A man came to Prophet Muhammad and said, "O Allah's Apostle! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man said. "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man further said, "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your mother." The man asked for the fourth time, "Who is next?" The Prophet said, "Your father."
Islam has exalted the position of the mother beyond any other relation a person has! Her position is so high, that even the hard-working father, who brings home the means to support the children, cannot compare with the hardships she bears for her children. For not only does she undergo physical pain when carrying and delivering the child, the mental anguish that women carry all their lives, regarding the good upbringing of the child, merits her an honoured status that cannot be questioned or challenged!
The Arabic word for the womb is "rahem." Rahem is derived from the word for mercy. In Islamic tradition, one of Allah's 99 names is "Al-Raheem" or "the Most Merciful." The womb, thus, is almost a reflection of the Almighty's qualities and attributes. It nurtures, feeds and shelters in the early stages of life. And the mother continues this care throughout the life of her child, even when he is no longer dependant on her, and when he ceases to forget who it was who helped him become who he is!
Islam, however, does not forget her sacrifices, the intense labour the mother goes through to bring the child into this world, the sleepless nights she spends caring for the baby, the hours she spends praying for the well-being of her child, the days she ignores her own needs to fulfill those of her children, the many weeks she spends worrying about their future! Islam, fittingly, bestowed a status on the mother, which made the sweet pain of raising children, even sweeter.
It is narrated that a man once consulted the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) about taking part in a military campaign. The Prophet asked the man if his mother was still living. When told that she was alive, the Prophet said: "(Then) stay with her, for Paradise is at her feet."
Women, in general, enjoy a very revered position in Islam, but the role of her being a mother catapults her status far beyond. The Quran, Islam's revealed text, states: "And revere the wombs that bore you, for God is ever watchful over you." (4:1)
Her status along with the father has been raised to a level of utmost respect and devotion - second only to God. Speaking in the Quran, Allah says: "And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents."
However, Islam demands more than just lip service to the mother. It demands that she be repaid for her labors, even though they can never be repaid. A man once came to the Prophet and said : "Whilst traveling there was a place where the ground was so hot that if you placed a piece of meat on the ground it would be cooked. I carried my mother on my shoulders for six miles over such ground. Have I fulfilled the rights of my mother?" The Prophet replied, "The pangs of pain that your mother went through when she was giving birth to you, maybe you have repaid the debt for one of those pangs." Islam does not underestimate what mothers undergo for the sake of their children.
For mothers not only physically raise a child, they actually raise the coming generation. It is through their toils and efforts that the child is shaped into a worthy addition to the society. And the mothers are paid in full with the honour and rights Allah bestows on them.
Among her rights, are that her commands be obeyed as long as they are not against Allah's commands; that she be provided for whatever need she may have; that she be looked after in her old age; and that she be spoken to kindly for the Quran says “If one of them 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.” Islam, has instructed the children to pray for their parents, especially after they have died, saying "My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small."
May Allah give us all the guidance to understand the status of our mothers and give us the ability to serve them while they are alive.