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  • The Social Shariah: (10) Directives Relating To Parents

    Posted by Umer on September 7, 2020 at 8:11 am

    وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَى وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنْ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ وَإِنْ جَاهَدَاكَ عَلى أَنْ تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا وَاتَّبِعْ سَبِيلَ مَنْ أَنَابَ إِلَيَّ ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ (31: 14-15)

    And We enjoined man to show kindness to his parents – with much pain his mother bears him and he is not weaned before he is two years of age – [We said:] “Be grateful to Me and to your parents. To Me shall all things return. But if they press you to serve besides Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. Remain kind to them in this world, and turn to Me with all devotion. To Me you shall all return, and I will declare to you everything you have done.” (31:14-15)

    All divine scriptures instruct man to show kindness to the parents. Various verses of the Quran also direct the believers to be well-behaved to the parents. [1] The above quoted verses however specifically determine the limits of good behaviour with the parents. The details of this directive as stated in these verses are:

    1. It is the parents who bring into existence a new life and become the means to nourish it. No doubt, the care and affection of the father is quite a lot; however, the hardships a mother encounters in bringing up the child starting from her pregnancy, to childbirth and then breast-feeding the child are unmatched and no child can repay her for this great service. On these very grounds, the Prophet (sws) has regarded the right of the mother as three times that of the father. [2] Consequently, the Almighty exhorts man to be the most grateful to his parents after his Lord. This gratitude must not be expressed merely by the tongue. Its essential corollary is that it should manifest in good behaviour towards them. He should respect them and never become fed up of them. He must not utter a single word of disrespect to them. Instead, he should be soft, sympathetic, loving and obedient to them. He should listen to them and be caring and affectionate to them in the tenderness of old age. The Quran says:

    وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِنْدَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُلْ لَهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُلْ لَهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنْ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُلْ رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا رَبُّكُمْ أَعْلَمُ بِمَا فِي نُفُوسِكُمْ إِنْ تَكُونُوا صَالِحِينَ فَإِنَّهُ كَانَ لِلْأَوَّابِينَ غَفُورًا (17: 23-25)

    And your Lord has enjoined you to worship none but Him, and to show great kindness to your parents, If either or both of them attain old age in your presence, show them no sign of impatience, nor rebuke them; but speak to them kind words. Treat them with humility and tenderness and say: “Lord, be merciful to them the way they nursed me when I was an infant.” Your Lord best knows what is in your hearts. If you remain obedient, He will forgive those who turn to Him. (17:23-25)

    2. In spite of the status that Islam confers upon parents, they do not have the right to force their children to baselessly associate someone with the Almighty. The Prophet (sws) has said that showing disobedience to parents is the greatest sin after polytheism; [3] however, the above quoted verses of Surah Luqman say that the children should openly disobey their parents with regard to polytheism and should follow the way of those who follow God. Any calls to evade the Almighty must not receive any positive response even if it is the parents who are giving the call. On these very grounds, the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said: لَا طَاعَةَ في المعصية إنما الطَّاعَةُ في الْمَعْرُوفِ (no one can be obeyed if he calls to disobey the Almighty; one can only obey what is virtuous). [4]

    Consequently, all other directives of the Almighty shall also be considered subservient to this directive, and one cannot disobey these directives if the parents ask them to do so.

    3. Even if the parents force their children to commit a sin as heinous as polytheism, they must always be treated in a befitting manner. Their needs should be met as far as possible and a prayer of guidance be continued to be made for them. This is what the words وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا (remain kind to them in this world) of the verse quoted above entail. The children may have a right to disobey their parents if they insist upon disobedience to the directives of religion but they must still not be slack or indifferent in any way to their duty towards their parents.

    The last part of the verses ثُمَّ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ caution a person that one day he has to return to the Almighty to give an account of his deeds. While commenting upon this part of the verse, Imam Amin Ahsan Islahi writes:

    This part of the verse addresses both the parents and the children and carries both a warning and an assurance. One day, each person will have to return to the Almighty. Whatever he would have done would be brought before him. If some parents had violated the rights given to them regarding their children by making them deviate from the path of the Almighty, they will have to face punishment for this attitude and if children duly recognized the rights of the Almighty together with those of their parents as well as remaining steadfast in following the obligations these rights entail, they will be rewarded for their perseverance.[5]

    (Javed Ahmed Ghamidi)

    (Translated by Dr. Shehzad Saleem)


    [1]. See for example 17:23-24, 29:8 and 46:15.

    [2]. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 1045, (no. 5971); Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 1117, (no. 6500).

    [3]. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 1046, (no. 5976); Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 53, (no. 259).

    [4]. Al-Bukhari, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 1229-1230, (no. 7145); Muslim, Al-Jami‘ al-sahih, 826, (no. 4766).

    [5]. Amin Ahsan Islahi,Tadabbur-i Qur’an, vol. 6, 130.

    Umer replied 3 years, 5 months ago 1 Member · 2 Replies
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