bismillah

Sayings of the Prophet (S.A.W.)

On Parents

In America there are many days set aside to honor and appreciate special people in our lives. Mother's Day, Father's Day, Memorial Day, Grandmother's and Grandfather's Day, etc. We do realize the significance of these occasions and the ideals and philosophies of setting aside certain days to recognize and appreciate these people. As for the appreciation of parents, it should be a daily recognition rather than a special occasion according to the Holy Qur'an and Hadith.

We are taught that a Muslim should respect and appreciate his or her parents every day throughout the year. In the Qur'an, appreciation and treatment of parents is described beautifully in Surah Al-Isra in which Allah (swt) says, "Your Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him and that ye 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 in terms of honor. 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.'" (Quran 17:23-24)

Recognition and respect of parents is mentioned eleven times in the Qur'an. In every instance, Allah reminds children to appreciate the care and love they received from their parents. In one aspect, Allah demands that children honor their parents by saying, "We have enjoined on man kindness to parents." (Quran 29:8 & 46:15)

This is stated again in Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) with, "And (remember) when We made a covenant with the children of Israel, (saying): worship none save Allah (only), and be good to parents..." (Quran 2:83)

...and in Surah Al-Nisaa (the Women), "And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) Kindness unto parents..." (Quran 4:36)

...and in Surah Al An'Am (The Cattle), Allah (swt) reiterates that people should honor and be kind to parents, "Say: Come. I will recite unto you that which your Lord has made a sacred duty for you; that you ascribe nothing as partner unto Him and that you do good to parents..." (Quran 6:151)

It has been related that a person came to the Holy Prophet to take part in the Emigration (Hijrah) against the will of his weeping parents. The Holy Prophet told him to go back to his parents and come back only after pleasing them as he had made them cry. (Abu Dawood)

In fact, Islam teaches us that respect for parents comes immediately after praying to Allah and before Jihad (struggle and striving in the way of Allah) ...this would indeed make it a very powerful and important injunction. This implies that we should take it not only as a worldly affair but as a religious duty also. Almighty Allah and His Holy Prophet have both laid much emphasis on obeying, serving and pleasing our parents.

The Prophet (pbuh) when asked "Which deed is most liked by Allah?" replied, "Prayers on time." Then asked, "Which one next?" said, "Goodliness to parents", then asked again, which next, replied, "jihad in the way of Allah".

Mothers

Although Islam recognizes both parents, mothers are given particular gratitude and respect. This attitude of Islam is better understood if we realize the hardships and suffering that mothers experience in their lives. It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (R) that a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked him, "Who amongst his near one had the greatest right over him?" The Prophet replied, "Your mother". The man then asked, "Who after that?" to which the Prophet replied again, "Your mother". Asked who is next, the Prophet again replied, "Your mother". When the man asked who after that, the Prophet said, "Your father".

In another narration the Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) said, "Paradise lies at the feet of mothers"...emphasizing that each of us should cherish and respect his/her mother and that pleasing them will serve well in the hereafter also.

As a matter of fact, the importance of one's mother is exemplified by the following hadith: Once, when the Holy Prophet was talking to his companions a man came and addressed him, "O Messenger of Allah! A young man is dying. People are asking him to recite Shadada but he is unable to do so." The Holy Prophet asked, "Did this man offer his prayers," and got the answer in the affirmative. Then he went to the house of the dying man. The Messenger of Allah advised him to offer the kalimah. The man indicated that he was unable to do so as the words could not come out of his mouth. He then called the mother of the dying man whom he had disobeyed persistently throughout his life. When his aged mother approached the scene, the Holy Prophet asked, "Respected lady, is he your son?" She replied in the affirmative. He then put to her a question, "O respected lady, if we threaten to throw your son in a raging fire, will you recommend him to be forgiven?" The Lady replied that she would definitely do so at that time. The Holy Prophet then said to her, "If so, declare, making Allah and me your witnesses, that you are now pleased with him!" The old woman readily declared, "O ' Allah, You and your Messenger be my witness that I am pleased with this beloved son of mine."

The Holy Prophet turned to the dying man and asked him to recite, "There is no god but Allah. He is One and has no partners and I witness that Mohammed is His Servant and His Messenger." By the virtue of the forgiveness of his mother he found the words flowing out of his mouth and he recited the Kalimah. Seeing this, the Holy Prophet praised Almighty Allah and thanked Him saying, "Thanks to Almighty Allah that He saved this man from the fearful fire of Hell through me." (Tabarani, Ahmad)

A man once came to the Prophet (pbuh) and sought his advice about taking part in the Holy War (Jihad) with him. The Holy Prophet asked him whether his mother was alive? He answered in the affirmative. The Holy Prophet then told him. "Go back home and serve her as if heaven was under her feet." (Ibn-e-Majah, Nasai)

Thus the fact comes to light that a mother deserves service, love, submission, obedience and gratitude from the children more than the father. This is because a mother generally makes more sacrifices and endures greater hardships than a father while bringing up the children. She feeds them and takes care of them by sacrificing her comforts in the day and her sleep in the night without any greed or compulsion but only out of sheer love and affection. This devotion is lifelong. This is the reason why the Holy Qur'an has given more importance to the mother and stressed upon the children to be more considerate and submissive to her in comparison with the father.

