The social structure of the families throughout the world is crumbling down to pieces. In the present times, it would not be totally wide of the mark to say that an overall social anarchy is prevailing in the family order of human beings everywhere in the world. The beautiful concept of family life in the world has been completely ruined. The sanctity of relations bound by blood, and based on sound moral values, is seen as disappearing fast from this planet.
Islam has provided us with the most precise and comprehensive guidance on how we are to fulfill all our social responsibilities, and conduct, in all our dealings and relationships, with all our relatives with whom we come into contact on this earth, and other people in different walks of life. One of the most primary relationships in this world exists between a person and his/her parents. In Islam, the rights of parents have been described as those that are next to the rights of Allah (swt).
The Holy Qur'an says:“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and do good to parents. If either of them or both reach old age, do not say to them “Uff” (a word of anger or contempt) and do not scold them. And address them with respectful words, and submit yourself before them in humility out of compassion and say, “My Lord, be merciful to them as they had brought me up in my childhood.” (17:23-24)
Further, the Holy Qur'an states: “We commanded man to be good about his parents. His mother carried him facing weakness after weakness, and his weaning in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents. To Me is the ultimate return'. And if they force you to ascribe to Him partners about whom you have no knowledge, do not obey them. And be with them in this world, with due fairness, and follow the way of the one who has turned himself towards Me. Then, towards Me is your return, so I shall tell you about what you had been doing.” (31:14-15)
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saws) has also laid a very great stress on giving full devotion to the needs of parents, and obedience to one's parents. It is a highly grievous sin to disobey one's parents, ignore their feelings, or to disregard their comfort and happiness in any way. Allah and His Prophet have declared it as the greatest sin, and have characterized a disobedient attitude towards parents after polytheism.
The Holy Prophet (saws) has said: “In the pleasure of parents lies the pleasure of Allah, and in their displeasure, the displeasure of Allah.” The Prophet (saws) once said, “Every time a dutiful son or daughter looks with affection and respect towards his or her father or mother, Allah writes against his or her name the reward of an approved Hajj.” (Baihaqi)
The Holy Prophet Muhammad (saws) once said to his Companions that the most mortal sins in the world are three: “Associating anyone with Allah, disobeying parents, and giving a false evidence.” (Mishkat)
Once a person enquired from the Prophet (saws), “What are the rights of the parents?” The Holy Prophet replied, “Parents are the Heaven or Hell of their children, i.e. Salvation and Paradise could be gained by serving one's parents well while disobedience to them could lead one to Hell.” (Ibn Majah)
So, every Muslim should be highly respectful towards his parents though he suffers some kind of problem or difficulty, while treading on this path on account of his parents rebuking him or using harsh words against him because of their old age.
Parents, after all, are human beings susceptible to weaknesses and desires. It is possible that they might say or do something wrong and offending to their children. In such circumstances, the children should not mind the acts or utterances of their parents. They should not become enraged at such things and start cursing them. Whatever the parents may do to their children, they should control their temper keeping in view of the hardships and difficulties suffered by them in raising him up as a child into an adult. A Muslim should always consider this fact, and stand by the side of his parents in the way of their appreciating all that they have done to him in bringing him up, and be respectful and obedient to them every time especially in their old age.
No doubt, some of the parents, by their unjust behavior, can create certain situations in which the children may become rebellious and disobedient to them. Especially, when the father remarries and the children have to live with their stepmother who is usually callous and uncompromising with them. It is often seen that the stepmother tries to get her husband angry towards his children from his first wife, over their trivial faults.
In most of the cases, the father-out of love and consideration for their new brides, and in an effort to please all their whims and temperaments- does change his attitude towards his children, and mistreat them. He too, becomes like a stepfather to his own children. Similarly, if the mother, a widow or a divorcee, marries again after divorce or death of her husband, the second husband does not like that his wife treat her and his children alike. And, the poor wife in order to please her husband is compelled to adopt a different attitude towards her children from her first husband.
Either way the Islamic Shariah has admonished the children to obey their parents even at the cost of endangering their own lives. We hope that people will learn from the verses of the Holy Qur'an and the Traditions of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saws) that we have quoted above to behave in the best possible terms with their parents, especially in their old age, so that they might gain the pleasure of Allah in this world, and the Hereafter.
(Mufti Anwar Anwar Khan can be accessed at: firstname.lastname@example.org)