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Religion, Theology and Self-Improvement Sundays: Women, Religion, Theology and Society Part 12: Mothers

A few weeks ago in Part 9 of this series one of our viewers took issue with a part of an article written by Minister Farrakhan, which we referred to. She stated that she otherwise agreed with everything in the article but took from her reading that somehow the Minister's words implied that all women should be mothers or that a woman's ultimate worth was in her role as mother.

I particularly thought over this e-mail and part of my exchange with this viewer recently as I attended an event where a gentleman who had achieved a measure of success was before a public gathering and thanked everybody in his immediate family and several co-workers for his success but forgot to mention or thank his mother, who was in the audience. Another person quietly pointed this out to the speaker - that he had in fact, forgotten to mention his mother, and the speaker rushed to grab his mother and bring her before the crowd in attendance. Once he had centered his mother by his side and before the microphone he said, " And I have to thank my mother, whom without, none of this would have been possible". His comments evoked a response of laughter and applause from those in attendance.

Later, I began to think of this "mother phenomenon" and how both the simultaneous degradation and reverence of mothers plays such a pivotal role in society and particularly in the Black community where the dozens or " Your Mama" jokes that mock and disrespect people's mothers are considered comedy and where so many Black males credit their mothers, often single-parents, as the source of their strength and the rock or foundation of their lives.

It seems paradoxical.

These same men who have so much love for their mothers are often during the same time period so disrespectful of the other women in their lives. I used to think of this in terms of R. Kelly - an artist who has some very uplifting songs about women and who over the years has matured as an artist but who would make songs honoring mothers and grandmothers at the same time and on the same album that he made songs that regarded women as little more than sex objects.

And in Hip-Hop the same scenario exists. It is interesting that while Hip-Hop artists are castigated for songs that disrespect women far more often than are their R&B counterparts, few credit them for the numerous songs that show respect for females as women and mothers. I can quickly think of such tribute raps written by Raekwon, Noreaga and of course Tupac.

The common denominator that I hear in the words of these artists and in the streets when the subject of women comes up is that almost universally men have a "soft spot" for their mothers. The challenge in my mind has been getting men to show the same amount of respect for women in society that they hold for their mothers.

To me, all of this points to the process by which better treatment of the female, particularly from males, will come as the result of the acceptance of a better concept of the female, ultimately a return to the original concept of woman that was in the mind of the Creator. And certainly, a major part of that concept of woman, involved the duty, responsibility and function of a mother. To the degree that men and women approach God's view of women, the treatment of women improves as there is almost universal agreement that God is not a disrespecter or oppressor of woman.

A major part of the difference between God and virtually all men today is in the view of sex and the birthing process - which point to the value of the female's womb, which men biologically do not share. And once the child is born the process of mothering, in part, begins, which ultimately points to the value of the female's brain, body and emotional capacity to nurture, which men do not share.

And usually, even those women who don't have children end up being the first educator in the lives of many boys and girls. And in that sense all women have a relation to the title of "Mother of Civilization".

To punctuate this point and get underneath the surface of the controversy over "mother", I would like to refer the reader to a small part of a question and answer session between Nation of Islam theologian, Minister Jabril Muhammad and Minister Farrakhan, which took place in 1998, regarding this concept of mother, and the upliftment of females - worldwide.

Minister Jabril Muhammad: What is the relationship between a man honoring his mother and a man honoring women in general?

Minister Farrakhan: Mother is next to Allah (god) and the Messenger of Allah (God), who brings the Word of Allah (God) and is the example of how that word should be carried forth into life. Next to those two, nothing supersedes.

When a man learns to honor and respect his mother and perceives her in accordance with Allah's (God's) Will and Purpose for her creation, then it flows from that perception (of his mother) and understanding that all women who are mothers potentially should be given the same honor and respect that one would give to one's mother.

When you see your sister, a potential mother, you honor your sister. You protect your sister, as you would protect your mother, your aunt, your cousin. This flows from the proper perception of mother, from which comes the proper perception of women.

But today the subjects of sex between a male and female, the birthing process and mothering have all received a negative connotation, in many cases from some women who see themselves as feminists and who fight against any model or concept of the female which directly links womanhood to the roles of "wife", "mothering" and "family".

What has happened?

And do the several feminsist or women's liberation movements that exist today operate out of the Divine concept of female and woman, which originated in the mind of the Creator?

Cedric Muhammad

Sunday, January 21, 2001

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