May 11, 2014

The True Meaning of Motherhood

By Shahina Bashir
Source: Greed for Ilm
It’s that time of the year again. Your mailbox is overflowing with advertisements from various stores enticing you with valuable coupons. And each time you log in to check your email messages you are bombarded with more solicitations. You walk into your local mall and every store is claiming it has the best sale of the year. Yes, we are headed straight into one of the biggest celebrations of the year- Mother’s Day. It is the second most gift giving holiday following Christmas. But is Mother’s Day all about giving gifts and taking moms to their favorite restaurants for a meal?

 Fourteen years ago I lost my mother to cancer and the same year I was bestowed the honorific title of mother with the birth of my daughter. Losing my mother unexpectedly was devastating to say the least, but bringing a new life into this world, who would be totally dependent on me, helped the pain of my mother’s loss easier to bear. As I grieved over the death of my mother, I looked at the little helpless being and became determined that I will raise her in the best manner possible.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be on him) had said, “Paradise lies under the feet of mothers”
Most would understand this saying to mean that motherhood is a guaranteed ticket to paradise. But how can this be true when we know of many women who have not fulfilled the responsibility of motherhood and on the contrary have caused harm to their children? And on the other hand we know of adult children who have abandoned their aging mothers in the care of nursing homes.
Paradise is only achievable when mothers invest their time in raising morally upright children. This training starts before a child is born and perhaps even before conception. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has even taught Muslims to pray when they consort with each other so that the child conceived from their union would be protected from any negative influences. An expectant mother has to be mindful not only of her own health but also the health of the unborn child. And from the moment she brings the infant into the world till his adulthood, she bears a huge responsibility for inculcating Islamic values in him so that he becomes a useful member of the society and exhibits an upright character.
I am reminded of a story which beautifully illustrates the role of the mother in influencing the moral character of a child. Once a person was convicted of murder and was sentenced to death for his crime. Just before his execution he was asked if he had any last wish. He said that he wanted to see his mother. When his mother came he leaned toward her as if to whisper something in her ear, but instead he bit it. The mother, no doubt in a shock, asked him the reason for this barbaric act. The son looked at her and said, “I am at the verge of being executed for murder, but it is because of you that I did what I did.” The mother was confused and asked for an explanation. He said, “When I was a young boy, I used to steal pencils from school, but you never reprimanded me for my behavior. When I lied you said there was no harm done. Gradually, I became more defiant and no matter what wrong I did, you never stopped me. So, if I am here today waiting for my punishment, know that it is you who brought me to this.”
On the flip side, there are children who as adults very conveniently forget the sacrifices made by their mothers when they were younger. When the tables are turned and the parent becomes old and feeble, the children think her to be a burden. It becomes a dent in their lifestyle when they have to make sacrifices for the woman who bore them and took care of them when they were helpless infants. Islam is very clear regarding responsibilities toward parents. The Quran says,
“And We have enjoined on man concerning his parents — his mother bears him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning takes two years — ‘Give thanks to Me and to thy parents. Unto Me is the final return” (31:14)
So go ahead shower your mother with gifts and show her how much you care for her. But let this not be just an annual gesture. Make everyday a Mother’s Day. That’s the ticket to paradise.
Shahina Bashir is a graduate of Texas Woman's University and the national chair of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Women's writers' group. The views expressed in this post are her own and do not necessarily reflect those of Interfaith Houston.

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