The dignity of women in Islam (Part-I) - Respect for Mother

Islam signifies respect and dignity for women in a very unique way by instructing the society of her rights and duties in different social statuses and roles she enjoys in her life. A woman has her rights and duties as a mother, daughter, wife, sister and as an integral part of the larger society. These rights and duties are what make her the most respected being in the human society.

The greatest misperception about the status of women in Islam is that they are very cruelly dealt and their individual and social rights are brutally ruined. Contrary to what the world has known about disregard for woman rights in all societies and religions of the world, this article highlights the special status a woman enjoys in an ideal Muslim society. The fact is that, if justifiably examined, we are led to believe that Islamic Law is the only directive about all sorts of individual and collective respect for the female gender and to which there is no rival example. But before continuing further, it should be clarified logically and scientifically that the notion "equality of gender" is often used misleadingly by some. "Equality of gender" should not be a caption that denounces to recognize the differences in social statuses and role plays of the two genders male and female based on the very natural differences between them. Instead, it is nothing but natural that the physiological and psychological differences in the buildup of man and woman demand different behaviors and expectations from them. Men and woman both have different physiology, psychology, moods, emotions, motivation levels and capabilities and it is therefore justifiable that they should be expected to behave according to what they are, and not according to what they ought to be (mislead by the society).

The very first clue we get from the teachings of Islam is by the fact that the Holy Book of the Muslims (Al-Quran) has a whole Surah (or Chapter as you call it) with the title and subject of Al-Nisaa (meaning women). The following are different teachings of Islam about the women in her different statuses and roles.

Rights of woman as a mother

About the respect for mother, the Holy Prophet (of Islam) Muhammad (PBUH) has said:
"The Paradise lies at the feet of your mother" [Reported in Musnad Ahmad, Sunan An-Nasâ'i and Sunan Ibn Mâjah]

This is an idiomatic saying which illustrates the unique respect that a mother deserves. Every individual believing in the hereafter has a wish to win paradise in the life after death, and when he is told that his paradise (the place of eternal comfort) lies under his mother's feet; it means that the status of his mother is even greater than that of his paradise and therefore she deserves more love and affection than the wish for paradise itself.

Once a companion of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) questioned him "Oh Messenger of Allah, who is the most deserving of my care?" The Prophet replied "Your Mother". Then the companion asked, who after her and the Prophet repeated "your mother". Third time the companion reiterated his question as to whose status was next most deserving, and the Prophet again replied "your mother". And for the fourth time the Prophet said "Your father" and then "your nearest relatives in order".

This Narration from the Prophet of Islam clearly indicates that mother deserves thrice more "right of care" than any other relation in this world.

The Holy Quran (Book of Islam) says:
"And your Rubb has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: `My Rubb! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young." (Sura Al-Isra [17:23-24])

And once the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said:
"May he perish, May he perish, may he perish" Those around him immediately asked whom he was referring. Prophet Muhammad replied; "He whose parents (one or both) attain old age in his life and he does not enter Paradise (because of his goodness towards them)." (Saheeh Muslim)

The Mother also has a share in her sons property. The Quran says in this regard "A mother will get one-third share of her sons property when there are no children and one-sixth (for both the parents) when there are children (of the deceased son) or his other legal heirs (eg. brothers and sisters)." Ordained by Al-Quran Sura Nisa (4:11)

It is only Islam that has legally ordained the right of inheritance for parents in their (deceased) sons property. The parents have a right to the property you (the son) own, so they never deserve to be separated from you or sent to "Old Homes" according to Islam.

Duties of woman as a mother

The Prophet of Islam (PBUH) and the religion he followed have not only elated the status of the woman with regards to her rights but also have defined the duties she must adhere to. The Quran says that the first and foremost duty of a mother is the righteous upbringing of her children. She is the first institution of mankind and thus her teachings and behavior do not only remain confined to her children, but they overflow and influence these children as the future parents. That is to say that mothers train not only children, but in-fact are a source of ideology and culture to the whole society through their teachings.

Muhammad (PBUH) said addressing the woman "Take care of your home for that is your Jihad". This saying needs no more elaboration when we see that mothers being the feminine gender are the only suitable parent for proper upbringing of the children. A mother understands what the cry of her child means; does the child want food or change of a nappy, or simply something else. Even the father depends upon the insights of the child's mother to understand what the child wants.

