The Qur’an and hadith emphasize the burdens that a mother carries and the respect that should be accorded to her. The ayahs of the Qur’an that address the mother emphasize the difficulties a mother has to go through throughout her life. These ayahs in the Qur’an specifically emphasize the respect that should be given to the mother. In Surah al-Ahqaf, Allah (swt) says,
And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.
Surah al-Ahqaf, Ayah 15
This ayah begins with a command for both parents, but goes into detail in regards to the mother and the difficulties she endures. The command to treat parents with kindness means to treat them with respect under all circumstances, to obey them unless it goes against an edict of the faith, and to care for them in old age as they cared for you as a child.
How a Muslim should treat their parents, especially the mother, is further underscored in the hadith. There are many instances that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) commanded believers to respect their mothers.
A man came to the Prophet (saw) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah (swt)! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good companionship? The Prophet (saw) said: Your mother. The man said, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet (saw) said: Then your mother. The man further asked, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet (saw) said: Then your mother. The man asked again, ‘Then who?’ The Prophet (saw) said: Then your father.
-Sahih al-Bukhari, Sahih al-Muslim
A man once consulted the Prophet Muhammad (saw) about taking part in a military campaign. The Prophet (saw) asked the man if his mother was still living. When told that she was alive, the Prophet (saw) said: “Then stay with her, for Paradise is at her feet.”
On another occasion, the Prophet (saw) said: “Allah (swt) has forbidden for you to be undutiful to your mothers.”
In the first hadith, the Prophet (saw) highlights the importance of the mother over the father by repeating “your mother” three times and then saying “your father” once in response to the man’s question. The second hadith illustrate the significance of the mother by placing care for her over going to war to defend Islam. In other words, caring for his mother is also a way for a man to serve Allah (swt). By saying the entrance into paradise is linked to caring for and respecting a mother, the Prophet (saw) accords them a great honor. In the last hadith, the Prophet (saw) asserts that disobedience of mothers is a sin.
All the verses and hadith on mothers demonstrate the importance of mothers in Islam. They also show that mother is given a higher honor than the father because of all the responsibilities she has towards the children. The Prophet (saw) never saw his father because he died before his birth and he lost his mother when he was only 6 years old. Yet, many hadith show that he understood the importance of one’s parents, especially the mother. In our deen we have many examples of motherly figures who girls and women of this generation can look up to. Maryam (as), Khadijah (ra), Aisha (ra), and Asiyah (ra). These are some of the best women who we look up to in our deen. And Allah (swt) knows best.