Sometimes living in a modern society so focused on the self, for a Muslim, the idea of self care can seem a difficult pill to swallow. Islam calls on us to give and to care and to advise. Self care can feel so antithetical to an Islamic worldview which calls on us to do good in order to reach God. Centering ourselves at our own love doesn’t feel giving; doesn’t feel Islamic. And yet, the self cannot be denied. We burn out. We are spent.
How is it that the Prophet ﷺ was able to give so constantly? Maybe I am setting the bar too high. The Prophet ﷺ was able to garner his energy almost superhumanly, but how is it that our mothers or grandmothers gave so much and so often? How has our ummah been built on the backs of fighters and thinkers, herdsmen and builders and yet, there were no spa days and no vacation time. In my own home, I don’t seem to be able to manage even the simple tasks of everyday living without overwhelm consuming me.
So many times a day, my children call out to me ‘Look at me, mama’. My children seem to call on me endlessly, their needs draining me to the point of tearful exhaustion, and yet there is so much trust they have in my ability to respond. They beg to be seen; they beg to be heard. They know deep inside them that to be seen, to be heard, without criticism and with affirmation, is to be loved. And so, I do my best to respond because I know that to be loved is to know that you are worthwhile and therefore builds in you the confidence to become the person you so wish to be.
But who is there to see me: to pour into me the love that can light my path and inspire my wings? Especially in the daily trenches of motherhood it is easy to feel forgotten or belittled. Even if I take time for myself and do some ‘self care’ it is only me feeding myself. My weaknesses and fears compound within me and there is no one there to look me in the eye and say I see you and you can do this.
But I tell myself, Allah is Here. Allah tells us He is close; closer than our own veins1 Quran Verse 50:16. I have my prayers, don’t I? I have my time with Allah 5 times a day.
When we stand in prayer, we are there as ourselves, truly, without pretension or mask. Your heart is fully exposed to your Maker. Not only that, but regardless of the state of it, beaming with faithfulness or dirtied by the desires of this life, Allah asks for your presence. That is because He is, in every moment, willing to accept you as you are and thus assure you that you are known and that you are loved. He wants to inspire in you the sure confidence that you are able to be that person you so wish to be.
Is it possible that I may be known and seen?