Mother's Day in the United States and around the world is happening today. On May 10th, millions of families celebrate the hard work and love that every mother puts in each and every day. An entire day dedicated solely to buying flowers, baking cakes, making cards, and so much more is not only a trademark of American values but undoubtedly something that every mother deserves.
Growing up a Muslim American
As an American, I grew up taking part in and being surrounded by these traditions. I remember making handmade cards and clay pots in elementary school as a gift for my mother. As I grew older, I noticed the conveniently pre-made cards stacked at the end of every aisle and the festive, colorful mugs lined up in every store. However, I never had to face the dilemma of buying a gift for my mother in time for Mother’s Day just like many of my friends did. Although proudly American, I choose not to exceedingly take part in this holiday because of my Islamic beliefs.
Don’t get me wrong -- I love my mom and I love my religion! The respect that Islam places on mothers is immense.
According to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be Upon Him)
Muslims follow the teachings of the Holy Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). His pure, humble, and perfect character is one that all Muslims strive to follow. Although the Prophet’s mother passed away when he was a young child, he stressed the importance of constantly placing a high level of respect towards our mothers.
Growing up, I was often told the story of a man who came to the Holy Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and asked, “O Holy Messenger of God, who is the most deserving person to get nice treatment from me?” He replied, “Your mother.” He asked, “Who next?” To this, he replied again with, “Your mother.” The man repeated this question three times, and every time The Holy Prophet answered with the same response until he finally responded with “Your father.”
Another incident that shows the extreme level of importance that should be placed on mothers, is when a lady asked the Holy Prophet Muḥammad (peace and blessings be upon him) whether she should help and be kind to her idolater mother. Idolatry is seen as one of the biggest sins in Islam; this practice goes against the core teaching of the oneness of God. When the Prophet entered Mecca in 630 AD, he destroyed over 300 idol statues in the Kaaba without hesitation. However, when asked this question, the Holy Prophet said that we should be kind to our mothers no matter what.
In the Holy Quran
The sacred book of Islam, the Holy Quran, also commands this important teaching of respecting mothers constantly.
God says in the Holy Qur’an, “Thy Lord has commanded, ‘Worship none but Him and show kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor reproach them, but address them with an excellent speech. And lower to them the wing of humility out of tenderness. And say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them even as they nourished me in my childhood” (17:24-25).
Furthermore, in regards to the status of mothers, God says, “And We have enjoined on man concerning his parents—his mother bears him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning takes two years—‘Give thanks to Me and to thy parents. Unto Me is the final return” (31:15).
Losing its Purpose
In recent years, Mother’s Day has become heavily commercialized. According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), in 2019 Americans spent a record-breaking $25 billion on Mother’s Day gifts. Stores have marketed this originally sentimental holiday into something solely for making a profit. Mother’s Day is also conveniently in May, the same time when flowers bloom and can thus be sold in stores.
Mother's Day in America was created by Anna Jarvis in 1908 to honor her own mother. The concept of this holiday quickly picked up steam across the country. However, Jarvis soon became one of the biggest opponents of Mother's Day. She intended Mother’s Day to be a day of "sentiment, not profit.” At around 1920, she urged people to stop buying flowers and other gifts for their mothers. She referred to the florists, greeting card manufacturers, and the confectionery industry who profited off the holiday as “charlatans, bandits, pirates, racketeers, kidnappers, and termites that would undermine with their greed one of the finest, noblest, and truest movements and celebrations.”
Our society has undoubtedly forgotten the true essence of this holiday.
What We Can Do
There’s nothing wrong with doing something extra special on Mother’s Day. However, our mothers undoubtedly deserve this treatment every day of the year. There are many things we can do in the comfort of our homes for our mothers. For example, we can prepare a nice breakfast before she wakes up. Or, we could volunteer to do some chores around the house in our free time. Maybe even making a handwritten card to tell her that you appreciate all of the hard work she has done.
This Mother’s Day
Although Mother’s Day is coming soon, we should remember to appreciate our mothers every day of the year, and even until she grows old. Furthermore, as we must observe social distancing and limit our trips outside, perhaps we should rethink our Mother’s Day gifts this year by making her a gift that is more heartfelt and personal. Happy Mother’s Day!