Have you ever heard of such a thing as “unconditioned acceptance”? There is no such a thing, right! Actually, when I gave it a thought, I realize that I’m totally wrong.
If you ponder over motherhood, you will instantly get the idea. A mother bears her child inside her womb for 9 months. She goes through horrible labor pains to deliver her infant. Is it finally over, actually NO, and she knows it. Years of more hard labor are yet to come. Endless hours of hugging, nurturing, carrying, feeding, cleaning poop, washing dirty clothes, staying awake amidst the night, shopping for someone else, carrying bags and holding hands to school, then back from school, standing in the kitchen for hours, cleaning, dusting, shining shoes, ironing clothes, wiping floors, deprivation from different sorts of pleasures, etc., among many other sacrifices; the list is endless here. In short, she sacrifices her own time on earth for her baby.
All of this for what?! To make sure that her baby will grow up safely, and live a happy life. She accepts to give up her own life and her own comfort for her child.
One may wonder, why would anyone accept to make such a sacrifice?
The answer is in the title of this post, it’s an unconditioned acceptance. This is what motherhood is all about, an unconditioned acceptance.
Only mothers accept all of the previous hardships without asking for anything in return. Even when they grow old, and their children are no longer there to take care of them, they only wish that they are happy, safe and sound.
A man came to Prophet Muhammad and asked: “O prophet, who is the worthiest person among all people of my perfect companionship?” Prophet Muhammad answered “Your mother.” The man said: “Then who?” Prophet Muhammad said: “Your mother.” The man said persistently: “Then who?” Prophet Muhammad again said: “Your mother.”
The man said: “Then who?” Prophet Muhammad said: “Then your father.”
[Recorded by Bukhari and Muslim]
And when a man came to volunteer in the army, the prophet asked him, “Is your mother still alive?” The man said, “Yes.”
So the prophet said, “Then go back, and take care of her, verily heaven’s paradise lies underneath her feet.” [Recorded by Nasa’ee, and Ibn-Majah].
At another occasion, a woman came to the prophet and said, “O prophet, my mother has reached an old age. I take care of her like she did with me when I was a child, I wash her body, I clean her like a mother cleans her child, I feed her, and take care of all her needs. Have I returned her favor, and fulfilled my debt?”
The prophet said, “Absolutely not! You are doing what you said hoping that she would die comfortably, and you would be relieved from your duty; while she did the same for you hoping you would live, and remain healthy even if she loses her own health. You haven’t even repaid her for a single scream escaping her throat during labor.” [Recorded by Ibn-Wahb in his compilation of the prophetic traditions]
Also a man came to the prophet complaining about his mother’s misconduct, saying that she was a bad old woman. The prophet said, “She wasn’t a bad woman when she carried you inside her womb for 9 months.”
The man continued to complain, but the prophet again said, “She wasn’t a bad woman when she breastfed you for two years, and she surely wasn’t a bad woman when she stayed awake during the night, and tolerated her thirst during the day to take care of you.”
The man then said, “I have repaid her for all that.”
The prophet asked, “How, what did you do?”
The man answered, “I carried her upon my back during pilgrimage.”
The prophet again said, “You haven’t even repaid her for a single scream escaping her throat during labor.” [Recorded by Ibn Al-Mubarak].
N.B.: The reader here should note that the pilgrimage rituals 1400 years ago took weeks, and the distances traveled on foot exceeded 40 miles. Moreover, wheelchairs weren’t invented yet.
May Allah bless all mothers, and never let anything we hate befall any of them, Amen.
Written by: Ehab Shawky
In response to: Acceptance