"You're American? Oh, your husband must be from the Middle East."
"But you weren't raised that way"
"You better watch out for those men, I saw that movie."
"But it's not you, I know you better"
"Why are you trying to look like an Arab?"
"It's the 90's, you don't have to dress that way, modernize."
"Aren't you hot with all those clothes on."
"That's Enough Already"
I am an American Christian raised woman. At the age of 23 I started learning about Islam, and eventually became Muslim (All thanks and praise to Allah). As a teenager and on into my 20's, I always made sure I looked my best, and actually I was voted best looking girl by my senior high school class. Full face of make-up, perfect hair, and always the clothes in trend. I had the best looking sports car, a great paying job as a hair designer, and I was always looking to have a good time. I was an independent woman, and was never questioned about any decisions I made, or criticized about anything I did.
When I became Muslim all that changed. Suddenly every one had something to say, I heard it all. I was no longer thought off as being able to use my adult mind the same way again. I was brain-washed, or I was doing it to please my husband. ("You can't change a person ." isn't that a common saying?)
As a Christian, I was religious on Sunday mornings for an hour, or when the lottery numbers were being picked I would pray -"please God let me win", or when a loved one was hurt I would try to make a deal with God. And of course on holidays.
I am 28 now, and Islam is a way of life, my way of living. Everything I do, every minute of my day is now done differently. Especially, I pray 5 times a day. Believe me, you can not pretend to be a Muslim. These days I live a simple, peaceful, very moral life. I have no stress, no worries. My husbands' duty is to make sure I'm well cared for, and to provide for me. I am able to stay home and take care of my son according to my standards, not a baby-sitter's. I couldn't trade in his smiles for a pay check, his smiles are my pay. I read, I sew, I relax, and I have plenty of time to prepare fresh home cooked meals for my family.
Oppressed ? Yes, I was oppressed last week , when my cordless phone broke and I had to use a regular one. I wouldn't change my life now for anything. And if I was to divorce my husband, SURPRISE, I'm still going to practice Islam in the same manner I do now.
So if you are a friend or a family member of a convert to Islam, instead of being negative or against it, try to understand and respect the persons new way of life. And remember we are Islam. There is no question that will embarrass nor offend us. These people who are great scholars of Islam because they saw a movie, are not the correct source of telling you about my life.
I saw a few movies about Italians, so should I assume all Italian men are in the Mafia, deal drugs, kill people, and have girl friends on the side? NO!
Believe me, I have a lot more to write about my hardships and hassles of being a Muslim. None of which pertains to the religion itself, but to what even perfect strangers have said or done to me.
Oh yeah, did I mention I was also voted MOST LIKELY TO SUCCEED by my high school senior class.
I feel as though I have.
A MUSLIM SISTER
Women in Islam
Women in Islam are appreciated and highly respected, opposite to a lot of misleading and incorrect information that are widely spread among non-Muslims.
Qur'an has highlighted the fact that men and women are equal in the sight of God. According to the teachings of Islam, the only thing that distinguishes people in the sight of God is their level of God-consciousness and being pious. Moreover, the Islamic Law has guaranteed rights to women over 1400 years ago, whereas women in Western societies are now struggling to obtain their rights.
For example, Islam considers the woman a full-person, the spiritual equal of a male. Also, according to the Islamic Law, women have the right to own property, operate a business and receive equal pay for equal work. The woman in Islam has total control of her wealth. She cannot be married against her will.
Moreover, the woman in Islam has the right to inherit property and has the right to get divorced if she doesn't get good treatment from her husband, and can no longer stand her life with him (yet she has to have a good reason). Also, Islam does not look down on women nor consider them an "evil temptress", and thus does not blame women for the "original sin". Women in Islam participate in all forms of worship same like men. Actually, the rights that Islam gave to women over 1400 years ago were almost unheard of in the West until the 1900's.
