Tag Archives: mother

My Mother My Treasure

When I was innocent and new, she cradled me in her arms. As if time had stopped, we rocked slowly, her voice so close I could feel the warmth of her breath.

I can still hear her softly singing: “I love how your arms feel, whenever you hold me.”

A song of romance appropriated for the special love of a mother for her child.

I reveled in the scent of summer bed sheets, listening to cricket’s lullaby while she soothingly stroked my back. She woke me up gently. So lovingly that I knew in my sleep that she deserved a smile, and I woke up smiling, at her.

On summer mornings, she was already downstairs; a cooler packed with fruit, sandwiches and lemonade. Ready for a day at the beach. She watched as we swam and built sandcastle memories of endless summertime days.

Her days, hours, and sleep were ransomed in exchange for our smiles. Like a fountain, she gave and gave. She made me feel special. She made all of us feel special.

Then before we realized what was going on, I was swept away. Whisked away by friends and fashion and a greed for independence. It was adolescence, tainted by selfish pursuits. But, she was still there – my mother, believing in me, hoping for me, eager to see me happy. Even when that meant remaining quiet while my ungrateful teenage feet walked all over her.

And then there were the college years. After which, I found a letter she wrote. She wrote it to herself about the day I left. I had been excited to move into the dorms. I couldn’t wait to have my own refrigerator, my own key: freedom. She didn’t say a detracting word. She helped me through it all, every step of the way, sharing in my joy. But, all alone she wrote to herself of the pain of leaving her first child, miles away. I never knew; too oblivious to realize that my empty room was like a hole in her heart. Days went by and I didn’t call.
Within those college years, I wanted to travel. They reluctantly allowed me to go to Kansas, then cross-country. I sent a postcard or two over the month during which I all but disappeared into the wilderness of the Wild West. It only got worse.

Next, I wanted to go to the other side of the world. I cracked open the nest egg my father had intended for me to use after graduation. I used all of it, drifting along on the currents of my whims without a second thought. Little did I know, I was pulling on the heartstrings of the one who pulled herself apart to bring me into the world. I wandered away, happy and blind.

I returned months later, inspired. Next stop would be the most volatile section of the planet, embroiled in perpetual conflict. This time, my parents put their foot down. I couldn’t go, they said. But I was free from compassion for the ones who lived to see me happy. As I sat in the airport waiting for my plane to board, I received a call.

It was my mother. She couldn’t let me defiantly disobey her and put my life in danger a thousand miles away without saying goodbye; without telling me she loved me.

I imagine it must have been like a knife to my mother’s heart as that plane plunged into the skies. How she survived my disregard for her I don’t know, but I will always know now that her love is unbreakable.

After that, I submerged myself in the study of Islam. Like one thirsty and broken in a desert I drank in the Quran and every book I could find. And it was as if all my life I had been walking in darkness thinking it was daylight. My discovery was eye opening and earth shattering.

Heartbreaking even, for my mother.

After the tornado that was my adolescence, after disappearing into my studies, after wandering the world without a care, I came back. I finally came back. This time I was beginning to understand that my mother is the single most important person in this world to me. Above friends. Above my studies. Above my cravings for adventure. But, the very thing that had slapped me across the face and woke me up from my selfish stupor tore an impassable chasm between us.

I had to break the news one day. “I’m a Muslim, Mom.” It was awkward, but like she always had, she let me speak, and she listened with care.

She thoughtfully bought clothes for me when something that suited my new, more modest style caught her eye. However, I don’t think she was quite prepared for the day I showed up with a scarf wrapped all around my head.

I can’t remember what she said; it’s all a blur. I suppose I looked too unfamiliar, like someone from a far away land. Not the daughter she had raised. Perhaps it seemed things had gone too far.
I was back, but our family wasn’t the same family. I wanted us to be complete again, like we were when I was small, but instead I threw everything off balance. There was now this oddity, and it was me.

I just couldn’t figure out how to navigate the murky waters between my new faith, and my (new) family life. Overzealous and still a newbie lacking in deep knowledge, I overburdened them with Islam.

Islam had taught me that my mother was the most important person in my life. The one most worthy of my respect, my care, my compassion and whose wishes are most deserving of my honor.

