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My Dear Sister, Submit. For Your Baby’s Sake.

Disclaimer: This article is written for women who do not have the sole responsibility of supporting their families and are financially able to implement the advice contained within.

On TV and in movies, motherhood is about excitement, happiness, and pride.  Pregnancy is special and fun, and babies are there to coo and act cute, be dressed up in all sorts of must-have outfits, and be shown off as the ultimate accessory.  As always, these depictions are half truths at best.

Motherhood is about submission.  And just like with Islam, submission is not just when it is convenient, compatible, or easy.  The fruits of your labor take time to blossom.  From the first day a woman gets that positive pregnancy test, the trials and tribulations begin.  Nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and heartburn characterize the first trimester.  Thankfully in Allah’s Mercy He has promised in the Quran “With every hardship comes ease, with every hardship comes ease.” (94:6)  So alas, the second trimester brings a period of ease and pleasure.  She revels in her changing body and starts feeling the first movements of her child.  She feels great after recovering from the morning sickness and starts to plan the future.  Then the third trimester starts to threaten this bliss.  By 37 weeks her discomfort reaches its peak, and she is ready for that time of ease again.  She begins to look forward to the birth and wants to do anything to make it come sooner, not knowing what is about to come.  She thinks the birth is the end but indeed it is only the beginning of a life long test of her will.

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Ah, and then the birth.  For a first time mom, the intensity of birthing overtakes her with a shock and awe far beyond any military campaign.  She fights the power of birth until it finally hits her, the baby has to come out on way or another, and none of the options are appealing. When a woman realizes she cannot run away from her birthing time, nor does she really want to, will she be able to submit to Allah’s plan for her. The successful birther is the one who accepts the overwhelming intensity that accompanies the awesome process of bringing new life to the world, and she welcomes it.  Birth is truly a right of passage for women and the extreme journey cannot be avoided, not with epidurals, c-sections, or doctors.  When submission occurs in birth, a woman comes out of the experience with one of the highest levels of empowerment a human can feel. She feels joy and victory in her accomplishment and is prepared for the next journey that has just begun: parenthood.

The moment has finally arrived and she meets her child for the first time.  Again, Allah has sanctioned a wonderful moment of ease and unadulterated joy after the hardships of birth.  No woman can truly understand the intense emotional response her mind and body has to holding her new born baby until her time comes.  Every aspect of the birthing journey becomes trivial and worth every moment with her new baby.  After the initial joys, she suddenly becomes submersed in another wave of emotional intensity that threatens to overwhelm her.  Again, submission is the key to accepting the instantaneous maternal extinct that Allah has created for her.  Rather than fighting the feelings or trying to escape, she must submit and allow herself to cry, breath, share and finally accept the responsibility that has now been flung on to her.

Yes, motherhood is a responsibility.  A HUGE responsibility, and as with most responsibilities, there is pleasure spiked with pain.  Allah has just entrusted her with what could be the biggest test of her life.  Each stage of parenting comes with its joys and conflicts, victories and failures.  Without guidance from her Creator, she may feel lost and overwhelmed and try to chart her own path, which could lead to disaster.  Submission to Allah’s will and His purpose for mothers is the key to surviving the many trials to come.

Allah and His Messenger (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) have made it very clear that one of the primary roles of a woman is as a mother and care provider for her children.  The emotional well-being, physical health, and religious guidance of the child all rest primarily in the hands of the mother, with the most intense period being from conception through the earliest years of life.  Prophet Muhammad (sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam) responded when questioned about the most deserving of a person’s obedience and kind treatment with, “Your mother, and then your mother, and then your mother, and then your father.”  Scholars have explained this 3-times maternal preference due to her role in carrying the child, giving birth to the child, and nourishing the child with her milk.  The Quran sanctions 2 full years of breastfeeding as a right of the child on his/her mother (2:233).  This is a religious obligation, not a choice, because of its unmatched benefits for the child. Of course the father has a huge responsibility as well, but his primary duty is to maintain the financial support for the family to enable the mother to perform her role more effectively.

Unfortunately, external influences have crept into the Muslim worldview, resulting in Muslim women struggling with their roles as mothers.  Many women are told their worth and self-respect come from their degrees and careers.  Rather than parents encouraging their daughters to attain degrees for the sake of knowledge, teaching their children, and future security, Muslim girls are told that they must postpone marriage and motherhood to pursue higher degrees and establish high power careers.  Not only is this contradictory to the fitrah Allah created, it is also a disaster for marriages, children, and society as a whole.  No alternative will ever take the place of the real thing.  Daycares, nannies, grandparents, and breast pumps are inferior replacements for the mother.  No other person will ever stress and worry over a child like the mother because Allah put that maternal instinct in her, specifically and only for her own child.  For a woman who is raised to work, submitting to her role as a mother can be very difficult and sometimes impossible.  The sudden shift in life purpose strikes at the root of her identity.  Indeed if women focus on the goal, which is to please Allah and avoid His punishment, and to raise the most righteous, healthy children, submission becomes clear and simple.  At first it is a struggle, but eventually the mother will cherish the serenity and peace that comes with obeying Allah and providing her child with the best.  Isn’t every child worthy of the very best, not just a “good enough” alternative?

Many Muslim women make up excuses, claiming they are somehow exempt from this duty.

Excuse #1: “I am not the type of women who can stay home all day.”  First of all, what type of woman is this, the stereotype of a shallow, lazy person who eats bon-bons and watches TV all day?  Any woman who does this is not fulfilling her God-given responsibilities as a mother.  Between breastfeeding, diaper changing, clothes washing, and cuddling and bonding with her child, she barely has time to rest. Then there is cooking healthy homemade foods, washing dishes, paying bills, and doing all the other chores that have are waiting in the background.  In addition, there are her duties to Allah.  She should pray, read Quran to increase her Islamic knowledge, and start researching and planning for her child’s upbringing.  If these tasks are easy and quick for her, she has the time and opportunity to have play groups with other moms to enhance her child’s social skills, take walks and teach her child the names of Allah’s creations, and relax with friends over tea.

Excuse #2: “I will just work part time so I don’t lose my career.”  The fallacy of this view is that motherhood is a full time job, not something part time that can be squeezed into a work schedule.  Babies need to be breastfed every 2-4 hours for at least 6 months to 1 year.  A child’s brain development is greatest from birth to 3 years of age, requiring constant stimulation and interaction.  Bonding between the child and mother is a 24-hour process.  Allah is indeed the Provider of provisions and He can reignite a career if He wills.  So it is not better to please Allah and obey Him if a mother is worried about her future?

Excuse #3: “I will pump when I am at work.”  Most working moms rarely make it past 6 months with pumping and breastfeeding.  Pumping is an annoying, time intensive process that is not compatible with a busy work schedule.  It also decreases milk production so eventually the child will have to be given formula.  The plastic materials used in breast pumps and bottles have the potential to be hazardous to the baby; milk storage, transportation, and re-heating also become an issue.  Crucial bonding during breastfeeding between the mother and baby is also compromised.  Does a woman (or child) prefer a plastic alternative to her soft human touch?

Another often forgotten aspect of motherhood is the energy and strength needed to properly give her child their Islamic rights.  When a mother is working, she grows tired and irritable and begins to resent her role as a mother.  Most working moms cry every day on their way to work as they deal with the guilt of leaving their child.  Motherhood begins to feel like an obstacle in the way of her goals, rather than her goal.

The key is for both men and women to value and respect motherhood in the way it should be.  Society does the opposite, valuing financial and career accomplishments more than a well-raised child. What should be important is what Allah values more, not what society values.  A support team around the mother should encourage her to the good of her child, not the good of her ego.  Husbands should praise and shower the mother with gifts, constantly reminding her that she has the most important job in the world.  The Muslim Ummah needs to revive the elevated status of the mother in order to get the Ummah back on track.

Just like with the birth, when a mother submits to her duty in its fullest, she will gain the ultimate validation from the results.

So my dear sister, submit!  For your baby’s sake.

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Hebah is a Muslim American with a Masters Degree in Mechanical Engineering from UIUC. She was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee to Egyptian immigrants. She currently resides in Albuquerque, NM with her husband and two children. Hebah is a social activist who works to dispel the myths about Islam and Women in Islam through community presentations and panel discussions. She also heads Daughterz of Eve, a local Muslim girls youth group.

110 Comments

110 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Farhan

    June 16, 2010 at 12:57 AM

    One of my teachers said something really interesting to me. He said, “Everyone is talking about the rights of women, but no one talks about the rights of children to their mother”.

    • Avatar

      Mumin

      June 16, 2010 at 2:40 PM

      I dont find that interesting

    • Avatar

      Sayf

      June 16, 2010 at 3:48 PM

      That’s awesome, thanks for sharing that with us!
      =D}

    • Avatar

      a khan

      June 17, 2010 at 12:34 AM

      very interesting. ma sha Allah.

      ignore the trolls.

    • Avatar

      Asmaa

      June 17, 2010 at 3:45 PM

      masha Allaah, thanks for sharing this with us!

    • Avatar

      Aliyah

      March 25, 2019 at 4:35 AM

      This article is actually ridiculous shaming Muslim women for working.
      Why do we work ? For the first purpose of our kids and their future.
      Yes the partner works, and provides however this is no way enough to make ends meet, how will you save for the future house you desire, for your child’s future for their education.

      I’ve never read an article worse than this, the person who wrote this should be ashamed of herself. Who does she think she is

  2. Avatar

    Uthmanhttp://muslimmatters.org/2010/06/16/my-dear-sister-submit-for-your-babys-sake/

    June 16, 2010 at 1:42 AM

    mashAllah nice article. jazakillah khair
    the verses numbers need to be swapped. Please correct them.

  3. Avatar

    Naureen

    June 16, 2010 at 1:57 AM

    what about those women who must work? which is quite a number of women ….

    thirdly…at the prophet’s time…the children were actualy sent away(daycare?) to be raised in a more healthier environment for a few years.

    how do u put all that together?

    • Avatar

      mozlem

      June 16, 2010 at 6:46 AM

      Not really, it wasn’t daycare. Those Arabs who used to stay in the city needed to send their children out to the desert for the purpose of preserving their mother tongues, and the purity of their language.

      After the Hijrah, we don’t come across of any accounts of the Sahabah’s in Madinah sending their children out to be looked aftered in the desert, because the Holy Prophet was there, and so all their educational needs were met.

      Unless the ‘day-care’ provides proper Islamic tarbiyyah I wouldn’t want to send my children out, because I’d rather they have the correct tarbiyyah at home, than have my children negatively affected by day care centres.

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      June 16, 2010 at 8:37 AM

      Big difference between being sent away and modern daycare.

      The Prophet(saw) was sent away as a baby to be nourished, breastfed to full term and cared for. In fact, there was so much barakah in him even as a baby that his nursing mother requested he stay with her family for some more time (refer to Sealed Nectar for further info).

      Modern daycare isn’t the same as it was back then. If you want to get the best daycare for your child, prepare to fork out thousands a month…and even then, it’s not the same as you would care for your own child. I didn’t realise how awful it can be for a child, until I came down with a fever a few months into my marriage. My poor husband tried everything he could (whilst working), but it just wasn’t the same for me and I had to go to my parents’ house for a couple of days because only my mother knows what I need (lots of chicken soup with buttered toast :) ) Now, my husband is my husband…he cares for me very well when I’m unwell, but it’s not the same as having my mother check my temperature, telling me firmly to rest and not watch TV as well as feeding me. Plus her chicken soup is better than anybody else’s :D

      I’m a grown adult, I can feed myself, look after myself, etc. But if you take that example and multiply it by a thousand to put yourself in the shoes of a child, it really is quite a horrible feeling. Add the vulnerability factor (because you’re a child and not strong enough/can’t speak coherently) and it’s awful. And these parents are trusting another adult to do THEIR job? Would you get a nurse to do a doctor’s job? Or a paralegal to do a lawyer’s job? The answer is no.

      Another thing I find is that the working mother ends up putting pretty much her entire month’s salary into daycare, which makes the whole working thing redundant as she’s financially back to square one.
      Daycare is pointless and I wouldn’t really use that as an option unless it was once in a blue moon, i.e. I had to go somewhere for a few hours.

      A mother’s love is irreplaceable.

    • Avatar

      Abu Sauleh

      June 16, 2010 at 11:12 AM

      Another reason babies would be sent away was to protect them from diseases. Keep in mind they had no immunization shots or sanitized diapers and wipes back then. The best way to protect a child was to send him to the open desert where there was no stagnant water or air where diseases could fester.

    • Avatar

      unlissted

      June 16, 2010 at 2:08 PM

      What was alleged daycare that children in the prophet and his companion’s time????Please establish your proof… Women and Men need to make real decisions upon whom they marry and then establish a family with instead of just hooking up(marrying quickly or superficially) and then divorcing in a hour .then she’ll do that ten times and then she has ten different baby fathers..The divorce rate amongst the muslims is staggering!!!!!Particularly western women they must humble themselves with being stay home moms..and not listening to the debutantes of the west labeling as baby factories and other degrading names..

      • Avatar

        Amal

        June 17, 2010 at 11:56 AM

        so you’re implying that Bibi Khadija and sitti Sukayyna were not humble or womanly because they were not “stay at home moms”? Shame on you.

        • Avatar

          Hassan

          June 17, 2010 at 11:02 PM

          Bibi Khadijah hired people to do work for her, just as a side note, she did not go out to do herself.

    • Avatar

      Hebah Ahmed [MM Associate]

      June 16, 2010 at 9:49 PM

      Dear Sr. Naureen,

      Please read the disclaimer I put at the top of the article about women who must support their families. May Allah make it easy for them. Ameen.

