Be Kind to Your Parents
- Respect and Be Kind to Your Parents
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 honour. 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.” Your Lord knows best what is in your inner-selves. If you are righteous, then, verily, He is Ever Most Forgiving to those who turn unto Him again and again in obedience, and in repentance
The Quran 17:23–25
All religions and all societies have given parents an honorable status. From a purely material viewpoint, we find ourselves indebted to our parents, particularly our mother. She not only nourished us in her womb, but went through pain and suffering. She loved us even before we were born. She toiled when we were totally helpless infants. She spent sleepless nights caring for us. Our parents as a team provided for all our needs: physical, educational, psychological, and in many instances, religious, moral, and spiritual.
Our indebtedness to our parents is so immense that it is not possible to repay it fully. In lieu of this, it becomes obligatory for us to show the utmost kindness, respect, and obedience to our parents. The position of parents, and the mutual obligations and responsibilities, have been addressed in Islam in great detail. The Qur’anic commandments, as well as the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) guide us in this matter. The parent-child code of behavior in Islam is unique, since rules were laid down by divine command.
References to parents have been made at least 15 times in the Holy Qur’an. There are numerous traditions of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) on this subject. I will first quote some of the Qur’anic verses here:
“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents. In travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in two years was his weaning.Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents; to Me is thy final goal”
( The Quran 31:14 )
According to the above verse, gratitude to God and to parents go hand in hand. Gratitude to God is incomplete without showing gratitude to one’s parents. Since being grateful to God is a form of ibadah (worship) which earns heavenly rewards, it can therefore be said that being grateful to one’s parents also earns heavenly rewards.
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or more 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.”
( The Quran 17: 23–24)
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.”
( The Quran 46:15 )
Thus, God has enjoined on us to show kindness, respect, and humility to our parents. We are commanded to do this, even though they may have injured us. The only exception to the above command is made in the following verse:
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; but if they strive (to force) thee to join with Me anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not.”
( The Quran 29:8 )
Some of the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, and of the learned members of his family, about our responsibilities toward our parents are quoted here:
“Paradise lies under the feet of the mother.”
“God’s pleasure is in the pleasure of the father, and God’s displeasure is in the displeasure of the father.”
“He who wishes to enter Paradise through its best door must please his parents.”
“It is a pity that some people may not attain Paradise, on account of not serving their old parents.”
“If a person looks with love at his parents, God writes in his favor the reward equal to the performance of one Hajj.”
[Someone asked, “will this promise be good if one looks at his parents one hundred times a day?” The Holy Prophet (pbuh) replied, “even if one does so a hundred thousand times a day, God gives the reward accordingly.”]
“A man or woman is bound to be good to his or her parents, even though they may have injured him or her.”
Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (r.a.), the great-great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have quoted Imam ‘Ali (ra) that, “disobedience to parents is a major sin.” He also stated that, “if a person looks at the face of his or her parents with wrathful eyes, despite the fact that injustice was done to him or her by the parents, his or her salah (prayer) will not be accepted by God.”
According to one of the Hadith-e-Qudsi, the following is reported about the status of parents:
“God has commanded that if anybody prays equal to the invocations performed by the prophets, such prayers will do no good if that person has been cursed by his or her parents.”
It has also been related that the very first words which have been written on the Lauh-e-Mahfuz (The Heavenly Preserved Tablet) are:
“I am God, and there is no deity except Me. I am pleased with those with whom their parents are pleased, and I am displeased with those with whom their parents are displeased.”
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: “On the Day of Judgment, my person will not be seen by those who drank liquor, those who on hearing my name did not invoke the blessings of God on me, or those who were cursed and disowned by their parents.”
‘Ali ibn al-Husain (ra) is reported to have said: “The right of your mother on you is that you should know that nobody could endure the trouble and the conditions under which she protected you and nourished you with the juice of her life, and tried with her heart and soul to satisfy all your needs in relation to hunger, thirst, dress, etc. She passed sleepless nights, suffering anxieties. She provided you with shelter against heat and cold, and protected you from ailments. It is not possible for you to compensate her, or thank her enough for all the services, except that God may give you guidance for that. The right of your father on you is that you should know that it is he who brought you into existence, and you are a branch of the tree of his life.”
According to a reliable tradition, it is related that a man came to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and asked him to whom he should render kindness. The prophet told him to be kind to his mother. Three times he put the same question to the prophet, and three times he got the same answer. When he asked the question the fourth time, he was told to be kind to his father, indicating that the mother’s right took precedence over that of the father.
Parents’ duties: Islam has assigned certain duties to parents that they must fulfill. If they fail in those, they will be questioned about it. Besides providing the basic necessities of life, Islam requires that the parents teach their children about the Oneness of God, the Quranic commandments, values, the Prophets and their teachings, and the moral code of Islam as according to the Quran and the Sunnah (teachings) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Let us pray to God that He guide us to be respectful, kind, and obedient to our parents, and that we continue to show them humility regardless of the power, position, wealth, and influence we may possess. Let us also pray that we be patient, kind, thoughtful, and friendly with our children, as we guide them through their lives, and that we discharge our responsibilities towards them as required by our religion, so that God may be pleased with us, and may He Bless and reward us, both in this world and in the Hereafter. Ameen.
