"Allahummah Bariek lana Fie Rajab Wa Sha'baan Wabaliegna Ramadan"
"And We have enjoined upon man kindness to his parents:
In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she
give birth to him."
[Surah Al Ahqaf Part of verse 15]
Ayyatuhal Muslimeen! The Most Holy and Noble Qur'an sums up the whole question in the master concept of Ihsan, which denotes what is right, good, upright, precious, benevolent, immaculate, and most beautiful. Accordingly, the Holy faith of Islam greatly encourages us to love, obey, and respect our parents, to the point that Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala commands kindness to parents immediately after making reference to Tawhid. We are informed of this Divine Command in verse 23 of Surah Al Isra (or Surah Bani Isra'il):
"Thy Lord hath decreed that you worship none but Him,
and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of
them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of
contempt, nor repel them, but address them with honour."
And in verse 24 of Surah Al Isra, the Divine Command continues...........
"And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility,
and say: "My Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy even as
they cherished me in Childhood."
Fa ya Ayyuhal Muslimoon! Our spiritual and moral obligations are brought into juxtaposition by Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala in verse 23. We are to worship none but Almighty Allah, because none but Allah is worthy of worship. "And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility." The metaphor is that of a high-flying bird which lowers her wing out of tenderness to her offspring.
There is a double aptness. (1) When the parent was strong and the child was helpless, parental affection was showered on the child: when the child grows up and is strong, and the parent is old and helpless, can the child bestow similar tender care on the parents? (2) But more: the child must approach the matter with gentle humility; for does not parental love remind him or her of the love with which Almighty Allah cherished His creatures?
Beloved People of Imaan! In the above two verses, there is something more than simple human gratitude: it goes up into the highest spiritual region. We are commanded to honour our mother and father, but upon much higher and more universal grounds, such as befit a perfect revelation. In the first place, not merely respect, but cherishing kindness, and humility to parents are commanded. In the second place this command is bracketed with the command to worship none but Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala. Parental love should be to us a type of divine love: nothing that we can do can ever really compensate for that which we have received.
Ya Ibad Allah! Our spiritual advancement as true people of Imaan is tested by this: we can never ever expect Almighty Allah's forgiveness if we are rude or unkind to those who unselfishly brought us up. The last integral part of Ihsan is that children are responsible for the support and maintenance of parents. It is an absolute religious duty to provide for the parents in case of need and help them to make their lives as comfortable as possible. In Islam, the worship of Almighty Allah Subhanahu Wata'ala is linked up with love and kindness to our parents.
The point that must be emphasized here is that while both parents are given importance, the mother ranks ahead of the father in Islam as far as their children are concerned. Our Beloved Nabee Sallallahoo Alayhi Wasallam said: "Jannah lies under the feet of thy mother."However, father's are never ignored because "the contentment of the father is the door to Jannah." And in verse 32 of Surah Maryam we are reminded how Nabee Esa Alayhis Salaam honoured his mother when he said:
"And Allah hath made me kind and dutiful to my
mother, and not overbearing, wicked or miserable."
One of the Ten Commandments as we learn from Exodus 20:12 King James Version (KJV) is: "Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee." We are taught in Islam: within the family, the mother and father stand to the children in relation of a tree's roots to its branches: just as the propagation and life of the branches depend on the roots, so are the mother and father the foundation of a child's life. The human society is composed of two strata, the parents and the offspring, the mother and father are the taproot of society.
Beloved People of Imaan! We have all heard of child abuse and how children are damaged by this terrible behaviour and you only have to Google "Child Abuse" to find page after page of information, support groups and advice on this subject, but, how many people have heard of parent abuse? Especially at the hands of teenage children with serious social interaction, drug, abusive, and violence issues? Google it. You wont find much, except on a few support sites. Its a growing problem for parents who share their home with abusive young people and there is virtually no support. When I was growing up, it was an unspoken rule that you never talked back to your parents. My brothers and sisters knew this, and violated it at our peril.
We were taught to address every elder with love and respect. We were also used to seeing large families -- consisting of parents, children, grandparents and sometimes even uncles and aunts -- living together under one roof. These displays of filial piety -- heavily emphasized in Muslim society -- taught me some important lessons in life about benevolence and righteousness. Of late, however, I have begun to wonder whether our community has forgotten the values of respecting and revering their elders. These decreasing values are most glaringly obvious when you look at the number of elderly folk being abandoned in old-age or old folks homes.