A person came to the Holy Prophet (S.A.W.) and complained that his mother was ill tempered. The Holy Messenger said, "She was not ill tempered when she kept you in her womb for nine months." The person insisted, "Sir, I am telling you the truth that she is ill-tempered." The Holy Prophet said, "She was not ill-tempered when she used to keep awake the whole night for your sake and feed you." "I have recompensed all these favors of my mother", boasted the complainant. The Prophet then asked, "How have you recompensed her?" "I have helped her perform hajj by putting her on my shoulders," he replied. The Holy Prophet then stated, "Can you also recompense the painful pangs which your mother bore at the time of your birth?"

The right of the mother to be served and treated nicely is three times greater than that of the father, for she renders three such services to her children which cannot even be imagined by the father. The mother bears the burden of the child during pregnancy, stands the pains of delivery, and then feeds the child from her breasts." These three important services are also mentioned in the Holy Qur'an. As afterwards both father and mother play equal parts in training and bringing up the children, emphasis has been laid on the fair treatment for both of them by their children.

Of course both the parents play their parts in bringing up the children at the cost of their own comforts and pleasures. The father feels happy to spend his hard earned money upon them while the mother feeds them from her own blood (milk). Thus the children are brought up by the joint toil, love and affection of both their parents. Consequently the best treatment from the children is stressed in the Holy Qur'an and Sunnah for them.

If we go through these verses of the Holy Qur'an the following points will be evident:

(1) Parent's rights are next to those of Almighty Allah in Islam. This is authenticated by the fact that, after the description of the Unity of Almighty Allah, the Holy Quran has repeatedly ordered for the most pleasant and submissive behavior with the parents.

(2) When parents become old their temperament changes. They usually become easily irritable and short tempered due to their age. Their children should take these changes for granted and show considerable patience and magnanimity for their aging parents.

(3) Parents should be respected and revered throughout their lifetimes.

(4) The children should adopt attitudes of humbleness, politeness, and obedience for the parents. They should readily carry out the orders of parents and also feel comforted by doing so. In old age when parents are invalid and naturally depend upon their children, the children should serve them like an obedient servant. While doing so, they should feel exalted and thank Almighty Allah for having the opportunity of serving their parents in their old age.

(5) We should recall those days of infancy when we were totally dependent on our parents. During that period we were weak and in need of help from the parents to survive. In those days our parents nourished us with love and affection bearing all sorts of hardships. They felt happy when we were happy and became restless when we were even slightly disturbed. The children should always have these memories fresh in mind and pray to Almighty Allah to be merciful and kind to their parents in their old age as they had been considerate and kind to them in their hour of need.

Hazrat Abu Osaid narrated that once, while he was sitting with the Holy Prophet, someone asked the Holy Prophet (pbuh) whether there were any steps which he could take to benefit his parents even after their death. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) replied, "Yes", there are four such things: (1) to pray for their deliverance and forgiveness, (2) to accomplish their promises and carry out the proper wills, (3) to respect and treat their friends well, (4) and to be nice and kind to those who are related to you through your parents." (Al Adab Al-Mufrad)

Apart from service, submission and obedience to the parents, the Holy Qur'an also stresses upon the children not to be miserly towards them; rather they should give first preference to their parents in spending their money. They are even entitled to take money from their own children by compulsion in their parents hour of need. Obedience to the parents includes financial help also.

Once a man complained to the Holy Prophet about his father who took away his belongings whenever he liked. The Prophet (pbuh) called for the man's father, who was a very old man, and asked him the details of the matter. He said, "O' Messenger of Allah, there was a time when he (the son) was weak and helpless and barehanded while I had strength and wealth. I never hesitated to give him my belongings whenever he needed them. Today I am weak and barehanded while he is rich and now he keeps his belongings from me." Hearing this, tears came to the eyes of the Prophet, and he said to the son, "You and your belongings belong to your father. You and your belongings belon to your father. There is good news for them who behaved well with their parents. Allah will increase the period of their lives."

Islam has endorsed respect for parents by their children even if the parents are non-Muslims. They are still parents and gave birth to them and cherished them bearing the same pains and hardships which are faced by Muslim parents. Consequently, in spite of the religious differences, it is the duty of Muslim children to serve and treat them with kindness, respect and devotion. All parents should also be helped financially and should not be given a chance to complain in worldly affairs. If non-Muslim parents strive to convert their children to non-Islamic beliefs, the children are not to follow them, but they are still to be good to the parents. In this regard Allah (swt) says in Surah Luqman:

"And we have enjoined upon man concerning his parents...his mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks unto Me and unto your parents. Unto me is the journeying. But if they strive with you to make you ascribe unto Me as partner that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not. Consort with them in the world kindly, and follow the part of him who repents unto Me. Then unto Me will you return, and I shall tell you what you used to do." (Quran 31:14-15)

We all hope to show the respect and consideration asked of us by Allah to our parents while they are with us in this life. For those of us that have lost one or both parents there are still actions that can be taken to honor them. Make daily Du'a' for them, give charity on their behalf or in their name, institute a perpetual charity on their behalf such as a Masjid, Islamic Library, Islamic materials for dahwa, read Qur'an on their behalf, distribute Islamic literature in their name.

Let us pray that we will all do our best to respect our parents, honor them, be kind to them, help them, and please them for the love of Allah.

Any amongst you who sees something evil should correct it with his own hands. If he is unable to do so he should correct it with his tongue. If he is unable even to do that, he should at least consider it as bad in his heart. This is the lowest degree of faith.

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August 1998
Jumaada Awal 1419
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