Importance of Parents In Islam
When asked about the people who taught us the most, who were there for us through hardships, who laughed with us during the good times, who put up with us on our off days, most of us think immediately of our parents. And it is true: our parents are the ones who have been with us through almost everything in our lives. Our mothers carry us for nine grueling months before we are born, and for at least eighteen years afterwards, our parents, to list a few things, take care of us, teach us, help us, and provide for us financially and academically. Without them, most of us would not be in the places we are today.
Unfortunately, however, many people do not treat their parents in the manner they deserve. Teenagers fight relentlessly with their parents, often over extremely trivial topics. Other young people ignore their parents, rather spending time with their friends or online. As we get older, we tend to forget that our parents are growing older as well, and they are 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, it is also strictly forbidden in Islam. God has commanded us to treat out parents with utmost respect, no matter the situation we are in.
Respecting parents is one of the most significant aspects of Islam. God says in the Quran:
Your Lord has 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. (17:23)
The first decree in this verse is to worship none but God. This is the first and most important pillar of Islam, and enjoining partners with God is the only unforgivable sin. The order right after this is kindness to parents. There are other major sins in Islam that could have been mentioned here, but the one God has forbidden us against here is disrespect to parents. We are told not to speak contemptuously to them: the word given in Arabic is “oof,” and even this simple groan of scorn is forbidden. Instead, God has told us to address them with honor and deference.
The next verse tells us:
“And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood’” (17:24).
The phrase “lower to them the wing of humility” has been interpreted as an image of the way birds spread their wings out of protection and love for their young. Our treatment of our parents is shown in the same way: we should be humble, respectful, and loving towards them.
Moreover, the prayer in this verse (“My Lord! Bestow on them your Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood”) is extremely powerful, and many scholars say that Muslims should say this after every prayer. It is truly a beautiful prayer, as we are asking God to bestow mercy on our parents, as they were merciful to us when we were young.
Holding one’s parents in high esteem is so important that, even if they tell us not to obey God’s command, we are still to treat them kindly. God says in the Quran,
But if they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration). (31:15)
Even if our parents strive to make us commit the worst act in Islam, we must still treat them with justice. There is no concept of leaving our parents in Islam, even if they are disbelievers. To further elaborate this point, there is a saying from the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him (pbuh), narrated by Asma, the daughter of the Prophet’s good friend, Abu Bakr. Asma once asked the Prophet (pbuh) how she should treat her mother, who was a polytheist. The Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Treat your mother well.”
While we should obviously respect both our parents, our mothers are given special treatment in Islam. This is because our mothers carried us for nine months, and were our primary caregivers when we were children. In one saying of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), a companion asked him who deserves the most good treatment and respect. The Prophet (pbuh) replied, “Your mother.” The companion asked again, and again the reply was “Your mother.” The companion asked a third time, and once more the Prophet (pbuh) said, “Your mother.” When the companion asked for the last time, the Prophet (pbuh) then answered, “Your father.”
Our mothers deserve the utmost respect and good treatment, and there is no excuse otherwise. We are told this three times over. In another narration, the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said that paradise lies under the feet of the mother. This further reiterates the fact that our mothers are to be the most revered and cared for people in our lives. In yet another saying, we are told that a man did the entire pilgrimage, Hajj, with his elderly mother on his back. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) told him that this did not even repay his mother for a single kick the man gave his mother while she was bearing him in the womb.
This is not to say that our fathers do not deserve respect. The story of Prophet Abraham (pbuh) in the Quran tells us that his father was ready to kill him for destroying religious idols and abandoning the pagan religion. Abraham, instead of losing control, merely prayed to God to have mercy on his father and to help him find the truth. Many youth today shout obscenities if their fathers give them a stern lecture. From our prophet we learn that this is never acceptable, no matter the situation.
Finally, there are many ways to fix our relationships with our parents. First and foremost, of course, we must recall the importance our parents have in our lives, and the various verses that remind us to be kind to them. There are also many sayings from the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) that teach us how to act with them. In one narration, he likened caring for parents to fighting for the cause of God, the best deed a Muslim can do in his life. In another, we are told that smiling kindly at our parents is as though we have done the pilgrimage to Mecca, the Hajj. We should make it a habit to do these small things in our daily lives. Talking to our parents on a day-to-day basis, no matter our age, is also a way to close any gaps we may have with them. Lastly, it is always important to remember to pray for our parents. We have been told that several people’s prayers will always be answered, and among these is the child’s prayer for their parents.
May God help us all to be more respectful to our parents.