There was a time in my life when I thought Mother's Day to be a holiday of the "infidels," not worthy of celebration by a Muslim. Time and wisdom have taught me otherwise. Mother's Day is an American cultural practice that is wholly consistent with Islam's principles.

The Qur'an places kindness to the parents on par with proper worship of God: "Worship and serve God, do not associate any partners with Him, and do good to your parents..."(4:36). The textual juxtaposition of worshipping God and honoring the parents is not coincidental. Maltreatment of parents is one of the most deadly sins in all of Islam. Furthermore, God implores believers to extend the hand of mercy to their parents: "Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: 'My Lord! bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood'" (17:23-24).

After God, my mother has been the source of my strength, my success, my life-force. Everything I am I owe to her. She taught me how to be a man; how to be a husband; how to be a father; how to be a son. Most importantly, she gave me God, and she taught me how to worship and see Him in everything that I do. She ingrained in me the importance of developing a personal relationship with God and developing that relationship throughout my life. Had it not been for my mother, I most probably would not have either known or discovered the beauty of the worship and love of God.

This Mother's Day, however, and every Mother's Day thereafter, in fact, is even more special. I live with another mother who is as important to me: my wife. She is nothing short of a miracle for me. She came to me during the darkest days of my spiritual life, in the depths of my loneliness. She was a precious gift from God, a diamond in the rough. Her amazing character, her fortitude, her maturity, her strength of will is nothing short of inspiring to me. I thank God from the depths of my heart for this most undeserved blessing.

I feed off of her strength. I was in awe of her strength after seeing her endure two difficult pregnancies. She showed her true magnanimity, however, soon after we returned from the Hajj. When our daughter was diagnosed with a crippling genetic disorder, Ataxia-Telangiectasia, my wife was surely devastated. I knew she was crying, no screaming, inside, but tears rarely streamed down her beautiful countenance. She, like me, decided to move on, and she was determined to help our daughter the best way she can.

She continually pushed me to be firm with reluctant insurance companies who did not want to pay for this test or that. She refused to back down when she was told, "No." Even today, as we plan to put our daughter into the public school system, my wife is an unrelenting advocate for our daughter's best interests. She is nothing short of an inspiration.

She does all this after taking care of and educating thirty children of other parents, as my wife teaches the fourth grade full time. She does all this and still does everything she can to tend to the sometimes selfish needs of our family. She does all this while putting up with my occasional selfish stupidity. The compassion she has for our children, even in the depths of fatigue, overflows from her heart. She is truly an amazing woman, and her strength outshines mine hundreds of times over. There is no way on earth I could do what she does day in and day out. She is nothing short of an inspiration.

A man once came to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be unto him) and asked him, "To which of my parents do I owe the most allegiance?" He replied, "Your mother." The man then asked, "Then who?" The Prophet replied, "Your mother." The man repeated, "Then who?" The Prophet said yet again, "Your mother." The man then asked, "Then who?" The Prophet then said, "Your father."

As I reflect on this Mother's Day, invariably the saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also comes to mind: "Paradise is underneath the foot of the mother." How true that statement is. Growing up with my mom and living with my wife have made me truly understand why the Prophet stressed allegiance to one's mother. I proudly kiss my mother's hand in public, and if she would let me, I would kiss my wife's hand in public as well!

This Mother's Day, as we go out to dinner, or gather at someone's home, or call our mothers and say hello, let us reflect a little more on the greatness of our mothers. Let us start kissing our mothers' hands in public and be proud of doing so. If I were smarter, I would do all that I could to literally follow the footsteps of my mother and my wife, because it is there that I will find Paradise.

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