Ustadha Raidah Shah Idil gives thanks for the little things in life.
As I began to write this from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, my daughter sat beside me, playing with her Lego Duplo train set. Alhamdulilah, she turned two on Eid, and I am constantly reminded of the innumerable blessings and changes she has brought into my life.
On the morning of Eid, we drove to the nearby Kampung Tungku mosque to pray. I smiled at the families walking to the mosque ; young children were carried by their parents, the elderly were supported by their children, and everyone wore festive traditional clothes cut from the same bolt of cloth,
When we approached the mosque, the elderly were given the ground floor to pray, while the rest of us went up the stairs. To save time, I carried my toddler up, and got her settled in before Salatul Eid began. I sat closer to the back, next to another mother with her small children. My daughter was eager to wear her small telukong (prayer garment) after she saw me put mine on, alongside all the other women.
Right after I raised my hands in prayer, my daughter’s telukong slipped off her head. She’s still figuring out how to put it on by herself, so she repeatedly called out to me, “Mummy, help Taskeen wear telukong.” I worried that ignoring her could lead to a tantrum, so I made dua that the imam would read one of the shorter chapters. I was reminded of this beautiful hadith:
It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin Abi Qatadah, from his father that the Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) said: “I stand in prayer, then I hear a child crying, so I make my prayer brief, because I do not want to cause hardship for his mother.” [Sunan An-Nasai]
This is the mercy of our Beloved Prophet (upon him be blessings and peace) who acknowledges the helplessness of a praying mother while her baby cries.
Last year, when my daughter was one, she cried and cried as I performed the Eid prayer. She was still so little then, so I broke my prayer, out of my own distress and my fear of distracting the rest of the congregation. Alhamdulilah, one year later, there was no crying, and she was able to wait until I finished two cycles of prayer. Progress! This is how I measure how far we have come: how much uninterrupted time I get in the bathroom; how many cycles I can pray before she starts calling for me, how long she can play with her toys on her own – these are the fruits of our hard, loving, real work together, as a family. My part-time jobs as a teacher and writer are my break from my full-time job as a mother.
Sadly, across the world today, we live in a time that does not value women’s work. There is no GDP or dollar sign attached to the countless tears we wipe away, the meals we lovingly prepare, and the endless diapers we change. And yet, these daily, loving acts of nurturing helps to build secure and loving human beings.
I am intimately connected now, to the brutal truth that comes with raising a child. It is relentless, everyday toil that brings both joy and pain. On good days, my toddler warms my heart with her memorable antics. On bad days, I struggle to stay calm in the face of the emotions that overwhelm her.
In the light of my all-consuming stage of motherhood, I look back wistfully to my past Ramadans of long nights of worship and Qur’anic recitation. I cannot help but compare these blessed times to the bare bones Ramadan since my baby was born. I can only pray and hope that Allah will accept the little that I do now, help me do better, and overlook my imperfections.
There has been so much tragedy this past Ramadan. I reflect on the violence perpetrated by ISIS and other extremists, and I wonder what went wrong. What broke inside these young men, to make them such vessels of violence? How can they commit these atrocities, in the name of a religion that cares deeply for the welfare of plants, animals, children, women and men? I can only pray that the light and mercy of Islam reaches their veiled hearts.
If you are an exhausted mother reading this, then trust that Allah knows every ache of your tired heart. Nothing is lost on Him – every tear you shed, every smile you bravely wear for your children, and everything you have sacrificed for them. God willing, your loving presence with your children will plant seeds of Prophetic mercy in their hearts. Your innumerable hours, days and years with them are never, ever wasted.
May these seeds we plant sprout strong, deep roots. May our children be the vanguards and sources of light and peace in a world so fractured by hatred and violence.
Resources for seekers on motherhood and parenting
- How To Make the Prophet Muhammad Real for Small Children
- The Prophet Muhammad’s Love, Concern, & Kindness for Children
- Infertility: Why does Allah Not Bless Some With Children?
- The Close Proximity of Single Mothers to the Prophet ﷺ
- Raising Children with Deen and Dunya
- Raising a Muslim with Manners
- My Mother Abuses Her Children. What Do I Do?
- The passing of Habib ‘Umar’s mother
- “To Mothers” – Moving Poem by Baraka Blue
- “Where are the fathers?”
- How Can I Deal With My Difficult Mother in a Respectful Way
- Shepherding Our Sons & Daughters
- Rights of Children in Detail
- Explaining a Hadith on Disciplining Children