I understood this, but I found myself already on the other side of that huge divide. Trying to express my love across a chasm, my words were lost in the wind. Our relationship was like an untended garden overrun with weeds, and my attempts at repairing it only got tangled up in the mess.

When I decided to marry, my mom said he was a good match for my mind. Even with the approval, the marriage was just another whirlwind of chaos and emotions. The cultural differences, the particularities, the food, the two very different families hesitantly coming together. Perhaps I could have slowed down and asked what I could do to make things easier.

When I was having my first child, I really began feeling at a loss. I would lie in bed at night, tears streaming, quietly soaking my pillow. Regret and sorrow over all the times I had taken my mother for granted, over all the times I rebelled and disrespected her.

With that first child though, came so much blessing. My daughter’s birth cleared the air and I felt closer to my mother and family. There was a common joy to share. My daughter helped bridge the gap that had seemed so insurmountable. Since then, there has been much more ease, but it’s still not easy.

It was through Islam that I learned to appreciate my mother. She is the most important person to me on this planet. I no longer put my own desires above her, but I have to put the One who created us both above her. The One who gave her to me and me to her. By whose grace I was cradled in her arms with so much love. I’m grateful to my mother for all she has been to me, and to God for blessing me with her.

I feel that whatever I do it will never be enough to make up for my shortcomings. I long to go back to that love we had in the beginning. I want her to look at me and feel love again, not pain. So, I turn to Allah, and I plead for my mother. I pray she’ll be enveloped in His Mercy as I was enveloped in hers when I was young.

{And We have enjoined on mankind (to be good) to parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: “Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Destination.} (Quran 31:14)

 

*This article Originally appeared on AboutIslam.net

 

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For My Mom – I Remember

Dear Mom,

I remember you digging in the garden and pulling up the weeds.  The summer heat was heavy and enveloping. Cicadas sang behind you in the woods. I remember your clothes and your limbs and the profile of your face as you worked.

I remember you standing in front of the stove at dusk, the light of the hood illuminating you as you cut onions. I stood nearby watching.

You made raw potatoes and burnt pasta and baby bell peppers so special, and you often called us to taste them, or to test the pasta as it boiled.

I remember you rubbing my back at night to help me fall asleep. How did you find the time?

I remember how you made my tummy feel better when it ached. When I was sick, you soothed me, bringing me soup, and crackers, and apple juice in my favorite cup.

I remember how tolerant you were of me when I wanted to stay home with you, so I feigned illness, for a little too many days –

and how tolerant you were on so many occasions, and in so many moments in which, I realize now, must have really tried your patience… but I was so blind.

You picked me up, you dropped me off. You fed my friends and you drove them too.

Your food was always the best.

You arranged parties, and baked cakes, and you sewed costumes for us that were exactly what we wanted.

You prepared fruit and sandwiches and lemonade in the early morning, when the sun had barely risen – to take all four of us on the ferry to play on the beach all day. You’d call us to eat, handing us plums and pouring our drinks and watching us every time we called you,”look mommy!”

I remember you calling us to a colander filled with juicy strawberries. Sometimes you added a tub of delightful cream for us to slather them in, before we gobbled them up and ran off… back to our ‘important business’ of having fun.

And the days when you called us, because you had cut open the most delicious pear. I remember the juices running down your beautiful, tanned wrists. You cut and you cut, and you shared that pear.

You gave away the most ripe, delectable pear… to us.

After we devoured its sweetness, we ran off to our important business… not realizing there was nothing more important than you…

I remember how whatever I wanted, managed to appear in my life. How you stayed awake until the wee hours of morning, wrapping, and preparing so many different things on so many nights. For us.

I remember coming downstairs and breakfast was ready. An egg in a special cup, or pancakes shaped like our names. You were there at the stove and I remember just sitting down and eating,

telling you my dreams.

Every joy, accomplishment, or fantasy I shared with you, even if I had brushed my teeth and they were so smooth I had to show you, or I finished a book and wanted to tell you all about it,

you always listened.

You made me feel what I did was great, that I was great. You always made me feel good about myself and what I did. I don’t remember you ever stopping me short, or seeming uninterested or annoyed, even though I am sure now, that you were at times… but you never, ever showed it.

