Importance of Parents & Our Duty Towards Them
Parents are their children’s caregivers and have great rights in Islam. It is the duty of the children to fulfil the rights of their parents because Allah mentions the parents’ rights in conjunction to His own rights in several places in the Qur’an. “Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents…” [Quran 4:36]
Importance of parents:
- Being dutiful towards them is the most virtuous of deeds:
Ibn Mas’ud said: “I asked the Messenger of Allah: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Which is the most virtuous of deeds?’ He said: ‘Salat during its appropriate time.’ I said: ‘Then what, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘Being dutiful to one’s parents.’ I said: ‘Then what, O Messenger of Allah?’ He said: ‘Jihad in the cause of Allah.’ Then the messenger of Allah was silent, and if I had asked him more, he would have told me more.'” al-Bukhari (527) and Muslim (85)
The pleasure of Allah is in the pleasure of one’s father:
It was narrated from ‘Abdullah lbn ‘Amr (may Allah be pleased with him) that the Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) said: “The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of one’s father and the anger of the Lord is in the anger of one’s father.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (1821) and classed as hassan by al-Albani in Al-Silsilah ai-Saheehah (516)
“The pleasure of Allah is in the pleasure of one’s father“ applies to the mother as well, and more so. At-Tabarani narrated it with the wording: “The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of one’s parents and His anger is in their anger.”
- The mother is the most deserving of her child’s companionship:
Loving and respecting the mother is obligatory because she is the most deserving of her children’s companionship.
Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “A man came to the Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) and said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, who among the people is the most deserving of my companionship?‘ He said. ‘Your mother.’ The man asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your Mother’. The man again asked, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your mother.’ He asked again, ‘Then who?’ He said, ‘Your Father.’”
The Mother is the one who made her womb a vessel for her child, fed the child from her breast and nurtured it. The Fitrah (natural inclination) causes the child to love the mother. Love between a mother and her children has been instilled by Allah even in animals. So, as far as humans, particularly Muslims are concerned, it is an important and befitting attribute.
Duty of children towards their parents:
- Taking care of them and looking after their affairs if they require it:
This is a debt that rests on the child’s shoulders. Did the parents not take care of him/her when he/she was a child and stay up with him at night and bear it all with patience? Allah says, “And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship and she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him is thirty (30) months, till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years, he says: “My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my off-spring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will).” [Quran 46:15]
This takes precedence even over Jihad if there is a conflict between the two. ’Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al Aas (may Allah be pleased with them both) said, “A man came to the Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) and asked him for permission to participate in Jihad. The Messenger of Allah (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) said to him, ‘Are your parents alive?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ He said, ‘Then your Jihad is with them.’” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2842; Muslim, 2549)
‘Abdullah also narrated, “A man came to the Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) and said, ‘I take the oath of allegiance to you for hijrah (emigration to Medinah) and Jihad, seeking reward from Allah.’ The Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) enquired whether either of his parents were living. On his replying that both of them were, the Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) said, ‘Are you (really) seeking reward from Allah?’ ‘Yes,’ the man said. The Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) then said, ‘Go back to your parents and be a good companion to them.’” (Reported by Muslim) – This means that taking care of parents is a greater obligation than Jihad in the cause of Allah.
- Not offending them or saying or doing anything that they dislike:
Islam emphasizes treating parents kindly, especially when they grow old. As their strength fails, they require more attention and care, and more consideration of their sensitive feelings. Concerning this, the Qur’an says, “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.”” [Quran 17:23-24]
If Allah has forbidden us even to say ‘uff’ [paraphrased as ‘a word of disrespect’ in the translation of the meaning of the aayah] to our parents, then how terrible is someone who abuses them (verbally or physically)!
