If there’s a more accurate definition for the word mom it should be “sacrifice”, and that’s probably why her reward in Islam is so great. You sacrifice your time, your energy, your resources, your goals, and sometimes, even your happiness. But wait, isn’t there a way to be happy, pursue goals, conserve energy, and make money while still being an amazing mom? Of course there is! It’s called personal development!
Personal or self-development is an umbrella term used to describe any method you use to improve yourself in the different categories of life. Islam calls on us to be in a constant state of self-development. In fact, we’re never asked to be perfect, that’s for Allaah alone. But we are encouraged to strive, to compete, to race towards goodness. It’s the process of going after the ideal that’s more valuable than actually attaining it, because it is in the process where you develop strength, confidence, humbleness, and appreciation for life. It’s the process of continuously working on yourself, making mistakes and correcting them, falling and getting back up, that brings you closer to Allaah . Allah’s Messenger said: “If you were not to commit sins, Allah would have swept you out of existence and would have replaced you by another people who have committed sin, and then asked forgiveness from Allah, and He would have granted them pardon” (Sahih Muslim). This powerful hadith makes it clear that the act of turning to Allaah and being committed to a better you, is more desirable than being perfect or sinless.
Your self-development isn’t only be limited to spiritual development, rather we as moms should be extra keen on improving all areas of life including our health and fitness, emotional wellbeing, relationships, and life goals with the intention of being in our ultimate state of fulfilment so that we can serve better as mothers, wives, and servants of Allaah . Invest in your well-being in this world so that you can perform to your fullest potential with the hope of earning a high status in the here-after. The benefits of self-development are not only actualized in the afterlife, they’re lived and experienced right here in this dunya as well. Research shows that people who work on personal development are happier and more successful. They also achieve so much more than those who live mediocre lives. As little as 15 minutes a day dedicated to doing something that impacts your mind, body, and soul can add so much value to your life.
Have you seen her? That high achieving mom who is so active in her circles. Seems like everything is going great for her. She’s doing amazing things for her children and the community. She’s a role model for many. But suddenly she starts to deteriorate. Backslide. Or she discloses to you that she really isn’t happy. We wonder, what happened?? I’ll tell you what, in her pursuit of doing khair and benefiting others, she forgot about herself! She prioritized other people’s needs before her own. Her intentions were good: “I’m helping others. I’ve given up so much to stay home and raise a family. I’m being a great mom and wife. Allah will reward me.” Surely, Allaah doesn’t waste the efforts of the believers. Yet, this mom forgot an important principle. You have to take care of your personal wellbeing before you can truly benefit anyone else.
O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones [At-Tahrim:6]
So know (O Muhammad ) that La ilaha ill-Allah, and ask forgiveness for your sin, and also for (the sin of) believing men and believing women. [Muhammad:19]
In both cases Allaah mentions the individual first. Seek forgiveness for yourself, save yourself, first and foremost, then others. And from the etiquettes of making du’a is that you mention yourself first and then others. May Allaah grant me and you jannah. Also, the scholars mention that the intention for seeking Islamic knowledge should be firstly to remove the ignorance from yourself, and then those around you. These examples show us the importance of working on yourself, firstly, before catering to the needs of others.
When you are in your optimal state you can do wonders for your life and those around you. You can be that mother everyone looks up to. More importantly, you set yourself up to achieve so much more. That’s because with self development comes confidence and a strong foundation for self-esteem. These are the two main qualities that you need to knock down the barriers of limiting beliefs about yourself that prevent you from succeeding . Think about it, if you are constantly improving yourself, through books, courses, rituals, prayer, affirmations, would you entertain self-sabotaging ideas about yourself when everything you do and read nurtures your potential? Of course not. The confidence in you would automatically reject any negativity.
Another amazing thing that happens when you start working on yourself is you become more resourceful in coping with all the challenges life throws your way. Allaah has already informed us that we will be tried and tested in many ways. Life isn’t constant. There are happy times and difficult times. But who succeeds? Who is best equipped to handle these situations when they arise? It is the one who has been nurturing the qualities of excellence within themselves that survive and come out stronger. You can’t control the situation (that’s what makes it a test), but you can definitely control how you respond. Your reaction is a direct reflection of who you are, the persona you’ve been cultivating whether proactively or passively. These high level qualities that help you cope in all situations don’t come naturally. You have to proactively develop and continuously cultivated them so that you are always prepared. That’s when you can truly yield their benefits!
And seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer) and truly it is extremely heavy and hard except for Al-Khashi’un [i.e. the true believers in Allah – those who obey Allah with full submission, fear much from His Punishment, and believe in His Promise (Paradise, etc.) and in His Warnings (Hell, etc.)]. [Al-Baqara: 45]
And certainly, We shall test you with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, lives and fruits, but give glad tidings to As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.). Who, when afflicted with calamity, say: “Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return.” They are those on whom are the Salawat (i.e. blessings, etc.) (i.e. who are blessed and will be forgiven) from their Lord, and (they are those who) receive His Mercy, and it is they who are the guided-ones. [Al-Baqara: 155-157]
May Allaah make me and you from the guided ones! Greatness and success is not guaranteed. We have to work for it. Paradise is not for the mediocre. We can’t go day to day, year to year, child to child, without progressing. That’s a direct attack on your happiness. An obstacle to your success. Your loved ones deserve the best version of yourself. You deserve the best version of you!
We don’t have time here to discuss the different things you can do to assist you on your journey to self-improvement, but I’ll tell you what, sign up to the Umm Empowered newsletter on the right hand sign and I’ll send you an activity booklet to help you assess and make plans for the areas in your life you’d like to improve. How does that sound? Go ahead, put in your email!