By Dr. Ahmad H. Sakr
In America there are many special days set aside to honor and appreciate special people. Some of these are: Father's Day, Mother's Day, Grandfather's Day, Grandmother's Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, etc. We do realize the significance of these occasions and we recognize the ideas, ideals, and philosophies of such days. We appreciate the efforts of those who initiated these occasions for the recognition and appreciation of special people.
As for the appreciation of parents, we admire the efforts of children who remember their parents on such occasions by sending them greeting cards and gifts. However, we hope that the appreciation is not for one single day in a year, but for every day throughout the year.
II. PARENTS IN QUR'AN
A Muslim child should respect and appreciate his or her parents every day throughout the year. Allah asked human beings to recognize their parents after recognition Allah Himself. Throughout the Qur'an, we notice that parents are mentioned with appreciation and with respect, even if they are senile. In Surah Al-Isra' (Children of Israel) there is a very beautiful description of how parents are to be treated. Allah (swt) says:
"Your Lord had decreed, that you worship none save Him, and (that you show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with you, say not "Fie" unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word. And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both, as they did care for me when I was young." [17:23-24]
The recognition and respect of parents is mentioned in the Qur'an eleven times; in every instance, Allah reminds children to recognize and to appreciate the care and love they have received from their parents. In one aspect, Allah demands that children recognize their parents by saying to them:
"We have enjoined on man kindness to parents." [29:8/46:15]
1. The demand for recognizing parents is made more emphatic when Allah says in the Qur'an Surah Al-Baqarah (The Cow) the following:
"And (remember) when We made a covenant with the children of Israel, (saying): worship none save Allah (only), and be good to parents..." [2:83]
2. In Surah Al-Nisaa' (The Women) Allah (swt) emphasized again that children should be kind to their parents.
"And serve Allah. Ascribe nothing as partner unto Him. (Show) Kindness unto parents... " [4:36]
3. In Surah Al An'Am (The Cattle), Allah (swt) reemphasized that people should be kind to their parents.
"Say: Come, I will recite unto you that which your Lord has made a sacred duty for you; that you ascribe nothing as partner unto Him and that you do good to parents..." [6:151]
Although Islam recognized both parents, mothers are given particular gratitude and respect. This attitude of Islam is understood if we realize the hardships and the suffering that mothers experience in their lives. In this regard, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said:
It was narrated by Abu Hurairah (R) that a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked him, 'Who is to be close to my friendship?' The Prophet (pbuh) answered:
Your mother, your mother, your mother, then your father, then the one closest to your kinship, and the one after.
Islam has endorsed respect for parents by their children even if the parents are non-Muslims. If parents strive very hard to convert their children to non-Islamic beliefs, they don't follow them, but they are to be good to them. In this regard, Allah (swt) says in Surah Luqman:
"And We have enjoined upon man concerning his parents--his mother beareth him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years--Give thanks unto Me and unto your parents. Unto Me is the journeying. But if they strive with you to make you ascribe unto Me as partner that of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not. Consort with them in the world kindly, and follow the part of him who repents unto Me. Then unto Me will you return, and I shall tell you what you used to do.--" [31:14-15]
IV. MORE RESPECT
Islam teaches us that respect for parents comes immediately after praying to Allah and before Jihad (struggle and striving in the way of Allah). In this respect, the Prophet (pbuh) said the following:
Narrated by Abi Abder Rahman Abdullah bin Massoud (May Allah be pleased with him) saying: I asked the Prophet (pbuh), "which deed is more liked by Allah?" He replied, "Prayers on time." Then I asked, "Which one is next?" He said, "Goodness to parents." Then I asked, "Then which one is next?" He said, "Jihad in the way of Allah." (Agreed)
In Islam, respect for parents is so great that the child and his wealth are considered to be the property of the parents. In this regard, the Prophet (pbuh) said:
Narrated by Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) that a person came to the Prophet (pbuh) to resolve his dispute with his father regarding a loan given to the father. The Prophet (pbuh) said to the person,"You and your wealth are to your father."
V. FINAL REMARKS
We hope and we pray that all of us will respect our parents while they are alive and even after they are dead. You may honor your parents after they died through the following methods:
- Make daily Du'a' for them
- Give a charity on their behalf
- Institute a perpetual charity on their behalf - such as a Masjid, an Islamic Center, an Islamic Library, an Islamic hospital, an orphanage, a senior citizen's home, etc.
- Perform Hajj on their behalf or ask someone to do so.
- Read Qur'an on their behalf
- Distribute Islamic Literature on their behalf
Let us pray to Allah that we will do our best to respect our parents, to honor them, to be kind to them, to help them, and to please them for the love of Allah.
O Allah! Accept our humble prayers and make us obedient servants to you.
O Allah! Help us to be respectful children to our parents. Ameen.