Speaking about modern challenges : Parents/Child relationship…

Abdoolmagid VAKIL

Children treating parents :

These days the relationship between parents and children have suffered radical changes in the society where we know values have been eroding and as it is said we need to draw the attention to all concerned about the importance of reviving and revitalizing those values which come from ancient times.

This important task is the responsibility of the parents and teachers and educators starting from kindergarten to primary, secondary and high school where classes of Religious Studies or Ethics and Moral should be part of the curriculum.

We Muslims and in general the followers of the other two Abrahamic religions should have our tasks easier because all the Scriptures have such values preached as fundamental for creating and maintaining morally healthy societies.

Now turning our attention to Islam we have a lot of teachings contained in our holy book and the many teachings of our Prophet Muhammad SAW to remind us all what to do regarding relationship between parents and children.

Basically we should concentrate our attention on the following:

  • We all have obligations towards our fellow beings;
  • Our obligations towards our parents are therefore of utmost importance;
  • Those obligations are only next to serving God;
  • In the Qur’an it is said that parents are to be treated with kindness and respect being a command from God which should therefore be obeyed at any cost;
  • In the Qur’an parents have the privilege to be mentioned along with God Who is to be thanked for His Favours and is Commanded by God to thank his parents for their favours;
  • It should be emphasised that Islam does not make any distinction between Muslim or non-Muslim parents which deserve the same respect as Muslim parents;
  • The only valid reason not to obey the non-Muslim parents is when they ask the children to follow other faith besides Islam.
  • Several Ahadith refer to the respect for the parents and especially to the mother as said by our Prophet SAW: “Your Paradise lies under the feet of your mothers”. Or
  • Another hadith where it is said that when I beloved Prophet SAW was asked whom to obey first he replied “Allah”; and then it was asked and the reply was “Your mother”; and then, again it was said “Your mother” and then only the reply was “Your father”.

The Qur’anic injunctions to treat parents with love, kindness and respect are contained in 2:83, in 4:36, in 6:151 and 27: 19, 14:41, 17:23-25; 27:149, 29:8, 71:28. We can quote the Qur’anic verses which says that children are not to obey the parents when they ask them to follow other faith than Islam like 29:8 and 31:15 which are all quoted in the end.

The non obedience to non Muslims parents as said above is what happened in the case of the first Muslims whose parents were not Muslims and in some cases were hostile to the children who had accepted Islam. These circumstances are now applicable again with new Muslims in Europe and elsewhere when the parents are not agreeable to their children entering into the faith of Islam.

It is to be noted that the Qur’an and the various sayings of the Prophet SAW emphasise the role of the mother as the benefactor of the child going through hardship firstly while carrying the child in the womb during the months of pregnancy and then by breast feeding and later by providing food and also going through all the troubles to raise the child namely during illness and then give him proper education.

Children are also liable to assist their parents in their old age when they need greater care and attention not only when they become physically and also emotionally weaker.

All this is due not for any material interest or for attracting the praise of others but only to please God and serve Him alone and with the sole objective of gaining the reward in the Hereafter.

Parents treating children

Now turning to the reciprocal ie parental treatment of the children and the first Qur’anic verse to be quoted is the one where the Prophet Abraham (peace and blessings be upon him) is quoted thanking God for having blessed him with two sons: Ishmael and Isaac. Children are to be looked at as a gift and blessing from God.

There is also the example of Prophet Zakaria who having supplicated to God for granting him a child which was heard by the Almighty Who granted him a child who was named John (Yahya).

When God appointed Abraham (peace and blessings be upon him) was appointed the leader of mankind as a reward for his devotion to the Lord of the Universe, he supplicated that his progeny be elevated to the same status in the future which God Accepted as long as those members of the progeny were true believers. The same was the concern of Jacob, Luqman and Ishmael (peace and blessings be upon them) to their progeny when all were assembled near them on their deathbed as described in the Qur’an (2:132-133; 31:13, 16-19 and 31; 37:100-107).

This concern of supplication for progeny and praying for them to be true believers further strengthen the idea of creating a Family as the basis of Islamic life as opposed to celibacy defended by some other religions mainly parts of Christianity as is the case of the Catholics and also by Budhist monks. Islam on the contrary encourages marriage and it is said that our beloved Prophet SAW had said that marriage was in important sunnat and who performs it fulfils half of the religious duties, such is the importance of marriage. God says in the Qur’an that He created us from a single person (Adam) and from him He created his mate (Hawwa) putting between them affection and mercy or compassion. And from them both He created many men and women scattered all over. Qur’an (4:1; 30:20,21).

