Our Parents, Our Pride! No civilization, culture or philosophy in the world underrates the status of parenthood. It is a golden heritage that influences the success and failure of generations of mankind. It is an identity of genetic, moral and usually religious status of individuals in our society. Parents are the first learning institution a child attends and they serve as a reflection of the physical, emotional and social image of every child. Besides God, they are the givers of life!. Allah has commanded us to be obedient to them; He says – “And We have enjoined man to be dutiful and kind to his parents” [Al-Ahqaaf 46:15]. They should be obeyed with all sense of respect and humility, except if they command evil and shirk. 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” [Luqman 31:15].
Bringing a child to life and raising him/her is not an easy task. Allah says – “His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years”… [Luqman 31:15]. The sacrifice of parents to the well-being of their children is irredeemable. They teach, feed, guide, forgive and love unconditionally just like Muslims worship Allah till their last breath. The responsibility inherent in Parenthood is unlimited as long as life exists. Prophet Ya’qub (May Allah be pleased with him) kept guiding his children till the point of his death. Allah said about him in the Holy Quran – “Or were you witnesses when death approached Jacob, when he said to his sons, “What will you worship after me?” They said, “We will worship your God ….” [Baqorah 2:133].
Consequent upon the forgoing, it is imperative to identify ways by which we can please Almighty Allah by serving our Parents in order to earn the blessings of both. A few but comprehensive strategies by which a child may undertake to win the heart of his/her parents and secure a ticket to Paradise from them include;
- Appreciating Them with Prayers: Dead or alive, parents deserve our prayers. Gratitude to parents is a noble act on a “win-win” basis. It is a rewardable act for the child because it involves obeying the commandment of his Lord. Allah says – “And give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination” [Luqman 31:15]. To be specific, Allah also taught us how to pray for them. He says in another verse -“and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young” [Al-Isra’ 17:24]
On the other side, it brings a sense of fulfillment for the Parents if alive or a life-line of good deeds for them after death. The Prophet said – “When a person dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: an ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge or a righteous child who will pray for him.” [Al-Tirmidhi]. Acknowledging our Parents in prayers is key to fulfilling their rights and seeking Allah’s mercy on them.
- Kindness and Submission: Parents must be treated kindly always in words and deeds. Kindness to them is the most beloved deed to Allah after timely prayers. They should be respected and honoured even in the face of disagreement and abusing them is a grave sin. The Qur’an warns that – “Say not to them a word of disrespect, or shout at them but address them in terms of honour and lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy” [Al-Israa 17:23]. According to Al-Imam Nawawi, honouring one’s parents takes precedence over voluntary prayer and other actions. The Prophet emphasized the seriousness of this virtue when a man came to him to report his father over a disputed loan after which He replied – “You and your wealth are to your father”. Kindness to Parents also include honouring their friends and loved ones as it is a source of attaining piety in the sight of Allah.
- Keeping Close Ties with Them: Maintaining ties with parents is one of the tickets to paradise and shield from hell fire. Irrespective of religious or life circumstances, our parents deserve our attention every time. Most people get carried away by struggles and challenges of life (work, marriage etc) and either forget to visit their parents or simply put them in care of maids. A mother who used to see and care for her children with her whole life now longs to see or hear from them. Apart from being a form of jihad and sign of faith, keeping close ties to parents is a means of earning blessings and mercies from Allah. In addition, Islam strictly forbids negligence of parents. The Prophet (SAW) said – “May he be disgraced (thrice), he whose parents attain old age during his lifetime, and he does not enter Jannah by being dutiful to them”[Muslim].
- Doing Good Deeds on their Behalf: We can pay off debts incurred by our parents, perform Hajj on their behalf or pay someone to do so and we can as well sponsor a charity cause or endowment (Waqf) with the intention of seeking forgiveness and mercy for them. The Prophet (SAW) said:“A man may be raised in status in Paradise and will say, where did this come from? And it will be said: from your son seeking forgiveness for you [Ibn Majah].
Muslims and indeed the entire world need to take cognizance of the urgent need to revisit the spirit of servitude (Khidmah) to parents. Being dutiful to them can open a thousand doors of goodness in this life and hereafter. While praying for them for long life, we must strive to stay in touch with them and attend to their needs and we must also educate our children and community on the essence of servitude to elders, so that we will also live a good life in our aged years.