Nursery or Adversary?

Assalamu Alaykum wR wB,

If we survey the Sunnah of the Prophet ﷺ, a similar understanding is found. The qualities of devotion to Allah and their families were at the centre of the praiseworthy qualities of women. For example, the Prophet clarifies the Islamic view regarding the best women and the central reason behind it saying, “The best women from the riders of the camels (the best Arab women) are the righteous among the women of Quraish. They are the kindest women to their children in childhood and the most careful of women in regards to the property of their husbands.” (Bukhari/Muslim) In this hadith the Prophet explains their goodness by being good wives and good mothers.

In another statement the Prophet ﷺ explains that one of the main aims of marriage is to produce and nurture children who follow the Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in worshiping Allah and glorifying him. The companion Ma’qil ibn Yasaar narrated that a man came to the messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) and said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have found a woman who is from a good family and is pretty, but she does not bear children – should I marry her?” He told him not to. Then he came to him a second time and said something similar and he told him not to marry her. Then he came to him a third time and said something similar and he (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said: “Marry the one who is loving and fertile, for I will be proud of your great numbers before the nations on the Day of Resurrection.” (Abu Dawud/Nasa’i) Shaykh ‘Abd al-‘Azeem Abaadi said in his commentary of this hadith, ‘Marry the one who is loving means the one who loves her husband; and the one who is fertile is the one who bears a lot of children.” {Awnul Mabud 6/33}

abcOh boy… I am going to do it again. I am opening the can of worms. Lighting a match in a dry forest. Shouting fire in a crowded theatre. Opening the floodgates. I am going to talk about something that will cause another round of Facebook unfriending, painful insults, and lots of people disagreeing with me. But as a man, a Muslim, and a chronically outspoken human being, I have to speak up. I have a platform – and I must use it. It is my moral responsibility to utilise my platform to speak up for those without such a public voice. I want to talk about… **takes deep breath**… Working Mothers and their Responsibilities.

“Most children are corrupted (and led to failure) because of their parents.” Ibn Qayyim RH, Tuhfatul Maudud bi-Ahkamil Maulud (p. 80)

By this point some of you (especially those who know me “well”) will be thinking, “Oh God! What on earth is he going to say?” And others (who also know me, personally) will be thinking, “How can he talk about that issue? He doesn’t have kids!” Yes, what gives me the audacity to speak about such a topic, when I don’t have children? I actually thought about the same thing a few days ago, before writing this piece. I don’t know how long this article is going to be, simply because the whole thing has been going round my head for a long time. I wouldn’t be lying if I said a decade!

Just because I don’t have children, that doesn’t mean I don’t know anything ‘about’ children. I have taught children in a Primary School, and in a Madrasah setting for many years. And still offer tuition for teenagers in various subjects, as well as teaching Muslim youngsters Tafsir and Seerah. Which (hopefully) justifies my position, in writing this article. As I have understood and realised some of the causes and grounds why our youth are spiralling downwards.

You see I always wanted someone else to write it, I shall be totally honest. In particular – a female. And before writing it I scanned the web to see how much has already been written on the topic, especially by Muslims. I found a LOT of articles supporting the idea of working mothers, very few against it. I have a large extensive library (Alhumdu Lillah), I buy books on everything; things which are relevant and irrelevant, stuff that I need and don’t need (may need in future). So I searched how many books I had if any on ‘tarbiyyah/upbringing children, good mothers’ etc. I had a few on ‘tarbiyyah’, which contained sections on working mums, and others just generally on the early years with a child. But nothing extensive on working mothers, does it really work, the pros and cons.

This article below was written the day I started writing this blog believe it or not:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-30342/Working-mothers-risk-damaging-childs-prospects.html

*A sign from Allah, perhaps?*

Silhouette of depressive man

Like I said , I wanted to write this piece many moons ago. But what recently triggered me to put pen to paper is the statistic below:

“25% of Women in the UK suffer from depression.” (NHS Stats)

Mental health problems affect both men and women, but not in equal measure.

“In England, women are more likely than men to have a common mental health problem.”

