Are you a mum (or a mum to be) and unsure of the rights you have over your child? Or are you a child that wishes to be clear on the rights your mother has over you? Whichever the case may be, this post is for you.
After many hours of reflection and recollection of the encounters that I’ve had with several individuals, I’ve come to realize that a lot of people are unaware or grossly misinformed of the rights they have as a child, sibling, wife, husband, mother, father, friend or neighbor in Islam.
In my quest for clarity on the matter, I took it upon myself to research on the rights of all the people mentioned above (as they are contained in the holy Quran and Hadith). For everyone’s ease, I’ve summarized the major rights in different posts. However, today I wish to focus and share the rights of a Mother in Islam.
Mothers as we all know are the strong pillars and glue that hold the home together and majority of us will testify that our mothers are the closest thing to heaven on earth. The unconditional love and support they show us is one of the purest things you will find on earth. Thus, we owe it to them to learn the rights they have over us and to treat them in the best of manners.
First I’d like to begin with the exception. There are only two humans that are exempted from perfecting their duties to their mother and they are Prophet Adam (AS) and Hauwa (Eve) (AS) for obvious reasons. The rest of us are every bit accountable and obligated to perfect our duties to our mothers for many reasons; one of the major reasons being that Jannah lies on our mother’s feet.
It was narrated by Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal that:
“Mu`awiyah bin Jahima al-Sulami came to the Messenger of Allah (saw) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (saw) I desire to go on the military expedition and I have come to consult you.’ He (saw) asked, ‘Do you have a mother?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He (saw) said, ‘Stay with her because paradise lies beneath her feet.’[Ahmad, Nasai]
I believe some of us are well aware of some of these rights but for clarity sake (and to serve as a gentle reminder to those of us that are forgetful and most times ungrateful and like to take things for granted), I’ve summarized the rights of a mother as evinced in the Quran and Hadiths below.
- Right to show them love and treat them with respect. I would like to highlight that these two things cannot be separated and are not time bound. In Islam love and respect must be shown to your mother at all times (and not just when you are pleased with her). I would also like to emphasis on the fact that you do not have to love your mother but you must absolutely ‘show her love’. Yes, I’m aware of the principle that respect and things like love must be earned and be mutual but the truth is whatever the situation is with your mother, the immediate second your mother delivered you safely into this world they automatically earned both rights from you, even if they didn’t show it to you for the rest of their lives. I say this because I’ve read and heard horrifying stories of how some mothers tortured their own kids, which understandably caused a significant strain in the relationship between the child and the mother. It’s hard to love someone that has hurt you but in Islam whether or not you rightfully love or detest your mother you must ‘show her love and respect’. I would like to remind my readers that may have had a turbulent relationship or difficult experience with their mothers in the past, that the same way you may have a claim and complaint over your mother don’t let them have a claim and complaint over you on a great day where all claims and complaints will be brought before God and every party will be justly treated and recompensed with whats due to them. Leave the wrongdoing to the party that persist in it and make sure you never partake in the wrongdoing yourself. If you decide to take your revenge on them, then know that you are in no way different from them. Action is very very important in Islam. For example in Islam we testify we belief in the oneness of God and how do we do this? We worship only Him and in the manner He has instructed us to. Actions often times mirror the state of the heart. On the other hand, many of us take advantage of the love our mother has for us; we rely and bank on their accommodating and forgiving hearts and reason that whatever we do, they cannot be mad at us for long because they are our mothers. This is very wrong. Likewise, over familiarity and the very close relationship we may have with them can cause us to lose or not treat them with the level of respect we are supposed to. This is the pitfall that majority of us fall into. We see them as a friend before seeing them as a mother. The result of this is that we talk to them the way we talk to our friends, which isn’t always respectful or nearly respectful enough. Yes, our parents should be our friends in the sense that we should be able to talk to them about anything. If your mum is your best friend that’s awesome but that’s secondary to the right and great status she has as a mother. Many times we are sarcastic with our friends but you cannot be sarcastic in the responses you give to your mum even if she is cool with your language or whatever situation or mother/child/friend arrangement you both have going on. The standards were not drawn by her but by Allah. She carried you in a her belly for 9 difficult months, she cried, bled for you. She walked through the shadows of death and went through unbearable pain to bring you into the world. Do you understand that some mothers lose their lives when delivering their child? They succumb to the pain and in some situations complications arise at time of the labour. It doesn’t end there, after giving birth to us they shower us with an exceptional amount of love and sacrifice every inch of their heart and desires for us. Our mothers are to be treated with the utmost level of love and respect. The love instilled in the hearts of mothers for their children and vice versa is something that Allah has instilled even in animals. In Islam Mothers are not reduced to baby making machines, Allah (swt) acknowledges their high status and value in this world and makes it clear in the Quran.
