Couple of months back while we were sitting in a family gathering , I asked my daughter to bring me something from kitchen , which she plainly refused, before I could have said something an aunty came forward and said, “ Beta, you should at once listen to your mother.”
“But I’m eating.” My daughter grumbled
She proclaimed an amazing idea, “Beta, Allah taala kehte hain ke khane ke doraan saat martaba baityoon ko uthao.” (Allah taala says that parents should ensure that a daughter leaves her food to do other little chores at least seven times………….”)
My mouth fell open…….however it continued and my daughter asked, “What about sons?”
“Sons have lots of jobs to see outdoors so it’s not their responsibility, but its sisters’ duty to take care of their brothers ‘things too!”
I got the second blow, way before recovering from the first one. It was quite an effort to restrain myself from any outburst but I was shocked to know that people still think this way.
It’s utterly outrageous and blasphemy to relate our personal, regional or cultural notions to Allah and Rasool (Peace be upon him).
Even in these days we find a lot of dadi, nani and moms who believe in pampering their sons to the extent of providing them with whatever they need, wherever they are. Well, it’s not with sons only we have a general tendency of facilitating the lives of our kids either it’s a son or daughter. When it is right time to instill independence by letting kids do their own little tasks besides encouraging them to help out their parents, mothers and other adults in the family do almost everything for the children. Things are done for them instead of helping them to do things themselves, till the day when suddenly moms realize that their daughters are mature enough to lend them a helping hand in household. Now it’s a hard task to break the inertia which has seeped deep into the bones through laziness, over the years of resting and relaxing. And when young girls in their pre or early teens totally refuse to work or grumble or give excuses, they are mercilessly labeled as ‘sust’ ‘kahil’ and ‘kam chor’ evidently by their own moms and dadis who have played a vital role in developing the very habits.
On the other hand sons have no such social pressure, so almost in every family we find males ordering mothers, sisters, wives and daughters to do things for them.
· Bring me food
· Bring me water
· Take the dishes away
· Where are my shoes?
· Polish them
· Iron my clothes, etc.
Above are few of the thousands of examples which we face every day. And society trains and expects females to listen to these cries as religious calls. It’s not a dilemma of uneducated lower cadre of society; it’s deeply rooted in each and every stratum. I have witnessed pregnant ladies, almost at the verge of delivery carrying loaded trays of food. I’m not an extreme feminist and I myself used to do household work till the last moment but regular chores is different than the loads of work a lady is doing while family get together specially when one is not feeling well. Once, one of above mentioned ladies, finally seated after bringing the last thing required, someone announced, water is finished, there was no house helper in the sight to bring it to the table while everyone was patiently expectant for some miracle to happen but when it didn’t come into being, the lady said, “ ok, I’ll bring.” Just then her old mom in law replied, “You eat, I’ll bring.” I was totally disgusted with the scene, it was not that I felt anger against men witnessing the scene without volunteering to help, not to a stranger but to their own wife and mother and task was not attaining impossible but to go to kitchen to fill a jug with water, I felt enraged against the so called, superficial norms of our society, I felt angry with the people who ridicule those men who try to help out with household chores; with sisters who turn their brothers into laughing stock when they carry their babies, tend to them and feed them; with moms who pamper their sons’ whims to the extent that they feel it a shame to lend any hand in the work. And then we have names to make fun of those who decide not to abide by these creepy criteria…. ‘Ye to biwi ke neecha laga hua hai’, ‘joru ka ghulam’, ‘bhuddo’ etc. Surprisingly no one asks these critics that what is their basis for such an ugly criticism? It is a shame to be heartless, not to be caring and compassionate. Whether the load is emotional or physical, sharing is caring. Bringing a cup of tea to your wife after a party won’t demean your manhood; it only strengthens your relation.
The Rasulullah (SAW), said; "When Allah wills some good towards the people of a household. He introduces kindness. He also said: "Allah loves kindness and rewards it in such a way the He does not reward for harshness or for anything else." (Muslim). There are many examples of the Rasulullah (SAW)'s kindness and good treatment toward his family that we should try to emulate. He was affectionate and playful with his wives and children and would help with household chores to ease the burden for his wives. Following his example will bring tranquility to the home and help to truly make it an abode of rest.
And then we have this courage to come up with self invented religious myths to support our idiosyncrasies. It is claimed that Allah has divided roles among men and women, since men are busy working outdoors, exhausting their energies to earn for their family, it falls on women’s shoulders to run her home smoothly without giving her husband a second’s trouble regarding any household chore. If a lady has maids to help her with chores then it’s a stigma to expect any sort of help from her husband.
Hazrat Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) was asked about the manners of the Prophet in his home? She replied: He was helping in doing the family duties and when he hears the call of prayer he goes out.
(Narrated by: Aisha – Degree: Right – the narrator: Al-Bukhari – The Source: Al-Jame’ Al-Sahih – Page or number: 5363)
At another place she replied: He washes his clothes, milks his ewe, and serves himself.
(Narrated by: Aisha – Degree: Right – the narrator: Al-Albani– The Source: Sahih Al-Jame’ – Page or number: 4996)
She said also: he sew his clothes, cleans his shoes and does what men generally do in their homes.
(Narrated by: Aisha – Degree: Right – the narrator: Al-Albani – The Source: Sahih Al-Jame’ – Page or number: 4937)
Who can be more busy than our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) who was engaged in establishing the state of Madinah Munawwara; handling the flocks of muhajireen who were joining him there, teaching and training the believers to lay the foundation for Islamic teachings besides dealing with munafiqeen’s treachery, jews’s duplicity and Mushrikeen’s constant and utmost efforts to uproot Islam and Muslims.
It is not demeaning if the husband shares in the responsibility of house matters. It’s an honor that Allah has enabled him to follow the Sunnah.
Unfortunately, this Sunnah is long forgotten and shamefully turns into a taboo because of unjust social pressures, false interpretations, cultural manipulations and lack of true Islamic spirits.
Keeping, helping and sharing aside, it’s a task to expect a man do his own tasks from getting a glass of water to put his clothes away. He would prefer to stay hungry instead of filling his plate and microwave it.
· Let kids (daughters as well as sons) help you with household work even if you have helpers to assist you.
· Strictly avoid labeling tasks as ‘boys can do this’ ‘girls can do that’ when your kids are toddlers.
· Raise independent kids by not doing their little tasks but by directing them to attempt themselves.
· It’s Sunnah to do your work with your own hands and you can find so many incidents from the life of Hazrat Muhammad (peace be upon him) from helping his family to ease the work load to doing his own work with his hands. Inspire your children to follow the prophet’s footsteps.
· Generously appreciate when you find or listen about someone who helps out his wife with kids or chores.
Click Here to read 'how to engage kids in household work' :)
We don’t have a key to undo the past mess but we can Insha’Allah look forward to a pleasant future!
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