McManus, S., Meltzer,H., Brugha, T., Bebbington, P., & Jenkins, R. (eds) (2009). Adult Psychiatric Morbidity in England 2007: results of a household survey. NHS Information Centre for Health and Social Care. [online] Available at: http://www.hscic.gov.uk/catalogue/PUB02931/adul-psyc-morb-res-housur-eng-2007-rep.pdf [Accessed 25 August 2015].

“And are almost twice as likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders.”

Martin-Merino, E., Ruigomez, A., Wallander, M., Johansson, S. and GarciaRodriguez, L. (2009). Prevalence, incidence, morbidity and treatment patterns in a cohort of patients diagnosed with anxiety in UK primary care. Family Practice, 27(1), pp.9-16.

“10% of mothers and 6% of fathers in the UK have mental health problems at any given time.”

Parker, G., et al. (2008). Technical Report for SCIE Research Review on the Prevalence and Incidence of Parental Mental Health Problems and the Detection, Screening and Reporting of Parental Mental Health Problems. [online] York: Social Policy Research Unit, University of York. Available at: http://www.york.ac.uk/inst/spru/research/pdf/SCIEReview1.pdf [Accessed 14 Sep. 2015].

When I tried to read further, I also came across this:

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2013/jun/19/anxiety-depression-office-national-statistics

Nearly a fifth of adults in the UK experience anxiety or depression, according to the latest official figures.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) said a higher proportion of women than men reported that they suffered from the conditions, with the highest indication of anxiety or depression occurring in the 50-54 age group.

There was evidence of anxiety or depression in 19% of people aged 16 or over, with 21% of women reporting the symptoms and 16% of men.

Also, see below: http://www.prisonreformtrust.org.uk/projectsresearch/mentalhealth

10% of men and 30% of women have had a previous psychiatric admission before they entered prison. A more recent study found that 25% of women and 15% of men in prison reported symptoms indicative of psychosis. The rate among the general public is about 4%.

26% of women and 16% of men said they had received treatment for a mental health problem in the year before custody.

And finally, more about depression: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-23553897

My point from all of the above is to give the readers a gist of what percentage of people in the UK suffer from anxiety, depression and stress. And more importantly what proportion are men and women.

So the million dollar questions is “WHY?” In such a developed country, or in the West in general, why do we see more people suffering from depression in particularly women? Well, as this article is being written to ‘help’ women I will add the site below for reference:

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/depression-in-women/index.shtml

Depression is not “one size fits all,” particularly when it comes to the genders. Not only are women more prone to depression than men, but the causes of female depression and even the pattern of symptoms are often different. Many factors contribute to the unique picture of depression in women—from reproductive hormones to social pressures to the female response to stress. Learning about these factors can help you minimize your risk of depression and treat it more effectively.

Figures for the lifetime prevalence of depression vary according to the criteria used to define depression. Using DSM-IV’s criteria for ‘major depressive disorder’ which are similar to the ICD-10 criteria for ‘moderate depression’, the lifetime prevalence of depression is about 15 percent and the point prevalence about 5 percent. This means that an average person has about a one in seven (15 percent) chance of developing depression in the course of his or her lifetime, and about a 1 in 20 (5 percent) chance of suffering from it at this very point in time.

However, these figures mask a very uneven gender distribution as depression is about twice as common in women than in men. The reasons for this uneven gender distribution are not entirely clear, but are thought to be partly biological, partly psychological, and partly sociocultural.

Biological explanations Compared to men, women may have a stronger genetic predisposition to developing depression. Compared to men, women are much more subjected to fluctuating hormone levels. This is especially the case around the time of childbirth and at the menopause, both of which are associated with an increased risk of developing depression.

Psychological explanations Women are more ruminative than men, that is, they tend to think about things more—which, though a very good thing, may also predispose them to developing depression. In contrast, men are more likely to react to difficult times with stoicicism, anger, or substance misuse. Women are generally more invested in relationships than men. Relationship problems are likely to affect them more, and so they are more likely to develop depression.

