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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 salat and tarawih 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 'ibadah 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 'ibadah 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 Rasulullah felt the same way. They were watching men going to the masjid, attending Jumu'ah and salat with the Messenger of Allah , 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 himself.
Asma' bint'l-Sakan al-Ansariyyah, on behalf of the women in Madinah, came to the Prophet 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 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-á¹¬abarani]
This hadith has always been used to highlight the status of husbands over their wives. Unfortunately, rarely was it used to the advantage of women. This hadith gives women the privilege of earning the reward for participating in a myriad of devotional acts such as salat, fasting, hajj 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 salat 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 to excuse him from attending congregational salat at the masjid, he had no one to lead him to the masjid. The Messenger of Allah asked him if he was able to hear the adhan, and upon replying in the affirmative, the Messenger of Allah said to him, "I have no excuse for you." Reported by Muslim and Ahmad. And in the hadith of Abu Hurayrah in Bukhari and Muslim, the Messenger of Allah threatened to smoke men out of their houses for not attending 'isha'and fajr salat 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 salat 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 has granted them this right in the hadith:
"Do not ban the female slaves of Allah (i.e. women) from attending the houses of Allah (i.e. masjids)." reported by Bukhari 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 salat at home is better for her than at the masjid." Reported by Ahmad, Abu Dawud and al-Tirmidhi.
The question is, why? Is it because women are unworthy of coming and attending salat 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 wudu' at home, and pray your salat 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 granted them. However, here in the West, there aren't that many outlets for women to learn their din 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 tarawih?" 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 tarawih 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 din 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.
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