SUPERMOMS

A book, Perfect Madness by Judith Warner, published by Riverhead Books, tells us that during her research, Warner discovered that:

· “Seventy percent of American moms say they find motherhood today ‘incredibly stressful.’”

· “Thirty percent of mothers of young children reportedly suffer from depression.”

In the lands where all that glitters is somehow perceived to be gold and therefore desirable, women are discovering that playing roles that were not ordained for them by God is not all it is cracked up to be.

Women in the West, who have long been battling both themselves and the natural order to be “superwomen,” are finding that banging their heads on the glass ceiling is giving them more than a headache.  They are finding themselves on a merry-go-round that will not stop.  Their makeup and their hair must be perfect; their size must be unrealistically thin; their children must be perfect, talented, and high achievers; their houses must be spotless; and all this must be achieved in the stolen hours between working and sleeping.

This is more than just struggling against the glass ceiling in pursuit of career goals: It is banging your head against a wall on a relentless and ongoing basis. As Judith Warner states, “I have seen so many mothers banging their heads against a wall: treating their pain – the chronic headache of their lives – with sleeping pills, antidepressants and anxiety meds, and a more and more potent, more and more vicious self-and-other-attacking form of anxious perfectionism.”

The chronic headache of their lives …!  Is that a life?  This is mere survival in a life of stress and loneliness.  The superwoman goal is unachievable not because women are incapable, but because they fail to see that fulfilling natural and predestined roles is undoubtedly the real super achievement.  Playing mother, wife, and career woman all at the same time is not an enviable position, and, except in cases of necessity, the woman’s role as caregiver and homemaker should take precedence over career and outside activities.

Islam defines women as superwomen – but with a different meaning.  Islam recognizes that the role of wife and mother is of paramount importance.  Islam defines marriage as half of the religion.  Islam clearly states that Heaven lies at the feet of mothers.  Islam goes much further than just recognition; it clearly defines the roles that women play and states rights and obligations with clarity and common sense.

The role of a mother in bringing up children is greater than that of a father.  She is responsible for their emotional, behavioral, and intellectual development.  She is responsible for instilling the love of Islam in them, especially in their early formative years.  When a woman understands the teachings of Islam and her own role in life, she understands her complete responsibility for the upbringing of her children, as is referred to in the Quran:

“O you who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones.” (Quran 66:6)

More than 40 years ago, Muslim women who were secure in their roles and their lives could see the damage being caused by a Western lifestyle.  In 1962 after observing her Western sisters, Salma Al-Haffar said in the Damacus newspaper Al-Ayyam,:

“It is truly a shame that women lose the most precious thing that nature has given them, that is, their femininity, and then their happiness, because the constant cycle of exhausting work has caused them to lose the small paradise which is the natural refuge of women and men alike, a refuge that can only flourish under the care of a mother who stays at home.  The happiness of individuals and society as a whole is to be found at home, in the lap of the family; the family is the source of inspiration, goodness and creativity.”

Nowadays, a woman is often forced to make choices that are not easy.  Often, she feels that she must work to help financially support the family.  Often, she is the family’s sole breadwinner.  However, before we focus blame on the stresses and demands of society today and blame them for the destruction of family values and the pain and anguish of failing supermoms, let’s recall how we have unrealistically idealized the lives women’s lives in the 21st century.

On the other hand, the lives of Muslim women must be guided only by the precepts of the Quran and the Sunnah.  We must not be fooled by slogans such as “times have changed.”

The Prophet Muhammad, may the mercy and blessings of God be upon him, was sent with a message for all mankind, in all times and in all places.  The guidelines sent down to us by our Creator, God Almighty, are perfect and cover all situations.  God made it clear that a woman’s first responsibility is to her Creator, then to her husband, and then to her home.  There is nothing in Islam that prevents a woman from continuing her education, from working or from pursuing outside activities.  Nothing, that is, except the well-being of her family.

The importance that Islam places upon marriage is clear.

“And among His signs is this that He has created for you mates from among yourselves, that you may dwell in tranquillity with them; and He has put love and mercy between you. Verily in that are signs for those who reflect.” (Quran 30:21)

The usual by-product of marriage is children, and these children are the future of society.  What greater role can there be than that of mother?  How can the women who fulfill this role be regarded as anything but superwomen?  Women who understand their religion are secure in the fact that God Most High knows what is best for His slaves.

Women must be vigilant, for our society’s future rests in their hands, and being burnt out supermoms achieves nothing but stress and anxiety.  Unfortunately, many non-Western women today are blindly rushing to follow a well-worn road.  It is a road of consumerism and excess, and it leads nowhere. That nowhere has no substance; it is merely a feeling of emptiness and loss. It is better not to follow such women into oblivion; let us learn from their mistakes.

As is evident from the research found in Perfect Madness, the Western lifestyle being clutched to so desperately is not a cure for what ails us. The motherhood that needs to be sought is compatible with God Most High.  That is it, nothing more.  If we achieve this, we are the real superwomen; the true supermoms.

By Aisha Stacy

12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. brookeakaummbadier
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 22:15:18

    Masha Allah this is an excellent summary of the most pernicious ills facing American/Western/Modernized women. It is an effective and evil facade that “society” encourages people to be “self-sufficient individuals” and America especially idolizes the “self-made (wo)man.” Yet, most successful people have oodles of family support. You think Chelsea Clinton or the Bush Girls became self-sufficient at 18 years old like many parents think they should make their own children do based on current society norms? America’s Radio Darling Dr. Laura preaches this practice to millions who will in turn dump their familial support of their children at an arbitrary 18 years of age just to watch the youth struggle and “learn how to make it.” Completely absurd. The Nuclear Family is a sham.
    I am curious about what men’s roles are in all this. There is plenty of support for Warner’s theory, but why are men accepting this? Are the selfishly enjoying the suffering of their wives and children?

