Every year, Ashura is commemorated by hundreds of millions of lovers of the Holy Progeny…
Congratulations on the birth of your child! It is a blessing to be the most important person in your child’s life. Motherhood is a great gift from God that comes with lots of responsibilities and obligations. Due to the many struggles that mothers must endure, the Holy Prophet (pbuh&hp) raises their incredible status when he states in his famous tradition, “Heaven is under the mother’s feet.”1
With all the new responsibilities and adjustments, many new mothers struggle to maintain a sense of spirituality, through recommended acts of worship, after the birth of their child. By finding a connection with God amidst the hard work that comes with taking care of a child, we will be able to uplift our spiritual health, which in turn will make us the best mother for our children and make us feel a sense of completeness.
Regaining the Connection
Before the arrival of our child, many of us may have spent a good portion of our days in the remembrance of God. Whether it was reciting a few verses of the Holy Quran in the morning, praying the night prayer, or attending programs at the mosque, these moments were special to us, as we felt connected to the Almighty. Now, after the birth of our little one, some of us may feel like we have lost that special connection to God, because suddenly there seems to be no time during the day to do anything else other than taking care of our child.
Some of us may feel glued to the couch feeding our babies. We are exhausted due to lack of sleep. Some of us may be worrying about all the dishes piling up in the sink or the increased workload at our jobs or homes. To top it off, we feel guilty for not praying the two recommended units of prayer that we may have regularly offered before our baby was born.
If we take a second and think about it, we are doing everything we can to help our child develop and grow. We are suffering from lack of sleep to make sure they get the rest they need. At the same time, we may neglect our own need for food and water to make sure our children are clean and well-fed. We are teaching them how to be strong and confident individuals. We are teaching them how to be God-wary individuals. We are helping them learn how to pray. We are encouraging them to read and memorize the words of God. All these things are acts of worship. We are guiding and supporting tiny humans with every step they take. This is what elevates our status in the eyes of God. It is vital that we appreciate ourselves for all of the hard effort and diligence we are putting into nurturing our children, and we need to be sure to not self-deprecate when we may not spend as much time in ritual acts of worship as we would like.
It is reported that a man asked the Holy Prophet (pbuh), “My mother has become old. I carry her on my back, feed her with my earnings, remove whatever is harmful for her with my own hands. I turn my face away from her in shyness and in honoring her. Have I compensated her [for what she has done for me]?” The Holy Prophet responded, “No, because her womb was your shelter, her chest was your nourishment, her feet were your shoes, her hand was your protection, and her lap was your receptacle [source of containing]. She did all of this and wished for you to live.”2
We must train ourselves to know and believe that taking care of our children is, in fact, an act of obedience to God. He will not ask us why we did not offer recommended prayers or why we did not stay up in worship all night during Laylat al Qadr (the Night of Power), but he will be happy with us for taking good care of ourselves enough to be able to properly look after our children. We must train ourselves to know and believe that taking care of our children is an act of worship and submission to our Creator. By doing so, we will be able to reconnect with the Almighty.
A Mother’s Status
Motherhood is the most rewarding job in the world, and it is also the most exhausting. God knows that it is difficult, and He knows what we sacrifice for our children’s well-being. He lets us know that because of our hard work, people must respect us. God states, “We advised the man, whose mother bears him with great pain and breast-feeds him for two years, to give thanks to Me first and then to them; to Me all things proceed.”3
In another verse God states, “We have advised the human being to be kind to his parents; his mother bore him with hardship and delivered him while suffering a great deal of pain. The period in which his mother bore and weaned him lasted for thirty months. When he grew-up to manhood and became forty years old, he then said, ‘Lord, inspire me to give You thanks for the bounties you have granted to me and my parents, and to act righteously to please You. Lord, make my offspring virtuous.”4 In these verses God commands obedience to our parents in the same way He commands us to obedience to Himself.