- Not insulting them:
The Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) not only prohibited insulting or cursing one’s parents but declared it to be a major sin. He said, “‘Among the major sins is a man’s cursing his parents.‘ The people who were present wondered how a sane and believing individual could curse his own parents, and enquired, ‘How is it possible for a man to curse his own parents?‘ The Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) replied, ‘He insults another man’s father, and then the other insults his father, and he insults the other’s mother, and the other returns the insult to his mother.’” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim)
- Spending on them:
It is the child’s responsibility to fulfil the needs of the parents (if they are poor and unable to do so on their own) for spending on one’s parents and feeding them is more precious than feeding one’s own children. Ibn ‘Umar (may Allah be pleased with them both) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) said: “Three men went out walking and rain began to fall on them. They entered a cave in a mountain, then a rock fell (blocking the entrance to the cave). They said to one another, ‘Pray to Allah by virtue of the best deeds that you have done.’ One of them said, ‘O Allah, my parents were elderly and I used to go out and tend to my flocks, then I would milk them and bring the milk to my parents for them to drink from it, then I would give some to my children. One night, I came home late and found them sleeping. I did not want to wake them, and the children were crying at my feet. I kept waiting and the children kept crying until dawn broke. O Allah, if You knew that I did that for Your sake, then open a way for us through which we can see the sky.’ So, a way was opened for them…” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 2102; Muslim, 2743)
- Obeying them:
It is obligatory on the child to obey his parents when they command him to do something good. But if they command him to do something bad, such as Shirk, then there should be no obedience to any created being if it involves disobedience to the Creator. Allah says, “But if they (both) strive with you to make you join in worship with Me others that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not, but behave with them in the world kindly, and follow the path of him who turns to Me in repentance and in obedience. Then to Me will be your return, and I shall tell you what you used to do.” [Qur’an 31:15]
The Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) declared disobedience to parents to be a major sin, second only to ascribing partners to Allah (shirk), as has been stated in the Qur’an. ‘Abdur-Rahman bin Abi Bakrah narrated from his father that the Messenger of Allah (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) said: “Shall I not inform you of the greatest of the major sins?” They said: “Of course O Messenger of Allah (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam)!” He said: “Shirk with Allah, disobeying parents, and false testimony.”
- Fulfilling their vows:
If the parents have died, it is from the Sunnah to fulfill any vows that they might have made, and to give charity and perform Hajj and ‘Umrah on their behalf. It was reported from lbn ‘Abbas (may Allah be pleased with them both) that a woman from Juhaynah came to the Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) and said: “My mother vowed to go for Hajj, but she died before she did so. Can I perform Hajj on her behalf?” He said, “Yes, perform Hajj on her behalf. Do you not think that if your mother owed a debt that you would pay it off for her? Fulfill her debt to Allah, for Allah is more deserving that what is owed to Him should be paid.” (Narrated by al-Bukhaari, 1754)
- Maintaining ties with their relatives & friends:
After the death of one’s parents, it is also Sunnah to honor them by maintaining ties with those whom they used to keep in touch with, such as their relatives and friends. It was narrated from ‘Abdullah lbn ‘Umar that the Prophet (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) said: “The best of righteous deeds is for a man to keep in touch with his father’s friends after he dies.” Narrated by Muslim, 2552
Children’s attitude if their parents don’t fulfill their rights:
- I HAVE BAD PARENTS!
If a child complains that their parents are not good parents i.e., they don’t fulfill the child’s rights then there can be two possibilities. Either the child THINKS that they are not good parents, or they are truly not good parents. Either way, children have to know, that parents, brothers, sisters, friends, their love, respect, and care are all from Allah‘s rizq (provision) and that He gives each of His slaves in a PERFECT measure, according to what is good.
Allah is ar Rabb (the Lord). He nurtures His slaves to make them better Muslims, worthy of Paradise. He nurtures them through tests and trials, to show them the evil characteristics hidden in the hearts so that the slaves may see them and rectify themselves. So, if Allah has chosen to give someone parents who are not good then there must be a reason behind it!
Is the child ungrateful to Allah for His blessings, and only focuses on what He DIDN’T give, instead of seeing the immense blessings that He gave, and thanking Him for it? “If you give thanks (by accepting Faith and worshipping none but Allah), I will give you more (of My Blessings)….” [Quran 14:7]
Maybe the child is not giving the parents their rights, while expecting them to be the best parents in the world. Allah wants to show the child his shortcomings and wants to emphasize that he/she is not fulfilling his/her duties.
Maybe Allah wants to build the quality of patience in the child.
Maybe Allah wants His slave to ask Him, to make Du‘aa to Him, to turn to Him, showing Him his helplessness and need, and to acknowledge His Power and Ability.
Therefore this, and any other reason, is not reason enough for anyone to withhold the rights of their parents. The child should fulfill the parent’s rights and ASK Allah to make them how he/she wants them to be.
- MY PARENTS DON’T LIKE ME!
The love of parents, siblings and friends is all a rizq from Allah. He gives it in perfect measure, and He withholds it from some for a good reason. Allah says in the Quran, “And there is not a thing, but with Us are the stores thereof. And We send it not down except in a known measure.” [Quran 15:21]
“And if Allah were to enlarge the provision for His slaves, they would surely rebel in the earth, but He sends down by measure as He wills. Verily! He is in respect of His slaves, the Well-Aware, the All-Seer (of things that benefit them).” [Quran 42:27]
Sometimes a child might feel that the parents love his/her siblings more but that may not really be true. And even if it is true, then he/she must accept and be grateful for what Allah has granted, because Allah knows exactly how much love one should get from his/her parents to thrive in his/her Emaan. If one wishes for the love of parents, then turn to the One between Whose Fingers lie the hearts of the parents. One should wake up in the middle or the night and beg Allah to fulfill the wishes and desires, and ask Him along with that the ability to be GRATEFUL to Allah for what He gives. Humans often only see what they are MISSING, and don’t appreciate how much they have. Indeed, if everyone is grateful to Allah for what He has given, then He will give more as He Himself said in the Qur’an.