Fifty years ago, women in Western societies could not buy a house or a car without the signature of the father or the husband! Islam gives great respect to women and their vital role in society. Also, it is noteworthy that the Prophet Muhammad's mission stopped many of the vicious practices in regards to women that were present in the society of his time. For example, the Qur'an put an end to the pagan Arab practice of killing their baby daughters when they were born.
If women in the Muslim World today don't get their rights, it is not because Islam did not grant them their rights, but because of some alien traditions prevailing in many places that have come to overshadow the teachings of Islam, either through ignorance or through the impact of colonisation.
The Islam's respect to the women is crowned with the Hijab, the veil, considered by a lot of anti-Muslims a symbol of women's oppression and servitude. God ordered Muslim women to wear the veil (to cover the whole of their body except their face and their hands) to protect them.
The Qur'an makes it clear through many verses that the veil obligatory and not an option for Muslim women (as some misleading information state).
"O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (jalabib) close round them (when they go abroad)..."
The Qur'an also shows how essential the veil is for modesty. Modesty is prescribed to protect women from molestation. Thus, the only purpose of the veil in Islam is protection. The Islamic veil is not a sign of man's authority over the woman, nor is it a sign of the woman's subjection to the man, on the contrary it shows respect and care for the woman.
Legitimate Mixing Between Men and Women
Dr.Yusuf Al Qaradawy
Some words which have existed in the language for a long time have acquired new significance and even weight. Among these is the term "mixing (or mingling)", which refers to mixing of men and women in one place. During the Age of the Prophet (blessings and peace he upon him), the Age of the Companions which succeeded it, and the age of their followers, Muslim men and women met at different gatherings, religious or otherwise, and this was not forbidden at all. Under the right circumstances and for good reasons, it was legitimate and natural for them to meet. Nor was it called "mixing" then.
In our age, however, the word has become very common. Nor do I know when it came into use with the new connotations unsavoury for Muslim men and women, since mixing one thing with another suggests a dissolution, the way sugar or salt is dissolved in water, a metaphor that would have unpleasant suggestions if applied to male-female relations. Anyway, the purpose is to point out that not every kind of socialisation is prohibited as some may imagine and as other hard-liners argue. On the other hand, not all forms of mixing are acceptable as propagators of Westernization claim.
In the second volume of my book Contemporary Legal Opinions (Fataawa Mu'aserah), I answer questions on this and several other related matters such as greeting women, handshaking, treatment of women by male doctors and the reverse, in addition to other questions. A careful Muslim should refer to these legal opinions if he or she wants to learn about the rules of the Islamic teachings (sharî’ah). Here, nevertheless, I would like to make the point that it is our duty to adhere to the best guidance which is that of the Prophet Mohammed (blessings and peace be upon him), his righteous successors and enlightened Companions whose pious paths he recommends sticking to, avoiding the two extreme routes of Western permissiveness and severe Eastern asceticism.By examining this guidance of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him), we find that the woman was not caged or isolated as happened later during the age of Muslim abatement. The women attended the major congregational prayers on Fridays at the Prophet's mosque, including the night (Al-Esha) and dawn (Al-Fajr) prayers. The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) would direct them to form rows behind the men’s rows, and the more to the back the better so that they would not see the sensitive parts of men's bodies that might have shown due to the fact that only a few were familiar with trousers and underwear, and there was no partition between the men and women.
Moreover, in the early stages of congregating for prayer, men and women would go through the same entrance where crowding would occur. The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said, "If only we left this entrance to the women". [ Transmitted by Abu Dawud on the authority of Ibn Umar (462) (463).] So they allocated the entrance for them from that time on and it became known as the "women's entrance." As for the Friday congregation, women during the Prophet's Era attended the prayer and listened to the sermon to the extent that one of them could learn the Surah of because the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) recited it frequently from his position on the sermon pulpit. They also attended the two Bairam (a religious celebration) congregations and took part in these big Islamic celebrations that involved all people, old and young, male and female, in the open outskirts where they would chant the name of Allah. Um`Ateyya, a witness of the Prophet's Era, said, "We were frequently instructed to go out for the Bairams."