    • Avatar

      Hannah

      June 16, 2010 at 10:19 PM

      there was a disclaimer at the top of the article that said this article was intented for those women who do not ‘need to work’

      Disclaimer: This article is written for women who do not have the sole responsibility of supporting their families and are financially able to implement the advice contained within

      salams!=)

      • Avatar

        Hannah

        June 16, 2010 at 10:21 PM

        oh someone already said that

  4. Avatar

    Abu Hilal

    June 16, 2010 at 2:23 AM

    Nice write up, Hope our women can see the benefit of remaining Motherhood to discharge their God-given responsibility.

  5. Avatar

    Nazia

    June 16, 2010 at 2:42 AM

    Jazakallahu khair. Alhamdhulillah, I have made the right decision in my life. This article prepares me for the coming days. Jazakallahu khair.

  6. Avatar

    sabirah

    June 16, 2010 at 4:07 AM

    salam
    nice article, nothing wrong with being a stay at home mum. Speaking of the right of the children over their mother, I think the correct education is utmost important. I have recently had a chat to a sister who was very proud to be a stay at home mum on the request of her husband, and was talking about homeschooling her kids so they don’t get all that western junk from schools.
    While I was squizzing her I found out that was just able to recall a few verses from the Qur’an, no arabic whatsoever, and I was left wondering what’s she gonna teach her kids?

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      June 16, 2010 at 8:21 AM

      To be honest, I don’t think it’s so much about teaching your children Arabic or verses from the Qurán. Whilst learning both are beneficial, I would say that ensuring that your child is hifdh-ul-Qurán by the age of 10 is probably a good aim and doesn’t require any sort of formal schooling. It’s something that both mother and father can work towards for their child.

      What is the most important thing is that the mother teaches her children the basics first…aqeedah, the five daily prayers, fasting in Ramadan, what’s haraam and halal, teaching children how to purify themselves and just the general etiquettes of the Prophet(saw). Then parents should teach the fiqh of salah, fiqh of fasting, fiqh of purification…i.e. what to do if one misses a rak’ah or what to do if one forgets to wash their arms in wudu’. That kinda thing. Let’s not forget teaching about how to avoid the bid’ah prevalent in society.

      And if parents are homeschooling, then of course, the national curriculum must be taught. It’s really important to teach children to be aware of their surroundings. I’m all for homeschooling, but homeschooling is useless if children aren’t taught to be streetwise, because at some point in their lives, these boys and girls will go on to grow up and become adults who will go on to lead their own lives and families. So parents also need to be aware of the isolation factor.

    • Avatar

      sebkha

      June 16, 2010 at 8:34 AM

      Teachers are in a constant state of learning themselves. There’s no reason to think that taking on the role of teaching her children won’t inspire her to up her game and increase her knowledge in all those areas and more. I hope and pray that she does, for her sake and her children’s. Instead of leaving wondering, it would have been more helpful to suggest books, etc. that you think might be of help and interest to her. I know I’m always receptive to that kind of thing from others, I love a good book suggestion to increase my knowledge and deen.

  7. Yahya Ibrahim

    Yahya Ibrahim

    June 16, 2010 at 5:52 AM

    Bismillah,

    My wife Songul, masha allah tabarak allah, is “cooking” our third child masha Allah. We have an inquisitive 3 year old daughter – Shireen, and an intelligently energetic 2 year old son – Omar.

    Our due date is in August. Alhamdulillah.

    My wife masha Allah surprises me daily.

    Schooling at home, toddler classes swim/ballet/soccer/painting/montessori/gymnastics/taekwondo
    all organised by day/child/semester/season

    She has always been gainfully employed as an accountant but after Shireen she committed to our children.
    However she needed something to keep her “sane and active.” So during our first pregnancy she takes up law school part time. Masha Allah she has a couple of partime years to go.

    Balance and hard work belong together.
    Being a mother or father is far off being a GREAT mother or father.

    Allah help us all in being great parents.

    • Avatar

      Sally

      June 16, 2010 at 5:33 PM

      masha’Allah.. sounds like a success story to me. May Allah increase her and bless your family.

      There’s no one-size-fits all recommendation here. My theory on parenting is that there are 3 kinds of people: natural parents who can have kids young and are just gifted in caring for them and nurturing them. There’s another group of parents, young and foolish, who have kids when they would’ve really benefited from some life experience first, and this brings a series of repercussions into their lives. The final group is parents who take the time to mature, fulfill some personal life goals before investing themselves in children.

      I suppose there’s a fourth set who despite maturing and fulfilling life goals, never quite parent successfully.

      It’s so variable that what works for one family may not work for another. I do agree that success mostly depends on a sane, satisfied (whatever that may entail), and devoted mother ;) (not to discount the role of father in nurturing and extended family as well!)

    • Avatar

      Hebah Ahmed [MM Associate]

      June 16, 2010 at 9:55 PM

      Asalam Alikum we rahmat Allah we baraktu,

      I can totally relate to your wife and needing an outlet for sanity and an intellectual challenge. This is my main reason for joining MM as a writer! Women need outlets and an identity separate from motherhood as well. I apologize for not including this dimension in my article.

      Another very important point is that others should not judge a woman’s decision. Advice is one thing but the last thing a woman needs is guilt on top of her already overwhelming challenge of balancing her many roles.

  8. Avatar

    Westerngirl

    June 16, 2010 at 6:16 AM

    I agree with most of this, but “most working mothers cry on their way to work”….???

    Sorry, but this is a huge generalisation and blatently not true.

  9. Avatar

    Zainab

    June 16, 2010 at 6:48 AM

    I love this!!! =)

    I also think that we should be preparing ourselves to be GREAT parents even before we get married, and we should be training our KIDS to be great parents, one day. Train yourself to submit to Allah (swt) and you’ll have no problem teaching your kids to submit.

  10. Avatar

    Bushra

    June 16, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    Masha’Allah, great article Hebah!

    Naturally, it’s very hard work to be a mother and the blood, sweat and tears that goes into childbirth alone is enough to send anyone away crying. But there’s so much joy involved.

    I think the working mothers bit is quite true and I’ve seen so many mothers stress out (in my own family alone) over leaving their children to someone else. Some mothers are lucky to have family to help them out, such as their own parents, but I’ve never seen that as a viable option as these parents are impairing their own parents’ lives. In my opinion, it shouldn’t be an option.

    Working part-time is an option for those who are struggling financially and as the disclaimer suggests, this article is aimed at those who are able to live comfortably without a second income. Although I understand that motherhood cannot fit into a work schedule, I also understand how difficult it is to keep your own mind occupied intellectually without falling into a rut. And believe me, it’s very easy to fall into a rut. That’s why some mothers choose to work. I recently found a non-working mother who came to me crying that she felt she had everything…a home filled with Islam, beautiful children, loving husband, stable income…but she felt she had no focus and that her imaan had dipped as a result of it. She didn’t want to work or feel like she needed a high-powered career, but as it turns out, she wanted to learn something, either by doing some career-related training or learning Arabic. Something to intellectually challenge her. So I helped her to find some local Islamic studies classes during the day when her kids are off to school.

    Unfortunately for a lot of women, working becomes something to intellectually challenge them, when in fact it could be that they need something to focus on, something that’s not home/housework related. Also, a lot of women want to serve their community through work as well, either as teachers, doctors, dentists, etc.
    And there’s always the option of working from home, if you can. It may not be 100% ideal, but at least you can spend some time with your child whenever you can.

    The idea is that if you are a mother, but you want to keep in touch with your skills or build on them, then it’s best to develop them in your own time whilst you are at home. So if you’re a graphic designer by profession, maybe some voluntary design work would be great for your portfolio.

    Having said all that, motherhood is one of the highest positions given to a woman in Islam and one should never EVER give it up for their career.

    • Avatar

      africana

      June 17, 2010 at 4:24 AM

      assalamu alaikum,

      you make an excellent point about women using work as a means to fulfil their need to engage in some interesting activity. I think the problem is that maybe they feel guilty about studying just the pure thrill of it and that’s why they end up in work places..and of course the work places demands more of her time than she needs to feel diverted so what set out to be a diversion ends up draining her.

      i have always thought that argument that work is more interesting than home rather a strange thing because work is very much about routine and doing the same thing every day, also.

  11. Avatar

    muslim

    June 16, 2010 at 8:14 AM

    love the article, may Allah reward you and may He strengthen the ummah from its women to it’s children to it’s men

  12. Avatar

    ukhti

    June 16, 2010 at 8:57 AM

    Masha Allah, wonderful article. My only quibble is that this emphasis on the home should start at marriage not when the baby comes. Our attentions should start on our husbands first and foremost, then on to the children when and if they come.

    Yes, many women do have to work but I guess the point should be that these things should be planned out before hand. Design your life so that you can reduce your work obligations, don’t get in large debts, etc once children are born. So we should be teaching our daughters early to focus on the home, if and big if ,you want a career make sure it is family friendly and something you can move in and out of(teaching, nursing, accounting, etc) if you have to stay home for many years. Also we should not make girls feel bad if they don’t want a career and want to be primarily wives and mothers. So many girls seemed to be put down for that choice. Its really a higher calling and we should be encouraging them.

    Thanks again for the article

  13. Avatar

    ukhti

    June 16, 2010 at 9:32 AM

    I came across this and thought it sort of related. It is from a Non-Muslim site but it’s very heartwarming and inspirational.

    http://ladyofvirtue.blogspot.com/2010/04/life-on-fringe.html

  14. Avatar

    mms

    June 16, 2010 at 11:34 AM

    MashaAllah a very good article.

    I chose to stay at home after studying to be a Doctor & working for a few years. Once I moved out of the home country, I chose to be a full-time mom, when my family increased.
    As frustrating as it was in the beginning to give up the profession you loved & not just that, but being at the top of the class throughout, it was a tough decision for me, but no regrets Alhumdulillah.
    I had later found out that a lot of people I know, quote me as an example! What more could one ask for… a sort of of ‘sawaab-e-jaariyah’!

    One does not need to earn extra to buy extra, rather one needs to learn to live within means. No amount of money can buy the peace of mind and the contentment.

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      June 16, 2010 at 12:32 PM

      One does not need to earn extra to buy extra, rather one needs to learn to live within means.

      Quote of the day, in my opinion!

      Btw, I know what you mean about giving up the career you love. My sister has gone through the same…she, too, is a doctor and has gone through the whole career thing. She completed her three year residency last year and now she’s decided to commit to her kids instead. The impact it has made on them, however, has been huge. They’ve become much more stable and well-behaved as a result of her being at home and my sister has found time to look after the home a bit more and she enjoys it too.

  15. Avatar

    Sh

    June 16, 2010 at 12:21 PM

    This article brought me to tears. I have felt all of this since the birth of my son. the three months I stayed home with after his brith were the best months of my life. i NEVER wanted to go back to work, not even part time. The BEST job i have and will ever have is being a MOTHER!
    I keep making dua that Allah blesses my husband with a job so that i can leave soon. He has been on many interviews and I pray that Allah blesses me with good news soon so I can stay home and have the joy of raising the fruit of my heart.

    • Avatar

      Hebah Ahmed [MM Associate]

      June 16, 2010 at 9:48 PM

      May Allah ease your hardships and increase your provisions so that you can be with your precious baby. Ameen. You make me appreciate the luxury of being with my children! :)

  16. Avatar

    Maleeha

    June 16, 2010 at 12:46 PM

    mA – great article. I think society has now come to believe the fallacy of a woman “having it all.” In our community, you must have a high powered career plus have well raised children in order to avoid being looked down upon. Too often we forget that well raised children do not drop out of the sky via the stork. They are raised that way through their parents’ hard work.

    Too often, as young people we are trapped in the career vortex, accumulating massive student loans before we really think about the implications of those loans, which forces us to work full time so that we can pay off our massive debt. We become trapped in the rat race, while at the same time having children before we are too old, and thus they get sucked in as well, being sent to daycare, another expensive proposition which delays our ability to pay off those student loans as quickly as possible. Then our children, who have experienced nothing else, join the same cycle.

    To change this cycle, we need to make different choices, and teach our children the value of those different choices. On the Day of Judgment, I seriously doubt anyone is going to say to themselves “I wish I had worked more.” More likely, it will be something more along the lines of “I wish I had spent more time with my family.”

    Finally, we have to remember that raising our children is not about us and fulfilling our needs. Raising children is a serious proposition – and it is about them and their needs. I am not saying that this means a mother never needs a moment to herself, and should devote herself exclusively to her children to the detriment of herself – after all, we all need a break sometimes! However, when you choose to be a parent, you are taking on a life long responsibility towards that child. None of us can afford to mess that up.

    • Avatar

      Sadaf Farooqi

      June 27, 2010 at 7:23 AM

      Very effective and valuable comment. Jazakillahu khaira.

  17. Avatar

    UmmMaryam

    June 16, 2010 at 1:59 PM

    salamu ‘alaikum,

    i am at home with the kids, and am glad i am doing so, for many of the points listed above. however, i do know of those who go to work…and like someone stated, they don’t cry on the way to work, nor even feel guilty. perhaps your point is that they ought to for the opportunity lost, but that needs to be rephrased to make it a legitimate statement in your article.

    also, keeping in mind that i agree one should stay home to care for the kids and raise them and instill in them the right values, here a a couple more excuses i Have heard from others:

    1- “My nanny/mother/caretaker of my child has better manners/character than I do” ie the baby will be a better human/adult in the care of someone who is more patient and better mannered… (and you know many parents these days are their kids’ own worst examples….sadly :(

    2- Depression: some people, if they have a total life shift, get depressed, sometimes even clinically depressed….ie not just saying am depressed but rather it becomes a medical condition with all the related symptoms you can read online about postpartum depression…ie mania, psychosis, etc So for some, if that has happened in a past pregnancy, they may be the type that need to be out for an amount of time….in fact, the common joke among first time dads is that when they are off for paternity leave, they are actually working harder than when they were at work….no sleep, round the clock work….then, when its back to work again sitting in front of their computer, ah,,, now isn’t that a bit relaxing???

    awaiting your thoughts sister Heba….again, I am so happy by your article…it is indeed what we need to hear, yet I was trying to think of some LEGITIMATE excuses…ie let’s be fair and not assume the worst of sisters who do otherwise…they may not be intentionally trying to “make up excuses” but rather, that is really how they feel…what they think they need in their situation

    • Avatar

      Hebah Ahmed [MM Associate]

      June 16, 2010 at 10:05 PM

      We Alikum Asalam,

      Jazak Allahu Khair for some excellent points. Perhaps my statement was too much of a generalization, I should have said “some women cry…”.

