What Islam says about parents and how we should treat them


The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallamhas laid stress on the rights of parents and duties of children, in the same way as he has stressed the rights  of children and the duties of parents.

To be obedient to parents and to show kindness to them has been enjoined along with the Oneness and Worship of Allah, in the Holy Quraan, in such a manner that it appears that among human deeds, to obey parents and treat them with respect and kindness is next only to Divine Worship.

The Quraan says, in Sura Bani Israail: “Your Lord (The Creator) has ordained that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to the parents.”

Parents Are the Heaven and Hell of the Children

In a hadeeth the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said that the parents of a person are his Heaven or Hell.

This shows that if a person obeys his parents and attends to their needs and comforts and keeps them happy, he will attain Paradise.  On the other hand, if he is rude and disobedient to them and offends them by ignoring their feelings or by causing them grief in any other way, his place shall be in Hell.

Pleasing the Parents Causes Allah’s Pleasure

Anyone who seeks to please Allah should earn the good pleasure of his parents.  To keep the parents well pleased is essential since their anger and  displeasure will lead to Allah’s anger and displeasure.  The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said “In the good pleasure of the father lies the good pleasure of the Creator and in his displeasure, lies the displeasure of the Creator.”

Here the mother has not been mentioned, but, according to many other ahaadeeth, the right of the mother with regard to service and kind treatment  is even higher than that of the father.  Therefore, her pleasure or displeasure will carry an equal significance.

Curse For Not Looking After Aged Parents.

The time that the parents need to be looked after most carefully is in their old-age, and to serve them devotedly in that state is most
pleasing to Allah and it is an easy way to attain Paradise.

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) relates that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said “May he be disgraced, may,he be disgraced, may he be disgraced.”  “Who?” The Sahaaba enquired.  “The person whose parents, or any one of them, attain old-age during his life-time and he does not earn Paradise (by being kind-hearted and dutiful to them)!”

Therefore, anyone who gets an opportunity to serve his parents in their old-age and does not avail himself to it (to attain Paradise),
undoubtedly, he is a most wretched person.

Serving the Parents Is Preferable to Jihaad

When the parents of a person are in need of his help and attention, then it is preferable for him to serve them than to go to Jihaad.

A person once came to the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and said that he wanted to participate in the Jihaad.  The Prophet asked him “Are your parents alive?” “Yes, they are alive” he replied.  The Prophet said.  “Then strive in their service and assist them at the time of their need. (This is your Jihaad.)”

Commentary: Perhaps, there was reason for the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam to believe that the parents of the person concerned were in need  for help and attention, that is why he told him to go and take care of them, because in these circumstances service to the parents was more important.

However, it must not be misunderstood that anyone whose parents are alive should not take part in Jihaad, and that only those whose parents have  died. should do so.  In fact, the parents of many of the Sahaaba who took part in Jihaad, were living.

The Mother’s Claim Is Greater

Abu Hurairah (R.A.) narrates that a person asked the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam “Who has the greatest claim on me with regard to service and kind treatment?” The Prophet replied, “Your mother, and again your mother, and once again your mother.  After her, is the claim of your father,  then that of your near relations, and then of the relations next to them.” This, obviously, shows that where care and kind treatment are concerned,  the claim of the mother is greater than that of the father.

It appears to be the same in the Qur’aan too.  In many instances, the pain and the suffering which the mother has to bear during pregnancy, at childbirth, and in the bringing-up of the children, has been mentioned along with the emphasis of expressing kindness to parents.

Paradise Lies At the Mother’s Feet

In one hadeeth the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has clearly stated that a person’s Paradise lies at his mother’s feet.  By serving her well and being obedient to her, one can attain Paradise.

In some other ahaadeeth the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has explained that serving the mother, the maternal aunt and maternal grandmother, are among the acts by whose piousness, even the repentance of a great sinner and evil-doer is accepted and he is forgiven.

Treatment Towards Polytheist Parents

If anyone’s parents are polytheists, and they want him to follow their faith, he should refuse, but he should continue to be kind and
respectful to them.

