Treatment of Parents - Islamic TeachingsShiraz Ahmad - Madras, India
The Review of Religions, August 1995
Allah says in the Holy Qur'an:
The Lord has decreed that you worship none save Him alone, and behave beneficently towards parents. If either or both of them should attain old age while you are alive, say not `ugh' to them, nor chide them, and speak kindly to them. Lower to them the wing of humility out of tenderness and pray: Lord have mercy upon them as they brought me up when I was little. (17:25)These verses are most significant on this subject. After the unity of God, human beings should, through their attitude of love, affection, and kindness, give priority over all other things to their parents who have reached an old and difficult age.
Further, the verses speak of the situations when the behaviour of one or both of the parents becomes extremely trying and sometimes offensive. In response to that, not even a mild expression of disgust or disapproval should pass one's lips. On the contrary they should be treated with profound respect.
Importance of Parents(a) Hadhrat Abu Umamah narrated that once a man asked the Holy Prophet (saw) about the rights of parents upon their children. He replied that: `The parents are the Heaven or Hell for their children.'
(b) Hadhrat Abdullah Bin Amr narrates that the Holy Prophet (saw) said: `The pleasure of Allah lies in the pleasure of father and displeasure of Allah lies in the displeasure of father.'
(c) Once a person came to Holy Prophet (saw) and sought his advice about taking part in Jihad with him. The Holy Prophet (saw) asked him whether his mother was alive? He answered `yes'. The Holy Prophet (saw) then told him `Go back home and server her as Heaven was under her feet'.
(d) Hadhrat Abu Hurairah narrates: The Holy Prophet (saw) cursed the person three times whose old parents (both or one) were alive and he still did not earn Heaven (by serving them).
Rewards for Serving ParentsHoly Prophet (saw) once told a very interesting anecdote to his companions about three persons. According to him, the three persons were once traveling when heavy rains began to fall. They took shelter in a cave. Incidently, a big stone came hurtling down and blocked the opening of the cave. All the three travellers lost the hope of their survival. One of them told the rest not to lose hope and pray to Almighty Allah, by describing the most virtuous deed of their lives, for enabling them to get out of the cave.
One of them addressing Almighty Allah, submitted that he had old parents and several small children. When he would come back home after grazing the goats he would first offer the milk to his old parents and then to his children. Once when he came home quite late, his parents were asleep. He milked the goats as usual and taking the cup of milk went to his old parents, but did not disturb their sleep. The whole night he stood near his parents (to give them milk whenever they get up). He prayed to Allah to enable them to come out of the cave. Allah was pleased with the act of this man and the stone moved a little. Similarly, after the other two related their tales, the stone was fully moved and they were able to come out of the cave.
Nice Behaviour with Parents
Respect for FatherOnce Hadhrat Abu Hurairah came across two persons. He asked one of them about the other. The person replied that the other one was his father. Then Hadhrat Abu Hurairah strictly advised the son never call his father by name and neither to walk ahead of him nor to take seat before the he takes the seat first in a gathering.
Behaviour with FatherOnce a man complained to the Holy Prophet (saw) about his father who took his belongings whenever he liked. The Messenger of Allah called for his father, who was a very old man, and asked him the details of the matter. The father said, `O, Messenger of Allah, a time was when my son was weak and helpless and bare handed while I had strength and wealth. I never hesitated to give him my belongings whenever he needed them. Today I am weak and bare handed while he is rich and now he keeps his belongings from me.' Hearing this, tears came to the eyes of the Holy Prophet (saw) and he said to the son: `You and your belongings belong to your father. You and your belongings belong to your father.'
Behaviour with Mother
Treatment of Non-Muslim ParentsAsma, daughter of Abu Bakr, says her mother (who was a non-Muslim) came to her. Asma came to the Holy Prophet (saw) to ask her whether she should do her some kindness. The Holy Prophet (saw) replied, `Yes, show kindness to your mother.' Then this following verse of the Qur'an was revealed:
Allah forbids you not respecting those who have not fought against you on account of your religion, and who have not driven you out from your homes, that you be kind to them and deal equitably with them; surely Allah loves those who are equitable. (60:9)
Abusing the ParentsThe Holy Prophet (saw) said: It is a grievous sin for a person to abuse his parents. Someone asked: Would a person ever abuse his parents? Yes, said the Holy Prophet (saw). If a person abuses another's father, his own father will be abused in return and if he abuses the other's mother the same abuse will be returned.
Disobedience to Parents
Respect for Wives' Parents/Friends' ParentsThe Prophet's own parent and grandparents had died while he was still a child. The parents of some of his wives were, however, alive and he always treated them with great consideration and respect. The occasion of the surrender of Mecca when the Holy Prophet (saw) entered the town as a victorious General, Abu Bakr brought his father (Ayesha's grandfather) to meet him. Holy Prophet (saw) said to Abu Bakr: `Why did you trouble your father to come to me? I would gladly have gone to him myself.'
Incident about the Promised MessiahThe Promised Messiah instilled in his children great respect for their mother, recalling the saying of Holy Prophet (saw) that `paradise lay under the feet of mothers'. Once when his wife and her (wife's) mother had a disagreement and were both in tears, he took his wife and led her in front of her mother where she bowed her head, her mother immediately raised her daughter's head and embraced her. All annoyance was gone.
Debts of Parents after their DeathHadhrat Abdullah bin Zubair never neglected the rights of his parents even after they were dead. Hadhrat Zubair was a very rich man. Usually as soon as any rich father dies his children start clamouring for their shares from the belongings of the deceased. But Hazrat Abdullah was not at all worried. He could have been well anxious to get his share which amounted to millions. But his only anxiety was about the debt, of his father which he wanted to repay without any exception.
Consequently, he first cleared the debts of his father from the left property. Immediately the other legal heirs started scolding him for getting their shares from the property of the deceased. But Hadhrat Abdullah strictly told them to wait for four years. During these years, he said, he will announce on the occasion of Hajj to the people to come and collect their debts, if any is due upon his departed father till not a single debt remains unpaid. Only after that he would distribute the property.
Other Duties of Children after the Death of ParentsA man asked the Holy Prophet (saw): `Do I owe a duty to my parents after their death?' The Holy Prophet (saw) said: `indeed yes, in four respects:
Charity of Behalf of Dead ParentsNarrated Aisha: A man said to the Prophet. `My mother died suddenly and I thought if she had lived she would have given alms. So, if I give alms now on her behalf will she get the reward?' The Prophet (saw) replied, `yes'.
Praise by Children for Their Dead ParentsHadhrat Abu Hurairah narrates that the Prophet (saw) said that when a person died, his period of activity was over. But there were three things which remain benefiting him even after his death.