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“My Dear Ramadan Stay-at-Home Mom, I Salute You!”

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

I know how much pain it causes you to stay behind at home, taking care of your children while everybody else is enjoying their ṣalāt and tarāwīḥ at the masjid. I know how embarrassing it is for you to come to the masjid with a great hope to be welcomed; you and your little child only to receive the angry looks upon hearing the first cry of your child. I know how much you yearn to go back to the old days before you got married or before you had children, to enjoy a peaceful hour of ‘ibādah at the masjid and to have no worries about anything else in the world, let alone a child under your care. I know that all of this is not even close to how you feel about yourself and Ramadan, or about your self-worth in this blessed month of Ramadan while trying to enjoy your ‘ibādah and fulfill your spousal and parental role all at the same time. For all of this and more, my dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom, I salute you, and may Allah reward you.

Let me share with you few things hopefully it will cheer you up during your stay at home experience in this month of Ramadan.

1.  You are not alone in this.

Even the female companions of Rasūlullāh ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) felt the same way. They were watching men going to the masjid, attending Jumu’ah and ṣalāt with the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), listening to the beautiful reminders about this world and the hereafter and doing so many other great deeds. As they were confined to their houses and to the care of their families, they felt underachieving and as if they were left out. How could they even match men in reward when they could not do so much? The answer came from the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) himself.

Asmā’ bint’l-Sakan al-Anṣāriyyah, on behalf of the women in Madīnah, came to the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) while he was surrounded by his companions and asked boldly:  “O Messenger of Allah! The men have taken all your time…” and she complained that men are entitled to the reward of the congregational prayers, Fridays, fighting with him and other works of good deeds while women were confined to their houses and taking care of their children. She asked if women share men in the reward for what they are doing. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) replied, “Go back to the women who sent you and let them know that treating their husbands kindly and taking care of them is equivalent to that all you mentioned.” Reported by al-Bazzar and al-Ṭabarāni

This ḥadīth has always been used to highlight the status of husbands over their wives. Unfortunately, rarely was it used to the advantage of women. This ḥadīth gives women the privilege of earning the reward for participating in a myriad of devotional acts such as ṣalāt, fasting, Ḥajj among many other good deeds only by taking care of one single thing, the familial duty. Taking care of the house chores and being kind to the husband are not that easy either, but it’s what most women usually and normally do. They are kind by nature, and sacrifice their lives for their family. They are being rewarded immensely for what they naturally do. This is why spousal duty was made the most dangerous for women to neglect, because it was the most rewarding.

2.  Don’t be sad about praying at home

One of the biggest misconceptions about ṣalāt at the masjid is that it is considered a privilege and is only granted to men. Well, it’s not a privilege. It’s a responsibility that men are required to observe at all times unless there is an excuse for them not attend.

When a blind man, Ibn Umm Maktoom, asked the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to excuse him from attending congregational ṣalāt at the masjid, he had no one to lead him to the masjid. The Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)asked him if he was able to hear the adhān, and upon replying in the affirmative, the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said to him, “I have no excuse for you.” Reported by Muslim and Aḥmad. And in the ḥadīth of Abu Hurayrah in Bukhāri and Muslim, the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) threatened to smoke men out of their houses for not attending ‘ishā’and fajr ṣalāt in the masjid.

Therefore, for men it is a duty to attend the masjid and not a privilege. Their reward starts higher at the masjid and is reduced elsewhere while for women it’s the opposite.

3.  You can still come to the masjid

As long as they maintain the proper dress code and etiquette for going to the masjid, women can still come and attend ṣalāt at the masjid. So don’t take me wrong when I say it’s better for them to pray at home, the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) has granted them this right in the ḥadīth:

“Do not ban the female slaves of Allah (i.e. women) from attending the houses of Allah (i.e. masjids).” reported by Bukhāri and Muslim.

However, women were given a privilege many men wish they had, which is to get the reward for praying at the masjid while still doing it at home. The Messenger of Allah said, “A woman’s ṣalāt at home is better for her than at the masjid.” Reported by Aḥmad, Abu Dāwūd and al-Tirmidhi.

The question is, why? Is it because women are unworthy of coming and attending ṣalāt in the house of Allah? Is it because they are inferior to men? The answer is absolutely no! It is simply a beautiful gesture from the Messenger of Allah in consideration to women’s hectic circumstances at home.

Imagine this: to get the 27 degrees reward for congregational prayer, a mother of three young children is required to attend the masjid regularly? How feasible could that be? Not that easy for sure. As a matter of fact, it would be frustrating and perhaps a reason for women to feel guilty and trapped in their own circumstances. Well, rest assured my dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom, your reward has been secured for you while doing what you usually do with no extra effort on your part. Men, on the other hand, are required to make the effort and the trip to the masjid to attend the congregational prayer. As for you, all you need to do is just make your wuḍū’ at home, and pray your ṣalāt on time and enjoy your stay at home.

