May 9, 2015
The second Sunday of May is observed as Mother's Day. It is a day culminating in a short but aggressive marketing campaign every year forcing children into buying big and small, useful and useless gifts for their mothers. While Jane Seymour is coaxing you to keep your heart open so love can find its way, Hallmark is flooding the greeting cards isles with Mother’s Day cards in Walgreens and grocery stores across the nation.
And then on Mother's Day, children still living under your roof (or their proxies aka dads) make you a nice pancake breakfast. If you are an empty nester, you wait by the phone hoping to hear from your children who have flown away to pursue bigger and better dreams. By the end of Sunday, mothers feel rejuvenated and their self-esteem revived, and children feel vindicated that they have paid their dues, at least until the next Mother’s Day.
As a transplant from a different part of the world, I love the tradition of celebrating Mother’s Day, especially, since I became a mother. The thought behind the gifts, flowers and pancake breakfasts are all very heartwarming for the mother in me. However, this day always leaves me with this lingering question: Do all the sacrifices and hard choices our mothers made for us, entitle them to just one day of celebration every year?
Throughout history, religions and cultures of the world have placed mothers on a pedestal.
While the Holy Prophet of Islam said, “Paradise lies under your mother’s feet”, Bible likens God to mother when it says " As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you.“ (Isaiah 66:1). Hindus call the object of their worship “Gao Maata” or “Cow Mother” while Native Americans teach their children to respect, love and tread lightly on Mother Earth.
As a Muslim, I find comfort in the status Islam has given to women in general and mothers in particular. Although Islam recognizes both parents, mothers are given particular gratitude and respect. In the Quran, God says, "We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth" (46:15).
Once a man came to the Prophet Muhammad and asked him, "Who amongst his near one had the greatest right over him?" The Prophet replied, "Your mother". The man then asked, "Who after that?" to which the Prophet replied again, "Your mother". Asked who is next, the Prophet again replied, "Your mother". When the man asked whom after that, the Prophet said, "Your father" (Bukhari, Muslim).
This reverence to the status of mother seems justified when we look at the hardships and suffering mothers experience for their children. A mother’s never ending devotion and responsibilities start even before a child is born. Scientific research has proven that the unborn baby in the womb not only hears the voice of his mother but also has the capacity to learn new languages before being born.
Similarly, environmental and emotional stresses can adversely impact the growth and progress of the unborn child. Therefore, Islam advises the pregnant women to not only pray for their unborn child but also spend their time in prayers, reciting Holy Quran to their children and thinking good thoughts.
After the child is born, mothers are given healthy and nutritious food according to their financial means to prepare them for the hard responsibility of caring for the newborn. Every effort is made to make sure that mother’s body is healthy enough to produce nourishment for the baby. Besides the physical well being of the child they also stay vigilant about the emotional and psychological needs of their children from infancy to adolescence. The physical umbilical cord is cut at birth, but the emotional cord between the mother and child never breaks.
As the child grows, she feels every emotional state the child goes through. She makes every sacrifice imaginable to give her children the best life possible. Sometimes, she stays in abusive relationships to provide for her children and sometimes she musters up the courage and gets out of an abusive situation for the safety of her children. And finally, when they are old enough to get on their own two feet, she feels vindicated. She feels pride in their accomplishments and becomes their biggest supporter.
Long after the children start their own lives and leave her nest to pursue happiness elsewhere, she still keeps her eyes focused towards the door and her arms wide open, just in case, her children still need a hug or a word of encouragement. She never retires and her job is never done. She does not dedicate one day a year to celebrate her children. She celebrates them every day.
While we cannot repay our mothers in the same currency, Islam teaches us to do the best we can for them. God teaches us this prayer ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small" (Quran 17:24).
So, this Mother’s Day, let’s take it up a notch. This year say a prayer for your mother and when you say “Happy Mother’s Day” to her, remind her of one time when she made a difference in your life, however small it may be. Trust me, you will forget it by the end of Sunday, but your mother will cherish it her whole life, much more than any physical gift.
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