Islamiat Notes Respect Parents Lecture No. 13

 Lecture No. 13

Topic:  Respect of parents

The Meaning of Respect

Respect comes from the German word ehrfrucht, meaning both fear and honor.

Respect is a strange word, this combination of fear and honor. Fear which honors; honor which is pervaded by fear. What kind of fear could that be? Certainly not the kind of fear that comes upon us in the face of something harmful or that causes pain. That kind of fear causes us to defend ourselves and to seek safety. The fear of which we shall speak does not fight or flee, but it forbids obtrusiveness, keeps one at a distance, does not permit the breath of one's own being to touch the revered object. Perhaps it is would be better to speak of this fear as "awe."

Being good to parents
           Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds; and blessings and peace be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all his Family and Companions.
           Being kind and good with ones parents is an obligation in Shariah. It is established by the Qur'an, Sunnah and the consensus of Muslim Scholars Allah Says (Interpretation of meaning): {Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, Al-Masaakeen (the poor), the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful;}[4: 36].
           The Prophet said: "May his nose be rubbed in dust, may his nose be rubbed in dust, may his nose be rubbed in dust i.e. May he humiliated, (He said this thrice), who found his parents, one or both, approaching old age, but did not enter Paradise." [Muslim].
           This obedience can take many forms such as, dealing with them kindly, taking care of them, being polite with them in talking, and preferring their matters and interests etc. This practice become much compulsory when they become aged. Allah Says (Interpretation of meaning): {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 honor. 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.} [17: 23, 24].
           Therefore, the practice of grumbling, complaining and frowning is against the obedience of ones parents. Know also that the obedience of parents continues in their lifetime and after their death.
           Abu Usaid relates that they were sitting with the Prophet (Blessings and peace be upon him) when a man of the Bani Salamah tribe came and said: 'O Messenger of Allah! Is there anything, by means of which, I can now do something by way of benevolence towards my parents after their death?' The Prophet answered: 'Yes, by praying for them and soliciting (Allah's) mercy and forgiveness for them, fulfilling their promises and undertakings, doing kindness to those who may be related to you through them, and respecting their friends.' [Abu Dawood].
           Imam Muslim narrated from Ibn Umar that the Prophet said: "The highest merit is that a person who is kind and generous towards his father's friend".
           Finally the good treatment of ones parents can be materialized in manners of talking, terms of dealing, giving presentation, having relations, honoring and in obeying them. Allah knows best.
Respecting our Parents
            Parents are willing to sacrifice anything and everything for their children. What do they deserve in return? At the end of a long, hard day, I finally lay my nine-months-old daughter to sleep. I stare deeply at her innocent face. Flashback of a hectic day run through my mind - feeding, changing, chasing, teaching and entertaining.
            Then my thoughts change gear as I wonder about her future. What does life have in store for her? Will it be laughter and happiness or tears and pain? Will she be the best Muslim she can be or will someone or something lead her astray? Will I be there to guide her and lead her back into the straight path? Will she even care or listen? Then I snapped back into the present by her loud and sudden cry, praying that it will not be another all-nighter. Allah knows how much I love, and dearly miss my sleep.
            Thoughts and occurrences similar to this one are what every parent, especially the mother, has or will have experienced. They are willing to sacrifice anything and everything for their children. Time, money, sleep and sometimes even social lives are on the top of that list.
            What do they deserve in return? Well, you cannot give back time and sleep. They are almost certainly not interested in your money (unless you have a job they probably gave it to you anyway). All they ask of you is a little respect. I am sure that you will agree that with all they do for you, it is the least you can do for them.
            What do I mean by respect anyway? Well, for starters, if they ask you to do something do it. Sure you might be in the middle of something or maybe you are tired or busy. As soon as you do what they want, you can go back to doing whatever it is that you were doing. Spontaneous hugs, kisses and smiles will brighten anyone's day.
