Who is a woman and what is her role as a mother to her children?

Very often the topic claims priority. Though it is a rather hackneyed subject, it requires a fresh look at a time when women from the gentry are embracing Islam in the West.

When Allah the Almighty describes humans and human soul in the Qur’an, He does not make any difference on the basis of gender.

Rater there is physical dimension but absolutely not the spiritual dimension. Irrespective of their gender, both are created to worship Allah and to obey what it is given in the Qur’an.

Prophet Mohammad  (PBUH) said, "Allah the Almighty has created this whole universe for the benefit of human beings. But He created the human beings for Himself. We are created to adore Him as He adores us, to believe in Him, fear from Him and obey His commands. He did not create us for any other purpose". From this it is very much clear that both (man & woman) have equal status in Islam.

Both parents deserve respect from their children and it seems difficult to obey whom on lieu of the other. The child is not supposed to abuse any of his/her parents Abdullah bin Amr narrated: Prophet Mohammad said, "It is one of the greatest sins that a man should curse his parents." People then asked, ‘How does a man curse his parents?’ Prophet Mohammad said’ ‘The man abuses the father of another man and the later abuses the father of the former and abuses his mother". At another place Allah (SWT) says, "We have enjoined man to respect his parents; his mother bears him with fainting after fainting, while his weaning two years. Thank me as well as your parents; towards Me lies the goal"3. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said in this regards." The parent is the central door of the garden (Al-Jannah), you may look after it or you may leave it". On the authority of Abdullah Ibn Amr Al Aas (May Allah be pleased with him said: Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said’ "Among the major sins are: Association of anybody with Allah, disobedience to parents, killing of a person, and taking of oath". It is the duty of the child to fulfill the desired needs of his both parents and please them. Abdullah bin Amr narrated: "A came and asked from Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), ‘Shall I participate in Jihad?’, The Prophet Mohammad then asked, ’Are your parents living?’, ‘Yes’ , the man said, Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, ‘ Do Jihad for their benefit"6.

Probability of Equality

Raising the children is great mission in one’s life with highest priority over others. For children, both parents i.e. father and mother are important as one looks after the financial aspect and another takes care of the social and ethical aspect. Allah has made the husband responsible for the maintenance of the family (which of course includes the child/ren if there be) while wife is made responsible for the care of the family.

Al-Aswad bin Yazid said: I asked ‘Aisha  (May Allah be pleased with her) "What did the Prophet use to do at home?" She said, "He used to work for his family, and when he heard the Adhan (call for the prayer), he would go out".

Allah (SWT) has attached great importance to maintain the family ties. It is one of the top most duties of a man to look after the need of the family and try to make them happy.  On the authority of Abu Huraira (May Allah be pleased with him) who said: Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, "A dinar you spend in the sake of Allah (SWT), a dinar you spend to free a slave, a dinar you donate to the poor, and a dinar you spend on your family, the most rewarding among them is the dinar that you spend on your family". He (PBUH) also said "the best dinar a man spends is a dinar he spends on his family, a dinar he spends on his animal, and a dinar he spends on his companions in the sake of Allah (SWT). On another place Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said when a person's son matures and he has the financial ability to marry him but does not do so, the boy will commit sin and the sin will be on the father.

"Allah will have mercy on the man who passionately loves his child."

The importance of both parents can be assessed from a Hadith. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, "When the human being dies his/her deeds will come to an end except three kinds: Sadqah Jariah (continuous charty), beneficial knowledge, and a good child that will pray for him or her". A Hadith related to Ibn Majah and Malik on the authority of Abu Hurairah, "The rank of a person may by raised after his death. He asks; My Lord, how does this come about? He is then told; your child has prayed for your forgiveness."  Prophet on various times and occasion used the word parents instead of mother or father alone.

Whenever people come to Him (PBUH) asking about their parents He (PBUH) never said to be biased or preferential to one parent and neglect other. On the authority of Abu Usaid Malik Ibn Rubia Al Saed (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated: "While we were sitting with Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), a man of the Bani Salamah tribe came and said, O Messenger of Allah! Is there any thing I can now do in benevolence towards my parents after their death? Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, 'Yes, by praying for them and soliciting Allah’s mercy and forgiveness towards them, fulfilling their promises and undertakings, doing kindness to those who may be related to you through them, and then respecting their friends".

No doubt that their duties are not identical in substance but are equal in importance. That is why we have been asked by Allah (SWT) to respect both of our parents and be kind to them, as they deserve our good behavior. Allah (SWT) says, "Your Lord has decreed that you should worship nothing except him, and (show) kindness to your parents, whether one or both of them attain old age (while they are still with you, never say to them ‘shame’ nor scold either of them. Speak to them in a generous fashion. Protect them carefully and say them: My Lord, show them mercy, just as they cared for me as a little child". 

