Pregnancy In the Qur'an
How does Islam, in this case the Qur'an, discuss pregnancy? Is there a portrait of pregnancy in the Qur'an?
Apparently it is there, and even it was mentioned in two conditions. First, normal conditions. Meaning, the pregnancy happened in a young age and there is a husband to take in part. As an example is the story of the pregnancy of Imron's wife.
The second condition, which is out of the ordinary. What is it for instance? The pregnancy of Mary the mother of the Prophet Isa ‘alahissalam, who was pregnant without any men impregnating her, and the pregnancy of the wife of Prophet Ibrahim and the wife of Prophet Zakariyya who were both in old age situation with a history of infertility.
What happened to these pregnancies out of "normal" condition? Pregnant in old age,presummed to be infertile, and then it turns out they were pregnant, then gave birth and from their birth sons the prophetic line continued. Ma sha Allah.
So what does Allah want to teach us through the Qur'an from these pregnancy stories?
The pregnancy is magical thing.
Being pregnant can be unscientific. How can it be called scientific, when according to sciences the wives of Prophet Ibrahim and Zakariyya were infertile? But they were pregnant. That’s why being pregnant can be unscientific. It is shown from the answer to these pregnancies that Allah gave which is very brief and clear: "Kadzaalika qoola Robbuk". Thus saith your Lord. This is a lesson for us to be more humble in science before revelation and to be careful in verdicting someone infertile, not able to have children, et cetera. Indeed we shoul gain knowledge in the best possible way we could, but do not be arrogant. Let’s embrace the special pregnancy story in the Qur'an as our reminder to put the science under the frame of wahyu (Qur’an).
Pregnancy is very special. Because the Qur'an vividly mention it. Pay close attention to surah Maryam. The story of the pregnancy of Mary was explained in such detail in the surah that it came to an important conclusion to be attention for the wives and also the husband. What it could be? That pregnant women should NOT BE sad.
Yes, it's the concept of the Qur'an not to let pregnant women in sad condition. Let's take a look at the story of Mother Mary, so we can comprehend this.
Mother Maryam, a good woman in her family, famous for her piety, a woman who gave herself to worship in her mihrab, suddenly became pregnant. We can imagine what the public's view would be like to her. The public's opinion about her would change. This made her heart in such sorrow that this sadness reaches its most just before she gave birth which made her desperately say as mention in Qur’an chapter 19 verse 23:
(23) And the pains of childbirth drove her to the trunk of a palm tree. She said, "Oh, I wish I had died before this and was in oblivion, forgotten".
Apparently, feeling sad during pregnancy is not allowed. Should not happen. But we can notice, the sorrow of Mary mentioned in one verse, is rewarded by Allah by comforting her in the next 3 verses. She was sad in one verse, Allah encourage her in 3 verses. So that is to show us a pregnant woman should not be feeling sad.
(24) But he (Jibril) called her from below her, "Do not grieve; your Lord has provided beneath you a stream.
(25) And shake toward you the trunk of the palm tree; it will drop upon you ripe, fresh dates.
(26) So eat and drink and be contented. And if you see from among humanity anyone, say, 'Indeed, I have vowed to the Most Merciful abstention, so I will not speak today to [any] man.' "
(Qur'an, 19: 24-26)
In order to stress how important to keep the pregnant woman’s feeling happy, Allah even created for Mary a stream underneath. Gurgling water and the water can be drunk instantly. And not just the stream, Allah also gave a date tree. Allah asked Mary to shook it so the ruthob would fall off the tree.
The Muslim doctors and experts from the Muslim community should be encouraged to study these verses. Al Qur’an is a holy book that challenges human to do research. For example, what does Ruthob have to do with pregnancy? What does water stream have to do with pregnancy, which not only could be drunk, but its gurgling sound has something to do with calming Mary's feeling? Does the sound of water have a calming effect?
And what is the connection between shaking the palm tree with pregnancy? This actually opens up opportunities for doctors to do investigation, not just ignore it or even laugh about it. Because there are some Muslims out there who laugh at the phrase "shaking the date tree" as a joke when some of us here try to explore the concept of childbirth in Islam. They assume we told pregnant women to give birth under a date tree. Subhanallaah ... may Allah open our minds and keep us away from the narrow mind.
Regarding shaking the date tree, there is an interesting explanation from the muslim scholar which could lead us to think, what's behind the wisdom of shaking the date tree.
Before that, let us imagine for a moment the condition of Mary when she was told to shake the date tree. At that time, Mary is the last gestational age and start to enter the labor which was marked by contractions. Just think, she was in the contraction moment that drain her emotions and energy, but she was told to shake the date tree? Logically, could the fruit fall off the tree? Have you ever seen a date tree? Please see the picture. Date tree has a very sturdy and strong trunk, even its roots plunge into the ground strongly. Then imagine we were told to shake. Not only women, even it is hard for men to shake it by themselves.
So what does that refer to? This is a description of TAWAKKAL. The muslim scholars when describing tawakkal often use the story in this ayat as an example. What does it mean? That is, the most important thing to do for muslim in a hardship is doing effort first. Believe in what Allah commands, then Allah will help. If we considere it as impossible, it is indeed impossible. No matter how hard we try to shake the tree, it is impossible to make the fruit fall off. But therein lies the tawakkal. When Allah commands you, do not think the impossible. Just do it. In the end, as we know the rest of the story, the date fell off. Then Allah said to her: Maryam, eat the fruit, drink the water, and be happy.
Doesn't this move us to explore it?
What's the connection between eating ruthob (fresh date), drinking water, and being happy? How important is it to make pregnant women happy? Does it affect to the mood and the labor process?
What about the standing position, for example, when we are going to shake a date palm? Does this have anything to do with the technique of opening the birth canal? This is an open field for experts to do research on this.
For some health care providers, the effort to move as if to shake the date tree perhaps looks ridiculous if it has to be linked to the labor process. Moreover, there is no EBM (evidence based medicine) which is usually used as a reference for medical study. But keep in mind, this is the Qur'an that talks about pregnancy, meaning that pregnancy is not an ordinary thing. Rather it is an extraordinary thing.
Especially for every husband whose wife is pregnant, this discussion should be an important note in order to assist his wife and to pay attention to the condition of his pregnant wife not only in terms of physical or nutritional intake, but also psychological conditions. Especially before and during the birth process. There is a significant connection between psychological condition and opening of the birth canal. Pregnant women whose condition is psychologically not good, stress, tension, panic, it cause the decrease of opening birth canal, even it could actually tighten again. This certainly increase the risk of the unnecessary medical interventions if the husband can not optimally maintain the psychological condition of his wife.
So let’s tadabbur Qur’an on pregnancy ayat. Learn it, explore it to make the moments of pregnancy and labour process a comfortable and happy time for muslim women. Because at the end of the process, there awaits a precious baby who will be the next muslim generation and could build a better civilization in the world.