            The number one thing you should avoid, however, is attitude. This is probably the most popular form of disrespect. Talking back, rolling your eyes and making them "talk to the hand" all fall under this category.
Allah says in the Qur'an:
 "And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) 'Off' (an utterance showing disgust) nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was ) little." [17: 23-24]
            Say not to them so much as "Duff." "Duff" is not even a word! It is just a sound you make when you exhale, showing displeasure. If little old "Duff" is haram, (forbidden) what about outright "no" or "I don't want to"? They are probably even more haram! The Prophet Muhammad (S.A.W) said "(Of the ) major sins are: to ascribe partners to Allah, disobey parents, murder someone, and to take a false oath (intentionally)." (Bukhari)
            Of the major sins! Do you really want Allah to punish you or be upset with you just because you did not set the table? Or because you did not do what your dad asked because he does not know what is cool? Besides, your mother did not even have a choice when you needed your demands met. She just held her breath and changed you as fast as she could before she faints from lack of oxygen.
            Furthermore, you should know that what goes around, comes around. The way you treat your parents, your children will treat you. You should not show everyone outside the home respect and your good side but when you come home you show your parents the opposite. You should treat them the way you want to be treated by not only your children but by your friends, classmates and teachers.
            Some tips you can try are responding to their requests with a "sure" or "of course". These are little words that go a long way. Surprise them by taking out the trash or offer to watch your siblings while they go out for a nice dinner. They will see you in a different light and they will respect you more.
            Your parents will be so pleased with you that they might even decide to give you a 100 dollars shopping spree every week! Woo hoo ! Ok, maybe not. But they will definitely be happy with you and most importantly, Allah will be happy with you, too.
Behavior towards Non-Muslim Parents
What to Do in the Following Situation?
Imam Muslim reported the story of Sa'ad bin Abi Waqqas whose mother took an oath and vowed that she would not talk to him and that she would neither eat nor drink until he left Islam. She said, "Allah has enjoined you to obey the parents, I am your mother, so you must obey me." She eventually passed out until someone had to gibe her some water. Because of this, the following verse was revealed:
"Now We have enjoined on man goodness towards his parents; yet (even so) should they endeavor to make you commit Shirk with Me of something which you have no knowledge of, obey them not." (29:8)
Allah also says,
"Yet should they endeavor to associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, obey them not; but even then bear them company in this world's life with kindness." (31:15)
            These verses have made the matter or dealing with non-Muslim parents very clear. One should not imagine that obeying them in matters of Kufr and sinfulness is being good or sees it as matter of doing ihsan to them; the rights of Allah take precedence over everyone else's. Furthermore, obedience does not mean getting into haram or things that are excessive. For those of us who live in non-Muslim societies, the subject of obedience to non-Muslim parents must be carefully considered.

            For instance, one cannot celebrate Christmas, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, etc., by exchanging gifts or extending greetings to them on these occasions. Also, if they expect you to take off your Hijaab when going out with them, or to have a chat with the male/female relatives during family reunions, or to hold hands and recite the Lord's prayer before dinner, you cannot obey them.
Do not Cut Them off
            Some people get frustrated with their parents and cut off relationships with them because they do not understand your new religion, or because they say and do things that annoy you. If you are one of those people, carefully consider the previous verse (31:15). It does not say, "cut them off," but rather "obey them not," meaning in matters of Shirk. As far as being dutiful and kind towards them is concerned, then that is still required as the nest part of the verse clarifies,
"but (even then) bear them company in this world's life with kindness."
            Unfortunately, many new Muslims do not understand this point. It is not proper for them to cut off their parents and take them out of their lives completely. They should ponder over this verse and rethink their relationship. Our parents always have rights on us and we should always try our best to maintain a good relationship with them.
