It is said that Islam's last prophet, may he rest in peace until that day, was asked who the most important person in anyone's life is and he reportedly said "your mother". The question was asked about the second most important person and he replied "your mother again" and the third time again.
The place of mothers in Islam is uncontested. They are vital and second to none. No man can turn his back on his mother no matter what.
But it goes further. And so it must.
Women are more complex than just motherhood. And being a mother does not just mean giving birth.
The larger story is one of respect for all women (girls included). This is why there is an entire chapter in the Qur'an that presses the equality of women toward fairness, unfettered inclusion, and unquestioned relevance to our humanity. (All women, not just Muslim women. All mothers, not just your mother.)
I don't want to hear from the racist anti-Muslim naysayers who know my religion better than me so save your ass the trouble of commenting.
I grew up in a household full of strong willed women who carried our revolution and did so without the guiding hand of any man.
I learned to pray behind my mother. She taught me what I know and it is still so today.
I remember when a contingent of black African teenage boys who wanted to become Muslim approached her, not my father.
Those teenagers were turned away by the Malay/coloured religious 'leaders' (men) who carry the religion with the same sense of style that informs them to wear dresses.
My mother saw beyond the racist predilection to push the kids to the margins in a time when black African life was about servitude only (even to Malay/Indian/coloured folk so don't get twisted here ... and in many contexts it remains so making white racists hardly alone in their ongoing oppression).
Yet I remember a Canadian white man who came to live in our community as a converted (reverted) Muslim. He was carried around like a trophy and not a word was spoken after he defrauded the community and disappeared.
Those young men who came to our house were consistent. They were respectful. Playful. And loving. They came to learn and she taught them in our house and around our kitchen table without any interference from my father.
Even today you will find them, grown men now, coming to visit their mother with their wives and kids in tow. And from time to time they help her to change light bulbs and talk about the sellout ANC too. That household has remained consistently black conscious/Pan-African throughout the many decades that have passed. (Onward! ne :0)
And so there I was this morning thinking about my mother and her distance from me. I remembered how through decades of being away from her she was always there for me. How her words never left me.
And I remembered how proud my father was of her. A woman who could and still can teach you complex political theory and then tell you about the consistency of dough to make the best koeksisters or roti.
When my father was stumped he would say "ask your mother she reads more than me". And he loved to tell people that "we sent Ridwan to study but it is Fatima who is the professor of political science in this house."
It is not often that women in Muslim communities are given the props they deserve for many reasons. A major reason is this racist and anti-Islamic time we live in. Both from inside and outside (self-hate versus hate from the oppressors).
Too many of my bruthaz and male elders have just handed the vehement outside the evidence they need to call us and our revolutionary religion "barbaric".
I watch many of these f*ckers on the regular and I am ashamed of their oppressive hands. So ashamed I refuse to pray alongside many of them.
Instead of standing by our mothers, sisters, and sistaz, we have capitulated our religion into an apolitical mimicry that is more worried about getting into heaven than fighting for justice.
The last Prophet cannot be happy. He died because of wounds from battle for the ideals of justice for all. And none of the other Prophets and those outside of Islam too can be happy. (May they all rest in peace)
How many of our bruthaz will want to join that battle the Prophet waged if it was ongoing today? How many could forgo the material they crave to exist and sleep on floors eating to survive until the next battle?
How many will fight in equal terms next to mothers, sisters, and sistaz? And never let their eye feel anything more than the respect the Qur'an demands.
I walk alone because those kind of bruthaz are a rarity and in South Africa they are almost non-existent.
You won't see my ass at a gathering of this or that Islamic organization until those fools let go of their pious delusions and sit next to women inside the mosques and teach everyone how to defend themselves in word and deed.
Forget your tasbeeg (prayer beads) and pick up your rifle before it is too late to defend your religion and yourself is my thinking.
The biggest problem is not what the vehement outside tells us is wrong with us. That battle has been going on longer than the West and its attachments have even been able to write.
Our biggest problem is the manner in which self-appointed clergy have reduced revolutionary Islam to an apolitical farce. And in these terms we have turned our back on the very politics that brought the last one to us. To perfect the long road traveled toward our emancipation from antiquated ideas that keep women locked in invisibility, privilege men, and obscure our divine purpose on earth.
If we are to recover we will have to forgo the long beards and pious sh*t and limp handshakes and turn to the revolution that was handed to us.
Forget going on hajj (pilgrimage) unless you go there in resistance to the Saud machine that is part of our oppression.
Say that to those oppressors and you will not get close to completing your five commandments but you will be forgiven. If the last one was among us he would ride into that fortress and fight to emancipate our religion from those who have reduced us to mere "things" in the western imagination.
Your role does not have to be big or profound or even remembered. Just please stop asking me for my duas (prayers) until you raise your mother, sisters, and sistaz to the equality the Qur'an demands.
These thoughts run through my head this Sunday. It is not about calling for violence or instigating anything. We are more human and profound than the racist stereotypes they use to describe us. (And I do not support violence against innocents like Obama or Osama.)
But sadly, we are co-oppressors when our own mothers are subjected to our oppressive hands.
Islam belongs to everyone. Women, men, children, the unborn and the dead. It also belongs to non-Muslims who live in harmony and understanding. The Qur'an calls on Muslims to respect all belief systems (only God judges in any terms).
Those who call our religion into question and seek to make us what the Qur'an never intended call us into battle. It is so written so prepare yourself instead of wearing dresses and pants hovering over your ankles and scaly ass feet. Buy some Vaseline moisturizer pious fool and forget that rug burn you have pressed onto your forehead ... it means very little when the chips are down and you have no rifle, metaphoric or not.
In these terms I have no compulsion not to follow the religion my mother taught me and to follow her and other Muslim women into preserving what was meant. That is jihad and it starts as a defense and aims to sustain peace not the war and turmoil we live under now.
What will you be doing until that day?
***********The Spinners are one of my favorite old skool soul groups. "Sadie" is a loving anthem to all mothers. Muslim, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, or not ... all mothers.
Filled with her load of glory
We learned the Holy story
She'll always have her dreams
Despite the things this troubled world can bring
Don't you know we love you
Place no one above you
"... If there's a heaven up above
I know she's teaching angels how to love ..."