THIS PAST MONTH and a half passed more like a lifetime than 40 days. In this short period, I went from being a single and relatively responsible, free, mid-twenties, part-time working Muslimah to a married one expecting her first child. It would, indeed, be a miracle, especially in light of the fact that a few months earlier, I had been diagnosed with an infertility disease.
The evening I took my first pregnancy test, it was still the last nights of Ramadhan. As I waited for the result, I began to tremble. I wanted it so badly. But like all things I've eagerly anticipated and anxiously awaited, when it came near, I found myself strangely ambivalent and pprehensive. The idea of becoming a mother was overwhelming. Newly married, we would have little time as an independent couple.The responsibilities would put us on a completely different plane. And the physical changes would be immense. But the prospect of getting a negative response was disheartening. Would we ever conceive? How many times would I take a pregnancy test that would turn up negative? I knew that's how I'd feel.When shall come my baby? But I didn't expect to feel that other emotion, an impending sense of motherhood's burden-and it disturbed me.The moments ticked by like hours.The anticipation almost killed me. I walked contemplatively to my room to make tahujjud, and at that moment, I had a comforting thought that might strike you as strange, but I believe it was the right place to arrive: My life's purpose is not to become a mother, ultimately. Rather, it is to worship Allah, splendid and resplendent, in whatever life situation I would find myself-married or single, a parent or childless. So there in the darkness of my room, I asked Allah to be pleased with me, and to give me a life devoted to His pleasure, and days and nights filled with sincere worship to Him alone.
And then I ran to see the results because now I could take it. Positive!
I didn't feel overwhelmed in the slightest. I was ecstatic. All those years of worry and consternation to vanish in the first weeks of marriage. Alhamdulillah, what a great blessing! I always told myself that if ever I were with child, I would make the duaa the wife of Imran, uttered when she was expecting Maryam, alayhas sallam. It was the most appropriate way I could articulate my gratitude to Allah: "My Lord! I have, indeed, dedicated to You what is in my belly to be solely devoted to Your service. So accept this from me. For it is You who are the All Hearing the All Knowing."
And then the worry began.Will it be healthy? Where is the best place of birth? Do we travel a few months before its birth or a few weeks after? The concerns were endless, until the worst fear confronted me.
I began to bleed.
For the first time in my life, I understood how millions of people feel as their bodies function in ways they either want or don't want them to function. I desired with all my heart to stop the miscarriage, but I could do nothing to prevent it. I felt so helpless, so out of control.
Every day we appear to command our bodies to move, walk, talk, and do. In this illusion of physical control, we forget that every action our bodies carry out, they do so only by Allah's command.When we become parents (or presented with the prospect of parenthood), we enter further into a sense of misleading control, that somehow we are going to bring this child to life.We are going to clothe, feed, and provide for him or her, and we can-no must-be in control of his or her destiny.
And no matter how pious and God fearing I felt in making the noble duaa of Maryam's mother, there was sense that I was in control and that I was entitled to this.
Miscarriage brought with my stark reminder: It is only Allah that brings to life and only He who causes death. This all was from Him.And it was all a test from start to finish.
Parenting is a test and not one of how the children will "turn out," but rather a series of tests of sincerity and proper objective. Pregnancy was a test of gratefulness to Allah; the worry, a test of trust in Allah's protection; the dedication, a test of purpose of devotion to Allah; and the miscarriage, the complete acknowledgement of Allah's total power, will, and decree.
If you look at parenting in that light, how many parents' responses to their children would change? How many a negative attitude would turn positive? How many a disappointment in their children would become a joy? How many angry retorts would switch to patient tuition? This view not only puts things into proper perspective and elicits the appropriate response, it alleviates the pressure all parents must feel.You are not responsible for how things turn out with your child.The best you can do for your child is be honest and sincere in your pursuit of Allah's pleasure. So seek His pleasure in your parenting. Be God-conscious and cautious in your dealings with your children. Devote your pursuits for your children to attaining Allah's happiness.
We seem to have lost this ethic and belief in the true aim and test of parenting and the result has been great anguish for the parents and a ton of heartache for our children.Yet the Qur'an tells us different: "Whereas it is God alone who knows all:What every female bears and to what term; and what is conceived in the wombs as they shrink and swell-for with God alone are all things decreed in due measure-Sole Knower of the realms of all the unseen and the seen-the All-Great, the Supremely Exalted!" [13:8].
In this I recognize the true meaning and greatness of Mary and her mother. To come, body and soul, to this free-will submission: I am but the vessel of my Lord. Such is my honor.
Thus is my mission. Behold my human being.