            Also, one is not required to take the permission of the non-Muslim parent to go for Jihad. The incident reported by Bukhari and Muslim should clarify this matter completely:
Asmaa, the daughter of Abu Bakr, had a non-Muslim mother who lived in Makkah, whereas she had migrated with her father and the rest of the Muslims to Madinah. After the Treaty of Hudaybiya, peace was established and they could visit each other. So her mother came to Madinah to visit Asmaa. She wanted some gifts and donations from Asmaa.
            Asmaa was not sure what to do because she knew that her mother hated Islam and was a polytheist. So she came to the Prophet (PBUH), informed him of the situation, and asked him if she should also join the ties of kinship and act kindly towards her mother. The Prophet (PBUH), told her to do so, "Yes, do an act of kindness to her." (Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawood)
The Best Thing to Do for Them
            The children of non-Muslim parents should also supplicate for them.
 Allah says,
"It is not fitting for the Prophet (PBUH) and those who believe that they should pray for forgiveness for polytheists, even though they be of kin, after it is clear that they are companions of the Fire." (9:113)
            This is after they die upon disbelief as non-Muslims. It is, however, permissible to guide them to Islam in their lifetime.
            In another Hadith, it is narrated that while Abu Huraira embraced Islam, his mother continued to be an infidel for quite a long time. He continuously tried to convince her in favor of Islam, but to no avail. Nevertheless, he continued respecting and obeying her. Once when he was trying to convince her she became insolent and uttered some insulting remarks about the Prophet (PBUH). Because of this, Abu Huraira was very much pained. He went to the Prophet and complained saying,
"O Messenger of Allah! I have always been trying to make my mother accept Islam but she always refuses to accept it. But today when I asked her to believe in Almighty Allah, she became very much annoyed and started insulting and rebuking you which I could not stand and tears came to my eyes. O Messenger of Allah! Pray to Allah that He may open the heart of my mother to Islam."
            The Prophet (PBUH) immediately raised his hands and prayed, "O Almighty Allah, guide the mother of Abu Huraira." Abu Huraira was overjoyed and went home. When he reached home he found the door was bolted from the inside but he heard the sound of flowing water, which assured him that his mother was taking a bath. Hearing his footsteps, she hastily finished the bath. Then she opened the door. She said, "O my son Abu Huraira, Allah has heard you. Be witness that I recite the Shahadah."

            He started crying out of sheer joy and went back to the Prophet (PBUH) with the tiding that Almighty Allah had accepted his prayer and had given his mother the treasure of Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) was also pleased to hear that. He praised Allah and gave Abu Huraira some advice. Then, on his request, he prayed, "O Allah, put the love of Abu Huraira and his mother in the hearts of all true Muslims and put the love of all true Muslims in the hearts of both of them."
            If it is not a matter of Aqeeda and the foundation of Islam, the rule is to be good with them and do ihsan for them. Being kind to and loving is not only our obligation but it could become the means through which they accept Islam. That is the best thing we can do for our non-Muslims parents.
The Rights of Children in Islam
           Let us first establish those children in accordance to the Islamic concept means both male and female. Some anti-Islamic concepts accuse Islam by differentiating between male and female children claiming that it does prefer boys over girls in terms of inheritance, ‘Aqeeqa (slaughter of two lambs upon the birth of a male baby, and one lamb only for a baby girl) and other matters. In accordance with the true Islamic teaching, both male and female are alike in the sight of Allah, the Almighty.
           Each, however, is physically prepared and equipped to perform certain tasks and duties that are suitable to his/her nature. All, again are equal in religious duties, except for certain exceptions that are defined and illustrated by Allah, the Almighty, in the Glorious Quran, or declared and specified by Allah’s Apostle, PBUH. Only these differences are to be acknowledged and honored only in accordance with Islam and its teachings.
           Children, in accordance to Islam are entitled to various and several rights. The first and foremost of these rights is the right to be properly brought up, raised and educated. This means that children should be given suitable sufficient, sound and adequate religious, ethical and moral guidance to last them for their entire life. They should be engraved with true values, the meaning of right and wrong, true and false, correct and incorrect, appropriate and inappropriate and so forth and so on.
