It should be clarified that those who regard motherhood and wifehood as being superior to other roles are not necessarily saying it is the only praiseworthy role, let alone the only role available for a woman in Islam, rather it is about priority and virtue of one thing over another. On the one hand you say certain other benefical roles could make a woman a better wife, mother and Muslim. I do not disagree with this. But on the other hand I received the impression from some statements in this thread that motherhood and wifehood should be viewed on an equal level as other roles women could hold. Forgive me if I got that wrong. But if true, this would indicate that a woman can choose whatever career/lifestyle she wishes, for whatever reason she wishes, and still be afforded the same status as a good wife and mother. I don't think this can be said.
Originally Posted by TrueStranger
Firstly, nobody is saying that the role of wifehood or motherhood is more significant than worship and obedience towards Allaah (swt) - this is impossible. Rather wifehood and motherhood are themselves acts of worship and obedience to Allaah (swt). You quoted the hadeeth earlier:
“When a woman prays her five (prayers), (2)fasts her month (Ramadan),(3) preserves her chastity, and (4)obeys her husband, she will be told (on the Day of Judgement), “Enter Jannah from any of its (eight) gates.”Therefore there is nothing to indicate that being a wife and mother would stop one from worshipping Allaah (swt), rather they go hand-in-hand. If we are going to be realistic, let us consider whether other roles will help to achieve the same. It is the experience of many that pursuing other roles often comes with great costs involving their religious commitment, and basic duties like maintaining prayers and guarding chastity (including observing proper Hijab) are challenged very greatly, not to mention certain conflicts that arise for women in terms of travelling alone and so on. If we are advocating roles for women that help them to fulfil the primary objective of worshipping Allaah (swt) and being the best slave, we must bear this point in mind and they must consider their options accordingly.
I want to make it clear that I am not saying women should not pursue roles outside of motherhood and wifehood - rather I agree with what others have said in that we do need women to pursue certain roles such as those where women are needed in place of men, but these must be done with the right intentions and consideration must be given to the challenges that will be faced. Yet there are some roles that do not pose such difficulties for women and can reasonably be done alongside wifehood and motherhood, where they can contribute to society in a number of ways without compromising on their religious commitment. As more than one person said previously, there are many factors to consider in making the decision. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say that what is "the best" role for a particular individual will vary, but what we are discussing is a general guideline. The shaykh who wrote the article I quoted is involved with the Islamic Shariah Council of Britain, and therefore he is probably bearing in mind in his argument the large number of cases of broken homes and marriages, which further shows the complexity of the issue.
Secondly, regarding the women mentioned in the Qur'an, it is still interesting to note that wifehood or motherhood are roles mentioned alongside the qualities you quoted, in some cases being clearer than others. And the point is taken together with other texts from the Qur'an and Sunnah, indicating that wifehood and motherhood have a greater emphasis placed on them than other roles and cannot be regarded as equal.
I think the message that should be given is how to be a better wife or mother by benefitting others and contributing more to society. It shouldn't be a case of 'there are plenty of other things you can do instead' as a general guideline given to all.
And Allaah (swt) knows best.