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The History of Mother’s Day

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A large chunk of the world’s population celebrated Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 08, 2011. The legality of celebration of such days is a issue on which scholars differ and as such I will refrain to comment on it. What I do want to share is  this article on the history of Mother’s Day in the US;  this fascinated me as I have never read up on this before.

When Anna Jarvis’ mother died on the second Sunday of May in 1905, she was devastated. Mrs. Jarvis had devoted much of her adult life to educating other mothers about health and sanitation and in 1868 held the first Mother’s Friendship Day to unite families broken apart by the Civil War. Anna vowed to honor her mother’s memory by turning Mother’s Day into a national holiday.

Showing the same determination that marked her mother’s service work, the well-educated Anna dispatched a flotilla of letters to ministers and politicians around the country, eventually buying the house next door just to hold her correspondence. And in 1914, the pertinacious Miss Jarvis saw President Woodrow Wilson decree the second Sunday of every May the United States’ official Mother’s Day. (Babble.com)

The story of Anna Jarvis and her devotion to the memory of her mother is indeed heart-warming and touching. However, a few years after President Wilson decreed the holiday, it became apparent to Anna that she had created a Frankenstein. Marketing people and retailers decided Mother’s Day was just another way to sell their goods and the purpose of a day, to commemorate mothers’ health and welfare that Anna had rallied for, got hijacked to become a Hallmark Holiday.

Miss Jarvis’s idea of Mother’s Day allowed for no teddy bears or bouquets, no heart-shaped assorted confections, nothing at all that could be bought. She was particularly irked by those sons of the Roaring Twenties who thought it sufficient to hand the woman, who gave them life a greeting card, with a pre-printed sentiment. Miss Jarvis believed in writing a tenderhearted letter to mom, your own doggone self. But were she alive today, Miss Jarvis might really lose heart. Today, those same mothers would be lucky to get a heartfelt text: “thnkn of u ma!!” (Babble.com)

The National Restaurant Association certainly loves the holiday as they expected around 75 million Americans to dine out on this day. And of these around 19 percent expected to be eating more than one meal outside the house. Given that mothers are usually the ones doing most of the cooking around the house, this certainly makes sense. Give mom a break from her duty. And they are not the only ones cashing in on Mom’s “special” day. Bakers, spas, clothing stores, dry cleaners, you name it, they’ll have a Mother’s Day special.

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Mother's Day Sale

Even here in Pakistan, the marketing blitz has caught up. On May 8th, as I was buying bread at a well established bakery in Karachi, they were doing roaring business selling cakes lettered with “I Love You Mom”. At a boutique, my wife managed to get a great 20% “Mother’s Day” discount on some clothes she wanted to buy. The plethora of television channels on TV had Mother’s Day themed programs. Did all this really make a difference in the difficult life most mothers live? I really don’t think so.

Anna Jarvis was so horrified at this commercial takeover of her beloved holiday that she set out to battle the monster she had created.

Jarvis spent her considerable inheritance and the rest of her life fighting the commercialization of “her” holiday. It was a losing battle. Anna Jarvis died in 1948, bitter, blind, partially deaf and completely penniless in a Pennsylvania mental institution. (Canada.com)

Mother’s Day may have been born from a noble intention but it did nothing to provide mothers the love and respect they deserve. We should, instead, celebrate every day the sacrifice our mothers made for us, every minute that she carried us in her womb. We should feel daily the love she showed and continues to show every day of our lives. We should remember daily, the sleepless nights she spent when we were sick, pressing cold compresses to our heads. We should cherish daily, the scrumptious meals she made for us daily to ensure we had the right nutrition as we were growing up. We should honor our mothers daily.

The Prophet (SAW) was asked: “Who among the people is most deserving of my good company?” The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Your mother” three times before saying “Your father”. (Narrated by Bukhari & Muslim)

Should appreciation of mothers be limited to one day of the year only? How do you tell your mother that you love and appreciate her? Let us know in your comments below!

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Aly is an entrepreneur who was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan where he currently resides. He has been associated with many diverse fields such as Textiles, Cement, Minerals & Ores, Feeds and Agri-Commodities. As a Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, and Hypnotist, he works with clients to reach the Next Level in their personal and professional lives, to breakthrough performance blocks, self-doubts, or habits that limit them from reaching their true potential. Send him a message to find out more. Known on Social Media as DiscoMaulvi, he serves in operational and advisory roles for LiveDeen and Azaan Institute. He is also a co-founder and trustee of Ihsaas Trust, a not-for-profit started in 2012 with a vision to improve social mobility for Karachi’s under-privileged. Our distinguishing factor is the efficient utilization of Sadaqah and Zakat for healthcare and rations and to provide micro-finance for Enterprise Facilitation. Aly joined the team of MM in 2011 as a blogger/writer and is currently the Team Lead for the Comments Team and a former member of the Executive Shurah. He is easily accessible via Twitter or through his Public Page on Facebook where you can learn more about him.

