I was sitting on the high table with Honorable Suleiman Damagum. I knew his son very well. He was one of the best science students and also the school imam. So I leaned forward and asked the father “how is it that your son, Muhammad, was the first to memorize the entire Qur’an in his class? What is the secret? How did you manage it?”
The occasion was the Qur’an walimah (graduation) of primary school students of Esteem Learning Centre Abuja. Hon Damagum’s son was in the secondary section of the school but the father was invited because he supported the school at all levels.
The House of Representatives member leaned back to me and whispered: “Honestly, it was the mother. She was the one who consistently kept them on schedule. Who monitored their lessons daily with the Qur’an teacher.”
He thought some more and said: “Muhammad is not the only one,” he continued. “He has a sister abroad who has also memorized the Qur’an.”
The Qur’an is not an easy book to memorize. While the rhymes, the rhythms and the cadence make the verses easy to understand and remember, to memorize the entire book requires months (years even) of full commitment and rigorous learning.
But let’s go back to that gathering of parents. As the head of school, I was asked to speak. Since I didn’t go with a prepared speech and since our conversation had validated what I had been thinking about and writing notes about for some time, I decided to use it as my prompt to speak with the parents. So I told the audience of my little chat with Alh Suleiman Damagum.
“If you want to raise an exceptional child,” I told them, “get an exceptional mother or be an exceptional mother for the child.”
I told them the story of Rabiatur Raayi who – at the age of 30 – became the teacher of the super scholar, Imam Malik. How the father was away for 30 years and was raised and mentored single-handedly by the mother. I told them about Alexander Arnold, the little genius from the city of Liverpool and who plays in the Liverpool Football Club (and the tormentor of Messi and Barcelona) and how the mother was the chief enforcer in his life. Finally, I told them about David Chapelle, one of the most successful comedians ever.
“So if you want a child to be great at something,” I concluded, “get a mother who is great at that thing or at least, a mother who is super committed to it. For example, if you want your child to be a scholar or an exceptional cook, then be a mother who is already those things or who is unflinchingly dedicated to making her achieve those things.”
In this book, because we have more time than my short talk at Esteem, I will tell you more about those mothers and the gift of the unique intelligence they give their children, which, for our purposes here, I call MomQ. An intelligence only mothers have to give.
You will learn about mothers who raised exceptional athletes like Marcus Rashford of Manchester United and the tennis player, Roger Federer.
If your interest is business, you will learn how at least two mothers mentored their children to become billionaires. If you are interested in technology, you will learn the techniques that Jakie, the mother of Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, used to accommodate and feed his eclectic interests even without knowing anything about technology herself. If, however, you want your child to become a scholar, I will tell you more about Imam Ahmad and the central role the mother paid into making him a world-renowned scholar.
It is hoped that by acknowledging those mothers, other great but unsung moms would feel acknowledged and seen and appreciated – even if vicariously- leading them to create more phenomenal children who will turn into impactful adults who will fashion a better world for us all.
Also, the book outlines what these outstanding mothers did so that their examples, habits and practices would serve as the blueprint for new mothers.
PS: These are excerpts from my unpublished book, “MomQ: How Mothers Raise Extraordinary Children.”
First published on November 13, 2021.