What Mothers’ Day Actually Reminds Us Of
We had spoken hours earlier, his voice sounding very stressed. I was calling again at 11pm. But then, I couldn’t reach him.
My good friend’s beloved was in labor. Unfortunately however, complications had set in and she had to be taken in for a caesarian operation. Not getting any update from him at such an hour, I could only take solace in prayer. I could not imagine what he would have been going through. From a number of my male friends and a couple of books, I’m told such moments are one of those when fathers lose their manliness to deep fear and anxiety due to the uncertainty of the outcome.
The next morning, I woke up to a text message that Allah had granted us a princess. Both mother and daughter had come out of the battle safely. It was a battle, really. Just to describe it, the umbilical cord was sort of coiled around one of the legs of the baby. And you know what that will mean for childbirth: there is no way the baby would come out. She labored for hours, until she was finally taken for a caesarian. Unimaginable pain. As one of my aunties once put it when she was recounting her own experience “In the ward, out of the pain, I exhausted all my ‘Qul huwal laahu’ (Surah Ikhlas) recital.”
It’s interesting though, that after all that pain a mother goes through during birth, when the baby is out, she hugs the baby to her chest like a trophy. One would have thought she would kick the baby to the other side of the room for all the pain the little one put her through. And it’s not just humans, really. Being a half village and city girl (hehe), I’ve seen goats and sheep give birth to their young. After the process, they lick the placental material off them. And then, the journey begins.
First years of the mother-child relationship is another interesting period. For every discomfort the baby gives, she responds with love. When the baby is sick, she feels the pain in her soul (seen the facial expression a mother makes when her baby is given an injection? Ahaa. Very funny). Don’t ask your mum to recount some of the things you did to her (which may have included your designing one of her most priceless outfits with your ‘something’ when she backed you). Chances are that she may give a heavy head-knock to pay for the one she could not have given you back then…haha.
In Dagbaanli, there is a saying that goes ‘Bi ka boola’, translating as ‘There is no refuse dump that has been specifically created for one to throw off her child.’ This saying is usually made in the context of conversations where a mother is complaining deeply about a bad attitude their child has. Metaphorically, it suggests that no matter how bad one’s child is, they can only pray and do their best to bring them on the right track, for one cannot throw their child away. I’m sure you’ve been a witness to a mother who despite her son being a hard core thief, she still loves him, in hopes that her love will one day transform his character. Alien kind of love, right? If not for anything, we are made to believe that love is supposed to be conditional.
If that kind of love did not sound strange, it would have lost its essence as a metaphysical phenomenon; an unexplainable, mysterious kind of phenomenon. And that is exactly what a mother’s love which she so gracefully dashes out to her child right from the womb guides us to realise.
‘Rahmah’ is the Arabic wording for “mercy”. Within it is the root word ‘rahm’ , which means ‘womb’ or ‘uterus’. Just on a surface level, an interesting connection emerges; the womb is a mercy to the fetus that stays lodged in it for nine months long. The structures that show up during pregnancy depict this more clearly. For example, the amniotic sac as a fluid membrane protects the fetus from injury and also helps to regulate the temperature of the fetus. In some cases, some structures within it serve as shock absorbers.
One of Allah’s beautiful names is ‘Ar-Rahman’- the Most Compassionate. Qur’anic exegetes have gone deep to explain the difference between Allah’s attribute of ‘Rahman’ and ‘Rahim’ . Whilst His Rahman attribute is to all of His creation regardless of whether they love Him back or not (which is what He gives on earth, despite people’s religious background), His Rahim is reserved for a select few, (which is what those who worshipped Him truly will experience on the Day of Judgment). Look closely at what His Rahman is, and there, you see a very similar type of love that a mother gives.
It is perhaps, on this basis, that some Muslim scholars argue that ‘Rahmah’ does not just mean ‘mercy’, but rather, is much deeper and points to us the nurturing and loving nature of a mother. For it is in this meaning that one gets to understand deeply their relationship with Allah. Allah will love you no matter what, and provide for you even when your actions give Him every reason not to. He will love, because He created you. He will continue loving you, in hopes that His love will bring you back to Him and transform you into a more beautiful soul. It then comes as no surprise that in quite a number of narrations of the Prophet Muhammed (Blessing of God be as well upon him) the love of a mother for her child is likened to that which Allah has for us as His servants.
I once remember a conversation that occurred on a group page on why it appears children were more attached to their mothers than their fathers. Many tried their hands on the question, with answers flying all over. I smiled lightly as I saw the answers. As interesting as they appeared, the truth is we can only take our chances at an answer to such a question. No matter how much we would try to explain it, we can and will never really be able to fully comprehend it. Its quintessence will forever be shrouded in mystery.
Take time today and every day, to appreciate the womb that bore you, or the womb to whom you don’t have a relationship with, but yet showers you with a love which you have never asked for. Not even if their beautiful souls have been embraced by the soil of the earth should you stay mute on giving gratitude to Allah for having given you someone who was ready to lose their life to give you life. Priceless is such a love…a love divine.
Khadija Abdul Samed