In another version she said, "The Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace be upon him) instructed us, the maids, and the ones in their menses to go out. The women menstruating would stay away from prayer and witness the good (of the day) and Muslim's prayer (to Allah). So I said, `O Messenger of Allah, there may be one of us who does not have a jilbab (dress)." He replied, `Let her sister (in Islam) give her one. [Sahih Muslim "The Prayers of the Two Eids" (890).]
This is one of the aspects of Muslim life that are ignored by Muslims in most of their countries. Some, however, such as the devotional retreat in the last ten days of Ramadan and the attendance of the Bairam congregation by women, are in the process of coming back to life through the efforts of the youth of the modern Islamic awakening.
Women always attended the teaching sessions of the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him). They would address Aisha with the questions they found awkward or too bold to ask. The Prophet's wife, ?isha (may Allah be pleased with her), praised the women of the Ansar whose shyness did not prevent them from seeking knowledge of the religion and asking questions about major issues such as impurity (full sex or ejaculation preventing one from performing some forms of worship), night ejaculation, washing from impurity, menstruation and other such matters.
This, however, was not enough for them compared to the men's completely enfolding the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him); so they demanded a special day of teaching be allocated to them without vying with a crowd of men, and said openly, "Messenger of Allah, the men have taken complete possession of your company, so devote one of your days to us." The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) promised to give them a day and he preached and gave them instruction. [ Transmitted by Bukhari in The World (Al-Alam) 1/34 on the authority of Abu Said.] This kind of female activism was also revealed during battles when women served in the army with the mujahedeen (warriors who struggle to keep Islam alive) in a way that suited them and brought out the best of their abilities, such as attending the wounded, giving medical aid, nursing the injured fighters, in addition to cooking, procuring water and the like. Um `Ateyya asserted, "I went on seven military expeditions with the Prophet (greetings and peace be upon him); I would guard the fighters, provisions, make their food, treat the injured and nurse the ill ones". [Transmitted by Muslim (1812).]
Anas, one of the Prophet's Companions, narrates, "On the Day of Uhud, `Aisha and Um Salim, their sleeves rolled up, would carry water in skin bags on their backs and empty the contents into the soldiers open mouths". [Transmitted by Muslim (1811).] The fact that `Aisha was still in her teens renders incorrect the claim that female participation in military expeditions and battles was confined to old women. Realistically speaking, this defies logic, as such work would be unduly onerous for the aged when considering the physical and psychological exigencies of war.
In the same line, Imam Ahmad recalls, `six believing women were in the army that besieged Khaibar, their task being to hand arrows to the fighters, prepare food, procure water, treat the wounded, spin yarn and help in (the promotion of) the cause of Allah. Eventually, the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) allocated shares in the spoils to them. [Transmitted by Ahmad 51271,7/371; And Abu Dawud (2729).]
It is also established that some of the Companion's wives took up arms in some expeditions and battles. The deeds of Um `Imarah Nasba bint Ka'b on the Day of Uhud are well known and were of such effect as to make the Prophet say, "Her manner excelled that of such and such people." On the day of the Battle of Hunain, Um Salum, for her part, kept a dagger to stab any enemies who would come within her reach. This story is told again by her son Anas, "On the Day of Hunain, Um Salum had a dagger; when she was seen by her husband, Abu Talha, he told the Prophet, `Messenger of Allah, Um Salum is keeping a dagger with her." When the Prophet asked her about it she answered, `It is to stab the abdomen of any of the Pagans who might come near me," at which the Prophet laughed. [Transmitted by Muslim (1809).]
