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200364117-001Without exaggeration, I know of about 17 women, within my direct contacts, who had babies this year. I would also say that this was the year of baby girls as 13 of the new arrivals were females. Yes, a whole lot of congratulations did the rounds…along with endless pink gift boxes!

 My family was also blessed with this rain, alhumdullilah. It was the end of the cumbersome ninth month. I drove to the hospital to pick her up after her routine prenatal check-up. I found her with an expression that was a mix of fear & apprehension. She said, “Its time. The doctor told me to get admitted by evening.”

I hugged her. We both cried – me with anticipated joy & she with numbing fright.

 Allah’s Love & Mercy is all around us at all time, but most of the time we just don’t notice them. As I started the car to take her home, the Quran channel on the radio was playing the following verse from Surah Maryam:


فَأَجَآءَهَا الْمَخَاضُ إِلَى جِذْعِ النَّخْلَةِ


“And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a date palm…..” [19:23]          


“Listen to this. This message is especially for you. Allah is giving you comfort & support through His Words,” i told her. But, i don’t think she registered – her heart-beats probably drowned all external sounds.   

 * * * * * * * * * * * *

That evening was the first time I saw a maternity ward. As I was entering it, I noticed a large Arabic calligraphic writing on the wall above the entrance door. It was the verse from Surah Shura: 

لِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَآءُ يَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ إِنَـثاً وَيَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ الذُّكُورَ – أَوْ يُزَوِّجُهُمْ ذُكْرَاناً وَإِنَـثاً وَيَجْعَلُ مَن يَشَآءُ عَقِيماً إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ قَدِيرٌ

 It felt good to read it. I could understand the meaning, thus, appreciated the fact that the hospital had placed such a wonderful reminder at such an apt place. The next two days & nights were spent pacing the corridors & waiting room of that ward. The place was sectioned into three areas – one for family members men & women, the next one strictly for women-only & the third for patients, doctors & midwives only. The second hall was the place for women who were in the early stages of labor. So, I would see some of them walk around (a practice encouraged by doctors to facilitate the onset of delivery) slowly, then halt to lean by the wall at the contractions that gripped them intermittently. Some were strong & met their pain with a grimace only, others cried holding their swollen selves, while others busied themselves with dhikr that would get amplified with each contraction.

 From the women-only section, I would also be able to hear of the ‘action’ taking place in the delivery rooms. There would be loud cries & dramatic screams, the supportive & sometimes scolding commands of midwives & nurses and, eventually, after a chilling cry soaked in violent pain, the beautiful cry of a tiny existence would be heard.

10149320The reactions of family members outside the delivery rooms were also heartening to observe. The older experienced women would clutch their bags, phones or each other’s hands & make worrying faces in response to each pain-induced shrieks emanating from the room of their beloved daughter, sister, niece, etc. The younger girls would weep and sob uncontrollably & wipe their red faces. Soon, of course, they would all be seen hugging & congratulating each other.  

 It’s difficult to put into words the overwhelming feelings that I experienced the first time I heard the sounds of birth & a baby. Suddenly, there is an existence of a new human being in the room – an individual little person with a soul of his own; a tiny being that is pure & unsullied; a fragile form that would one day support the womb that sheltered him; a weak mortal who could one day change the world. Above all, he or she testifies to the Attribute & Sign of Allah, the Khaaliq, the Creator. The conception is a miracle; the journey of nine months is a miracle & the arrival in this world is a miracle.

 I realized, also, in those two days, that its not only babies, but, mothers too are born. They too confirm the Sign of Allah, Al Qayyum, the Sustainer & Nourisher. The sudden arousal of maternal love, the urge to give of her-self, & the instinctive knowledge by which to handle a helpless being are all nothing but inspiration from Allah.

* * * * * * * * * * *

 76549362The day came when we were allowed to take our bundle of joy home. I took the honor of carrying the baby as the new mom was still too weak & unstable, and the new dad was still shocked & nervous at his new title. As I walked out of the maternity ward, I paused & looked back at that calligraphic verse pained on the wall.

لِلَّهِ مُلْكُ السَّمَـوَتِ وَالاٌّرْضِ يَخْلُقُ مَا يَشَآءُ يَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ إِنَـثاً وَيَهَبُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ الذُّكُورَ – أَوْ يُزَوِّجُهُمْ ذُكْرَاناً وَإِنَـثاً وَيَجْعَلُ مَن يَشَآءُ عَقِيماً إِنَّهُ عَلِيمٌ قَدِيرٌ


“To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth. He creates what He wills. He bestows female upon whom He wills, and bestows male upon whom He wills. Or He bestows both males and females, and He renders barren whom He wills. Verily, He is the All-Knower and is Able (to do all things).” [42:49-50]

 I realized, that sometimes, we read Quranic tafseers to understand a particular verse, & sometimes, we understand them by experience. The essence of that verse dawned on me then, rendering me grateful, humbled & in awe. I looked at the beautiful miracle in my arms & joyfully walked out of the hospital, eager & excited to show her this world.