The plight of humanity began with Allah ta’ala creating Adam (AS) as mentioned through this incredible ayah below. Not only does Allah (SWT) mention the creation of the “one soul,” – Adam (AS) – but goes on to recognise the womb, in the very same ayah, bringing our attention to the importance of birth and motherhood as part of the growth of humankind.
“O mankind, fear your Lord, who created you from one soul and created from it its mate and dispersed from both of them many men and women. And fear Allah, through whom you ask one another, and the wombs. Indeed Allah is ever, over you, an Observer.” (Nisa: 1)
While it is easy to relay that Adam (AS) and Hawwa (AS) were the first human beings on earth, it is often forgotten that their purpose in their descent to Earth was to create a populace that would pledge servitude to Allah (SWT), the Creator. Adam (AS) and Hawwa (AS) were ultimately honoured as parents over and above any other ‘occupation,’ planting the seeds of parenting, family, love, and compassion for all humankind. This is probably why the welfare of new mothers and new babies holds paramount importance in Islam.
A Prelude: The Sacred Womb
Islam enjoins high honour and distinguishable rights of motherhood, so much so that the faith addresses the issues revolving around pregnancies, births, and even breastfeeding.
The womb is vitally important in the Qur’an, as mentioned in Surah Nisa above, with this organ being the “transit” for life to come into the world. But Allah ta’ala mentions the womb in a few places in the scriptures, using words other than “arham.” In al-Mursalat (ayat 20-23), the term “mekiynin” is used, which can be translated as “a secure receptacle,” one that is sound, powerful and unshakeable. In al-Mu’minun (ayat 12-14), the word for womb is “qararin,” – meaning a place that is of permanent settlement, and a safe and sound location.
Through this honour of the sacred womb, it’s only natural for conscious Muslims to work towards honouring motherhood through different forms of activism.
The Birth of Al-Mizan Trust
“Al-Mizan Charitable Trust (AMCT) is a Muslim charity that supports vulnerable individuals and families living in poverty across the UK, regardless of their faith and cultural background,” says Rukaiya Jeraj, founding trustee of AMCT.
Built on the premise to help the needy, the trust is essentially a grant-funder for the disadvantaged and deprived across the United Kingdom. While committed to campaigning for social justice for all and to respond to the needs of the less fortunate, another tangible form of sponsorship was also conceived by the trust to help new mothers in need.
AMCT developed the idea of ‘Mother & Baby Kits’ to reduce the financial burden upon new mothers for those first few months. “We are working with midwives, refugees, and shelters to select mothers who are most in need, and we aim to deliver the Mother & Baby Kit to them before they leave the maternity ward.”
Recognising that single parents and low-income families were grossly struggling at the bottom end of the survivor spectrum in a society where raising a child is costly, AMCT offers the opportunity for donors to sponsor a Mother & Baby Kit for GBP60, providing relief for mothers with newborns who are unable to make ends meet.
Child poverty is an immense issue in the UK with almost a third of all children living, or 3.5 million, living in poverty. This includes families with one working parent. But to make matters worse, over half of children living in poverty are actually living in severe poverty (1.6 million), exposing them to infant mortality, chronic illnesses in toddlerhood, and a poor education support system.
Providing Relief for a Muslim Sister
We all know the saying of the Prophet (SAW) which states a believer is only a true believer when he or she wants the same for his or her brother or sister. Well, this could be a good case study. Imagine being able to help women who are homeless or living in a shelter or refuge; victims of domestic abuse; asylum seekers; and mothers who have physical disabilities. This can be done through AMCT, who screen extensively to ensure the kits go to deserving mothers.
Or imagine being amongst those women who receive a pack of supplies containing nappies, wipes, nappy rash cream, nappy sacks, changing mat, baby grows, vests, bibs, hat, scratch mitts, towel, baby oil, baby wash, baby powder, nail cutter, cotton wool balls, thermometer, rattle, toys, and non-bio laundry detergent. Isn’t that the kind of proper kit you would want for yourself and your own baby?
AMCT offers a wonderful opportunity to help a new mother in need, regardless of her social upbringing, her culture, or her faith, and this is in line with Prophet Muhammad’s (SAW) reminder to enjoin kindness upon all of humanity.
“Whoever relieves the hardship of a believer in this world, Allah will relieve his hardship on the Day of Resurrection. Whoever helps ease someone in difficulty, Allah will make it easy for him in this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever covers the faults of a Muslim, Allah will cover his faults in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah helps the servant as long as he helps his brother/sister.” (Muslim – a portion of the full Hadith)
Al-Mizan – Growing Together as a Community
The plight of humanity began with the creation of our father – Adam (AS) – and later, his wife and our beautiful mother – Hawwa (AS). In solidarity with their plight, the continuity of building upon their foundations of humanity is activism to support new life. In this case, that can be done by committing to provide a strong bolster for babies who are born into less fortunate families.
AMCT does have plans to work together with activists on a similar project. “We are always looking for ways in which we can support new and expectant mothers and would welcome working in partnership and having conversations with other organisations, health professionals, and experts.” For those who are interested coordinating with AMCT, all contact details are on their website.
With many potential working relationships, the Mother & Baby Kits initiative already plants a telling seed that can turn into a movement of colossal importance that all Muslims can relate to and support.
In Surah Anfal, the Qur’an vividly addresses the contextual issues that materialised after the Badr victory. Allah ta’ala spoke to the believers, telling them to remain in their like-minded route for success and to foster their similar affiliations in order for the ummah to experience regrowth. This is similar for those in the realm of activism. With parenting being such an integral theme of society but often overshadowed by consumerism and materialism, this is a great reminder for Muslims to stick together with those who champion fairness and equity amongst all, and especially for defenceless newborn babies.
The closing of the surah reads:
“And those who afterwards believed and left their homes and strove along with you, they are of you; and those who are akin [of the same womb] are nearer one to another in the ordinance of Allah. Lo! Allah is Knower of all things.” (Al-Anfal: 75)
Allah brings our attention to the integrity, importance, and recognition of the womb through the word “arham” – that one sacred organ that acts as a vessel to safeguard the formation of another sacred life as part of the course of humanity. The seemingly small act of gift giving to the smallest, newest members of our society is actually an important step at the root of supporting all of humanity.
Maria Zain was a prolific contributor to SISTERS magazine, writing extensively about issues including parenting, inter-cultural relationships, homeschooling and homebirthing, and even Muslim fashion. In December 2014 Maria Zain died, insha Allah a shaheedah, related to birthing her sixth child, who survived. SISTERS magazine will always be indebted to Maria for the immense work she did for the magazine as well as for the SISTERS family as a whole. We ask that readers consider donating to a fund for her six children in hopes to help their father continue to raise them in the loving and deen-centered style the parents worked so hard to foster.
Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/mariazain