Asma bint Abu Bakr (R.A.) relates that her mother had come to Madinah, from Makkah, to meet her.  Her mother followed the Pagan customs and  beliefs, so Asma (R.A.) enquired from the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam as how she was to treat her whether she should have nothing to do with her, as she was a Pagan, or treat her like a daughter should, and show kindness to her.  The Prophet told her to be kind and considerate and to behave towards her as was a mothers due, from a daughter.

Parents’ Rights After Their Death

The rights of parents do not come to an end with their death.  In fact, some of their rights take effect after their death, and it is a
religious obligation for the children to fulfill them.

As explained before, obeying one’s parents and treating them with respect and affection is great virtue – and atones for one’s sins.
Similarly, to ask Allah to have mercy on them after their death, is an act which brings comfort to them in their graves and serves to atone for one’s sins.

After the death of one’s parents among other duties, should be to pray  for their forgiveness and treat their relatives and friends with due respect.

Abu Usaid Sa’idi (R.A.) relates that a person came to the Prophet  Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam and asked him “O Prophet of Allah, are there some rights of my parents, on me, which I have to fulfill even after they have died?” “Yes” the Prophet replied, “These are to pray for mercy and forgiveness on their behalf, to fulfill the promises they have made to anyone, to pay due regard to the bonds of relationship from their side and to be respectful to their friends.

In the Quraan, Muslims have been urged to pray for the salvation of their parents as shown in the verse. And say, “Mv Lord.  Have mercy on both of them, as they cared for me when I was little.”

Advantages of Obedience to Parents

The real reward for serving the parents, with great attention, is Paradise and the pleasure of Allah.  But the Almighty bestows a special favour, in this world too, on the believer who fulfills the parents’ rights devotedly.

Jabir (R.A.) reports that the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said “Allah prolongs the life of a person who obeys his parents and serves them devotedly.” In another hadeeth, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam is reported to have said, “Obey your parents and treat them with kindness, your children will be kind and obedient to you.

Great Sin For Disobeying the Parents

Just as the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam declared, that serving ones parents well is an act of great virtue, he condemned the showing of disobedience to them, or harming them, as a most serious and detestable sin.

When asked about the major sins, the Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam replied.” To associate anyone with Allah, to disobey the parents, to kill unlawfully and to give false evidence.”

The above-mentioned acts have been condemned as ‘Akbarul-Kabaair’ ie the most serious of the major sins.  The order in which the Prophet said them, shows that the disregard of parents rights is next, only, to Polytheism (Shirrk) and it is even more serious than murder.

The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam has said “To abuse one’s parents is also a major sin.” He was asked “Can anyone abuse his parents?” “Yes,” the Prophet replied, “If a person abused someone else’s parents and that person, in retaliation, abused his parents, – then it is as though he himself had abused his parents.”

We can imagine, from this, what an important place respect for parents occupies in the moral and social teachings of Islam, and how careful one should be about it.

Abbey Semuwemba

About Uganda Muslim Brothers and Sisters

Uganda Muslim Brothers and Sisters (UMBS) was started as a discussion forum in 2010 by a Ugandan Muslim, Abbey Semuwemba, based in the United Kingdom. The main aim at the time was to encourage all Muslims to come together and discuss anything on their minds. It was started with only about 200 members but gradually, however, membership expanded to more than 6000 people in different countries, and so the need arose for formal operational guidelines. UMBS is building itself to become the national umbrella organisation dedicated to the common good, to the betterment of the Muslim community and country. It was formed after several years of wide-ranging consultation and careful planning by a group of Muslims that discussed Islamic affairs online regularly. It intends to bring together all representatives of different Muslim organisations in Uganda to meet up on annual basis to discuss the affairs of Muslims in Uganda. The need to coordinate efforts on wider issues of common concern became apparent in the course of the feud that developed between Muslim leaders after the sale of Muslim properties in Uganda. This created a climate of distrust and non-cooperation between many diverse groups in the country.

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