Find out why Faaria Hussain decided to volunteer for the At Our Mothers' Feet campaign, and what she has planned for International Women's Day
I love my mom unconditionally. Even at the age of 21, where I have moved out to study in a different city I find myself still so dependent on her for certain things. And to be honest, I don't think that will ever change. I think it's fair to say most of us are like this and turn to our mothers in times of hardship and happiness.
A couple of weeks ago I suffered a tragic loss in my family. My aunt passed away just a few weeks after giving birth to a baby girl. Needless to say this has affected our family greatly. I find it impossible to stop thinking about her immediate family that's been left behind. How her two children (newborn and 3 year old son) are going to live without knowing their mother, never experiencing that bond that I cherish so dearly. The relationship between a mother and her children is sacred, and these children have been deprived of this.
Unfortunately, this is not a one off case. I have recently learnt that a staggering 800 women around the world die every day in pregnancy and childbirth, simply because they cannot access basic healthcare or education. That's one woman every 108 seconds. Worst of all 80% of these deaths could be prevented through simple interventions[i].
Those who are not familiar with Islam often hold a misguided perception that women in Islam don't have the same standing as men, but this couldn't be further from the truth. Mothers in particular are of a high status. Islam teaches us to care for both our parents, but extra attention is given to mothers. A man once came to the Prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah! Who from amongst mankind warrants the best companionship from me?" The Prophet replied: "Your mother." The man asked: "Then who?" So he replied: "Your mother?" The man then asked: "Then who?" So the Prophet replied again "Your mother." The man then asked: "Then who?" So the Prophet replied: "Then your father." (Sahîh Bukhârî 5971 and Sahîh Muslim 7/2). Our mothers' have sacrificed so much to raise us from the day we are born. The pain a mother feels in childbirth is so great that Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) stated that a woman who dies in childbirth is considered a martyr who will be granted paradise (Hadith Malik). Even after birth her life is dedicated to ours, her energy is consumed in caring for her child.
There are many facts supporting the importance of the presence of a mother in her child's life. For instance if a woman does not survive delivery, her child is ten times more likely to die before their 2nd birthday[ii]. 99% of maternal deaths occur in developing countries[iii], the majority of which could be prevented if these women had access to basic facilities such as a hospital, medication and a trained midwife. Daughters in particular are less likely to attend school if their mother has died, and take on the responsibilities of the mother as they grow older, therefore the cycle of poverty continues. As Dr Mahmoud Fathalla (a medical professor in Cairo) said these 800 mothers are 'not dying because of a disease we cannot treat. They are dying because societies have yet to make the decision that their lives are worth saving'.
The issue of maternal health is one that I feel strongly about, that's why I feel honoured to be given the opportunity to work with the charity: MADE in Europe on their 'At Our Mother's Feet' campaign. They also felt this was a great social injustice and so began the campaign two years ago. Over these 2 years we have: delivered awareness-raising workshops to approximately 1000 British Muslims, secured over 500 campaign actions, hosted a maternal health exhibition in the largest mosque in the UK, created a documentary and music video to help raise awareness about maternal health, and secured pledges from 9 Muslim NGOs to increase their work on maternal healthcare. We have created resources such as a Maternal Health Campaign Toolkit for young Muslims, and a training manual for Muslim NGOs looking to expand their maternal health work.
The campaign is almost coming to an end, but this doesn't mean our work is complete. On International Women's Day: 8th March we are planning to hold a stunt called 'In Our Mothers' Footsteps'. We have an opportunity for Muslim's to show how much we care about our sisters and how much we owe our mothers.
Over the past few months, we have been collecting hundreds of 'footprints' from the Muslim community, containing messages about why we, as Muslims, think maternal healthcare is important. On International Women's Day, we're going to march from St. Thomas' Hospital to Parliament to signify the political steps we still need to take to help save mothers' lives. We'll then be delivering the footprints to the Department for International Development, to demonstrate our support for maternal healthcare.
We'd love it if you could join us! We'll be marching at 11am and will finish at 12pm. If you want to come along, then just meet us at the entrance to St. Thomas' Hospital near Waterloo Station.
We are in a very privileged position, with access to some of the world's best healthcare. But we have to remember the majority of the global population are not this fortunate. We have a duty to take a stance on this issue as Prophet Muhammad said: 'If any of you see an evil, then change it with your hand, and if you cannot then change it with your tongue, and if you cannot then hate it in your heart, and that's is the least of faith'.
It's impossible to repay our mothers for all they have done for us; we will be forever in their debt. But as Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said 'Be at your mother's feet, and there is paradise.'
About the author:
Faaria Hussain is Third Year Geography (BA) student at Kings College London. Passionate about development issues and relieving those in greatest need.
Currently Interning at Made in Europe: http://www.madeineurope.org.uk/campaign/aomf.
For more information on Friday's event, and how you can get involved, email
[i] WHO: http://www.who.int/gho/maternal_health/en/index.html
[ii] WHO: http://www.who.int/pmnch/media/news/2012/20120305_g8_backgroundpolicybrief_mnch.pdf
[iii] WHO: http://www.who.int/gho/maternal_health/en/index.html