      I do think depression is a very real issue that many new mother go through and I very much sympathize with this as I myself went through similiar feelings. I pray that these woman have strong support systems and are not left alone with their overwhelming responsibilities. I advise every new mother to make sure she has personal time every day to avoid burn out, and this is were husbands and extended family are the most needed.

      As I said above, noone should judge another woman or her choices. We can advise each other based on the deen but we have to give each other the room and right to choose according to individual circumstances. I tried very hard not to come off as judgemental or harsh in my article and I ask anyone whom I offended to forgive me Insha Allah.

  18. Avatar

    Amatullah

    June 16, 2010 at 2:40 PM

    I really liked this article, jazaaki Allahu khayran.

    I think for a lot of sisters, society tells them that being a stay at home wife/mom means you’re ‘lazy’. I know a few sisters who feel a bit embarrassed saying that they don’t work, although they are fully capable of doing so, but rather they stay at home. The reactions they get aren’t very nice, so that is probably where it stems from.

  19. Avatar

    BintB

    June 16, 2010 at 3:28 PM

    MashAllah… Something to also think about before engaging into the married life insha Allah!

    I am just a bit puzzled: while I agree with this article I wonder… Then what would be the use of the higher education that certain women have earned … yet want to be a good mother? just wondering… o_0

    • Avatar

      mms

      June 16, 2010 at 4:19 PM

      Re “I am just a bit puzzled: while I agree with this article I wonder… Then what would be the use of the higher education that certain women have earned … yet want to be a good mother? just wondering… o_0” by BintB,

      Higher education will certainly help in the child’s upbringing as well as understanding what is going on with his schooling… helping him/her with HW, attending the Parent-Teacher Conferences, defying the myths that Muslims are ignorant/illiterate [believe me, when the children’s teachers know the parents are highly qualified, it is interesting to ‘read’ their expressions].
      And if one chooses to volunteer as a weekend Islamic teacher, higher education is definitely a plus… coming from a Medical profession, and now volunteering for more than a decade in the week-end schools, my medical knowledge is of great help esp when it comes to giving classes on ‘Growing up’ to the preteens and adolescents as well as other similar topics.
      So no one should assume that having a degree and staying at home is a waste of time, money and knowledge. Higher education is an asset.

      • Avatar

        Hebah Ahmed [MM Associate]

        June 16, 2010 at 10:10 PM

        Just to add, we have to stop thinking that degrees are only as valuable as the money they earn. Education is an important end of its own. I know personally that my engineering degree has helped to develop my analytical and problem solving skills, which are very beneficial in teaching children, organizing community activities, and gaining the respect of Muslims and non-Muslims.

        There are so many skills obtained from education and the college experience that can be applied broadly, not just to a paying job in your specific field.

        It is also an important safety net for women in case they must support their families.

        Allah knows best.

        • Avatar

          F

          June 17, 2010 at 12:24 AM

          I agree that degrees teach us more than just earn money.
          But I always wondered that if a woman is going to stay at home and raise kids, is it not better to have an Islamic degree or something related to teaching/early childhood development/etc?

          Just a thought that such studies would be much more handy in a home setting.

          • Avatar

            Arif

            June 19, 2010 at 12:45 AM

            Nope… A women should be equipped with the compettive education and skills.. Normally She may choose not to work if the conditions are good (e.g. Husband earning sufficiently)… But to be on the safe side for unseen negative scenarios (unfortunately, this is more common these days in muslim society), She needs to have the right kind of education which could fetch her a respectful living for her and her children

  20. Avatar

    Mezba

    June 16, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    To the author of this article:

    1) Do you think women should be educated? To what degree?

    2) What is the purpose of their education if they should never work after having a child?

    3) Do you think the mother should stay home until the kid is 18? Or to what age (kindergarden?) should the mother stay home?

    4) What are your thoughts on the mothers who leave their kids with their close relatives (i.e. grandparents) and not day care?

    5) Do you think a woman who chooses to have a kid and then work, leaving the kid in daycare, is doing something against Islam?

    • Avatar

      Mezba

      June 16, 2010 at 3:59 PM

      I ask these questions because I am not sure what you are trying to drive at here.

      • Avatar

        Hebah Ahmed [MM Associate]

        June 16, 2010 at 10:23 PM

        Dear Br. Mezba,

        I have answered questions 1 and 2 in above posts so please see those responses to save me some time. :)

        As for the other ones:

        3. My article was focusing more on early childhood right after birth and up to age 2-3 as being the most crucial times a child needs the mother and also supported by the deen. As for beyond that, I have my personal views on how I choose to raise my children but there are many paths that perhaps we can explore in future articles. I do not believe one size fits all. I do think in general it is hard (at least in the West) to find a job that has an Islamically acceptable environment for women but do respect those who have been able to find it!

        4. I do not have judgements on other women and their choices. It is not up to me to have an opinion on this. Each couple must decide what is best for their family.

        5.Same as above answer. It is for Allah alone to judge.

        Does this make the purpose of my article more clear?

  21. Avatar

    africana

    June 16, 2010 at 4:22 PM

    intereseting discussion.

    i am of the view that a child needs be breastfed for the full two years, exclusively for around the first 8 months.

  22. Avatar

    Olivia

    June 16, 2010 at 4:55 PM

    Certainly a very touchy subject to tackle in such a straightforward way =)

    I don’t think it’s enough for most working families to hear the reasons why a mother should stay home, although I do think we often underestimate the rights of children because we are so hooked on talking about the rights of parents.

    I think a whole other factor that exists is that people want to live at a certain status level, which often requires two incomes, especially if you don’t use credit cards. The reality is that its not enough to say, “Don’t you know its better for your child?”. In reality, if you tell a woman to stop working, you’re probably also telling her (and her spouse) that it’s time to reduce the cell phone plan, get rid of the second car, move into a smaller home or rent, spend less money on shopping, homeschool instead of pay tuition to an Islamic school, only take 1 vacation a year, etc.

    I homeschool my own children (I have three), because I have my priorities lined up the way I believe is best, so I fully accept that our 5 family household lives on a single income, which means that I wouldn’t even be able to send them to an Islamic school had I wanted to. And while what I have is in good condition and I have wonderful blessed life with no complaints, it is much less then most families with 3 kids. We have one nice car that we own, which is a Mazda 6, with all 3 car seats in a row in the back (used to have a pontiac sunfire!). I’ve had several other women ask me how I survive without a van. That to me is a ridiculous question. As long as the car runs and we’re safe and we own it I’m satisfied, but to other women not having the comfort of a van is ridiculous. They’d rather work to make the car payments for an extra van. I’m not saying this to be humble, just two point out that there are two different views. They work to get that second income because they want their kids to have a “better life.”

    I think what it comes down to is what her definition of a “better life” is.

    • Avatar

      Arif

      June 19, 2010 at 12:52 AM

      Excellent Analysis… !!

  23. Avatar

    Olivia

    June 16, 2010 at 4:59 PM

    PS I know the most common reason women finish their degree (myself included) who choose to stay at home is so that in the event that their husband dies they can get a good job and support their kids.

    As aunties say “it’s your life-insurance” ;) lol

    • Avatar

      sabirah

      June 19, 2010 at 4:01 AM

      salam
      thing it is very difficult to find work after you’ve been out several years. Who would employ a woman with children with a several years old IT degree that hasn’t worked in the field for that long? I have the impression a degree or higher education in muslim women is often (i didn’t generalize) used to get a higher dowry or as a “kind of trophy” for a husbands family (my wife’s got a PhD in Chemical Engineering sort of thing). Just a personal observation I had.

  24. Avatar

    cinna

    June 16, 2010 at 5:31 PM

    “I am not the type of women who can stay home all day.”
    I was a full-time mother for the first 6 months of kids life. Cannot take it. There are days that I sent my late husband off in my PJ and he comes home to se me still in my PJs. I rarely have time for myself because if I am not diapering I am making baby foods or puting baby to sleep or doing laundry, or doing grocery. The 7.5 hrs I now have away from my babies is a nice break. After work and on weekends, I am all theirs. I breastfed my babies during lunchtime (I select to send my babies to a homesitter close to work) and right after work. I cook their food myself. I am there at all school shows and PTO and find time to volunteer. And yes, I also do my 5++ daily prayers and read quran and teach them quran a few times a week. Alhamdulillah, I am blessed with a lot of energy & good kids.

    Excuse #2: “I will just work part time so I don’t lose my career.”
    I am glad I did not become a full-time mom when the kids came, or else I would have trouble making ends meet with my husband gone. Starting from scractch would have meant losing the hse, moving school distric etc.

    I don’t ever resent my role as mother. But my career is also important to me. It is a part of who I am.

    • Avatar

      Another Working Mom

      June 29, 2010 at 8:17 AM

      Jazak Allah khairun for the above post.

      From other posts/replies it seems like their are only two types of mothers
      1) who do not work and love their kids
      2)who work and hate their kids

      Seriously, not all working moms , hate their kids, are not involved in their kids upbringing. Most mom(and dad also) work 8 hours a day, most schools are roughly 7 hours a day. All the kids activities are after school, unless a mom works for NASA and has to be on moon or some other satellite doesnt come home everyday, most working mom come home after work and dont go for shopping/coffee shops etc after work, most are involved DAILY in thier kids lives. I know mothers who dont work but are less concern about thier kids upbringing . I know mothers who do not work but are so involved in their community/charity/classess that they forgot about their home , husband and kids. Its what you think is important to you and then you try to make things work around it. We need to raise daughters and sons who are humble and know what is important for them e.g. deen, family life etc. The problem arises when our focus is not correct , that is girls focusing more on career than family. But family and career can coexist.

      ALso its not about having all the goodies in the world- some moms like to work for their own satisfaction and still have children as their Number 1 priority, they specifically look for jobs that do not require intense hours or travelling etc. I guess its all about what you think is important and that doesnt mean that if a mom is working then her kids are not her priority.
      I dont know why its always the case that people who homeschool judge parents who dont homeschool and vice versa, kids going to islamic school judging those not going to islamic school and vice versa, not working mom judging working mom and trying to feel superior and vice versa.
      As a parent our goal should be to raise good muslameen and if we think that by homeschooling or islamic school or regular school or by mom working or by mom not working etc etc … we can achieve that then thats it.

      Wasalam

  25. Avatar

    UmmMaryam

    June 16, 2010 at 7:02 PM

    masha Allah, well written. Perhaps if we looked into the lives of the wives of the prophet sallaho alyhi wasallam, we’d see the best role models for women. For our fellow sisters who are keen on working outside the home, then remember 1st what your duty is as mother and wife. We don’t even need to go into the sharia rulings on why a women should generally stay at home at all times except for necessity. Allah ta’ala has blessed women with dignity, responsibility and leadership all accessible via being a wife/mother! Women raised generations of scholars/intellectuals/muftis/aalims all at home!

    Save yourselves from 8-10 hours slaving away and seeing your kids after work while your dead tired scramblng to cook/clean/feed/put your children to sleep. Let your husbands go through that :P

  26. Avatar

    SA

    June 16, 2010 at 8:19 PM

    Hebah you briefly mentioned the role fathers are supposed to play.But I can’t stress enough how important it is that husbands support their wives decision on being stay at home moms. I have seen too many men who would rather see their wives at work once the maternity leave is over because the extra income their wives were earning is too good to pass by or because they think its “backward” being a stay at home mom!

    • Avatar

      Hebah Ahmed [MM Associate]

      June 16, 2010 at 10:15 PM

      I could not agree more and am currently working my getting my husband to write a men’s perspective on this issue. Make duaa he agrees! :)

  27. Avatar

    DeeDee

    June 16, 2010 at 9:38 PM

    The only problem with this article is that it makes it seem like Muslim women never have time to themselves. To raise a child, having to cook, do housework, and even without a job, is quite tedious regardless. And the excuses fail to really bring up the point of young girls who are not ready for children. Yes, it’s because society labels a young mother as someone “pathetic”, but some girls are just not ready, and that is the truth.

    As a Muslim young adult also who loves early marriages and being a young mother, I honestly find this article a little bit distasteful for me :( I am sorry, but it doesn’t seem to really be favorable, and I feel like if anyone I knew whether Muslim or non-Muslim read this, they would get a feeling of enslavement for all the things necessary to do, but never have time to themselves. Your child may be more important, but you must look out for your own well-being too. If you continue and reach health problems, depression and lack of patience, you’re only throwing yourself into destruction and making things worse.

    I find a high career does nothing, except as a backup in case the husband is suddenly financially unwell. Most young Muslims now are actually pressured by parents to achieve these education, paying back riba based loans, and such.. and have high expectations of their children working so that the parents benefit from their child’s education and wealth later on. Most of us will feel a sense of guilt for not doing what our parents asked (halaal) and yet they’ve worked so hard to care for us in our lives, so the kind-hearted and flexible can never reject :(

  28. Avatar

    Perspective

    June 16, 2010 at 10:43 PM

    Although the essence of this article is nice, there are so many positives associated with women working that are completely ignored, and negatives associated with restricting women to the home that are ignored as well.

