The Role of the Mother in Upbringing the Child 1

The Role of the Mother in Upbringing the Child 1

Every society is made up of blocks of family units. The stronger each block is, the stronger the structure of the society. Families are thus the building blocks upon which rests the fate of society. For the development of good families, the mother plays a vital role. Many women today have aspirations of progress in their careers, and degrees in various fields.

However it is indisputable that the most important achievement of a mother is the raising of sensible, virtuous children who will then move on to build other strong blocks for society. It has been said that it is easy to bear children but it is difficult to raise them well. In that lies the challenge for all mothers.

Islam’s respect for the Mother

A Muslim mother has a valued and dignified role. Her contribution is acknowledged and appreciated. Her unparalleled gifts to the child have been aptly described by Imam Zaynul ‘Abidin (a) in Risalatul Huqooq – The Chapter of Rights.

It is the right of your mother that you should appreciate that she carried you [in her womb] the way nobody carries anybody, She fed you the fruits of her heart which nobody feeds anybody. She protected you [during pregnancy] with her ears, eyes, hands, legs, hair, limbs, [in short] with her whole being, gladly, cheerfully, and carefully; suffering patiently all the worries, pains, difficulties, and sorrows.

Till the hand of God removed you from her and brought you into this world. Then she was most happy, feeding you forgetting her own hunger, clothing you even if she herself had no clothes, giving you milk and water not caring for her own thirst, keeping you in the shade, even if she had to suffer from the heat of the sun, giving you every comfort with her own hardships; lulling you to sleep while keeping herself awake.

The foundation of the family is laid with the decision to marry, and the importance of the mother is evident in Islamic teachings beginning with marriage, conception and then child rearing. The following points illustrate how Islam sanctifies the role of the mother

Emphasis on choosing a good wife

Islam advocates choosing of a wife based on moral characteristics. The Holy Prophet says: Marry into a decent family, for genes have effects. He is also reported to have encouraged Muslims to marry virtuous women in order to have virtuous children He has condemned those who look only for wealth and /or beauty when choosing a spouse.

Respect in this world

A mother commands great respect from her family. She is to be obeyed, and venerated. The Quranic verses which talk about the rights of parents include the mother. However the Holy Prophet (S) has enjoined goodness to the mother even before the father. A man once came for advice to him, as to who he should be good to. The Prophet (S) advised him to do good to his mother again. Three times the man asked, and three times the Prophet (S) told him to do good to his mother. At the fourth time, the Prophet (S) told him to do good to his father. This well-known story clearly illustrates the position of the mother in Islam.

Respect in the Hereafter

The famous hadith of the Holy Prophet (S) says: Jannat lies under the feet of the mothers. A woman came to the Holy Prophet (S) and asked why going for Jihad was not obligatory on women. She was afraid that women were barred from achieving the great reward for those who fought and died in the way of the Almighty.

The Prophet (S) explained to her that a woman was a fighter in Allah’s way from the time she became pregnant up to the time she delivered, and from the time she began breast-feeding till the time she stopped. If she died during that period, her position would be that of a martyr. To raise a virtuous child is one of the greatest good deeds. It continues to bring reward even after death.

Holy Quran on the Mother

Allah says in Sura Luqman:

And We have enjoined man in respect of his parents - his mother bears him with faintings upon faintings, and his weaning takes two years - saying : “Be grateful to Me and to both your parents, to Me is the eternal coming.(1)

And in Sura Ahqaf He says:

And We have enjoined on man doing of good to his parents; with troubles did his mother bear him and with troubles did she bring him forth; and the bearing and the weaning of him was thirty months. (2)

In both the above verses, although both parents are mentioned, the mother is singled out as she bears a greater responsibility and ultimately a greater reward.

Two mothers are mentioned by name in the Quran. When Holy Lady Mary, the mother of  Jesus (a) suffered the pangs of childbirth, she wished she was dead. She was all alone and worried about what was about to happen to her. At that time Allah consoled her and told her not to grieve. She was provided with fresh dates and water. She was also told to fast for three days by abstaining from talk, and Allah made the baby talk to prove that he was a miraculous baby.(3)

The mother is shown concern and consideration for her state. Allah does not abandon her, or reprove her by telling her that she is privileged to give birth to a Prophet. Although that was true, motherhood entails great difficulty, a fact recognized by the Quran.

Another mother mentioned by the Quran is the mother of Prophet Musa (a). When she was told to put her baby in the river, she was given an assurance that the baby would be returned to her. Allah knows the love of the mother, and knows it is difficult to give away one’s child.

When the baby was picked up by Firawn’s wife, he refused to suck the milk of any foster mother. Prophet Musa’s sister then suggested that they try her mother. Mother and baby unite, and Allah’s promise was fulfilled.(4)

Qualities of a Mother

A good mother has outstanding qualities. No one can replace her in the life of her children. The following are some of the things which make her so unique.

1. A deep love for her children

A mother’s love is unmatched. Whether young or old, healthy or handicapped, troublesome or obedient, the child is still beloved to the mother. This love may be displayed in various forms. Sometimes children misinterpret scoldings and rebukes to be a sign of lack of love. It is important to assure the child that he is always loved, even when his behavior warrants disciplinary measures. Such a child becomes confident and happy, and will never seek solace elsewhere. The love of the mother becomes a source of happiness and peace at home. Children feel attached to the home because of the mother.

Continue in the next article: ( The Role of the Mother in Upbringing the Child 2 )



1. The Quran 31:14

2. The Quran 46:15

3. The Quran 19:23-26

4. The Quran 37-40, and 7-13