Sociocultural explanations Women come under more stress than men. Not only do they have to go work just like men, but they may also be expected to bear the brunt of maintaining a home, bringing up children, caring for older relatives, and putting up with all the sexism!   Women live longer than men. Extreme old age is often associated with bereavement, loneliness, poor physical health, and precarity—and so with depression. Women are more likely to seek out a diagnosis of depression. They are more likely to consult a physician and more likely to discuss their feelings with the physician. Conversely, physicians (whether male or female) may be more likely to make a diagnosis of depression in a woman. Perhaps you can think of some other reasons why depression is twice as common in women than in men, in which case please do let me know!

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201205/the-7-reasons-why-depression-is-more-common-in-women

1280x240-Homeworking-Hub-Image-1280x240Some of you at this point are thinking, what does all this has to do with the title and Mothers working. The aim for this article is to help women, not have a go at them, nor give them a blasting. It is to help them understand what they really need to do and what they should be doing. Where their priorities lie. I am not in a position to say this, but I don’t think most women understand. As humans, men and women, we are like sheep and just follow the trend. And women, in particularly are suffering from stress and depression, because society demands too much from them I believe. Where they should have been placed and what their primary roles was, has been lost and disillusioned.

When you sit down to reflect on what your vision is for your life, how do you know that the vision you’ve chosen is in fact the right one? Is it by the level of happiness you are convinced that your vision, if achieved, would give you? Or is it the fame and attention you know you’ll attain if you fulfilled it? It would be a shame if you spent years going up the ladder of life, only to find that the ladder was leaning against the wrong wall. Imagine if after all the effort you had exerted you found yourself on the Day of Judgment wishing you’d spent all that time and energy pursuing a different vision on Earth, one that would have given you a higher status in the hereafter which, after all, will last forever. On the Day of Judgment, things will become very clear to us in the starkest of ways. We will see reality as it truly is and realize how short was the opportunity that we had on Earth as the following hadith clearly illustrates:

Anas ibn Malik narrates that the messenger of Allah ﷺ  said, “The most affluent of the people in this world, of those who will go to Hell, will be brought on the Day of Resurrection and dipped once in the Fire. Then it will be said: O son of Adam, did you ever see anything good? Did you ever have any pleasure? He will say: No, by Allah, O Lord. Then the most destitute of the people in this world, of those who will enter Paradise, will be brought and dipped once in Paradise, and it will be said to him: O son of Adam, did you ever see anything bad? Did you ever experience any hardship? He will say: No, by Allah, O Lord. I never saw anything bad and I never experienced any hardship.” (Sahih Muslim)

Let us look at marriage…

In comparison to other countries, couples in the UK are rather old when they decide to get married. The average age that men in the UK get married is 30.8 and the average age to get married for women is 28.9 years.

Yes, besides the fact that a lot less people are getting married than for instance 30 years ago, the age at which people are marrying has increased quite a bit. The average age for getting married 30 years ago was about 24 years (about 23 years for women and about 25 years for men). That’s about 6 years earlier than the current average age.

The average age that people get married is dependent on a couple of factors, such as religion, culture and the level of development of the country where they live. In countries such as India and Pakistan it is common that the parents of the bride and groom arrange the wedding. Therefore the average age of getting married in these countries is only 17 years old. In Scandinavian countries it is more common to get married at a later age. In Denmark the average age people get married is almost 31 years old. Also in Sweden, Finland and Norway the average age to get married is well above 30 years old.

So we can see the in Europe and the West, people tend to get married later. This again, is due to the pressure from society norms and culture. E.g. getting a degree, building a career, having a job etc. All of which there is no harm in doing. But women need to understand, Islam does allow you to seek knowledge and education. Islam does allow you to work and earn for yourself. But the greatest virtue for a woman in Islam is being a good mother and a pious wife. Already, some of you will think I am backward or old-fashioned, not with the times and not up to date. False. There is no need for us to be sheep and follow society. If we really and truly follow Islam, then let us see what Allah says in the Qur’an and Hadith about women and their roles. Every women praised in the Qur’an, namely Asiyah (Radhiy Allaho Anha) – the wife of Pharoah and Maryam (Radhiy Allaho Anha) the mother of Eesa (Alayhis Salam) were praised for being good wives and mothers.