- MY PARENTS ARE MONSTERS!
If parents harm their child in a way that the child thinks is unlawful, then Allah is watching them, and will take the perfect recompense from them; whether in the dunya or in the aakhirah. No one will be able to reform them or take revenge from them better than Allah. So, the child should be patient, seek help from Allah, continue giving them their rights and being kind to them. This is because they will be questioned about their responsibility, and the child will be questioned about his. The time may not be long when Allah will be pleased with the child’s patience and he/she will see the fruits of that patience. Allah is ash-Shaakir, ash-Shakur. He rewards the little good that one does, abundantly. The child should seek knowledge of the deen and come closer to Allah and he/she will find that Allah (Azza Wajal) is all he/she needs. Allah said in the Qur’an, “Verily, with the hardship, there is relief” [Quran 94:6]
Even if the parents practice witchcraft against their children, it is obligatory upon the children to be respectful.
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MY PARENTS ARE SUCH NERDS!
The parents are wiser, have a broader vision of life. and a better understanding of priorities which young children don’t have. If the child thinks the parents should be ‘cool’ like in the movies, then:
1. The child should stop watching movies.
2. This is the rizq that Allah has given, and He knows what is best. One may not understand it now, but will realize few years, decades, or a lifetime later, that what Allah planned, and chose was indeed the best. Allah is al-Hakeem, the All-Wise, the All-Knower, the Most-Merciful, ar-Rabb, who nurtures His slaves, sending us signs and lessons to make us better Muslims so that they may enter Paradise. But humans don’t trust Allah, and think they know better than Allah when they show discontent with what Allah has chosen.
3. The child should be grateful to Allah for what He has blesses him/her with. There are so many in the world who would do anything for 5 minutes of the love that the parents give.
- MY PARENTS ARE SO CONTROLLING!
Unfortunately, a lot of parents are like that, especially in this dangerous era, full of pedophiles, child-traffickers, criminals, and rapists. One really cannot do anything about it but to obey them. If they don’t allow the child to go to a friend’s house, then it is what Allah wrote in his/her Qadr! Allah wants him/her to control his/her Nafs (desire). If one’s Nafs desires something, one should not keep giving in all the time, because one will end up becoming an extremely weak person who is not able to stop from committing even the smallest of sins. So, the child should use the opportunity that Allah has given and say out loud, ‘Allaah did not write this for me, so I don’t want it. This Dunya is not a place of fulfillment of desires, Paradise is. I’ll wait for Paradise In shaa Allah.’
- MY PARENTS ARE KILLING ME WITH WORK!
This Dunya is about hard work. Earning Paradise is hard work. It is NOT a piece of cake. Everyone realizes that sooner or later. So, if one is getting early training in working hard, then congratulations. If the child is lazy, now is the time to fix it, because he/she has the pressure to help him/her improve. If one just wants to relax and talk to friends on the phone all the time, but parents want help in the kitchen, then one should know that this Dunya is not about relaxation. That’s what Paradise is created for. So, one should use the opportunity to get used to working hard and the rest of your life will be much easier. So, if Allah gave one parents who overburden:
1. If the child doesn’t do it, the parents will have to do it. Does he/she really want to miss out on the opportunity of gaining Paradise by helping his/her parents?
2. The child can try to explain to them nicely, kindly and with love, how he/she doesn’t like to work so much and if the parents could please lessen the burden.
3. If parents don’t agree, then this is what Allah wrote for him/her, and this is what’s better. This is the age of sinning, and if one is busy in work, then he/she might be saved from a lot of Fitnah (trials). Allah knows that one needs to be engaged and wants to save one from becoming misguided.
- MY PARENTS ARE BAD MUSLIMS!
The Muslim is bound to face difficulties in the way of his/her adhering to Islam, as the Messenger of Allah (SallaAllahu alaiyhi wasallam) said: “Paradise is surrounded with difficulties and Hell is surrounded with desires.” The Prophets (peace be upon them) were faced with difficulties from their people and from the closest of people to them, but the reward for their patience was that Allah caused them ultimately to prevail.
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