As- Salaamu-Alaikum, (peace be with you)
I get asked this question from time to time. Especially from new Muslims. Should I celebrate mother/father’s day? They frequently come from a tradition where the day is celebrated by their non-Muslim relatives. I would answer by saying that yes, I do celebrate these days.
My feelings about these celebrations are the same as I posted for birthdays. This day is a cultural practice that is not anti-Islamic in its intent or it’s history. According to a citation I found on Wikipedia, (not the best source I admit), Mother’s day did has a history in just about every culture in the world. Some of it was realted to worship of a particular female “god” but in most cultures it came to represent an appreciation of mothers.
“In this country it was imported (from Britain) by social activist Julia Ward Howe after the American Civil War. However, it was intended as a call to unite women against war. In 1870, she wrote the Mother’s Day Proclamation as a call for peace and disarmament. Howe failed in her attempt to get formal recognition of a Mother’s Day for Peace.
Her idea was influenced by Ann Jarvis, a young Appalachian homemaker who, starting in 1858, had attempted to improve sanitation through what she called Mother’s Work Days. She organized women throughout the Civil War to work for better sanitary conditions for both sides, and in 1868 she began work to reconcile Union and Confederate neighbors.
When Jarvis died in 1905, her daughter, named Anna Jarvis, started the crusade to found a memorial day for women.”
Father’s day started in the U. S. with similar philanthropic reasons. “It is believed to have been inspired to celebrate fathers after the deadly mine explosion in nearby Monongah the prior December. This explosion killed 361 men, many of them fathers and recent immigrants to the United States from Italy. Another possible inspiration for the service was Mothers’ Day, which had been celebrated for the first time two months prior in Grafton, West Virginia, a town about 15 miles (24 km) away. Another driving force behind the establishment of the integration of Father’s Day was Mrs. Sonora Smart Dodd, born in Creston, Washington. Her father, the Civil War veteran William Jackson Smart, as a single parent reared his six children in Spokane, Washington. She was inspired by Anna Jarvis’s efforts to establish Mother’s Day.”
After researching these origins I feel strongly that it was not a religious holiday but an attempt to recognize worthy parents and in the case of Mother’s day a call for peace. A call we as Muslims should emphasize and reiterate in our celebrations.
Prophet Muhammad stated that “Paradise lies under the feet of your mother.” The love and respect you should have for both of your parents is stressed in Islam. The honest truth is that although most of us make the effort to respect and honor our parents all year round. (Al hamdulilah-Thanks to God) We give our best effort but it is still not enough to recognize the person who the Quran states bore you with “trial or difficulty after difficulty” So I think it is an EXCELLENT idea and tradition that we can share with Muslim and non-Muslim relatives alike to show our appreciation, support and love for the people most deserving of it!
You can make your celebration more Islamic by making a special salat and dua (prayers) for your parents. You can share special Quran reading of the verses regarding parent hood with them and thank them for all that they have done for you over the years. Celebrate with service to your parents above and beyond what you usually do. You can celebrate with service to others by mentoring new parents, helping a needy family, or making donations in your parent’s name. As long as the praise and the thanks go first to Allah (God) and the appreciation is sincere and the efforts continue beyond the actual holiday, I think the day would be accepted for you. InshaAllah!