Comparison of the Islamic teachings and the status of mothers in the modern society

The golden teachings of Islam designate special ranks and respect for the parents in general and the mother in particular. The teachings envisage that the parents deserve not only respect, but obedience in all sorts of circumstances (except when being compelled to Shirk or setting companions in the authority of God Almighty). On the contrary today we see that children are often disgraceful towards their parents. They often don't have time to devote even some love and affection to their parents. The situation is so worsening in some locations of the world that the parents are considered a burden on the nuclear family and they are compelled to live alone, not withstanding the kind of circumstances (including poverty and illness) they might be facing. Some unfortunate children also happen to admit their parents in "Old Homes" where their parents often live to death, and these unfortunate children do not remember that the services they are rendering today for their children demand some return when they themselves would be in need of them in their old age.

Moreover, Islam has highlighted that the main duty of mothers is upbringing of children and taking care of the home and family. Today we see many types of problems and complications when women enter the working folk just for the sake of a perceived gender inequality. Their are increasing tensions in homes and amongst the spouses when they cannot meet likewise needlessly raised expectations against each other. A justifying person would agree that duties and expectations from either of the genders should not go beyond their well-defined physiological and psychological capabilities. It is the very right of woman that they are not forced to earn for their livelihood. We thus are headed to believe that such social evils and problems would cease to exist if the teachings of Islam are followed in their true spirit.

Hence we can conclude that the rights of the woman as a mother are occasionally ruined today and she enjoys little respect that she deserves as envisaged in Islam.

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Author: K Mohan27 Dec 2015 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 2

Good that every religion gives importance to the mother and she surely need all the attention of every one. Mother is the first teacher of every child and she is fondly carrying the children from birth to death. Mother is the only person in the world who is ready to forgo her share of meal and offer the same to the children. But it is very sad that people are discarding ageing mother or parents and sending them to the old age homes. Please remember that a mother can live even without food but not without the children she nurtured and made big.

Author: Naveed Ahmed24 Jan 2016 Member Level: Gold   Points : 0

Yes, Mr. Mohan, parents and especially the mother deserves respect and care, for their life long. And there is no alternative to the care and respect they could get from their own children in comparison to any other thing. I also like to relate a "Dua" here telling us the very words how we should pray and act with our parents. It is in the Quran;

O God, have mercy on them as they had on me when I was young. (Sura 17 Verse 24)

Very surely everyone's parents nurture them with utmost sacrifices and hardships, this verse also reminds to be just as kind to them too.

Author: Natarajan03 Jan 2018 Member Level: Diamond   Points : 5

If we look at any society or religious sect in India, mother is always equated as the visible God. Among Hindu religions, there goes a saying, The First Gods that look after every child are Mother first, Father second, then the Teacher. These were ideal times when the society was uncorrupted and Man was not so much exposed to the evils of society.

In general terms, across all faiths, Slowly, humans have been exposed to jealousy, greed, revenge, immoral carnal desires. This with the changing morals, attention for freedom of choice and expression have somewhat tarnished the image of the mother and her children. From the children's viewpoint, they have become liberalized in a society with everything at their disposal and an acceptance that money and a place for care for mothers and parents is a good option instead of personally looking after them.

Equally, we read in papers where young mothers, have an affair, then kill their first husband and child so that they can start a new life with their person of interest. We hear about mothers who take up surrogacy instead of being proud to carry their own child inside them. It would be unthinkable a few decades ago, but now it is a reality. So, we live in a society where the values for both have taken a downhill turn.

Regarding the issue of women working, most of them do it to pursue their careers, earn and contribute to the family so that the entire family can have a better future. Very few of them may be doing it just for the sake of gender equality.

I think, the society has to start accepting that things have changed, most would still respect their mothers and parents but there would be examples on both sides wherein for a price, their duties would be passed on to somebody else to fulfill the duties, like a child being looked after by a nanny, like a baby or elderly parents being looked after by caretakers or a child living in a hostel so that the mother can work elsewhere, or parents in old age homes so that their children can live elsewhere. It may sound harsh but these are changing times

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