Mother’s Day :: History and Islamic View
Mother’s Day :: History
Mother’s Day stems from an ancient annual spring festival the Greeks dedicated to maternal goddesses. The Greeks used the occasion to honor Rhea, wife of Cronus and the mother of many deities of Greek mythology.
This day may have emerged from a custom of mother worship in ancient Greece, which kept a festival to Cybele, a great mother of Greek gods. This festival was held around the Vernal Equinox around Asia Minor and eventually in Rome itself from the Ides of March (15 March) to 18 March.
The ancient Romans also had another holiday, Matronalia, that was dedicated to Juno, though mothers were usually given gifts on this day.
In Europe there were several long standing traditions where a specific Sunday was set aside to honor motherhood and mothers such as Mothering Sunday. Mothering Sunday celebrations are part of the liturgical calendar in several Christian denominations, including Anglicans, and in the Catholic calendar is marked as Laetare Sunday, the fourth Sunday in Lent to honor the Virgin Mary and your “mother” church (the main church of the area). Children and young people who were “in service” (servants in richer households) were given a day off on that date so they could visit their families (or, originally, return to their “mother church). The children would pick wild flowers along the way to place them in the church or to give them to their mothers as gifts.
As the US holiday was adopted by other countries and cultures, the date was changed to fit already existing celebrations honoring motherhood, like Mothering Sunday in the UK or the Orthodox celebration of Jesus in the temple in Greece. In some countries it was changed to dates that were significant to the majority religion, like the Virgin Mary day in Catholic countries, or the birthday of the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad in Islamic countries. Other countries changed it to historical dates, like Bolivia using the date of a certain battle where women participated.[ii]
In the Catholic Church, the holiday is strongly associated with reverencing the Virgin Mary.[iii] In some Arab countries, it has been designated as the birthday anniversary of Fatimah, Muhammed PBUH’s daughter.[iv]
In Hindu tradition it is called “Mata Tirtha Aunshi” or “Mother Pilgrimage fortnight”, and it is celebrated in countries with Hindu population, especially in Nepal. It is celebrated on the new moon day in the month of Baisakh i.e. April/May. This holiday is based in Hindu religion and it pre-dates the creation of the Western-inspired holiday by at least a few centuries. This festival falls in the time of dark moon’s time which is why this called “Mata Tirtha Aunshi” derived from words: “Mata” meaning mother; “Tirtha” meaning pilgrimage. This festival is observed in the commemoration and respect of the mother which is celebrated by worshipping and gifting living mother or remembering mothers who have become immortal and are resting in peace. Going to Mata Tirtha Pilgrimage located towards the Kathmandu valley’s eastern side at Mata Tirtha Village development committee’s periphery is another tradition common in Nepal.
There is a legend regarding this pilgrimage. In ancient times Lord Krishna’s mother Devaki walked out her house to sight-see. She visited many places and delayed a lot to return back at her house. Lord Krishna became very unhappy because of his mother’s disappearance. So he went out in search of his mother to many places without success. Finally, when he reached “Mata Tirtha Kunda”, he happened to see his mother taking bath there in the spouts of that pond. Lord Krishna was very happy to find her there and narrated all of his tragedies in the absence of his mother. Mother Devaki said to lord Krishna that “oh! Son Krishna let then, this place be the pious rendezvous of children to meet their departed mothers”. So legends believe that since then this place had become a noted holy pilgrimage to see back a devotees’ deceased mother. Also legend believes that a devotee saw his mother’s image inside the pond and he happened to die falling there down. So still there is a small pond fenced by the iron rods in the place even on this present day as well. After the worship the pilgrimage enjoy there singing and dancing throughout the day in the festive mood. There is not evidence of happening of this legend as these are coming from elders based on ancient readings.
Mother’s Day in most of Arab countries is celebrated on March 21. It was introduced in Egypt by journalist Mustafa Amin in his book (Smiling America) 1943.[vi] The idea was overlooked at the time, but when Amin heard the story of a widowed mother who devoted her whole life to raise her son until he became a doctor, got married and left without showing her any gratitude, Amin became motivated to promote for “Mother’s Day”. The idea was first ridiculed by president Gamal Abdel Nasser but he eventually accepted it and Mother’s Day was first celebrated on the 21st of March 1956. The practice has since been copied by the other Arab countries.
When Mustafa Amin was arrested and imprisoned, there were attempts to change the name of the holiday from “Mother’s Day” to “Family Day” as the government wished to prevent the occasion from reminding people of its founder. These attempts were unsuccessful and celebrations continued to be held on that day; classic songs celebrating mothers remain famous to this day.