           Allah, the Almighty stated in the Glorious Qur’an:
 “ O ye who believe! Save yourselves and your families from a Fire whose fuel is Men and Stones.” ( 66:6)
           Allah’s Apostle, PBUH also said:
 “Every one of your (people) is a shepherd. And every one is responsible for whatever falls under his responsibility. A man is like a shepherd of his own family, and he is responsible for them. “ This Hadith is reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
           Children, therefore are a trust given to the parents. Parents are to be responsible for this trust on the Day of Judgment. Parents are essentially responsible for the moral, ethical and the basic and essential religious teachings of their children.
           If parents fulfill this responsibility, they will be free of the consequences on the Day of Judgment. The children will become better citizens and a pleasure to the eyes of their parents, first in this life, and in the hereafter.
           Allah, the Almighty stated in the Glorious Quran:
 “ And those who believe and whose families follow them in Faith, to them shall We join their families: Nor shall We deprive them (of the fruit) of aught of their works: (Yet) is each individual in pledge for his deeds.” (52:21)
           Moreover, Allah’s Apostle, PBUH said: “Upon death, man’s deeds will (definitely) stop except for three deeds, namely: a continuous charitable fund, endowment or goodwill; knowledge left for people to benefit from; and pious righteous and God-fearing child who continuously pray Allah, the Almighty, for the soul of his parents. “ This Hadith is reported by Muslim. In fact, such a statement reflects the value of proper upbringing of children. It has an everlasting effect, even after death.
           Unfortunately, many parents from every walk of life, in every society, regardless of creed, origin, social and economical status, etc., have neglected this very important this imposed right of their own children unto them. Such individuals have indeed lost their children as a result for their own negligence. Such parents are so careless about the time their children spent with no benefit, the friends they associate with, the places they go to, etc. Such parents do not care, are totally indifferent about where their children go, when they come back and so forth and so on, causing the children to grow without any responsible adult and caring supervision.
           Such parents neglect even to instruct, direct or guide their children to the proper way of life , behavior or even right attitudes towards others. Yet, you may find these parents are so careful about their wealth. They are extremely concerned about their business, work and otherwise. They exert every possible effort to lead a very successful life in terms of materialistic gains, although all this wealth is not actually theirs. No one will take wealth to the grave.
           Children are not only to be well-fed, well-groomed, properly dressed for seasons and appearance, well-taken care in terms of housing and utilities. It is more important to offer the child comparable care in terms of educational, religious training, and spiritual guidance. The heart of a child must be filled with faith. A child’s mind must be entertained with proper guidance, knowledge and wisdom. Clothes, food, housing, education are not, by any means, an indication of proper care of the child. Proper education and guidance is far more important to a child than his food, grooming and appearance.
           One of the due rights of children upon parents is to spend for their welfare and well-being moderately. Over- spending or negligence is not condoned, accepted or even tolerated in Islam. Such ways will have a negative effect on the child regardless of the social status. Men are urged not to be miserly to his children and household, who are their natural heirs in every religion and society. Why would one be miserly to those who are going to inherit his wealth? Children are entitled to such an important right. They are even permitted to take moderately from their parent wealth to sustain themselves if the parent declined to give them proper funds for their living.
           Children also have the right to be treated equally in terms financial gifts. None should be preferred over the others. All must be treated fairly and equally. None should be deprived his gift from the parents. Depriving, or banning the right of inheritance, or other financial gifts during the lifetime of the parents or preference of a parent for a child over the other will be considered in accordance to Islam an act of injustice. Injustice will definitely lead to an atmosphere of hatred, anger and dismay amongst the children in one household. In fact, such an act of injustice may, most likely, lead to animosity amongst the children, and consequently, this will affect the entire family environment.
