Respecting Parents in Islam – Be kind to your parents
Keeping a healthy relationship with your parents is one of the compulsory acts in Islam. The term mentioned in the teachings is ‘Birr Al Walidayn’ which translates into ‘Righteousness towards your parents’
Allah orders us in many ayats of the Quran to be respectful to our parents and even gave it so much importance that it was mentioned in a verse along with pure worship of Allah alone.
In Surah Al Isra – Allah first mentions about tawhid and then being kind towards parents:
And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. [17:23]
Due to some of the practices in the modern world, we think it’s ok just to make one day special for them in a year. We get them a gift just once a year or take them out for a special meal or trip (so called Father’s and Mother’s Day). Parents day’s are every day for Muslims. We do not single out just one day to remember and treat them well.
Unfortunately a lot of us tend to be very rude to them, especially when they get old and are in need. It is very easy to lose patience with them as their mind set may not be the same as it was when they were a bit younger. They raised us and went to a lot of trouble yet we don’t appreciate it. We wouldn’t be able to repay them for their efforts if we gave them all the money in the world. The special love and care they gave us cannot be brought, no matter how wealthy you may think you are.
Some of us who are parents ourselves now, may be able to be in their shoes and understand some of the struggles they went through. However the times are changing a lot now and technology is advancing, so new age parents may not be able to relate to all the issues their own parents went through with their kids.
5 types of children
When it comes to parenting in Islam, we can class children into 5 different types:
1 – The one who disobeys their parents orders (this type is ‘aaq – i.e. undutiful/disobedient [which is a great sin])
2 – A child who fulfills their parents orders but is annoyed with it (they don’t gain any reward as a result)
3 – The one who does as they are told but responds after by raising their voice or counts those favours [e.g. I have done so much for you..] (this type earns a sin)
4 – Those that do what they are told, happily and with commitment (this type will be rewarded – which is of the very few)
5 – The child who knows and fulfills their parents wishes before they are even told (this is the type which is al-baar al-muwafaq i.e. dutiful and kind to his parents and will be successful in all his affairs), and this type is rare.
For the last two types, the barakah (blessings) in this persons’ life will increase significantly and this includes things like time, wealth, health etc. Something that seems to little in the eye may come with a lot of good due to the barakah Allah has given this person.
These people will have tranquility in their hearts and will find ease in all their affairs. May Allah give us the ability to be among these types of children.
The difficult question for every one of us is, what type of child would we classify as?
We shouldn’t be in the narrow mindset and think that simply kissing the forehead, hands, or even the feet of our parents, we would achieve their ultimate pleasure. Or by buying them an expensive gift or taking them somewhere nice.
How can we define Al-Birr (being dutiful and kind towards one’s parents)
Al-birr – is to always know automatically what is in the mind of your parents and carry out the duty without even receiving their instructions.
Al-birr – is understanding what pleases them, at that point rushing towards doing it; and understanding what makes them unhappy, at that point endeavoring that they absolutely never observe it from you!
Al-birr – could be in something that you think you parents are wanting, and you take/do it for them, like making a cup of tea or snacks.
Al-birr – to ensure your parents are always comfortable, even if you have to sacrifice your own comfort and desires to keep them happy. This could be by preventing an unnecessary stress for them like not staying out too late or being too picky with what you want.
Al-birr – is to plan a special surprise holiday for your parents, somewhere where they can relax or even an Umrah or Hajj trip. You will even get rewarded for sending them to the holy lands.
Al-birr – is to always cheer up your parents even when they are at a stage in life where there isn’t much that brings them joy and happiness…
Al-birr – is to spend abundantly on your parents from your own wealth even if they have a lot of wealth themselves, without thinking twice about how much they own or whether they need it. Everything you have is only because of their hard work, and sleepless nights which they spent looking after you..
Al-birr – is to consistently search for their solace, and not let them apply exertion to make you comfy, for it is sufficient how much they strived for the good of you in the past.
There are various avenues for al-birr that will lead us to Jannah In’Sha’Allah, so don’t restrict yourself to a single smile or kiss which may then be followed up by many of our shortcomings…
One final verse to reflect on from Surah Luqman:
And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. [31:14]
From today, let’s try our utmost best to please our parents (as commanded by Allah) and get closer to our creator.