Saturday, August 15, 2009

Muslim Working Mothers

This area has been very tough for me as working mother born in an Islamic culture. I have no excuses for my lack of strong belief or understanding for my faith and practice. I made choices that put Islam aside and lately, I have come to the realization that my excuses are invalid. I can work, I can go school and I can take care of family, and still make room for Islam in my heart. However, it doesn’t mean isn’t difficult. I have a difficult issue with the criticisms that exist around Muslim mothers who work outside the home.

The biggest criticism about Islamic working women is that they put their faith aside for their professions. There is also the criticism of spousal neglect and because Islam asks that women care for their husbands in a way that the wife should. Other issues include jealous husbands, difficultly in wearing hijab in the workplace due to harassment, and contacts with male coworkers. Yet another criticism is that household duties are unattended thus creating more problems in the marriage. And yes, we cannot forget the greatest criticism we have to hear; we should be at home to care for their children instead of them being in daycare in a non-Islamic environment.

The reasons women work, whether they are Christian, Muslim, non-religious, have nothing to do with ego and disrespect for Islam. You do what is best for your family. There are many of times where I have gotten home and collapsed on the couch. There is no working who does not feel the stress of caring for their family and working, and these days, with shared responsibilities, both parents feel it.

From my own experiences, there is very I have to offer expect and understanding of what I need to do to keep myself sane and fully understand my faith. Al-hamdelah.

· Get organized and prepare schedule for all family members to follow and share in the workload at home.
· Ask for help. This is a hard lesson I have had to learn in the past year since I have been diagnosed with two chronic pain conditions.
· Plan ahead. The freezer is awesome. I cook over the weekend and freeze meals, sometimes a week’s worth if I can.
· Schedule your time. Make time for yourself. Tell Dad to watch the kids and take a long bubble bath. You deserve time too.
· Lower your own expectations. There is only so much you can do. Patience is a virtue and is something that Islam prescribes to.
· Talk about Islam with children every opportunity you get and even though they may not want to listen, they will one day figure it out as you have.

Being a working mother for many years, I can tell you the key is tolerance. Not everyone understands why you work and why you cannot stay home with your children.

The greatest tolerance was practiced by our prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon Him). From the stories of Muhammad (PBUH), we know that his life required much tolerance and he even prayed for his enemies. Muhammad even forgave Abu Sufyan, the worst enemy of Islam. Recall that the people of Mecca rejected Muhammad (PBUH) socially for many years. When he went to teach them about Islam, they threw stones at him. Allah spoke to Muhammad (PBUH) and told him that he would destroy the town Taif for treating him in the manner they did. Our prophet told him that the people do not know who he is and that they eventually will.

Recall that our prophet’s enemies had much power, wealth and weapons. They were large in number and when they fought with the holy prophet (PBUH), he only had a few soldiers and weapons, but al-Nabi Muhammad (PBUH) showed great patience and courage and he put his trust in Allah. Allah gave him strength and victory.

As each of us go on in our lives, we need to follow the example of nobility and tolerance our Nabi Muhammad (Peace be upon Him).

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The Quran Says:

"And thus preach joy to My servants.Those who listen to the word and follow the best of it. Those are the ones whom Allah has guided and they are the wise people." (39:17-18)