Obedience and Manners in Dealing with Parents

23rd October 2007

Allah (swt) says: ‘Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age, say not to them a word of contempt or repel them, but address them in terms of honour. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: ‘My Lord, have mercy on them for they cherished me in childhood.’ (Bani-Israel, v23-24)

In the above ayat, Allah (swt) gives the order of dealing with parents in an honourable and respectful manner, treating them with love and obeying them. Imam Qurtubi (rah) relates, ‘In this ayat Allah (swt) mentions the importance of treating the parents in a respectful and honourable manner in conjunction with the worship of Allah (swt) Himself. Just as in Surah Luqman, Allah (swt) mentions thanks due to Him with that also of the parents, gratitude should be shown to both. It is proven from this that after the worship and obedience of Allah (swt), obedience to one’s parents is most lofty in rank, as is the same with gratitude and showing thanks. The following hadith of Sahih Bukhari bears witness to this:

• One Sahaba(ra) asked, ‘Which is the most loved action by Allah (swt)? Rasulullah (saw) said, ‘To pray Salaat in the specified time.’ It was then asked, ‘Which is most loved after that?’ Rasulullah (saw) said: ‘To have good dealings with your parents.’ (Tafsiri Qurtubi)

The Status of Obeying & Assisting The Parents
• Hazrat Abu Darda (ra) said, ‘Rasulullah (saw) related that, ‘The Father is the middle door of Jannah, now you know, if you wish, take care of it or destroy it.’ (Musnad Ahmad, Tirmidhi)
• Hazrat Abu Umamah (ra) relates that a man asked Rasulullah (saw), ‘What are the rights of the parents over their children?’ Rasulullah (saw) said, ‘They both are either your Jannah or Jahanam!’ (Ibn Majah)
Meaning, the obedience and serving the parents is such a deed that it will enter one into Jannah and their disobedience and displeasure will take a person to Jahanam.
• It is related from Ibn Abbas (ra), ‘Rasulullah (saw) related, ‘The children who looks at their parents with mercy and love, then on every look, they are rewarded the same reward as a Hajj Mabrur (accepted Hajj).’ The people asked, ‘If they look 100 times in this manner during the day?’ Rasulullah (saw) said, ‘Yes!, with every look the reward will continue to be the same, Allah is the greatest!’ (there is no reduction in his treasures even after all this). (Baihaqi)

The Punishment of Treating Parents Badly Is Also Received In The Dunya
• Hazrat Abi Bakr (ra) relates, ‘Rasulullah (saw) said: ‘The punishment of all sins can be excused by Allah (swt) until the Day of Qiyamah, apart from the disobedience shown to parents. The Punishment of this is received in the Dunya even before the punishment of the Akhirah!’ (Baihaqi, Tafsiri Muzhari)

The honourable treating of parents who have attained old age is encouraged more so through the above ayat of Quran. There is no defined emphasis on different treatment of parents according to age and time, however in old age more care has to be taken where the parents are more in need of assistance, for example:
1. In old age, the smallest amount of disagreement with parents will affect them greatly and hurt them emotionally.
2. In old age, due to deteriorated health, they are more fragile.
3. In old age, understanding and logic are affected, so what they desire may not always be possible for children to carry out. For this reason, Allah(swt) reminds us, ‘When you were young, how they treated you, cared for you, did everything you desired, accepting your condition and understanding it. Thus you also treat them in that way. Now your parents have become your responsibility, what they did for you, you repay in your treatment of them.’
Again we recount the Ayat … ‘And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: ‘My Lord, have mercy on them for they cherished me in childhood.’

If the parents are Muslims, then the du’aa for mercy for them is applicable. However, if they are not Muslims, the above mentioned du’aa should be made with the intention that Allah (swt) save them from the difficulties of this dunya and guide them to Islam. After their death a prayer of mercy is not permissible. (Tafsiri Qurtubi)

In Which Conditions is The Obedience of Parents Wajib (compulsory)?
In this matter, all the Ulama and Fuqaha are unanimous that the obedience of parents is only in permissible in halal matters. The obedience of parents in non-permissible and haram acts is not wajib, it is not even permissible, it should not be done on their instruction. Rasulullah (saw) said, ‘In the disobedience of Allah (swt) the obedience of any creation is not permissible.’ (Bukhari) In permissible things, the parents, even if they are non-muslims, will have to be obeyed.

May Allah(swt) give all the Muslims the guidance to assist our parents in the correct way to earn his pleasure. Aameen.

Mufti Yusuf