But the women of the Prophet's and Companion's Eras had ambitions that went beyond the participation in the expeditions into adjacent areas. They were also keen to take part in the Muslim conquests of distant lands to help disseminate the message of Islam. Anas narrated, "One day, the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) took his siesta in the house of Urn Hiram. When he woke up, he laughed. So she asked, `What makes you laugh, Prophet of Allah?" The Prophet said, `I have seen some people from my nation, who were out to fight for the sake of Allah, riding the sea. There were kings seated on their thrones." So she replied, `O Messenger of Allah, pray to Allah that I may be one of them." He did. [Sahih Muslim (1912)] During the reign of `Uthman (the third caliph), Um Hiram set sail with her husband, Ubada ibn As-Samit, to Cyprus, where she was killed while she was on horseback (in a battle) and was buried there, according to biographers and chroniclers. A whole section is devoted to highlighting woman's roles in the battles and military expeditions.
In the sphere of social life, the Muslim woman played her part, preaching of good deeds, enjoining what is right and forbidding evil, in conformity with Allah's statement: "The believers, men and women are "Auliya" (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another, they enjoin (on the people) what is right Al-Ma`ruf (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al-Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden). [Surah 9:71]
A well-known story depicts a woman reasoning with `Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) in the mosque over the issue of the amount of bridal money paid to the bride. It also illustrates how `Umar (the third caliph), being convinced of her argument, reversed his opinion to that of hers in public. His comment on this was "everybody's knowledge is better than mine". [Tafsir Ibn Kathir 1/468] The story is cited by no less an authoritative register than Ibn Kathir's Tafsir, where Ibn Kathir states its ascription to `Umar is correct. In another version `Abdul-Raziq cites `Umar as saying about himself, "A woman debated with `Umar and outdid him in the debate. [ Tafsir Ibn Kathir 7/180] Also during his caliphate, `Umar appointed a woman, Al-Shifa bint Abdullah as the market-place superintendent.
By examining the Qur'an's discourse on woman's affairs and by looking onto the lives of the Prophets, we hardly find such an iron curtain, as is drawn by some people, between men and women. Thus in the prime of his youth, Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) is depicted talking to the two daughters of the old man of Madyan. He asks them questions and gets their answers without any particular feeling of guilt or embarrassment and magnanimously helps them. One of them returns soon after with an invitation from her father for Moses to come to their house. One of them even suggests her father hire Moses, as he is a strong and honest man.
This is how the Quran puts it: "And when he arrived at the water of Midian (Madyan) he found there a group of men watering (their flocks), and beside them he found two women who were keeping back (their flocks). He said, "What is the matter with you?" They said, "We cannot water (our flocks) until the shepherds take (their flocks). And our father is a very old man." So he watered (their flocks) for them, then he returned back to shade, and said: "My Lord? Truly, lam in need of whatever good you bestow upon me!" Then there came to him one of the two women, walking shyly. She said: "Verily, my father calls you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us." So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said: "Fear you not. You have escaped from the people who are Zalimun (polytheists, disbelievers, and wrongdoers)." And said one of them (the two women): "O my father! Hire him! Verily, the best of men for you to hire is the strong, the trustworthy. [Sûrah 28:23- 26]
In the story of Mary, every time Zachariah comes to her chamber he finds much food, so he inquires about it:
" Every time he entered Al-Mihrab [A praying place or private room.] (to visit) her, he found her supplied with sustenance. He said: "O Mary! From where have you got this?" She said: "From Allah" Verily Allah provides sustenance to whom he wills, without limit. [Sûrah 3:37]
Another story is that of the Queen of Sheba, who is cited by the Qur'an as consulting her people about how they should respond to Solomon's message to her: "She said, "O chiefs! Advise me in (this) case of mine. I decide no case till you are present with me." They said: "We have great strength, and great ability for war, but it is for you to command; so think over what you we command." She said: "Verily! Kings, when they enter a town (country), they despoil it, and make the most honourable amongst its people low. And thus they do. [Sûrah 27:32- 34]
Later then she arrives in Solomon's palace, she converses with Solomon as follows:
