Time for Parenting...
...because raising children is a full-time job
October 2004 NewsletterA time to every purpose; The value of motherhood in Islam; Christianity and Motherhood; A free family; The vocation of motherhood; The daycare debate continues; What the papers say
The Value of Motherhood in Islam
A man once came to the Prophet Muhammad and asked him "Oh Messenger of God, who amongst the people is the most deserving of my good company?" The Prophet replied "Your mother." The man then asked who came next and the Prophet said again "Your mother." The man yet again asked who came after, and the Prophet yet again replied, "Your mother." The man asked "Then who else?" Then the Prophet said "Your father."
In this way the Prophet made clear to the Muslims that the position of the mother and the honour and esteem in which she is held is paramount and that she is the most deserving of our good treatment and companionship.
In the Qur'an too we see that after devotion to God, parents are the most deserving of our good behaviour and the role of the mother is specifically recognised and praised. When parents reach old age, they are included in the family and should not be neglected and lonely, just as they looked after us when we were helpless children. In this way the cycle of mutual care between parents and children is sustained.
I myself have felt valued and admired as an ftm in the Muslim community, indeed it's something Muslims respect greatly in a woman, but being born and brought up in the UK, I often felt that full-time-motherhood was not only undervalued but barely mentioned as a dignified and desirable option in the Girls' School I went to. I think the reason that people look at motherhood in such different ways boils down to how they view the roles of men and women in general.
In Islam, women and men are equal in the sight of God, but they are different and consequently have different roles to play both roles are as important as each other and they complement each other. This is the only way a harmonious society can exist: when men are men and women are women; when we embrace our femininity and our nature and stop fighting against it, yearning to be something we are not.
Muslim women have the right to be fully supported because the responsibility for maintenance is fully on the shoulders of the men. In fact when a Muslim woman gets married, she is given a marriage gift as part of her nuptial contract and is given all the required provisions for her welfare and protection. Any wealth she owns or earns personally is her own and is entirely at her disposal and she doesn't have to contribute to the family funds unless she wants to. When my own husband was made redundant a couple of years ago, I was not expected to go out to work and even when funds were low, we budgeted and were patient with the situation until things got better. In fact if things had gotten really bad, other men from our relatives would have helped out. Being an ftm takes precedence and is seen as essential by both of us, as well as our families.
If a mother wants to work or pursue any useful occupations, she may, after mutual consultation between husband and wife. (I myself am studying at home for my degree through an open-college course). But this is if her sacred role as wife and mother is not neglected. Her role as a mother is seen as indispensable to society because the family is a microcosm of society and without her, the future generation would lack the healthy moral conscience that is needed for the success and stability of the individual and the community at large. Children have a right over us and deserve our attention and care.
Apart from the fact that I love my children and love being with them and guiding and teaching them, I hope that God will reward me in this life and the next for being a devoted mother and this is the Muslim belief - that every good thing a mother teaches her child, every bit of love and compassion she shows them and every sacrifice she makes for them will be rewarded by God, and her reward will increase and increase if her child passes on what she has taught and will keep increasing as long as the effects of what she instilled in him last in generations to come! What a wonderful image! The effect of what we mothers do is like a pebble falling into a lake and causing a great ripple that influences generations after us!
As for education, then Islam sees educating women as absolutely vital! As an Arab Poet says:
The Mother is a School
Need I say more?