19 November 2010

The way to Paradise

Yesterday we held a debate in my Upper-Intermediate morning class; the topic was: ‘It is better to be a man than a woman’. As you might suspect, this prompted some interesting arguments.

The team arguing in favour of the topic presented some good points about the predominance of men in business and politics, about men’s superior physical strength and spatial abilities, and, one argument that provoked a lot of laughter, how it was easier for men to save money because women have to spend a lot of money on clothes and matching accessories, cosmetics and hair care!

From the team arguing against, and so arguing that it’s better to be a woman, we heard well-researched statistics about life expectancy, and the importance of women’s nurturing and communication skills. One student spoke passionately about the importance of his mother in his life, and another provided us with an old Turkish proverb: ‘The way to Paradise is through the bottom of your mother’s feet’.

Though I didn’t quite understand it, I thought this was a lovely sentiment, so I later googled it. The meaning had got a little lost in translation; it seems usually to be translated as ‘the way to Paradise lies under the feet of your mother’ and appears, in fact, to have come originally from the teachings of Mohammed. In one version, reported by Ibn Majah (Sunan, Hadith no. 2771), it is said that the Prophet told someone, ‘Be at your mother’s feet and there is Paradise’.

Regardless of its origins, the sentiment crosses all cultural, national and religious boundaries: honour your mother, serve her and take good care of her. It may not be Mothers’ Day, but today – and every day since she passed away – I remember, love and honour my wonderful mother.

Mum and I, January 2006