Raising a child as a single mother is a very difficult job because she has to play the role of both a mother and father. She has to face physical, spiritual and financial challenges. One of the possible reasons for being a single mother is when Allah calls for the return of her partner’s soul or could be when he suffers from a fatal illness or possibly when he has to travel abroad to earn. It could also be when there is discord between the two, and as a result they end up divorcing. Single parenting is not confined to just mothers, however, they tend to be more than men and at times men also, are faced with raising their children alone. In Islam we find many shining examples of such cases and how such women faced challenges and raised their kids so well that their children excelled in their fields and served humanity. In Quran, Allah describes the pious Maryam bint Imran (r.a.) as the first example and the second one is Hajira the wife of Ibrahim (a.s.)

Bibi Maryam bint Imran (r.a):
Maryam bint Imran was a pure and devout lady. Her mother had pledged her to the service of Allah and her uncle Hazrat Zakarriyah a.s. took care of her. She would spend day and night at the masjid staying busy doing ibadah. Allah would provide provisions her and when Hazrat Zakarriyah would enter her room, he would find off season fruits and when he would ask of how they came, she would reply Allah grants rizq to whom He wills without account.
Allah chose Maryam(r.a) for His service. One day an angel came and said KalimatAllah (words of Allah) and she became pregnant. When the time to give birth arrived she went far away and took refuge under a tree where there was a spring. After that, word came from Allah for her to take a fast of silence, and to take the child back to her people and that the child would answer their queries by himself. When she returned, the people started to accuse her and question her piety, saying, “How did you get this child?” In reply she pointed at her son Isa ibn Maryan and they were left amazed when the child spoke “I am Abdullah. I have been sent from Allah as a Messenger of His.” After this he never again spoke before he was of a normal age to speak. There is not much information available of his childhood but we can only imagine that in this oppressive environment, what kind of difficulty and torture Bibi Maryam must have faced every step of the way. Despite this enmity, she loved and raised her child. The child had been given the knowledge of Torah from Allah. Normally, kids who cause their mothers suffering, the mothers find it difficult to love them but subhanAllah, Maryam (r.a.) submitted herself to the will of Allah and accepted the child given to her by Him. Allah (swt) made her son a Prophet and granted him Injeel and even in this age of 2019 his followers outnumber every religion including Islam and as long as Allah wills, her name will be remembered with respect and love along with the Prophet Isa ibn Maryam.

Bibi Hajra:
At the age of 87 years, Allah granted Prophet Ibrahim’s second wife Hajira, a child named Ismail (a.s). When he was only a few months old she was faced with a test. Hazrat Ibrahim with the order of Allah, set on a journey with only some dates and water along with wife and child. He went to Makkah where there was no population, no vegetation and no water, only the dessert and surrounding mountains. After reaching there, Hazrat Ibrahim left them and without turning around he started his journey back home. Bibi Hajira ran after him asking “Where are you going?” and when he did not reply she then asked, “Is it the command of Allah?” to which he replied with one word of “Yes.” After hearing his response, she, the grateful and patient and full of iman, became content. She knew Allah would take care of them. The water and dates ran out quickly. At night, it was pitch black without a single sound and the danger of snakes and scorpions, etc was ever present, but she sat there without fear, relying on Allah with her baby in her arms. When the water ran out and she could no longer feed him milk, and the child cried out in hunger and thirst, she started to run. She climbed the top of “Safa” hill, hoping perhaps there was a caravan arriving and she would find some food and water. However, she was disappointed to find no one and then ran in the opposite direction to climb “Marwa” hill but was disappointed yet again. She ran back and forth seven times between Safa and Marwa and Allah in His mercy sent angel Jibraeel to hit his wing on the ground from which a spring bubbled forth. When Hajira saw, she gathered the sand around it and said “Zamzam” which means to stop and so the well is named Zamzam. The smell of water, attracted birds, and the sight of birds attracted the nomadic tribe Jurham. And so, a village was established. In this period she continued to raise Ismail as a single mother until Hazrat Ismail’s youth. Hazrat Ibrahim only visited wife and son four times but Bibi Hajira taught Ismail, the love of his father, faith in Allah, patience and compassion, the respect of his parents, and being grateful to Allah. And so when the prophet Ibrahim dreamt of sacrificing Ismail to Allah, he came to ask Ismail his opinion on the matter. To which he replied “Do what Allah has commanded you to do, and you will find me obedient”. Then Ismail put his forehead on the ground in fear that his father might not be able to overcome his love for his son over Allah. He was a teenager at the time, and from teenagers we do not expect such obedience in this day and age. After this, Allah sent them a sheep, and the sheep was sacrificed in his place. When he visited on a different occasion, they worked together to build the Kabah, around which the Muslims to this day perform Tawaf, perform Hajj, sacrifice animals and run between Safa and Narwa. These are all the acts Allah accepted and Hazrat Hajira will always be commemorated with her son Ismail (a.s.)

