Jun 8, 2012

Kindness Towards Parents - Part 2

By M


Please look at the words of Surah Al- ‘Isra (17:23, 24)
Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt (not so much as “uff”), nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, "My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small." 

When one or both of our parents attain old age in our lives ( Allah is talking to us here), speak to them in words that are only honorable, speak not in hatred or disapproval or even condescension, or in words that offend them.

I don’t know about you, but I thought I was quite respectful to mine. Yet measuring myself to this honorable bar, makes me feel my performance appraisal would verge on ‘more training required. ‘

Do not even say ‘uff’ to them.’ I think many an adult child might find condescension or disapproval a noticeable part of their parent - child interaction, no matter how mild it may be. Who hasn’t said at some point, “that’s not the way things are done now ma,” and not felt a slight smile of condescension enter their hearts. Situations and the environment may be different now, but I guess I could probably explain why and how processes are conducted now with a greater humility wing-span. The way that sentence is constructed could definitely be re-evaluated and restructured. Would I say it like this to my Boss, or the President, or the person who is in charge of renewing my drivers’ licence?

Also, a wise scholar said, that no matter how much we may know, our parents always know more than us. We don’t know the wealth of advice, experience and knowledge they have within them, and I think assuming we know more, almost causes us to overlook the wealth of information residing within them.

So it really boils down to approach, the words used, and humility. Address them with politeness and kind good words, don’t raise your voice to them or shout, instead speak in a pleasant tone, listen to them and do what they ask of you, and spend on them when they are in need, in goodness. Yusuf Estes had said in a lecture he gave, that parents should be honored when they attain old age, and should be looked after by you and cared by you, and not to be put into an old age home but be taken care of in your own home, if they so choose.

He mentioned a lovely incident where he went to investigate what a peculiar noise was in his kitchen, and found his aged dad rocking in a chair. He bent over and kissed his dad on the forehead. His daughter, witnessing this, followed the same path, walked over to her dad, and kissed him on his forehead. She walked away unaware that behind her sat her dad tearing out of happiness. It is mentioned that if you are kind to your parents, you will be rewarded by Allah with children who are kind to you.

Nouman Ali Khan said that it is important to get right your relationship with Allah. For once this is done it is easy to be best to your parents by the numerous strong orders in verse 23 and 24 of Surah Al ‘Isra’. If one finds themselves not being able to conduct themselves well towards their parents then this suggests that one needs to work on their relationship with Allah. One will notice that this is supported by the occurrence of instructions in these two verses. The first instruction is to worship Allah alone, this being the only reference to the Creator, a fundamental foundation of faith. What follows are instructions on how to be kind to ones parents. The word used to describe the way we better be toward our parents, is an exhortation, exclaiming that especially and exclusively when it comes to parents, we’d better be the best. So get right your relationship with Allah, and then your relationship with your parents will follow.

If you’re on the phone with one of your friends, or consumed with the TV, and your parent calls for you, drop everything you’re doing and answer them, go to them. And it is stated that especially when they’re older, and thus more demanding, that is when respect really counts. That is when it counts. As they get older so do you, and with that comes independence of adulthood for you. And even then, show respect.

‘Lower the wings of humility’ means you’re like a bird, in a position of power and can so easily fly away. Yet even then, lower your wings to the people who nurtured you, to the people who care for you and still sacrifice their time and energy without a second thought just for you. As they get older, you might have all these complaints about them, that they still tell you what to do, or still treat you as if you were a child, or boss you around, or that they don’t understand you. Still speak well of them, don’t backbite or complain about them to your friends. Love them, honor them, respect them, and address them with honor.

What about non-Muslim parents? Should one be kind and keep good relationships with non-Muslim parents and relatives?

Yes, there is beautiful virtue in doing so.

Asma daughter of Abu Bakr may Allah be pleased with them both, said: My mother, who was pagan, came to me during the lifetime of the the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam (desiring to receive a reward from me). I asked the Prophet sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam, “Shall I keep good relations with her?”

He replied “yes, keep good relations with her”. Ibn Oyaina said: Then Allah Almighty revealed “Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them : for Allah loveth those who are just.” (Al – Mumtahanah, 60: 8) 

If your parents treat you unfairly? What if they are not so kind?

I found this interesting:

One should maintain respectful treatment towards them, honorable speech towards them in spite of it. Can we do that? Do we have it in us?

Below are some references that you might find interesting. Much of what I’ve learnt is from these sources. I hope you find them enjoyable and helpful. A lot of my words are what I have learnt from theirs.

· Kindness to Parents in Islam http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YY2Xpm81q3Y
· Islam and Parents http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9C2omOi9G0
· Respect Your Parents - Nouman Ali Khan- Quran Weekly
· Respecting the Parents - By Sheikh Shady Al-Suleiman http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjAw9yqOBqA

I don’t claim to be an authority on fiqh or good behavior towards parents. This article has been as informative to me as I hope it may be for you. This is really a lesson in conduct as I write.

We are born to two chosen people, and our children are born to two, chosen by the Creator as a mercy and a challenge of conduct. Are you ready to take your challenge with me? 

I'd love to hear your views on this topic. Please post in the comments section below! :)


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