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. umtalhah

    May 19, 2011 at 3:07 AM

    as salam alaikum,
    thank you so much and jazakAllahu khairan for researching it up for us…it was very enlightening. i always wish that pakistan and other muslim countries would follow the west in their good qualities, but :(
    i like what sh. yasir said about mother’s day.

    • Aly Balagamwala

      May 19, 2011 at 5:11 AM

      Wa-Alaikum As-salam

      You are most welcome. For the benefits of other readers could you post a link or quote what Sheikh Yasir said? Jazak’Allah Khairin.

      -Aly

      • abu Abdullah

        May 19, 2011 at 7:20 AM

        If I understood it correctly, in essence the Shaykh on his facebook i suppose said, If a Muslim needs to be reminded about (celebrating) a Mothers’ day, s/he is not a good Muslim. wallahu ‘alam.

        jazak Allah khayr for the research.
        wassalam

        • Amad

          May 19, 2011 at 9:31 AM

          YasirQadhi: A Muslim who needs to be reminded of something called ‘Mother’s Day’ is not a good Muslim.

          What Sh. Yasir meant obviously that everyday is a mother’s day for us, and if you have to be reminded that such a day is mother’s day, then you are missing something…

          He wasn’t attacking “the” mother’s day.

      • umtalhah

        May 20, 2011 at 3:07 AM

        Br. Amad has quoted Sh. Yasir in his comment which says:

        YasirQadhi: A Muslim who needs to be reminded of something called ‘Mother’s Day’ is not a good Muslim.

        and when i posted sh. yasir’s quote on my fb wall, i posted the ‘explanation’ with it:

        “basically what sh. yasir is saying is that as good muslims we need to be more caring and loving towards our parents especially our mothers. if we wait for one day in the entire year to remember our mothers OR do anything special for them, then we are not good muslims. a good muslim will treat his/her mother specially more than just once a year!”

        hope it clarifies :)

        • umtalhah

          May 20, 2011 at 3:13 AM

          part 2 :)
          by good qualities i meant i would like to see pakistan and other countries making awareness about the 3 R’s, Going Green, Refusing single-use plastic bags, etc. albeit on only one day – Earth Day.

          • Aly Balagamwala

            May 20, 2011 at 10:50 AM

            Agreed! We need to concentrate on the environment as this is a blessing by Allah (SWT) and will be one of the things that we will be questioned on the Day of Questioning.

  2. Mezba

    May 19, 2011 at 9:51 AM

    Even Eid is commercialized. All you have to do is visit a Muslim country during the pre-Eid week to see how commercialized and shopping driven it has become. So? It doesn’t take anything away from Eid itself. I don’t understand the argument.

    Yes, be nice to your mother all 365 days of the year, but on Mother’s day, be EXTRA nice.

    • Aly Balagamwala

      May 19, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      Mezba

      Agreed that one any one day doing EXTRA is not bad. but does it have to be the Second Sunday of May that we do EXTRA? Why not you do the fourth Tuesday of June and I’ll do the 29th of every August. :)

  3. ummibaps

    May 19, 2011 at 10:32 AM

    The point of doing good deeds is to Please Allah SWT and hope to be rewarded by Him. We must be nice to our mothers because He has ordered us to do so. Making it a point to be extra nice on a day not endorsed by Him is futile; its all a matter of intention, every action is held accountable by Him, there is no such thing as “random acts of kindness and senseless acts of beauty”. Just my 2 paisas worth.

  4. Mohammad

    May 19, 2011 at 2:36 PM

    Another example of Capitalism destroying a good intention. This systems has turn every holiday into a money making scheme weather it Christmas, Easter, Father’s day, Mother’s day and so forth. What a shame.

  5. Mohamad

    May 19, 2011 at 2:42 PM

    Assalamu Alaikom,

    Do you really have to put a picture of an uncovered woman? And Amad please don’t delete my comment, this censorship is getting a bit out of hand.

    • Aly Balagamwala

      May 19, 2011 at 4:01 PM

      Wa-Alaikum Assalam

      My apologies Mohamad, it was my choice. i basically wanted to convey the Motherhood sale concept that this post highlights.

      -Aly

    • Amad

      May 19, 2011 at 4:17 PM

      Muhammad, FYI, there r 10 other editors on MM. We can decide what is out or in the hand, and ur past comments on 911 conspiracy theories are part of the “out” crowd.

      No need to respond. Just wanted to give u a FYI since u called me out.

    • Aly Balagamwala

      May 20, 2011 at 5:31 AM

      Dear Brother Mohamad

      With respect to your concerns about moderation of comments and our policy in general, please note that all comments are read by the staff and evaluated as being appropriate as per our current comment policy. We are in the process of formulating a formal policy which will Insha’Allah be posted on the web site for perusal of our valuable readers.

      We appreciate our readers’ efforts to comment on our work and are grateful for the feedback.

      Keep a look out for the policy to be posted soon and keep your comments coming.

      Warm Regards
      -Aly

  6. Ammar

    May 19, 2011 at 3:26 PM

    I hear a lot these days that birthdays and special days, like the ones for mothers, fathers or teachers, are part of tradition. Including Shaykh Salman Audah recently gave a speech on Mawlid in which he said that mawlid is not part of religion is part of tradition that is why is not considered bidah. Can somebody please explain this?