" So when she came, it was said (to her): "Is your throne like this?" She said: "(It is) as though it were the very same." And (Solomon said): "Knowledge was bestowed on us before her, and we were submitted to Allah (in Islam as Muslims before her)." And that which she used to worship besides Allah has prevented here (from Islam), for she was of a disbelieving people. It was said to her: "Enter As-Sarh" (a glass surface with water underneath it), but when she saw it, she thought it was a pool, and she (tucked up her clothes) uncovering her legs, Solomon said: "Verily, it is Sarh paved smooth with slab of glass." She said: "My lord! Verily, I have wronged myself, and I submit (in Islam, together with Solomon), to Allah, the Lord of `Alamn (mankind, jinns, and all that exists). [ Sûrah 27:42 to 44]
Nor is it right to say that the revealed codes of preceding nations do not apply to us, since their stories were only cited in the Qur'an for reflection and guidance. Hence the correctness of the claim that the revealed code of preceding nations which is given in the Qur'an and the Sunna (traditions of the Prophet Mohammed) is also a code for us as long as no code of ours renders it null. Allah said to his Messenger:" They are those whom Allah had guided. So follow their guidance". [Sûrah 6:90]
Moreover, the fact that in the early stage of Islam the initially revealed punishment for a woman who committed adultery was to confine her to a house until she died or until Allah made a way out for her: "And those of your woman who commit illegal sexual intercourse, take the evidence of four witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them (i.e. women) to houses until death comes to them or Allah ordains for them some (other) way. [Sûrah 4:15] meaning it is illogical from the point of view of the Qur'an, and Islam in general, to make house-confinement a characteristic of a decent and chaste Muslim woman, which would be to punish her without any perpetration. Later, of course, the punishment changed to flogging for the unmarried couple who commit adultery and stoning to death for the married ones
In summation, the encounter of men and women is not prohibited in itself. Quite the contrary, it is allowable or even required if done in pursuit of a noble cause like gaining knowledge or performing good acts in which the joint efforts of both men and women are necessary.
Pseudo-arguments for unrestricted mixing
This is the position of Islam on man-woman relations, and their common involvement on charitable and righteous lines is what we call legitimate mixing; yet "intellectual imperialism" has managed to create in our countries people who turn a deaf ear to the ruling of Allah and His Messenger. These people call on us to give the woman free rein to assert herself, promote her personality, enjoy her life and her femininity. They want her to mix with men freely, experience them closely where they would be together and alone, travel with them, go to cinemas or dance till midnight together. She is supposed to find the "right man" from all those she has known. In this way, it is said, life is supposed to be more secure and have greater stability in the face adversity.
These people who may well be thinking of themselves as unblemished seraphs, tell us not to worry about the man or woman as a result of this "decent" communication, innocent friendship and upright contact. The frequency of their contact will pacify desire. The two sexes will supposedly find satisfaction in the mere look, conversation or, in the extreme, dancing together, which is only a form of elevating artistic impression. Sensual pleasure would have no place. It is a clean vent for energy, nothing more. This is said to be what the advanced West did after they rid themselves of complexes and privation.
In answer to this line of thinking, we must say that we are Muslims first and foremost. We do not sell our religion in imitation of the vagaries of Westerners or Easterners. Our religion forbids us from promiscuous mixing with its showiness and seductiveness: "Then we have put you (O Mohammed, blessings and peace be upon him) on a plain way of (Our) commandment like the one We commanded Our messengers before you (i.e. legal ways and laws of the Islamic Monotheism). So follow you that (Islamic Monotheism and its laws), and follow not the desires of those who know not. Verily, they can avail you nothing against Allah (if He wants to punish you). [Sûrah 45:18]
" Verily, the Zalimun (polytheists, wrongdoers, etc.) are "Auliya" (protectors, helpers, etc.) to one another, but Allah is the Wali (Helper, Protector, etc.) of the Muttaqun [i.e. pious and righteous persons who fear Allah much (abstain from all kinds of sin and evil deed which He has forbidden) and love Allah much (perform all kinds of good deeds which He has ordained.)]" [Surah 45:18-19]
In addition, the West itself, enamoured by these ideas, is suffering the consequences of dissipation and decaying morality that has corrupted its youth and doomed its civilisation to ruin and collapse. In the United States, in Sweden, and in other countries where sexual freedom is the norm, statistics show that feverish lust is not alleviated by freedom of talk and contact, nor by whatever may follow that. On the contrary, the more people taste, the thirstier they become.
