The rights of parents in Islam

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“And remember We took a covenant from the Children of Israel (to this effect): Worship none but Allah; treat with kindness your parents.” The Qur’an (2:83)

Islam enjoins mankind to be kind and compassionate towards their parents. In fact, Islam lays so much stress on the rights of parents that among all the human deeds, obedience and respect towards parents is secondary only to worship of one Allah.

“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 your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor.” The Qur’an (17: 23)

The rights of parents are mentioned several times in the Qur’an and there are numerous traditions and hadiths of the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) regarding our duty towards our parents.

Status of Mother in Islam

The Qur’an enjoins upon every person to acknowledge the difficulties and suffering that his mother has to bear during pregnancy, at childbirth, during breastfeeding and in the upbringing of the children.

The rights of mothers are therefore three times more than the rights of a father. It is reported that a person asked the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)

“Who has the greatest claim on me with regard to service and kind treatment?

He asked this question three times and every time Prophet Muhammad ((peace be upon him)) answered “Your mother.” When asked for the fourth time, he answered, “After she is the claim of your father.”

Status of Father in Islam:

The Prophet Muhammad ((peace be upon him) has said: “In the good pleasure of the father lies the good pleasure of the Creator and in his displeasure, lies the displeasure of the Creator (Allah).” (Tirmidhi.)

Islam instructs the children to show respect for their father by not walking in front of him, not taking his name but addressing him with a courteous word and not sitting before him if he has no place to sit.

We must always strive to keep our parents happy and obey them in all matters. If we offend them by ignoring their wishes or cause them grief by our manners, then Allah is also displeased with us.

Gratitude and gentleness

Gratitude to our parents entails recognizing and accepting their presence in our life as a blessing from Allah. Our parents are like shady trees in the scorching sun, our haven in the stormy seas of life. No matter how old or young we are, we always look upon our parents to guide us, advise us and come to our rescue either physically, emotionally or financially.

It is stated in the Holy Qur’an

“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), “Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) destination.” The Qur’an (31:014)

Obedience and affection

Disobedience to parents is considered a great sin in Islam. It is stated that a person who disobeys his parents, causes them grief and breaks their heart will not even smell the fragrance of Paradise.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, “Allah has forbidden you disobedience of parents, miserliness, false claims and burying alive of females” (Bukhari, Muslim)

Taking care of them in old age

We learn to walk holding on to our father’s finger, we learn to talk imitating our mother’s lullabies. Why is it then we are so unwilling to lend a helping hand to our father’s stooping shoulders or lend an ear to our mother’s ailments?

Elderly parents require our most attention and love. It is indeed a matter of duty and blessing to take care of our parents when they are old, attend to their needs and keep them company. It is their right too because when we were young and helpless, they took care of us and sacrificed their own comfort to provide for us.

Old age often makes them short-tempered or quarrelsome. It can be due to many factors like ill-health, senile dementia, medications, etc but it is our obligation to be compassionate and understanding. Islam forbids us to show exasperation, annoyance or anger or even to raise our voices in front of our elderly parents.

It is stated in the Holy Qur’an:

“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.” The Qur’an (17:24)

Taking financial care of their needs

Remember when we used to pester our moms for the latest jeans and matching earrings? Remember when our father took us to hikes and family trips? Remember the closet full of clothes, the shelves brimming with books, the cupboards spilling out toys? Music lessons, sports coaching, tuition fees, trips to doctors and our parents working hard to make ends meet and provide us with all the comforts that they can afford? It wasn’t that long ago.

Once a man came to the Holy Prophet (peace be upon him) and complained that his father took from his belongings. When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) sought an explanation from the old man, he replied “O Prophet of Allah. There was a time when he was weak and I was strong. I was rich and he had nothing. I spent on him and never stopped him from taking anything from me. Today, I am weak and he is strong. Now he hides his belongings from me.” Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) had tears in his eyes. He took hold of the son’s hand and put it in the father’s hand and told the son, “You and your wealth belong to your father.”

It is the duty of the children to provide for their comfort and fulfill their material and financial needs when they have no or little source of income.

“They ask thee what they should spend (In charity). Say: Whatever ye spend that is good, is for parents and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever ye do that is good, -Allah knows it well.” The Qur’an (2:215)

Their rights after their death:

According to Islam, the rights of parents are not limited to their lifetime only. In fact, some of the rights come into effect only after their death. These are

  • To hold their funeral prayers.
  • Pray for forgiveness and mercy from Allah on their behalf.
  • To fulfill any promises or oaths they made to anyone in their life.
  • To pay due regards to bonds of relationship from their side.
  • To be respectful to their friends.
  • Giving charity for their sake to earn them Paradise.

Numerous other traditions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) tell us that obedience and kindness to parents bring forth multiple rewards in this life and make the path to Paradise easy in the hereafter.

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