Parents are the most respectful and important in child life and those who are obedient and dutiful to their parents Allah (SWT) blessed them on the earth and on the heaven as well. Their invocation are heard and accepted by Allah (SWT) very soon. Ibn Umar narrated:  Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, "While three men were walking, the rain overtook them. They entered the cave of the mountain to shelter themselves. While they were in the cave a huge rock of the mountain fell down over the mouth of their cave and completely shut them in. In this difficult time there was no other obvious source of rescue. They said to one another, "let us recall the good deeds which we did sincerely for Allah (SWT). Make dua (supplication) to Allah (SWT)" by mentioning those good deeds as a source of acceptance that He (SWT) may rescue us. So one of them mentioned one of his special deeds to Allah (SWT) as: "O Allah (SWT) I had parents who ere very old and young children for whom I used to graze sheep. Whenever I went to them at night, I took milk and gave it first to my parents to drink before my children. One day I could not return home till it was evening as I went far away in search of graze. When I returned, I found them asleep. I had came to them with milk as I used to do. I remained standing near their heads as I disliked to disturb their sleep. I also disliked giving milk to my children before giving it to parents though children were crying at my feet. This affair of theirs and mine continued till it was dawn. If my deed as you know was for to seek your pleasure then rescue us and make for us an opening from which we see the horizon. The other two men also invoked Allah (SWT) and remembered their good deeds and asked for the help. Allah (SWT) accepted their prayer and released them".

Perhaps this is the reason why in Qur’an kindness to parents finds place next to the worship of Allah (SWT) "your Lord has decreed that your worship none save him, and that you be kind to your parents".

Then Why Mother A Paradigm Model

Though father has the responsibility but it is the mother who is at the upper hand. It is not because that she has the whole sole responsibility of her children but because she is so equipped with talents and god gifted properties that help her bearing the child’s responsibility and fulfilling his or her needs. There is no doubt that the main role of a Muslim woman is to take care of her home and fulfill those responsibility which are bestowed on her by Allah (SWT). Though this does not deter her undertaking outside assignments but definitely her priority to be towards her home and children and she happily performs such duties. She even bears the pains without making any complaint. That is the reason that Allah (SWT) says, "Taking the children as her product indeed adds more value to her duty."

The task of Home making is so important in Islam as its importance can be assessed from the following Hadith. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, "Take care of your home for that is your jihad" (the wholly war against the enemy of Islam), attaching the status equal to that of nothing but Jihad. He (PBUH) elevated the women from mere chattel to the dignity of being equal servant of Allah with men.

Not only a mere blessing rather Allah (SWT) has gifted her the capability to carry out the task and shoulder the responsibility. One can say that she has a perfect blend of unique talent and psychological strength. To be a pregnant, nursing, nurturing, raring and caring to make her child face the worldly atmosphere. Allah (SWT) says, " the mother shall give suck to their children for two whole years". On another place Allah (SWT) says, "The bearing of the child to his weaning is thirty months".

Children at home are not only cared but they are also home schooled and who gives this education, none other than mother as she spends time with her children more as compare to father or any other member in the family. Her lap is the first madarsah. To educate her child she does not require any college or university degree or any other formal training but a zeal and interest. The values she inculcates in her children count a lot.

Role of Mother in the Modern Era

In an era of competition when everyone is looking at the best education to their children so as to compete with others, it is very difficult to educate children. Meager resources, system of education not in compliance with the Islamic way of life, inculcating Islamic values and teaching with continuous outside or environmental influence all have to take into account. You look for resources and help but without being compromising .In times when media is extremely active and vastly popular, our children have a continuous exposure to what is called vulgar or not acceptable. In schools many times the teachings go against your belief and you are pushed to follow what is prevailing since your rights are ignored in lieu of the other’s rights. On every nook and corner you are confronted with a number of odds. Being a mother it is she who faces challenge and makes it possible that her children remain in touch with Islamic values and observe religious culture. She spends quite a large part of her best part of life to fight against these odds. She happily bears the pain, watches her children what they are doing and remains at their side to provide help in times of need and differentiate the wrongs from the rights. Since children are the very good imitators, she provides or even creates opportunities for them to learn. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, "Paradise is at the feet of your mother". How important our mother is and how much respect she is entitled for is very much clear from this Hadith. On the authority of Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: A man come to Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and asked, "Oh messenger of Allah, who is the most deserving of good care from me?" He (PBUH) replied "your mother". The man asked then, He (PBUH) replied, "Your mother" The man asked, "then who?" And He (PBUH) replied the same, "your mother". The man asked then who else? Only then He (PBUH) said, your father, then your nearest relatives in order". It means mother is the primary responsibility of the son and this is because there is no parallel alternative in raring and caring the child. But not only the son is believed to respect the mother rather a daughter is also expected to be kind, caring and obey her mother. On the authority of Asma bint Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (May Allah be pleased with her) narrated: My mother came from Makkah to Medina to see me, while she was still an unbeliever. She had come to demand something from me. I enquired with the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) ‘My mother has come to see me and she is expecting something from me. May I oblige her? He (PBUH) said, "Yes, be kind to your mother".