Amna bint Wahab (r.a.):
She was the mother of Muhammad (s.a.w.), and was pregnant with him when her husband who was travelling on business passed away. She was a widow when she gave birth to him. Before his birth, she dreamt that a light came out from her and it reached the palaces of the Roman Empire in Syria and the Persian Empire in Iran and she knew the splendor of her child. He was given to wet nurse Halima for his best health and upbringing according to the Arab custom of that time. His presence in their household was blessed and increased in their sustenance too. When Muhammad (s.a.w) returned to his mother at the age of 5, she took him to meet his family but on the way back, she died and was buried in a place named “Abwa.” The Prophet (s.a.w) was very close to his mother and he felt the loss of her warmth and affection when she passed away. Hazrat Amna had stayed with her husband’s family in Makkah so that her child could get the love and affection of his grandfather and uncles. Later in his life, when the Prophet(s.a.w) was going to Madinah, he was crossing the area of “Abwa” and visited his mother’s grave and prayed for her and the sahaba saw tears on his face. Amna bint Wahab gave birth to a son who will be remembered and loved by the world until the day of judgment and after.

Hazrat Saffiyah bint Abdul Muttalib r.a.:
She was the aunt of Prophet Muhammad (s.a.w) and was almost the same age as him. She was brave and elegant and was from the first to enter into Islam in its early days. She was married to Khadijah (r.a). brother, Awam bin Khuwaylid, with whom she had Zubayr bin Awam. The child was still small when his father passed away, after which she did not marry and put her focus on the child’s upbringing. The child himself accepted Islam at a young age when he was a teenager. Safiyyah raised him to be a hardworking and hard bodied individual. At times she would not feed him to his full stomach, and at times she would make him work in the sun and had him learn good fighting techniques. Once, someone came and told her that her son was caught in a fight with a powerful man and in return she asked “How did you find my son? Did he run away afraid?” And the man replied, “He broke this powerful man’s arm.” which made her glad. When he was 16, the news of someone attacking the Prophet(s.a.w) broke out and Zubayr grabbed a sword and ran and when he reached the Kabah, he saw the Prophet(s.a.w) sitting in the shade of it and the Prophet (s.a.w) asked him why his sword was sheathed, and what he was doing. In reply he said, “I heard news of someone attacking you and I’m here to take his head.” The Prophet (s.a.w) smiled and said that this was the first sword that was raised in the defense of the Prophet Mohammad (s.a.w). Hazrat Saffiyah was always brave and active, and during the Battle of trench she was 56 years old, and all the women were sent to a fort for protection and the poet Hasaan bint Sabit was appointed for protection. The jews of Madinah sent a person to scout the area and see if there were any armed soldiers with the women. Hazrat Saffiyah was very intelligent and so when the man came, she thought he was a spy and asked Hasaan to kill him, to which he replied that he had a weak heart and he could not do it, otherwise he would have gone to war. So she took it on herself and hit the man, who then died. After that she asked Hasaan to behead him, to which he made the same excuse and she used his sword to do the work herself and took his weapons. Then another man was sent, and after seeing the first scout, they assumed that there were armed soldiers protecting the women and so they decided not to attack the women. Zubayr learned his bravery from his mother and he accompanied the Prophet (s.a.w) in all the ghazawaat and he earned the title “Hawari-rasool.”

Hazrat Umm-e-Sulaym (r.a.):
Her name was Ramla. She was married to Maalik, and she had one son, Anas with him. She lived in Madinah, and accepted Islam from the start and when her son was a baby she would teach her son the kalimah, which would make her husband upset and he would say “Why are you turning him away from the old religion?” Anas loved his mother very much and was an obedient son. When Anas was 7 years old his father passed away. Alone Ramla raised her son and did not marry again. At every proposal offer she would reply, that once her son was someone of dignity then she would marry again. When the Prophet Muhammad (s,a,w) arrived in Madinah she took Anas to serve the Prophet and said to him “He is all that I have, and please accept him to serve you.” He would go every day and do small tasks for the Prophet and to learn the deen. He would sit amidst the sahaba and the Prophet (s.a.w) was very happy with him. Once, the Prophet (s.a.w) made dua for him that, “Oh Allah, bless Anas in his wealth, his progeny, his iman and his age.” This dua was accepted, the last sahabi to survive past the age of 100 was Anas, and had more than 100 children and he left a lot of wealth and he narrated many ahadith.

