Samina Yasmeen: To My Mother on Mothers’ Day 2011

Samina Yasmeen

A Mothers’ Day Blog by Samina Yasmeen

On a crisp Sunday morning when others are celebrating Mothers’ Day, a sense of sadness sits in my heart and I want to let it pass by writing these few lines for my lovely mother, Begum Sarfraz Iqbal.

She was the most beautiful soul I ever came across. She was kind, gentle, caring, compassionate and loving. She was beautiful both in her looks and her ideas. When she would get ready to go to parties with my father, I would look at her with amazement: ‘Wow, she is my Mumma’. I remember once telling her something similar and she turned round and gave me a big hug. She knew I loved her, and that I always will.

She was my first teacher. She read stories to all of us, made us sit down and read after school, gave us ideas about life and future, and stood by us when we nearly gave up. I still remember her writing the last part of my sub-thesis as I dictated because my hands were too sore after writing in long hand. And then the next morning, she drove for half an hour so that I could meet the deadline at the University. She loved knowledge and loved the process of learning. I am sure I would not have studied as I did if it were not for her guidance, support and passion.

My mother wanted to study and become a doctor but she was married to my father, Malik Iqbal, at a young age. By the time she was 23, she was mother of four children. She took care of my father and others. And every evening, once she finished the chores of the day, she read books. One of my earliest memories of her is sitting on the floor by the fire and reading. And even today, when I sit in her little hideaway in Islamabad, the books remind me of her thirst for knowledge. If only I could read all the books that she read, shared with others, and blossomed as a truly gentle soul. And I think of the day when tears rolled down her cheeks for not being able to study as a young woman. She did not want me to ask her to stop crying. So I just sat there. But so often I think of those tears, that sadness in her heart, and the love of knowledge.

But my Mumma had the knowledge and the wisdom. She taught me about being a Muslim. I was thinking earlier in the day how she would ask me not to waste water as Prophet Mohammad had advised Muslims to save water. She would teach me to trust God, love others and be kind. For her, Islam was not about prescriptive control: it was about willingly submitting to the presence that guides all of us. She loved God, and loved His creatures, human and others. She would sit in musical evenings till late and smilingly encourage my husband, James Trevelyan and me to dance if we wished to do so. And she would feed birds every day. Islam for her was a lot more than the outward manifestation. It was about the inner dimension of peace and love.

And so she made me read books. Not just on Islam but on literature and art. But then she also sent me books that she thought would guide me. In 2000 when we organized a symposium, she sent me Abul Kalam Azad’s Umm ul Kitab through Pakistan’s former Foreign Minister, Sartaj Aziz. And her signed book on Ganj Baksh, a Sufi teacher, still sits on my bedside table. She signed the book with wishes for my peace, and that is what I get when I read it. And reading the books she wrote also takes me to a place of serenity and love.

But why do I share it with you? Because as some of us focus on threats from Muslims and Muslims declare fatwas against other Muslims who do not fit their view of Islam, I think of my lovely mother who focused on what Islam is really all about. Who focused on what humanity is all about. Who knew the joy of helping all those in need without expecting recognition or anything in return.

And as I deal with the silent sadness in my heart for not having my mother around, I thank her for teaching us what it means to be a Muslim. I hope, my dear Mumma, wherever you are, the gift of your four children still remembering what you taught us makes you happy today and always.

Source ABC Local: Sunday Nights