    There are social ramifications that occur when you tell young girls that they should aspire to be good mothers when they grow up, and not focus on their individuals careers. This can be harmful in so many ways that the article doesn’t even touch upon. What incentive would there be for families to educate their daughters if they know that one day they will simply get married and stay at home? Education (beyond the K-12 public school system) is expensive, why would any family spend thousands of dollars on their daughters higher education if one day she will get married and be financially dependent upon her husband? If a mother simply wants to help her small children with their school work, attend their parent-teacher conferences, and generally be involved in their educational careers, a higher education is NOT needed (high school would be more than sufficient). The long term effects of what this article proposes would be families encouraging their sons, and ONLY their sons, to pursue higher educational degrees, while daughters are married off as soon as they are of age.

    The bias of this article is also troubling, especially when you mention women weeping as they leave their children to go to work. Albeit there are women who work out of financial necessity, there are others who work because they LOVE it. For these women, their work is their passion, it gives them purpose, respect, and responsibility outside of their homes. I have spoken to stay at home moms who love their children more than anything, but lack the aforementioned purpose, respect, and responsibility that come with having a job outside of the home. Spending all day and night with small children can take a tole on ones intellect, and these women often feel resentful, angry, or depressed; undoubtedly affecting how they raise their children. A happy working mother is more beneficial to her children than a stay at home mother who feels burdened or restricted by the role of mother-hood.

    Yes women are mothers, but they are also human beings, adults, and a vital part of society. Women who work outside of the home are fully capable of raising well-behaved, and practicing Muslim children. These women also directly contribute to society through their roles as doctors, lawyers, engineers, artists etc; so not only are they raising children that will one day contribute to society, they themselves are contributing at this very moment.

    Although I know the readership of this website probably has a conservative leaning, a more balanced piece about the PROS and cons of women working would have been far more relevant. Perhaps a piece about the ways working women can ensure that their children are raised to be good muslims? Regardless, I respect the opinions of the author and it is clear that the article is well intentioned. I apologize if anything I said could come across as hostile. As always, Allah (SWT) knows best.

    • Avatar

      Ikhlas

      June 17, 2010 at 12:10 AM

      +10

    • Amad

      Amad

      June 17, 2010 at 2:29 AM

      good comment.
      If you or anyone else wishes to write an article along the lines of what you suggested, we will be more than willing to accommodate it. Our goal is not to peddle one perspective as be-all… We can only publish what our writers or guest writers contribute. So other perspectives are welcome.

    • Avatar

      Amatullah

      June 17, 2010 at 2:40 AM

      if you see sister Hebah’s comment above, she said:

      My article was focusing more on early childhood right after birth and up to age 2-3 as being the most crucial times a child needs the mother and also supported by the deen.

    • Avatar

      Bushra

      June 17, 2010 at 4:20 AM

      I have spoken to stay at home moms who love their children more than anything, but lack the aforementioned purpose, respect, and responsibility that come with having a job outside of the home. Spending all day and night with small children can take a tole on ones intellect, and these women often feel resentful, angry, or depressed; undoubtedly affecting how they raise their children. A happy working mother is more beneficial to her children than a stay at home mother who feels burdened or restricted by the role of mother-hood.

      I do agree with the abovementioned. It can be very troubling for mothers who feel that they are intellectually being held back. Sometimes it’s not just about working itself, but more about being able to learn new things. I think that your comment was actually much needed.

      This is one part of the article that troubled me:

      Between breastfeeding, diaper changing, clothes washing, and cuddling and bonding with her child, she barely has time to rest. Then there is cooking healthy homemade foods, washing dishes, paying bills, and doing all the other chores that have are waiting in the background.

      Laundry and cooking I can understand. But paying the bills? That’s something that I personally feel should be the husband’s responsibility, meaning that the physical act of paying the bills whether it’s over the phone, online or at the bank. In fact, during the early years when the mother is getting to know her child, she should be given MORE of a break from housework, because the upbringing of her child is far more important than any chore. And possibly having nice healthy home cooked food. And if she is financially able to not work, then I believe husbands should allow their wives to have some rest and actually hire a cleaner for her for at least 2 hours a week. They must be able to afford it if their wife doesn’t need to work. Get a dishwasher too. All that bottle washing has to be done by hand. The last thing a woman needs is more pots and pans.

      • Avatar

        Hebah Ahmed

        June 17, 2010 at 9:00 PM

        I 100% agree with leaving the mother to focus on motherhood by hiring someone to do the household chores if the household income allows it. Practically speaking though, this is not usually the case.

    • Avatar

      Hebah Ahmed

      June 17, 2010 at 8:58 PM

      Jazak Allahu Khair for your perspective. I respect your thoughts although I must disagree. I see it as a stretch to conclude that parents will not support women’s education if they raise them to be the wives and mothers that Allah has created them for (I am not referring to women who cannot find a spouse or are unable to bear children).

      The article is clearly showing that submission to motherhood is a religious act that is sometimes very hard. If one is using the deen to guide their affairs, then they would also educate their women because of the Islamic requirement for such.

      Your comments still contain the underlying belief that education is only as valuable as the job it results in. Rather than forcing women to work in order to protect their right to an education, perhaps we should work to change attitutes towards the purpose of education and its benefits in child rearing.

      I think there is a large influence from Western Liberal Feminism. The problem with their view is the refusal to see the differences in the sexes. Instead of celebrating the differences that Allah created between men and women and accept that we have different and complimenting roles, they instead hold men as the ideal and push women to deny their femininity and instead try to be like men.

      The children are the most to suffer from this kind of attitude. My article was an attempt at countering this attitude.

      I do look forward to reading an article about how a woman can have it all and balance motherhood with a career because I am barely able to handle motherhood alone!

      Jazak Allahu Khair.

  29. Avatar

    Aliyah

    June 16, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    Thank you Perspective for a more realistic view. I think this article was very one-sided and basically said what most on this site want to hear. Unfortunately the reality of the situation is very different. Anyways, here’s a thought – how do you think a working woman reading this article would feel if she is supporting her family? How about some tips to help these women rather than imply that they are doing the wrong thing when it’s the only choice they have… I think that would make this article more pratical. No offense meant, but this article seemed very basic and lacks both an equal look at the pros and cons of both sides like the preivous comment says.

    • Avatar

      Farhan

      June 16, 2010 at 11:43 PM

      The disclaimer was this:

      Disclaimer: This article is written for women who do not have the sole responsibility of supporting their families and are financially able to implement the advice contained within.

      • Avatar

        Amal

        June 17, 2010 at 12:01 PM

        Even with the disclaimer, the article’s tone overall is still smug and condescending. I also find the implication that working mothers are “not submitting,” that is, being sinful or not fulfilling their religious duties, EXTREMELY insulting.

  30. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    June 17, 2010 at 2:00 AM

    The author has pinpointed the necessary contribution of motherhood in the first few years of life specifically.

    “The emotional well-being, physical health, and religious guidance of the child all rest primarily in the hands of the mother, with the most intense period being from conception through the earliest years of life. ”

    Institutions do not care for or love the baby like a mother.

    Here is a website that discusses the fact that most daycares are not optimal places for babies and younger kids.

    http://daycaresdontcare.org/

  31. Pingback: My Dear Sister, Submit. For Your Baby’s Sake. : MuslimMums

  32. Pingback: My Dear Sister, Submit. For Your Baby's Sake. | MuslimMatters.org | Baby clothes & accessories: Tigging.com

  33. Avatar

    PrettySunnah

    June 17, 2010 at 8:43 AM

    Mashallah wa Jazakuallahu Kyrun for this article. This is needed much and should be emphasized to the Islamic Community. I agree 100% on this issue. This issue is so important because this is the future of the Muslim Ummah. If both parents are constantly out and working then the child will grow psychologically unhealthy; inevitably the child will seek a family who does care like, gang, friends that will make him or her hate his or her family even more, or even form a relationship with an opposite gender because there no attention involved by the parent.

    May Allah protect us all…

  34. Avatar

    abuabdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    June 17, 2010 at 2:04 PM

    MashaAllah, a good article.

  35. Avatar

    Sammer

    June 17, 2010 at 4:24 PM

    Jazakillahu khair Sister Heba for the article. It is really relevant to me personally right now.
    I hope that when we as Muslim women are making these decisions we step back and look at the different perspectives available and see the bigger picture. It might mean a single income and being a stay at home mom for a few years, but understanding that it is also a very temporary and fleeting stage. Your kids will only be young, impressionable and incredibly adorable ;) like that for a short time.

  36. Avatar

    Daughter of Adam (AS)

    June 17, 2010 at 5:43 PM

    bismillah-

    I really really really really really LOVE this article! may Allah guide all of us. It hurts me to think that so many children are missing out on a mom’s support and this lack of support is being applauded as a step up in the women’s rights movement.

    I believe that education for the sake of knowledge is important, so I do think that a college education to a certain extent is important. however the KIND of college education is hugely important. if you’re studying for ten years to become a doctor and get married either after that or during, it is unlikely that you will be able to support a family properly. If you study for ten years, then afterwards you will not only be old while your children are growing up lol, and lack the energy and health youth gave, but also, you will constantly feel pressure to have a fulltime job. “What was the point?”, you will ask yourself, of studying for so long only to raise children now?! “I can get rich and live even MORE comfortably!” I don’t honestly see the benefit of studying like that.

    I don’t know why people think you’re against education for women or women’s rights if you say that so much college for women in GENERAL is unnecessary. Yes, we need women professionals. Yes, education is important. But to sacrificethe family life for the sake of college or work of SO MANY WOMEN is messing up your priorities. Also, the general college environment is not exactly Islamically uplifting anyways. But even if you attended a madrasah for islamic knowledge, if you were sacrificing something of your family life for THAT, I don’t think that’s having your priorities right either. You definitely definitely need that basic knowledge, but I’m talking about if you want to become a scholar in fiqh or something.. to study for that, although it is a good thing to do!- if all the women went to go study fiqh and aqeedah instead of raising their children there would be chaos. Generally, generally speaking, I do think no more than 3-4 years of college BECAUSE of the society we are in, because of the need to know what environment we’re in, because of financial safety in case of a divorce, because unfortunately you may not get married if you’re not “educated”, because you may not be respected, is absolutely necessary.

    My local masjid is full of young ones, and we hear complaints constantly of “messed-up”, badly behaved Muslim children. These moms are generally stay-at-home moms. It’s not a perfect solution either to have moms stay at home- the wife of the imam always says “I wish I ran a school for parents!” I think the best education for women would be “How to raise moral Muslim children!” If they’d learned how to be moral themselves first, from THEIR mothers… it’s a chain! It’s so important for mothers to be good!! There wouldn’t have been any problem then. Mother maintain a family and home. They are the founders of society.

    I still think that the stay-at-home moms are always at an advantage the working mom just will never have. The working mom will always have more to deal with and cut down on time with her children/family/house regardless. She might still be able to run the house and family, but it would never be as good as it was when she had more time to do it.

    and Allah knows best D:

    • Avatar

      Perspective

      June 18, 2010 at 8:53 PM

      With all due respect, a standard university eduction is 4 years (at least in the states), so having more than 3 years of a college education is expected, unless one was able to graduate early. Furthermore, having only a college degree would not be sufficient for a woman to be employable in the unfortunate event that something happened to her husband. Most jobs that pay enough to support an entire family require previous job experience and/or a higher educational degree. Based on this alone, I think its important to stress that all women receive a college education (at the very least).

      As always, Allah (SWT) knows best.

  37. Avatar

    Aliyah

    June 17, 2010 at 6:31 PM

    Yes, even with the disclaimer I feel that this is really condesending towards women who do work and raise perfectly fine Muslim children. But then I think an aritcle that posed the positives of women working and raising lovely children wouldn’t work well on this site… I don’t know if the readers here would be able to handle it, just based on comments I’ve read on other articles. Oh well.

    So here’s the thing, who becomes the female doctors and dentists and surgeons and all of those other jobs if a long term education isn’t pushed for girls? We demand to have female attention at hospitals and in private but wouldn’t it be great if there were Muslim women in these positions? Unfortunately an article like this makes it seem very much like only boys go to school and girls stay home… something the Muslim community maybe needs to think about.

  38. Avatar

    muslimah

    June 17, 2010 at 9:46 PM

    @amad. I think it’s pretty clear we are talking about work outside of home. My mom’s been a sahm all her life and i know how hard the job can be. But what abt those women who work outside +run a home? I dont think sahm is harder and more taxing a job than a surgeon (that i hope to be one day inshaAllah).

    I’m really close to my dad and he wasn’t just an atm machine. Kids need mom during the first few yrs of their lives. But they need a DAD too. Or else its just like being a single mom living off govt benefits.

    @heba- i really dont understand why some women go thru the pain of school only to stay at home some day. Most jobs require work experience and unless you dont have any…idk how you gonna do it. Im in med school and i do plan on working inshaAllah. I believe women are strong mashaAllah and can multi task.
    No offense but instead of this, maybe an article on raising our daughters to have the best of both the worlds would have been more helpful. Personally, i cant see myself being completely dependent on my husband financially. It’s such a great feeling to spend your own money and i believe there’s a hadith about the same.
    A bit off topic, i see mothers around who totally lose their sense of individuality after having kids..i dont want to end up like that one day…

    @olivia- is it wrong to work for the sake of providing a better life for your children w/o being extravagant? How many households in this day and age can survive on one income? I doubt many.

    • Avatar

      muslimah

      June 17, 2010 at 10:16 PM

      okay so i have been reading the comments. I understand your post is abt being at home with infants..i agree, it’s a personal choice for every woman. Im just surprised no one talked about the role of fathers in raising their kids. I see dads who dont even know how to hold their baby. What a shame.

