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Islam as a Charter of Life: Parent's Role, Rights and Obligations - XI

By Sirajuddin Aziz

May 20, 2019

IN Surah Bani Israel, verse 23, Allah after exhorting mankind to worship Him alone, says,

“…And that ye be kind to parents, whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them but address them in terms of honor.”

The positioning of these words in the verse, where Allah having ordained worship only to Himself, chooses to instruct how parents are to be dealt with, is quite significant; for in the scheme of Allah, anybody who worships Him alone, has to necessarily be kind and grateful to one’s parents. It is indeed incomprehensible that a true Muslim will ever even imagine being disrespectful to parents.

“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” (XVII 24).

A mere observation of how a bird looks after or feeds its offspring, gives a deep insight into the spiritual meaning of this verse. “Lowering of wings’’ has metaphorical meaning keeping under shade, protection and safe custody.

A baby, upon arrival, is totally dependent, despite presence of all the blessed faculties that in later years allows for growing strength and understanding but at that moment, these faculties are of no use. Only a mother would sacrifice her peace and mid-night sleep, to ensure that her offspring on the contrary would sleep comfortably and calmly. As a child, we receive unadulterated love, care and attention from our parents, that is when we are in a stage of complete helplessness, therefore, when they grow old and infirm, the least a child can do, is to reciprocate with equal love, warmth, respect, care and attention towards them. Approaching parents with utmost humility is a cardinal principle of Islam — no remonstration or words of ‘fie’ to any of their demands, barring invitation to disbelief, is permissible. In acknowledgement and recognition to the service of parents towards their children, this beautiful verse ends with a supplication seeking Allah’s mercy on them just as they (Parents) cherished the children in their childhood.

“We have enjoined on man, kindness to parents, but if they (either of them) strive to force thee to join with me in worship. Anything of which thou hast no knowledge obey them not” (XXIX: 8).

 Obedience towards parents has been in very clear terms made subservient, to the cause of worshipping none, but the True One Allah. Abraham, who even Allah the most merciful, refers to as a kind hearted man, was admonished, when he supplicated for his father Azar,

 “Forgive my father, for that he is among those astray” (XXVI-86).

 In further reference to his father,

 “Abraham said; Peace be on thee: I will pray to my lord for thy forgiveness, for He is to me most Gracious” (XIX:47).

For the love of his father, Azar, Abraham had promised to pray, but his prayers even though he was Khalilullah, were not accepted, as is beautifully and lucidly explained by the Quranic verse,

 “it is not fitting for the prophet and those who believe, that they should pray for forgiveness for pagans, even though they be of kin…” (IX: 113)

 “Abraham prayed for his father’s forgiveness only because of a promise he had made to him. But when it became clear to him that he was an enemy to Allah, he disassociated himself from him, for Abraham was most tender hearted, forbearing (IX: 114).

 These verses clearly establish that anybody including parents, if they ever beguilth their progeny from path of Allah they are to be disobeyed and disassociated with.

In Islam, the stature of parents is placed on the highest pedestal of good behaviour. Besides respecting and showing kindness to one’s own parents, it is incumbent for Muslims to show similar respect and kindness to parents of even our friends and friends of our parents. Abdullah bin Umar, in consonance with Allah’s apostle’s statement that the finest act of goodness on the part of a son is to treat kindly the loved ones of his father, was always gracious towards the friends of Hazrat Umar bin Khattab.

 In verse 15 of Surah Ahqaf, the stature of the mother is recognized.

 We have enjoined on man, kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him and in pain did she give birth to him.” (XLVI: 15)

and further,

“at length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, “O my lord, grant me that I may be grateful for thy favour, which thou hast bestowed upon me and upon both my parents and that I may work righteousness” (XLVI : 15).

 Abu Huraira has reported that a person asked, “Allah’s messenger, who amongst the people is the most deserving of my good treatment? He said: your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your relatives according to the order of nearness.” In Sahih Muslim, it is reported (6814), Abdullah Bin Amar said that a person came to Allah’s apostle (Pbuh) and sought permission to participate in jihad, where upon, the prophet said: you should put in your best efforts in their service”. In Surah Luqman, verse 14, Allah says,

“show gratitude to me and thy parents; to me thy final Goal.” (XXXI:14).

Blessed are children, whose parents are living- Allah Subhanahu Taala offers them an opportunity to be of gracious service to them. Allah exhorts in the same verse to show gratitude to Him and parents, Oh! What stature parents have! Imagine a society that respects, loves and shows gratitude to parents, it is inevitable that such offsprings will usher peace, tolerance, equity and justice in their system. O Muslims, never say ‘fie’ to parents, fear Allah. Gratitude to parents must manifest itself in the quality of service, children need to perform. Ingratitude as a trait of character, invokes the anger and displeasure of Almighty Allah. Unfortunately human history is replete with tales of ingratitude. “Blow, Blow thou winter wind, thou art not so unkind, as man’s ingratitude”. (Shakespeare)

Sirajuddin Aziz is a senior banker with interest in Religion.

Source; The Pak Observer