Today I walked out of a Friday sermon that left me in tears. The Imam read the following words,
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ
And We have enjoined upon humankind [care] for their parents. Their mother carried them, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and their weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination.
وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ عَلَىٰ أَن تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا ۖ وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا ۖ وَاتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ ۚ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُ نَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do.
The verse means a lot to me as a convert, and as a young man from a religious family that was being groomed for the work of God and Pastoral work (I was ordained as a deacon just a year before I accepted Islam). My mother, as the verse reads, carried me through difficulty, and fed me when I could not feed myself and so God calls me and all of us to be grateful for the sacrifice that was made.
The speaker during the Khutbah made sure to note that God did not say that, “We enjoined Muslims,” but instead, “humankind” to highlight that this isn’t a call exclusive to Muslims but a call to all of humankind, further highlighting that the respect and love due to parents cannot be confined to a single group of people
So why is all of this important, because my mother isn’t Muslim. And because for the first two years of my Islam my mother cried every single day without fail. She was horrified at what this decision would mean for me, for a young black male in post 9/11 America. Would I be locked away in Guantanamo? Would I be harassed? I was in the midst of completing University, would this effect my job search? How would I get married to the church girl that the entire congregation had wanted me to get married to for ages? Most importantly, would the doors of heaven be closed off to me?
So she cried, she lashed out, she checked on me more than ever. Whenever I would go out early morning or late at night she knew I was going to the mosque to pray, so she wailed louder. She wanted me to realize that this decision was going to break her, it was going to destroy her and it would destroy my family. It was during those days, weeks and months that I would find refuge in the mosque, and in my weekly classes with a local Islamic teacher. It was with that teacher that I first heard the following narrations from the Prophet Muhammad (May God’s peace and blessings be upon him);
وعن أسماء بنت أبي بكر الصديق رضي الله عنهما قالت: قدمت على أمي وهي مشركة في عهد رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم، فاستفتيت رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم قلت: قدمت علي أمي وهي راغبة، أفأصل أمي؟ قال: “نعم صلي أمك” ((متفق عليه)).
Asma’ bint Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (May God be pleased with her) said:
My mother came to me while she was still a polytheist, so I asked the Messenger of God (ﷺ), “My mother, who is ill-disposed to Islam, has come to visit me. Shall I maintain relations with her?” He (ﷺ) replied, “Yes, maintain relations with your mother” [Al- Bukhari and Muslim].
This narration was especially important to me at the time of my conversion because it highlighted much of the situation I was going through. I had a mother who worshipped differently than I, and was adamantly against my conversion, but even then I owed her my kindness and love.
حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو بَكْرِ بْنُ أَبِي شَيْبَةَ، حَدَّثَنَا شَرِيكُ بْنُ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ، عَنْ مَنْصُورٍ، عَنْ عُبَيْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَلِيٍّ، عَنِ ابْنِ سَلاَمَةَ السُّلَمِيِّ، قَالَ قَالَ النَّبِيُّ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ” أُوصِي امْرَأً بِأُمِّهِ أُوصِي امْرَأً بِأُمِّهِ أُوصِي امْرَأً بِأُمِّهِ – ثَلاَثًا – أُوصِي امْرَأً بِأَبِيهِ أُوصِي امْرَءًا بِمَوْلاَهُ الَّذِي يَلِيهِ وَإِنْ كَانَ عَلَيْهِ مِنْهُ أَذًى يُؤْذِيهِ ” .
“I enjoin each one to honor his mother, I enjoin each one to honor his mother, I enjoin each one to honor his mother (three times), I enjoin each one to honor his guardian who is taking care of him, even if he is causing him some annoyance.” (Ibn Majah)
إِنِّي لاَ أَعْلَمُ عَمَلاً أَقْرَبَ إِلَى اللهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ مِنْ بِرِّ الْوَالِدَةِ.
“I don’t know of a deed closer to Allah, Exalted and Majestic, other than dutifulness to the mother.” (Adab Al Mufrad)
حَدَّثَنَا سُلَيْمَانُ بْنُ حَرْبٍ، قَالَ: حَدَّثَنَا وُهَيْبُ بْنُ خَالِدٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ شُبْرُمَةَ قَالَ: سَمِعْتُ أَبَا زُرْعَةَ، عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ قَالَ: قِيلَ: يَا رَسُولَ اللهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم، مَنْ أَبَرُّ؟ قَالَ: أُمَّكَ، قَالَ: ثُمَّ مَنْ؟ قَالَ: أُمَّكَ، قَالَ: ثُمَّ مَنْ؟ قَالَ: أُمَّكَ، قَالَ: ثُمَّ مَنْ؟ قَالَ: أَبَاكَ.
Abu Hurayra said, “The Prophet was asked, ‘Messenger of God, to whom should I be dutiful?’ ‘Your mother,’ he replied. He was asked, ‘Then whom?’ ‘Your mother,’ he replied. He was asked, ‘Then whom?’ ‘Your mother,’ he replied. He was asked, ‘Then whom?’ He replied, ‘Your father.’” (Adab Al Mufrad)
May we all be dutiful to our mothers (and of course fathers) and may they be our gateway into paradise, Ameen. By the way, my mother’s name is Angela, thus the name of this post, because she’s my angel. And she’s also my biggest supporter with my Islamic Studies, may God give her a lofty home in His Paradise.
And this is a reminder for those who believe.