RIGHT OF PARENTS
The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallamhas laid stress on the rights of parents and duties of children, in the same way as he has stressed the rights of children and the duties of parents.
To be obedient to parents and to show kindness to them has been enjoined along with the Oneness and Worship of Allah, in the Holy Quraan, in such a manner that it appears that among human deeds, to obey parents and treat them with respect and kindness is next only to Divine Worship.
The Quraan says, in Sura Bani Israail: "Your Lord (The Creator) has ordained that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to the parents."
Parents Are the Heaven and Hell of the Children
In a hadeeth the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said that the parents of a person are his Heaven or Hell.
This shows that if a person obeys his parents and attends to their needs and comforts and keeps them happy, he will attain Paradise. On the other hand, if he is rude and disobedient to them and offends them by ignoring their feelings or by causing them grief in any other way, his place shall be in Hell.
Pleasing the Parents Causes Allah's Pleasure
Anyone who seeks to please Allah should earn the good pleasure of his parents. To keep the parents well pleased is essential since their anger and displeasure will lead to Allah's anger and displeasure. The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said "In the good pleasure of the father lies the good pleasure of the Creator and in his displeasure, lies the displeasure of the Creator."
Here the mother has not been mentioned, but, according to many other ahaadeeth, the right of the mother with regard to service and kind treatment is even higher than that of the father. Therefore, her pleasure or displeasure will carry an equal significance.
Curse For Not Looking After Aged Parents.
The time that the parents need to be looked after most carefully is in their old-age, and to serve them devotedly in that state is most pleasing to Allah and it is an easy way to attain Paradise.
Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "May he be disgraced, may,he be disgraced, may he be disgraced." "Who?" The Sahaaba enquired. "The person whose parents, or any one of them, attain old-age during his life-time and he does not earn Paradise (by being kind-hearted and dutiful to them)!"
Therefore, anyone who gets an opportunity to serve his parents in their old-age and does not avail himself to it (to attain Paradise), undoubtedly, he is a most wretched person.
The Mother's Claim Is Greater
Abu Hurairah (R.A.) narrates that a person asked the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam "Who has the greatest claim on me with regard to service and kind treatment?" The Prophet replied, "Your mother, and again your mother, and once again your mother. After her, is the claim of your father, then that of your near relations, and then of the relations next to them." This, obviously, shows that where care and kind treatment are concerned, the claim of the mother is greater than that of the father.
It appears to be the same in the Qur'aan too. In many instances, the pain and the suffering which the mother has to bear during pregnancy, at childbirth, and in the bringing-up of the children, has been mentioned along with the emphasis of expressing kindness to parents.
Paradise Lies At the Mother's Feet
In one hadeeth the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has clearly stated that a person's Paradise lies at his mother's feet. By serving her well and being obedient to her, one can attain Paradise.
In some other ahaadeeth the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has explained that serving the mother, the maternal aunt and maternal grandmother, are among the acts by whose piousness, even the repentance of a great sinner and evil-doer is accepted and he is forgiven.
Treatment Towards Polytheist Parents
If anyone's parents are polytheists, and they want him to follow their faith, he should refuse, but he should continue to be kind and respectful to them.
Asma bint Abu Bakr (R.A.) relates that her mother had come to Madinah, from Makkah, to meet her. Her mother followed the Pagan customs and beliefs, so Asma (R.A.) enquired from the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam as how she was to treat her whether she should have nothing to do with her, as she was a Pagan, or treat her like a daughter should, and show kindness to her. The Prophet told her to be kind and considerate and to behave towards her as was a mothers due, from a daughter.
Parents' Rights After Their Death
The rights of parents do not come to an end with their death. In fact, some of their rights take effect after their death, and it is a religious obligation for the children to fulfill them.
As explained before, obeying one's parents and treating them with respect and affection is great virtue - and atones for one's sins. Similarly, to ask Allah to have mercy on them after their death, is an act which brings comfort to them in their graves and serves to atone for one's sins.
After the death of one's parents among other duties, should be to pray for their forgiveness and treat their relatives and friends with due respect.
Abu Usaid Sa'idi (R.A.) relates that a person came to the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and asked him "O Prophet of Allah, are there some rights of my parents, on me, which I have to fulfill even after they have died?" "Yes" the Prophet replied, "These are to pray for mercy and forgiveness on their behalf, to fulfill the promises they have made to anyone, to pay due regard to the bonds of relationship from their side and to be respectful to their friends.
In the Quraan, Muslims have been urged to pray for the salvation of their parents as shown in the verse. And say, "Mv Lord. Have mercy on both of them, as they cared for me when I was little."
