Ilham or Inspire

In the mother’s madrassah

If you follow me on Instagram you’ll know I subscribed to Bayyinah TV in early November, in the hope to learn Arabic through the ‘Arabic with Husna’ lessons. Just over three months later, I ashamedly confess, I’ve only completed a handful of lessons, due to various reasons: the kids, health and most importantly my laziness.

So, I haven’t been using the subscription for what I intended initially, but I have been obsessively watching the Story Night series and more recently ‘The Greatest Moms of All Time’ series of talks. Have they done something to me? Yes, in so many different ways. I want everyone to watch them, I even tried forcing the ameer to listen to them, but in his usual non-human-emotionless-manner, I don’t know what he took away from them. Okay, that wasn’t necessary, he’s just not an expressive person, he probably learnt more than me!



So what have I learnt? Where do I start? We all know our purpose in life is to worship Allah, we all know that we want to attain Jannah. We pray, we fast, give sadaqah and do other good deeds in the hope to find a home in the best of Gardens. How often do we fall short, how often do we need reminders about this purpose? And that is what these talks have done to me, they’ve forced me to rethink, re plan, re evaluate everything I want to do as a believer. I sound so dramatic! But it’s true, I’m writing this very post as a reminder for myself, something to go back to and remember these feelings.

And what is this new purpose? Motherhood! Not the nappies, the feeding or the constant worry of wanting good for the little Muslims in my life, but the real end result, the one that I will inshaAllah be given on the Day of Reckoning. I say all this after learning what some of the most amazing mothers did with their children. If after knowing this, I don’t rush to change my intentions, my duas, my actions, then I honestly believe I’m not taking the amanah of nurturing believers seriously.

We live in a time, where social media dictates to many of us how to bring up our children, be it in the form of articles, blog posts or Islamic reminders, but we are constantly seeing what other mothers do, and you might argue that this post is doing the same. But the women I’m going to mention below didn’t do what they did because some woman across the globe made a butterfly out of strings, no, they did what they did, because they understood the worth of Jannah, the seeking of Allah’s pleasure. They didn’t compete with humans, they competed only for a blessed place in the life to come. They are the mothers of Imam Malik, ash Shafi’i, Ahmad ibn Hanbal and Sufyan at Thawri.

I’m only going to share tiny snippets of what these women did, a reflection of their commitment to being a Muslim mother. They definitely were Super Mums, super, because they made what seems like the impossible happen.

  • Growing up, Imam Malik had no interest in ilm. He wanted to be a singer. How many of us can see similar ambitions in our little four year olds, I know I have one of them in my home. He wanted to be a singer because he had a nice voice. His mother talked him out of it, she told him to learn ilm, reminding him that ilm, too can gain fame and will help others too. She would get him ready like a teacher in a thobe and send him to the teacher to learn. She told him to learn adab first, and then learn ilm. When he would return home from his classes, she would sit and learn from him what he was taught that day. Over time, Imam Malik fell in love with his teachers and realised this was his path.
  • Imam Shafi’i’s mother had a vision for her son, a vision that she fulfilled with no money to her name. She would send her son to teachers, he would come back saying the teachers ignore him because he wasn’t a fee paying student. His mother would respond by telling him to show the most exemplary of manners in his classes, so that no teacher will have any complaints of him. When he told his mother he had no paper or ink to make notes with, she told him to use his memory – which was the beginning of Imam Shafi’i’s photographic memory. But she didn’t stop at that, she would go out and find bones and papers that other people would throw out, to give to her son. She would collect drops of ink, wait for a jar to fill and then give him that jar of ink to use. This was the origin of the ilm Imam ash Shafi’i had.
  • Imam Ahmad’s mother would leave in his clothes little notes of naseeha or Islamic reminders. She would wake up before fajr, heat water for his wudhu, wake him up and then walk him in pitch darkness to the masjid for fajr salah. She would then wait for all the classes to finish and tell him to be the last to leave the masjid after all the teachers had left.
  • ‘O my son, if you write only 10 words, ask yourself, are you seeing an increase in your fear of Allah and a growth in your patience with people – if you don’t see these increases, know that your ilm isn’t benefitting you.” – words Sufyan at Thawri’s mother said to him.

If you’ve read this far, how do you now feel? Do you feel like waking up tomorrow, making your gift of motherhood a reason to attain Jannah? This is what I meant, when I said, I am rethinking my purpose.

Imam Malik’s mother used her wisdom to change her son’s want, knowing what is more benefiting for his dunya and his akhirah. Imam Shafi’i’s mother didn’t sit at home, feeling sorry for herself being a single widowed mother with no money, she turned her reality to work for her and her son. Imam Ahmad’s mother sacrificed her sleep so her son could smell the fragrance of fajr salah at the masjid. And the words of Sufyan at Thawri’s mother are words that we all need to reflect on, for our own growth, our own change. It was in these mothers’ madrassahs that unmatched scholars grew.

On Saturday morning, when I sat with my daughter to do our little Quran session, we attempted to recite surah al Ikhlas together. She thinks she knows it well. She doesn’t. She mispronounces it all. When I tried correcting her, unknowingly I made her cry. We stopped straightaway and I decided I wont push her. But I also thought to myself that maybe its not in me to bring up a hifdh student, yes, I’m more of a pessimist. But after hearing about these mothers, I still know I’m not them, but why can’t I try? I should try!

Seeking Jannah is for every believer. Seeking it through everything we do is something not many of us will master. We can only try. Just like these Super mums did, leaving behind offspring’s who teach us Islam even now, long after they themselves have left the dunya. and we can’t forget the beauty of dua, it was the dua of Imam Bukhari’s mother that restored his eyesight. 

May Allah raise the ranks of these great scholars and the ranks of their beloved mothers. May we get a glimpse of them and their beautiful abodes in Jannah. Ameen.




13 thoughts on “In the mother’s madrassah”

  1. Asalamu alaikum wa ramatullahi wa barakatuh sister, I am very happy to have find both your instagram and blog today. You are inspiring me to go back on a place where I once was, the learning path. Motherhood should indeed not be used as an excuse to stop our islamic obligations. Motherhood should rather be increasing our deep thirst for knowledge, push us harder to be better, keep us on the right track even more … because we now have a little herd that will imitate us. May Allah forgives me … It has been two years for me where I forgot to strive. May Allah helps me to change that and keep me on the right path. Thank you sister for being a reminder to me today. Thank you for being an inspiration. May Allah showers your home with goodness. Wa salam


  2. Pingback: Gilded Dunya

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