Mother of Imam Shafee:
Imam Shafee’s mother was pregnant when her husband passed away. She was staying in Ghaza at the time. She and her husband were from Makkah originally and were tradesmen by profession but preferred to live in Palestine. After some time, when her savings ran out, she returned to Makkah, when imam Shafee was 2 years old. She thought, that her language and iman would both be preserved living there. She was from the progeny of Imam Hassan (r.a.). When she was in Makkah she had a dream that Jupiter was coming towards her and then landed in Egypt. She was given the interpretation that her son would come to Egypt and the light of his knowledge will spread throughout the world. By the age of 7, his mother, had him memorize the Quran and by age 10 he had memorized the Muatta, the hadith book of imam Malik. To preserve his language and his iman, she sent her son to Bani Huzayl in the dessert where he stayed till age 17. Over there he gained expertise in the Arabic language and learned thousands of stanzas of poetry. He was also accomplished in archery. After observing his intelligence, a man suggested that he should go to Imam Malik in Madinah and learn fiqh. Over there everyone was impressed by his eloquence. The Prophet (s.a.w) has said that “The right words said at the right moment have the same effect as magic.” His life was spent in poverty and gaining knowledge and deen. Imam Shafee spent 5 years in service of Imam Malik. At the age of 29 he returned to Makkah and started teaching. The interesting thing is that when he moved from Medinah to Makkah people showered him with gifts, including gold and silver coins, camels laden with goods and female and male servants. He entered Makkah in grandeur and poverty was common in Makkah and when people gathered around him, he started to give out his things to the people, until he reached his mother’s tent, at which point he has some gold coins and a female servant left. He stood at the doorway and asked for permission to come in, when his mother asked, “What is this that you’ve brought?” During which time, another woman came to him and he handed the gold to her, after which his mother became happy and said, “I sent you to gather knowledge not wealth.” His fame reached far and wide. He is one of the four great imams of fiqh and to this day people are benefiting from his teachings.

Mother of Rabi ur Raee:
He was a taba’een. Rabi was young, when his father left to Syria for business. As he was leaving, he left a large sum of money with his wife, coincidentally, he was unable to return for 30 years. His mother, decided that this money should be spent on Rabi’s education not on comforts. She had him learn from the great scholars of their time. He travelled outside of Madinah to gain knowledge as well. On return, he became the Imam of Madinah and started teaching. In his lessons, hundreds of people would attend. In this time, his father returned and went straight to Masjid e Nabwi and saw a young man, teaching the people deen in a heartfelt manner. His heart yearned for his son to be just like this man. When he returned home, he mentioned the same to his wife and asked about the sum of money and if there was any left. She told him his money was safe. When Rabi returned home, father and son exchanged interesting dialogue and started to kick the other out of their home. After hearing them argue, his mother ran to stop them and said to her husband, this is your son, the imam you saw in the masjid, the money was spent on his education. His wife’s wisdom of using the money impressed him and made him happy.

Mother of Muhammad Ali and Shauqat Ali:
Muhammad Ali was born in 1878 and by the age of 1898 he was known as a poet, journalist, orator, politician, philanthropist, social activist and he studied in Oxford. The renowned English novelist H.G. Wells proclaimed, “Muhammad Ali possessed the pen of Macaulay, the tongue of Burke and the heart of Napoleon. Mohammad Ali Jauhar was 2 years old when his father died at the age of 30. His mother was Abaadi Begum who had 6 children, 4 of whom passed away also at a young age. She taught her two young sons, Shauqat Ali and Muhammad Ali that they should be aware of current affairs. She herself would make them read the English newspaper out loud and would mourn that the rule of the British was ending Islamic culture. She had her sons learn the English language so they could communicate with the British. She sold her jewelry to send her sons to Oxford for higher education. She had her sons learn the Quran as well as read Arabic and Persian classic books. Muhammad Ali started the liberation movement, in which he published weekly magazines called Comrade. He joined congress and was imprisoned many times, so much so that once he was told that he would be released if he apologized to the British government. To which his mother supported him saying that “If you do such a thing I will strangle you myself.” He faced many difficulties, and spent many years of his life in prison. His mother’s lyrics became famous, saying:
“Boli amma Muhammad Ali ki Jaan beta khilafat pe dedo;
Saath tere hai Shauqat Ali bhi Jaan beta khlilafat pe dedo;
Hashar mein hasher barpa karoongi Pesh tum ko main le kar chaloongi;
Iss hukoomat pe dawaa karoongi Jaan beta khilafat pe dedo”

She taught him that religion and politics were not separate and in the first world war, his policy was that for the freedom of Islam, the freedom of India was necessary. If the British had ruled over Turkey then their rule over India would have strengthened. During that time, to form opinions people would read newspaper and magazine and attend rallies, which is now replaced by TV channels and social media, which is no longer used for noble causes but instead is used for entertainment.
In conclusion, all these single mothers were focused, had vision and had goals to achieve. To reach those goals they disciplined their children. Took help wherever it was needed, had consistency and spent their money wisely. These women should serve as inspiration for all mothers to face adversity and challenges with bravery, have faith in Allah and have determination to raise productive children.