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Being a mother is certainly not easy. As Allah describes in the Quran, “His mother carried
him, (increasing her) in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years,”(13:14).
These weakness are often referred to as pregnancy, birthing and nursing. But that is just the
beginning.

Mothers are in the daily “trenches” of changing diapers, helping with homework, cooking
dinner, disciplining and runing between work, picking kids up from school, and soccergames.
These daily acts of service to her family can encompass her so completely that she loses balance
and perspective of herself.

When a women loses the deeper spiritual significance of motherhood, she may feel that duty of
a mother is to martyr herself for her family by putting everyone else’s needs ahead of her own.
But carrying all the burdens and difficulties is not the path to being a good mother. In fact it only
depletes a women, and may even build resentment, making her think that her children and her
family “owe” her, as payback for her “martyrdom.”

As the prophet Muhammad (saw) taught us: “A person’s wealth shall not decrease with
charity.” What better charity is there than the charity of a mother helping her family? however, as
with all forms of giving, the reward is in the giving, not in what is paid back to us by those we
give to.

Indeed all forms of giving benefit the donor, when done right. Motherhood is a journey that
allows one to witness the growth of a child as well as instill growth in women by making them
stroger and wiser. Allah blesses women with children and in turn mothers make a promise to
Allah to nurture children into adulthood.

Through the process of parenting children, one realizes that it is also about role modeling a
balaced and healthy lifestyle to children. Being a mother is not being a martyr. Rather it is
respecting the trust and responsibility of raising children as well as respecting yourself as a strong
women.

Children will respect their mothers as women who service their families for the sake of Allah.
The responsibility of motherhood makes a women grow stronger physically, mentally and
spiritually because she is tasted in the areas. She learns to stretch herself to serve those around
her with the ultimate purpose of pleasing Allah, while at the same time out losing herself.

A mother should not simply become weaker through her giving, but stronger and more
balanced. Here are six ways mothers can find balace and stay focused in order to get through the
tough days of parenting as well as enjoy the journey of motherhood:

1. “I will remind myself daily that my time with my children is precious.” Childhood will end
one day and my “baby” changing daily and maturing into adults. Parenting is celebrating the
everyday moments more than focusing on the milestones of our children’s life. Spending quality
time with our children and making time to communicate and share with our children is what will
be remembered. The mundane activities in our life are the ways we connect daily with our
children, so we need to see them more as experiences of connection rather than activities we just
need to get through and move on to the next.

2. “I will take care of myself”
Physically, mentally and spiritually. By constantly giving attention to our children and
husband, we many times forget to take care of ourselves or we put our needs at the bottom of
the list. Some mothers don’t even put themselves on the list at all. But as mothers we will have
nothing left to give. Taking care of our bodies through exercise is vital for our physical health as
well as boosting our overall mood and energy.

Spending time exercising is not selfish, unneccessary or extra. It must be seen as a priority in
order to be able to do our duty as a mother. Taking care of our mental and spiritual self is also
vital because this is the area that is most challenged and drained from us when raising our
children. The intention of our daily prayers is to help us refocus and slow down our hectic lives,
especially as mothers. Since women are the “heart” of a household, we must find inner peace in
order for the family to feel in balance. Finding and sustaining self-confidence and happeness will
manifest to our children and husband.

3. “I am not a perfect mother.”

Many Muslim mpthers have extremely idealistic views of parenting or high expectations of
themselves as mothers. Our children do not need us to be perfect and they actually will easily
forgive us when we acknowledge our mistakes and show our inperfections. We must accept that
we will make mistakes which will be opportunities for us to grow and become smarter moms for
future challenges.

We need to forgive ourselves and release ourselves of the burden of striving for perfection.
We need to eliminate the thinking that other moms have attained perfection and they do
everything right. We can only do the best that we can with what we have and we should focus on
the things that matter-our relationship with them. Dinners won’t always be amazing, the dishes
won’t be clean, and laundry will pile up, but when our kids become adults they won’t remember
any of that; rather they will remember the time they spent and the conversations they had with us.

4. “I will make my marriage a priority.”

Children place a huge strain on a marriage, especially for mothers of young children. Many
mothers focus entirely on the needs of their children and in the process neglect their relationship
with their husband.

Physical and emotional exhaustion leave women with little energy left to give to their husband
and this attitude of “nothing left to give” can cause disconnection in the marriage. alongside
parenting because not only is it good for our children to witness a healthy relationship, but it is
also good for our mental health.
The companionship of a spouse is one that will supersede our relationship with our children,
especially as children grow older. We must maintain a loving conection to our spouse so that we
can grow old together and be further bonded to one another after the children are grown and
married.

This means we can’t put our marriage “on hold,” rather we must maintain a bond of frienship
and love through the trying times of parenthood.