“And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship. And she brings him forth with hardship…”Al-Ahqaaf [46:15]
“And we have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years – give thanks to Me and your parents, – unto Me is the final destination.”Luqman [31:14]
It was also narrated by Abu Hurayrah (may Allah be pleased with him) that: “A man came to the Messenger of Allah (saw) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, who among the people is most deserving of my good companionship?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, then who?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your father.’
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
2. Right to fulfill their promises and to respect their relations and friends.
Similar to the point I raised above you don’t have to like your mother’s siblings or friends but in Islam you must show them respect and whatever promises your mother made during her lifetime but didn’t live to fulfill, in Islam you are obligated to help her fulfill it upon her death.
It was narrated by Abu Usaid Saidi that: “We were once sitting with Rasulullah when a man from the tribe of Salmah came and said to him: O Messenger of Allah! do my parents have rights over me even after they have died? And Rasulullah said: Yes. You must pray to Allah to bless them with His Forgiveness and Mercy, fulfill the promises they made to anyone, and respect their relations and their friends’
[Abu Dawud and Ibn Majah]
Also, it was reported from Ibn ‘Abbaas that a woman from Juhaynah came to the Prophet (saw) and said: “My mother vowed to go for Hajj, but she died before she did so. Can I perform Hajj on her behalf?” He said, “Yes, perform Hajj on her behalf. Do you not think that if your mother owed a debt that you would pay it off for her? Fulfill her debt to Allah, for Allah is more deserving that what is owed to Him should be paid.”Al-Bukhaari, 1754
3. Right to be obeyed and treated with care and honour.
Our Mothers are our first teachers and they have and exercise some level of authority over us. In the actual sense of things they don’t own us; they are more of a trustee and we are a trust that Allah has entrusted them with and by them acting within the bounds of our religion they can do to us whatever they think is best. Thus, they can invest in the trust (us) as they wish or think best, and likewise instruct us to assist them with anything or to perform a certain chore in the house or to refrain from going somewhere or doing something. At all times we must obey them and honor their wishes and treat them with utmost care whether they are young or have attained old age, or they are in good health or sick.
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. And lower unto them the wing of humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small’Al Israa [17:23-24]
When it comes to obedience the only line of obedience that is permitted for you to cross is when your mother asks you to do something that goes against Allah’s commandments and even then Allah instructs you to be kind to them.
“But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not; but behave with them in the world kindly”Luqmaan [31:15]
In another narration Abdullah ibn Amr related that the Messenger of Allah said: The major sins are to believe that Allah has partners, to disobey one’s parents, to commit murder, and to bear false witness.[Bukhari, Muslim]
4. Right not to be offended or upset.
“And say not to them a word of disrespect”Al- Israa 17:23]
This particular verse is commonly translated into english as ‘a word of disrespect’ but the closest translation is that Allah forbids you to even say ‘uff’ to them. You are forbidden to sneer, hiss, curse or speak anything underneath your breathe to them. I honestly cannot phantom how some kids in some parts of the world would raise their hands to hurt and inflict harm on their own mother, whether physically or with their tongue. It’s a grave sin in Allah’s eyes.
5. The right to be fed and for the child to spend on her if she is in need or does not have a husband who can spend on her or if her husband is poor.
It was narrated by Ibn`Umar that The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “While three persons were walking, rain began to fall and they had to enter a cave in a mountain. A big rock rolled over and blocked the mouth of the cave. They said to each other, ‘Invoke Allah with the best deed you have performed (so Allah might remove the rock)’. One of them said, ‘O Allah! My parents were old and I used to go out for grazing (my animals). On my return I would milk (the animals) and take the milk in a vessel to my parents to drink. After they had drunk from it, I would give it to my children, family and wife. One day I was delayed and on my return I found my parents sleeping, and I disliked to wake them up. The children were crying at my feet (because of hunger). That state of affairs continued till it was dawn. O Allah! If You regard that I did it for Your sake, then please remove this rock so that we may see the sky.’ So, the rock was moved a bit… “Al Bukhari, 2102; Muslim, 2743
6. Right to custody of children.
Abdallah ibn`Amr ibn Al-as transmitted that a woman asked, “O Messenger of Allah, this son of mine had my womb as a container, my breasts for drinking, my lap to contain him. His father has taken him from me.” The Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said, “You have more right if you do not marry”.
Transmitted by Ahmad in Al Musnad (6707); Abu Dawud
In Islam if the mother (who is the first choice for custody over minor children) remarries then her right of custody is thereafter passed on to her mother, children’s maternal grandmother then to her mother in-law then to the husband.
That brings us to the end of the major rights I wish to summarize that a mother has in islam.
If you have any questions or wish to mention other important rights you feel I’ve left out, please feel free to add them in the comment section below.
May Allah bless all our mothers, forgive them all their sins and grant them Jannatul Firdaus.