Guest Post: Harmonizing Motherhood With Spirituality
Ramadan is often a time when mothers, especially those with young children, feel at a loss and unable to maximise on the month. Nazmina Dhanji talks about this spiritual vacuum and how to still connect with Allah despite the challenges.
Motherhood is a role much emphasised in Islam, be it the respect due to mothers or the responsibility that comes with it or even just the gravity of the post itself. From a child’s point of view, the mother is their first deity – before they even know their Creator, she is the one who sustains them, clothes them, and ultimately connects them to Allah. It is only fitting therefore that we give just as much importance to a mother’s spirituality, in how to fuel her for such an important job of nurturing little human beings. In order to bring up righteous children, and remain motivated for her role as a mother, it is absolutely essential for her to maintain her spirituality and connection with Allah.
For nine months she ate the best Halal, home-cooked food. She read Qur’an day and night, recited lots of du’as and tasbihs, prayed a full nine months of salaat without breaks in between, remained positive and at peace and wonderment with her Maker that He had put this life inside her. She felt sick and tired but the thought of the rewards and perks in Jannah that lay reserved for a mother kept her going. Then suddenly – a spiritual vaccum! Along with her precious gift came sleepless nights, leaving her half-dead and just about able to pray Fajr, let alone the extra du’as or tasbih. Her Qur’an is reduced to short surahs read on her baby, and her frequenting of mosque is greatly diminished. No more time for Du’a e Kumayl or Du’a e Tawassul – she barely manages the wajib.
Everything has changed and yet her job is to remain on top of it all and ooze out positive energy for the sake of her child and her milk. It is very important to maintain those positive vibes since the emotions of a mother affect the child. The great scholar Ibn Arabi saw a direct correlation between his own relationship with Allah and his relationship with his children, saying: ‘I am kindest to my children when I am closest to Allah’. But how to achieve this closeness when she has the baby blues to contend with on top of her spiritual vacuum?
Allah, has given us great clues when He has bent the rules a little for women and excused them from certain things. Apart from the Wajib, he has made everything else Mustahab and secondary to looking after her children, nor is it necessary for her to earn her livelihood, nor attend Friday or congregational prayers outside of her home. This shows us that we are to derive strength and energy from the wajib acts themselves. Even if the bare minimum is all we can manage, then we must make it count by letting it be our very best. See that wajib salaat as a time-out, take deep breaths, and make the whole experience last, pour our hearts out to Allah in Sajda and gain strength for the next part of the day. As for the extra du’as, remember that they are Mustahab, and they are there to teach us how to ask Allah so that we may articulate our wants ourselves eventually. The best du’a is that which flows from the heart and onto the tongue. That is the very best way to maintain the closeness and dialogue with Allah – to speak to Him directly and ask Him for every little thing – the strength, the energy, the colic to stop, the milk to flow, the baby to sleep, the child to be righteous, etc…
There are also other clues scattered in the various ahadeeth that tell us of a mother’s reward for waking up in the middle of the night being like one who stays awake the whole night in vigil in Jihad, or the number of thawaab accorded for every drop of milk fed, or how our slate is wiped clean when we give birth, etc… All these clues point to the very poignant fact that Allah does not expect us to get closer to Him through the same means we used to pre-motherhood. Mothers are not expected to maintain the same type of spirituality that they achieved previously – sure we can listen to lectures online and have the du’as playing in the car, and recite Qur’an as we teach our children, but more importantly, He has promoted us to the status of motherhood and a different type of spirituality that comes with the territory. He has also given us the tools necessary to maintain that spirituality – our children. They are the new means by which we get closer to Him. Our job now is NOT to seek a way to perform ritual acts or pray in spite of our children, or to side-step them in an effort to reconnect with Allah. Rather we are to involve them and seek a way to Allah through them.
We know that when done with the intention of seeking the pleasure of Allah, every little act in their upbringing becomes an act of worship. However, the greatest thing a mother can do to fuel herself to bring up her children on the right path and for the growth of her own soul, is to be connected to Allah through her thoughts in the simple things in her day. Here are a few examples to illustrate this:
-When she feels that intense feeling of love for her child inside her heart, she must connect it back to Allah and think about how much He must love us since He has created us
-When she hears her child calling out for her, or crying to be fed, or looking at her longingly asking for his toy, she melts at the sweetness of his call or the look in his eyes. For her to think at that moment how much Allah in turn must love to hear our voices asking Him for something with sincerity, and for her to then ask of Him in that very moment that she fulfils her child’s need would greatly boost her connection to Allah.
-When she sees her child trying to crawl, sit up unaided, hold a spoon, try to fit a piece of a puzzle, the urge is there to do it for him and intervene in the process. But she knows she must let him do it himself or she will stunt his growth like the man who snips the cocoon to help the butterfly in its struggle, only to stunt it and lead to its destruction. Again she must let all those moments remind her of Allah’s special love and care for us when He does not intervene, allowing us our space to make mistakes and grow, and fuelling us with the patience we will need later on as we mother them in their teens.
-When she experiences the amazing feeling of being needed by a little human being, she must again reflect back to how great Allah’s bounties are on us when He is absolutely needless of us, and we are so needy of Him. That is enough to fill her heart with gratitude to Him.
– When her child disobeys her, throws tantrums, is ungrateful, does the complete opposite of everything she has so lovingly taught him, she should let it be a reminder of how awful it must be for our Creator to have us disobey Him when He has fashioned us with His own hands and loves us seventy times more than we love our own children. He is the Master of the universe and these little creatures with no knowledge whatsoever dare to challenge His authority, wisdom and better judgment. We know it feels horrible to be disobeyed – let’s not do it to our Creator and Maker.
This level of contemplation and connection to Allah is real life-changing spirituality that can come along as a by-product of motherhood. This is where a mother’s wisdom, her insight, and her status come from – only when she uses the gift of motherhood to get closer to Allah.
NOTE: This beautiful short video clip complements the article above perfectly!