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Mother’s Day In World Religions

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By: S.L.A © 2017 

Origins of Mother’s Day

Isis mother of HorusIn ancient Egypt, in the Pharaonic tradition, the Egyptians held a festival each year to honor the goddess Isis, whom was considered the mother of all pharaohs. She was representative of the ideal mother, and wife, who was the patroness of nature and magic. She was the wife of Osiris, who was also her brother. After her brother/husband was murdered by their other brother Set, she searched and collected his body parts that were distributed all over Egypt, and then used them to impregnate herself. She then gave birth to Horus. Depictions of Isis typically show her breastfeeding Horus. [i]

Rhea goddessThe Romans and the Ancient Greeks held festivals for their goddesses Rhea. Rhea was believed to be the mother of many other deities in Greek mythology. Rhea was the wife of Titan (Cronus), and considered the queen of heaven. Once her husband heard by prophecy that one of his children would depose him, he would swallow their children the moment they were born. When she delivered Zeus, she did it in secret in a cave, and she gave her husband a stone wrapped in cloth and then he swallowed the stone thinking it was Zeus. From then onward, Mother’s Day was held to honor her, and was held around the Vernal Equinox in Minor Asia, and then Rome in mid-March. [ii]

In Christianity, the 4th Sunday of Lent, was set to honor the Virgin Mary, and was known as “Mothering Sunday”. Although it was an unrelated holiday to Mother’s Day, over time, the Christians would revisit their ‘mother church’ for a service, and then spend the rest of the day with their mothers, and thus it began to evolve into what it is today.

In Hinduism, a day called “Mata Tirtha Aunshi” (Mother Pilgrimage Fortnight), popular in India and Nepal, to worship mothers, who were believed to become immortal, and to commemorate them by giving gifts. Legends say that this festival is observed in the commemoration and respect of the mother which is celebrated by worshipping and gifting living mother or remembering mothers who have become immortal and are resting in peace. Going to Mata Tirtha Pilgrimage located towards the Kathmandu valley’s eastern side at Mata Tirtha Village development committee’s periphery is another tradition common in Nepal. It is believed that their Lord Krishna’s mother Devaki who wondered off exploring and Krishna has become worried of her disappearance, so he went to search for her and couldn’t find her. When he reached Mata Tirtha Kunda, he found her there bathing. She told him to let the day and place be remembered to have children go to, to ‘meet’ their deceased mothers. After worshipping, they would dance and sing. [iii]

Over time, Mother’s Day became more and more commercialized and became more of a secular holiday, and dates changed in various parts of the world where it was adopted.

What Does Islam Say About Mother’s Day?

Mother’s Day is an official holiday in many countries, even some Muslim countries. However, this must not lead us to believe that because it is an official holiday in some Muslim countries that it is deemed permissible.

What if your mother (who may be a non-Muslim or even Muslim for that matter) is accustomed to have this day celebrated in her honor, and you wish to discontinue now that you are Muslim and no longer practice non-Islamic holidays? Many fear that their mothers will feel hurt or dishonored and will resent their children if they stop honoring her on this day.

Celebrating Mother’s Day is an innovated matter which the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and his companions did not do. It is also an imitation of the disbelievers from whom we have been commanded to differ. Hence it is not permissible to single a day out, and celebrate it. Mothers may demand they be given special attention this day with celebrations, but the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“There is no obedience if it involves sin; obedience is only in that which is right and proper.” (Bukhaari, 7257; Muslim, 1840)

Just keep in mind that this celebration is a newly invented innovation. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said:

“The worst of matters are those which are newly-invented, and every innovation is a going-astray.” (Muslim, 867; al-Nasaa’i, 1578) [iv]

The mother is entitled to respect and honor, and upholding of the ties of kinship throughout her life, so what is the point of singling out a particular day to honor her? Let her know how special she is to you and that you can’t possible single out one particular day to honor her. Explain to her what status a mother holds in Islam, and that you cherish her every day of your life, and that you hope she will not feel hurt or resent you if you didn’t celebrate mother’s day specifically.

