What is the ruling of celebrating mother’s day?
Human beings are the edifice of the Lord [bunyan al-rabb] whom God has honored for their Adamic nature. God created Adam with His hands and breathed into him from His spirit. He made the angels prostrate to him and expelled Satan from His mercy because he was too proud to obey His command to prostrate to Adam.
Respect for humankind is an angelic quality upon which Islamic civilization has been built. The disrespect, degradation, and contempt of humankind is a satanic tendency that has shaken the foundation of the civilizations that have been built upon it. God struck at the foundations of their building, and then the roof fell down upon them from above them, and the doom came on them whence they knew not [16:26]; Whoso chooseth Satan for a patron instead of God is verily a loser and his loss is manifest [4:119]; Will ye choose him and his seed for your protecting friends instead of Me, when they are an enemy unto you ? Calamitous is the exchange for evil-doers [18:50].
Islam advocates honoring all of humanity for their humanity regardless of their race or color, but at the same time Islam added another honor in connection with specific roles that certain individuals have in accordance with particularities that God created in them. Honoring one’s parents whom God has made the reason for one’s existence falls into this category since God associated being thankful to them with being thankful to Him, “And We have enjoined upon man concerning his partners – His mother beareth him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years – Give thanks unto Me and unto thy parents. Unto Me is the journeying” [31:14]; “and He made the command to be good towards them after the command to worship Him, Thy Lord hath decreed, that ye worship none save Him, and (that ye show) kindness to parents” [17:23]. This is because He made them the apparent cause of creation, so they are the greatest manifestation in the universe of God’s attribute of creation thereby communicating an honor upon honor.
The Prophet made mothers the most deserving among people of good company, and placed them even above fathers in this respect. Abu Hurayrah said, “A man came to the Messenger of God and asked, ‘Whom among people is the most deserving of my goodly companionship?’ He replied, ‘your mother.’ The man asked, ‘Then whom?’ He replied, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked, ‘Then whom?’ He replied, ‘Your mother.’ The man asked, ‘Then whom?’ He replied, ‘Then your father.’”
The shari’ah affirms that the relationship between a child and its mother is a natural organic relationship. A child’s kinship to his/her mother does not rely on being the product of wedlock or fornication; she is its mother regardless, contrary to the child’s father whose kinship is only established by legal means [i.e. through wedlock]. Some of the expressions of honoring one’s mother are to celebrate her, to obey her, and to treat her well. There is nothing in the shari’ah to prevent there being an occasion for this on which children express their obedience to their mothers.
This is an organizational matter to which there is no impediment. There is no connection here to the issue of innovation that many people murmur incessantly (yadandan) about this matter. The innovation that is rejected is that which has been brought about not in accordance with the shari’ah based on the saying of the Prophet, “Whoever innovates something in this matter of ours which is not of it, is rejected.”
The meaning of this is that whoever innovates something in it that is from it is accepted and not rejected. The Prophet approved of the Arab’s celebrations of their national remembrances and communal victories of which they used to sing celebrating the glorious deeds of their tribes and the days of their victories. According to A`ishah the Prophet came upon her when there were two slave-girls with her who were singing of the day of Bu`ath. It is related in the sunnah that the Prophet visited the grave of his mother Ameenah in Alfay Muqanni’, and he was not seen more tearful than on that day.
The concept of motherhood is for Muslims a very elevated concept, and their linguistic tradition clearly bears witness to this. The Arabic word for mother is also used to refer to an origin, a home, a leader, and one who serves the community by being in charge of their food and service. This last meaning is related according to Imam al-Shafi’i, who is one of the people of the language. Ibn Durayd said, “Everything to which other things that followed it are joined is called ‘mother’ by the Arabs.” This is why Mecca is called ‘Mother of Cities’ (umm al-qura) being at the center of the earth, the direction in which people face in prayer, and the most honored city in the world.”
Since language is the vessel of thought, the semantic value of this word has bound Muslims to that honored person whom God caused to be the origin of creation for human beings, with whom He provided for them a home, who raised them and inspired their ways of thought, the service and care-taking of whom God has made well-loved. In all of this mothers are the receptacles of care and mercy, with whom their children seek shelter and refuge.
If this concept is clear in the original linguistic meaning and its derivatives of the Arabic word for mother, Muslims’ cultural heritage makes it even clearer. This is evidenced in the term keeping up with uterial kin where the anatomical particularity of mothers is used as a symbol for familial connections, which are the building blocks of society. This usage stems from the fact that there is none more entitled to this association than mothers through whom the meaning of life continues, families are established, and mercy is manifest. This concept is fully realized when considered along with the singular religious concept that the Chosen Prophet and beloved describes in his saying, “The womb is attached to the Throne. It says, ‘Whoever establishes a connection with me, God connects to them, and whoever breaks a connection with me, God breaks away from them.”
The Divine Utterance (hadith qudsi) says, “God says, ‘I am God, and I am the All Merciful. I created the womb (al-rahim) and derived [it’s name] from My name. Whoever connects to it, I connect to them, and whoever severs ties with it I cut them off.’”
Through this elevated meaning of motherhood that we have which is manifested as a linguistic meaning, a cultural inheritance, and a religious position we can perceive the breadth of the wide chasm and the great dissimilarity between us and the other for whom family values have disintegrated and whose connections have been separated in its collapse. This makes them seek out these occasions and thirst for them pleading with them for something of the values that have been lost. These holidays have become like what can be termed ‘emotional begging’ carried out by children whose attention is turned by it to the remembrance of their mothers by giving them a symbolic gift while they chase a course through life that only looks ahead and never behind.
In spite of this difference between us and other cultures whose situation has brought about these occasions, this does not represent a legal religious prohibition to our celebrating them. We consider, rather, that taking part in them involves spreading the values of doing good by one’s parents in an age in which disobedience is, unfortunately, a spreading phenomenon. We have a goodly example in the Prophet who used to love and praise virtues in everyone even if they were adherents of another religion.
When the prisoners from Tayyi’ were brought before him the daughter of Hatim al-Ta’i was among them. “O Muhammad,” she said to the Prophet (s), “Why don’t you let us go and not cause the misfortune of the Arab tribes through me. I am the daughter of my people’s leader. My father used to protect honor (yahmi al-dhimar), release captives, satiate the hungry, clothe the naked, entertain guests, offer food, spread peace, and he never turned away someone in need. I am the daughter of Hatim al-Ta’i.” The Prophet said, “O girl, these are truly the characteristics of a believer; if your father had been a Muslim we would have beseeched mercy on his behalf (tarahhamna ‘alayhi). Let her go, her father loved virtue, and God loves virtue.” Abu Burdah ibn Niyar stood and said, “O Messenger of God, does God love virtue?” The Prophet said, “By He in Whose Hand is my soul, none shall enter Paradise except through virtue.”
The Prophet also said, “In the home of ‘Abd Allah ibn Jud’an I witnessed virtues that are dearer to me than a red camel (rare and precious type of camels at the prophet’s time). If I had been called by it in Islam I would have answered.”
Based on this, celebrating mother’s day is permissible according to the legal tradition and there is nothing to prevent it or be a cause for its prohibition. Being joyful for occasions of victory and other occasions is also permissible. The innovation that is rejected is only that which contradicts the legal tradition. That for which there is a basis in the legal tradition is not rejected and there is no sin involved in partaking in it. And God is Most High and Knows Best.