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Islamic Society (19 Apr 2014 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Islam and Old Age Ethics



By Aiman Reyaz, New Age Islam

19 April, 2014

Humans are really foolish, or are they blinded by arrogance? When we are young and energetic, we seldom think, leave aside of the next life, about the end of this life, when we will be old and out, lying in a corner, with no one by the side at night to sooth the nerves, with no one during the day to give food and water and even no one in the morning to clean the toilet. We have become so busy that we are ridiculously oblivious to the fact that there is one more person in the house.

Old age is difficult, really difficult, especially if you are bed ridden and can’t do anything on your own. First of all there is the problem of who will stay in the house- since everyone, from 6 to 60, is busy in their own world. Secondly there is the problem of nagging. The aged person nags his or her son or daughter to gain some attention but actually he or she gets distanced even further. Thirdly, there is the problem of regular doctor visits and the extra money that is (mis)used to keep the elderly alive. Most importantly there is the problem of who or how the toilets will be cleaned up.

There is only one thing that is common in here- wish for death. The old person thinks that he or she has become too much of a burden and since nobody seems to care, it is better to die; and his or her children too think and wish for the same, though they will never acknowledge.

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Apostle (may peace be upon him) as saying: Let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust. It was said: Allah's Messenger, who is he? He said: He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise.

Fear Allah, remember everything is accounted and not even atom’s weight of thing will be missed out. I think old age is a great way to attain salvation. By helping a dying person we can please Allah who knows all our sins might be cleaned when we clean the old person’s toilet. But at the same time if you totally ignore him or her, then wait for your turn.

In Islam there is no concept of old age home. Old machines are not to be discarded, but to be oiled and taken care of so that they may work one day longer. Allah is the best psychologist and He knows that we get irritated by them, so specifically He mentions that we do not even say “Uff” to them.

“Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and be kind to parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not say 'Uff (a word of contempt) to them or chide them, but speak to them in terms of honour and kindness. Treat them with humility, and say, 'My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did care for me when I was little'. (17:23-4)”

Serving one’s parents is considered to be the second most important duty in Islam.

“He is not one of us who does not show tenderness to the young and who does not show respect to the elder.” [Hadith from at-Tirmidhi]

We often give more attention to what our wife is saying or what our children are saying, but this is not correct. First priority should be given to your old mother of father who is trying to say something. Even while serving food or water we should, first of all, serve it to the elderly.

It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Jibrael ordered me to give priority to the elderly.”

Once the Prophet got very angry when Mu’adh ibn Jabal prolonged the prayer while leading the prayer. He got angry because he was concerned about the difficulty the elderly had to suffer while performing such lengthy prayers. He told him it was better to recite a short chapter instead of reciting a lengthy one.

We should not forget what Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said

“If a young man honours an elderly on account of his age, God appoints someone to honour him in his old age.” [Hadith from At-Tirmidhi]

It should also be kept in mind that we should not torture ourselves also while taking care of the elderly. It is not befitting for anyone to console night after night the elderly and not being able to sleep oneself. Doing ‘zulm’ on oneself is also a sin in Islam. Take care of the elderly as much as you can but do not inflict punishment on yourself. Allah does not like that either. We all should ask Allah for this:

"O Allah! I seek refuge with You from helplessness, laziness, cowardice and feeble old age; I seek refuge with You from afflictions of life and death and seek refuge with You from the punishment in the grave."

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-society/aiman-reyaz,-new-age-islam/islam-and-old-age-ethics/d/66637



  • @Haider, you are perfectly right in analysing the stages of life, especially your marked point that infants and the aged behave almost in a similar fashion. You have raised 'moral-dilemma' questions, like earlier we used to have time and now we don't, which is a fact. So any average human being is bound to get irritated by all the nagging, so why should he be the sufferer (in the next life, or, may be, even in this life) and the sinner (in this life)? The answer to this dilemma is not clear, but I think one has to take some time out; all we hear is that 'I don't have time'; but you will notice the person that he has time to watch news analysis, cricket to relax his mind. I would suggest ,help your parents in that time, you will feel more relaxed. 
    Thank you for commenting. 

    By Aiman Reyaz - 4/20/2014 7:45:09 PM

  • I appreciate your effort for putting your views on such an important but relatively ignored topic.It was really enlightening.When we come across the word 'Old age',we feel as if somehow we get rid of it.But that's not in our hand,its upto Allah who decides destiny for everyone.We cannot just run away from reality.
    If we consider the stages of human life,we find that 'infancy' and 'old age' though exactly opposite stages have some tremendous similarities.For instance,an infant needs care,guidance,he is more of an attention seeker n ofcourse cleaning of toilet,a major thing to be spoken of.An old person similarly needs all above.He becomes a child again.Just it goes the other way.If parents can give up all to bring up their children,why cant chidren do the same when their parents need so?What is the big deal?The irony is that its nothing very new,this situation has been there since long.In early times,people had time but they never pondered about the consequences and in modern times,people know everything,the consequences but they don't have time.That is the excuse they give.But they dont know,this time issue could be a reason for their children too in future.
    This reminds me of a story in which a man at his wife's advice was throwing his old father out of his house on a winter night with a piece of blanket saying he is too irritating and not wanted anymore.Then,his five year old son tore that blanket into two and on being asked by his father the logic behind tearing it,the child replied that father as you are throwing Granpa out of this house with a piece of blanket,wont that one day i need the same while throwing you out of this house when you grow old?
    So,parents should also set examples in front of their children too by humbly treating their own parents before expecting kindness from their children.
    I would like to end by saying that Allah has made the stature of parents very high and we should obey what He has asked us to do.We should love and care our parents and their age should not be a barrier to affect our level of love towards them.

    By Zaara Urouj Haider - 4/19/2014 2:35:02 PM

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