It would be better if we studied the consequences of this freedom or what may as well be termed looseness and abandonment of virtues and traditions in modern civilised Western societies.
Effects of promiscuous mixing
Numbers and events that fill statistics and reports provide a more convincing indictment of this point. Sexual freedom and the sexual revolution has borne its bitter fruit with the dissolution of the barriers separating men and women and the resultant effects are set forth as follows.
The consequences of sexual promiscuity have been the disintegration of morality characterised by the tyranny of desire and the triumph of bestiality over humanity, the loss of sense of chastity and any sense of shyness and reserve by both men and women giving rise to an internally disturbed society. In a famous speech in 1962, President Kennedy said that American young people were loose, indulgent and decadent; six out of seven young men were not fit to join the army because they were up to their ears in lustfulness. He warned against the ills of such youth leading the country.
In a book by the Harvard Research Centre director, entitled The Sexual Revolution, the author firmly states the United States is heading towards a catastrophic situation of sexual anarchy, akin to that of the Romans and Greeks. He adds that Americans are beset the by dangers of sexual intemperance that would overwhelm their culture and all aspects of their life.
While the communists were more reticent on these matters, and general restrictions existed on media coverage, in 1962, Khrushchev declared that the Soviet youth had deviated and had been spoilt by luxury. He threatened to open concentration camps in Siberia to rid the society of the decadent youth that posed a threat to the future of the Soviet Union.
The rapid increase in the numbers of illegitimate children is directly related to the unlimited rein given to desire and the removal of barriers between young men and women. Statistics on the ratio of pregnant school girls in the United States revealed dreadful dimension. In a newspaper report, one third of the infants born in 1983 were illegitimate. Most of them were born to young women under nineteen. The total number of illegitimate children was 112,353 with a percentage of 37% of the births for that year.
Drop in Marriage RatesThe availability of sex without any liability of marriage and family has led youth take the route of spending their youth between different partners, enjoying change without commitment to a "monotonous life" and without having to provide the costs of a responsible married life and the liabilities of fatherhood. Thus a huge number of young women are deprived of the opportunity to have a husband, and settle with a modicum of peace and security, because of the illicit yearnings of easy relationships. Similarly, there are a lot of young men who are also deprived of a peaceful life. Statistics published in the United States show, for the first time since the beginning of the century, the majority of the inhabitants of San Francisco are celibate; fifty-three per cent are not married. For Bruce Chapman, who announced the findings, this was probably an indication of the obsolescence of the traditional family pattern. He added that these social changes were good for the welfare of the city which had witnesses a forty per cent increase in the number of youth between twenty-five and thirty-four during the previous ten years. This, however, did not include the homosexuals of the city who constitute fifteen per cent of the population.
In the face of the sexual degradation which is a predominant social phenomena on the Western world, it was natural for Swedish women to stage a 100,000-woman demonstration in protest against unlimited sexual freedom. It must have been woman's institutes and awareness of their future life and where their interests lie that motivated them to organise such a huge protest.
High Divorce Rates and Destruction of the Family
Not only is marriage beset by many obstacles, it is also unsafe after its accomplishment. The family collapses and bonds break with occurrence of the slightest problem. In all Western countries, divorce rates are skyrocketing.
Spread of Lethal Diseases
The outbreak of sexually transmitted diseases, as well as neurotic, mental and psychological diseases, the spread of complexes and disturbances that claim hundreds of thousands of patients are among the acknowledged effects of sexual promiscuity. One of the most dangerous, and in many cases lethal diseases is AIDS, which is caused by the HIV virus. This virus is responsible for the body's loss of immunity leaving it vulnerable to all factors of decay. Millions of people have succumbed to this menace, a fact that provides a modern piece of evidence for the words of the Prophet Mohammed (blessings and peace be upon him) that, "Lechery never appears in a community, but with its proclamation, plague and affliction appear throughout, which did not exist in bygone generations". [ Tranmitted by Ibn Majah on the authority of Ibn Umar (4019) ; Al-Zawa'ed, Hadith Sahih; and Al-Hakim and Al Dhahaby 4/540, 541 and others.]