It is vital we spend time alone with our husband so that we can see each other through the
lens of a spouse and not only as a caregiver to our children. Going on “date nights” and weekend
outing as a couple is vital for the bond to be maintained and sustained.

5. “I will value my friendships.”

Connecting and sharing with other women helps us to realize the commonality in our struggles
as mother and women. Having sisters and girlfriends in our life makes us stonger because these
relationship nurture us emotionally and help us manage the stress in our lives.
Our girlfriends and sisters have a apecial place in our lives that even our husbands cannot fill
or replace.

Making time to connect with our friends will help us feel happier and recharged so that we are
able to give to our children and husband. Talking to and going out with girlfriends is vital for
mothers to boost their connection to other women. It will improve our moods and fill our tanks
so that we can give to our children and better connect with our husands.

6. “I will prioritize family dinner.”

Eating together as a family is a daily activity of bonding. Routines in children’s lives is can
foster a deep sense of security. Creating traditions such as eating together is meaningful to our
daily lives because it is a time the family comes together to share their day and connect with one
another.

Reseach has shown children who regularly have dinner with their families are more like to do
better and make good choices with regard to friends, drugs and sex.

Bringing everyone toggether daily will create a more communicative family dynamic, and the
tradition of food, conversation and joy will be the memories that everyone will cherish.

The Holy Quran has zero references to the punishment of blasphemy. Hegemonic to the extent of being demonic, Pakistani Muslims are blasphemy-obsessed. Not a single voice from the Muslim clergy community has been raised on the issue of the 11-year-old born with Down syndrome girl, accused of burning pages of the Holy Scripture, and her consequent jailing. She now could face the death penalty although according to law no citizen with mental disability can be tried, let alone jailed. Moreover as a minor, she is supposed to be dealt with as a juvenile.

When it comes to matters of blasphemy, Muslims feel threatened by a disabled girl, who is suspect because she is a Christian. Had the girl not been taken into police custody, she would probably have been set on fire by the mad mob ready to protect the honour of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) who needs no such favours. Theirs is a love that borders on paranoia. Muslims consider themselves minorities in a global world that labels them pariahs, a world that drones them, wages war against them and humiliates them.

The grand narrative of the persecuted Muslim minority — our Muslim ‘us’ to their western/Christian/Jewish/Hindu ‘them’ — now flourishes not just with suicide bombers who strap explosives to their chest but also with talk show hosts on network TV, Urdu press columnists and middle school teachers in both public and private schools through a vitriolic curriculum. We are the underdogs — Palestine, Iraq, Kashmir — and they have the stock market, the Pope and the White House. Recent events have only reinforced this victim mentality, be it the Raymond Davis issue or the Salala incident that eventually led to the NATO supply blockade.

This narrative will grow as media blows it into a monster. It grows in the complete absence of our own narrative. To make matters worse, Pakistan’s imagination as a nation-state is as wild as it is colourful. Instead of looking at the particular politics of Punjab and Bengal as well as the role the Indian National Congress played in driving out the Muslim League from an all-India embrace, we trace Pakistan’s genesis in Muhammad bin Qasim’s horses.

The imagery of conquest from West and Central Asia is played over and over again in our so-called history books. Invaders, soldiers of fortune and plunderers are transformed into glorious heroes of Islam marching into India with the sword in one hand and the Holy Quran in the other, even though Islam in South Asia spread through Sufi sages who adapted themselves to the syncretic traditions of the subcontinent. The biggest casualty of Pakistan’s nationalist mythology is Jinnah, the man. Instead of being known as the fervent ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, that cold logician of courts and parliamentary democracy is presented as a formidable fanatic out to divide India, come hell or high water — a sort of an emblem for Muslim exclusivism that Jinnah could hardly dream of.

It is no wonder that with skewed narratives that we have adopted, which stretch believability, we have become a menace not just to our peace-loving minorities like Christians and Hindus but also sects that are deemed to be heretical by the majority such as the Ahmedis and the Shias. The strategy of the state is to exclude where possible — Sir Zafrullah’s Ahmadi faith has denied him his rightful place as a founding father of this state — and to distort where necessary — Jinnah’s Shia roots are covered up and he is made into a Deobandi by certain ‘historians’.

Thus commences the open season on Christians, Hindus, Shias and Ahmadis. So warped is the frame though which we base our sense of self that we forget the basic tenets of religion that teach compassion, forgiveness and tolerance. Pakistan cannot, in even a decade or two, adopt the magnanimous fortitude our religion demands of us, for the roots of suspicion and malice run deep. What we can do is tactfully ally two and two with those who support reason and logic, and say no to this madness; to say that no minor girl child who is a minority and mentally disabled will be tried in the name of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), who was a prophet of mercy for all mankind. And if this happens in Pakistan, in our name, in our religion’s name, then this not our Pakistan and not a Pakistan worth fighting for.

