The rights given to a mother in Islam are numerous and have been outlined in the Holy Quraan and blessed traditions of the Prophet (S.A.). The Holy Quraan mentions that the first duty of a man is to worship his Lord and the second is to show kindness to his parents. It states, “Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. If one or both of them attains old age in your life, then say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say, ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your mercy as they cherished me in childhood.” (17:23-24)
The Quraan and Hadith, while instructing man to be kind to both his parents have made kindness to mothers at a higher degree than to fathers. The Quraan informs us in the following words, “We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents. In pain did his mother bear him and in pain did she give birth to him.” (46:15). Abu Hurairah (R.A.) reported that a man enquired, “O apostle of Allah! Who is the most proper person for my good association? The Prophet replied, “Your mother”. The man asked, “Who is next?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother”. The man asked, “Who is next?” The Prophet again replied, “Your mother.” The man enquired, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your father.” (Bukhaari, Muslim)
In another tradition, Mughirah (R.A.) reported that the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) said, “Allah has made unlawful to you disobedience to mothers, burying alive of daughters and refusing help.” (Bukhaari, Muslim) These traditions make it very clear that kindness to mothers are of a greater virtue in comparison to the father. In another tradition, the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) said that Paradise lies at the feet of the mother. Muawiyah (R.A.) reported that a person came to the Messenger of Allah and said, “I intend to join a battle and have come to you for consultation.” The Prophet said, “Do you have a mother?” The man replied, “Yes”. The Prophet said, “Then keep near her because Paradise is at her feet.” (Nasai, Ahmad)
In another tradition the Messenger of Allah taught us that good treatment towards a mother can become an expiation for sins. Abdullah bin Umar (R.A.) stated that a person came to the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) and said, “O Prophet of Allah! I have committed a major sin.” Is there any forgiveness for me?” The Prophet (S.A.) asked, “Do you have a mother?” The man said, “No”. He (the Prophet) then asked, “Do you have a mother’s sister?” He replied in the affirmative. The Messenger then said, “Then give good treatment to her.” (Tirmizi)
Good treatment to a non Muslim mother is also enjoined upon the believers. Asma, the daughter of Abu Bakr stated that her mother came to her while she was still a non Muslim. She (Asma) then asked the Prophet of Allah, “O Messenger of Allah! My mother has come to me while she is still a polytheist, should I show her respect? The Prophet of Allah (S.A.) replied, “Yes, show her respect.” (Bukhaari, Muslim)
Similarly, good treatment must be shown even to foster mothers. It is narrated in Abu Daud that once a woman came to the Messenger of Allah (S.A.) while he was at the place of Ji’arana. Upon reaching him, he opened his sheet for her and made her sit on it. Being amazed at this great respect shown to a woman, the companions enquired, “Who is this woman”. They were told, “she is his mother who suckled him.”
The Holy Quraan and Hadith have also made it clear that mothers will also share in the inheritance of her children. Her shares will vary with respect to the presence and absence of children.
A woman’s position as a mother is therefore matchless in society and is very great and respected in Islam.