NationalVOLUME 18 ISSUE # 28

Mother’s day: a reflection on its origins, regret, and Quranic perspective on honoring mothers

The world nations, especially Western ones, are very conscious about rights of all individuals, professionals, relations, communities and even natural events. When they want to give respect and protect rights of that particular person or object, they designate a specific day for it, mostly at the United Nations platform. Then that day is observed across the globe, on a particular day or date, every year, to pay love and respect to that person or object.

Recently, Mother’s Day was observed on May 14, for the same purpose. The date for Mother’s Day changes from year to year, because it’s always observed on the second Sunday in May. The day is celebrated in almost all countries of the world including Pakistan every year, but only few may know that it is marked as a national holiday in the United States of America, how it started, and why the woman who made it happen ended up regretting it.

The Library of Congress and other sources say that Anna Jarvis is credited with the campaign that led to a nationally-celebrated Mother’s Day in the US. Jarvis’s mother was known for organising women’s groups to promote health and friendship. In the wake of her mother’s death in 1905, Jarvis wanted to set aside a day to honour the sacrifices of mothers for their children. In May 1908, she organised the first official Mother’s Day celebration at a Methodist church in Grafton, West Virginia, according to Since then, the church has been dubbed as ‘The International Mother’s Day Shrine’.

As the annual celebration gained traction, West Virginia passed a law designating the holiday in 1910 and other states followed suit. In 1914, President Woodrow Wilson made it a national holiday to be observed on the second Sunday in May. While Jarvis succeeded in making the national holiday a reality, she would soon come to hate it. Around 1920, Jarvis started to denounce the commercialisation of the day and urged people to stop buying Mother’s Day flowers, cards and candies, reports. During her campaign to stop profiteers, reports state she filed lawsuits against groups that used the name ‘Mother’s Day’.

Before she died in 1948, Jarvis is said to have disowned the holiday and had actively lobbied the government to take it off the calendar as a national holiday in America. Though it’s a profitable day for retailers, phone companies, and florists, the spirit of celebrating moms on Mother’s Day is still what Jarvis intended.

Consumers this year were projected to spend a record $35.7 billion on Mother’s Day only in America, according to a survey by the National Retail Federation and Prosper Insights and Analytics of the USA. The group said flowers, greeting cards and special outings were the most frequently-purchased gift categories.

On Mother’s Day, people in various countries, particularly in the West, visit their mothers, present them with gifts and flowers, and express their love and affection. Families also celebrate by giving mothers a break from activities like cooking and household chores.

Unfortunately, Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, came to regret her idea as it was hijacked by those driven by commercialism and consumerism. However, those who follow the concept of Mother’s Day according to the teachings of the Holy Quran would never have to experience such regret if they adhere to Allah’s command wholeheartedly. The Quran states: “Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them. And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small'” (17: 23-24).

Allah commands believers to care for their mothers every moment, not just on a designated day. Mothers fulfill their duties to their children tirelessly, 24/7 and 365 days a year. So why should their love and affection be repaid on specific days only, when they need your help, love, and care? Take care of your mothers and fathers so that your own children will take care of you when you grow older.


The writer is a physician by profession. She has worked as an intern at the Capital Health (New Jersey) & the Mount Sinai St. Luke’s Hospital (New York). Rights and gender issues are the areas of special interest to her. She can be reached at: [email protected]