Throughout the Qur’an and Ahadith one can see constantly man being urged for the good treatment of parents while making reference to man’s submission to God in this world and in Hereafter on his ultimate return to the Creator. Man’s excellent attitude towards one’s parents should flow from one’s wholesale surrender to God. And this attitude towards parents should not be prompted by any material interest or selfish motive such as eliciting praise from others in serving one’s parents. It should be moved only by recompense in the Hereafter and seeking ultimately God’s reward only. It should all be commanded by God’s commands recorded in the Qur’an and elaborated in the Hadith.

On the other hand children are God’s special gift and therefore should be treated with great care and it is the parents’ duty to arrange for their instruction in the articles of Islamic faith and their moral training in line with the Islamic value system. According to the Qur’an, children are placed as a trust with their parents constituting a test for the parents.

We should conclude that men should regard children as an invaluable favour from God, ensure their Islamic upbringing and not cross the limits of the Sharia’a out of love for them as we will all be held accountable on the Day of Judgement as to how one treated one’s children.

In conclusion:

Parents and children have duties to each other of mutual love and respect. It comes from the God’s commands in all the Sacred Books of Judaism and Christianity and namely in the Qur’an which has confirmed and perfected those commands from the Almighty Lord and Creator of humankind and all which is the Universe.

Below are the several Qur’anic verses and several quotes from Ahadith related to this very important subject.

The Qur’an and Hadith on the subject of mutual respect between Parents and Children

Passages of the Noble Qur’an related to the topic:

To set the scene quoted below are some verses related to creation of Man and Woman

“O Mankind! Be dutiful ro your Lord, Who Created you from a single person (Adam), and from him (Adam) He created his wife (Hawwa) and from them both He created many men and women; … ” Qur’an (4: 1)

“And among His signs is this, that He Created you (Adam) from dust, and then (Hawwa) from Adam’s rib, and then his offsprings from the semen, and) – behold you are human beings scattered!”

“And among His Signs is this, that He Created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect” Qur’an (30: 20-21)

On respecting parents

“We have enjoined on man to be kind to his parents: with hardship his mother bears him and with hardship she brings him up, and the weaning of him is thirty months, until, when he attains his full strength and attains the age of forty years, he says: “Lord! Grant me the ability that I may give thanks for the favour You have done to me and my parents and that I may act piously such as You may approve. And be gracious to my children. Truly I have turned to You and truly I submit to You (in Islam)” (Al Ahqaf 46:15);

“And We have commanded man about his parents, his mother bears him in hardship upon hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and your parents. Unto me is the return” (Luqman 31:14);

“And your Lord has commanded that you should worship no one but Him and show kindness to your parents; and if either or both of them become old, do not say to them “uf”. Do not show any disrespect to them. Speak to them a word of respect. And lower unto them the wings of humility our of kindness and say: Lord! Have mercy on them as they brought me up when young”. (Al-Isra 17:23-24)

“Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and the believers on the Day of Reckoning. (Ibrahim 14:41);

“Lord! Grant me the ability that I may give thanks for the favour You have done to me and my parents… (Al Ahqaf 46:15)

“Lord! Forgive me and my parents and him who enters my house as a believer, and all the believing men and women …” (Nuh 71:28);

Cases in which parents are not to be obeyed:

“If they try to make you associate anyone with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them (Al Ankabut 29:8);

“If either of them should try to make you associate anyone with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them, although you may keep company with them honourably in this world. Follow the way of him who turns to Me in repentence.” (Luqman 31:15)***

Several quotes from Hadith relating to the relationship among Parents and Children

Respect and praise to parents

The Prophet is on record declaring: “Your Paradise lies under the feet of your mother” (Ahmad)

The Prophet spelled out the following as cardinal sins: “To associate partners with God, to disobey parents, to commit murder and to give false testimony” (Muslim)

Once the Prophet exclaimed: “Let him be disgraced!” On being requested to identify the culprit, he clarified: “One who is with his parents in their old age, both or either of them, and yet fails to win a place for himself in Paradise by serving them well” (Muslim)

That one may discharge one’s obligation towards one’s parents even after their death is clarified in the following hadith reported by Abu Usayd Sa’idi: “Once while we were in the Prophet’s company, someone from the tribe of Salamah called on the Prophet and asked him: O Messenger of God! Do I owe obligations to my parents even after their death? The latter replied: Yes, you must pray to God to favour them with His forgiveness, honour the commitments which your parents made and maintain ties with their relatives and friends” (Abu Dawud)