From the fear of being undermining the importance of women (mother) Sallama, the nurse of Ibrahim (AS) who was the third son of Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), said to Him (PBUH): "O Messenger of Allah, you have brought tidings of all good things to men, but not women. He (PBUH) responded, ‘Did your women friends put you up asking me such question?’ to which she replied ‘yes’ then Mohammed (PBUH) replied, ‘ Does it not which please anyone of you that if she is pregnant by her husband and he is satisfied with that, she receives the reward of one who fasts and prays for the sake of Allah (SWT)? And when her labor pain comes no one in the heavens or earth knows what is concealed in her womb to delight her? And when she delivers, not a mouthful of milk flows from her, and not a suck does she gives but that she receives, for every mouthful and every suck the reward of one good deed. And if she is awake at night by her child. She receives the reward of one who frees seventy slaves for the sake of Allah (SWT)".

What our eyes generally see is that people pay high tributes to Muhadditheen, Mufassireen, Muballigheen etc. for their immense contribution to the service of Islam, but we forget who force is from behind, who has brought them up. The hidden fact is that their mother either brings them up alone or mother played a vital role. She performed pivotal role in molding and shaping the child and developing the personality, which later become the great luminary in the service of the Islam. E.g. Imaam  Rabiatur Rai (RA) was a well known Muhaddith of Medina. His father left Medina for jihad when he was not even born. Circumstances forced his father to return home after a long period of 27 years. When he approached his house, he got disturbed on seeing a young stranger emerging from the house. Asking from the young stranger who was he? The stranger also replied in the same vein with a raising voice. Realising some untoward happening at the door the mother of the young stranger come at the door, she immediately recognized her husband. She then informed him that the stranger is none other than the child that was still to be born at the time when he departed for jihad 27 years ago. Later in the day he enquired from his wife about the money he had left behind him. When he went to pray namadh in the mosque, he found a large number of people gathered around a Muhaddith, taking the lessons of Hadith. His happiness found no bounds when he found the gathering was around his own son. Later he came to know that his wife spent all the money to raise his child.  That was the one aspect only, the other one which very less know is that she never breastfed her child without Wudhu.


It is not fair to neglect the role played by the father in the life of the children. Logically his unlimited influence have a great effect on child’s future. There are certain principles that no one can ingrain in children's hearts better than the father. Similarly there are some problems that no one can face and protect children better except father. Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said, "Father or a parent is the best of the gate of paradise. So if you like, guard the gate or destroy it.

On the authority of Umar (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated: The Prophet Mohammad used to sell the dates of the garden of Bani An-Nadir and store for his family so much food as would cover their needs for a whole year. This is the aspect man can better look than a women.

Tough mother commands an upper hand in caring for their children and the paradise is beneath his feet. But, this does not means that father does not play a role or vital role so does not command much respect or good deeds of their children. Mohammad (PBUH) said,  "The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of the father, and the displeasure of the Lord is in the displeasure of the father".

 So both are equally important to their children. Allah (SWT) says in Qur’an, "And lower to them shoulders with humility and meekness and say my Lord have mercy upon them(both) as they brought me up when I was little.’ When we were weak and in need our parents did hard labour in nourishing and rearing us". On another place Allah (SWT) says, "Be grateful to me and to both your parents". Allah bless one who showers gratefulness to his parents proved by good deeds and behavior, and the most unfortunate one is one who does not seek salvation by the true Khidmat shown by kindness in words and deeds.

It is the responsibility of both to help the children in bringing them up. A Good child is the blessing for both parents. Allah says, "Whoever kisses his child, Allah (SWT) writes for him a reward; whoever pleases his child, Allah will please him on the Resurrection Day; and whoever teaches his child (how to read) the Qur'an, he and the mother (of the child) will be dressed in the hereafter in suits whose illumination will light the faces of the dwellers of paradise." The only reason to me as why mother is on the upper hand despite the hardships of father is that it is the mother who carry the baby nine months in her womb and during that period and while delivery she passes through extreme pains rather most mothers die while giving birth. God has gifted her with innate instinct to care her child more than the father. On the authority of Al-Mughirah (May Allah be pleased with him), who said: Mohammad (PBUH) said, "Allah forbids all of you to disobey your mothers".g

The author, who got her doctorate from the Aligarh Muslim University, is currently working as project coordinator at the Institute of Objective Studies.

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