Muslims have been commanded to honor our parents and uphold the ties of kinship, and we have been forbidden to disobey our parents. In our religion mothers have been given something which has not been given to them in any other religion; the mother’s rights take precedence over those of the father,

Abu Hurayrah (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: “A man came to the Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings be upon him)and said: “O Messenger of Allaah, who is most deserving of my good company?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Your mother.” He said: “Then who?” He said: “Then your father.” (Bukhaari 5514 and Muslim 4621)

Honoring one's mother does not come to an end even when she dies, for she is honored in life and in death. That is done by offering the funeral prayer for her, praying for forgiveness for her, carrying out her last wishes and honoring her family and friends.

Let us adhere to this great religion and follow its etiquettes and rulings, for in it is sufficient guidance and mercy.

Imitating the disbelievers should be avoided by the believers. Abu Sa’eed al-Khudri (may Allaah be pleased with him), who said that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“They will follow the ways of those who came before them, handspan by handspan, cubit by cubit, until even if they entered a lizard’s hole they will follow them.” We said: “O Messenger of Allaah, (do you mean) the Jews and Christians?” He said: “Who else?” (Bukhaari and Muslim)

Love of imitation, even if it is something that exists in people’s hearts, is forbidden in shariah if the one who is being imitated differs from us in his beliefs and thinking, especially is what is being imitated is religious beliefs or acts of worship, or it is a ritual or tradition.

Shaykh Muhamamd ibn Saalih ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) was asked about celebrating Mother’s Day and he replied:

"All celebrations which differ from the Eids prescribed in Islam are innovated festivals which were not known at the time of the righteous salaf, and may also have come from the non-Muslims, in which case as well as being an innovation (bid’ah) they are also an imitation of the enemies of Allaah. The festivals which are prescribed in Islam are well known to the Muslims: they are Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, and the weekly “Eid” of Jumu’ah. There is no other festival in Islam apart from these three. All the festivals that have been invented apart from these are to be rejected because they are innovations and are false according to the laws of Allaah, because the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him)said: “Whoever introduces anything into this matter of ours that is not part of it will have it rejected,” i.e., it will be thrown back at him and will not be accepted by Allaah. According to another version: “Whoever does any deed that is not part of this matter of ours will have it rejected.”

Once this is clear, then it is not permissible to show any of the signs of festivity on the celebration mentioned in the question, namely Mother’s Day. It is not permissible to show joy and happiness, or to offer gifts, and so on.

The Muslim should feel proud of his religion and adhere to the limits set by Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him)in this religion, which Allaah has chosen for His slaves, and he should not add anything or take anything away. What the Muslim should also do is to not to follow every new idea that comes along, rather his character should be in accordance with the shariah of Allaah so that he will be a leader and example, not a follower, because the shariah of Allaah – praise be to Allaah – is complete in all ways as Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):

“This day, I have perfected your religion for you, completed My Favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion” (Quran 5:3)

A mother’s right is greater than having just one day in the year to be honored, rather the mother’s right over her children is that they should take care of her and obey her, so long as it does not involve disobedience towards Allaah, at all times and in all places.” [v]

Allah has commanded us to treat our non-believing parents kindly even if they strive to make their child a polytheist because of their rights as parents, with hopes that they will embrace Islam one day. Continue to sincerely pray and supplicate for your non-believing mother, hoping that Allah may guide her to the deen. The divine guidance of Allah may come after continuous strive by the Muslim child.

“And your Lord decreed that you should worship none but Him and that you be dutiful to your Parents. If one of them or both attain old age in your life, then do not say to them uff (a word of disrespect), nor shout at them, rather address them in terms of honour / And lower for them the wing of submission and humility through mercy. And say, “My Lord! Grant them Your Mercy as they brought me up when I was small.” (Qur'an 17:23-24)

The love of a mother for you never dies even if we do, this love goes even beyond you, to your children and even their children. Even if they despise the choice you have made of following Islam, they may be disgruntled, but they can never erase their love for you.

