Mothering the Ummah
OUR Ummah is formed through blocks of families, and each block contributes to our society. A mother plays a vital role in it as upon her lies the upbringing of the children who eventually have a family of their own.
The mother is mainly responsible for the upbringing of sensible and virtuous children who would be an asset to our community. Our Prophet Muhammad stated: “The best of people are those that bring most benefit to the rest of mankind.” (Daraqutni, Hasan)
The sense of achievement is endless for a normal mother who delivers a beautiful and healthy child. However, a righteous mother realizes the challenge of raising this child and that it is an Amanah from Allah. She strives to please Allah and exerts herself in the upbringing of the child knowing that it will earn her enormous amount of good deeds. Prophet Muhammad said, “Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The ruler is a shepherd and is responsible forhis flock. A man is the shepherd of his family and is responsible for his flock. A woman is the shepherd of her husband’s household and is responsible for her flock.” [Saheeh Al-Bukhari & Muslim]
Shaykh Ibn Baz said: “The Muslim woman has a high status in Islam and she has a big impression on a Muslim’s life. If the woman follows the guidance in the Quran and Prophet Muhammad’s Sunnah, then she carries a role to educate and raise a righteous and clean society.” (Min Aqwal Samahat-ish Shaykh Abdul Aziz Ibn Baaz Fid- Da’wah, pp. 98)
It’s necessary for Muslim women to learn the basic principles of deen and thoroughly gain knowledge of Islam and its pillars.
What should a mother ensure about? Or rather, what should a Muslim mother do?
Firstly, during the kids’ childhood, we MUST be keen on being close to them, taking care of them, and nurturing Islamic principles in them.
Nursing is the right of the baby. When Allah said, “The mother shall give such to their offspring for two whole years...” (Al- Baqarah, 2:233) it has not only been proven the best medically also psychologically and intellectually.
A recent small study in Boston evaluated the behavioral effects of a heel prick procedure (for drawing newborn genetic screening) when mothers were breastfeeding their infants compared to a control group of infants who were swaddled in a bassinet.
All infants in the experimental group were latched onto their mother’s breast lying skin to skin before the heel prick. Video monitoring of both groups revealed the the infants breastfed during the procedure had crying and grimacing reduced by 91% and 84% respectively compared to the infants who underwent the procedure in their bassinet. Breastfeeding also prevented the tachycardia associated with the procedure in the control group (Gray 2002).
Since 1929, many studies have looked at the effect of breastfeeding on the cognitive development of children. Most of these studies have shown a statistically significant increase in developmental test scores of 2% to 5% for breastfed children when compared against formula fed children.
This is a crucial bonding period between the mother and the child, and a wise mother MUST start with the words of Monotheism Ashshadu An La Ilaha Illalahu Wa Ashshadu Anna Muhammad Ar Rasoolullah, and carry it forward from there. In addition to that she should also make sure to direct them towards anything good, admonish them against wrong, encourage them to memorize the Quran and reward them for any small accomplishments.
When her children reach youth and maturity, she should be firm concerning the fulfilment of religious obligations and in disciplining for cases of negligence, by disciplining them with leniency and direction. A parent must also entrust them to do certain things in order to be self-dependent, encourage them to be consistently righteousness and keep a check on them.
Motherhood is not about a difficult pregnancy, sleepless nights, and changing nappies. It is more than that and the reward for upbringing a God-conscious child is immense. It has been said that “it is easier to bear a child than to raise it.”
A mother constantly invokes upon Allah for her child’s well-being not only in Dunya but also in Akhirah and the steadfastness for it in this Dunya.
Motherhood is all about cultivating a seed of deed. Yes, the child here is the seed! When our lives end, our deeds don’t – they continue in three situations as Prophet Muhammad said, “When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous descendant who prays for him (for the deceased).” [Sahih Muslim] And upbringing a righteous child can constitute all the three.
Mothers these days often have the hollowness of being unproductive and inefficient and the majority blame the children for hindering their path to righteous deeds. This is not true at all.
Look for example at the following words of a Muslim woman in the past:
“I hope those who might find a mistake in the book which I might have made unintentionally will forgive me since I was writing with my right hand while rocking my baby’s cradle with the left.”
These were written by Maryam bint ‘Abdul- Qaadir from the sixth century who was a scholar. She wrote the books of Al-Bukhari and Muslim. Determination is very essential. If a mother could contribute towards the writing of the Saheehayn, we have no excuse. Know my dear sisters, we need to channelize our talents and strengths in the right way. There are role models for us in the past.
Aasiyah -A women who did not bear a child yet she raised one of the greatest prophet Musa amidst the tyranny of Firawn.
Khadhijah, the first to embrace Islam, raised a woman of piety Fathima, the chief of all believing women in Paradise.
Umm Sulaym, a noble woman of Taqwa, vowed that her son should serve the Prophet. Anas reported (that his mother) Umm Sulaim said (to the Prophet), “Allah’s Messenger, here is your servant Anas.” [Sahih Muslim]