  39. Avatar

    muslimah

    June 17, 2010 at 10:35 PM

    @amal – i found this pretty offensive at first but i dont think there’s a reason to. What woman would not love to just be at home and look after their baby? Go back to work when they grow up. Now if you’re the sole provider, it’s a different story…

  40. Avatar

    n/a

    June 17, 2010 at 11:19 PM

    since were on the topic i think this would be a good article to read
    http://www.infocusnews.net/content/view/44368/1379/

  41. Avatar

    Basil Mohamed Gohar

    June 17, 2010 at 11:19 PM

    Bismillaahir Rahmaanir Raheem

    Assalaamu Ê¿alaykum wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh

    I just wanted to express my appreciation for the work the author put into this article. In fact, it was my wife who first told me about it and then later linked me to it, and I indeed benefiting from the reminders. I desired to share something as a result of reading this article.

    As a man and a husband, I’ll refrain from adding to the already well-covered points related specifically to women on this topic, but I will add to the perspective regarding men (and we are, indeed, looking-forward to the complimentary article from the author’s husband, in shaaʾ Allaah).

    Without a doubt, for a family to properly function, the work involved must be divided along appropriate and complimentary lines. So, for the mother/wife to be a full-time mother most definitely means the father/husband needs to facilitate that, as it’s not just about her, it’s about the family – and, actually everything after marriage is. So, the husband needs to help his wife through whatever means are available to fulfill the needs that women have for intellectual engagement, stimulation, and so on. As long as the obligations toward the family are met, the husband needs to allow the wife to do what makes her happy and even help her in that – be it studies, business, socializing, activities, outings, or whatnot. I personally struggle in this manner and I hope I can improve on it, because it’s important for the mental health of my wife (all women, in fact).

    As a side note, I find it abhorrent and shocking that there are men that want the mothers of their children to abandon them (indeed it is abandonment due to the children’s rights at this age) and work outside simply to maintain a certain standard of living, or because of some inferiority complex due to unIslamic influences. The comments made above about living within one’s means are very relevant here. This goes from shocking to downright sad when the women in question want to be full-time mothers, but it is their husbands that insist and sometimes even force the issue. Allaah is going to question husbands as to how they fulfilled their obligations toward their families, including their wives, and I wonder what they will say to defend their decisions to send their women out into mixed environments so they could have a bigger share of this life.

    The obvious disclaimer to this, which has been stated clearly time-and-time again before my comment (though some folks with a chip on their shoulder don’t seem to get it) is that cases of necessity may require a woman to work, not just as a single provider, but also when the husband is working, due to circumstances. These are not the cases I am talking about, but I also believe, firmly, that in such cases of dire need, Allaah provides a way for the family to get their rizq through means that do not violate his laws. But you may have make some adjustments and, most importantly, have trust in Allaah for that solution & “way out”.

    I am blessed by Allaah to have a wife that is both college-educated and Islamically-minded enough to see the wisdom, benefit, & wholesomeness to desire to be a full-time mother for our children. As her husband, I must, therefore, take care of the needs that having such a wonderful wife entail, which includes making sure her intellect & sanity do not suffer for the dedication she has to our family. So, I made this post as a reminder to myself and other husbands to know that the role of the husband and father is a serious one and does not end at 5PM nor with a paycheck to the family. We are the shepherds to our flock and we are responsible to Allaah for our families, so their well-being must be taken care of appropriately.

    Wallaahu aʿlam

  42. Avatar

    AbuZaniab_Abd'Allah

    June 17, 2010 at 11:26 PM

    Salamalaykum…

    MashaAllah sister. Nicely written. One thing that I wanted to clarify is that, though the mother deserves the best companionship and that too three times more than the father, it does not mean that the father loves his children one-third in amount than the mother. His responsibility “includes” financially supporting the child and the mother in order to facilitate the mother to nurture the child but that it is not his only role. I know you didn’t say that but I’m just clarifying. Allah knows how much I love my child. Sometimes I think I love my child more than any person on the earth; may be even more than the mother. Is there any Islamic proof that states that the mother deserves three times more respect and companionship because she loves her children more than the father? I’m not asking this question sarcastically…it’s a genuine question. Sister muslimah said that there are dads who don’t even know how to hold a baby. I’m sure she’s not generalizing but guess what….there are mothers out there that also don’t know how to take care of their babies. Just because a woman is designed by Allah to give birth does not mean that automatically, she will be a good mother. Providing for the childs needs by feeding, bathing, changing, etc does not make one a good parent. These are things that a hired nanny can also do. I hope what I’m saying is not taken out of context. I’m only trying to give fathers a little more credit than what they usually get. After all, the Prophet (saw), Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali (RA) were all fathers and not mothers. I also have a mother (may Allah protect her and forgive her and grant her Jannatul Firdaus) and I love her a lot. I’m also a father and I love my child if not more, I would say the same as her mother. May Allah protect our offspring and make them from the Saliheen. May they become the shining stars of this Ummah and become one of the reasons for elevating us in ranks in Jannah. Ameen.

  43. Avatar

    Safiya Outlines

    June 18, 2010 at 3:43 AM

    Salaam Alaikum,

    With regards to the disclaimer, I’m not really convinced it’s the soothing balm the author intends it to be. The article title is designed to affect a sister’s guilt gland, “For your baby’s sake”, hence the implication that if you are not ‘Submitting’ appropriately, you are harming your baby.

    Being a SAHM or working out of the house is a hugely controversial issue, for all women, not just Muslimahs and therefore it is an issue that needs to be dealt with a lot of tact and sensitivity. Saying that working mothers (of the obviously sinful variety who don’t neeeeed to work) cry on the way to work is neither. The vast majority of people would not do their job for free, they go to work for the money and that includes working women.

    Let’s be clear about the fact that women have always worked in most societies, including Muslim ones. Women have long been involved in trade, agriculture and healing. Also, running a house used to be a far more labour intensive task then it is now and so women may have used wet nurses, relatives or servants/slaves to assist with the child care. Working mothers are nothing new, nor are they a Western affliction.

    Then we have feminists being blamed for women getting ideas above their station. I’m assuming that most readers of this site are based in the US, where you probably have the shortest maternity leave provision in the Western world of approximately 6 weeks. In the U.K, women can have up to a year off and in Scandanavia, it’s even longer. These countries also have flexible working policies that help employess work family friendly hours. All these things were campaigned for by feminists and they all help mothers and fathers spend as much time with their children as they can.

    Some might grumble at this, saying that such measures encourage mothers to work. However a dose of economic reality is needed. The decline of many manufacturing industries in the West and the increase in cost of living has meant that many families need dual incomes. This is not the work of feminists, but of capitalists.

    There is nothing wrong with celebrating SAHM’s, but I wish it did not having to be at the expense at
    those, who for whatever reason, work.

    As a suggestion, I know many sisters who feel guilty that the lack of time they have for ibbadat as compared to their pre-baby lives. Something reminding them of all the blessings of motherhood, plus ways of fitting in ibbadat and dhikr, would have been positive and helpful to every mother, no disclaimer required.

    • Amad

      Amad

      June 18, 2010 at 5:28 AM

      good comments and food for thought.

    • Avatar

      Muslimah A.N

      July 3, 2010 at 2:12 PM

      Maasha Allah! Nice one!

  44. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    June 18, 2010 at 6:15 AM

    This issue is sensitive but necessary.
    Much info has come out regarding the need for attachment parenting in the critical early years and even beyond.This is for the benefit of the child involved.
    If parents are able to, it is better for mum to stay at home especially when the alternative is placing the children in institutions such as daycares.
    Here is a good read and for those who are able to the video by Dr. Gordon Neufeld is well worth watching.

    http://www.transformativeparenting.com/dr_gordon_neufeld.shtml

  45. Avatar

    Safiyyah

    June 18, 2010 at 9:57 AM

    Whilst the author claimed she did not want to generalize in this article, that is all that’s clearly done.

    The title is quite insensitive…I don’t think there is a mother out there who wants to intentionally harm her baby.

    Some women are made to be stay at home moms, and others are not…. there is no blanket description of how every mother should raise her children, how much time she should spend with them.

    I personally think staying at home with the kids in their first years is extremely important and beneficial, but its not something we can make a mother feel guilty about, certainly not in the preachy way this article has.

    I agree with the comments that suggest that an article like this needs to be tackled from a balanced perspective without trying to alienate anyone.

    In reality, the Sahabiyaat and Prophets wives were never “stay at home mums”, they were mothers, wives, community activists, businesswomen, scholars, warriors..

    I think its quite important that someone raised the point that the Prophet himself (saw) was not raised in his early years (0-3, like the article suggests) by his own mother, and yes its nothing compared to todays daycare, but it is a point to note, that there is no ideal situation, every family must work out for themselves what works best.

    I think this article on parenting is so much more valuable and practical, without resorting to guilt-inducing tactics. http://seekersguidance.org/blog/2010/01/10-successful-strategies-for-raising-children/

    also this perspective from a working mom. http://goatmilkblog.com/2010/06/14/being-a-new-mom-changing-diapers-in-a-suit/

    • Avatar

      suhail

      June 18, 2010 at 10:59 AM

      Can you back that up the comment that Sahabiyat and prophets wives were community activists, buisnesswomen like they are in this age.

      The way the buisnesswomen are today do you really think the Sahabiyat used to do that same. Did Khadijah(RA) perform the buisness in the same way that any buisness woman do it. Care to explain the detail before throwing a blanket rule out there.

      By the way which Prophets wife was any of the above can you tell us please. The way the work culture is these days it is quite difficult to compare it to the time of the Sahabiyat. It was not the same. They did not interact with man as freely as it happens now. They did not travel out of there town alone or for that purpose worked with a lot of men like the woman now have to do.

      So please do not compare apples and oranges. I do not understand the need to justify everything that is happening and not working for actually the Islamic shariah in our own lives.

      • Avatar

        africana

        June 18, 2010 at 7:36 PM

        assalamu alaikum,

        good point, mashAllah. the other thing point to think about is the fact that khadija’s (radiAllahu Anha) activities took place long before the revelation of the verses commanding the wearing of hijab which brought introduced a new concept of feminine modesty and behaviour.

      • Avatar

        sebkha

        June 18, 2010 at 8:57 PM

        Not every woman’s work environment is the same. I was lucky enough to be able to stay home for the first two years of my daughter’s life, but now that I am employed I am home 5 days of the week with my children. I’m a nurse in a pediatrician’s office, where every single one of the pediatricians there is female (two of whom are Arab Muslims), and every nurse, medical assistant and receptionist employed there is female. I consider it a blessing to be able to work in such an environment, and am able to fully maintain my modesty there. On the rare occasions there are men there, any interaction I must have with them is limited to asking how long their kid’s had a cough, or letting a drug rep know how many samples we have left of Singulair.

        I know that in the times of the Sahaba women did care for men on the battlefield etc. as nurses. It’s not at all the same kind of interaction that occurs between men and women at business meeting lunches, etc. I chose a line of work where those kinds of things are non-issues, on purpose.

        Something I am not understanding is Africana’s statement re. Khadija’s (RA) activities taking place long before certain verses were revealed…Regardless of their timing, there is no reason whatsoever for anyone to believe that her sense of feminine modesty and behaviour were nothing short of exemplary, and worthy of praise. Even if the verses had not been revealed yet, I have no doubt in my mind that her behaviour and modesty were impeccable. Not sure where you’re going with that.

  46. Avatar

    Hebah Ahmed

    June 18, 2010 at 8:24 PM

    Asalam Aliakum,

    I wanted to make a few clairifications Insha Allah.

    We all struggle to submit to so many things in our life, this is the test of Islam. The more we learn and become convinced of the right way, the more we should work to change our lives to fit the path that Allah has decreed. Sometimes this is easy and sometimes it is not. Sometimes it parallels what we want and enjoy, and sometimes we have to do it despite our desires.

    Everyone has a right to disagree with articles on this site and bring evidence (Islamically, scientifically and otherwise) to argue against what is written, but please, do not project or assume a bad intention on the part of the writer.

    Specifically, I was not trying to label one side as good and the other as bad and I am not presuming to label someone as sinful or committing haram. Many times we write things and see it one way and then are shocked when others perceive it negatively.

    I truly believe the point of this website it to have supportive, positive discussions and debates. We should assume the best of all the writers on this site. There is no reason to be offended by an article, just agree,disagree, or ignore it if it is not applicable.

    Because tone does not transfer over the internet and since we do not know one another and have not built the trust and love amongst each other, it is easy to think ill of the writers, especially if they hold a position you do not agree with. I would assume all of the MM writers toss and turn at night worrying about their articles and whether or not they have wronged anyone or claimed something incorrect. Please encourage us to keep writing with positive criticism, without personalizing things, feeling personally attacked, or assuming the worst of the writers.

    Jazak Allahu Khair,
    Hebah

    • Avatar

      sebkha

      June 18, 2010 at 9:06 PM

      Salaam Hebah.
      Regardless of anything in your article that I might not fully agree with, I love what your intent is- to promote happy, healthy Muslim families, in the manner that you believe is the most effective way to do so. In my opinion anyway, it takes a lot of bravery to put your thoughts and ideas out there for so many people to read, and it’s certainly something I don’t feel brave enough to do! Especially for something so personal, and so near and dear to a female’s heart. Even for those who more adamantly disagree with some of the points you make, they must at least admit it was certainly thought-provoking.
      Jazak Allahu Khair.

  47. Avatar

    Perspective

    June 18, 2010 at 8:27 PM

    Interesting thread of comments. It is clear that there is a wide spectrum of beliefs in regards to women working. My main contention with the article is that it implies that in order for women to “submit” to Allah, they must abandon their careers and become stay at home moms. I find this troubling, because it alludes that working women have not “submitted” to Allah or to their role of motherhood. Although I am sure the general readership of this site agrees with the views presented in this article (perhaps because they themselves are stay at home mothers?) i sincerely feel that it would be more beneficial for women to read about how to maintain a healthy balance between their careers and their home lives.

