By Ejaz Naqvi
September 28, 2018
If the world’s religions, whether monotheistic, eastern or otherwise, agree on one thing, it is respecting and serving the parents. Sadly in today’s fast-paced world, we see an erosion of the age-old tradition of honouring the parents. Here are 20 reasons (besides a million other) why we should serve our parents. Over the last 25 years or so, there has been a rapid growth of elder care homes and assisted living homes, as the children are unable and/or willing to take care of their elderly parents, who end up spending their last few years of life living with strangers, rather than among the very people they spent their entire life raising. The parents are served by the strangers rather than their children, who miss out on this great opportunity to payback!
To be fair, putting their parents in an elderly care home is not often their children’s first choice, dictated usually by their inability to take care of them as both husband and wife work and can’t stay home to take care of their aging parents. But this is a good time to reflect upon how we were brought up and cared for.
When we did not know how to eat or drink, they taught us how to eat. They fed us, when we could not feed ourselves.
When there was not enough to eat, they fed us first even if it meant they might not have enough to eat.
When we did not know how to clean after ourselves (or we could not), they cleaned us up.
When we did not know how to talk, they taught us how to talk.
When we did not know how to walk, they taught us how to walk.
When we were sick, they nursed us, never worrying that they could catch our germs.
When we did not know how to read, they taught us how to read.
When we could not drive to school, they drove us to school (or walked us to school).
When everyone was ‘mean” to us, they showed kindness and mercy towards us.
When we could not count on anyone, we knew we could count on them- no matter what.
When we could not pay for our education, they paid for our education, even if it meant sacrificing their own comfort.
When we were happy, they were happier- for us. When we were sad, they were more sad- feeling our pain even more than we did.
When we were down, they lifted us up-physically, emotionally, and sometimes spiritually.
They did something for us that no one else could do, without wanting any anything back. No one else could have so selflessly cared for us than they did:
They loved us more than anyone else has, or could, or will.
They wanted us to have a better job than them.
They wanted us to be more educated than them.
They wanted us to be more handsome and good looking than them.
they wanted us to be more healthy than them.
They wanted us to be more comfortable than them.
They wanted us to have a better life than them.
They wanted us to be more comfortable, more at peace than them.
Not just that, they actually worked hard to accomplish all that! Who else in our lives can we say that about?
Scriptures on Parents:
No wonder, serving one’s parents and respecting them is considered paramount and is frequently emphasized in the Qur’an, the Hebrew Scripture, New Testament and Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.
The verses are self-explanatory:
Say: Come, I will rehearse what Lord has (really) prohibited you from: Join not anything as equal with Him; be good to your parents…. The Qur’an 6:151
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 (even ‘ugh’), nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. 17:23
Serve Allah and do not commit shirk and be good to your parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, near and far neighbours who keep company with you, the travellers in need, and the slaves you own. Allah does not love those who are arrogant and boastful. 4:36
Associating other gods with God (Shirk) is the greatest sin according to the Qur’an. It is very interesting to note that in many of these verses, avoiding Shirk and showing kindness to parents are ordained side by side, highlighting Qur’an’s emphasis on respecting and serving the parents. This is not surprising since parents are the closest things to God on this earth- they gave birth to us and cherished us and love us and show us mercy, even when we don’t behave well. They keep giving and they keep forgiving. Indeed God made our parents in His image!
Following is a prayer often recited by many Muslims in respect to their parents.
“And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them your Mercy just 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 the birds spread their wings out of protection and love for their young.
Mothers are even more special:
Mothers are to be given even more respect for they start sacrificing even before our birth, going through the hardship of pregnancy, childbirth and nursing among so many other things. The Qur’an and Hadith of Prophet Muhammad make references to that, placing mothers first and foremost.
And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail [hardship] upon travail [hardship] did his mother bear him, and in year two was his weaning: (hear the command), Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is (your final) goal. 31:14
A man came to Allah’s Apostle and said,
“O Allah’s Apostle! Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man said. “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man further said, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The man asked for the fourth time, “Who is next?” The Prophet said, “Your father. Sahih Bukhari volume 8, Book 73, Number 2
Paradise lies under the feet of your mother.
Hadith of Prophet Muhammad
Respects of parents in Hebrew Scripture and New Testament
Loving, respecting and serving the parents is considered a foremost duty for the children. There are numerous passages in the Bible on the importance of serving and honoring the parents and here is a tiny sample.
Every one of you shall reverence his mother and his father, and you shall keep My Sabbaths; I am the LORD your God. Leviticus 19:3
“You shall stand up before the gray head and honour the face of an old man, and you shall fear your God: I am the Lord. Leviticus 19:32
Children, obey your parents because you belong to the Lord, for this is the right thing to do. Honor your father and mother. This is the first commandment with a promise. Ephesians 6:1–2
Once again, it is interesting to note that parents’ respect and obedience is mentioned next to the name of the Lord, like in the Qur’an.
Like the 17:23 in the Qur’an, the Bible reminds us to be respectful to our parents as they age.
Listen to your father who gave you life, and do not despise your mother when she is old. Proverbs 23:22
My father passed away 43 years ago and my mother 14 years ago. If you are lucky to have your parents alive, how are you intending to show respect to them, or attempt to pay back for all their sacrifices?
Just like we should be grateful to God, we should be grateful to our parents and show it!
The least we can do is to say, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you for all you did for me!
And we don’t have to wait till the next Mother’s Day or the Father’s Day.