Narrated `Ali رضي الله عنه: Fatima رضي الله عنها complained of what she suffered from the hand mill and from grinding…
She went to Prophet ﷺ to ask for a maid-servant, but she couldn’t find him, and told Aisha of her need. When Prophet ﷺ came, Aisha informed him of that.
Prophet ﷺ came to our house when we had gone to our beds. (On seeing the Prophet) we were going to get up (out of respect), but he said, ‘Keep at your places,’…
Then he ﷺ said, “Shall I tell you a thing which is better than what you asked me for?
When you go to your beds, say: ‘Allahu Akbar (i.e. Allah is Greater)’ for 34 times,
and ‘AlhamduLillah (i.e. all the praises are for Allah)’ for 33 times,
and ‘SubhanAllah (i.e. Glorified be Allah)’ for 33 times.
This is better for you than what you have requested.” [Bukhari 3113]
I look at this story of Fatima رضي الله عنها and I get to learn so much from it. I find this hadith carrying so many lessons, like:
1) Normalise asking for help! Don’t suffer in silence…
Fatima رضي الله عنها realised she needed help (as a mother of 5 kids) and knew that her husband couldn’t provide that help for her (he used to draw water, one bucket for one date according to Hadith; Ibn Majah 2447 – meaning both husband and wife worked really hard till their bodies ached) so she went to her father. And then she mentioned her need to Aisha رضي الله عنها as well without any sense of guilt for needing help.
Although she didn’t get the help she was expecting, she got a beautiful replacement instead. Speaking of her need gave her closure instead of resentment.
Dear mama! As much as it’s hard, ASK whenever you need help! Sometimes people would realise, sometimes they won’t. So ASK! Sometimes that help may come in the form of a machine that makes your task easier. Sometimes in the form of a supportive family member or a friend. Sometimes through a paid house help or a therapist. Sometimes through advice like this 🌸
Asking for help doesn’t make you incompetent or weak. It makes you human!
2) Anything good done for the sake of Allah can become an ibaadah
Being a stay-at-home mum – who dedicated a large amount of her time to doing the house chores etc. did not hinder Fatima رضي الله عنها from paving her way to Jannah. Prophet ﷺ gave her the title of “chief of all the ladies of Paradise”.
So when you feel helpless due to lack of help and support that you are not able to dedicate time for yourself or your health, just remember these adhkaar. It’s said that their financial situation didn’t change, but they didn’t feel the need for house help after that (when they made these adhkaar a habit).
Ali رضي الله عنه added (in another hadith), ‘I’ve never failed to recite it ever since.” Somebody asked, “Even on the night of the battle of Siffin?” He said, “Even on the night of the battle of Siffin.”
I remember the time when I was really sick and my husband was working long hours, I contacted the childcare services in desperation. They sent me a HUGE quote for 6 hours. And what struck me the most was that they clearly mentioned:
We ONLY offer childcare services (it does not include household chores).
So, the woman coming to help me will not clean, wash dishes, do laundry, fold clothes, organise, cook, etc. And of course, she will neither be carrying the mental load of motherhood nor will she do kids’ tarbiyyah.
She will simply ensure that kids’ physical needs are met.
And I couldn’t help but think, of course, these are 2-3 separate jobs. A person who is seamlessly mixing these 2-3 jobs (childcare & household chores etc.) would essentially be bringing 2-3 paychecks if they were doing the same thing for some other family.
I never ended up calling them, but it sure was a good self-confidence boost. I reassured myself that childcare is my MAIN job. Household chores are sort of my side job. So even if I am not showing up 100% at my 2nd job, it’s ok!
Household chores are important and essential survival skills, but my other job makes me irreplaceable! Chores can be outsourced (even completely), but not all parts of childcare can be outsourced. Lack of chores may have effects on the people around sometimes, but lacking in my other role can leave its effects on generations.
No wonder Ibrahim عليه السلام made dua – not just for his kids but also for his grandkids and mo
رَبَّنَا وَٱجْعَلْنَا مُسْلِمَيْنِ لَكَ وَمِن ذُرِّيَّتِنَآ أُمَّةًۭ مُّسْلِمَةًۭ لَّكَ …
“Our Lord! And make us submissive to You and of our descendants a nation submissive to You…” [2:128]
So I remind myself that caring for the home comes second to caring for the people who live in it. My home doesn’t care about me. The people who live in it do! My home doesn’t have feelings, people who live inside it do! And to have harmony in the home, those people are my main focus. I am the shepherd who will be questioned about them. People may focus on what my house looks like (and make household chores the entire personality of mothers), but Allah will ask me about His amaanah first. I care what my Creator thinks of me than the creation!
3) Too much love can never spoil a child, but too much dunya can!
Parents sometimes withhold the love thinking that it will spoil their children and then make it up by showering them with dunya (in the form of material things or services).
Although beneath all that rubble of dunya are children who just need a little more respect. It’s a bitter truth as a parent, but I came across so many messages that made me pray – may we not raise broken adults even when we had a broken childhood…
Aisha رضي الله عنها said: “…When she (Fatima رضي الله عنها ) came to him (Muhammad ﷺ), he stood up for her, made her feel welcomed, kissed her and had her sit in his place…”
Muhammad ﷺ gave all the love, time, and respect he could to his daughter (even got up to seat her where he was sitting), but did not give her all the dunya (even though he owned a maid himself). Muhammad ﷺ gave her something more powerful in return. His knowledge. His time. His presence. And most importantly, aakhirah!
So please remember, if serving your children’s dunya needs makes you too tired to even be nice to them, always prefer the latter over the former! They’ll survive the lack of dunya, but not the lack of love.
4) Don’t compare your life to others – everyone has a different hardship/test
Fatima Bint Muhammad رضي الله عنها, as opposed to her sisters (Zainab, Ruqayyah, and Umm Kulthum رضي الله عنهم), was not married in a wealthy household. Hence she worked very hard with her husband (Ali رضي الله عنه) to keep the house running – with 5 kids in the mix. Fatima رضي الله عنها didn’t say that her sisters have it easy because they have servants. She simply mentioned her need and didn’t suffer in silence. And then applied the solution that she was given with all her heart and soul. It’s said that the couple never left those adhkaar after that and felt satisfied with what they had even though their financial situation didn’t really change. And then Allah eventually gave her what she asked for as well (even if it was after some time).
5) The role of a caretaker is honorable too
Fatima رضي الله عنها did not quote many ahadith. She was – what we may call nowadays – a stay at home mom. She didn’t contribute to the society a lot (from society’s standards). But her children got the glad tidings of being the chief of all youth in Jannah.
Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: “Al-Hasan and Al-Husain are the chiefs of the youth of Paradise.” [Hadith; Tirmidhi 3768]
So when you feel helpless due to lack of help and support that you are not able to dedicate time for yourself or your health, just remember these adhkaar. It’s said that their financial situation didn’t change, but they didn’t feel the need for house help after that (when they made these adhkaar a habit). And also remember that you can still raise great leaders of the world in circumstances like these.