    I feel that many view parenting as black and white, with women having a specific role (child-rearing, taking care of the home etc), and men having a specific role (working to provide for the family). Those who prescribe to this view believe it to be the “ideal” in how a home, and society at large, should function, and anything that diverges from this “ideal” is seen to be threatening. However, individuals and human beings are far more complex and varied; ie the situation is not black and white. Although women have been blessed by Allah (SWT) with the task of childbirth, this does not mean that this is their ONLY task. The choice of whether a women works or not should be left up to individual women, with both options being seen as respectable.

    Western Liberal Feminists generally bare the brunt of all Islamic discussions regarding women’s rights. That in itself is another discussion, but I would just like to make the point that working does not mean a woman is trying to take on the role of men, or be masculine in any way. Having a job can be beneficial for the sanity and self-satisfication of both sexes, without it being an intrusion on the “role” of men and without it diminishing a women’s femininity. To hold the view that women who work “hold men as the ideal” and “try to be like men” is a rather extreme and generalized response to the issue.

    I find the view that families will continue to extensively educate their daughters even if they will become stay at home mothers rather unrealistic. As I stated earlier, a mother does not need a Masters in Engineering, or any sort of higher education, to teach her kindergardener how to count and spell, or her 6th grader multiplication and division. These tasks do not require extensive analytical abilities. Although I would love to live in a wold where families would continue to spend $50,000/year or more on their daughters educations regardless of whether they work, such a utopia is unrealistic and unlikely.

    I personally know families where the mother stayed at home and raised her children till the day they left for college. Even with this family situation, these kids participated in un-Islamic activities (drinking, relationship etc). I also know working mothers whose children as pious, respectful, and behave Islamically in all aspects of their life. Clearly, a mother staying at home is not the deciding factor in how a child will turn out, their are good and bad apples in both situations. Ergo, would it not be better to provide tips on how to raise pious Muslim children regardless of a women’s working situation instead of a piece simply encouraging women to stay at home?

    Once again, just my thoughts on the topic, and I mean no offense to anyone. i apologize if anything I say comes across as attacking the author or the message of the article, it is difficult to succinctly communicate online without sounding harsh. As always, Allah (SWT) knows best.

  48. Avatar

    Muslim

    June 19, 2010 at 12:46 AM

    As-salamualaikum to all,

    I would like to relate a incident which occurred recently. Alhamdulilah, my sister delievered a baby boy 2 months back. During her pregnancy, she developed some difficulties. We had to take abdominal scans but found it difficult to find a female doctor who could do this. Atleast not in the city where we live. We had option of either going to expensive hospitals or go to another city to get the scan done. We couldn’t afford the expensive hospitals so we were forced to travel long distance. How much we wished if we had female doctors in our community.

    My sister would never accept visiting a male doctor, this was not a option for her. I wish, insha-allah If and when I have daughters I’ll educate them to be doctors/surgeons who could serve the Muslim ummah. We are in dire need of female muslim doctors who would get into this profession with the intent of serving our community in particular and Humanity at large.

    If all our sisters were to become Stay at home Moms, who will treat our mothers, sisters and daughters. Everyone will agree that we dont want them to be treated by Male doctors unless it is a life threatning situation. We also need female teachers in high schools and colleges. I am from a country where we have separate boys and girls schools.

    Imagine for a moment, if everyone in your city reverts and becomes practising muslim/muslima(Subhanallah how wonderful that would be!) . If all sisters were to give up their medical practice/ teaching etc and become stay ay home moms, think what would happen to the society.

    We dont need our sisters to work for supporting their families, we need them become physicians/teachers and all other professions which help other sisters. Men cannot substitute them in this regard. May Allah SWT bless these women who sacrifice their time with their children and family for the sake of the community.

    My Mom is a teacher, she is great at Math. High school/ college girls come to my home to learn from her though there are many reputed tuition centres in my town. (Muslim sisters dont want to go male teachers). She is much respected in my locality and when I go to my town, I am known as her son :-). I still dont have a independent identity. May Allah protect her and bless her with good health and Iman. She taught me moral/religious and worldy education. Education benefits everyone.

    I believe every muslim sister should pursue education. Education instills confidence/courage in a person, it enables them to know what their rights are. I have seen instances where women have to endure/putup with horrific circumstances/pain/physical/mental abuses , ill treating Husbands/inlaws out of fear that no one will take care of them financially (even though they have Fathers/Brothers, they dont want to be a burden on them).

    So education is a must, profession only for serving the ummah.

    Jazak-Allah Khair

    • Avatar

      Muslimah A.N

      July 3, 2010 at 2:07 PM

      Assalaamu’alaikum. I really appreciate what you have just written Muslim…MaashaAllah, it’s so very true what you said. For me personally, marriage puts me off, since this husband/wife relationship can be rarely, very rarely, found like how the relationship was between the prophet& his wives or even between the sahabas&their wives.
      All I see around me, is problem and problem between couples…almost everything negative. very, very few positive aspects. I see sheikh and great Aalim illtreat their wife and kids.They have no right to utter their opinion, no money can be in their hand, in short, they r dominated, intimidated, always have to depend on the man, bearing with all his commands.i do not generalise,and surely they r not faultless, but surely they r people who should have given better examples!
      For me, marriage is a big risk….you don’t know what is awaiting you in the future. sometimes the man changes after marriage and vice versa and at times, both man and woman change.
      There are too many insecurities, it is like submitting urself to a stranger… it is something that i still can’t accept……. either that, or i am gamophobic! lol
      I feel like am suffocating when i think of marriage………. but my du’aas and wishes 4courage are with both those who r single and those who are married!! :)

  49. Avatar

    muslimah

    June 19, 2010 at 4:28 AM

    muslim, you comment brought tears to my eyes. It gives me the courage to go thru med school with patience and preservarance. My dad always wished i choose a surgery residency program and inshaAllah i will :) it’s so difficult for us women to balance a home and career. Last thing we want is someone pointing a finger at our lack of feminity and eman.

    Sr.heba, jazakAllahu khair for sharing your thoughts. I agree staying at home with the kids is extremely important in the first few yrs of their lives. But not everyone is going to make the same choice for their own personal reasons.wallahu’alam

  50. Avatar

    UmmKhalid

    June 25, 2010 at 10:18 AM

    assalamu alaykum

    I think what most commentors are not realising is that childhood lasts only a few years. Nobody said you should spend your entire life as a SAHM. Most likely, this stage will be less than 20 years of your life, even if you have several children. The children grow up and don’t need their mothers so much. Why can’t you just enjoy the few years you have with your little ones, and make the best of these few years? There will be times where you can focus on your career and other interests. What I got from this article, is that everything has it’s time. Whether its a blessing or a hardship, we should accept it and live with it patiently.

  51. Avatar

    umm m

    July 3, 2010 at 4:38 PM

    As salamualaykum

    Allaah swt will ask each of us what WE did. So we should remember that first and foremost. He swt will question us and then reward or punish us for what we did. learn about our duites and obligations. before we ask others to give us our rights, if we took a few moments to ensure we gave others their rights, then on the day of judgement we wont be the losers insha’Allaah. of course we should know our rights too.

    Why were we put on this earth?

    what will we be questioned on?

    what are our intentions?

    be sincere ask yourself an make dua.

    Wasalam

  52. Avatar

    working mother

    November 9, 2010 at 9:00 PM

    There are very few mothers in the world who would not want to raise there children,the young women who choose to educate themselves before they embark on this very important role of their life should not be misled by the immature thoughts expressed in this article, Those who are unable to be at home for various reasons should not be made to feel guilty because they are full-filling both roles, on the other hand they should be proud of themselves.
    The young girls should not be led to believe that the are committing a sin by educating themselves before they become mothers, Mother-hood should not be taken lightly and their is no need to rush into it. The disclaimer does not prevent the mothers who do not have the luxury of staying at home from feeling hurt by the thoughts expressed.

    • Avatar

      Hebah Ahmed

      November 13, 2010 at 2:17 PM

      Asalam Alaikum dear sister,

      Jazak Allahu Khair for adding your comments. The best part of MM is the freedom of discussion and portrayal of various view points. I think you may have mis-understood the article if you think I am encouraging women to rush into motherhood and not get an education. I absolutely tell all the girls that they should get a college degree for so many reasons. I think it is especially important for women to educate themselves about pregnancy, birthing and parenting even before they get pregnant. I also have many friends who work and are mothers and I support them in every way I can. Everyone has to make the best decisions for their family and Allah knows the provisions and abilities he gives each family. The point of the article is to understand how huge of a responsibility parenting is and to support those women who do choose to stay home since the trend in our socitey is to actually put down stay at home moms and devalue their roles. I also believe that we forget how huge the rights of our children are on us and sometimes we need to size down and re-evaluate our needs in order to cater more to them.

      The article was not meant to make anyone feel guilty or judge each other or hurt anyone’s feelings. There really is no point to guilt. Either you are happy with the arrangement you have and can simply accept that someone else does things differently or, if something in the article effects you, then work to change it.

      Allah knows best and Allah alone knows our intentions…

  53. Avatar

    shiney

    January 30, 2011 at 10:15 PM

    jazakallah khair sister for writing this article! thank you for explaining motherhood from an Islamic perspective and how the Ummah needs to re-incoroporate all of these maternal qualities into themselves in order to raise their children better. Although I do agree that there are sometimes financial difficulties due to which a mother may have to work. One of the reasons for this being that someitmes a woman’s husband has an effect on how she will be able to raise her kids. If an educated woman gets married to an uneducated man (for whatever reason), then she will have to take it upon herself to provide for the family because her job would be higher-paying than her husband’s. I think if women get married to financially stable and supportive men then it would be much easier for them to carry out their duties as a full-time mother, without any financial worries.
    And last but not least, may Allah (SWT) make it easy on all those women who don’t have the privilege of raising their kids in the most preferable manner. Ameen

  54. Avatar

    Common_Sense

    December 5, 2015 at 8:33 AM

    This is just poison. Important decisions like when to go back to work/whether to work at all do not have anything to do with irrational beliefs such as religion. It’s sad to see Heba burden her intellect with such fairy tales. What a waste :-(

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#Islam

Identity Scholarship: Ideological Assabiya And Double Standards

The Prophet helped the Arabs overcome their asabiya (tribalism) and enter a new defining bond of Islam. The criterion for right and wrong was no longer clan membership, but rooted in the religion of Islam. Muslims were instructed to defend the truth, command good, and forbid evil regardless of tribal affiliation. Asabiya does not just relate to kin-based tribes.  One of the resurging traces of jahilya affecting our discourse is ideological tribalism. In ideological tribalism, we hold double standards between our tribe and other tribes, and overlook fallacies in our group that we would not for other groups. Just as we protect an idea that represents our identity, when a personality reflects our group identity, there is a personal reason to defend the personality. It then becomes instinctual then to double-down in discussions even when wrong to show group strength, which at this point is a survival mechanism and not a true dialectic. Abandoning a quest for truth and succumbing to an in-group vs. out-group dichotomy leaves us to defend falsehood and dislike truth. Refusing to accept truth is one way the Prophet described arrogance. 

Group belonging

One of the main drivers of identity scholarship is group belonging. When we focus on defending our group rather than principles which extend beyond group delineations we prove false our claims of wanting the truth.  The burden of moral responsibility is not offset by finding someone to follow [1]. Charismatic leaders have an ability to tap into latent desires of individuals and awaken in them the desire to be part of something greater than themselves. Their own identities are often validated by following the charismatic figure, and they then work hard to preserve the group as they would to preserve their own selves.

According to Ann Ruth Willner, charismatic authority “derives from the capacity of a particular person to arouse and maintain belief in himself or herself as the source of legitimacy. Willner says that the charismatic leadership relationship has four characteristics:

  1. The leader is perceived by the followers as somehow superhuman.
  2. The followers blindly believe the leader’s statements.
  3. The followers unconditionally comply with the leader’s directives for action.
  4. The followers give the leader unqualified emotional commitment.
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Charismatic leadership satisfies our desire to be part of something bigger, and paradoxically, to hand all power over to someone else can make us feel more powerful because we think that person is the best version of ourselves. We feel that we have gained ‘agency by proxy.’ We have also dumped all responsibility for decisions onto the leader- what Erich Fromm, the scholar of Nazism, called an ‘escape from freedom.’ When we are in a charismatic leadership relationship, our sense of self-worth gets (attaches) attached to the identity of the leader, so that we take personally any criticism of that leader, and have as much difficulty admitting flaws or errors on the leader’s parts as we do on our own. Because we see the leader as us, and we see us as good, we simply can’t believe that he or she might do bad things” (59) [2].

Charismatic leadership is emotional and works on desires. This type of leadership has no relation to truth. It exists and persists due to feelings, hence contradictions, double-standards, and outright hypocrisy aren’t issues for those in the relationship. Even when the leader confidently behaves irresponsibly, followers do not think less of him. What is inconsistent and irresponsible for an out-group observer is charming to members of the in-group. As Miller points out: 

Followers don’t expect charismatic leaders to be responsible for what they say, nor to behave responsibly; their irresponsible behavior is part of their power. Their use of hyperbole and tendency to be unfiltered in speech are taken to signify their passionate commitment to the in-group (60).

Such loyalty is not specific for charismatic leaders, The Minimal Group Paradigm shows that we have more empathy for our in-group even if that in-group is arbitrarily assigned, and we will act biased in their favor against an arbitrarily assigned out-group. This is a tendency against which we must actively fight to maintain clarity in thinking and fair standards in discussions. When group loyalty is prized there is a fear of opposing the group, which obliterates any chance of scholarly discourse. Questioning a position becomes akin to questioning authority and leaves the questioner ostracized and out-casted. When the out-group is pejoratively labeled, there is an additional fear of thinking like or ending up in that group. 

