It is neither mother’s day nor my mother’s birthday. It is fall, a time of the year that my mother loved. I loved it too. She came to New England and on the weekend, we would get in the car and go on long drives drenched in the admiration of the colors of the leaves and trees dripping with gold and copper. We shared an immense love of nature; the only difference was that though we both loved to walk in nature she did not want a single drop of rain to fall on her head whereas I would want to “run and sing” in the rain.
As I study Tassawuf in my Islamic studies class, my mother’s life that was previously a jigsaw puzzle that made little sense to me has started to become a painting of a Master filled with the colors of Deen in every aspect and perspective. I did not perceive that my mother was not just a woman of tassawuf on paper but she lived her life by the guidelines of our Tassawuf in our Deen.
My mother the untitled Sufi, practicing Kifaya and kanaa and facing abusive employees and relatives and yet remaining silent. Why? Why ? I would ask, you could fire that teacher or that peon? And she would smile and say, you will understand later.
The shops and malls would be bustling at Holiday times and everything was dirt cheap and the cheap twinkling lights and doo dads would beckon me.
“Asma you can’t buy everything you want just because you can afford it?” She said to me in a mall where I wanted to buy frivolous décor for some holiday season.
“ Why not Ammi?” I asked and then the silence. She wanted me to learn the answers at my own pace……….. and I did. It is the definition of Israaf to immediately go get what you desire. ( Omar RA stated)
Kifaya ( comes from Allahs name Kaafi) and kinaya are the essence of Tazkiyah and sabr and compassion are the foundation rungs of the ladder to Jannah.
Yet growing up in a patriarchal society I could not fathom why my mother with a Masters in Philosophy and A bachelors in teaching would not stand up for herself.
“I am never going to be like her” I would tell myself “Never a doormat” I would say to myself.
Yes, she suffered a lot but she wasn’t stupid and it wasn’t a process she could not reverse but in some way her Sufi spirit did not allow her to push back even if it was to gain her own rights.
“Asma be vigilant about your children, one of your eyes should always be on them”
That is not what I saw in other American Moms who were quite laid back and socially very popular.
Only once in my married life I saw her put down her foot to my husband and me about our daughter. She said: “ No sleep overs”! she had never interfered in my married life or how I raised my children except to lovingly help where needed without being asked.
Why now I was perplexed?
“Ammi this is the American culture we all have sleep overs that is how we grew up” said my husband.
“She looked at him her eyes blazing like that of a lioness , she turned to me and said “No” and then she said “ Allah sent you to your children not to be their friend but to be their protector and guide”.
As I graduated and practiced medicine and started to see the numerous sexually abused children mostly at sleepovers sometimes by visiting strangers that they did not even know. The wisdom of her words were lit in neon lights one by one and I thanked God that we had listened to her.
I am forever indebted to the example of courage, simplicity and serenity of my mother and regret that I never expressed it to her.
She lies buried at the head of my son’s grave whom she loved immensely, at peace at last, her Sufi spirit soaring to the Gardens accompanied by angels.
May she always have companions in Jannah that bring her peace. joy and ease, for she certainly did not get that on earth.