Mothers and wives share many responsibilities that, while honourable, take up a lot of their time throughout the day. This may lead to some of them asking important questions, such as: How do I balance being a wife/mother, while maintaining time for worship, as well as seeking knowledge? Such questions are out of their desire to not only be the best wives and mothers that they can be, but to be the best slaves of Allah that they can, as well. Questions most wives and mothers have, how do I balance being a wife and/or a mother and making time for ibadah (worship) as well as seeking knowledge?
As a mother/wife it is important to recognize that the only thing stopping you from setting aside time to engage in worship and to seek knowledge is yourself. This may be due to lack of appropriate time management or due to a misallocation of love. It’s imperative that you set your priorities straight when it comes to your love for Allah and you love for the world. Allah says, which may mean: “Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children.” Something that we may learn from this portion of an ayah is that family members – while you may love them very much – are a means to get closer to Allah, and should never become barriers between you and Him. Allowing anything other than Allah to overwhelm your heart is a distraction and means by which we become diverted away from Him.
First of all, recognize that the only thing stopping you from making time for worship and seeking knowledge is you. If you’ve already come to this conclusion, great! The next step is to get your priorities straight when it comes to love of the dunya vs love of Allah. Allah said: “Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another and competition in increase of wealth and children.” (57:20) Your spouse and children are included as part of this dunya and are just a means to get closer to Him. Keep only Allah in your heart and people in your hand. Allowing anything or anyone other than Allah in your heart then becomes is a distraction diverting us away from Him.
As such, a shift in our minds and in our hearts is what is needed as a first step in getting that free time to worship. While you may have a passionate desire to be the best wife, be the best mother, have a husband that loves us no matter what, and having children that grow up to be your ideal children, it is important to understand that these should not be sought as ends in and of themselves and that, as part of this Dunya, people, like those very family members, may disappoint you – you have no control over them. This is not to say that there is no importance in encouraging our children to reach for the stars or working on your marriage with your husband to make it a more comfortable partnership. What I am stressing, however, is to not let these things occupy your hearts to the point where you’ve lost your priority and purpose in life.
It’s all about making the shift in our minds and hearts. What is truly concerning and occupying our hearts? Being the perfect wife? Being the perfect mother? Having the perfect husband who loves everything about us and is always there for us no matter what? Having children that will always listen to everything we say and become everything we dream? In hindsight, this is really about YOU and what makes you feel good and sadly you will always end up disappointed because the dunya and the people in it we have no control over. This is not to say that there is no importance in seeking and encouraging our children to reach for the stars or working on your marriage with your husband to make it a more comfortable partnership; however, the point that I stress is to not let these things occupy your hearts to the point where you’ve lost your priority and purpose in life.
How does one, then, make the switch from having our hearts preoccupied with these goals to having our hearts be solely overwhelmed with the love of Allah? My suggestion is to lovingly care for people with your hands, but concern your heart with pleasing Him. That is to say, continue to carry about people, such as you husband and kids, but don’t let it consume all your mental energy and exhaust your emotions by being upset.
You and your family are not perfect: sometimes you’ll burn dinner, your husband will be late from work, the house will be a mess, your husband will forget special dates, and your kids will throw tantrums … but, at the end of the day, all you can do is strive to do your best, focus your heart on Allah, and don’t panic about the rest. Instead, use that energy to pray on time, wake up for tahajjud, and set time aside for dhikr and reflection.
How do you make the switch from love of the dunya vs love of Allah in our hearts? Care for people in your hand and concern your heart with pleasing Allah. What I mean is, continue to care about people, your husband or your kids, but when things are “out of your hands” hence “out of your control” don’t let it consume your mental energy and exhaust your emotions by being upset. By allowing this, you are occupying space in your heart. Sometimes you will burn the food, your husband will be late from work, the house will be a mess because you had to take all three kids to doctor’s appointments, your husband will forget special dates, your kids will throw tantrums…but in the end, just do your best and don’t worry about the rest. Take that energy and instead focus it onswap it with your concerns with pleasing Allah. Did I pray on time? Did I wake up for tahajuud last night? How can I gain more knowledge? Did I study today?
Another crucial element in this transition is to make the mental switch from societal standards to religious strandars. The society arounds us equates success with a certain standard of materialism; it asks us to always look ‘amazing’, cook deliciously, and have a pristine home. These are some things by which the society around us judges the ‘success’ of mothers and wives. But, I encourage you to consider the emphasis that our religion highlights: Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The world is provision and the best provision in the world is a righteous woman.”
Our religion, therefore, emphasizes that righteousness is far above all the dunyawi characteristics a woman could possess. As such, consider the fact that a part of righteousness is to learn the religion and to live it, to engage in dhikr and reflection, to pray on time, in addition to observing its other aspects. Therefore, a part of being a righteous women – including a good mother and wife – is to engage in those things. What this means is that you should feel comfortable to put time aside to do those things; it will make you a better mother and a better wife.
The more you make time to worship Allah and study your deen, the less you will be concerned about worldly matters. I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: “Whoever follows a path in the pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy for him a path to Paradise. The angels lower their wings in approval of the seeker of knowledge, and everyone in the heavens and on earth prays for forgiveness for the seeker of knowledge, even the fish in the sea. The superiority of the scholar over the worshipper is like the superiority of the moon over all other heavenly bodies. The scholars are the heirs of the Prophets, for the Prophets did not leave behind Dinar or Dirham, rather they left behind knowledge, so whoever takes it has taken a great share.”
We also have to make the mental switch from societal standards to religious standards. I know that in our society there is a lot of emphasis on “pleasing your husband” or else you are considered a failure; unable to maintain such a “simple task.” This notion has been taken completely out of portion. According to societal standards we must always look amazing, smell amazing, cook amazing, clean amazing, take care of kids amazing until this is what her world revolves around until she has a clear obsession to become a fictional character. By all means please your husband, but that is not the ultimate goal. The goal is ALLAH, the Master of all masters, the Master of our hearts. When the goal becomes Allah, everything else falls in to its proper place and becomes balanced. Your duties duty as a wife and mother become clear and your duties duty as a servant of Allah becomes clear. By knowing our rights in Islam, we are able to set important boundaries as well as understand our duties and responsibilities above all else. Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The world is provision and the best provision in the world is a righteous woman.” Our religion emphasizes that righteousness is far above all other characteristics a woman could possess, the “best” in and for this whole world! Righteousness comes with knowledge and putting that knowledge into action. “Allah will raise those who have believed among you and those who were given knowledge, by degrees (58:11).” We should allow our religion to encourage us woman to pursue islamic studies and spiritual growth.
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