Identity scholarship

Rather than looking at the argument constructed and judging whether or not it is sound, identity scholarship approves or dismisses arguments based on the person making them. Arguments are then validated by personalities and not standards of scholarship.  This is a dangerous shift from reasoning and evidence to personalities. 

Identity scholarship leverages the need to belong and centers the personality over the argument. However, focusing on the strength of arguments and not the personality is especially important given that the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is applied to vocationally trained Muslims, seminal graduates, preachers, or to those who display a scholarly caliber in Islam alike. This is a sufficient crisis. The term is heavily equivocated, and should never serve to stand in place of standards of scholarship in discourse. 

Ambiguity in the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is exploited by groups to strengthen their influence. Not always pernicious, this is the natural progression of proselytizing via group identity. An in-group who will dismiss dissenting voices for not having studied long enough, not obtaining ijazas, will promote voices of similar or less educated Muslims when those voices are in their ‘in-group.’ Titles like ‘ustadh’ and ‘ustadha’ are quickly conferred upon those who are volunteers or proponents of the ‘in-group’ even with minimal study. Advocating for the correct paradigm is rewarded more than a knowledge based approach to issues. Giving titles to those with social capital in your in-group is also an effective way for brand expansion. For example, loosely affiliated students with avenues into the growing Muslim mental health field are often referred to as ‘ustadha.’  Also, traditionalists will often promote in-group religious figures engaging in no-risk activism like condemning already popularly condemned figures as exemplary ‘scholars and activists’ who should be followed by other activists.  

If a person has been doing this long enough they become ‘shaykh,’ and then eventually a ‘senior scholar’ with assumed wisdom and spiritual insight, worthy of deference. I am well acquainted with the unfortunate irony in traditional circles where those who push a manhaj of studying at the feet of scholars have by and large not done so beyond attending general lectures by visiting scholars.  Many do not even know Arabic, but their zeal and tenure of feel good lectures in a community primarily interested in nasheeds and tea coupled with their promoting the right figures secure for them a scholarly status by generations who venerate the theory of studying at the feet of scholars. 

Thus authority and titles are conferred by virtue of in-group allegiance. 

Slip into demagoguery

When we accept an in-group and out-group dichotomy and don’t argue fairly, we lay the foundation for demagogic discourse. As Patricia Mill-Roberts writes “If people decide to see things as a zero-sum game- the more they succeed, the more we lose, and we should rage about any call made against us, and cheer any call made against them- then democracy loses” (13). The best way to avoid this is by maintaining fair discussions and letting go of double standards. Arguments appealing to in-group or out-group positions rather than being based in fact should not be accepted regardless of which group they are coming from. Several tactics used in these types of arguments are described below. 

Creating a strawman

Falsely representing the out-group is a common tactic in demagogic discourse. One example is portraying out-group critics as only critics. The critic is frozen in time as someone who has accomplished nothing, helped no one, and as only one who sees the faults in others. The in-group then goes on to list what they have accomplished -‘albeit with some faults’- to not seem as braggarts, but insists that those faults are magnified by the arm-chair critics. 

Another example is labeling Muslims more concerned with academic preservation and development as Muslims in ivory towers. This suggests knowledge is only relevant if immediately actionable and discounts the role of theoretical knowledge in both present and future action as well as an intrinsic end.  

Even when it comes to the epitome of practical action, Allah tells the Muslims to not all go out in battle, but to have groups remain behind to study.

Condescending discrediting

One way demagoguery characterizes the out-group is by a “dithering, wavering, impaired masculinity, and weakness…”(66).  Just as Rudy Giuliani dismissed those protesting Trump’s 2016 win as “professional protestors” with nothing else to do in life, so do we dismiss dissenting voices. 

Terms like ‘keyboard warrior’ should be dropped from the vernacular of anyone who uses the internet for Islamic education. If the internet is good enough for theatrical Ramadan reminders and choreographed Islamic reflections, it should also be good enough for dissent and valid critiques.[3] We have to embrace the fact that the internet is not a pretend medium; social media posts are used in newsfeeds, are reacted to on the mimbar, and even prompt live events. If we dismiss valid criticisms made online as the act of ‘keyboard warriors’ we should also call those giving dawah online ‘studio daa’is.’  

Discrediting due to inexperience

Experience is an important element in answering questions and dealing with different scenarios, and, should rightly be considered when one is looking for a teacher, etc. However, frequently, the standards for what constitutes experience are used inconsistently. The same individuals who refer to young teachers as ‘shaykh’ or ‘mufti’ while in their in-group, dismiss ‘shaykhs’ and ‘muftis’ in the out-group of similar age and experience, arguing that a person can’t be a ‘real’ mufti because studying 7 years doesn’t make anyone a scholar. Graduating from a seminary or Islamic university will be the standard for members of an in-group to be called scholars, but the out-group will be ‘immature graduates’ who have not learned wisdom.  Wisdom itself will be defined as the avoidance of actions which challenge the in-group. Likewise an activist saying the right thing and echoing in-group talking points will be called ‘ustadh,’ but if from the ‘out-group’ dismissed as a Godless- activist’ that just hates hierarchy. 

Victimization and Victimology

Demagoguery thrives on the in-group being victimized by the out-group. It is common for religious figures to dismiss valid criticism as nothing but hate, envy, or ignorance [4]. When criticized by activists, it is common to label them as ‘anti-clerical’ activists who only have an issue with Islamic leaders because they are neo-Marxists. 

‘Neo-Marxist’ is used as a catch-all term to discredit those who disagree with the positions of some religious leaders to insinuate the disagreements are rooted in hate for hierarchy or authority thus being illegitimate. Even conservative and practicing Muslims are labeled as ‘leftists’ and ‘Godless activists’ for simple critiques. In Sufi groups, disagreeing with leadership is often said to be the result of being spiritually veiled, or the work of ‘dark forces’ and ‘shayateen’ dividing us. If we can agree that black-magic and evil-eye are real but should not be the first culprit in a failing marriage, let’s also look for practical failures when religious organizations break down before we start blaming the ‘shayateen.’  

On one hand the in-group claims they are victims, on the other they blame the out-group for having a victim mentality.  This may seem like an obvious contradiction, but as Miller explains,  

If condemnation of out-group behavior is performed by a very likeable persona, then onlookers are likely to conclude that the rhetor would never engage in the behavior she or he is condemning. This maneuver is especially effective with people who believe that you can know what someone believes by listening to what values he or she claims to espouse, and with people who think you can predict behavior by listening to values talk (who believe that ‘good people- that is, people who say the right things- don’t do ‘bad’ things) (56) 

Another tactic is using terms like ‘victomology’ to belittle legitimate grievances of being wronged and falsely representing those grievances as an attitude of being a victim in life.

Being oppressed (mazlum) does not require living a tough life, being a victim in life, or being part of an oppressed group. We are told by the Prophet that delaying a payment owed while being capable of paying is oppression (Muslim). When our God given rights are transgressed upon, we are mazlum in that situation. It is not uncommon however to see Muslims want to claim their rights and express they have been wronged to be dismissed as those who love to be victims. Ironically, this is even done by organizations that describe themselves with the leftist concept of ‘safe spaces.’  

Disregarding Nuance

“Demagoguery is comfortable because it says the world is very simple, and made up of good people (us) and bad people (them)” (24). 

We must understand that if someone does not see an issue as black or white, it’s not because they are obviously corrupt, willfully ignorant, or stupid.  The word nuance itself triggers cynicism and is treated as an excuse to employ mental gymnastics to deny what is ‘obvious.’  The fact of the matter is when it comes to khilafi issues there is generally a vast scope of acceptable actions, and when it comes personal ijtihaadi matters for policy there is often no clear-cut best answer. Thus in such matters the objective is to come to a best resolution or course of action. In short, we should all take appropriate measures in our decisions to ensure the benefit outweighs the harm. Certain positions are cautioned against due to the likelihood of harm to one’s religion, but that likelihood may not serve as evidence that one has harmed his religion. As the great scholar Muhammad Awama relates in Ma’laam Irshadiya, the way of the scholars is to leave people in what they are following as long as it is correct and has a valid legal perspective [5]

Scholarly discourse

Advice from recognized experts in a field carries weight, but it should not be conflated with a scholarly argument. A common mistake is to confer authority upon an opinion outside the area of one’s authority. Scholarly works must prove themselves to be scholarly as stand-alone works. Even if a great scholar has published many scholarly works, his advice should be taken as advice. For example, Imam al-Ghazali was a great scholar, but Dear Beloved Son is not a scholarly work.  We have a malfoozaat (wisdom-sharing) tradition that is precious, but we must know where to place it in the hierarchy of Islamic knowledge. 

Islamic scholarly discourse should be evidence based, demonstrative of legal proficiency, and cater to Islamic concerns. Those engaging should share the evidence for what they say, the sources of the rulings they share, the difference between the reason for a ruling and the wisdom of a ruling [6], understand contextual fatwas,[7] and understand which rulings are based on urf and which rulings are intrinsic obligations or prohibitions. These are just some elements of Islamic scholarly discourse, and it cannot exist alongside identity scholarship. 

There should be private forums with prerequisites where scholarly discourse can take place. When these discussions move outside of their proper place other issues such as discussing weak or aberrant (shadh) fiqh opinions arise, which to an undiscriminating audience all will seem co-valid on the spectrum of differing opinions in sharia. Promoting aberrant positions caters to our cultural preferences of thinking outside the box and carries the façade of an intellectual approach to Islam. In Maharam al-Lisaan (Prohibitions of the Tongue) Muhammad Mawlud lists both mentioning the conflict between the Sahabah, and mentioning aberrant opinions as prohibitions.  This is not due to the utterance being sinful, but rather to the misconceptions it can lead to for the average Muslim if not properly addressed.  

There may be a need to dismiss open innovators and those spreading misguidance, because there is no end to the possibilities of innovation and it obfuscates what should be self-evident, and can be very difficult for even scholars to refute in ways that resonate with those affected by innovation. The double standard as previously mentioned is when lack of formal credentials is only a problem for out-groups. 

How to have productive discourse

Islamic historical discourse has its share of polemics. There are commentaries, fatwas and treatises which insult valid ijtihad and even refer to the entirety of a madhab with epithets. Some scholars were harsh and had a penchant for polemics. Transgressions into mockery and slander were not condoned, and belligerent attitudes were something scholars sought to check with reminders of adab al-ikhtilaf (the etiquettes of disagreement). While the previously mentioned certainly existed and such an approach may serve to strengthen positions of the in-group to the in-group, it does not make for productive dialogue with the out-group.

Outside of scholarly discourse, when we debate policy and Islamic positions, we need to have sincere, fact based arguments with the goal of arriving at truth. Our ability to accept truth no matter who says it shows we have transcended in-group vs. out-group tribalism and have entered the realm of sincere discourse.  Overcoming in-group tribalism and following the truth, rather than blindly following our ‘fathers’ is a central message in the Quran. 

And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?  2:170 

Arguments on points should never be personal. We should train ourselves to evaluate arguments and understand that people we like can make mistakes, and people we dislike and generally disagree with may be right on certain matters. 

Don’t take cheap shots if you disagree with someone, such as pointing out a typo to insinuate incompetence. 

It’s important to leave double-standards, and to point them out when someone is employing them.  When one side is unfair or uses double standards, it encourages the opposition to act in kind, and the discussion devolves into a fight. When disagreeing with someone, never insult that person.  When a personality is attacked, the response will be defending the personality, and the entire discussion is derailed. 

Sharing a post, or article should not be seen as endorsing an individual or a post. Sometimes it’s a means of opening a discussion, other times to share beneficial points even if the entirety of what is shared is not beneficial. Furthermore, endorsing an individual in one area is not a blanket endorsement, and should never be taken as such.  The Hanafi tradition was able to benefit from legal fatwas while not accepting theology of Mu’tazilite scholars. Likewise, many of our best tafseers are from Mu’tazilite scholars. The widely studied and highly regarded Tafseer al-Baydawi is basically a reworked Mu’tazilite tafseer without the Mu’tazilite aqidah. Scholars have been able to ‘take the good and leave the harm.’ 

“I don’t think you could search America, sir, and find two men who agree on everything.” – Malcolm X

We need to uplift our intellectual level and drop disclaimers like “I don’t agree with everything in this article” or “I don’t agree with everything he said.”  It is only worth stating when you do agree with everything someone says or does.  The common disclaimers should be taken as givens and we shouldn’t capitulate to a cultural push of walking on egg-shells so no one accuses us of supporting the wrong person or idea. 

It is critical we operate under the assumption that sharing a panel with or working with an individual is not an endorsement of that individual. Likewise, working with an organization is not an endorsement of that organization. Such associations are attacked as potentially confusing to the average Muslim, but we must work towards establishing that such actions are not support. 

Here we see an ambivalent conceptualization of the ‘average Muslim’ as someone who both deserves transparency from religious scholars for their actions as well as one who is easily confused or misled by the actions of Muslim scholars. If we can accept both propositions, that a scholar’s actions are not proof, and that working with someone and sharing posts and platforms do not equate support for every particular view or stance of a person, we may set the foundation for being issue focused rather than personality focused. 

In conclusion, it is important we all hold ourselves to high standards of discourse and not support behavior or fallacies from our in-group that we would deride from an out-group. The groups themselves are inevitable and not a problem, but we have to work to overcome the natural ideological tribalism that accompanies group membership.  If we personally transcend in-group bias and reflect it in our discourse, we can overcome the pettiness and hypocrisy that stifles productive discussions. 

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#Society

Raised by Converts

Note to the reader:  Some Muslims debate which term we should use for someone who has chosen to accept Islam. Is it supposed to be “convert” or “revert?”  In this article, I choose to use the word “convert.”  Before I start receiving comments from individuals who are convinced that the term “revert” is the only correct one, I would like to share this superb article on the issue written by Ricardo Peña, who says it better than I ever could.  

