March 16, 2012

Beautiful Reminders: Being Good to Our Parents

If there is anything that parenthood teaches us, it’s how to have love and respect towards our own parents for all that they went through in raising us.

Allah, subhana wa ta ala, says in the Qur’an: And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship and she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him is thirty months, till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years, he says: "My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my off-spring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will)." –Suratal Ahqaf, 46:15

According to Ibn Kathir in his tafsir, this duty that Allah, subahna wa ta ala, commands us to have towards our parents includes treating them well, having compassion towards them, and obeying them (so long as what they’re asking for is not haram) regardless of whether or not they are Muslim.

Upholding this duty is so important that throughout the Qur’an, Allah, subhana wa ta ala, mentions it right after obeying Him and the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. Even the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, spoke of good conduct towards our parents as being the next best thing we can do after praying our daily prayers to Allah!

In a hadith found in saheeh Bukhari, a man once asked the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, “Which action is the most beloved to Allah?” The Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, answered: “Prayer at its correct time.” The man then asked: “Then which action?” The Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam answered: “Birr (good treatment, kindness) towards the parents.” The man said: “Then which?” The Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, answered: “Jihad in the way of Allah.”

In his book Sharh ul-'Aqeedat-il-Waasi tiyyah, Shaykh Uthaymeen says regarding good conduct towards our parents:

“When we reflect upon the state of people today, we find that many of them do not treat their parents kindly rather they openly disobey them and treat them badly. You would find someone being good to his friends and not tiring of sitting with them. However, if he were to sit with his father or mother for just an hour in the day, you would find him restless as though he were on hot coals. So this is not from kind treatment. Rather the one who shows kindness is one who opens his heart to his mother and father and serves them and is devoted to them and who has the utmost eagerness to please them with everything that he is able to do.

And as it is commonly said, "Al-Birr is an investment". For indeed if someone is good [to his parents], then he will receive a great reward in the next life, and he will even be repaid for it in this life. So good or bad treatment of one's parents is like, as is commonly said, "an investment", or a loan. If you had been good to your parents, then your children will be good to you, and if you had been disobedient to your parents, then your children will be disobedient to you.”

So how can we show birr to our parents?

1. Know that good conduct is for BOTH our parents, not just one.  
From Abu Hurayra who said, "It was said, 'O Messenger of Allaah (Peace be upon him), who is most deserving of my birr?' He replied, 'your mother'. He said, 'then who?' He replied, 'your mother.' He said, 'then who?' He said, 'your mother.' He said, 'then who?' He replied, 'your father'" –Sahih Bukhari

2. Speak gentle words to them.
Taysala bin Mayyaas said, "I was with the Najadaat (a group of the Hururiyyah) and I committed a sin which I regarded to be Major, so I mentioned this to Ibn Umar. He said, 'what sin is it?' I said, 'this and this.' He said, 'this is not from the Major sins, the major sins are nine: "Associating partners with Allaah, killing a soul, fleeing from the advancing army, to accuse a chaste woman, Eating Ribaa, Eating the property of an orphan, to apostasize in the mosque, the one who ridicules/derides others, and making the parents cry due to disobedience to them."

Ibn Umar said to me, 'Do you fear the fire and wish to enter the Paradise?' I said, 'of course, by Allaah!' He said, 'are your parents alive?' I said, 'I have a mother.' He said, 'then by Allaah! If you were to speak gently to her and feed her, you would certainly enter paradise, as long as you stay away from the Major sins.'" –Saheeh Bukhari

3. Try to repay them for all they’ve done.
From Abdullaah bin Umar who said, " A man came to the Prophet (Peace be upon him) to give him the bay'ah for hijrah, and he left his parents crying. So the Prophet said, 'return to your parents and make them laugh as you have made them cry'" –Saheeh Bukhari

From Abu Hurayra from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) that he said, "The son can never repay his parent. Except that he finds him a slave, then buys him and sets him free." --Saheeh Bukhari

4. Serve and care for them as they get old.
From Abu Hurayra, from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) that he said, "May he be disgraced and humiliated, may he be disgraced and humiliated, may he be disgraced and humiliated." They said, "who O Messenger of Allaah?" He said, "the one whose parents attain old age, or one of them, and he enters Hellfire (by not serving them)." –Sahih Bukhari

5. Show them respect and pray for them.
“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was young.’” –Surah Al-Isra, 23-24.