“A mom’s hug lasts long”
With a glow in her eyes and warmth in her tone, my mother requested me to repeat the line after her. At first, I stumbled over the words, but she waited patiently. A little bit of practice while gazing at her gorgeous smile and bright eyes helped me recite the words in Arabic exactly the way she read it out to me.
Throughout the day, my mom would affectionately call me to join her for prayer. I would immediately drop everything to accept her invitation. As a 6-year-old child, it was the highlight of my day. I felt like an adult when my mother allowed me to stand right beside her during the prayer. In return she would complement me with sweet words and give me a tender kiss on my cheek. I remember how extremely loved and appreciated that made me feel.
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Just before starting our prayers, she would display a beautiful scarf to me. Some of them had vibrant patterns while others had beautiful prints on them. I would be over the moon trying on new scarves. During the prayer, as my mom would turn to sujood (prostration) I’d follow her in the best way possible. When I’d place my forehead on the ground, a sudden burst of lovely scent would emanate from the prayer mat. As a little girl, I enjoyed prostrating more than anything else just because the scent was so captivating.
Slowly but surely, taking little steps over the years, my mother was setting up an encouraging way for me to connect with prayer. Whenever I recited the scripture in Arabic correctly, she’d give me a gentle hug. On the other hand, if I made a mistake, she’d softly tickle me, and we would end up giggling together. She always made learning an enjoyable experience. The beautiful scarves and the inviting scent she used created in my young mind a positive association that went a long way. This subtle process of educating and nurturing was my mother’s technique of reaching her end goal, to help me develop a positive relationship with God Almighty.
In hindsight, recently my mother’s parenting approach inspired me to reflect on how God Almighty nurtures us at every stage of life. He who educates, develops, and sustains all his creation. God Almighty is the Rabb, the owner, the one who creates and then takes care of every little need throughout our entire existence. He grants life and health to the believer and the unbeliever. He regulates their affairs and continues to grant favors and blessings without measure.
Previously: Nawal Nadeem Alam: Positive thinking
“All praise and thanks are for God, who is the Rabb of all that exists.”
– Qur’an (SurahAl-Fathiha: Verses 1-2)
This phrase that my mom taught me was from the opening chapter of the Qur’an, Surah Al-Fatiha. It is the same phrase that every Muslim must recite in their five daily prayers.
‘Ar-Rabb’ is the most frequently mentioned name in the Quran. This name essentially instills hope in one’s heart and is one of the pivotal names of God Almighty.
Besides all the tangible forms of nurturing we receive from God, there are other types of nurturing enfolded within the Name ‘Ar-Rabb’— an ‘internal’ nurturing. This type of nurturing often goes unnoticed but when given thought, leaves a person stunned. It is when God Almighty purifies and sets our hearts to the right path.
It is God Almighty who protects our faith by beautifying it in our hearts and making it beloved to us; while making disbelief and defiance disliked in our hearts. He nurtures and gives place to love for the truth, love for the hereafter and love for submission to Him, in our hearts. It is God Almighty who assists the believer in matters of good deeds by encouraging and granting them the ability and the will to perform them. God Almighty nurtures and develops his servants — intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually — through each stage of their life.
If a person truly realizes the meaning of God’s name ‘Ar-Rabb,’ their attachment to God Almighty would grow naturally. What does it mean to be content with God as our Rabb? To be pleased with God Almighty as our Rabb is a sign of true submission. When we understand the essence of His Name, Ar-Rabb, we would be automatically inclined to give preference to what God Almighty has laid down for us as guidelines in contrast to what our hearts desire or what the pop culture dictates.
When we were young, our parents made certain decisions for us which we didn’t like or understand. A common example would be setting curfews in high school. We assumed that our parents were harsh on us, when in fact, the decisions that they made were intended for our own good.
In the same manner, God Almighty has legislated for us laws for none other than our own benefit. He is our Rabb who takes notice of all our requirements and needs, along with our weaknesses and strengths, and gives us what we need at the right time and the right place. If we fail to identify the benefit in His legislations, then how can we consider His laws to be unfair?
Nawal Nadeem Alam of Springfield is a student of masters in classical Islamic sciences, an instructor and social worker.
This article originally appeared on State Journal-Register: Nawal Nadeem Alam: The one who nurtures? (Ar-Rabb)