  2. ummadam
    Jan 02, 2009 @ 23:10:23

    That’s a good question Brooke. I can’t answer it because my husband ‘oppresses’ me and believes that my place is in the home and that he should be the sole provider (and Allah is The Ultimate Provider) for our family 🙂

  3. brookeakaummbadier
    Jan 03, 2009 @ 07:07:58

    Masha Allah, I love that brother for the sake of Allah.

  4. Asiya Abdullah
    Jan 03, 2009 @ 22:47:13

    “dump their familial support of their children at an arbitrary 18 years of age just to watch the youth struggle and “learn how to make it.” Completely absurd.”

    I had to drop out of college due to insufficient funds (refused to take anymore loans after reaching $15,000), and learned all these years later that my mom and step-dad actually had the money to put me thru college, they just decided to spend the money on other things. You are right, this way of thinking is totally absurd. They do it so differently in the East. Kids usually live at home til they get married, all the while their parents happily spend on them and support them. They even finance their weddings!

  5. Lynn
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 04:54:50

    Have you ever seen the statistics for depression in women in the ‘Muslim’ world? How many ‘Western’ women do you see setting themselves on fire to escape their miserable existances?

    The thing the women in the ‘West’ have is CHOICE. You cannot have happiness where there is no CHOICE. There are plenty of families who choose to have a stay at home parent for their children. Not every family chooses to live a life as you are describing here. As a matter of fact, I do not know a single family that would fit the description you have painted here. If one chooses to live above their means there will be stress regardless of their religion, no doubt about that.

  6. Lynn
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 05:04:11

    ‘and learned all these years later that my mom and step-dad actually had the money to put me thru college, they just decided to spend the money on other things’

    Since when are parents obligated to spend their money on putting their kids through college? If you have the hunger enough for it, you will find a way to get through college. If you don’t, then you shouldn’t waste other people’s money on it.

    I’m willing to bet that those 18 yr olds that are arbitrarily being kicked out of the house for their parents sick humor of watching them struggle were spoiled rotten, disrespectful and ungrateful brats who thought that they knew so much more than their parents.

  7. brookeakaummbadier
    Feb 16, 2009 @ 19:31:03

    Lynn- No, I have never seen the statistics, please post them. I thought the majority of women burned to death were homicide not suicide. Global probelms of domestic violence are an entirely different topic, but yes relevant to all the super moms that suffer/accept that problem too.

    Yes, women have choices, but most choose the societal norms which currently are extremely anti-family. I hear the working women all around me b. and moan about how much work they do at home, how slakerish their husbands are, how much money they have to spend on their children who are all wrapped up in peer trends, etc. Those are just a few of the American societal “choices” that I prefer not to have in my own home. I did not choose to marry a man who wants me to work a forty hour week and then do 80-95% of the domestic chores in OUR home.

    As Muslims, we ARE obligated to spend on these in our care. Now some folks may not include college tuition in that, but it would certainly be a loving thing. The college years are very difficult times for young people as they expand their minds (some do) and come into their adult identity. You want some statistics on rapes on college campuses? How about drug use and suicide? As well, what are the statistics on single mothers newly booted out of their parents’ homes? A little loving support, which includes monetary, goes a long way.
    Love and Peace

  8. Asiya Abdullah
    Feb 18, 2009 @ 22:26:26

    This is me ignoring and praying for Lynn.

  9. ammaara
    Mar 28, 2009 @ 20:20:32

    Masha Allah, this is a very interesting and thought provoking article

  10. Umm Mahdi
    May 03, 2009 @ 11:47:45

    Ok. I feel like someone has been spying on me. Wife? Check. Mother? Check-times 6, Working? Check. Crazy, depressed, want to make hijrah but don’t know where to begin??? Check, check, check!!! Any suggestions are more than welcome. The WEST is NOT the BEST. Can I get a AMEN? I mean AMEEN….

    Jazak Allah Khair

  11. umm ibraheem
    Jun 02, 2009 @ 20:22:41

    umm mahdi…AMEEEN!

  12. rosarosa
    Oct 15, 2009 @ 19:53:49

    Pure Islam protects women, maintains women at a respectful, honorable position in society and offers women choices. And Pure Islam does not relegate women to only being wives and mothers. However, the reality that most Muslim women face is not what even most American Muslim women take for granted. Most of us in the “West” choose to be Muslim at whatever level we want (niqabi, hijabi, secular), work if we chose to, go to school if we choose to do so, and marry and divorce when and if we chose to. The sad truth is that this is not so throughout the Muslim world. The sad truth is that many Muslims keep on pushing the “Muslim Women are Respected and Treasured” line just like America wants to push the “Everyone is Equal” li[n]e. Yes many Muslim women enjoy their rights for the most part. But just as we have an African American man in the White House, the reality is that most Muslim women throughout the world (just like most African Americans in the US) are still suffering because of culture, ignorance and ego. Masha Allah, misogny is a strong element within the Muslilm community that very few want to admit or even talk about.

    Love and Peace to all.
    Rosa Rosa

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