Muhammad al-Shareef explained:

Allah’s love comes when our parents love us. And Allah’s anger comes when our parents are angry with us.

Ibn Abbas (ra) said,

“There are three things that will not be accepted if it’s mate is not fulfilled. (And he mentioned),

“Thank Me (Allah) and your Parents...” (Qur'an 31:14)

Ibn Abbaas continued, “Thus whoever thanks Allah and is not thankful to his parents, Allah will not accept from him.”

Let us think about how many of us treat our parents. We shy away from them when they may need something. We never visit if we are away from them. In fact, many people dispose of their parents in retirement homes. And when an argument ignites between our parents and us, many of us shout at them as if we were arguing with our evilest enemy, May Allah protect us all.

Compare this to those that came before us. Dhibyaan ibn Ali ath-Thowree (ra) used to travel with his mother to Makkah. There – in the scorching heat – he would dig a little pool and fill it with cool water. Then he would turn to his mother and say, “Ummi, sit in this water to cool yourself.”

For many of us, our friends are more precious to us than our Mother and Father. Forgetful we are of the time a man came to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and asked him who more worthy of his companionship is.He, (peace and blessings be upon him), said, “your Mother!” The man asked again and again, and the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied, “Your Mother! Your Mother!” Until on the fourth time he (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Your Father.” Today, when the common question is asked, “Who is your best friend?” How many people would say, “my Mother!” But this is how the question should be answered and implemented.

Narrated Ahmad and An-Nasaa’ee, from Mu’aawiyah ibn Jaahimah As-Sulamee: My father, Jaahimah (ra) went to the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) and asked,

“O Messenger of Allah, I would like to go out and fight for the sake of Allah, and I have come to you for advice.” The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) asked him, “Is your Mother alive?” He said, “Yes.” “Then stay near her,” advised the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “For at her feet is Jannah!” [vi]

"And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, "My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims." (Quran 46:15)

The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) also said in a famous hadith:

“Paradise lies at the feet of your mother” (Musnad Ahmad, Sunan An-Nasâ’i, Sunan Ibn Mâjah)

What can be greater evidence of honoring a mother than this? Islam has effectively placed the ultimate reward for human beings in their devotion to their mothers.
Abdullah Ibn Abbas, a companion of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), and a great scholar of Islam, considered kind treatment of one's mother to be the best deed for strengthening or rectifying one's relation with God. He said:

“I know of no other deed that brings people closer to Allah than kind treatment and respect towards one's mother.” (Al-Adab al-Mufrad Bukhari 1/45)

An even more powerful example is found in the statement of another one of the companions, Abdullah Ibn 'Umar, who was also a great scholar of Islam. It has been related that:

"Abdullah Ibn 'Umar saw a Yemeni man performing Tawâf (circumambulating the Ka'bah) while carrying his mother on his back. This man said to Abdullah Ibn 'Umar, "I am like a tame camel for her! I have carried her more than she carried me. Do you think I have paid her back, O Ibn 'Umar?" Abdullah Ibn 'Umar replied, "No, not even one contraction!!" (Al-Adab al-Mufrad Bukhari 1/62)

All of these examples show how great our mothers are in Islam. We must cherish our mothers and treat them with kindness every day, and not single out just one day a year to do so. Make them feel special every day! The status of mothers is elevated to the highest position in Islam. The honor Islam has given to mothers is beyond that found in any other religion, ideology, or culture. This is clear proof of the grand status of Muslim women, especially mothers!


(Revisions and alterations made May 11, 2017)


[i] Summarized from AUCEgypt, March 20,2016. History of Mother's Day: From Ancient Egypt to Modern Times . Retrieved May 11, 2017.

[ii] Rheia . Retrieved May 11, 2017.  

[iii] Kgame, Yvonne. Celebrating Mother’s Day . Retrieved May 11, 2017.

[iv] Al-Nasaa’i’s report adds the words: “And every going astray will be in the Fire.”

[v] Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen, 2/301

[vi] Excerpt from Muhammad al-Shareef Retrieved May 11, 2017. 

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