Mother’s Day :: Islamic View
Mother’s Day is an official holiday in many countries, even some Muslim countries. However, this must not lead us to believe that because it is an official holiday in some Muslim countries that it is deemed permissible.
What if your mother (who is probably non-Muslim or even Muslim for that matter) is accustomed to have this day celebrated in her honor, and you wish to discontinue now that you are Muslim and no longer practice non-Islamic holidays? Many reverts fear that their mothers will feel hurt or dishonored and will resent their children if they stop honoring her on this day.
Celebrating Mother’s Day is an innovated matter which the Prophet PBUH and his companions PBUT did not do. It is also an imitation of the kuffaar from whom we have been commanded to differ. Hence it is not permissible to celebrate it or to obey one’s mother in that, because the Prophet PBUH said: “There is no obedience if it involves sin; obedience is only in that which is right and proper.” Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 7257; Muslim, 1840.
Just keep in mind that this celebration is a newly invented innovation. The Prophet PBUH said: “The worst of matters are those which are newly-invented, and every innovation is a going-astray.” Narrated by Muslim, 867; al-Nasaa’i, 1578. Al-Nasaa’i’s report adds the words: “And every going astray will be in the Fire.”
The mother is entitled to respect and honor, and upholding of the ties of kinship throughout her life, so what is the point of singling out a particular day to honor her? Let her know how special she is to you and that you can’t possible single out one particular day to honor her. Explain to her what status a mother holds in Islam, and that you cherish her every day of your life, and that you hope she will not feel hurt or resent you if you didn’t celebrate mother’s day specifically.
But we Muslims have been commanded to honor our parents and uphold the ties of kinship, and we have been forbidden to disobey our parents. In our religion mothers have been given something which has not been given to them in any other religion; the mother’s rights take precedence over those of the father, as al-Bukhaari (5514) and Muslim (4621) narrated that Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: A man came to the Messenger of Allaah PBUH and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, who is most deserving of my good company?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Then your father.”
Honoring one’s mother does not come to an end even when she dies, for she is honored in life and in death. That is done by offering the funeral prayer for her, praying for forgiveness for her, carrying out her last wishes and honoring her family and friends.
Let us adhere to this great religion and follow its etiquettes and rulings, for in it is sufficient guidance and mercy.
Shaykh ‘Ali Mahfouz (may Allaah have mercy on him) said, explaining how this celebration (Mother’s Day) is an imitation of the kuffaar:
“Explaining the seriousness of celebrating festivals other than the Islamic Eids, the Prophet PBUH stated that some people or groups in his ummah would follow the People of the Book in some of their rituals and traditions, as is narrated in the hadeeth of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet PBUH said: “They will follow the ways of those who came before them, handspan by handspan, cubit by cubit, until even if they entered a lizard’s hole they will follow them.” We said: “O Messenger of Allaah, (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said: “Who else?” Narrated by al-Bukhaari and Muslim.
Love of imitation, even if it is something that exists in people’s hearts, is forbidden in shariah if the one who is being imitated differs from us in his beliefs and thinking, especially is what is being imitated is religious beliefs or acts of worship, or it is a ritual or tradition. When the Muslims became weak in this time, their imitation of their enemies became more widespread and many western traditions and customs became widespread, whether that has to do with consumer goods or attitudes and behavior. One of these customs is the celebration of Mother’s Day.”
Shaykh Muhamamd ibn Saalih ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about celebrating Mother’s Day and he replied:
All celebrations which differ from the Eids prescribed in Islam are innovated festivals which were not known at the time of the righteous salaf, and may also have come from the non-Muslims, in which case as well as being an innovation (bid’ah) they are also an imitation of the enemies of Allaah. The festivals which are prescribed in Islam are well known to the Muslims: they are Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and the weekly “Eid” of Jumu’ah. There is no other festival in Islam apart from these three. All the festivals that have been invented apart from these are to be rejected because they are innovations and are false according to the laws of Allaah, because the Prophet PBUH said: “Whoever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not part of it will have it rejected,” i.e., it will be thrown back at him and will not be accepted by Allaah. According to another version: “Whoever does any deed that is not part of this matter of ours will have it rejected.”
Once this is clear, then it is not permissible to show any of the signs of festivity on the celebration mentioned in the question, namely Mother’s Day. It is not permissible to show joy and happiness, or to offer gifts, and so on.
The Muslim should feel proud of his religion and adhere to the limits set by Allaah and His Messenger PBUH in this religion, which Allaah has chosen for His slaves, and he should not add anything or take anything away. What the Muslim should also do is to not to follow every new idea that comes along, rather his character should be in accordance with the shariah of Allaah so that he will be a leader and example, not a follower, because the shariah of Allaah – praise be to Allaah – is complete in all ways as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” Quran 5:3
A mother’s right is greater than having just one day in the year to be honored, rather the mother’s right over her children is that they should take care of her and obey her, so long as it does not involve disobedience towards Allaah, at all times and in all places.
