Narges Mohamadi, the deputy head of Iran’s Defenders of Human Rights Center has written a letter from Zanjan prison speaking about the pain and suffering of a mother’s separation from her children.
Narges Mohamadi is serving a six years sentence in Zanjan prison.
Below is the translation of Narges Mohamadi’s letter as published by Advar News.
Who is responsible for this pain?
Who shares this pain with me?
I am a human rights activist, my concern and struggles have been to improve human rights condition everywhere on the planet Earth.
I have no intention of acquiring power or a high position. I accompany my weak body with my thoughts and my heart, on a path so I can put a smile on someone’s lips or give them love.
This is my hope and desire and is the excuse for my being alive. Even if I am able to only put a smile on a lip or help in the smallest way to improve the life of a fellow human being, I am victorious.
This is the heart felt writings of a mother trying to explain the meaning of being a mother. Here is my prison. Four tall, hard walls. I am sitting among these four walls. I have spread open my love and prayer cloth. I am pressing hard to my chest the divine words.
I feel as though the mother of Moses and the mother of Jesus are my companions and we share the same pain. Although Moses’ mother along the Nile, and Mother Mary, taking shelter by the trunk of a palm tree, away from the eyes of the people, cried “Oh, would that I had died and passed into oblivion!” (Maryam, Psalm 23).
And why am I, sitting in this prison, in Iran, speaking of time and place? Has there ever been a different meaning for motherhood during other periods of time; has it changed?
No, I don’t think it ever has changed. Motherhood has an eternal concept and meaning in history.
I open the Psalm of Al-Qasas (The story), I feel clamor within me. The story of Moses’ mother is describing the meaning of motherhood.
“We revealed to Moses’ mother, suckle him and then, when you fear for him, cast him into the sea. Do not fear or grieve. We will return him to you and make him one of the Messengers.”
And she placed him in a basket and cast the basket on the river. These words are the Divine revelations bestowed on a mother. Indeed, is it even possible to cast any doubts on these words in one’s heart?
I reflect for a moment. How could Moses’ mother have any more despair in her heart now that she has been spoken to by God; And she has been promised that Moses will be returned to her bosom; And will be returned as a Messenger.
But, a few Psalms later, a secret is revealed that seems to be the reason for this story.
“Finally, in the morning, the heart of Moses’ mother became void; she would have revealed it (the secret) had We not strengthened her heart to be one of the believers.” (Al-Qasas 10).
Moses’ mother received the Divine words, but even God’s words did not heal her heart.
I thought to myself, O God, how is it possible that despite the promise and assurances that you gave Moses’ mother, she became so distraught.
Yes, it is at this juncture that I understand the meaning of motherhood, and in my opinion, at this same juncture, God gives us the meaning of motherhood.
A pain that, even with the promise of God, will not heal; the pain that is a mother’s pain. Even if you leave your child in the safe and secure love filled arms, you can not extinguish the burning inner flames of a mother; even if those safe and love filled arms are the arms of God.
Oh, I have no doubt what God was thinking. He was thinking that at one point I created compassion and said, “You are compassionate and I am merciful, and I have instilled within you part of my compassion.” (From a narrative by the Prophet).
Yes, God bestowed a mother’s womb with part of his compassion, and this love and compassion are manifested in the story of Moses’ mother.
Should we expect anything different from Moses’ mother, considering the deep love and compassion with which God has bestowed mothers?
God understood the best, and knows very well what a mother’s love will do to her when she is forced to be separated from her child: How it would set her aflame, and burn her from inside.
So he let this love and compassion take Moses’s mother to the point of becoming so distraught that she would want to reveal a secret that is a Divine Command and a divinely appointed mission that it will even put her own life in danger.
Yes, even if Moses’ mother had screamed out revealing this secret, she would not have committed a sin. But, God keeps this mother’s heart strong so she would not scream out the secret.
Dear God had said, “And We had already barred the foster mothers from suckling him” (Al-Qasas 12), so that, “Thus We brought him back to his mother to comfort her eyes and grieve no more, and to know that the promise of God is True.” (Al-Qasas 13).
Now I’m thinking that, when God even for such an important mission of the prophet, does not allow the separation of a mother and child, and returns the child to the loving arms of a mother that is filled with the Divine compassion. How can they separate innocent children from the loving arms of their mother and imprison her?
Is it right and deserving for a mother’s embrace to be left void of her children, so that the anguish of separation, like flames of fire, burn her soul and body, to make a heap of ashes of her?
Alas! that such treatment is not common in any divine religion nor in any valuable school of thought of humanity.
In my cell, I have no companion other then the word of God (Quran). And of course, praying with God is enough for me. If it wasn’t for that, I would have gone mad from the grief of separation from Ali and Kiana.
I open the book of the Divine words, and a word in “Al-Qeyaamah” (Resurrection) describes the meaning of motherhood for me again.
Certainly, God the merciful, with this word builds the image of a “Mother” and describes it’s meaning.
God tells us about resurrection. God’s Psalms show us the depth of awe and majesty of this divine revelation and paint a more tangible picture of this event for people.
He uses symbols and examples that we see and hear about every day and are familiar with. When will be the day of Resurrection? What is Resurrection? “And the moon is eclipsed.” (Al-Qeyaamah 8).
