Before my niece was born, whenever I came across the verses in the Qur’an where Allah (swt) mentions that chidren are a trial to their parents, I didn’t contemplate. Eight months ago and counting, I went from contemplating to seeing it in action. For example, I’ve experienced how I can be holding my niece with her big, innocent eyes catching mine and her smile touching the deepest places in my heart, and be literally unable to let go of her and pray. (I recently tried to resist this temptation by looking her in the eyes and saying “I love you, but I love Allah more,” then planting a kiss on her forehead and getting up. Or I would simply take her with me and lay her on my bed while I finish praying.) Mind you, I’m not even her mother.
The point is, at times, as a mother, you’ll find yourself putting your children before Allah’s commandments and making sacrifices for them that you’re unlikely to do for the sake of pleasing Allah (e.g. waking up in the middle of the night or staying up all night). If you find yourself missing prayers more often, neglecting your well-being, and generally feeling distanced from God, know that the love meter is probably pointing in the wrong direction and it’s time to organize your priorities.
Using Yasmin Mogahed’s analogy, your children are a gift from Allah. Loving them more than Allah is like loving a gift watch from your spouse more than your spouse. It’s inconceivable; yet we do it with Allah, all the time because every blessing we have is a gift from Him that can be taken away from us anytime, especially if we aren’t grateful and thankful.
The next time you find yourself in this dilemma, remember to repeat this statement: “I love you, but I love Allah more.” Replace ”you” with a name or pronoun. The more you repeat it, the more it will feel true until it becomes true, until you love your children in a way that brings you closer to Allah rather than take you away from Him. It might work, you never know!
I am writing this after a great experience I had, thanks to Susu and Beebo, aged 3 and 6. Thinking of them and how sad they were to see me go after a game of hide-and-seek, I lost concentration during a recitation of the Holy Qur’an. And I don’t even know their parents. It’s kind of scary, the effect kids have on adults.
P.S. The title of this post is how I explained to Susu my age in relation to hers using both my hands, not that she understood