Resentment or Reward?

I have a vision of how I want to earn the pleasure of Allah (swt). This vision is filled with intensive learning, spiritual halaqas, and being in the company of those who fill me with His remembrance. I yearn for a deeper understanding of the Qur’an, learning the etymology of the rich Arabic words that are pregnant with meaning. I dream of going abroad, praying fajr in different masaajid, sitting at the feet of learned scholars, going from one spiritual high to the next. I find myself daydreaming of Mecca and Madina, making sajda in the Prophet’s mosque, performing tawaaf around the Ka’ba.

A tiny part of me tries tirelessly to hold on to this vision and I hope, with the permission of Allah, that I will be able to fulfill at least a small fraction of it. Another part admonishes me for being so egocentric. “I mean, really, how self indulgent can you be?,” I hear it snickering.

“Do you want to go to Reviving the Islamic Spirit in Canada this year?” yes!

“Bayyinah is having a summer intensive in Texas. Would you like to sign up?” of course!

“There’s a revive tonight, can you make it?” umm..umm…

When the yeses transformed to only yeses in my heart, I began to feel a bit of resentment towards the responsibility I had towards my daughter. Gone are the summers that I can spend traveling abroad for intensive study and the nights of Ramadan devoted to worship in the masjid. “This is ruining my plan to get closer to Allah,” I would lament. Of course, the thought was never that blatant, but with every missed opportunity to learn and grow, desperation grew in its place.

These thoughts, never vocalized but always present as unwelcome guests, are the reason for much agitation during my day to day activities. However during one long car ride to New York, I realized something strangely reassuring that has helped subdue those feelings. This is my plan to attain the pleasure of Allah and maybe what Allah really wants from me is to change a dirty diaper.

Maybe what He wants me to do is stay calm when I see Sumaya eating paper like a termite.

Maybe, through the destruction of my own ego and focusing instead on nurturing the beautiful soul that I have been given custody of, I can turn the emotions of resentment into a great reward.

And just maybe if I focus on wholly submitting myself to Allah’s plan, I will experience those spiritual highs through a kiss on the cheek, a playful smile, or the warmth of a long overextended bear hug.

Now, if I could only figure out how to jar it.

Marwa Aly

Marwa is a mother living in West Hartford, Ct. who constantly worries about the inedible objects that somehow find their way into her daughter’s mouth.

  • UmmBilal

    JAK for this post. I have often had these same thoughts as a mother of three who would like to please Allah. I really like your thought about experiencing spiritual highs through a kiss on the cheek or playful smile. May Allah guide us to raise our children in the way most pleasing to Him. Ameen

  • blessed

    Ameen to previous comment and to your beautiful words. But does that mean that our daughters, and daughters’ daughters are all destined to this same fate? A woman’s destiny?

  • Monaa

    Marwa we all feel the same way and are often told that this is outlr worship (to care for our children/households) and we always say: but that doesn’t feel the same. I think that the easier way and more obvious way to find spiritual enlightenment is what we experienced before kids. It takes time, ability to sleep in etc. Now that we largely don’t dictate our schedules anymore, we have to find joy and the mercy in Allah in the kiss, (and in the crying)! I keep

    Telling myself that if I can’t find spirituality in that then there’s something that has to change within me. Excellent read jak

  • Maha

    Marwa, I can’t think of what to respond. This post is so relevant to me. I couldn’t have said it better. Maybe I’ll come back and add some thoughts when I can put them to words. ..

  • Kariman

    I personally feel like I use motherhood as an excuse more often than not. Yes, I have young dependent children and I too have to remind myself that at this stage they are my means for attaining Paradise, but I know if I really wanted to do more…like, really wanted to, I could. Motherhood for me has become this safe-haven, an excuse that no one could argue with, I’m even able to convince and fool myself at times…but deep down, I know that if I really desired it, I could at least do more than the bare-minimum.

