By Sharhidd Booley
The world as we know it gives a considerable amount of space and attention to mothers and fathers. As in the animal world on land, sea, or the air, humans have mothers and fathers with special roles to play in structuring the world. Despite some having to work1, parents have a duty of care and safety for their offspring that only they can do with boundless love, concern, trepidation, and selflessness. This special, psychological makeup, socialised countenance, and universally approved raison d’étre, gives them the unique aura of grandeur that only they can carry2. This seems like an almost divine privilege unique to parenthood.
Except Adam – that historically recognised figure3 now scientifically shown to be the progenitor of all of human kind4 – children are all the procreative result of their mothers and fathers having carnally come together consensually or non-consensually, legitimately or illegitimately by modern societal standards. They are primarily responsible for their children’s nurturing and preparation for the life that awaits them, whereas those children are expected to reciprocate with goodness5, kindness6, and love. Without parents, children are voluntarily cared for by society, which has ways to provide surrogate care, welfare, and safety7. Children less fortunate, however, are targeted by the evil intents of abusive others, or forced to fend for themselves in uncaring parts of this world, often exposed to the extreme and inhospitable elements of nature: alone, unwanted, frightened, famished, and unkempt8.
These scenarios are ones that we as members of the human race have become used to across all parts of the world. They depict a world order in which mothers, fathers and their offspring are as natural as any other life forms, which go out of true a word only because children are not properly cared for and kept safe. That the creator of this intricate, fantastically embroidered world had planned9 and punctuated his creation with parenthood and its vicegerent role10 as a conduit for the expansion of His creation of the human life form11, without the offshoot of poor care that humans themselves cause.
But what if this world were differently designed and experienced by humans as creations without the procreative intervention of ‘mothers’ and ‘fathers, creations who simply ‘came about’ as Adam did12; humans who have no maternal or paternal instinct; who do not display all those warm, loving, caring, protective, safeguarding, educative, supportive, and guiding expressions usually associated with mothers and fathers as we know them; parenthood as some unknown phenomenon, title, or social function alien to our consciousness and thought?
Would the absence of mothers and fathers have made this an imperfect world? Would it have altered our idea of the nature of The Creator and the way He had wanted us to see it? Would there have been children?
As mere mortals, we have no capability nor can we be so audacious to answer these vexing questions and musings. All we can do is imagine what it might have been like without mothers and fathers. I do believe, however, that there is more than enough evidence in `Allah’s Signs in this world which suggest that His many attributes13 are far superior and impervious to any imaging that we might engage in about what the world could have been like without mothers and fathers, as parents.
`Allah’s Power over all things is such that He could plan, design, and create a world in whichever way He liked14; “He is `Allah, The Creator, The Maker, The Fashioner”15. Had it been his plan to hold back his signs of love, care, protection, safeguarding, education, support, and guidance through parents16, He would have shown these actions in some other way. The Grand stature of His Mercy and Compassion is far greater than his creation; these attributes of His would have been undiminished, unaltered, and unmoved; immutable by the absence of parenthood in this world.
Had we been made different to the way we now are, we might not have found the world an empty place without the commotion of children and their peculiar needs17; our conjugal acts and interrelationships as man and woman18 might have taken on forms that only `Allah can conceive; but, whatever these many uncertainties might mean, we would nonetheless have been created as His servants, while He would have shown his many attributes in other ways, ways that only He knows.
We might have had altered psychological states devoid of maternal and paternal desires, instincts, and ideals, wired to finding expression in real or distant relations with one another, not like mothers and fathers with their young would in this world, but rather in our relations with one another as maturing and matured adults.
`Allah could have abrogated parents with His direct presence. He could have expressed all of his beautiful attributes without the agency of mother- and fatherhood of mortal beings. Far superior to the `Allah-inspired way mothers and fathers are accustomed to tending to the bio-psycho-social needs of their children, He could have directly supported and maintained us19, guaranteed our safety, protected us, be loving, compel us to do good, overlook our daily faults, oversee our actions, be a shoulder to lean on in times of need, be clement when this is called for, appreciate our kind gestures, respond when we are in need, have a trusting relationship, be firm when firmness is called for, pardon us when we erred, help us when we falter, and satisfy all of our needs as we grow older. Instead, He blesses and sustains us with all of these things, in the surrogate comport of mother- and fatherhood. This does not mean that He is less attached to us than our mothers and fathers are
Instead, He blesses and sustains us with all of these things, in the surrogate comport of mother- and fatherhood. This does not mean that He is less attached to us than our mothers and fathers are20. On the contrary, it is precisely because of His attachment to us that He had planned the world of procreation in the way He did.
`Allah’s plan has been that there shall be conception by mothers and fathers; that they shall act as parents, allowing their children to be children while commanding their respect and adoration. And in doing so, that they be aware of, and practice, those Signs in His world that would make them better, `Allah-conscious parents who see their role and purpose in life not as self-serving automata but purely as beings serving Him alone. This service, and the gift of children21, was to be the test of their `ĩmān, through children22 – shown in the fruits of toiling for them23 – and hence for the best of the hereafter24.
We are created for the purpose of service to `Allah; the parental role is precisely that too. For as long as the world is the way it is, mothers and fathers have to contend with all that it takes to be the best as parents and see their children as their mirrors25 and caricatures26.
Professor Sharhidd Booley has a PhD in (Social Science); MEd (Adult Education); MSc (Social Research); Certificate in Spoken Arabic (UWC); International Consultant for Postgraduate Research; former lecturer of social science, psychology, social work; author of several academic and professional pieces; former Director of SANZAF and Project Designer for IDM; 20 years experience in Family and Child Care (South Africa and United Kingdom). Professor Booley’s Red Kufi Books column ‘AS I SEE IT’ will be featured monthly at redkufi.com