May 8, 2011
By Engy Abdelkader, Esq.
In its current form, what we know as Mother’s Day is a secular American holiday that cuts across religious and cultural lines. This Sunday, Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Jews, atheists, agnostics and others will honor the female caregivers in their lives with varied tokens of appreciation.
In fact, Mother’s Day is not an exclusively American holiday but rather recognized in many countries across the world. In Egypt, for instance, “Eid al-Umm” – which literally translates from Arabic as “Festival of the Mother” – is celebrated in March. Similar festivals take place in a number of other Muslim-majority countries, including Bangladesh, Indonesia, Turkey, Tunisia, Syria, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Libya, Lebanon, Iraq, Algeria, Bahrain, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Pakistan, to name a few.
This is not surprising, however, since the religion of Islam places high regard to the status of motherhood. Having grown up in an observant Muslim household, my mother often reminded me of this well-known hadith, or narration involving the Prophet Muhammad whom Muslims consider as the seal to God’s long line of spiritual Messengers:
“A man came to the Prophet Muhammad and said, ‘To whom should I be dutiful?’ Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Your mother.’ The man said. ‘Who is next?’ Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Your mother.’ The man further said, ‘Who is next?’Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked for the fourth time, ‘Who is next?’ Prophet Muhammad said, ‘Your father.’”