I remember how you wanted to give me every opportunity.

The beautiful memories seem endless.

And before all that, you had held me in your arms when I knew nothing but your scent, and you carried me and you comforted me when I cried. You got up in the middle of the night so often, but you weren’t even counting.

Even when you were sick you still cared for me. I don’t think I ever heard you complain of your pain… You never even asked for help.

And before all that, you nurtured and nourished me in your womb.

For that alone, I am forever indebted.

My religion teaches me that if I want paradise, it lies at your feet…

But I know I am undeserving,

inadequate in my appreciation, my love, my respect and honor for you. I’ve never done enough.

Please forgive me,

for every time I turned away, barely noticing your love and care.

For every time I didn’t thank you. For every selfish desire I fulfilled, even if it meant disobeying you. For every worried moment you ever had because of me. For the times I came home late, for the times I didn’t call.

For the time my classmate disrespected you and I was embarrassed of you, when I should have been ashamed of him.

For not putting YOU first, Because you deserve to be first.

No one on earth is more worthy of my love and companionship and honor than you. Yet even still, now that I know this, I still fall short.

So I pray that God guides me and helps me be the daughter you deserve. I pray that somehow, I can provide you with some happiness and joy even more than all the happiness and joy I have been able to have, because of you.

I pray that I can be the one to help make your life easier and that when you get older, I can be the one to be there to care for you.  I pray for God’s Mercy on you and His Love, as you were so merciful and loving towards me, when I was small, and as you are now.

I pray I can be even a fraction of the woman you are.

May God accept my prayers. Ameen!

Yours Always,

Danielle

The Speed Limit is 30mph, You’ve Got 426 hp. What Do You Do?

I love fast cars and I like driving.

Fast.

I once drove to Boston from New York,  pushing 95 mph on the interstates.

To me then, the speed limit was just a hindrance preventing me from getting there without wasting any time. Worse, it prevented me from experiencing the glory of the horsepower under my hood.

I slowed down only to avoid a speeding ticket. I didn’t think much about the inherent value of the restrictions on speed.

Now I understand (and I’d like to think that most people do) that the rules of the road are in place not to hinder us, but for our general safety.

If I had always raced around at 95 mph, I probably wouldn’t be here writing this. I could have taken other lives along with my own.

There are good reasons for the limits chosen. At 40 mph the likelihood of pedestrian death is high, whereas at 30 mph the likelihood of survival is high.*

We speed lovers might not be able to drive as fast as we want, but the benefit obviously outweighs our small sacrifice.

When it comes to people who don’t understand (or don’t care about) the wisdom behind regulations and would not implement them, law enforcement helps ensure public safety by instilling the fear of “being caught”, as well as with the ensuing punishments levied on those who are.

We all follow a plethora of rules and social conventions.

Some are law, some are unspoken.

It is impossible not to.

For some reason though, a lot of emphasis is put on rules that exist in Islam and many people think of it as “a religion of dos and don’ts”.

Recently, a family member of mine explained to me her theory that my choosing Islam must have had something to do with an unconscious desire for rules, to create order in what she perceived as a reckless life. (She couldn’t have been more wrong of course!)

The thing that strikes me here, is not so much her idea that I would somehow crave a life of strictly adhering to rules, (while I spent a good portion of my life scoffing at both laws and social conventions) but the overarching idea that Islam is like that: a religion whose identifying quality is law and order…

While in reality, the primary quality of Islam is monotheism: there is nothing worthy of worship except the One God, the Creator of everything.

We don’t see it as a religion of rules at all.

We see it as a message from our Merciful Creator, informing us about Him. Through it, we learn who He is, why He made us and why we are on Earth.

It’s hope and peace for the human soul. A direct line of communication with our Maker.

Happiness.

Islam, for the Muslim, provides a map that leads directly back to Him,

helping us navigate this worldly life, safely and easily.

The mother who forbids her child from touching a hot pot, is only concerned for the child’s safety and wellbeing. She is teaching him intelligence; he can follow his mother’s guidance and avoid a trip to the burn unit.

If the child disobeys, no one will say, “He was so smart for ignoring his mother and finding out on his own, that hot pots burn.”

Similarly, The One who created us, provided us with guidance in the life that He created. Following this guidance is intelligence.

