It’s amazing what motherhood teaches you. Three weeks ago today, I took my turn in one of the greatest struggles a woman endures. It was an experience that would forever change my life.
Three weeks ago, I gave birth.
The pain of childbirth is certainly called labor for a reason. But in that struggle, and perhaps even more so in the struggle of child-rearing that follows, we are taught an invaluable life lesson.
They tell you that the ‘best things in life are free.’ But of all the untruths we are told, that cliché is perhaps one of the biggest. Nothing in life is free. And most definitely not the best things. Everything has a price. And the more precious something is, the higher that price.
Anything worth having requires us to work for it. Allah teaches us this Truth in the Quran when He says: “And that there is not for man except that [good] for which he strives; and that his effort is going to be seen—then he will be recompensed for it with the fullest recompense; and that to your Lord is the finality” (Qur’an, 53:39-42).
So, Allah tells us that in this life we will always have to strive. But He also tells us that there will always be fruit of that striving. Consider childbirth. Could not Allah have made it completely painless and simple? Couldn’t we all have come into this world without causing our mothers to bleed and suffer?
Or consider the pregnancy. Allah says: “And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning was in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination,” (Qur’an, 31:14). Could not Allah have formed a human being overnight, without 9 months of that hardship? Could we not have been developed without causing our mothers the morning sickness, exhaustion, difficulty walking, sleeping, breathing, eating?
But through that strife, and as a result of that struggle, what do we have? As the fruit of our striving, we have one of Allah’s greatest gifts: a beautiful child of our own.
But it wasn’t for free.
And nothing in life is. If you want to win a gold medal, you have to give your life to training. If you want a degree, you have to spend years of sleepless nights and exhausting days, studying for it. Even something as simple as being in shape requires you to work out.
And if you want to make it to Jannah, you have to strive. If you want to be with Allah in the end, you have to endure the pangs of hunger during Ramadan, overcome sleep to pray fajr (early morning prayer), and sacrifice your wealth to pay zakah (charity). This is the price of Jannah—a gift, but one that doesn’t come for free.
And so too was my son a gift, but one that I had to struggle for. That struggle is inherent in the definition of this imperfect dunya (this life), which was never meant to be easy. When you watch someone in their first moments of life, this truth becomes so clear. The first thing we do when we enter this world is cry, and then struggle to take our first breath. Suddenly we are introduced to the realities of a life where we will bleed, feel hunger, fear, and pain. Almost immediately we are introduced to all these realities at once.
This Truth is also described in the Quran when Allah says: “We have certainly created man into hardship,” (Qur’an, 90:4).
But like my son who was the brilliant light at the end of a long tunnel, Allah also promises us an unparalleled gift as the fruit of our striving in this life. He says in the Quran: “O mankind, indeed you are laboring toward your Lord with [great] exertion and will meet it” (Qur’an, 84:6).
Originally published by InFocus News