These stories shock us. But in a way they also insulate us from the real problem which is far more ubiquitous. It has become a norm to brush older people aside in ways we don’t even realize. A survey from the Agewell Foundation found that 87 percent of elders in the 70-80 age group complain of isolation. And that happens even when they are living with family, at home. They just find themselves shunted off to the back bedroom. Where are their children? Is it not expected that the children should set aside some of their income to pay for their parents' healthcare or take these old folk into their homes?
To my dismay, this does not seem to be the case. There appears to have been a shift in the values and mindset of today, resulting in an emphasis on individualism and autonomy. Many young adults now are unwilling to sacrifice their personal desires (for example, career goals, financial gains and material luxuries) for the greater good of the family and community. Those with families of their own focus their energies and finances almost exclusively on the upbringing and education of their children, forgetting that they are neglecting the most crucial part of the children's education: teaching moral values by example.
Indeed, have our values changed so much that we need a law to compel us to take care of our own parents? It is clear that our Muslim society has reached a turning point where we need to reflect on which path we want to take. There is an unwritten code of humanity that says we should give our children better than we ourselves received. However, I was also brought up with the code that we should do everything within our power to give our parents better than we ourselves received. What does it say about us that we throw our parents away like a pair of old shoes?
Ask any 7, 8, 9, or 10 year-old who lost their parents at such young tender ages and who were raised without the love of a mother and father - ask them what they would have sacrificed in life to have experienced growing up surrounded by parental love. Love for our parents lights up the horizons of life. Parental love plays a deep and a vast role in our material and spiritual developments for it holds magnificent and astonishing power. If we extinguish the light of love for our parents from the horizon of life, the darkness of disappointment and the horror of unhappiness will overshadow our spirits.
I am addressing all those who are guilty of neglecting and abandoning their elderly parents. Doing so is heinous crime which will not be forgiven by Almighty Allah. Love for our mother and father is a true manifestation of human affections. Yes, love is transferable and applies to everyone. The method with which we are able to gain parental love is by being generous, and lovingly kind to them, and by realizing that our responsibility towards them is to grant them love and affection.
The structure of family life is very lofty, sound and comprehensive. Among the substantial elements of this structure are sincere love for one's fellow human beings, mercy for the young, respect for the elders, comfort and consolation for the distressed, visiting the sick, relieving the grieved, genuine feelings of brotherhood and social solidarity; respect for the rights of other people to life, property, and honour; mutual responsibility between the individual and society. It is a common thing to come across Prophetic statements like:
"Whoever relieves a human being from a grief of this world, Almighty Allah Most Merciful will relieve him from grief on the Day of Judgement."
And: "Anyone who has no mercy on the young and respect for the elderly is not one of us."
There are many days set aside in societies to honor and appreciate parents; Father's Day and Mother's Day to name just two. Such days appear to be more of an effort to make up for duties neglected. Those who can value their parents in the correct way and who regard them as a means for obtaining the mercy of Almighty Allah Tabaraqa Wata'ala are the most prosperous in both worlds. In contrast, those who regard their parents' existence as a burden on themselves are unfortunate people who will inevitably suffer the severest hardships in this life and in the Aghirah.
It is our foremost duty as Muslims to honour, love, obey, and respect our parents to the extend that we celebrate our mothers' and fathers' EVERYDAY of the year. Families form the foundation of a society. Where there is reciprocal respect of rights and obligations within a family, the society will be healthy and strong. It is vain to look for compassion and respect in society once these have been lost.
Dearest brothers and sisters in Islam! Please allow me to draw a realistic picture of the situation which is confronting the Muslim Ummah all over the world. It is to warn parents and children alike of the dangers that we are faced with today and of the losses that must be prevented. Moreover, it is to remind all those who are genuinely interested in the spiritual well-being of the Ummah that we must be alert and take a fresh attitude toward our love and obligations when it concerns our parents. It is to warn children of the dangers that are approaching and of the great losses that must be prevented.
The Wisdom and Plan of Allah are beyond all Praise:
And Mercy and Truth proceed from Him, and there
is no other - none - besides Him. And Allah knows best.
by Imam Abdul Hamid