The Spiritual Lessons of Birth

This is a slightly edited version of an article that I  contributed to Saudilife.net (Motherhood Column) on August 14, 2011 entitled  The Spiritual Lessons of Birth

 

Alhamdulillah, we are in a blessed month (Ramadan), one that encourages us to ponder on the ayat (signs) of Allah, both in Qur’an and in our lives.  Pondering is a form of worship and through it we can be blessed to gain spiritual insights.  Birth is truly an ayat and one that should cause all of us to reflect.

Allah says in Qur’an, Surah 23, Ayat 14:

 

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful

١٤ ثُمَّ خَلَقْنَا النُّطْفَةَ عَلَقَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْعَلَقَةَ مُضْغَةً فَخَلَقْنَا الْمُضْغَةَ عِظَامًا فَكَسَوْنَا الْعِظَامَ لَحْمًا ثُمَّ أَنشَأْنَاهُ خَلْقًا آخَرَ فَتَبَارَكَ اللَّهُ أَحْسَنُ الْخَالِقِينَ

14. Then We made the Nutfah (drop) into a clot (a piece of thick coagulated blood), then We made the clot into a little lump of flesh, then We made out of that little lump of flesh bones, then We clothed the bones with flesh, and then We brought it forth as another creation. So blessed be Allah, the Best to Create!

 As Muslims- and especially as Muslim mothers — most of us reflect on birth as an ayat of Allah.  We feel awe at how Allah has amazingly orchestrated the joining of sperm and egg and their evolution into a complex, breathing, functional new human being.  Subhanallah!  But beyond the miracle of the physical aspects of creation of the fetus, if we prepare ourselves and open ourselves, we may find that Allah has placed more for us to glean, as we are blessed to go through or witness this noble life process.  In the very next ayat after the one quoted above, Allah says:

١٥  ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ لَمَيِّتُونَ      ١٦ ثُمَّ إِنَّكُمْ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ تُبْعَثُونَ

15.  After that, surely, you will die. 

16.  Then (again), surely, you will be resurrected on the Day of Resurrection.

Here, as in other places in Qur’an, Allah couples the mention of birth with the mention of death and resurrection.  He turns us from contemplating on the physical wonders of creation and the greatness of our Creator to consider our passage through this life and our evolution toward our final end.  This pondering will surely lead to different realizations for everyone, as spiritual awareness differs from person to person and even for the same person at various times in her life journey.  I think my two birth stories can accentuate my point.

 Pondering My Births

 My first story is the story of my first home birth.  I had just moved to a new city and decided upon a homebirth after meeting a wonderful sister in our community who was a midwife.  My pregnancy passed pretty uneventfully. We had planned everything and my husband (may Allah have mercy on him) was prepared to run and get the midwife when we needed her as she didn’t have a car at the time.  On a Thursday evening, I went into labor and decided to rest as much as I could.  I did actually sleep for a while but was awakened by my contractions in the early morning hours.  I really felt like I wanted to be alone and was enjoying the silence of the house at that hour.  All the children were asleep (there were 6 of them) and I wanted to drink in the stillness before the house turned into the daily energy center that it was.  So I slipped into a warm bath having a great solitary party.  But as Fajr time started growing near, I decided if I didn’t want a water birth, I’d better wake my husband and send him for the midwife.  It seemed like a second after his name left my lips, he went from 100% sleep to 100% attention and heading out the door with one arm in his coat (it was mid-November).  Then my realization… “Wait!!  Don’t go!! The baby’s coming NOW!!!”  He lunged back toward me (really!) with wide eyes and without a clue of what to do.  It looked like it was up to me.  The next thing I knew, my beautiful daughter, Inshirah, came easily into my hands.  Alhamdulillah!  It was such an easy birth and I was flying!

 Take Away Lesson # 1 – “With Allah’s help, I can do anything!”

 My very next birth was a totally different story.  I had two midwives, the same midwifery intern along with my husband and my houseful of busy children; all keeping me company as I labored.  The strange thing was that I would have contractions so strong, that I felt like I was going through transition, and then…they would just stop.  This happened once and it totally threw me off.  After a while, the contractions revved back up until I was back at what I thought was transition again.  And guess what…it stopped again!  This went on for three days until, I kept saying, “After all these births, I forgot how to have a baby!”

It was a truly humbling experience, for sure.  Eventually, the midwife suggested my husband take me out for a very early morning breakfast which was lovely.  Later, one of the midwives had to go to another birth and my husband ran the children to school.  In that transitory quietness of the house, Allah manifested that my son was born in the time it took for my husband to get back home — from zero contractions to a baby in twenty minutes.  Subhanallah!  What sweet relief!

 Take Away Lesson # 2 – “Without Allah’s help, I can do NOTHING.”

 Now these lessons were not your glibly-spoken-off-the-tongue kind of lessons; but lessons that were seared into my heart, mind and soul.  So, alhamdulillah, I truly digested these two balancing ideas that I have drawn on across the years.  Consequently, I don’t go to extremes in being too confident or too helpless, but rely on Allah to help me through whatever situation He places before me.

May Allah make us of those who do not walk away unchanged from our birthing process, but with a deeper understanding of the One who perfected birth, of ourselves, of the women who have been chosen to give birth, and of life itself.  I close with the hope that you will take time to ponder, show your gratitude to Allah, and share (if you wish) some of the unique spiritual realizations that you have gained through your births with those mothers or mothers-to-be who might benefit.

 

By Sabriyya Abdur-Rauf | Contribution to Saudi Life

Sabriyya is an American birth mother of 10, stepmother of 2, grandmother of 49 (and counting), and God-willing, a soon-to-be great grandmother.  She slated to complete her MS in Instructional Design in December 2015.  Sabriyya is a Doula, Educator,  Certified Herbologist, Owner of Y & S Institute, LLC. and Founder of “Phases” a new faith-based Doula Training Program.