Once Hakim bin Hizam came to the Prophet (saw) and asked: "To whom should I be kind?" The Prophet (saw) replied, "Your mother." Hakim asked, "Then to whom?" The Prophet (saw) said, "Your mother." Hakim asked, "Then to whom?" The Prophet (saw) replied, "Your mother." Only when Hakim asked the fourth time that, "Then to whom?" the Prophet (saw) replied, "Your father."
I never truly grasped the meaning of this hadith until I became a mother. Why was kindness to one's mother three times more important than to one's father? I couldn't understand the selfless, utter dedication of a human being to a child's needs. I couldn't understand the gift of unconditional love till I became a mother; the love of another more than the love of self.
And how I remembered, yes I remembered the words of Zaynul Abideen Ali ibn Husayn* describing the unparalleled gifts of a mother in Risalatul Huqooq- The Chapter of Rights:
It is the right of your mother that you should appreciate that she carried you [in her womb] the way nobody carries anybody, She fed you the fruits of her heart which nobody feeds anybody. She protected you [during pregnancy] with her ears, eyes, hands, legs, hair, limbs, [in short] with her whole being, gladly, cheerfully, and carefully; suffering patiently all the worries, pains, difficulties, and sorrows. Till the hand of God removed you from her and brought you into this world. Then she was most happy, feeding you forgetting her own hunger, clothing you even if she herself had no clothes, giving you milk and water not caring for her own thirst, keeping you in the shade, even if she had to suffer from the heat of the sun, giving you every comfort with her own hardships; lulling you to sleep while keeping herself awake.And these words resonated in the depths of my soul as a I lulled my daughter to sleep. These words resonated in the depths of my soul as I felt every pain she felt. My heart smiled whenever she did and my heart aches whenever her body ached. Yes, in the words of my husband I the mother became a slave to my daughter. Her needs were mine. I felt her hunger and her thirst more than I felt mine.
Her cries were tears in my heart. Her happiness, her well being and her contentment were more rewarding than any worldly accomplishments. Yes, when a woman becomes a mother, she dies. She dies because her needs are not hers anymore, they are those of the child she is nurturing. She dies, but someone greater is born, she is called a mother...
Seeing my mother in myself
As I watched my daughter peacefully doze on the couch, I couldn't help but think of another woman, the one who gave birth to me years ago, my own mother. Though I can't remember it, I can almost see her doing the exact same thing I was doing just now years ago. I could see her looking over me when I was an infant with eyes full of love and joy, eyes full of hopes and wonders.
She was me, I was her and we were one. We share the unspoken unique bond of motherhood and with a smile she can understand what I am going through. Never will you be able to understand your mother until you become one yourself. That's the only time you will be able to read her as you would read an open book.
Allah's reward for mothers
Allah in His Magnificence and Knowledge understands this incredible bond between a mother and her children. He understands it more than anyone, Him who created it. That is why when a woman came to the prophet (saw) and asked why going for jihad was not obligatory on women, and complained that women wouldn't get the greatest reward of those who fought and died in the way of Allah, the prophet (saw) said that a woman was a fighter in Allah’s way from the time she became pregnant up to the time she delivered, and from the time she began breast-feeding till the time she stopped. If she died during that period, her position would be that of a martyr.
What a great reward that the Almighty has for mothers. He understand their great determination and dedication. Yes, when daughters become mothers, they also become martyrs. Like martyrs,they will suffer torture and torment, and will voluntary give up their life for the sake of their children.So dear child,love thy mother,love thy mother,love thy mother, because nobody will ever love you as much as she does!
*QuranClub note: Ali Ibn Husayn (known as Zaynul Abideen) was the grandson of Ali bin Abi Talib (raa), and he is well respected by both Sunni and Shi'i scholars.