           In certain cases when a special child may show a tender a care to his aging parent, for instance, causing the parent to grant such a child a special gift, or issue him an ownership of a house, a factory, a land, a farm a car, or any other valuable items. Islam, however considers such a financial reward to such a caring, loving and maybe obedient child, a wrong act. A caring child is entitled only for a reward from Allah, the Almighty.
           Although it is nice grant such a child something in appreciation for his dedication and special efforts, but this must not lead to an act of disobedience to Allah, the Almighty. It may be that the heart and feelings of such a loving and caring child may change, at one point in time, causing him to become a nasty and harmful child. By the same token, a nasty child may change, at any given time, as well, to become a very caring and kind child to the same parent.
           The hearts and feelings are, as we all know, in the hands of Allah, the Almighty, and can be turned in any direction at any given time and without any previous notice. This, indeed, is one of the reasons to prevent an act of financial preference of a child over another. On the other hand, there is no assurance or guarantees that a caring child can handle the financial gift of his parent wisely.
           It is narrated by Abu Bakr, RAA, who said that Allah’s Apostle, PBUH was informed by one of his companions, al-N’uman bin Basheer, who said: “O Prophet of Allah! I have granted a servant to one of my children (asking him to testify for that gift).” But Allah’s PBUH asked him: “Did you grant the same to each and every child of yours?”
           When Allah’s Apostle, PBUH was informed negatively about that, he said: “Fear Allah, the Almighty, and be fair and just to all your children. Seek the testimony of another person, other than me. I will not testify to an act of injustice.” This Hadith is reported by both Bukhari and Muslim. Thus, Allah’s Apostle, PBUH called such an act of preference of one child over the others an act of “injustice”. Injustice is prohibited and forbidden in Islam.
           But, if a parent granted one of his children financial remuneration to fulfill a necessity, such as a medical treatment coverage, the cost of a marriage, the cost of initializing a business, etc., then such a grant would not be categorized an act of injustice and unfairness. Such a gift will fall under the right to spend in the essential needs of the children, which is a requirement that a parent must fulfill.
           Islam sees that if a parents fulfill their duties towards all children in terms of providing them with necessary training, educational backing, moral, ethical and religious education, this will definitely lead to a more caring child, a better family atmosphere and better social environment and awareness. On the other hand, any negligence in that parenthood duties can lead to the loss of a child or ill treatment to a parent at a later age.
The Rights of Relatives
          All relatives, immediate or distant, enjoy certain rights upon believing Muslims. Each relatives has a certain level of rights according to the Islamic teachings. Such levels are hinged upon close relationships of the individual, as it is set forth by Allah, the Almighty, and Allah's Apostle, PBUH. Sound social ties, and fruitful relationships are extremely valuable in the sight of Allah the Almighty. It is, therefore, important to study such ties from an Islamic perspective, observe them and maintain sound and cultivated relationships which lead to a better society, close relationships, a more harmonious community and a better environment.
Allah, the Almighty stated in the Glorious Quran:
"And render to the kindred their due rights," (17:26)
He, Allah, the Almighty also stated in the Glorious Quran:
"Serve God, and join not any partners with Him; and do good to parents, kinsfolk." (4:36)
          It is required by every Muslim individual, male and female young or adult, poor or rich, close or distant to be good to their relatives. All are urged to support relatives in every possible way and by every affordable means whether physical, mental, spiritual, moral or financial. The amount of support is proportional to the status or level of relationship of the relative, and is evaluated based on the need of such a relative. This is a matter that has its own merits based on religious teachings, moral obligations, mental judgment and pure innate requirements and obligations. This on the other hand reflects to what extent Islam agrees with the pure, innate and natural demands of man on the face of this earth.
          Believing Muslim individuals who are committed to Islam and its sound, pure and accurate teachings are urged time and time again and constantly reminded with the value of such a noble deed to a relative. Many statements support this fact from both the Glorious Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet of Islam, Mohammed bin Abdullah, PBUH, as we will illustrate in the following paragraphs.
