Heaven lies at the feet of my mother: How Islam taught me to celebrate and honour my mom

How will you be honouring mom this Mother's Day?
How will you be honouring mom this Mother's Day?

I’ve been wracking my brain trying to plan the perfect day and think up a gift that will reflect just how much my mom means to me. It often feels like a box of chocolates just won’t do, and yet, in a cupboard next to her bed, mom’s still got every handprint card I’ve made since grade R stacked between all my participation certificates – she celebrated even my smallest wins. 

Truth is, my mom had everything to do with my success. Whether it was in the unconditional love that came my way when I needed it most, the lessons she taught me growing up, or the discipline I demanded when I just wouldn’t listen in my teenage years – embracing every single parenting style to cut the crusts off my sandwiches from day one, while knowing exactly when to assert the “as long as you’re living under my roof you’ll eat whatever I give you” speech, I owe everything to my mom. 

So how do I explain how very important my mom actually is to me? And how do I effectively honour my mother this Sunday? 

For me, it’s a lifelong commitment, linked closely to my faith. 

Also read: How Akhumzi's mom spent a beautiful Mother's Day last year – and 19 other favourite celebs too

Many people are narrowed-minded but quick to give their opinions of what it means to be a woman in Islam. This has much to do with the Western world making it seem as though all muslim women are oppressed, followed closely by the fact that they haven’t bothered to look into the real status of women in Islam, and what the Quran says.

When you do take a closer look, you realise just how much Islam honours women and mothers.

Your mother, your mother, your mother, then your father

In the hadith for example, the Prophet Muhammad ? actually speaks of the importance of respecting and honouring our mothers, even more so than our fathers: 

A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet (PBUH) said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your father. (Bukhari, Muslim) 

Also read: Happy (Divorced) Mother’s Day

Heaven lies at your mother's feet

Touching on the above hadith while asking why one would ever want to be equal to man, Yasmin Mogahed also makes a strong case for women. She writes in her book, Reclaim Your Heart: 

“On the other hand, only a woman can be a mother. And God has given special privilege to a mother. The Prophet ? taught us that heaven lies at the feet of mothers. But no matter what a man does he can never be a mother. So why is that not unfair? 
“When asked, “Who is most deserving of our kind treatment?” the Prophet ? replied, “Your mother” three times before saying “your father” only once. Is that sexist? No matter what a man does he will never be able to have the status of a mother. And yet, even when God honors us with something uniquely feminine, we are too busy trying to find our worth in reference to men to value it — or even notice. We, too, have accepted men as the standard; so anything uniquely feminine is, by definition, inferior. Being sensitive is an insult, becoming a mother — a degradation. In the battle between stoic rationality (considered masculine) and selfless compassion (considered feminine), rationality reigns supreme. 
“If given a choice between stoic justice and compassion, I choose compassion. And if given a choice between worldly leadership and heaven at my feet—I choose heaven.” 

Also read: The joys of motherhood: a pop-culture celebration

In Islam, as Yasmin Mogahed mentions, we’re taught that our mothers are so important – even more so than our fathers – that jannah (heaven) lies at her feet. That for us to get to paradise we must live our lives honouring our mothers, our mothers, our mothers, and then our fathers.  

So this Mother’s Day, and every other day, I’ll be celebrating my mom by living a life that makes her proud. 

Just for interest sake, I asked, “Mom, what will make you happy and proud of me?” 

She was silent at first and then started talking about how proud she already is. This, followed shortly, of course, by a change in tone – flashbacks of the “as long as you’re living under my roof” speech comes to mind – and a stern, “And also if you start listening, mos.” 

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