The faith of a praying mother is a force to be reckoned with.
If you have had the pleasure of listening to traditional church folks, then you have heard about the power of a praying mother. She can be a birth mother, grandmother, aunt or any other female relative who speaks to God on behalf of a child or loved one. A person at the receiving end of such faith understands the true essence of that power.
Meriam Ibrahim is one such mother. At 27-years-old, the Sudanese married mother of two was arrested, jailed, refused hospitalization and sentenced to execution. Her crime was not a vile act or reckless behavior that would warrant criminalization. She was behind bars for practicing her mother’s faith. Reared as a Christian woman, Ibrahim was thrown in jail when an alleged male relative reported her violation of Sharia law. The law espouses that Ibrahim must accept and convert to her father’s religion of Islam. By failing to do so, she is guilty of the crime of apostasy, which is punishable by execution.
The young mother could have been released from jail by converting to Islam. One would think that a mother’s first inclination would be to protect her children. Wouldn’t it have been so much easier for Ibrahim to renounce her faith in order to be free? But at what cost?
To accept the faith of her father, who abandoned her at the age of six, alters the very legacy of her own mother’s faith. It may also be perceived as an an outright rejection of the true practice and principles of faith – “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Is the real concern about religious practice or upsetting the patriarchal order of the Sudanese culture? If the concern is truly about religion, shouldn’t the mother’s faith count for something? “How can they know about someone’s faith? Faith is in our hearts. This government is not Muslim at all – they are thieves and killers. Why didn’t they ask about the reasons that led her to the church?” (The Guardian)
Ibrahim is encouraged although she was refused hospital access during the birth of her daughter and forced to share a small cell with both children. Her concern is for the plight of her newborn.
She told CNN
I gave birth chained. Not cuffs but chains on my legs. I couldn’t open my legs so the women had to lift me off the table. I wasn’t attached to the table. I don’t know in the future whether she’ll need support to walk or not.
Ibrahim knows all too well the value of faith when she was finally freed after international outcry. Her predicament is not over yet. Once she was released, Sudanese officials detained her for allegedly traveling with falsified documents. The young mother reports, however, that she is in a safe place with her family.
Was Ibrahim’s stance to remain Christian a prideful misstep or deliberate testimony of a committed believer? Although, I can’t answer for Ibrahim, I can say that her efforts are remarkable signs of the female martyr’s tale in a country marred by draconian practices. By standing for her faith, Ibrahim is giving her children (especially her daughter) an understanding of the greatest gift that a mother can give – the power of a praying mother.