15 Nov Proper Attitudes Towards Parents.Part1
We will now examine the Qur’anic teachings on the adab toward parents. In the Qur’an God commands,
“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him alone, and treat parents with the best of kindness…” (Isra 17:23).
It is notable that two of the central themes of the Qur’an are men- tioned one after the other. The first is tawhid (divinity, God’s Oneness and Absolute Unity), which is the most important theme of the Qur’an. Immediately after tawhid, God decrees that we must treat our parents well. “Treating parents well” is further explained in the Qur’an (17:23–24) with five main principles. If one or both of (your parents) grows old and is still with you:
- Do not be impatient when caring for them.
- Do not reprove them.
- Speak to them in a gentle, endearing manner.
- Lower the “wing of humility” to them.
- Pray for them thus:
“My Lord, have mercy on them in the way that they cared for me in childhood (and reward them for the way they cared for me and raised me).”
Abu Baddah al-Tujibi recounts that he asked Said ibn al- Musayyab,
“I have learned all the verses regarding goodness to parents. But there is one I do not understand. What does ‘address them in gracious words’ mean?” The scholar answered, “This means that you should speak to them as an employee speaks to the employer, and not be harsh to them.” (As with everything in Islam, intention is also extremely important.)
Parents sacrifice their lives lovingly for their children, and what the child must do is to show sincere respect for the parent, to serve them willingly, and to try to gain their approval. They should always say gentle and endearing words to their parents. After setting these principles for how children should treat their parents, God also warns those who insincerely or unwillingly care for their parents that their inner situation is not hidden from Him:
“Your Lord best knows what is inyour souls (in respect of allmat- ters, including what you think of your parents). If you are righteous (in yourthoughts and deeds), then surely He is All-Forgiving to those who turn to Him inhumble contrition” (Isra 17:25).
God Almighty further says in the Qur’an,
“We have enjoined on human in respect of his parents: his mother bore him in strain upon strain, and his weaning was in two years. (So, O human,) be thankful to Me and to your parents. To Me is the final homecoming” (Luqman 31:14).
This verse orders that we treat our parents well, and mentions the physical hardships that mothers undergo such as pregnancy, childbirth, and nursing, as well as the emotional bond be- tween mothers and children during the first years of life. The verse then goes on to enumerate the adab or principles of etiquette that one must use towards parents:
[Revere your parents;] but if they strive with you to make you associate with Me something of which you certainly have no knowledge (and which is absolutely contrary to the Knowledge), do not obey them. Even then, treat them with kindness and due consideration in respect of (the life of) this world. Follow the way of him who has turned to Me with utmost sincerity and commit- ted himself to seeking My approval. Then, (O all human beings,) to Me is your return, and then I will make you understand all that you were doing (and call you to account). (Luqman 31:15)
This section of the Qur’an shows that we are to care for the needs of our parents and treat them with gentleness and respect, even if they are not Muslims. Islamic scholars pay great attention to the interpretation of the following sentence: “treat them with kindness and due consideration in respect of (the life of) this world.” Generally, it is agreed that one should spend time with parents, seeing to all their needs, such as food, clothing, shelter, and so on. We should never speak harshly or cruelly to our parents, but ensure that their medical needs have been provided for and assist them in all they require in this life. This is confirmed by the following episode from the time of the Prophet:
Abu Bakr’s daughter Asma relates:
“My mother, who was still an unbeliever, came to me. (Unsure of how to treat her,) I asked God’s Messenger, ‘My mother has come to see me; she wants to talk to me. Should I be kind to her?’ God’s Messenger answered, ‘Yes, show her the respect and kindness she deserves.’”