Written by Anonymous
Every Ramadan, the radio program that my family has listened to ever since I can remember, scheduled for the breaking of the fast, reminds the listener, at least once during the holy month, of the following Hadith: A man came to the Prophet [PBUH] and said, ‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet 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). It is also well known that the Prophet said: Heaven lies under the feet of your mother (Ahmad, Nasai).
I have seen many mothers love and play with children and teach them how to read Arabic so that they can read the Qur’an and can conduct their prayers: these children should be eternally grateful for those lessons and the love. However, I have also witnessed some of the same mothers treat their children in the most horrendous way and speak to them in such vile language, frightening tone, and even damn them to Hell. So, whenever I hear the annual reminders, I always struggle with the Hadiths referenced above – how can our mothers guide their children to Paradise, but on the other hand condemn them? Whenever I challenged a couple of mothers on their behavior, the children were always to blame. They’d say, if they were good, mothers would not need to speak to them in such a way and it was a mother’s right to treat their child in any matter they chose so their entrance into Paradise could be closer to being guaranteed.
Not being a mother myself, but having a very strained relationship with my own mother, I always found this concept illogical. For, if I was a mother, I should like to think I would not insult children in the way I have seen from within my community. I would not talk to an adult that way, so it is beyond me on why it is deemed OK for some mothers to talk to their child in such derogatory ways. I can only imagine how hard motherhood is but is it that hard that it justifies such poor conduct?
Are children not meant to be blessings?
Should we not teach our children through love and reasoning yet remaining firm when required instead of being in fear of the next onslaught of their mother’s rage?
Or is it really easier said than done?
“…There are women, and may I be forgiven for saying this, that are simply unfit to be mothers.”
Children, of course, have minds of their own. There are occasions when I think a child should be rightly reprimanded. But when the child is left screaming their eyes out in such pain with bruises and cuts on their bodies from the punishment their mother has inflicted on them, I do not think they continue to hold the keys to Paradise for their child! Their bodies and souls are hurting and that can have long-term effects on their spiritual and mental development for the worse. If that level of punishment is normalized or becomes a daily occurrence, it distorts the child’s vision of the world, the relationship with and their view of their mother and, more importantly, their vision of Allah and His bounty.
I am hoping the examples of parenting from some of the mothers described above is a generational phenomenon and new mothers are taking a different approach towards their children’s development and their connection to Allah SWT. For Paradise can only be granted if He SWT judges so on the Day of Resurrection – mothers can only try, but some should perhaps try differently instead of turning into monsters.
At the end of the day, I have no doubt that these women, deep down, love their children immensely. Maybe they, themselves, were not getting the help and support they needed. Perhaps, this kind of behavior is an indicator that they need assistance and, as part of the wider community, we should delicately show these women that they are not alone so that they do not get defensive, feel threatened or not good enough.
Motherhood, for some, feels isolating and if there is a support mechanism, it can be enjoyed more than being seen as a struggle. From newer families, I have seen a lot more hands on parenting by the fathers and the difference in family dynamics compared to a family where only the mother is left to actively deal with the child as well as maintain a household is stark. Again, perhaps it is a generational thing among men, too.
However, there are women, and may I be forgiven for saying this, that are simply unfit to be mothers. Their behavior only tears the family apart and I must point out here that there are also men whose behavior I have seen which has been equally horrendous. In these situations, the child has had no choice but to sever the ties when they are old or strong enough to do so for their own sake, and attempt to find a path to Paradise on their own, leaving their parents to age alone. Again the child, in my opinion, is unfairly painted as the culprit for breaking up the family as they should put their parents first instead of their own well-being. Even when the child has returned either through emotional blackmailing or guilt to conduct their duties to look after their parent(s), they soon regret it and leave again as they realize that their own mental and emotional well-being is far more important than anyone else’s, including their parents. If one is not strong enough, how can they possibly care for another? And if they are not spiritually strong, there is little change of turning a person around to love rather than anger.
I often wonder why Allah SWT allowed these people to have children, but He knows best. I only hope and pray that if Allah SWT wills for me to become a mother, that I will have a better relationship with my child than what I have sadly witnessed.