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A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series – [Juz 12] Surah Yusuf And The Millennial Muslim Mom


millennial muslim moms

This Ramadan, MuslimMatters reached out to our regular (and not-so-regular) crew of writers asking them to share their reflections on various ayahs/surahs of the Quran, ideally with a focus on a specific juz – those that may have impacted them in some specific way or have influenced how they approach both life and deen. While some contributors are well-versed in at least part of the Quranic Sciences, not all necessarily are, but reflect on their choices as a way of illustrating that our Holy Book is approachable from various human perspectives.

Introducing, A Ramadan Quran Journal: A MuslimMatters Series


Surah Yusuf And The Millennial Muslim Mom

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by Sumaiyya Ayub


Everyone rushes to finish their dinner plates, you can hear the forks clanking, the deep gulps of water, and the adrenaline hit as your family breaks their fast. You can sense the rush of excitement after Maghrib as everyone hurries to get ready for the masjid, to be able to make it in time for a decent parking spot, and be able to hear the athan for ‘Isha before Taraweeh. To be able to feel the sense of community during these trying times. To hear the recitation of Qur’an and follow along, and truly immerse yourself in the “Ramadan Spirit”. 

But not for us millennial moms. Instead, we are left to pick up the crumbs— literally. To console our crying baby, or finish feeding our cranky toddlers. We get a sense of FOMO after the kids are asleep and you can finally have time for your own personal ‘Ibaadah. 

And for the most part, that’s all I needed the first years I had my little ones. To be able to pray without interruption, to be able to make suhoor without getting piggybacked on by my toddler, or make du’a for as long as I can without my crawler snatching my hijab off my head. 

But some nights, I felt lonely. Especially if I wasn’t fasting because I was either pregnant or nursing a baby. I didn’t feel like I was fully part of Ramadan. And by the time I would be done with putting the baby to sleep, I was so exhausted and drained from the day, I didn’t have the energy to go to Taraweeh. And then I would feel guilty. 

And then I would go down the rabbit hole of Instagram reels, influencer after influencer, showing their perfectly decorated Ramadan homes, their aesthetic little family. And most of the time, I knew it was all a display— it’s impossible to have little children and have that best of a home 24/7. But a little part of me felt let down, that I couldn’t keep up with having my perfectly decorated home, with my perfectly matched family. 

We don’t realize the toll social media can have on mothers trying to be the best they can. Everyone’s circumstances are different in their own right, and sometimes we need to hear that that is okay. And we can’t all keep up with what is shown on social media. 

And to my Muslim millennial mom who is nursing her baby in the middle of the night, and feels guilty for not being able to give those same hours to Tahajjud, I see you.  We are being rewarded for every single act we do as a mother. And it is amplified in Ramadan. This is our test, and there is a reason why mothers have the status they do in Islam; no one else does what we do for our children. 

Surah Yusuf, verses 30-34, depicts a powerful narrative surrounding the Aziz’s wife, who sought validation from the women of the city through manipulation and deceit. 

“And women in the city said, ‘The wife of al-‘Azeez is seeking to seduce her slave boy; he has impassioned her with love. Indeed, we see her [to be] in clear error.'” [12;30]

“Hearing of their sly talk the chief’s wife sent for those ladies, and arranged for them a banquet, and got ready couches,26 and gave each guest a knife. Then, while they were cutting and eating the fruit, she signaled Joseph: ‘Come out to them.’ When the ladies saw him they were so struck with admiration that they cut their hands, exclaiming: ‘Allah preserve us. This is no mortal human. This is nothing but a noble angel!'” [12:31]

“She said: ‘So now you see! This is the one regarding whom you reproached me. Indeed I tried to tempt him to myself but he held back, although if he were not to follow my order, he would certainly be imprisoned and humiliated.'” [12:32]

“Joseph said: ‘My Lord! I prefer imprisonment to what they ask me to do. And if You do not avert from me the guile of these women, I will succumb to their attraction and lapse into ignorance.'” [12:33]

“So his Lord responded to him and averted from him their plan. Indeed, He is the Hearing, the Knowing.” [12:34] 

Upon hearing their gossip, she orchestrated a banquet to confront them, aiming to prove her innocence while attempting to maintain her social status. However, her plan backfired when the women, upon seeing Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) , became captivated by his beauty, inadvertently injuring themselves out of astonishment.