    • Aly Balagamwala

      May 20, 2011 at 12:36 AM

      Ammar

      I am not qualified to comment on that issue. However, I will have someone answer your query Insha’Allah.

  7. Z

    May 20, 2011 at 2:06 PM

    Is the picture of the “uncovered woman” supposed to be the coupon? Surely men can be relied upon to lower their gazes at least, for like, two secs.

  8. wade

    May 20, 2011 at 10:55 PM

    “A large chunk of the world’s population celebrated Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 08, 2011. The legality of celebration of such days is a issue on which scholars differ and as such I will refrain to comment on it. “-
    Aly Balagamwala

    lol that mad me very angry for some reason.

  9. Coorled38

    May 21, 2011 at 4:04 PM

    Considering just about every Muslim country out there has laws that oppress their Mothers/Sisters/Daughters…how do Muslims equate loving their mothers 365 days out of the year with accepting laws that oppress them…and by accepting I mean raise no fuss…ask no questions to those in charge…point no fingers to the Muslims who enforce that oppression?

    Accepting the status quo of oppression of your very own mothers while professing heaven is at her feet etc is rather an oxymoron.

    • Aly Balagamwala

      May 22, 2011 at 4:04 AM

      Dear Coorled38

      You are correct that there is an extra-ordinary amount of oppression of women in a lot of countries, some of which are Muslim-majority as well. you are correct that Muslims should raise their voices, individually and collectively, against oppression of the rights given to women by Allah (SWT). It is not that there are NO voices that are lifted. In Pakistan I can vouch that there are many people working for the betterment of the condition of women and to ensure they get their proper rights.

      We need to study our religion to really understand it. Unfortunately, we take parts of it and implement in our lives contradicting Allah (SWT) where He says in the Quran :

      “O believers enter into Islam COMPLETELY and do not follow the footsteps of Shaitan, surely he is your clear-cut enemy.” (Surah Al-Baqara, Ayah 208-210)

      May Allah (SWT) guide us to the truth and allow us to implement Islam completely in our lives.

  10. AH

    May 21, 2011 at 5:05 PM

    @Coorled38
    How would you know if Muslims in Muslim countries were ‘raising fuss’ over laws that are oppressive to women? Do you speak, read or understand a non-English language that is spoken in Muslim majority countries?

    @Aly Balagamwala
    Why NOT the second Sunday of May as the day of collective extra niceness to Mum?

    • Coorled38

      May 22, 2011 at 3:25 AM

      AH…I lived in the Middle east for over 23 years…so uhhh…yes. Any more questions that have nothing to do with anything?

      • Sebkha

        May 22, 2011 at 4:11 AM

        pwned. incidentally, my born and raised in morocco for 30 years, arabic/french/english/spanish speaking husband says the same thing-far too many women, everywhere in the world, get a bum deal when it comes to opportunities and their Allah-given rights. go figure.

    • Aly Balagamwala

      May 22, 2011 at 4:05 AM

      Dear AH

      I prefer the 30th of July. :)

      • Sebkha

        May 22, 2011 at 4:16 AM

        actually the 3rd sunday in october works out a lot better for me-why should you guys get to quibble over the date? shouldn’t it be left to the moms? they’re the ones who have to do all the mothering and stuff :-)

  11. Umm Reem

    May 22, 2011 at 2:50 AM

    jazakAllah khair, quite enlightening!

  12. Bilal Ibn Saeed Ahmad

    May 23, 2011 at 7:05 AM

    For a muslim everyday should be a day better than a mothers and fathers day. For the non-muslims, they think it is something extraordinary to do something good for their mother for a day and the rest of the 364 days, just ignore them. Sadly this ailment is now gaining ground amongst the muslims as well. Why these “days”, mothers or birth are celebrated i will never understand.

    • Coorled38

      May 23, 2011 at 12:21 PM

      Bilal “For the non-muslims, they think it is something extraordinary to do something good for their mother for a day and the rest of the 364 days, just ignore them.”

      That has got to be one of the most god awful generalizations about non muslims I have ever heard from a Muslim…other than the old “all western women are sluts and whores” tripe that gets trotted out everytime modesty issues come up. So sad.

  13. a muslimah

    May 25, 2011 at 4:24 AM

    I don’t think giving a gift to your mom is on mothers day is a big deal or celebrating it. It is untrue tht those who celebrate mthers day do not appreciate them every day or don’t give them gifts on others day. Its nice to have a certain day to recongnize them even if we do other days as well. We are busy in our daily lives so this is a good reminder. I think that we should always promote the good.

    • Aly Balagamwala

      May 31, 2011 at 12:20 PM

      How about an “Appreciate the MuslimMatters Authors Day”? It will be a good reminder for our readers to recognize us as they might be very busy and may forget to appreciate us otherwise.

      June 1, 2011 is now declared “Appreciate the MuslimMatters Authors Day” :)

      -Aly

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