Allah has commanded us to treat our non believing parents kindly even if they strive to make their child a polytheist because of their rights as parents, with hopes that they will embrace Islam one day. Continue to sincerely pray and supplicate for your non-believing mother hoping that Allah may guide her to the deen. The divine guidance of Allah may come after continuous strive by the Muslim child.
“And your Lord decreed that you should worship none but Him and that you be dutiful to your Parents. If one of them or both attain old age in your life, then do not say to them uff (a word of disrespect), nor shout at them, rather address them in terms of honour / And lower for them the wing of submission and humility through mercy. And say, “My Lord! Grant them Your Mercy as they brought me up when I was small.”
The love of a mother for you never dies even if we do, this love goes even beyond you, to your children and even their children. Even if they despise the choice you have made of following Islam, they may be disgruntled, but they can never erase their love for you.
Allah’s love comes when our parents love us. And Allah’s anger comes when our parents are angry with us. Ibn Abbas raa said, “There are three things that will not be accepted if it’s mate is not fulfilled. (And he mentioned),
“Thank Me (Allah) and your Parents…” Qur’an 31:14
Ibn Abbaas continued, “Thus whoever thanks Allah and is not thankful to his parents, Allah will not accept from him.”
Let us think about how many of us treat our parents. We shy away from them when they may need something. We never visit if we are away from them. In fact, many people dispose of their parents in retirement homes. And when an argument ignites between our parents and us, many of us shout at them as if we were arguing with our evilest enemy, May Allah protect us all.
Compare this to those that came before us. Dhibyaan ibn Ali ath-Thowree (ra) used to travel with his mother to Makkah. There – in the scorching heat – he would dig a little pool and fill it with cool water. Then he would turn to his mother and say, “Ummi, sit in this water to cool yourself.”
For many of us, our friends are more precious to us than our Mother and Father. Forgetful we are of the time a man came to the Prophet PBUH and asked him who is more worthy of his dear companionship. He, PBUH, said, “your Mother!” The man asked again and again, and the Prophet PBUH replied, “Your Mother! Your Mother!” Until on the fourth time he PBUH said, “Your Father.” Today, when the common question is asked, “Who is your best friend?” How many people would say, “my Mother!” But this is how the question should be answered and implemented.
Narrated Ahmad and An-Nasaa’ee, from Mu’aawiyah ibn Jaahimah As-Sulamee: My father, Jaahimah (raa) went to the Prophet PBUH and asked, “O Messenger of Allah, I would like to go out and fight for the sake of Allah, and I have come to you for advice.” The Prophet PBUH asked him, “Is your Mother alive?” He said, “Yes.” “Then stay near her,” advised the Prophet PBUH, “For at her feet is Jannah!”[viii]
“And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.”
The Prophet Muhammad PBUH also said in a famous narration:
“Paradise lies at the feet of your mother”
Musnad Ahmad, Sunan An-Nasâ’i, Sunan Ibn Mâjah
What can be greater evidence of honoring a mother than this?
Islam has effectively placed the ultimate reward for human beings in their devotion to their mothers.
Abdullah Ibn Abbâs (d. 687CE), a companions of the Prophet and a great scholar of Islam, considered kind treatment of one’s mother to be the best deed for strengthening or rectifying one’s relation with God. He said: “I know of no other deed that brings people closer to Allah than kind treatment and respect towards one’s mother.” Al-Adab al-Mufrad Bukhârî 1/45
An even more powerful example is found in the statement of another one of the Prophet’s companions, Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar (d. 692CE), who was also a great scholar of Islam. It has been related that:
Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar saw a Yemeni man performing Tawâf (circumambulating the Ka’bah) while carrying his mother on his back. This man said to Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar, “I am like a tame camel for her! I have carried her more than she carried me. Do you think I have paid her back, O Ibn ‘Umar?” Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar replied, “No, not even one contraction!!” [Al-Adab al-Mufrad Bukhârî 1/62
All of these examples show how great our mothers are in Islam. We must cherish our mothers and treat them with kindness everyday and not single out just one day a year to do so. Make them feel special everyday. The status of mothers is elevated to the highest position in Islam. The honor Islam has given to mothers is beyond that found in any other religion, ideology or culture. This is clear proof of the grand status of Muslim Women.
Don;t forget to read superb links :
Mothers are producers of the heros – Love Her
10 things you can do for your Mothers
What Islam says about Mothers ?
A True Story about Mothers Love
IGNORE You Mother – Video
Love of Mothers is Special Even in Animals
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