  • Marwa

    Salaam Sisters,

    Jazakum Allahu kheyran for all your perspectives. I honestly think this post should be turned into a series from different mama perspectives. Fatima and Kariman, I think you both make a good point (both implicitly and explicitly) about the tension that exists- we want to resolve the tension, but I’m finding out more and more that we can’t and I don’t even know if we should. The tension exists in order that we still strive with “our plan” all the while taking care of our kids. When we feel this agitation, we have to name it and say, “Okay, what can I do to make this better?” I can’t go study abroad, but can I take an online Arabic class? I can’t attend this retreat, but can I call a sister that always reminds me of Allah?

    Another issue that I have with “my vision” is the idea that it’s all about ME consuming this wealth of knowledge- it feels good, but what am I doing about it?

    Motherhood on the other hand is all about “doing something about it” and we feel drained because of it.

    So many good ideas! Keep them coming sisters!

  • Kariman

    OK, I know this isn’t a discussion board, but…:)
    Just as a follow-up Marwa, my “desires” are different than yours– I don’t have the urge to go and study abroad for example. What I’d like to do are things that I do feel attainable, yet I feel like I lack motivation. The other day I was thinking of how it’s amazing that because the 5 daily prayers are mandatory, we do them. Some of us may be eager and pray at the beginning of time and others may (depending on our circumstances) delay them–yet, at the end of the day, we all pray them. I just feel that if I was just a little more consistent and had a little more will-power, I feel like I can make little accomplishments and consistent ones. May be it can be considered “tension” for some, but the way I look it at, I don’t think motherhood is supposed to be something that lower’s my imaniyat. I feel like I’ve allowed motherhood and my relationship with Allah swt to be more important that my connection with Allah. I’m not talking about superwoman powers here, just things that I know I should be doing and am not…gosh, i wrote a lot for a comment! ;)

  • Kariman

    (should read:)
    *I feel like I’ve allowed motherhood and my relationship with my children…

  • Khadeejah

    Marwa, I can’t agree more, especially here in a country in which Muslims are a minority. How many fathers do you know who spend more than a few hours a day, if at all, raising their children to be strong Muslims who are proud to be so? If we, mothers, do not give our full effort into our children, I guarantee you that 50 years from now there will be far less Muslims in the US than there are today. There is no doubt that our role is crucial to Islams survival in this country. Mothers are the key stones and the guardians of this religion. Every effort you put into your children is crucial. Never forget that! :-)

  • Dalal

    I noticed in your blurb that sumi’s gotten to the age where she gums everything…very cute mA, and I share your worries :) About the post, thanks for being so open about your feelings. SubhanAllah, I’m kinda tongue-tied about my response to it, maybe we can take it up in a conversation sometime. Keep striving though, I think you’re on the right path.

  • mom4peace

    Well said sisters. Marwa mA very thought provoking.

    The Islamic Revival starts with mothers being an everyday exemplar of the deen. That is the only way to inculcate it in the next generation.

  • marwa

    I agree with you Kariman. If the 5 prayers weren’t fard, I don’t know if I would even get close to praying all five of them. And every time I watch the Biggest Loser or something I always admonish myself thinking that I lack discipline and could be doing something much more significant with my time. I think that many times I am driven by guilt- the nafsin lawwaama and we’re trained in our society to liberate ourselves from those negative feelings, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily the answer. I just want to pick ONE SMALL thing that I do everyday consistently. If I become successful in that, then maybe I’ll write a post about my findings ;). But I have the same exact struggle that you so eloquently expressed.

  • suma


    JAK.Loved the post….I think it is something that every mom can relate to.

    One thing that helped me to turn those moments of resentments into reward iA was to always the remember the hadith of the Prophet(pbuh)in which he stated that the jihad for women is taking care of children/household etc…so whenever I was feeling that I was missing out on all the lectures, Ramadan prayers, etc,etc,etc,etc because of kids.. I would reflect on this hadith…and tell myself that if I didn’t accept and embrace these responsibilites ( my jihad) with a smile, peaceful heart then I might not get the reward. I had to keep reminding myself that Jihad is diffcult…… it requires sacrifice, hard “why are you expecting an easy life?”!!!

    Each mom has to find the “thing” that helps her to erase the resentment from her heart and fill it with the contentment and gratitude that our dear so children deserve.

  • thanaya

    salaams, sister i so know what you feel… but yes alhumdulilllah for everything! the sisters of the ummah shd always make duaa for each other! love