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How Muslims 'should' treat their parents

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

In the name of God, Compassionate, Merciful بسم الله الرحمن الرحيمِ | Peace be with you السلام عليكم

Edited from Islamic Manners by Shaykh Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah
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In the ethics of Islam Muslims must observe full respect and reverance to parents, irrelevant of who they are. From childhood we are taught that after love for God and His Messenger, our parents are most worthy of our consideration.



That Hadith
Imam Bukhari and Muslim reported the most famous hadith where a man asked the Prophet , 'O Messenger of Allah, who is most deserving of my best behaviour?" The Prophet  answered, "Your mother! Your mother! Your mother! Then your father, then the closer among your relatives." So while both parents have a right for your best manners, your mother has three times the right above your father. Yes, this is in favour of women, that's how Islam works!

Bukhari in al-Adam al-Mufrad reported that Hisham ibn Urwa recounted that his father told him that Abu Hurarya saw a man walking ahead of another. He asked him "Is this man related to you?" "He is my father", the man replied. Abu Hurayra told him "[out of utmost respect] Do not walk ahead of him, do not sit where he sits and do not call him by his name." This in contemporary society is equivalent to calling your favourite role-models sir/sidi/saab and jumping up to greet them.

According to ibn Wahab, a student named Imam Abd al-Rahman ibn al-Qasim al-Utaqi al-Masri, said, "While Imam Malik was reading al-Muwutta (hadith collection) to me he suddenly stood up and left me for a long while. Then he came back and sat down. He was asked why he acted as such and he answered, 'My mother came down asking me something. Since she was standing I stood up respectfully, when she went, I sat back down'." Here again, you put your parents above your own desires even if you're in a bad mood, tired or irritated. Even if the cause of irritation is your parents you rise above that because you are a Muslim. Islam teaches us that we are human and we will follow our hearts but to be worthy of Paradise we must suppress our emotions to please our parents. For them, we are keys to joy. If we (mind my English) c*ck-up in our reactions then we lose the nobility of true Muslims.

How to maintain a relationship with your parents
The revered Tabi' Tawud ibn Kisan said, "It is part of the sunnah to respect four people: a scholar, an elder, a leader, and a father. It is considered rude that a man call his father by his name." More so, at the end of his book of Maliki Fiqh al-Kafi, Imam Ibn Abd al-Barr said:
Kindness to the parents is an obligatory duty, and by the grace of Allah, it is not so difficult. Kindness means to be humble with them, to speak to them nicely, to look at them with love and respect, to speak in a mild tone that does not surpass theirs unless they are hard of hearing, to give them complete access to your wealth and to offer them the best of your food and drink.
Mature children and teenagers should not walk ahead of their parents, nor speak before them in matters that they know are their fathers' - for instance personal affairs between their parents, or events at the masjid that concern fathers. Children should wholeheartedly avoid upsetting their parents and should please them as much as possible. Making your parents' life enjoyable is one of the most virtuous acts and takes courage to follow through. Children must hasten to respond to their parents' call. If a child is performing voluntary prayers, the prayer should be shortened to respond promptly. Children should only say good words to their parents, so no more sighing, uff-ing and "oh my god, I hate yous".

The job of parents
Note that if your parents are Muslim it is their duty to make this relationship easier for their children by being kind and supportive of them, for only with Allah's help are people able to obey Him and heed His commands. Parents that are not Muslim will not always behave within Islamic principles therefore support or understanding may not come as easily to you. Nevertheless, you as a child must uphold your Muslimness.
You may have to go out of your way to serve your parents, but do not that forget that their rights are beyond such difficulties. For this Allah 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 in life, say not a word of contempt, nor rebuff them the wing of humility, and say, "My Lord bestow mercy on them as they cherished me in childhood".' Qur'an, (17:23-24). 
The Prophet ﷺ said, "No child will compensate a parent unless he finds him a or her a slave and he frees him or her." [Muslim, sahih, chapter of 'Itq].

Keep in mind that it's human nature to want to be the best in status, prestige and popularity, and to dislike that someone is better than yourself. Only your parents would wish that you become better than what they are. So how should you treat those who prefer you over themselves, and truly wish you the best?

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MuslimFirst said...

Excellent post. This totally made me feel guilty. I feel that along with several other male cousins of mine, who have lost our fathers, Allah (swt) is giving us a chance to exercise or excute these rights that our mothers have over us. I know I can do a much better job - since I am not with her most of the year, I understand her even increased worrying (as if mothers don't worry enough as it is) and other little things that do tend to get on my nerver. I know I need to be much better, as she points out from time to time. Argh, shall try to work on it . . I already regret that I wasn't good in certain things with my Abba, so I should make the same and even more grave mistake with Amma.

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