          Abu Huraira, RAA narrated of Allah's apostle, PBUH: "Allah, the Almighty created all creation. Upon finishing his creation, the womb stood up and said:
 "O Allah! This is the place of one who seeks refuge with you boycott and being banned or excommunicated." Allah, the Almighty, said: "Yes. Indeed. Do not accept that I (Myself) will befriend whoever befriends you (the womb, or rather the relatives generated and tied together due to the ties and relationships of the womb). And I shall discontinue My relations and ban who ban you?!" The womb said: "I accept." Allah, the Almighty, said: "I assure this for you." Then, Allah's Apostle, PBUH said: "Read if you wish the revelation of the Glorious Qur'an:
          " Then, is it to be expected of you, if ye were put in authority, that ye will do mischief in the land, and break your ties of kith and kin? Such are the men whom God has cursed for He has made them deaf and blinded their sight." (47:22,23)
          This Hadith is reported by both Bukhari and Muslim. Allah's messenger, PBUH also is reported to say: "He/She who believes in Allah, the Almighty and the Day of Judgment, must communicate, be good, courteous and kind to his kith and kin or relatives." This Hadith is reported by both Bukhari and Muslim.
          It is unfortunate to notice that many people neglect such important social rights and religious obligations. Many Muslims, unfortunately do not care to be kind to their relatives are poor and needy, nor by social relations or even any other help that they may be able to render at no cost. At times you may find a person, on the contrary, being harsh, means, irrespective, jealous or miserly to his own relatives, while being the opposite towards others who are distant. Some people, unfortunately, do not even visit their relatives, offer them occasional gifts and presents, look after them when in need, help them or even extend a helping hand if really in desperate need for help.
          On the other hand, there are an other kinds of people who establish good relationships with relatives only for the sake of relationships, not for the cause of Allah, the Almighty. Such a person in reality is not doing what he is doing for the fulfillment of the commands of Allah, the Almighty, but is paying back those relatives what was paid him in advance. Such an act is applicable to relatives, friends and distant people. A true good person is the one who establish good rapport with his relatives for the noble cause of the pleasure of Allah, the Almighty, only, and hoping to improve his ties with Him, the Almighty regardless if they did the same with him or not.
          Bukhari reported of Abdullah bin Amr bin al-`Aas. RAA, companion of Allah's Apostles, PBUH who said: "A person who is good to his relatives is not a person who rewards them, or repays them equally for what they do to him. A good person is the one who does good to his relatives even if they do not do that to him, visits them even if they do not visit him, give them even if they do not give him, and so forth." A man asked Allah's Apostle, PBUH: " O Prophet of Allah! I have some relatives whom I visit, be kind to and give whatever I can, but they do the opposite to me. I try to be extremely patient with them regardless of the harms, inconsiderateness and troubles they cause to me. What should I do in such a case? Allah's Apostle, PBUH said: " If you are truly what you describe, then you are as if you let them eat ashes (as a result of their own doing), so long you continue to do good to them. Yet, Allah, the Almighty, continues to support you, aid you and help you over them as long as you continue being good to them."
          It is a real pleasure that one gains from being good and kind to his relatives at large. If the only thing man gets from such a noble social act is the pleasure of Allah, the Almighty; it suffices man in this life. But, it is most likely that man will get tremendous benefits from fulfilling such commands of Allah, the Almighty, in his life. One definitely grows socially, matures ethically and feels at ease and peace with himself and with the community around him.
          Man is weak without the support of his immediate family members or the moral support of his extended family members. Islam agrees with the norms of life. It coincides with the basic requirements of man in his social life. Establishing such rights by Allah, the Almighty to govern the Islamic life and society is but a blessing of Allah, the Almighty to man all over the world. Such a relationships will produce a close-knit society, better relations amongst the various individuals and components of the various units of society.

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