“And Allah has set forth an example for those who believe, the wife of Pharaoh, when she said: “My Lord! Build for me a home with You in Paradise, and save me from Pharaoh and his work, and save me from the people who are oppressors. And Maryam (Mary), the daughter of ‘Imran who guarded her chastity; and We breathed into her through Our spirit (Gabriel), and she testified to the truth of the words of her Lord and His Scriptures, and she was of the obedient.” [66:11-12]

The Prophet’s Companion Abu Musa Al-Ash’ari narrates that the Prophet (peace be upon him) described the status of these two women by saying, “Many amongst men attained perfection but amongst women none attained perfection except Maryam (Mary), the daughter of ‘Imran, and Asiya, the wife of Pharaoh. And the superiority of Aishah to other women is like the superiority of tharid (a dish) to other meals.” (Bukhari)

People also talk a LOT about Khadijah (Radhiy Allaho Anha), and how she was a businesswoman. No doubt about it! She was one of the richest women in Makkah. But, after marriage she handed the business to the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). She (Radhiy Allaho Anha) then had six children with the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). When the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) would meditate in the Cave of Hira, Khadijah (Radhiy Allaho Anha) would walk from Makkah to Jabal alNoor (Mount of Noor), then climb up to the Cave of Hira, twice a day to deliver the Prophet’s  (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) food. Let us look at both sides of the coin, not just the fact she was a businesswoman. She was a mother to the children of the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam), and what a great mother she was. Also, she was an amazing support to the Prophet  (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam)

.working-from-home-jobs

Being a mother is not an easy task, right from the moment of pregnancy, till labour, till breastfeeding, then the early years. I will try to outline some of the most important duties of mothers and how much neglect we see in the Ummah today. It is not as easy as sending our children to nurseries for someone else, strangers, to nurture our children. Babies need their mothers. There are many things women need to consider before they just dump, yes ‘dump’ children. It may not be neglect in the eyes of the law, but certainly is in my eyes and possibly in the eyes of Allah SWT. Narrated ‘Abdullah bin ‘Umar: The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) as saying: Each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. The amir (ruler) who is over the people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock; a man is a shepherd in charge of the inhabitants of his household and he is responsible for his flock; a woman is a shepherdess in charge of her husband’s house and children and she is responsible for them; and a man’s slave is a shepherd in charge of his master’s property and he is responsible for it. So each of you is a shepherd and each of you is responsible for his flock. (Abu Dawud)

 

A contented, confident and well-adjusted child does not come about by accident but is the result of hard work mainly on the part of the parents. It is not enough to send our children to nursery and expect teachers to do our job for us. Primary education comes from the home environment and the first best teachers, are parents themselves. As Muslim parents in a non-Muslim society, we have to work hard to ensure that Islam is the focus of our parenting efforts.

The pre-school years are the most important and rapid of development, so this is the golden opportunity for us to nurture our children and help them on the path to becoming good Muslims of the future. It is a grave mistake to think that children are too young to learn or understand their surroundings. In fact the opposite is true; the younger the child, the faster they can absorb information. A lack of varied stimuli and unsettled emotional surroundings are major factors in disruptive behaviour. We all want the best for our children, but often either do not know where to start or cannot find the time to implement our intentions. Remember, as parents you will play a central role throughout your child’s life, but more especially during the formative years when there are fewer external influences.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/women/womens-business/10214544/The-five-pros-and-cons-of-being-a-working-mother.html

Cons of being working mother:

  1. Tiredness. There are no words to describe what its like doing a 10-hour working day with a long commute when you’ve been up half the night with a teething toddler or a hungry baby
  2. When you can hear your child still crying and shouting ‘mama’ as you’re halfway out of the driveway
  3. Missing out – first words, first steps, playdates and classes
  4. Rushing home from work ‘early’ to put toddler girl to bed only to find she fell asleep 10 minutes before you got home
  5. Managing the expectations of colleagues who just don’t get it

http://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2015/jan/01/mothers-work-children-school-survey

Siobhan Freegard, co-founder of Netmums, said the needs of young teenagers often takes parents by surprise: “The truth is that the older your children get, the more they need you emotionally. Once they get to secondary school, they also need a great deal of help to organise all the homework and other academic demands they’re suddenly faced with.”

