It is late at night here – 2:20 am. I am up reading the translation of the Qur’an, as this is usually the time when I get most of my reading done. It’s not that odd for me to be up this late – my husband and I often are up late into the night as he works the midnight shift, so even on his days off, we end up keeping that same irrational, unnatural flip-flop of our nights and days. But it is quiet in the house. And he is asleep. And so here I sit, desk lamp illuminating the 1/30 of the translation of the Qur’an designated for this 9th day of Ramadan.
I’m still not finished, but there were a couple of things that popped up in my mind and I had to get them out. My first thoughts came to me when I read an ayat about having children:
7:189 It is He who created you from a single person and made his mate of like nature, in order that he might dwell with her (in love). When they are united, she bears a light burden and carries it about (unnoticed). When she grows heavy, they both pray to Allah their Lord, (saying): “If Thou givest us a goodly child, we vow we shall (ever) be grateful.”
7:190 But when He giveth them a goodly child, they ascribe to others a share in the gift they have received: But Allah is exalted high above the partners they ascribe to Him.
The commentary in this particular Qur’an, translated by Abdullah Yusuf Ali, says more about this ayat:
“The mystery of the physical birth of man, as it affects the father and the mother, only touches the imagination of the parents in the later stages when the child is yet unborn and yet the life stirs within the body of the expectant mother. The coming of the new life is a solemn thing, and is fraught with much hope as well as much unknown risk to the mother herself. The parents in their anxiety turn to Allah. If this feeling of solemnity, hope, and looking towards Allah were maintained after birth, all would be well for the parents as well as for the rising generation. But the attitude changes, as the verses following show.
When the child is born, the parents forget that it is a precious gift of Allah – a miracle of Creation, which should lift their minds up to the higher things of Allah. Instead, their gradual familiarity with the new life makes them connect it with many superstitious ideas or rites or ceremonies, or they take it as a matter of course, as a little plaything of the material world. This leads to idolatry or false worship, or the setting up of false standards, in derogation of the dignity of Allah.”
When I found out I was pregnant, my desire to become stronger in my religion increased dramatically, because all I could think of was that I was now responsible for another human being, and I wanted them to be a good muslim, but how could they if I was not setting the right example myself? So I reached out at the masjid and got to know my fellow muslims and got to know the prayer and helped to strengthen my faith in Islam. These are things I had wanted to do for years, but I had never taken the first step until after becoming pregnant.
So my first inclination after reading this ayat was to say, “Oh, no, but that’s not me. My faith will stay strong even after the child is born.” But after reading the commentary, I thought to myself that perhaps I should be less arrogant about my intentions, and instead stay humble and accept this message from Allah graciously.
Right now I am praying and going to the masjid and spending time with other practicing muslims and making a strong effort to be more religious for me and my family. Right now I do pray that the baby is healthy and good and when I pray I express my gratitude to Allah.
A child is such a blessing and an important part of our lives – and it’s easy to become obsessed with the baby and therefore with this worldly life. But it is important not to place the things of this world above Allah. There is a passage in a book called Do’ful Eemaan (“Weakness of Faith”) by Sheikh Muhammed Salih Al-Muajjid that talks about the symptoms, causes, and cures of weak faith. One of the causes of weak faith that he mentions is “being preoccupied with one’s wealth, wife and children.” He goes on to state that “if the love of these things…is given precedence over obedience to Allah and His Messenger, then it is regarded as being bad, but if the love of these things is within the bounds of shariah (Islamic rulings), it helps a man to obey Allah and in this case it is praiseworthy.”
So all of this is not to say that children are bad – no, parenthood is good for us as it can increase our emaan in positive ways and help us to raise children with good morals – so long as we do not let our children pull us or distract us from completing our religious duties. (In fact, parenting in itself according to Islam is its own act of worship.) This goes along with what Abdullah Yusuf Ali said in his commentary – that if the good feelings the parents have during the time the child is in the womb, such as feelings of “solemnity, hope, and looking towards Allah” were to be “maintained after birth, all would be well for the parents as well as for the rising generation.”
So after the baby is born, I must strive to maintain my relationship with Allah – seeking Him for guidance and not neglecting my religious duties – praying and giving charity and going to the masjid in order to keep up my emaan. I want to do these things and I intend to do them, but this ayat is a good reminder not to let myself digress into my old ways, and also not to take the child for granted or put the child as the focus of my life, instead of Allah.
On another yet similar vein, today I felt how easy it is to fall into the trap of neglecting the prayer. Just today I didn’t feel like praying Isha prayer. I had woken up late, about an hour past the time. And I thought to myself that I wasn’t going to pray this time, I just wasn’t going to. And it is so easy to fall into that, and the minute you miss one, the next one is even harder to complete. That pull towards laziness or forgetfulness or whatever it is can be so strong – pulling you off the path. It is so easy to become lax in attitude about the prayer.
I remember I felt angry when I woke up, and that was my reasoning for not wanting to pray – I didn’t feel like it because I felt angry and annoyed at life in general. I even had it in my head before I even fell asleep that I wasn’t going to do the Isha prayer. I can’t believe that I can become so weak so quickly, when I know that just missing one or two prayers is enough to send me back to not praying. That is what I worry about with the baby, because it will be much harder to maintain my prayer at that point, and I don’t want to lose it. I want to keep up the prayer no matter what – but it is going to be difficult. Insha’allah I will be prepared for it.
I’ll end this post with the last ayat of Surah Al A’raf (or “The Heights”):
7:205 And do thou (O reader!) bring thy Lord to remembrance in thy (very) soul, with humility and in reverence, without loudness in words, in the mornings and evenings; and be not thou of those who are unheedful. 2:206 Those who are near to thy Lord, disdain not to do Him worship: They celebrate His praises, and bow down before Him.
May Allah help us to keep up with our prayers and to continue to strive in His Way.