Without guidance from the One who designed life,  living would be a game of trial and error. Since we have only one short chance at it, it’s best to follow the instructions because, there are no do-overs.

We are glad we haven’t been left to flounder about in darkness and ignorance without any guidance.

Every directive in Islam is for our own benefit, sort of like the speed limits, but with much deeper wisdom.

For a Muslim, adhering strictly to them is not a hindrance, but a blessing one strives for.

Furthermore, following the directives in Islam is like the fruit and proof of faith, not what the faith is built on. The basis of Islam is its establishment and maintenance in the heart, facilitated in part by institutions, such as regular prayer and fasting.

As I explained in another post, Islam means submission to the will of the Creator. Once a person believes and Has faith and love for God, they truly desire to submit their will to His as much as they can.

The submission of the heart must come first, making the submission of the limbs easy and a desirable goal one strives for daily.

The wife of the prophet Muhammad, Aisha – a scholar in her own right – explained, that the first parts of the Quran to be revealed were the chapters which deal with fundamental knowledge of God, the purpose of life, and the hereafter. She went on to say, that if legal injunctions had come first, the people would have refused and said that they would never stop doing the things they had been accustomed to; such as drinking alcohol and being promiscuous.**

So, it makes no sense to approach Islam by way of its rules and regulations.

The first thing to look at is the concept of God. The Quran is very clear about who He is, describing His many beautiful names and attributes. Here are some examples from the Quran:

“All Praise belongs to God, Lord of all the worlds, The Most Gracious, The Most Merciful, Owner and Sovereign of the Day of Judgement. You alone we worship, You alone we ask for Help. Show us the straight way…” [Quran 1:2-6]

“Say, He is God, the One and only. Allah; The Eternal, Absolute. He begets not, nor is He begotten.
And there is nothing similar to Him.” [Quran 1:1-4]

“And We (God) did not create the heavens and the earth and what is between them aimlessly (without purpose). That is the assumption of those who disbelieve ” [Quran 38:27]

So, first and foremost, we learn about the Creator. The more we know about Him, the more we love Him. We learn about why He created us and what He is pleased with for us. We learn that this life on Earth is just a stop on our way back to Him – That it is merely a test, one we took on ourselves. The best way to get through it, is to keep God on our minds. To live and act with consciousness of Him; to follow His map.

Do we ever break the speed limit?

Of course we do.

Our Maker knows our weakness and does not expect perfection, but the people who have the best standing with Him, are the ones who, when they make a mistake, they return to Him in repentance, looking for His help and longing for closeness to Him.

We trust the judgement of the One who created humankind and the world we live in. The One who created life, knows better how to successfully navigate through it.

In addition to that, we look forward hopefully, to a reward from Him, beyond our wildest dreams.

When we forget God and ignore the assistance He has lovingly provided us – when we say, “No thanks, I choose to do whatever I want, regardless of the purpose I was created for.” – Then, we no longer qualify for the prize that comes from completing the test successfully.

It’s our choice.

So, look beyond the superficial.

Every human being has been given freedom. Free will. You are always free to choose. You can speed, or obey the limits. It’s up to you.

Even as a Muslim, one has free choice. There are just some basics which enter a person into the fold of Islam. The most important is the testimony of faith. After that, is the Prayer. Those are the basic necessities that make someone a Muslim.

Here’s another analogy to help you put yourself into our shoes: If your local government offered $100,000 cash for going five years without any speeding tickets, wouldn’t you feel affection for those in power? Wouldn’t you obey the speed limit at all times and seek that reward? Through the process, you might even discover naturally, that obeying the speed limit is also the wise and safer thing to do. Many would strive for that $100,000.

That is why  when people choose Islam and they really believe in it, they self regulate. They try very hard, in public and in private, to be the best they can be. Dutiful citizens, family members and friends.

Now, even I strive to obey the speed limit.

_____________________________________________________

*http://www.tbd.com/blogs/tbd-on-foot/2012/05/how-a-car-s-speed-affects-the-chance-a-struck-pedestrian-survives-15470.html

http://humantransport.org/sidewalks/SpeedKills.htm

**The narration is in Sahih Bukhari Volume 6, Book 61, Number 515