Moreover, in a beautiful tradition, Imam Zayn al-Abidin (p) states, “It is the right of your mother that you should appreciate that she carried you [in her womb] the way nobody carries anybody. She fed you the fruits of her heart which nobody feeds anybody. She protected you [during pregnancy] with her ears, eyes, hands, legs, hair, limbs, [in short] with her whole being, gladly, cheerfully, and carefully; suffering patiently all the worries, pains, difficulties, and sorrows. Till the hand of God removed you from her and brought you into this world. Then she was most happy, feeding you forgetting her own hunger, clothing you even if she herself had no clothes, giving you milk and water not caring for her own thirst, keeping you in the shade, even if she had to suffer from the heat of the sun, giving you every comfort with her own hardships; lulling you to sleep while keeping herself awake.”5
God recognizes all our efforts. Therefore, we should make it a point to find that special connection with God through the hard work we are doing for our little ones. When our children grow up, we will see how well-mannered, smart, and God-wary they have grown to be and will be so proud of ourselves to know that all the sleepless nights have paid off.
Bits of Advice
- Do one thing every day to help lift spirituality: We should do one thing every day to help uplift our spirituality. With all the technological advancements, for example, we can be listening to verses from the Holy Quran and different supplications with a press of a button. Having the words of God playing in the background will help us with our overall spiritual health.
- Take care of yourself: During this busy time, it is easy to forget taking care of ourselves. It is extremely important to take some time to re-energize. Remember, we are human, and we need to take a break. We should do something we love such as going out for coffee or taking a nap. This will help recharge our minds, and we will be able to take care of our families in a much better way.
- Do not hesitate to ask for help: When we see that things are about to get overwhelming, we should ask relatives and close friends to help, if possible. We should be sure to ask for what we need whether it is a home cooked meal or watching the baby for a while. There is no shame in seeking help from those who love and care for you. This can help make things a bit less stressful.
[Written by a mom]
- Al-Qubanchi, Sharh risalat al-huquq, p. 548.
- Al-Nuri, Mustadrak al-wasail, vol. 15, p. 180.
- The Holy Quran 31:14. Quranic quotes in this blog are from the Muhammad Sarwar translation.
- The Holy Quran 46:15.
- Risalat al-huquq, Chapter of the Rights.
1. روي عن النبي (ص): “الجنة تحت أقدام الأمهات” 2. روي أن رجلا جاء الى النبي (ص) وقال له: إن والدتي بلغها الكبر، وهي عندي الآن، أحملها على ظهري، وأطعمها من كسبي، وأميط عنها الأذى بيدي، وأصرف عنها مع ذلك وجهي استحياء منها واعظاما لها، فهل كافأتها؟ قال (ص): “لا، لان بطنها كان لك وعاء، وثديها كان لك سقاء، وقدمها لك حذاء، ويدها لك وقاء، وحجرها لك حواء، وكانت تصنع ذلك لك وهي تمنى حياتك” 3. قال تعالى: ((وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ)) 4. قال تعالى: ((وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا ۖ وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا ۚ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي)) 5. جاء في رسالة الحقوق عن الإمام زين العابدين (ع): “حَقُّ أُمِّكَ، فَـــــــــأَنْ تَعْلَمَ أَنَّهَا حَمَلَتكَ حَيْثُ لا يَحْمِلُ أَحَدٌ أَحَدًا وَأَطْعَمَتكَ مِنْ ثَمَرَةِ قَلْبها مَا لا يُطْعِمُ أَحَدٌ أَحَدًا، وَأَنَّهَا وَقَتكَ بسَمْعِهَـــــــا وبَصَرِهَــــــا ويَدِهَــــا وَرِجْلهـــــا وَشَعْرِهَا وبَشَرِهَا وَجَمِيعِ جَوَارِحِهَـــــا مُسْتَبشِرَةً بذَلِكَ، فَرِحَـــــــــــةً مُوَابلَةً(مواظبة)، مُحْتَمِلَةً لِمَـــــــــا فِيهِ مَكْرُوهُهــا وأَلَمُهـــا وثِقْلُهـــا وَغَمُّهَا حَتَّى دَفَعَتهَا عَنْكَ يَدُ الـــــــــــــقُدْرَةِ وَأَخرَجَتكَ إلَى الأَرضِ فَرَضِيَتْ أَنْ تَشْبَــــــعَ وتجــــــــــــُوعُ هِيَ، وَتَكْسُوكَ وَتعْرَى، وَتُرْوِيكَ وَتَظْمَـــــــــأُ وَتُظِلُّكَ وتَضْحَى، وَتُنَعِّمَـــــــكَ ببُؤْسِهَـــــــــــــــا، وَتُلَذِّذُكَ بالنَّوْمِ بأَرَقِهَا”