It is related on Ibn Abbas’s authority that the Prophet made the following observation: A dutiful son who only looks at his parents with love and kindness will earn the reward due for Hajj for each glance of his. Someone asked: If one casts such a glance one hundred times a day, will he get the reward one hundred times? The Prophet replied: Yes, he will be credited with this reward for each glance. Almighty God’s treasure is not diminished on account of even such generous and ample rewards. (Bayhaqi)

Abu Bakrah reports that the Prophet said: While God may defer the punishment for one’s sins until the Day of Recompense, one guilty of denying one’s parents their due and disobeying them is punished in this world itself. This is in addition to the punishment to be inflicted in the Hereafter.(Bayhaqi)

Treating children

(Abraham said) Praise be to God Who has granted me, despite my old age, Ishmael and Isaac. Truly my Lord hears supplications.

O Lord! Make me one who establishes regular prayers, and also from among my progeny. O our Lord! Accept my supplication. (Ibrahim 14:39-40)

My Lord! Bestow on me from Your presence a good offspring. Surely You hear supplications. (Al Imran 3:38)

O my Lord! … Bestow on me from your presence an heir, who will inherit me and inherit the children of Jacob. And make him one with whom You are pleased.

O Zakariya! We give you the glad tiding of a son, and his name shall be John. (Maryam 19:5-7)

Recall when his Lord said unto Abraham: “Submit”. He said: “I submit to the Lord of the worlds”.

And Abraham enjoined the same to his sons and so did Jacob, saying: “O my sons! Surely God has chosen faith for you. So die not except as Muslims. Were you witnesses when death presented itself to Jacob, and when he said to his sons: What will you worship after me? They said: We shall worship your God, the God of your fathers, Abraham, Ishamael and Isaac, the one and only God. To Him we submit (in Islam)” (Al Baqarah 2:132-133)

“And recall when Luqman told his son by way of instruction: O my son! Do not join in worship others with Allah. For false worship is indeed the highest wrongdoing.

O my son! If there be but the weight of a mustard seed and it were hidden in a rock, or anywhere in the heavens or on earth. Allah will bring it forth. For Allah is the Subtle, the Aware.

O my son! Establish regular prayer, enjoin what is lawful and forbid what is wrong. And bear patiently whatever may befall you. For this is he firmness of purpose in the conduct of affairs.

And turn not your cheek from men, nor walk on earth, full of pride. For Allah does not love any arrogant boaster. And be modest in your pace and lower your voice…

Do you not see that the ship sails into the sea by the favour of God that He might show you His signs? Surely in it are signs for every perservering, grateful heart.” (Luqman 31:13, 16:9 and 31)

(Abraham petitioned) “O my Lord! Grant me a pious son.” So We gave him the good news of a gentle boy.

And when the son reached the age of serious work with him, Abraham said: “O my son! I have seen in a dream that I am slaughtering you. So what do you think?” He replied: “O my father! Do what you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills so, one full of patience and constancy”.

Then when the two submitted themselves, and Abraham had laid Ishmael on his forehead for sacrifice, We called out to him: “O Abraham! You have already fulfilled the vision”. Thus do We reward those who do right. For this was obviously a trial. And We ransomed him with a mighty sacrifice. (Al-Saffat 37:100-107).

And Noah’s ark moved on with them amidst waves like mountains, and Noah called out to his son, and he was apart: “O my son! Embark with us and be not with the unbelievers”.

He replied: “I will betake myself to some mountain. It will save me from water.” Noah said: “There is no protector today from the command of God, except for one on whom has mercy”. And a wave came between Noah and his son and his son was drowned. (Hud 11:41-43).

“O our Lord! Grant us wives and children who will be the comfort of our eyes. And make us the leaders of the pious ones. (al-Furqan 25:74)

“Do not kill your children for fear of want. We shall provide for you and for them. (Al-An’am 6:151)

“Surely lost are they who slay their children foolishly and without knowledge. They have forbidden what Allah has provided for them; a fabrication against Allah. Surely they have gone astray and have not become the guided ones. (Al-An’am 6:140)

“Surely your Lord increases the provision for whom He will, and restricts it in a certain measure. For He knows and beholds all of His creatures.

“Do not kill your children for fear of want. We provide for them and for you. Their killing is a great sin.” (Al-Isra’a 17:30-31).

“O Believers! Save yourselves and your families from the Fire, of which the fuel is men and stones. (al-Tahrim 66:6)

“And know that your wealth and your children are a temptation. With Allah is immense reward.” (Al-Anfal 8:27-28)

“Your wealth and your children are a trial. Allah, with Him is mighty reward.” (Al-Taghabun 64-15)

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