The Ummah’s Prescription: moving a step beyond mundane motherhood

Umrah’s Life Lessons #9: The Ummah’s Prescription: moving a step beyond mundane motherhood

Muslim women amazed me on this trip. I was impressed by their eye for beauty. The head covers they wore for instance mesmerized me. The fabric, chosen with such care and love: swiss dot sparkles, flower print, eyelet, pure silk and airy open-weave cotton. The hours of embroidery apparent in the tiny blue flowers spreading from the hem in every direction, in the intricate lace-work of gold and brown sequins and beads, in the red rose sprigs and pink blossom sprays unfurling from the top down. And the colors… reflecting the wearer’s personality, or the trip they were planned for in the loveliest manner: snowy white, minty green, summer blue and pale corn-silk yellow, light lavender and lilac leaves, and deep swirls of bold African batik. Their crisply starched and ironed appearance, the ruffles, the lace and the tailored or crocheted trim, were details that only one who had a deep appreciation for beauty would take the trouble to have.
Muslim women amazed me on this trip. I was impressed with their preoccupation with cleanliness. In Medina, the showers beneath the mosque’s surrounding area were always full. Their clothes, their nails, their feet all reflected a healthy concern with being clean. On the tarpaulin covered piles in the outer area of the Mosque, freshly washed clothes and head covers dried in the sun, I suppose belonging to those women who made the trip but had no accommodations. From the rugs that they prayed on to the spots they chose to eat or sleep or sit and watch in, cleanliness was a statement.
Muslim women amazed me on this trip. I was impressed with the disciplined manner in which they applied themselves to two solid hours of prayer each night. Their strong response to dua, their serious and sincere practice of the rites of Umrah, their attachment to Quran, their desire to attend each prayer and their insistence on coming every night, despite the difficulties they faced and the little ones they brought in tow, showed great dedication and sincere interest in their religion.
Muslim women amazed me in their generosity. I was impressed with their desire for reward, their sacrifice and their open-handedness. The Egyptian peasant dividing her last bite of plain bread into thirds to share with me and my daughter, the Turkish professor sharing her small bottle of water, the Mauritanian offering the last of her dates, the Moroccan who gave us her place – their selflessness touched me.
Muslim women amazed me with their pleasantness.  Their friendliness expressed in smiles and mimes and sometimes exasperated signs as they tried to relay their admiration of Fatimah’s Quran-reading and completion of the long prayer, or their sympathy for our plight, when they asked where we were from. The Bengali woman and her dimpled four year-old daughter, the Algerian woman who on my first taraweeh in Mecca, asked me if she would see me here next year, the Saudi wealthy mother of twins who allowed us to put our big bulky bag in her double stroller as we prayed. Their smiling faces and twinkling eyes, despite the fact that they were fasting and it was hot and often crowded, uplifted my soul.
But then, I would look around me. Someone was littering.  Who were the armies of cleaners, I saw polishing the marble floors and sweeping and washing down the streets, cleaning after? Something kept nagging at me and begging to be recognized. It was the disturbing fact that Muslim countries all over the world did not reflect this heightened awareness of beauty that the women displayed, nor did they reflect their concern with cleanliness, most importantly the citizens of their homelands did not exhibit the same devotedness to religion that I saw here. Islam is viable, vivacious, naturally expanding and all including. When expressed, it does not drop upon one’s feet, but rather spreads like the sweet scent of honeysuckles in every direction. It is not lifeless; or constricted to the individual person or family.
It occurred to me sadly, as I observed this contradictory situation, that herein is the problem and the solution for the Muslim world. And I remembered witnessing several lovely incidents as we went around the Kaba. During our Umrah tawaf, there was a young man with an atomizer who was spraying cold water in every direction as he did tawaf, cooling the air remarkably.  Another young man stood at the edge of the crowd going around the Kaba, offering cups of cold water to the thirsty people. Their heat and thirst pushed them not to think of themselves but of others. Another scene that stays with me is of a woman we saw as we made our farewell tawaf in the blazing sun of the ever-increasing crowd of Eid. She drew our attention by the way she kept bending over then rising. It was alarming and we turned to her to help her retrieve what she had dropped, or warn her of the danger of stumbling or getting trampled. The woman paid us no heed and continued to bend over picking up any litter that may have inadvertently fallen from anyone, which she put in a bag she carried, and to wipe with a tissue any spill marring the translucent white marble. She did this willingly, at a risk to her safety and without any hard feelings towards those who were the cause of what she voluntarily felt responsible to fix.
We as mothers need to take our upbringing one step beyond teaching our child to practice Islam for themselves. We need to cultivate the idea of circles of concern. We need to show each person how this blessing of belief they have received is not for personal consumption, but rather for communal benefit. If each person would extend their good behavior one step beyond themselves, these outer circles would merge and there would be less and less ugliness, selfishness and deprivation. Muslim countries would become an amazing temptation for a world that would become infatuated with Islam.
I truly believe so much of this all is in the hands of us women (mothers, grandmothers, aunts, teachers and friends). May God grant us the wisdom, patience and courage it takes to make such a change.



3 responses to “The Ummah’s Prescription: moving a step beyond mundane motherhood”

  1. moved by this message

    mashaAllah. this is so true. i wish we could do this, emanate this, be like this…teach this, model this! ya Allah! if only….it is depressing how we are not here yet….
    but inshaAllah with reminders and exhortations like this, we will begin to move in the right direction.

  2. moved by this message again!

    i love the gentle way in which you have written this dear KS. it is a model in and of itself of how to offer advice without it being a critique! mashaAllah. every time i read it, i learn something new….

  3. Hadil Diab-Hadaya

    AA MashaAllah, nice article.

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