Nuha* thought she had found her soulmate and future life partner in Joel*, her co-worker. He was kind, hardworking, and charming, and the young couple wanted to get married.  Nuha’s father, however, would not give his blessing to the union because the potential groom had recently converted to Islam.  Nuha’s dad wanted his daughter to marry a man who had grown up in a Muslim family and therefore, presumably, had years of Islamic experience and fairly solid religious knowledge. He speculated about some of the things Joel might have done before embracing Islam and whether he had any habits that would be hard to break. He also thought it would be wiser for his daughter to marry someone from the same background; he doubted a white guy would really know how to relate to a Pakistani-American girl and her desi family. Most of all, he worried that Joel would not know enough about Islam to be a good husband, father, and imam of his family.  

Was Nuha’s father justified? Do converts make good spouses and parents? Can they ever truly move on from any un-Islamic aspects of their past and adhere to their new deen

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How do converts attain the knowledge necessary to raise children with Islamic knowledge, taqwa, and adab?

To answer this question I spoke with six Muslims who grew up in a household where one or more parents were converts to Islam. Their answers give insight into the true dynamics of what happens when converts raise children.  

Khadijah is a freelance writer, editor, and writing coach from the United Kingdom. Her mother, a white British woman, converted when Khadijah was eight years old.  When she and Khadijah’s father had divorced, she had felt a need to find a deeper meaning in life. This searching led her to Islam.  

“My mum taught me Islam in stages,” explains Khadijah. “As she learnt things, she passed them onto me. We went to study circles together, and we learnt to pray together as well. She wrote the transliteration of the prayer on little blue cards for us to hold whilst we prayed. I wouldn’t say her knowledge was sufficient at the time, but whose knowledge is? I learnt valuable lessons as I watched her do her own reading, leaning, and questioning. I felt like we stumbled through together. As I grew up, this taught me Islam is a constant journey, and it’s ok to ask questions.”

Shaheda, a freelance writer from North Carolina, grew up in different circumstances than Khadijah, but the women’s stories have definite parallels. Shaheda’s parents are African Americans who were both raised in traditional southern Christian families. The pair converted to Islam in the 1960s when they were college students who were active in the Civil Rights movement. They began to learn about Islam after their introduction to leaders like Malcolm X.  

As different as her parents’ life experiences were from Khadijah’s mum’s, Shaheda enjoyed the same benefit of being able to see her parents growing and changing due to the love of Islam. “My parents were learning Islam as they were raising us,” explains Shaheda, “and so their increase in knowledge was tangible to us. We grew up in a community where you would see the physical manifestations of knowledge acquisition. The style of dress of the sisters became more modest, the separation of women and men became more pronounced in social gatherings, social gatherings took on a more religious tone, we began to attend Sunday school to learn Quran and Arabic.”

Though it may come as a surprise to some, in families where one spouse was a born to a Muslim family and the other is a convert, the convert is often actually the more knowledgable and practicing parent. Aliyah is a family counselor from the Midwestern United States whose Indian mother and white American father met when they were partners in pre-med.  “My dad had read about ‘Mohammedans’ and would ask my mom lots of questions about them,” explains Aliyah. “My mom was raised in a home that was only culturally Muslim. Plus, back then most immigrants just wanted to assimilate. She didn’t really know the answer to my dad’s intensive questions. One day she suggested he ask her father the same questions. My grandfather took him to the ISNA convention where he could ask more knowledgeable people. Alhumdulilah he got all his questions answered and converted!”

 She continues, “As a little kid we always looked at my dad as the sheikh of the house. We all agree that he’s the reason my family is even practicing. He would always patiently entertain and answer my questions, read me stories about the Prophets and Seerah, and really focus on aqeedah and comparative religions.  When I grew up and both our levels of knowledge needed to grow, we learnt together. As a teen, my dad and I would walk to the masjid together and attend the Friday night halaqa. In college, our favorite thing to do was attend al Maghrib classes. I would ditch my friends and discuss with him what we had learned during the lunch break.”

For Iman,* a stay at home mom who grew up between the United States and the Middle East, it was her convert mother — not her Arab father — who was her main Islamic influence.  “I was about 6-7 years old when my mom converted,” she explains.  “I grew up celebrating Christmas and Eid. We had a Christmas tree in our living room for the first several years of my life. My mother, who was raised a Southern Baptist, embraced Islam when my youngest brother was a baby, so for most of his life she was a practicing Muslim. We learned most of what we know from her.  I remember as a child seeing stacks of books on the dining table that she would check out of the masjid library to read and learn. She was a very intelligent woman who knew more about Islam than lots of born Muslims.”

Based on her own experiences, Iman asserts, “Generally speaking, I think converts are more knowledgeable than born Muslims. It can be challenging,” she adds, “when the convert is more serious about deen than their born-Muslim spouse.”

Anisa, a former teacher from Missouri, agrees with Iman.  “In some ways, I feel converts may have more Islamic knowledge than born Muslims because they have had to search for the knowledge themselves as opposed to growing up with it. Also,” she adds, “many born Muslims have grown up with so much culture mixed with the religion that the difference between the two can get blurred.”

Anisa’s mom, a white American woman who was raised Christian, met some Muslims at Oklahoma Baptist College back in 1970.  She started conversations with them in the hopes of converting them to Christianity, but ended up intrigued by their faith. She took an Islamic History class and read whatever books she could find at the library. She decided to become a Muslim at an MSA conference and made her shahada in 1973. “By the time my mother was raising my sisters and me, she definitely knew all the basics of Islam and was able to teach us,” says Anisa.

“She was the main parental source of knowledge for us, although we also attended Sunday school.”Click To Tweet

Mustafa is the child of an Egyptian dad and an American mom. He was born in the U.S. but raised primarily in Egypt where he was surrounded by Muslims, and yet his convert mother was a huge inspiration to him in his faith. “I know that I loved my mom so much,” Mustafa says.  “I felt that she had done the decision-making process for us. That if someone so smart, clever, and precise figured out Islam was the Truth, it must be.” 

“My mom became Muslim in the early 80s,” explains Mustafa. “She learned about Islam from her students while completing her Masters at the University of Illinois-Champagne. She was teaching English as a second language to Malaysian exchange students. She also ended up living with them and learning about Islam from them. People always assumed my mom converted for my dad,” muses Mustafa. “She didn’t even know him when she converted!”

As positive as their experiences were, overall, with the guidance of their convert parents, life was not always easy for the children who grew up with one born-Muslim parent and one convert. Many times, stereotypes about race, ethnicity, and cultural differences complicated their relationships with extended family members and outsiders. Both as children and as adults, many of them had to cope with people’s misconceptions and tactlessness.  

“I was always teased,” confides Aliyah.  “I’ve been called ‘half Muslim,’ ‘zebra,’ and ‘white girl’ in a derogatory way. Aunties always questioned if I was taught Islam properly. People would assume my dad converted for love (the pet peeve of my whole family). I would hear talk in Urdu in the masjid kitchen that I couldn’t cut an onion because I’m white. It was hard for us when we were getting married to find someone that clicked with us because we were so culturally different than everyone we knew.”

“Kids are rough,” adds Mustafa.  “Muslims can be ignorant, stereotypical, and not know what is offensive. Someone asked my sister, ‘Did your dad marry your mom because she wore a bikini?’ We were oddities at school in Egypt when people would see my mom pick us up from school. I was actually embarrassed to be seen with her for a while growing up, just because of all the attention it got me.”

I was “the white girl” in a Muslim school,” explains Khadijah, “and whilst that made the other girls very aware of who I was, there was always an element of separation there. I didn’t feel white. I didn’t feel Pakistani or Gujarati. I don’t feel like it affected me in either a negative or positive way. I got used to not completely belonging and forged my own ‘culture.’ I married an Afro-Caribbean brother, so my children have such a mix of cultures around them and I think it’s pretty beautiful. Whether my upbringing influenced this or not, I don’t know!”

While Shaheda did not feel any religious tension within her extended family, (“I understand from firsthand experience how people of different faiths can coexist in love and mutual respect,” she says), she does experience some difficulty from her brothers and sisters in Islam.  She reports “having to repeatedly validate my identity as an actual Muslim to those who don’t have the same experience. The assumption that there may be something missing or not quite Muslim enough is troublesome.” 

Wisdom to Share

These children of converts with their unique experiences and courageous dedication to their faith have excellent wisdom to share with the Ummah.  

Aliyah, whose work as a counselor focuses especially on Muslim families, has advice for Muslim parents whose marriage is mixed, either culturally or racially. “To youth,” she says, “identity matters SO MUCH, especially in this day and age when that’s all anyone ever talks about. If you’re a white convert parent of brown/black kids, identify your privilege that comes with that. If your kids are brown or black…learn about what that means in America. When I was with my non-Muslim relatives they would just make me feel so ‘other.’ They would focus on my exotic look and beliefs and just make me feel like an alien.” 

She continues, “Research things to consider when you are raising a child that is a different ethnicity than you. Ask your kids how they feel about it. Have an open conversation. Teach them about valuing both their cultural backgrounds.”

Khadijah’s advice to Muslim parents is,

“Learn WITH your children. Let them see that you’re still learning and struggling as well. Let them experience the journey with you. They’ll learn more that way than through lectures. You don’t have to act like you have everything figured out.” 

I believe the constant cycling in of converts into Muslim communities is a great blessing,” offers Shaheda. “And with that blessing comes a responsibility. We owe them our support, wisdom, and love, and I think we should take that responsibility very seriously. We should create bonds. These individuals who Allah has chosen as believers among disbelievers are special, and they keep us on our spiritual toes. There are multitudes of blessings when a community gains a new convert.”

When I asked them if they would have any concerns about their own children marrying converts, all of the interviewees answered a firm “no.”  They realize that a person’s dedication to Islam is not guaranteed by being born into it, or even raised with it. 

Converts — people who chose Islam as mature adults after a great deal of research, soul-searching, and personal transformation — are among our Ummah’s most passionate, educated, and sincere members.  

*Names have been changed

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#Culture

The Beginnings Of The Darul Islam Movement In America

I was raised in the Darul Islam movement; my father Shaykh Abdu-Karim Ahmad, was one of their Imams for a time in Philly. So was my cousin Shaykh Ali Ahmad. Both who are still alive today. There are many narrations yet to be told, that shed a little light and context, about Muslim America today.

Much of the history about Islam in United States of America and of the pioneering Muslims upon who’s shoulders we stand, has never been told. Some of them unfortunately may never be told and may die with the death of those who were there. When it comes to American Muslim history, the narratives of those who lived it is more poignant than that of those who only heard about it. As in the hadith of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), “He who is told is not like he who has seen”.

Much of what is written about Black American Muslim Sunni pioneers is written about us but not by us. 

One story that has remained largely unchronicled is that of the Darul Islam movement. Darul Islam was an early indigenous Sunni Muslim community made up of Black American Muslims and converts to Islam. At its height, it comprised 25-30 Muslim communities and masaajid across the country. It was started by Rajab Mahmood and Yahya Abdul-Karim, who were formally attendees of the famous State Street Mosque in Brooklyn, New York in the Atlantic Ave area west of Flatbush. The State St, Mosque which was started by was Dawud Faisal, a Black man who came to the United States from the Caribbean to pursue a career in jazz music, became a beacon for early Muslim immigrants as there was already a spate of Arab businesses along Atlantic Ave near third street, not far from the Mosque. My father used to take us to Malko Brothers bakery on Atlantic Ave in the early sixties where we would buy pita bread and halal meat from one of the other stores. It was one of the few places you could buy pita bread on the East Coast and there was no such thing as a halal store in America then.  

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Partially because Shaykh Dawud was black, and perhaps because of his jazz background and affiliation, the Masjid also attracted Black American converts to Sunni Islam. Many early Sunni Muslims were associated with and came from jazz musicians.  The Legendary John Coltrane was reported to have been a Muslim, he was married to a sister named Amina and his daughter was named Na’eema. My father performed her marriage in New York in the 1980’s. It’s rumored that he never publicized his Islam because it would have damaged his career as it had done to so many others. Hajj Talib Dawud, who started a masjid in Philadelphia (not related to the Darul Islam movement), used to be a trumpet player for Dizzy Gillespie. 

Meanwhile, , there was a chasm between immigrant Muslims who were new to the country. Converts to Islam, who were overwhelmingly Black, were new to Islam.  In 1960, Shaykh Dawud hired a teacher who was Hafiz al-Quran named Hafiz Mah’boob — he was associated with the Tabligh Jamaa’ah movement— but he was Black or looked black. The young African American converts, Rajab Mah’mood, Yahya Abdulkarim, Suleiman Abdul-Hadi (my uncle and one of the founding members of The Last Poets), Muhammad Salahuddin, and others. were drawn to him, He was “down” with educating the brothers from America and he used to teach them Arabic and Islam. It was a different time then and the immigrant, mainly Arab Muslims, and the Black American converts to Islam were from two different worlds. There was an unspoken uneasiness. Eventually Hafiz Mah’boob suggested that the African American brothers go and start their own masjid.

Rajab Mah’mood and Yahya AbdulKarim eventually left the State Street Mosque and started their own Masjid in Brownsville, one of Brooklyn’s toughest neighborhoods, they named it Yasin Mosque, and that was the beginning of the Darul Islam Movement in the United States. That’s also just the beginning of the story.

I was born and raised a Sunni Muslim in Philadelphia, PA; my parents converted to Islam in the 1950’s.

I was raised in the Darul Islam movement; my father Shaykh Abdu-Karim Ahmad, was one of their Imams for a time in Philly. So was my cousin Shaykh Ali Ahmad. Both who are still alive today. There are many narrations yet to be told, that shed a little light and context, about Muslim America today.

History matters. 

Taken from the Upcoming Book. “The History of the Darul Islam Movement in America” 

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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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