‘Stop glorifying mothers’: A Muslim response to this shocking statement

Youssef Ikhlaf, Majlis Ansar Sultanul Qalam, MKA Netherlands

A columnist, Rosanne Hertzberger, of a leading Dutch newspaper criticised the Moroccan national team in her column for showing love to their mothers at Qatar World Cup. She named her column “Stop glorifying mothers” and even compared mothers with witches. (Stop met het verheerlijken van moeders, 24 December 2022, www.nrc.nl/nieuws/2022/12/24/stop-met-het-verheerlijken-van-moeders-a4152496)

It was a shocking statement, for many. She received a lot of criticism after her column was published in the newspaper. The disapproval is so huge that she has even withdrawn from Twitter, where the comments were the fiercest. Although she got a lot of acclaim there, too. 

I found her article very contradictory: first, she draws attention to how many women are oppressed and sacrifice their career dreams to be mothers, and then she talks about society holding women to a high standard and the need to tone it down, she calls it “mother worship”. The author, apparently, hates traditional gender roles so much that she can’t even accept women being honoured as mothers.

There is a trend in which a segment of society pushes this ideological narrative on the rest of the world and labels it as progressive.

What is wrong with honouring mothers? When we observe nature, we see that even animals and beasts have a strong bond with their mothers. The Holy Quran, the holy scripture of Muslims, teaches men and women to be kind and considerate to parents and also grants parents a high status.

God Almighty says:

“And We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents.” (Surah al-Ahqaf, Ch.46: V.16) 

“Thy Lord has commanded, ‘Worship none but Him, and [show] kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, never say unto them any word expressive of disgust nor reproach them, but address them with excellent speech. And lower to them the wing of humility out of tenderness. And say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them even as they nourished [me] in my childhood.’” (Surah Bani Isra’il, Ch.17: V.24-25) 

“And We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents.” (Surah al-`Ankabut, Ch.29: V.9)

“Give thanks to Me and to thy parents.” (Surah Luqman, Ch.31: V.15)

Muslims do not worship their mothers; on the contrary, they worship God and respect their mothers, since mothers play an important role in raising children. Mothers are the backbone of tomorrow’s society. Hence, we glorify our Lord and honour our mothers. 

Alas! When man follows his own thinking and desire, instead of guidance from God Almighty, then the obvious becomes confusing and cloudy. The Creator positioned the parents on a high pedestal with wisdom, if you can’t show gratitude to those who bore you, then how can you be grateful to the One who created you?

She further says that the mothers of the Moroccan football players were secretly enslaved by their husbands, which is factually not true. I think the author should worry more about her prejudices and less about the love and respect Moroccan footballers have for their mothers.

Islam was the first and only religion that truly recognised the contributions that women can make to society. A Muslim woman is not obliged to shoulder the financial responsibility of her household, she has the right to work and attain a professional career if she needs or desires to. Fatima bint Muhammad Al-Fihriya Al-Qurashiya founded the world’s first university in Fez, which is now in Morocco. So, Islam encourages Muslim women to seek higher education and other profitable activities that serve as improvements for them and subsequently for their offspring.

However, it must be kept in mind that Islam reminds a woman that her first and foremost responsibility is to her family because she has been entrusted by God with the great responsibility of giving birth to and raising children. Certainly, the author is well aware that Morocco is a Muslim country and that many mothers voluntarily choose to raise their young children according to religious teachings rather than follow a career during that time.

As far as the fathers and mothers of the football players are concerned, they do heavy work outside the home to make a solid living. The FIFA website also explicitly states that the Royal Moroccan Football Association decided to invite the players’ families (not just the mothers) to the matches, to boost morale and motivation. (www.fifa.com/fifaplus/en/articles/walid-regragui-achraf-hakimi-sofiane-boufal-morocco-france-fifa-world-cup-qatar-2022) Because of the author’s bias, it completely escaped her notice that the fathers of the Moroccan football players were also present, indeed, football players like Youssef En-Nesyri embraced and kissed their father after the Moroccan team’s victory.

Another matter the author does not understand is that not everything is measured by how much wealth you have. Believe it or not, people have other motivators. For Muslims in particular, other values are more important, such as God, religion and family. Furthermore, the parents of Moroccan football players have raised their children to be successful and respectful Muslims in Western society.

I hope the author has realised by now that we Muslims will never yield our sacred religion. Blessed are the dutiful mothers, may Allah reward them for their noble deeds! A mother’s role in Islam is monumental. A mother-child-bond between a mother and a child is no doubt the most cherished and forms the basis of all life. A mother carries a child in her womb for nine months, gives birth to it, nurtures it, and many times sacrifices her needs for the sake of the child.

This is why the Holy Quran says:

“And We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents. His mother bears him with pain, and brings him forth with pain. And the bearing of him and his weaning takes thirty months, till, when he attains his full maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, ‘My Lord, grant me [the power] that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou hast bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do such good works as may please Thee. And make my seed righteous for me. I do turn to Thee; and, truly, I am of those who submit to [Thee].’” (Surah al-Ahqaf, Ch.46: V.16)

Hazrat Abu Hurairahra, a well-known companion of the Holy Prophet Muhammadsa, narrates that a man asked the Messengersa of Allah, “Who is most deserving of my good company? The Messengersa of Allah answered:

‘Your mother.’ The man asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophetsa said, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophetsa said, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophetsa said, ‘Your father.’” (Sahih al-Bukhari, Hadith 5626. Sahih Muslim, Hadith 2548) 

The Holy Prophet Muhammadsa also said: “Paradise is under the feet of mothers.” (Sunan al-Nasa’i, Hadith 3104) This is the status Islam gives to mothers. 

From life experience, I know that for those who show love and respect to their mothers, the door of blessings opens for them in every corner of their lives. Some people don’t understand that we honour our mothers. Unfortunately, those who oppose mothers being honoured seem to be jealous of having never experienced such a profound feeling and bond between a mother and child. All they know is materialism and superficial things.

Did the author give some thought to the mothers in the West who are suffering from some kind of depression because they feel forced to enter the workforce. As the demands on women’s time increase, communities are suffering.

The media that often supports such trends should also provide a platform for other voices to express their views. The Worldwide Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Fifth Khalifa (Caliph), His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa, called on the media in one of his addresses to use its influence for the sake of goodness.

In 2016, during his keynote address at the 13th National Peace Symposium, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadaa said: “There is no doubt that the media plays a huge role in influencing public opinion and so the media should use this power responsibly – as a force for good and as a force for peace.” (“Muslim leader calls for Media Responsibility in fight against Extremism”www.pressahmadiyya.com)

Our message to the ideology that has been trying to dismantle the family structure for decades is: our mothers in Islam will continue to be treated with great respect until the end of time.

Moroccan football players have sent their message to the world about the strength of the mother-child bond.

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