Good treatment of Parents (Part 1: Introduction)

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Every person is indebted to his parents, they are the reason that we are here on the earth. Allah used their meeting as a means for our birth. Through our lives they have nurtured us, taught us, consoled us and rebuked us, their contribution to our lives can never truly be understood or compensated for. It is for this reason that they must be cared for and respected. Just as they have cared for us in our youth, so to must we, care for them in their old age.

A Muslim is only called such if he accepts Allah to be one and worships Him. The belief in God is the single bedrock Islam rests upon, Allah shows the incredible status parents hold by mentioning belief in Him, followed by good treatment of parents. Allah says; “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (17:23) He commands that we treat our parents kindly, even in old age where they will be more difficult to look after. Here the word ‘uff’ is used to stress the smallest of annoyances, even this should not be shown to them, let alone using profanity.

Here, no distinction has been made between the good treatment of parents, both the Mother and the Father should be treated equally  without any injustice or discrimination. The mistreatment of any of them could result in our After-life being destroyed.

The significance of the Parents has been summarised in this narration; it is related by Abu Umamah (RA) ‘Once a person asked the Prophet (SAW): ‘How much is the claim of parents on their children?’ “They are your Heaven and Hell,” the Prophet (SAW) replied.’ (Ibn Majah) This is both a warning and incentive, children should be very aware of the sensitive relationship that they have. They should try their utmost to act in a respectable way, even if their parents are in the wrong, this does not solicit callous behaviour.

There are Narrations detailing the status of both the mother and father, both are incredibly important and their roles cannot be diminished, they are vital to the functioning of any society. In regard to the status of a father, the Prophet (SAW) has said: “In the good pleasure of the father lies the good pleasure of Allah, and in his displeasure is the displeasure of Allah.” (Tirmidhi) This shows what status the father holds, but this is not simply restricted to the father, the mother also holds a high status. This status has been mentioned in various narrations.

The Mother holds a special place in society, also in her childrens’ hearts they naturally treat her with softness and care, however, to highlight the rank of the Mother many narrations can be cited. Narrated by Abu Huraira (RA), “A person enquired from the Prophet (SAW), ‘Who has the greatest claim on me with regard to service and kindly treatment?’ The Prophet (SAW) replied: “Your mother; and again, your mother; and once again, your mother. After her, there is the claim of your father and after it, of your near kinsmen and then, of the kinsmen who are next to them.” (Bukhari) (Muslim) This was said by the Prophet (SAW) to illustrate the right the mother has upon her children, especially when she reaches her old age.

Your mother is one of the very few people who will love you unconditionally, she would rather her own life be in danger, or she be in pain, than see her precious children in danger or discomfort. This is why when she reaches her own years of vulnerability, she should be treated in the same way that she treated her own children, with affection, care, love and understanding.

The importance of taking care of aged parents can be seen best in one Prophetic tradition; Abu Huraira (RA) related that the Prophet (SAW) said: “May he be humiliated; may he be disgraced; may he be brought low.” ‘Who?’ the Companions (RA) enquired, “The unfortunate person whose parents or any one of them attain old age in his lifetime and he does not earn Paradise (by being kind-hearted and dutiful to them).” (Muslim) Irrespective of how long parents live or what illnesses might plague them, children must ensure that their needs are met. This Narration does not simply mean that parents should be treated well in their old age only, but old age has been mentioned because this is when they will need the  most assistance. Just as they once helped you without complaining or whining so too must you return their kindness.

Both Parents should be looked after, this cannot be avoided, and should not be done without kindness. It is not a burden but an opportunity to obtain Paradise. We should not adopt the poisonous mentality of individualism, that we only look out for ourselves, this is not Islam this is justified selfishness.

If Allah wills then this be continued in the next article, may Allah give us the ability to fulfill the rights of our parents. May He shower our parents in His mercy, forgive their sins and enter them in Paradise. Ameen.