradise lies beneath the feet of mothers,” said the Honorable Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Mothers are held in the highest esteem in the religion of Islam. In Islam, the responsibilities of the family unit are compartmentalized into the responsibilities of the husband and responsibilities of the wife. One of the responsibilities of both parents, but more so for the mother, is to raise the next generation of faithful Muslims – and if there is no guide for them, how will they learn the best path that Allah has for them?
A Mother’s Guiding Wisdom
We commanded man to be good in respect of his parents [The Noble Qur’an 31:14]
The human spirit was designed to improve and progress, to ascend and purify itself by adding excellence upon excellence. Uncomfortable conversations and being corrected by those wiser than us may not leave us feeling good and bubbly, but they are just what we need if we are to perfect ourselves along this straight path.
The Qur’an was not revealed to the Honorable Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in order to entertain us, but rather, to enrich us. And if our religion is not challenging us constantly, then we are robbing ourselves. Oftentimes in the home, it is the mother who reprimands and corrects; oftentimes it is the mother who challenges and punishes.
There is great wisdom in the words of mothers, especially those who are God-fearing women. Allah infused mothers with a level of intuition that does not come naturally to the husband. Allah exalted mothers in our beautiful religion of Islam in order to guide and educate, to provide and nourish, to provide care and to instill us with the corrections that we need- have we been heeding their words?
The Meaning of ‘Mother’ in Arabic
Be grateful to Me, and to your parents, for to Me is the ultimate return. [The Noble Qur’an 31:14]
Allah has provided humanity with many signs scattered throughout His Creation. It is no coincidence that in Arabic, the word for mother, umm, is oftentimes used to refer to the source or essence of a particular thing. It could also be used to mean its abstract, unchangeable origin.
For instance, in the Noble Qur’an, the umm al-kitab (Mother of the Book) refers to the preexistent, heavenly pattern of the Qur’an itself. For the Arabs, the brain is referred to as the Mother of the Head and the Holy City of Mecca is referred to as the Mother of the Cities.
Imam Bukhari reported in the “Book of Qur’an Commentary” that the moniker of Surah al-Fatiha is Umm al-Kitab, as it is the Opening of the Qur’an. The mother is the one who first exposes the unborn child to the world. She is the child’s ‘opening’ similar to how al-Fatiha contains all the subsequent knowledge that will be developed in the rest of the Qur’an.
The Mother of the Prophet (pbut)
Amina bint Wahb, mother of the Honorable Prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon both of them) sent the Prophet to live with a milk-mother in the desert. As per Arab tradition, young sons and daughters would be released into the wilderness in order to cultivate eloquence, vigor, durability, honor, and discipline.
He was nursed by Halimah bint Abi Dhuayb, a poor Bedouin woman from the tribe of Banu Sa’ad, a branch of the Hawāzin. These mothers, and very many others, contributed greatly to the rise and development of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh).
Dua for Mothers
Out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say, ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.’ [The Noble Qur’an 17:24]
Enduring pregnancy is a tremendous act of love as the mother sacrifices immensely to provide the best care for the infant in her womb. Those who comprehend the anguish of childbirth usually develop more compassion towards their mothers and wives. Couples who are conscious of this condition of impending parenthood will begin to prepare for their child before the mother even begins showing signs of pregnancy. The love a mother has for her child predates the consciousness of each and every one of us.
The fate of the human race depends on the love and wisdom and mercy of the mother. The mother is the moral and natural support of man in all his labors. Thus, our Beloved Prophet (pbuh) communicated to us this divine injunction to pray for the mothers of this earth.
Statistically, it is a fact that the growth rate of those children who live under the care of their family is greater than those who stay in a boarding school among children of their own age-group. The child learns and imitates what is practiced at home, more so than from their peers. Although the child builds upon the foundation of his own physical, mental and emotional characteristics within the framework of his environmental conditions, it is the home-life that will provide the essential foundation to the intellectual and spiritual wellbeing for the child.
According to the book Undiscovered Man (2006), mothers who do not provide their children with a solid spiritual framework from a young age deal a great and humiliating blow on the body of the society, and furthermore they fail to effect meaningful change in the life of the youth. A child who has not learnt the lesson of affection from his mother, the youth whose emotions are not boosted in her lap, cannot be expected to show affection in subsequent years.
No Greater Act of Jihad
“O Messenger of Allah! I want to go out and fight (in Jihad) and I have come to ask your advice,” asked a young man. The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Do you have a mother?” The young man said: “Yes.” The Prophet (PBUH) said: “Then stay with her, for Paradise is beneath her feet.” [Sunan al-Nasā’ī 3104]
The meaning of jihad in Arabic can literally be translated as struggle or effort. In the Noble Qur’an, the longer Arabic phrase al-jihad fi sabil Allah signifies striving or exerting oneself in the path of God is more frequently used. The fuller undertones and nuances of the word provide interpreters with many semantic and exegetical possibilities. For instance, the giving of zakat, the liberation of slaves, and both quietist and activist stratagems are valid responses to injustices.
In other words, it is a word that refers to both the silent struggles against the wiles of Shaytan, acts of justice done to combat a prevalent wickedness, and actual battles waged in the name and cause of Allah. It is a key concept to be understood in Islam and is of utmost importance for Muslims if they are to pour into their families, communities, and own selves.
During the time of the Honorable Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), various battles were fought by the first Muslim community. If there was a question of jihad, it was prescribed that those who are able to fight the infidels must take part in the battle. But if a young man possesses all the qualifications for participation, except that his mother does not allow him to go, the mother’s prohibition was enough to excuse the young man from his social duty to fight.
Islam teaches us to first love and serve Allah, then your mother, then your mother, then your mother, and lastly your father [Riyad as-Salihin 316].
The Qur’an teaches us that by studying Allah and the sunnah of the Prophet (pbuh), we learn more about the mother and her role in the creation of the next generation. The love of a mother is unconditional, unprecedented, and undeserved – serving our mothers is among the most excellent of good deeds. A religion that does not value the mother is an incomplete religion.
What do you think? Share your reflections below!
Nuzacci, Antonella. “The Right of Children to Use Cultural Heritage as a Cultural Right.” Department of Human Studies, University of L’Aquila, L’Aquila, Italy.
The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, “Amina bint Wahb.”
Imam Rashad Abdul-Rahmaan. “Respect for Family Life.” Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam. 12/17/2021.
Riyad as-Salihin Book 40, Hadith 316.
Sunan an-Nasa’i Book 20, Hadith 25, No. 3104