Many people may not know that mothers specifically and parents in general are held in very high esteem in the faith of Islam. There are verses in the Qur’an and in the Hadith of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ that lay emphasis on the respect that should be accorded to a mother due to all the difficulties she went through bearing children. In this article, I will focus on the status of mothers in Islam.
A man came to the Prophet ﷺ 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. (An- Nasa’i, Ibn Majah, and al-Hakim)
The first nine months of the child’s life is exclusively spent inside the womb of his/her mother, completely interconnected physically, emotionally, and spiritually. After birth, the child is still usually connected physically to the mother as she nurses her child for up to two years, and her child begins to learn from her speech, ethics and mannerisms.
Even after becoming self sufficient, the child spends more time with the mother who is usually the one who in most cases cares for the education, safety, and nutrition of the child. Even whereas she is a career woman, the burden of the household and children fall 75% on the mother. With such influence on a child’s development, a mother has a heavy responsibility to direct a child to a path that will make him or her successful both in this life and the next.
Allah has made honoring 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.” ( Ar-Ra`d 13:14)
“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 him is thirty (30) months. (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)”
The Qur’an often mentions the pains of pregnancy, childbirth and nursing that woman endure to bring life to the world. Therefore, Allah Azawajal put the command to respect one’s parents right after the command to worship Him, and made a special mention of the mother’s sacrifices as described in Surah Luqman:
“And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.” (31:14)
Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with him) saw a Yemeni man performing Tawâf (circumambulating the Ka’bah) while carrying his mother on his back. This man asked Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar,
“I am like a tame camel for her! I have carried her more than she carried me. Do you think I have paid her back, O Ibn ‘Umar?” Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar replied, “No, not even one contraction!!” [Al- Adab al-Mufrad Bukhârî 1/62]
If The efforts of a man who carries his mother on his back while performing tawâf cannot even repay his mother for a single contraction that she went through for him, then no other way exists to repay our mothers. Ibn ‘Umar’s reply to this man was indeed wise, to show him how massively indebted he was to his mother. This is the tremendous value and prestigious position of mothers in Islam.
Another example is found in the prophecy of Prophet Muhammad ﷺ :
“There will come to you with reinforcements from Yemen a man called Uways ibn ‘Âmir of the clan of Murâd from the tribe of Qaran. He had leprosy but has been cured of it except for a spot the size of a coin. He has a mother and he has always treated her with kindness and respect. If he prays to Allah, Allah will fulfill his wish. If you can ask him to pray for forgiveness for you, then do so.” [Sahîh Muslim 16/95]
Indeed, later on ‘Umar ibn al Khattâb met Uways (may Allah be pleased with them) who was exactly as the Prophet ﷺ described, and upon ‘Umar’s request Uways prayed for him. Commenting on this narration, Shaykh Muhammad Ali Al Hashimî writes:
“What a high status Uways reached by virtue of his kindness and respect towards his mother, so that the Prophet ﷺ recommended his Sahabah [companions] to seek him out and ask him to pray for them!”
A man came to the Prophet ﷺ and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet ﷺ said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet said: Then your father. (Bukhari, Muslim).
May we be able to honor our mothers seeking the pleasure of Allaah.