 Despite her efforts to gain validation from others, the Aziz’s wife ultimately acknowledges her wrongdoing but resorts to further manipulation to save face.

millennial muslim mother - social media

Seeking validation (PC Karsten Winegeart [unsplash])

This narrative resonates with contemporary society, particularly regarding the relentless pursuit of validation through social media. Like the Aziz’s wife, many individuals, especially women, often seek approval and validation from online platforms, comparing themselves to influencers and striving to portray a flawless image of their lives. 

However, the story of Yusuf 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) reminds us that true validation comes from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and our loved ones. By prioritizing our relationship with Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and cherishing the support of genuine connections, we can find security within ourselves, diminishing the need for external validation and overcoming the vulnerabilities associated with social media scrutiny.

We are only human. It’s not easy to be a mother to young children. It’s a grueling job that is 24/7. And in those times we feel weak, or depressed while scrolling through social media, we should instead read this ayah for our solace. That we are inherently made to have egos, to seek validation. Whether it be through an Instagram post, or being recognized as the Aziz of Egypt in Prophet Yusuf’s 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) case. 

And most importantly we must turn to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and seek His Mercy. To protect us from our egos, to help us feel secure enough in our physical selves, in our motherhood, and in our imaan

When we feel guilted into making a social media post about our children and family, or feel upset that we can keep up with the lifestyle of other influencers, this Ramadan we should try our best to make du’a to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), and express to Him how difficult it is to not succumb to peer pressure, and to uplift our souls. 

How Can we Uplift Our Souls?

  • Don’t overwork yourself this Ramadan. Concentrate on your fardh first, and then see what you can handle. A friend who had a baby three months ago mentioned to me that she hasn’t been able to go to Taraweeh once this Ramadan, that her baby keeps her up all night and it is hard for her to pray Tahajjud. But she had to check herself and realize that she should instead concentrate on solidifying her fardh, trying to fast while nursing (which is not easy) before exhausting herself over her nafl.
  •  Du’a, Du’a, Du’a! Every mother’s circumstance is different. Making du’a can be done while doing the dishes, or helping your kids with homework. My advice to all mothers is to use du’a as your tool, find times throughout the day when you are feeding your kids, or nursing the little one. Plus in your headphones and listen to Qur’an or a lecture while doing chores around the house. 
  • Free yourself. If social media is bogging you down, or making you feel less than, delete it. I remember the relief when I deactivated my Instagram during a dark time in my life. It was liberating because I was not bound to it anymore. I didn’t have to see every Muslim influencer’s mansions, carefully decorated with lavish embellishments, or feel the pressure to post a story about my own Ramadan corner of my house. 

Most of the time, we are the unseen, unheard foundations of Ramadan. The quiet caretakers, the strong saviors. You are the pillars of your family, and you are valued in Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) eyes. 

Making a du’a nourishes your soul, and puts you in a better state of mind. While you may feel gutted for not being able to make it to Taraweeh, for being to tired to stay up late for Qiyam, know that this is temporary, and when your children are older you will have the bandwidth inshaAllah for the “usual” ibaadat of Ramadan. But right now, at this very moment, in this tiny window of time, you are being rewarded immensely for your efforts.

The famous hadith, “Paradise lies beneath the feet of your mother,” underscores the unparalleled significance of mothers in Islam. It highlights the honor and reward bestowed upon mothers for their unwavering love, sacrifice, and guidance. Something we are doing every single day. By emphasizing the importance of revering and cherishing one’s mother, Islam elevates the status of motherhood to a level where serving and respecting one’s mother becomes a direct path to attaining Paradise. This Hadith serves as a reminder for us if we ever feel down. It reminds us of the profound blessings and spiritual fulfillment that accompany the role of motherhood, reinforcing the eternal bond and divine connection between us and our children.

May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) raise the ranks of all mothers in our Ummah. The mothers in Gaza, struggling to get formula for their babies, and the mothers in the Congo, already thinking about the next meal to feed their families. To the mom listening to a lecture on her headphones while nursing a colicky baby in the middle of the night, to the mom who tries her best to be patient with a restless toddler. May Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) reward us all, and put patience in our hearts and resilience in our souls. 



Ramadan With A Newborn: Life Seasons, Ibaadah, And Intentionality

Parents In Ramadan: Pivot To Another Worship

Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah

Alhamdulillah, we're at over 850 supporters. Help us get to 900 supporters this month. 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.

While I have a degree in Political Science, and worked as a Civil Rights intern with CAIR, my drive has always been working for the good of the Muslim community. I’ve worked as a teacher in an Islamic School, but I have a passion for writing. I am in the process of publishing my novel of short stories, encompassing incidents around an American Muslim society, and addressing the issues first and second generation Muslims face daily. I live in New York with my husband and three children.

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