Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fourth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.
When I woke up this morning, my wife Priya was already up and about as usual. I could hear her talking to our daughter Madina (who is now a year and a half old) outside of our bedroom door. I walked out to a loud "Babaaaaaa" and was met with a hug by Madina and a smile from Priya as she washed dishes in our sink. Madina took a seat and started patting the ground next to her saying, "chair, chair" indicating that she wanted me to sit with her. As Madina and I got comfy, Priya moved on from the dishes and picked up a dust pan and brush and started to sweep the carpet. Madina jumped over to her, took the brush out of her hand, walked over and handed it to me and said, "Baba saaf saaf (clean, clean.)" Another life lesson learned at the hands of my little brownberry.
When I was younger, my mother used to be the one that would get everything ready for all of us, whether it was Ramadan or not. In my first year of writing these reflections, I wasn't married and I wrote a piece that described how Ramadan was different when you lived alone and how my mother really took care of me in ways that I didn't realize at that time.
"Regardless of what part of the world I am in or what I am doing, I can always be certain that my mom will check up on me. If I drop by to NJ to visit at any time of the year, even it its at 2am and the rest of the house is asleep, my mother will wait up to make sure I got in ok and make me some food if I hadn't eaten yet. Thinking back to Ramadan, my mother's day was probably longer than the rest of ours. She would get up early, make food for all of us, wake us up, and would only eat her suhoor after she was certain that all of us were taken care of. After we all prayed our Fajr prayer, we would go to bed but my mom would still be awake. She had to make sure everything was cleaned up and only then would she spend some time on herself and start reading the Qur'an."
This morning I realized how much my wife, who herself is now a mother, does for me, Madina and the running of our home and how little in comparison I do in return. Each day I come home she makes sure I have something to eat; she spends hours making food from scratch at home for Madina, cleans up behind us while simultaneously doing papers and readings for her masters in social work, working at field placements in substance abuse and psych wards, and volunteering as a translator and rape crisis counselor at local hospitals. When the body wash or toilet paper in my bathroom runs out, a new one appears the next day. Clothes get hung and folded, kufis and keys get found, and at the end of it all she's still a fun person to hang out with. I, on the other hand, get proud of myself for taking out the garbage or changing a diaper once in a while.
Aisha, the wife of the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said of her husband: "God's Messenger used to patch his sandals, sew his garment and conduct himself at home as anyone of you does in his house. He was a human being, searching his garment for lice, milking his sheep, and doing his own chores." She was once asked what did the Prophet use to do at home. She replied, "He used to keep himself busy serving his family and when it was time for the prayer, he would get up for prayer."
In discussing this briefly with a few other men, the idea came up that women are "supposed" to be the ones that take care of the home and that's why they don't really do too much. Because Islam tells them not to. I guess someone must have forgot to tell that to the Prophet Muhammad since he seemingly helped around the house. It's a good thing that we know better today. (This is sarcasm, by the way, in case you are reading it as something else.)
Our ability to do should not be stifled by a weak argument of whether we are obligated to do or not. As husbands, brothers, sons, nephews, friends or guests, we as men should be doing our fair share and beyond, especially in this month of Ramadan. Gratitude is not displayed only through words but through actions as well. Take the time to help out around the house, not because you are or aren't "supposed" to, but because you want to. Be compelled to help a mother that has done so much for you over the years, a wife who stands by you through thick and thin, a sister that looked out for you growing up, or a daughter that looks up to you and deserves a role model who knows and recognizes that they are being looked up to.
A special request to keep my Priya in your thoughts and prayers -- she is the best mashallah.