Notwithstanding the neurosis and psychological disturbances which have taken Western societies by storm and have filled hospitals and asylums with patients.
Freud and his followers in psychoanalysis argued that the lifting of traditional restrictions on sexual instincts would relieve the nerves and consciousness, undo complexes and give souls a sense of comfort and ease. The restrictions have been lifted, the desires have been released and the complicated souls are only worse off; nerves are tenser and anxiety is the disease of the age. Not even the opening of a million clinics have helped.
It is hard to believe this is the picture the proponents of unrestricted mixing would like to see of us when Allah has protected us against its evils. Or is it only (that they do not know?
The Woman as Mother
The first contact with a woman is with one's mother, who suffers in the pregnancy, delivery, nursing and rearing of her child.
History does not recall a religion or a system which honours the woman as a mother and which raises her as Islam does. Islam repeatedly commends the woman, and this comes directly after the command to worship and believe in the Oneness of Allah. Allah has made honouring one's mother a virtue, and He puts forth the mother's right over that of the father for what she endures in pregnancy, delivery, nursing and raising her children. This is stated and restated in the Qur'an, in multiple chapters, to imprint this notion in the child's mind and heart as per the following verses: "And we have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years-give thanks to Me and your parents,-unto Me is the final destination. [Surah 31:14] and "And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship and she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of `jim is thirty (30) months. [Surah 46:15]
A man came to the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) asking, "Who is most deserving of my care?" He said, "Your mother." The man asked, "Then who?" He said, "Your mother." The man asked, "Then who?" He said, Your mother." The man asked (the fourth time), "Then who?" He said, "Your father. [ Transmitted by Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Abu Huraira The Pearl and the Coral (Al-Lu'lu' wal-Marjan) (1652)]
Al-Bazzar recounts that a man was circumambulating the Ka'bah carrying his mother. The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) asked him, "Have you repaid her?" The man said, "No, not even for one of her moans (i.e. one of the moans of labour, delivery and so on)
[Transmitted by Al-Bazzar (1872)]. As to being good to her, it means treating her well, respecting her, humbling oneself in front of her, obeying her without disobeying Allah, seeking her satisfaction and pleasure in all matters, even in a holy war. If it is optional, he must have her permission, for being good to her in a type of jihad. [Jihad is the struggle (physical, mental, psychological, spiritual, etc.) to preserve the purity and practice of Islam. (editor's note)]
A man came to the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) and said, "O Messenger of Allah, I want to fight and I want your advice." He asked him, "Have you a mother?" The man said, "Yes." He said, "Do not leave her because Paradise is under her feet. [ Transmitted by Al-Nisaai, 6/11; Ibn Majah, 1/278 and Al-Hakim. It is amended and approved by Al-Dhahaby, 4/151, on the authority of Muaaweya Ibn Jammah.]
Some religious laws before Islam neglected the mother's relations, making them insignificant. With the advent of Islam, it recommended caring for uncles and aunts, both on the father's side and the mother's. A man approached the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) and said, "I committed an offence, could I atone for it?" He asked, "Have you got a mother?" The man said, "No." He asked, "Have you got a maternal aunt?" The man said, "Yes." The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said, "Be good to her. [ Transmitted by Termithy in "Righteousness and Relations" (1905); Ibn Hibban Charity (EI-Ehsan) (435); and Al-Hakim who amended it on the terms of the two Sheikhs, agreed upon by Al-Dhahaby, 4/155, all on the authority of Umar.]
