Editor’s note: This is a guest blog post by Saadia Faruqi. Saadia is an interfaith activist, blogger for Tikkun Daily and The Islamic Monthly, and a speaker on American Muslim issues. She lives in Houston, Texas and is currently writing a collection of short stories set in Pakistan. Follow her on Twitter @saadiafaruqi
Today, America celebrates another Mother’s Day. Women of all faiths and backgrounds will get breakfast in bed, a day of relaxation, visitors and gifts. Even though it isn’t traditionally an Islamic celebration, Mother’s Day is celebrated by many Muslims who wish to honor and respect those most esteemed of personalities, the one under whose feet heaven lies: our mothers.
And why not? It’s a fact of life that mothers usually receive no thanks for the immense sacrifices they make for their children and families on a daily basis. So a day to honor and thank them seems the least we can do. As mother of two, I truly love the little presents and cards I get from my kids, created secretly in school at the urging of their teachers.
In a few hours, though, this day will be over and we will all go back to our old selves, children taking mothers for granted, and mothers struggling to keep their heads above water. Yet why not aim even higher? I propose that this year, Mother’s Day should have a slightly different focus. Perhaps in addition to a day of receiving appreciation, it should also be a day to reflect on the year gone by and assess our worthiness of this national celebration. Are we worthy of being honored as mothers?
As a mother, let me be the first to pass judgment on myself, and I hope my readers will do the same.
The fact that a mother is her children’s caregivers is accepted by all. Yet many in our fast-paced materialistic society do not equate caregiving with “giving care.” While even animal moms feed and protect their young, the mothers of human beings should set a much higher standard for themselves.
For example, the physical care of our children should include encouraging healthy eating habits, setting a high standard of cleanliness and the like – habits that we first need to create in ourselves so that our children learn by example.
In this age of fast food and fast lives, that’s easier said than done. Television, computer and Nintendo screens have taken the place of quality time, and it’s showing negatively in the attitude of young adults toward old parents, who now thirst for quality time themselves.
Islam, like many other religions, teaches that the responsibility of a mother is much more than just the physical care of her children. A mother is her child’s teacher, and as such should try to spend time imparting educational, religious and moral values to her younger generation.
A mother is an emotional support for her child, from whom he learns self-worth and self-confidence that will become a part of his psyche. Unfortunately, recognizing that a child needs comfort and love even in the most inconvenient of situations can be a challenge for many busy mothers.
Teaching consciously can be easy compared to the unconscious training we give our children on a daily basis. Our present relationships form the basis of their future ones; how we treat our friends, family and neighbors has a huge impact on how they will do the same when they reach adulthood.
A mother who has less than cordial relations with her in-laws or antagonistic feelings toward her spouse is going to raise children with that same mind-set. But a mother who makes extra effort to create harmony in her home, practices charity towards others, and is spiritually and morally aware, will lend these fine examples to her child.
Being a mother is hard work, and mothers everywhere are struggling to find a balance between work, home and everything else. That’s why taking a few minutes to assess how we are doing as moms may not be a bad idea.
This year, the assessment may not be perfect, but it will give us something to work toward in the coming years. Only then can we truly earn the appreciation we get on Mother’s Day.
*A similar version of this article was published in the Houston Community Newspapers in April 2012.