Mother’s Day in Ramadan


Hamida Begum with my Father and Uncle

Pretty much every believer is familiar with the saying of the Holy Prophet Hadith: ‘Paradise lies under the feet of mothers.’

Mother’s Day celebrated around the world is to honor all the mothers, whose role is unique and whose love is unending.

Around 1870, Julia Ward Howe initiated the call to celebrate Mothers Day in U.S. to ‘encourage pacifism and disarmament amongst women,’ according to Timeanddate.com. This was largely in response to the still divided nation grappling with the tremendous sufferings during the bloody Civil War, a few years earlier.

Starting in 1908, Anna Jarvis was ‘instrumental in arranging a service in the Andrew’s Methodist Episcopal Church in Grafton, West Virginia.’ This church has become the International Mother’s Day shrine and is a designated National Historic Landmark.

Fortuitously, in the United States, the Mother’s Day falls on Sunday May 12, 2019 during the month of Ramadan. It will be a wonderful opportunity to pray for mothers who are still alive and those who souls have departed leaving behind memories of their loving care and sacrifices for us.

Celebrating Mother’s Day need not be an abstract thought or an exercise in extravagance captivated by commercialization. It seems to me that rather than being conflicted about who started this tradition or because its origins might be associated with a church in West Virginia and elsewhere in the Christian world, the believers in the Holy Quran (46:15) will find the respect for mothers from the undisputed facts stated like ‘… in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.’

On Mother’s Day and every day, I remember the angelic woman who gave birth to me, cared for me during sickness and nurtured me to become a functioning human being. My mother taught me how to read the Holy Quran. She knew the meaning of each verse. I remember the day I finished reading the Holy Quran. It was a late afternoon on a spring day, perhaps around 4pm. In early 1960s, I was about 8 years old and I could hear the tongas going outside 6 Sir Hughes Rose Road – later renamed as Shami Road, after the 1965 war hero, who lived a few house down the road in Lahore Cantonment. We were both very happy, as my success was her success.

Hamida Begum was my mother’s name and she was a beautiful woman both in appearance and her kind spirit. She taught me all that I needed to get this far in life and her gentle heart would forgive me for so many times that I let her down so many times in her lifetime. And, she would carry the burdens, sorrows and suffering with incredible grace.

Years after finishing the Holy Quran and during my college year, when students rioted against the regime of General Ayub Khan the colleges were closed. Using some of the skills, I learned from my beloved mother, I signed up for French classes at Alliance Française, Lahore, Pakistan to make productive use of my time.

My mother was orphaned at very young age and she was married at 16. She had not finished more than fourth grade. With a zest for knowledge, she made a deal with me that if I taught her what I learned every evenng, she would make me tea for me. She was smarter than me and one of our happiest moments was when we landed in Paris and only the two of us in the family could speak some French, which we often used to have our secret conversations.

But recognizing just one’s own mother alone would be very selfish because we have women in our lives who make this world special for us. Starting with our wives, we must recognize all the sacrifices they make for our children through sickness and through success. The same verses of the Holy Quran apply to our wives for they too bear our children in pain and give birth to them in pain.

From my own experience, I see the sacrifices my wife does for our children, just as I saw my mother do for her five children. The love and care, my beloved mother gave to my late father is no different than what I receive from my wife.

This is also true for our sisters who bear their children in pain and deliver their children in pain. They make similar sacrifices. This has been my observation as my sisters raised their children to become successful members contributing positively to society.

And, mothers we should include in our thoughts and prayers on Mother’s Day include the daughters and daughter/in-laws who have or will be bearing the grandchildren in pain and in pain bring them into this world.

As we expand our horizons and see all those women with whom we interact and who are mothers, it becomes imperative to honor them and pray for them as they do bear the pain and in pain they deliver their own children.

So during this Ramadan, Mother’s Day becomes more meaningful when people look with open minds rather than narrow and dismissive theological lenses.

This is especially true when one examines the motivations behind Julia Ward Howe’s drive, as she was born in an era when almost half a million people lost life and limbs during the bloody American Civil War.

Unfortunately, the world has seen more than just the American Civil War. The Balkans and Rwanda in the 1990s and Yemen most recently are the kinds of conflicts where mothers lost their children for whom they had hopes and dreams and whom they carried in pain and gave birth to in pain.

For these reasons, celebrating Mother’s Day is to honor their roles mentioned in the holy books.

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