It is amazing that Islam commanded us to be good to a mother even though she is an unbeliever! Asma'a bint Abu Bakr asked the Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) about her relationship to her unbelieving mother who had come to her. He said, "Yes, be on good terms with your mother". [Transmitted on the authority of Asmaa (agreed upon), The Pearl and the Coral (Al-Lu'lu' wal-Marjan) (587).]
An indication that Islam cares for motherhood, for the rights of mothers and their feelings is that a divorced mother has greater rights and is worthier of looking after her children than the father. `Abdallah ibn `Amr ibn Al-as transmitted that a woman asked,
"O Messenger of Allah, this son of mine had my womb as a container, my breasts for drinking, my lap to contain him. His father has taken him from me." The Prophet (blessings and peace be upon him) said, "You have more right if you do not marry". [Transmitted by Ahmad in Al Musnad (6707). Sheikh Shaker said its authenticity is correct. Transmitted also by Abu Dawud.]
Imam Al-Khataby said in Landmarks of Traditions (Maalem As-Sunna): "Container" is the name of the place that contains a thing. This means that the mother is worthier as she and the father shared in the begetting of the child, then she was singled out for such things as nursing which the father had no share in. Therefore she deserves to be the first when it comes to disputes about the child.
On the authenticity of Ibn `Abbas who said, "`Umar ibn Al-Khattab divorced his wife from Al-Ansar, the mother of `Asim. He met her carrying the child in Mahser (a market- place between Quba and Medina). The child was weaned and could walk. `Umar held out his hand to take the child from her and disputed about it till the boy cried out in pain. `Umar said, "I am worthier of my son than you "They complained to Abu Bakr, whose verdict was that the mother should keep the child. He said, "Her scent, her bed, and her lap are better for him than yours until he grows up and chooses for himself ". [ Landmarks of Traditions (Maalem as-Sunna) (2181).]
The mother who is cherished that much by Islam and given all these rights has a task to perform. She has to take care of her children, raise them well, implant virtues, and make them loathe evil. She has to teach them to obey Allah, encourage them to defend what is truthful, not dissuade them from fighting for the sake of Allah (one form of jihad) because of the motherly sentiments in her heart but to favour the correct way over sentiment.
We saw a believing mother, Al-Khansaa, in the Battle of Qadesseyah eloquently urging her four sons to be brave and steadfast. Then as soon as the battle was over and the news of their four deaths came to her, she did not wail and carry on but said with certainty and contentment, "Praise be to Allah who honoured me with their martyrdom for His faith."
Out of Qur'anic guidance, we have been supplied wit superb examples of good mothers who had influence and position in the history of the faith in Allah. Moses" mother, for example, responded to Allah's inspiration and calling when she cast the apple of her eye into the river, assured of Allah's promise: "And We inspired the mother of Moses, (saying): `suckle him (Moses), but when you fear for him, then cast him into the river and fear not, nor grieve. Verily! We shall bring him back for you, and shall make him one of (Our) Messengers." [Sûrah 28:7]
There is also Mary's mother, who promised what she had in her womb to be devoted to Allah, to be pure of any polytheism or worship of anything other than Allah. She prayed to Allah to accept her vow: "so accept (this), from me. Verily, You are the All-Hearer, the All-Knowing". [Sûrah 3:35] When the child turned out to be a female, which she had not expected, it did not prevent her from fulfilling her vow, asking Allah to protect her from all evil: "and I seek refuge with You (Allah) for her and for her offspring from Satan, the outcast" [Sûrah 3:36]
Moreover, the Qur'an has made Mary (may Allah be pleased with her), daughter of `Imran and mother of the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him), an example of purity, humility to Allah and of faith in His word. "And Mary, the daughter of `Imran who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into (the sleeve of her shirt or her garment) through Our "Ruh" (i.e. Gabriel), and she testified to the truth of the Words of her Lord (believed in the Words of Allah "Be! and he was; that is Jesus-son of Mary;-as a Messenger of Allah), and (also believed in) His Scriptures, and she was of the Qanitun (i.e. obedient to Allah). [Sûrah 66:12]