Women In Islam versus Judaeo-Christian Tradition The Myth & The Reality

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  • Women In Islam versus Judaeo-Christian Tradition The Myth & The Reality

  • 12. Mothers

    The Old Testament in several places commands kind and considerate
    treatment of the parents and condemns those who dishonour them. For
    example, "If anyone curses his father or mother, he must be put to
    death" (Lev. 20:9) and "A wise man brings joy to his father but a
    foolish man despises his mother" (Proverbs 15:20). Although honouring
    the father alone is mentioned in some places, e.g. "A wise man heeds
    his father's instruction" (Proverbs 13:1), the mother alone is never
    mentioned. Moreover, there is no special emphasis on treating the
    mother kindly as a sign of appreciation of her great suffering in
    childbearing and suckling. Besides, mothers do not inherit at all from
    their children while fathers do. It is difficult to speak of the New
    Testament as a scripture that calls for honouring the mother. To the
    contrary, one gets the impression that the New Testament considers kind
    treatment of mothers as an impediment on the way to God. According to
    the New Testament, one cannot become a good Christian worthy of
    becoming a disciple of Christ unless he hates his mother. It is
    attributed to Jesus to have said: "If anyone comes to me and does not
    hate his father and mother, his wife and children, his brothers and
    sisters--yes, even his own life--he can not be my disciple" (Luke
    14:26). Furthermore, the New Testament depicts a picture of Jesus as
    indifferent to, or even disrespectful of, his own mother. For example,
    when she had come looking for him while he was preaching to a crowd, he
    did not care to go out to see her: "Then Jesus' mother and brothers
    arrived. Standing outside, they sent someone to call him. A crowd was
    sitting around him and they told him, 'Your mother and brothers are
    outside looking for you.' 'Who are my mother and my brothers?' he
    asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said,'
    Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God's will is my
    brother and sister and mother.' " (Mark 3:31-35) One might argue that
    Jesus was trying to teach his audience an important lesson that
    religious ties are no less important than family ties. However, he
    could have taught his listeners the same lesson without showing such
    absolute indifference to his mother. The same disrespectful attitude is
    depicted when he refused to endorse a statement made by a member of his
    audience blessing his mother's role in giving birth to him and nursing
    him: "As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called
    out, 'Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.' He
    replied, 'Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey
    it.' " (Luke 11:27-28)

    If a mother with the stature of the virgin Mary had been treated with
    such discourtesy, as depicted in the New Testament, by a son of the
    stature of Jesus Christ, then how should an average Christian mother be
    treated by her average Christian sons? In Islam, the honour, respect,
    and esteem attached to motherhood is unparalleled. The Quran places the
    importance of kindness to parents as second only to worshipping God
    Almighty: "Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, And
    that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age
    in your life, Say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, But
    address them in terms of honour. And out of kindness, Lower to them the
    wing of humility, and say: 'My Lord! bestow on them Your Mercy as they
    Cherished me in childhood' " (17:23-24). The Quran in several other
    places puts special emphasis on the mother's great role in giving birth
    and nursing: "And We have enjoined on man to be good to his parents: In
    travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in two years was his
    weaning. Show gratitude to Me and to your parents" (31:14). The very
    special place of mothers in Islam has been eloquently described by
    Prophet Muhammad: "A man asked the Prophet: 'Whom should I honour
    most?' The Prophet replied: 'Your mother'. 'And who comes next?' asked
    the man. The Prophet replied: 'Your mother'. 'And who comes next?'
    asked the man. The Prophet replied: 'Your mother!'. 'And who comes
    next?' asked the man. The Prophet replied: 'Your father'" (Bukhari and
    Muslim). Among the few precepts of Islam which Muslims still faithfully
    observe to the present day is the considerate treatment of mothers. The
    honour that Muslim mothers receive from their sons and daughters is
    exemplary. The intensely warm relations between Muslim mothers and
    their children and the deep respect with which Muslim men approach
    their mothers usually amaze Westerners.

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