Every person with even a shred of compassion in his heart will pity an orphan. Seeing a young child deprived of his mother’s loving embrace, and father’s compassionate support and steady guidance, consigned to the care of others who can never completely fill the void left by his parents, is enough to melt even the hardest of hearts. Such is the pitiable plight of an orphan, that never would any person with a conscience ever wish orphanhood on another.

Yet, with the new advancements of the modern age, we have invented a new type of ‘orphan’ as well. This is the orphan who HAS a mother and father, yet despite having parents, he is deprived of their love and attention. His parents provide him with food and drink, yet his heart is perpetually starving for their love and thirsty for their attention.

We live in an era of subcontracting. As such, there are very few tasks which one cannot relegate to an employee. People can be hired to attend to your cooking, cleaning, laundry, gardening, sewing, driving, shopping and a host of other tasks and needs. However, some tasks are such that if one does not attend to them with one’s own hands, the desired result will not be seen, or worse – damage and destruction will ensue.

One such task is that of raising the children and attending to their upbringing. When the child wakes up in the morning and opens his eyes, he sees the face of his beloved mother who greets him with salaam and teaches him to recite the du‘aa on awakening. She changes his clothes, teaching him to recite the sunnah du‘aa and reminding him that clothing is a bounty from Allah Ta‘ala that must be appreciated. She feeds him breakfast, teaching him to recite the du‘aa and reminding him to show gratitude for the food by cleaning the bowl/plate.

All of this the mother does with love and passion, as it is HER own beloved and dear child – her own flesh and blood.

However, it is common nowadays that when the child wakes up, then instead of seeing his mother, he sees the maid. Instead of his mother changing him and feeding him, he is changed and fed by the domestic worker. When it is nap time, the maid puts him to sleep. Likewise, she plays with him and even tucks him into bed at night – exactly like a child who does not have a mother.

We must realize and understand that when it is the maid who is attending to the child, day and night, then it is as good as though she is raising the child. When most of the maids lack imaan (or if they are Muslim but lack the desired level of Deen and the sunnah in their lives) then what will the effect of this perpetual association be on the child – apart from the ill-effects of being deprived of the mother’s attention?

In 1931, a psychologist named Winthrop Kellog conducted an experiment. His own son had just been born, and so he brought a baby monkey into his home and raised it together with his son, treating them in an identical manner. The purpose of the experiment was to discover whether the monkey could be raised in such a way that it behaved and conducted exactly like a human – and even believed itself to be a human.

The experiment kicked off to a promising start, and it was seen that the monkey was learning to conduct like a human in many ways. However, after nine months, the experiment was abruptly terminated. The reason? – Winthrop’s son had begun to behave like a monkey.

This is just one anecdote which casts a spotlight on the major influence which company has upon a person – especially during their early and developmental years. Many maids spend their days in janaabah, have boyfriends, children out of wedlock, drink alcohol, listen to music, consume pork and lead lives which are diametrically opposite to the life of a Muslim. Therefore, by entrusting our children into their care, what harmful effects and evil influences are we exposing them to?

At this juncture, we must clarify that it is permissible to employ a maid and to let them assist the mothers with the children from time-to-time. However, it must not be that these maids become the surrogate mothers of our children.

In Western society, on account of the fathers and mothers both becoming enmeshed into the workplace, the children are deposited into the commercial care of the creche, which can never compare to a fraction of the personal care of a parent. However, when many Muslim women are not working, but are actually so wealthy that they have the means to hire separate maids for their children, then why are they not attending to their children themselves???

Perhaps some mothers suffer with ill-health, and this is understandable. But if a mother has good health and free time, then the apparent reason is that she has become selfish. She does not want to spend her precious time and energy on her own child, so she would rather pay somebody else to spend theirs. Hence, while the maid looks after the children, she is out shopping, meeting friends for coffee, having her nails, hair and skin done at the beautician, attending her Pilates class, etc. (we are not saying that these activities are permissible for a Muslim woman, rather many of them are impermissible and they are the typical and common causes for many women to neglect their children).

It is reported in the hadeeth that on one occasion, a poor woman came (for some assistance) to Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), carrying her two (small) daughters. Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha) gave the woman three dates (which was all she could give at that time). The woman gave one date to each of her daughters, keeping the third date for herself.

However, as she raised her own date to her mouth to eat it, her daughters began to ask for it (as they were still hungry. Seeing this,) the mother broke the third date, which was her share, into two halves and split it between her daughters.

This act of the mother’s selfless compassion and sacrifice for her daughters touched the heart of Sayyidah ‘Aaishah (radhiyallahu ‘anha), and so she made mention of the incident to Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam). On hearing the incident, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) either said, “Indeed, Allah Ta‘ala has made Jannah binding for her on account of this action,” or he said, “Allah Ta‘ala has granted her freedom from Jahannam on account of this action.” (Saheeh Muslim #6694)

Such was the love and generosity of this mother in the time of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) for her children, that she could sacrifice her food for them and go hungry for their sake, yet in today’s times, many of us are so stingy and miserly that we are grudging and reluctant to spend our time and energy on our own children…

May Allah Ta‘ala grant us the ability to be good Muslim parents, and may He make our children the coolness of our eyes, aameen.