4.  Why should women come to the masjid?

Why would women even want to attend the masjid? There are so many legitimate reasons for that, but enough for them is the right Allah’s Messenger ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) granted them. However, here in the West, there aren’t that many outlets for women to learn their dīn and learn how to practice it in private or public life, and for many, the masjid is the only outlet there. In addition to that, the masjid has become a community center in which families get together and enjoy being in a safe haven. The question for Muslims in the West is not “should women come to the masjid?” but “how can we make the best accommodation for them?”

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

You might ask, “what if I want to come to the masjid to attend tarāwīḥ?” What’s wrong with that? There is nothing wrong with it unless it leads to neglecting more important duties and family priorities. This issue of women coming to the masjid for tarāwīḥ represents a very important community dilemma: are masjids well prepared to receive that many sisters and children?

Many masjids and Islamic centers in America were designed based on how masjids are built in traditional Muslim countries. In these countries, women were not expected to attend the masjid – not necessarily because they were discouraged from attending, although in some countries it is the case, but also because women had many other outlets besides the masjid from which they could learn the practice of their dīn and enjoy spiritual experience.  Therefore, the women’s section was always underserved and sometimes completely overlooked.

The Islamic centers in America and the West were designed and planned when the community was predominantly an immigrant community, and women were also expected to follow the same traditional role. In many cases, community leaders didn’t even think about it as an issue, but with the rise of the new generation and their struggle to fit youth programs within the structure of the masjid, women needed better service at these masjids. Many new masjids today are being designed and built with this need in the minds of the designers and, contrary to traditional masjids, are viewed as family-friendly masjids.

Masjids with traditional designs were not prepared to receive many women and children. They don’t have the space, the childcare service, and in many cases the proper women organization for these kinds of events, not to mention the parking spaces. Therefore, if some centers were hostile to women and children from a fiqh point of view, others simply just don’t have the proper facility to offer even a mediocre service let alone a professional one for them.

5.  Your period is for your recreation

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

Don’t you sometimes want to take a break from so many things in life, such as waking up early for fajr, so you can take that extra time you deserve for rest? Well, you work so hard and you deserve that break. When you are asked to stop fasting and praying during this time and required to stay at home instead of coming to the masjid, it does not mean you are less righteous. The ḥadīth women are “naqisatu ‘aqlin wa dīn” refers to women’s reason and practice of devotional acts as being less comparing to men (and this is not the place to debate the meaning of this ḥadīth). The ḥadīth speaks about “less” in what women do, not less in who they are or what they become during that time of the month.  It’s about quantity not quality.

When the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) explained his words, he counted what women usually stop doing during their period, not what they stop becoming, because they never stop becoming devotional or righteous because of what they have no control over (i.e. their period).

Obviously if you stop practicing particular devotional duties during your period for few days it does not make you less righteous, it only makes you less “doing.” After all, even women such as Khadījah, Fāṭimah and ‘Ā’ishah were menstruating women, and still they were by far of the most righteous, among women and men, of all time.

Therefore, when your period starts it is more righteous and more devotional to stop great devotional acts such as ṣalāt, fasting, reciting the Qur’an and attending the masjid. Sounds like a paradox, but it is what it is. It’s all about obeying Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) and His Messenger Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). However, you can still do lots of other good deeds, including reading tafsīr and the translation of the Qur’an.

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

If you decided to come to the masjid with your children, unless the masjid provides childcare service, please make sure your children stay under your supervision and make sure to respect your masjid‘s regulations. The ḥadīth that bans children from attending the masjid is very weak, but being considerate to others is still essential too. Here are few suggestions you may want to consider:

1.  Try to get a group of sisters together to take turns babysitting their children in the masjid.  A couple of sisters can stay with the children while  the others pray, and after two or four rakʿahs they switch until the end of the ṣalāt.

2.  If the masjid does not have enough room, you could babysit at the house of one the participating families. In this case, you stay at home one night while others pray and then rotate so that everybody gets a chance to host the children and enjoy praying.

3.  Young parents?!  The husband and wife can help each other in the same manner – it is part of being kind to one another. I have also seen some young fathers get together in one house and do their tarāwīḥ in jama’ah at home with their young babies around and their wives pray that night at the masjid. It’s your priority to pray at the masjid, but part of your good manners is to consider your wife’s need too.

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

If you decided to pray at home, here are few tips for you:

1.  Pray with your children if you can, and lead them even if they were boys younger than ten.

2.  Do not follow any live broadcast of ṣalātul tarāwīḥ of the Internet or TV.  Pray on your own.

3.  Even though it’s permissible to hold the muḥaf and recite from the Qur’an directly, it is still better for you to recite from memory.

4.  If you don’t know much of the Qur’an, you can still repeat the same sūrah over and over again until the recitation is long enough for you.

5.  It is permissible to dim the lights around the house in order to get more focus and concentration.

6.  Pray it in the best way you can, and may Allah reward you for your good intention.

 

My dear Ramadan stay-at-home mom,

Thank you for your patience.

Yaser Birjas
4th of Ramadan 1433
July 24, 2012

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Source: MuslimMatters

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