FOR one household a cannon blast signals the end of the daily fast during the holy Islamic month of Ramadan, just as it has done for many years. For another the beep of an iPhone does the job, thanks to a smartphone application called Ramadan Times. The app sets the fasting times depending on the location of the device. People are surprised at their smartphones’ capabilities, says Arif Hisam, head of PakData, the Pakistani company that created the app.

Islamic hardliners may have issued a slew of fatwas against digital technology, including chat programmes (they could lead to flirting) and the use of Koranic verses as ring tones (disrespectful). But Muslims have embraced the internet and smartphones just as the rest of the world has—and, in some ways, even more.

A recent survey by Ipsos, a market-research firm, found that rich Muslim-majority countries boast some of world’s highest rates of smartphone penetration, with the United Arab Emirates ahead at 61%. But even in poorer Muslim lands adoption is respectable: 26% in Egypt, not much below Germany’s 29%. More than a third of people in the Middle East now use the internet, slightly above the world average.

Muslims use their gadgets in much the same way as everyone else: they text, they use social networks, they buy online. But the adoption—and Islamification—of the technology has a deeper meaning, says Bart Barendregt of Leiden University, who has studied South-East Asia’s growing digital culture. “Muslim youngsters are adopting technology to distance themselves from older, traditional practices while also challenging Western models,” he argues.

Many smartphone apps cater to religious needs. Some show mosques and halalbusinesses close to a user’s location. Salah 3D is an iPhone guide to how to pray. Another app, Quran Majeed, includes text and audio versions of the Koran not only in Arabic, but other languages, making the holy book more accessible to Muslims whose first language is not Arabic. It has been downloaded more than 3m times.

Websites tailored to Muslims also abound. Artik Kuzmin, a Turkish entrepreneur, will soon launch Salamworld, a Facebook for Muslims. “People told us that they worry about moral standards on the internet. They don’t feel it is safe for them,” he says. Salamworld’s moderators will try to allay such fears by taking down photographs with too much flesh and deleting swear words. Online dating services are multiplying. “Far more is permissible in Islam than people think,” explains Abdelaziz Aouragh, who runs Al Asira, which claims to be a sharia-compliant sex site, from the safety of Amsterdam.

Social media’s role in the Arab spring has been widely discussed. But even more important may be how the technology is changing Islam itself by creating a virtual version of the ummah, the single nation of Muslims that Islam’s followers consider themselves to be part of. All kinds of online forums allow open discussion of religious questions.

For the first time, lay people can easily separate religious commands from tradition by looking at holy texts and scholarship rather than relying on their local preachers. “The digital revolution has given a voice to young Muslims. It is allowing us to criticise the religious establishment and create our own interpretations,” explains Amir Ahmad Nasr, a 25-year-old Sudanese blogger. He says that discovering the internet was the reason for his personal journey from devout Muslim to atheist and then to Sufi, adhering to a mystical version of Islam—an experience he describes in a forthcoming book, “My [email protected]”.

Faith in progress

Facing a threat to their authority, some Islamic scholars have called for a ban on certain sites, and a handful even a ban on the entire internet. But many more are embracing new media to avoid being sidelined. Muslim scholars at al-Azhar University in Cairo run an “Islamic Hotline”. Users call or e-mail a question, which is answered within 48 hours. Other muftis upload lectures to YouTube.

The internet’s impact is even greater for Muslim women. “You can look after your family, have a job, and avoid workplace problems with the hijab [veil],” says Kimberly Ben, a convert and freelance copywriter in Alabama, who publishes tips for Muslim women (sometimes called Muslimahs) on running a business from home on MuslimahsWorkingAtHome.com.

Being able to study religious teachings for themselves, Muslimahs are also chipping away at the predominantly male, orthodox domination of Islamic thought. The Prophet’s first wife, Khadija, for instance, has become something of a role model. She is said to have been a successful businesswoman when she married Muhammad. Last year, in protest against Saudi Arabia’s ban on women behind the wheel, Manal Al-Sharif uploaded a video to YouTube showing herself driving (which duly went viral and earned her nine days in detention).

As always, however, technology cuts both ways. Long before social media helped to usher in the Arab spring, jihadis used ghastly video clips and online forums to attract foot soldiers to their cause. More recently, the internet has led to shows of rabid intolerance. Earlier this year, when Hamza Kashgari, a Saudi writer, was deemed a blasphemer by his country’s authorities for a poem, the internet was filled with hate speech against him.

Yet as more and more Muslims buy smartphones and get online, it is unlikely that radicals will benefit most. Hatred and extremism fester in closed polities, whereas the internet tends to strengthen the tolerant and open-minded. Mr Nasr, the Sudanese blogger, even thinks that digital media will be to Islam what the printing press was to Christianity—and ultimately lead to a Reformation. “We’re still in the early stages,” he says, “but we’re going to see many eclectic versions of Islam.”

SOURCE :  The Economist 

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