This past Sunday was Mother's Day. My mother died on Mother's Day 2013. May God give her peace and well-being in God's presence. She was a saintly woman in many ways. My aunt once told me, "She loved you better than anything." It is good to remember her. It is good to think about her. It is good to think about the beauty of mothers.
But in doing so, may we also take this moment to think about the beauty of a mother who wasn't.
Her name? Rouzān. It was Rouzān.
We never met. But from what's been said, she was a nurse. Twenty-one years old. And fearless. She wore the white coat and vest of a medical volunteer. Each Jummah she would come home to her mother and father, bathed in the blood of those whose suffering she had been trying to ease. In April 2018, she explained to journalists that she was being targeted--how bullets had tried, but failed, to find her on at least three occasions. She was kind, loving, and self-sacrificing. She would have made a wonderful mother, except...
Two months later, the 17th of Ramadan 1439AH, a bullet did finally find its mark, and it took her life.
Later, her killers hoped to kill her yet again, this time by trying to cast a shadow on her name. They did not succeed. They will not.
This whole website is about the beauty one finds along the way of becoming Muslim. Sometimes that beauty can be exquisite, like looking into Rouzān's luminous face. Sometimes, though, that beauty can be hard to find. Yes, it is there, even in the burial shroud of an innocent, but it is not easy. It is not easy. What a strange miracle that is.
Beauty can also be found in a rebuke, which is another strange miracle to be sure. My mother's rebukes curbed my temper, my self-absorption, my self-pity, my pride, my hate. It wasn't easy for her, either. She had to bear the pain of seeing me do things that required her correction, and then she had to bear the pain of doing the correcting. She also had to suffer the pain of my response.
It took the courage of a lion to do what she did, but again, she loved me too much not to. She loved me too much to be afraid. She loved me better.
God reminds over and over that God is Rahman and Raheem--a mother's womb of Mercy and Compassion. We call Muhammad (ﷺ) Nabi al-Ummi, a term that derives from the word for mother. Jesus (ﷺ) compared himself to a mother hen longing to gather her brood under her wings. And it is no coincidence that at the moment Jesus (ﷺ) said those words, he was speaking to the city of Jerusalem, the city where our beloved Rouzān likely would have prayed.
"Jerusalem, Jerusalem," cried Jesus (ﷺ), "the city that kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to it!"
It's like Jesus (ﷺ) understood there is this machine in the world, a machine of almost miraculous wonder. But when it is off-kilter, as it often seems to be, it destroys all those who get in its way. Its gears grind down humans, even the truest of humans. Especially the truest of humans. This machine doesn't care whose mother it takes. It doesn't even care whose children it takes. Greed is its fuel. Silence and cowardice its air. Forgetfulness its oil. And as it combusts, it consumes. And the more it consumes, the more it must consume. It will come for us all eventually. It will even consume itself, if left to itself.
This week, the machine came for another of our mothers: al-Aqsa. Al-Aqsa is the womb that birthed Mir'aj and Isra, that womb that birthed salat. And sadly, it wasn't until the attack on this mother that I finally said enough.
There's not much I can do, if anything. But I will not give it any air. I will not give it oil. Through my mother's courage, I will not go any longer without offering up a rebuke. I will love it--and all those who are driving it--better.
May the Mercy to the Universes (ﷺ) hear me say this--
Her name is Rouzān.
Her name is al-Aqsa.