Advantages of Obedience to Parents
The real reward for serving the parents, with great attention, is Paradise and the pleasure of Allah. But the Almighty bestows a special favour, in this world too, on the believer who fulfills the parents' rights devotedly.
Jabir (R.A.) reports that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Allah prolongs the life of a person who obeys his parents and serves them devotedly." In another hadeeth, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam is reported to have said, "Obey your parents and treat them with kindness, your children will be kind and obedient to you.
Great Sin For Disobeying the Parents
Just as the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam declared, that serving ones parents well is an act of great virtue, he condemned the showing of disobedience to them, or harming them, as a most serious and detestable sin.
When asked about the major sins, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied." To associate anyone with Allah, to disobey the parents, to kill unlawfully and to give false evidence."
The above-mentioned acts have been condemned as 'Akbarul-Kabaair' ie the most serious of the major sins. The order in which the Prophet said them, shows that the disregard of parents rights is next, only, to Polytheism (Shirrk) and it is even more serious than murder.
The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said "To abuse one's parents is also a major sin." He was asked "Can anyone abuse his parents?" "Yes," the Prophet replied, "If a person abused someone else's parents and that person, in retaliation, abused his parents, - then it is as though he himself had abused his parents."
We can imagine, from this, what an important place respect for parents occupies in the moral and social teachings of Islam, and how careful one should be about it.
Besides parents' rights, a great emphasis is also laid on the rights of other relatives. In Islamic terms, 'Silah-Rahimi' is used to denote 'good treatment towards the relatives'.
In the Quraan, where the Muslims are enjoined to show kindness to parents, they are also required to treat the other relatives with love and sympathy and to pay due regard to their rights as well.
As we have seenin a previous hadeeth ,the foremost claim on a person is that of his mother, then of his father, and then grade by grade, of the other relatives. Therefore through relationship, the relatives' rights come after that of the parents.
Allah has declared, "I am Allah, I am Ar-Rahman (The Merciful), I have created the bond of kinship and named it Rahim,-which I have derived from the root of my name of Rahman. Thus, whoever, shall join it (ie. Rahim), I shall join him, and whoever will break it, I shall break him."
The Almighty has designed the system of birth in such a way, that whoever is born, is tied to the bonds of kinship-and these bonds carry certain claims and rights. Thus, whoever fufills these claims, by being kind to his relatives and treating them well, Allah will "join him" i.e. He will make him His own and bestow His favour and mercy on him. And whosoever will violate these claims, Allah will "break him" i.e. He will have nothing to do with him.
Fulfilling the Rights of Relatives
It is related by Anas (R.A.) that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said "Whoever wants an increase in his sustenance and that the marks of his feet remain for a long time in the world (i.e. to live long) - he should be kind and helpful to his relatives."
Basically, there are two ways of being kind and considerate to relatives. One is by giving them monetary assistance, when needed, and the other is by devoting a part of one's time and energy at their service.
Family quarrels, which generally arise from the disregard of the relatives' rights, affect a man's health and make it difficult for him to concentrate in his work. Those who treat their relatives well and are helpful to them, are free from tensions of this kind and they are happier and more peaceful.
Violation of Relatives' Rights
The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said "Whoever violates the rights of relatives, shall not go to Paradise."
Commentary:- This hadeeth, alone, should be enough to make us realise the importance of 'Silah-Rahimi'. It shows that the violation of the relatives' rights is so detested by Allah, that with its filthiness, no one can enter Paradise. It is only when a person (believer) has received his punishment or has been forgiven, that the gates of Paradise will be opened for him.
Showing Kindness to Those Who Severe Relations
Often,there are people who care little for the bonds of relationship and are rude and unjust in this respect. Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has enjoined to continue to treat them well and fufil the obligations, irrespective of what they do and how they behave.
Abdullah ibn Umar(R.A.) relates from the Prophet (S.A.W.), "He does not fulfill the claim of Silah-Rahimi who shows no kindness in return for the kindness shown to him.. The person who really fulfills the claim is he who treats his relatives well even when they are mean and unjust to him.
When the violation of the rights of relatives is returned in a similar manner, the evil will spread in the society -- while if it is returned with kindness, it may lead to their correction and it will assist in the promotion of Silah-Rahimi, in the life of the community.
Mufti Ismail Menk of Zimbabwe commenced hifz at the tender age of 9 years and completed at the age of 11. He studied Arabic, Urdu, and the Hanafi Mazhab from a young age. He completed Shariah degree on the four Mazhabs in Islamic University of Madinah. He has been actively engaged in teaching, lecturing in Zimbabwe and is also involved in managing Islamic educational institutes for the under privileged and orphans. Currently he is the Imam of the largest Masjid in Zimbabwe.