Those surveyed admitted feeling uncomfortable with their choice to give up work with 60% saying they feel embarrassed by the expectation that parents will work more, not less, when their child reaches school-age. Almost 40% said they are made to feel they are “setting a poor example to their child” by not working. Just 20% said they felt their choice meant they were seen as a better parent.

Freegard said: “Mothers – and it usually is mothers – have been trying and failing to talk about this issue for ages. It’s a hidden topic.”

MUST READ: https://www.tes.com/news/school-news/breaking-views/i-have-marked-my-daughter-crying-my-feet-because-there-are-deadlines

In the United States today, more than half of mothers with young children work, compared to about one third in the 1970s. Working mothers are now the rule rather than the exception. Women have been moving into the workforce not only for career satisfaction but also because they and their families need the income.

Even when there are no problems, however, a two-career family has to deal with issues that do not come up in other families. Parents may feel so divided between family and career that they have little time for a social life or each other. Both parents need to share household and child care responsibilities so that one will not end up doing most of the work and feeling resentful. Parents will lose an average of about ten work days per year due to the need to tend to a sick child, to care for their child when child care arrangements have broken down, or to take their child to necessary appointments.

So mothers really need to think twice before they resume work after having a child. We often hear the word “necessity” used. ‘I need to work’. Necessity is an abused term, we need to look carefully at what is necessity. Wanting a luxurious lifestyle isn’t; fabulous car, large extended house, expensive getaways every year. If that is what you want, then sacrifice the welfare of your children for the above – harsh, but true. Your children don’t need holidays nor expensive presents. We look around today, parents have given their children every gadget, toy, doll, bike and game they can imagine having. But, have they given their children sufficient love and care and attention. Nobody said bringing up children was an easy task, nobody said women cannot work *full stop*. But it is different once you have children, you need to understand where your priorities lie, it is with your children. Don’t follow society, don’t follow the women in the magazine, because you deserve better and so do your children. This is a sincere plea from a brother of yours.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2016/07/07/the-chart-that-shows-how-feminism-is-ruining-womens-lives/

In conclusion, I say that the best role, the most honourable and worthy role for a woman is striving to be a fine wife, a good mother, or both. This role does not only secure the best for a woman in the hereafter, but also fits perfectly with her natural disposition. In her study published by Centre for Policy Studies in 2009, Cristina Odone, former deputy editor of The New Statesman (1998-2004) concluded that “far from being committed to a career, the overwhelming majority of women would prefer to opt out of it. Instead of finding satisfaction in full-time work, most women realise themselves in their other roles as carers, partners, community members, and above all mothers”. Furthermore, McIntosh and Bauer concluded that working women are “often felt overwhelmed and unable to keep up with their job and family responsibilities”. They added that “the working mother felt she had two full time jobs.”  {A thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an MEd in the graduate school of Marietta College titled, “Working Mothers Vs Stay At Home Mothers: The Impact on Children.}

I ask our sisters in Islam to embrace their true role in society and reap the huge rewards that Allah has in store for them for fulfilling this role. I ask our brothers to support them in fulfilling this role. When we define a vision for our lives, we are seeking to make a contribution and leave a legacy. Your legacy, sisters is that if you take on the role that Allah has ordained for you, then you will positively affect the future of the Muslim ummah and ultimately the future of the world. That is a legacy beyond measure.

NB: I am not a sexist or a chauvinist. These are my sincere views for many sisters who seemed to have lost direction and guidance. If there is anything against Islam in this article which is explicit in Qur’an and Hadith, please state the evidence below. I shall happily retract my opinions. I understand many will disagree and disregard this article.

Allah knows best, to Him we turn and seek the truth.

Ismail Ibn Nazir Satia (One who is in dire need of Allah’s Forgiveness, Mercy and Pleasure)

16 Jamadul Akhar 1436

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