“When the stars lose light and extinguish.” (Al-Mursalat 8). “When the heaven is cleft asunder.” (Al-Mursalat 9). “And when the mountains are blown away.” (Al-Mursalat 10). (Al-Mursalat, The emissaries, Winds Sent Forth).
These parables were enough to show the depth of the event. But suddenly, God, in one sentence, for the depiction of the day of judgement of his servants, that clearly illustrates an image of the resurrection, said “The day that a mother will abandon her child.”
I think to myself, God uses every example to illustrate the hardship and difficulty of the judgement day. But, He completes the reality of that day by illustrating it with the story of a mother abandoning her child.
God the merciful, eloquently says that a mother, who under any circumstances, even pain, suffering and death, won’t abandon her child, but for us to see and realize that, on judgement day, how terrified we will become, that even a mother would abandon her child.
Yes, this has a double meaning, and God, to show the depth of the grief of a mother’s separation, uses resurrection and the day of judgement to illustrate this point. And also, to show the awe and majesty of the resurrection, speaks of the great grief of a mother’s separation. But, both examples bring to our attention the meaning of motherhood.
What else can I say, and what else can I write, this is the real meaning of “Motherhood”.
I bow my head and place my forehead on the floor. God, what have you done to me, a “Mother”? How did you create me? What did you do to us, when you instilled your compassion in our wombs.
Now, you can hear my moans and groans. My tears are flowing, so I can hardly see anymore. I read a writing on the wall of the cell, “O, mother, it’s been one month since I have seen you.”
I lean my head on the wall of my cell and start sobbing. God, I am talking to you, not to your people. You created me, instilled within me an immense love for my child, and you gave me two children at the same time.
You left them inside me for nine months; we were breathing as one. Days and nights, you nourished and fostered them in my arms. They are now five years old and need my embrace, but their father is not even with them. And now that my arms are void of my children, they, without their parents, have kept the light on in my home.
God, I ask you, in the name of Moses’s mother, in the name of Mary’s suffering and the labor pain she endured, in the name of Khadijeh and Fatemeh that brought smiles to the lips, and warmth and love to the heart of the prophet; Place your hand on my heart, hold my heart, stronger and stronger.
I swear upon the moment that Moses’ mother heard the Divine voice and placed her child in the river, but could not endure the pain of separation, but God kept her heart strong. Now, at this moment, I feel the hands of God on my heart, but what can I do, I am a mother and can not be soothed.
I tell myself, just as Mary did, I wish I had died and would have been forgotten by now. I tell myself, Narges, have patience, for God’s sake have patience, but I can’t. I get up again and raise my arms up to the heavens and sob, and ask God to please, in the name of Moses’s mother, whatever prudence you used to return Moses back to her arms, now look at my empty arms longing for my children.
God, hear my sobs, see that I no longer can endure. God, come, come and sit beside me. Sigh, I spoke of love, but with pain and suffering. Suffering that had made me very ill. I am writing with hands that are bruised because I fell down.
But, we have to talk and write about love. That love is a mother’s love, and that pain is a mother’s pain from being separated from her children.
I want to tell you a small portion of this pain, even though it’s very hard for me to do.
On June 10, 2010, I was arrested just after I had just brought home my daughter from hospital after a serious operation. The agents were watching over me. It was time to put the children to bed. I placed Ali on my lap and gave him his bottle and sang a lullaby. He fell sleep, but I could not console Kiana.
Each time that I was to leave, Kiana, with trembling voice and crying said, “Mommy kiss me.” After doing this three times, I left with much pain.
My body was on it’s way to prison, but my wandering soul was hearing the bloody cries inside. I don’t know how to write anymore. Writing within these four walls, in this narrow cell, with tearful eyes, and trembling hands, is nothing but agony.
But I must scream this pain, so perhaps another mother won’t endure such pain and hardship.
In prison, I have acquired neurological and psychological illnesses. I was a healthy woman, but I returned to my children (when she was released on furlough) using 18 pills a day and after being hospitalized for 12 days.
But alas, my time with my children was very short lived. On April 21, 2012 the agents showed up at my doorstep. Ali and Kiana are now five years old. Ali is now afraid of my leaving, even when I want to leave the house for something.
Ali is in a panic, he quickly picks up his yellow toy gun and rushes back along my side, holding my hand, says, “Mommy I am coming with you.”
What can I tell you of the moment of separation and the tears rolling down my children’s face. This pen is moving and it’s sucking life out of me.
It is not easy for me to write, but I will write so that perhaps this may not be repeated for another child.
I am a mother separated from her children. I am in dire health. I told you about Moses’ mother and I cried out my pain to tell you that, “The power of maternal love transcends all other powers.”
The source of this power is love and affection that God has instilled within us from Himself. Depriving children of this kind of love and making a mother suffer in this way is an unforgivable sin.
And I, with great hope, have written from inside the four walls of this prison, so that perhaps, with God’s grace, very soon, in this land and in every other country on the planet earth, this kind of suffering will end.
I have faith, that there will come a day, even if I am no longer here, the love arising from these sufferings will make a better future for my children, all the children of Iran, and for the world.
With much gratitude and respect,
June 1, 2012