Islam recognises the family as a basic social unit. Along with the husband-wife relationship, the Parent-child relationship is the most important one. All religions and all societies have given parents an honourable status. Unfortunately, however, many people do not treat their parents in the manner they deserve. Allah says:
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ
“And We have enjoined (upon) man for his parents – carried him his mother (in) weakness upon weakness, and his weaning (is) in two years that “Be grateful to Me and your parents; towards Me (is) the destination.” (Surah Luqman 31:14)
As we get older, we tend to forget that our parents are growing older as well, and they have pushed aside to living on their own or in nursing homes while we start our own families. Not only is this disregard unfair to our parents, but it is also strictly forbidden in Islam. Allah says:
وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا
“And has decreed your Lord, that (do) not worship except Him Alone and to the (be) good. Whether reach with you the old age one of them, or both of them, then (do) not say to both of them a word of disrespect and (do) not repel them, but speak to them a word noble.” (Surah Al-Isra` 17:23)
God has commanded us to treat our parents with the utmost respect, no matter the situation we are in. Respecting parents is one of the most significant aspects of Islam. Holding one’s parents in high esteem is so important, even if our parents strive to make us commit the worst act in Islam, we must still treat them with justice. Allah says:
لِّلرِّجَالِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ وَلِلنِّسَاءِ نَصِيبٌ مِّمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ مِمَّا قَلَّ مِنْهُ أَوْ كَثُرَ نَصِيبًا مَّفْرُوضًا
“For the men a portion of what (is) left (by) the parents, and the near relatives and for the women a portion of what (is) left (by) parents and the near relatives of what (is) little of it or much – a portion obligatory.” (Surah An-Nisa` 4:7)
It is clear that after Allah parents are the persons who give us innumerable favours. They provide protection, food and clothing to the newly born. The mother sacrifices her comforts and sleeps to provide comfort to her children. The father works hard to provide for their physical, educational and psychological (and spiritual) needs. Allah says:
رَبَّنَا اغْفِرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيَّ وَلِلْمُؤْمِنِينَ يَوْمَ يَقُومُ الْحِسَابُ
“Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and the believers (on) the Day will (be) established the account.” (Surah Ibrahim 14:41)
It is a matter of common courtesy that if a person does you some favour you feel obliged to him. Verbally you say ‘thank you’ to him. You try to repay and compensate him for his gifts and favours. You feel a sense of gratitude towards him. So it is with Allah and with parents. Allah says:
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حُسْنًا وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ لِتُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ
“And We have enjoined (on) man goodness to his parents, but if they both strive against you to make you associate with Me what not you have of it any knowledge, then (do) not obey both of them. To Me (is) your return, and I will inform you about what you used (to) do.” (Surah Al-`Ankabut 29:8)
A Muslim child should respect and appreciate his or her parents daily. Allah mentions that human beings must recognise their parents and that this is second only to the recognition of Allah Himself. Throughout the Quran, we notice that parents are mentioned with appreciation and respect, even if they are senile. Allah says:
Let us summarize the Rights of Parents (Duties of children):
- Right to be respected and obeyed: Parents have a right to be respected and obeyed by children. All parents are well-wishers of children. Children should remember that annoying one’s parents can lead to God’s wrath.
- Right to scold and rebuke: It is an instinctive obligation of parents to protect their children from physical and moral harm. Good children should take all this ‘harshness’ in their interest. If parents scold them they should bear it calmly. No rude replies, no arguing, no explanations, no comments unless asked for. Parental advice should be listened to and acted upon, even if against children’s wishes.
- Right to be looked after: Parents have looked after the children for decades. So grown-up children must repay them by way of caring for them and looking to their physical and financial needs.
- Right to be helped: As parents grow old their energies also decline. So children must help their parents in any household chore in which they can help. Sons can help in lifting heavy things, cleaning home, arranging things etc.
- Right to kind words/good behaviour: the Quran urges children to be soft-spoken towards parents and show respect and kindness in their behaviour towards parents. As good mannered persons they must feel and remain obliged towards parents and try to repay them by kind words and deeds, even with money and material needs. These are the Rights of Parents due to their children (or the Duties of Children towards parents). Unfortunately, as it is, Western societies have forgotten these lessons.
- It is a Road to Paradise
- It is one of the Best Deeds: And dutiful to his parents, and he was not a disobedient tyrant. (Quran 19:14)
- It’s a Major Sin to be Undutiful to Parents: And [made me] dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me a wretched tyrant. (Quran 19:32)
- Parents’ Prayer for Their Children is Answered by Allah
- You Can Never Do Enough to Repay their Debts
Parents’ love– it’s intense, unselfish, natural, and beautiful. And it’s an amazing gift of Allah. Children’s love for their parents – often it’s not so intense; sometimes it’s selfish and takes effort. And it’s an extremely emphasized order of God. In a few places in the Quran, God commands us to be good to parents right after He orders us to worship Him alone: Allah says:
جَنَّاتُ عَدْنٍ يَدْخُلُونَهَا وَمَن صَلَحَ مِنْ آبَائِهِمْ وَأَزْوَاجِهِمْ وَذُرِّيَّاتِهِمْ وَالْمَلَائِكَةُ يَدْخُلُونَ عَلَيْهِم مِّن كُلِّ بَابٍ
“Gardens of Eden, they will enter them and whoever (were) righteous among their fathers and their spouses, and their offsprings. And the Angels will enter upon them from every gate.” (Surah Ar-Ra`d 13:23)
As Muslims, we have to teach our children about having good moral conduct and good manners. The respect parents instil in their children will help them become respectable, responsible, kind, friendly, obedient, patient, humble and honourable children. As a good parent, you should not let society do the upbringing of your children for you. Allah says:
وَلِكُلٍّ جَعَلْنَا مَوَالِيَ مِمَّا تَرَكَ الْوَالِدَانِ وَالْأَقْرَبُونَ وَالَّذِينَ عَقَدَتْ أَيْمَانُكُمْ فَآتُوهُمْ نَصِيبَهُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ كَانَ عَلَىٰ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدًا
“And for all We heirs of what (is) left (by) the parents and the relatives. And those who pledged your right hands – then give them their share. Indeed, Allah is over everything a Witness.” (Surah An-Nisa` 4:33)
The fact is that the parent’s heart is the fountainhead of the love for the child; this affection becomes the life-blood of the parents. The Qur’an has alluded to this instinctive parental love in several places. Parents are to be treated well at all times, and The Almighty’s blessings in having empowered you to do this virtuous act, be considered as an extraordinary resource in this world and the Hereafter. The appreciation we should pay our parents respect has been over and over underlined.