Saturday 8 February 2020

Selected Verses from Quran: Be Good to Your Parents

Islam stresses much on the family life and respect of one's parents. Parents assume the foremost importance in the hierarchy of all relations for it is they who endure all the hardships to rear their children and raise them as best as they can to make them a respectable and honourable citizens when they finally grow up and commence their own family lives. 

The mothers carry their babies for nine grueling months and undergo the severe birth pains when babies are born. From then on for at least two to three years the new borns are completely dependent on their parents, mostly mothers, before they are able to stand on their feel. 

وَوَصَّيۡنَا الۡاِنۡسٰنَ بِوَالِدَيۡهِ​ۚ حَمَلَتۡهُ اُمُّهٗ وَهۡنًا عَلٰى وَهۡنٍ وَّفِصٰلُهٗ فِىۡ عَامَيۡنِ اَنِ اشۡكُرۡ لِىۡ وَلِـوَالِدَيۡكَؕ اِلَىَّ الۡمَصِيۡرُ‏  

"We enjoined upon man to be dutiful to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning lasted two years. (We, therefore, enjoined upon him): “Give thanks to Me and to your parents. To Me is your ultimate return." (Surah 31 Luqman:14) 

Thereafter begins a joint struggle of both parents for next two decades to help us in our studies to finally be able to find a reasonable job and commence our practical lives. But in the process, the parents have worked hard to provide the best of the education, comfort and love so that we are not deprived of our schooling and meaningful upbringing. This wears them out and as their babies become young adults, silver hair start to appears on the parents heads. From then on, it is they who need our love and care so that they may live a comfortable live and seeing us settling down with our families, as they  did and underwent the cycle of life years ago.

It is for this life long struggle that Allah places respect of parents as the top priority for the children:

وَقَضٰى رَبُّكَ اَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوۡۤا اِلَّاۤ اِيَّاهُ وَبِالۡوَالِدَيۡنِ اِحۡسَانًا​ؕ اِمَّا يَـبۡلُغَنَّ عِنۡدَكَ الۡكِبَرَ اَحَدُهُمَاۤ اَوۡ كِلٰهُمَا فَلَا تَقُلْ لَّهُمَاۤ اُفٍّ وَّلَا تَنۡهَرۡهُمَا وَقُلْ لَّهُمَا قَوۡلًا كَرِيۡمًا‏ 

"Your Lord has decreed: (i) Do not worship any but Him; (ii) Be good to your parents; and should both or any one of them attain old age with you, do not say to them even "fie" neither chide them, but speak to them with respect
(Surah 17. Al-Israa / Bani Israel: 23) 

This commandment is very comprehensive. It prohibits not only the worship of anyone except Allah but also implies that one should obey and serve and submit to Allah alone without question. One should accept His commandments and law alone to be worthy of obedience and His authority to be supreme above all. This was not merely an instruction confined to a religious creed and individual practice but it served as the foundation of the moral, cultural, and political system which was practically established in Al-Madinah by the Prophet (peace be upon him). Its first and foremost principle was that Allah alone is the Master, Sovereign and Law-giver.

This verse enjoins that after Allah’s right, the greatest of all the human rights is the right of parents. Therefore, the children should obey and serve and respect their parents. The collective morality of society should make it incumbent on children to be grateful and respectful to their parents, they should serve them as they nursed and brought them up in their childhood. Above all, this verse is not merely a moral recommendation but is the basis of the rights and powers of parents the details of which we find in the Books of Hadith and Fiqh. Moreover, respectful behavior and obedience to and observance of the rights of parents comprise the most important element of the material education and moral training in the Islamic society and civilization. Incidentally, all these things have determined forever the principle that the Islamic state shall make the family life sound and secure by laws, administrative regulations and educational policy and prevent its disintegration.

Yusuf Ali Explains this verse in following words:  

The spiritual and moral duties are now brought into juxtaposition. We are to worship none but Allah, because none but Allah is worthy of worship, not because "the Lord thy God is a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me" (Exod. xx. 5). Note that the act of worship may be collective as well as individual; hence the plural ta'buda. The kindness to parents is an individual act of piety; hence the singular taqul, qul, etc.

And right in the next verse, children are commanded not only to be humble to their parents but also to pray for their parents:
وَاخۡفِضۡ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحۡمَةِ وَقُلْ رَّبِّ ارۡحَمۡهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيٰنِىۡ صَغِيۡرًا ؕ‏ 

"And out of kindness lower to them the wing of humility and say: "My Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." 
(Surah 17. Al-Israa / Bani Israel24) 

Yusuf Ali Explains that the metaphor is that of a high-flying bird which lowers her wing out of tenderness to her offspring. There is a double aptness. (1) When the parent was strong and the child was helpless, parental affection was showered on the child: when the child grows up and is strong, and the parent is helpless, can he do less than bestow similar tender care on the parent? (2) But more: he must approach the matter with gentle humility: for does not parental love, remind him of the great love with which Allah cherishes His creatures? There is something here more than simple human gratitude; it goes up into the highest spiritual region.

Note that we are asked to honour our father and mother, not "that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee" (Exod. xx. 12), but upon much higher and more universal grounds, such as befit a perfected revelation. In the first place, not merely respect, but cherishing kindness, and humility to parents, are commanded. In the second place, this command is bracketed with the command to worship the One True God. Parental love should be to us a type of divine love: nothing that we can do can ever really compensate for that which we have received. In the third place (see next verse) our spiritual advancement is tested by this: we cannot expect Allah's forgiveness if we are rude or unkind to those who unselfishly brought us up.

However, having emphasized the need to take care of one's parents, there is a caution here too from Allah. And that is when it comes to choosing between Him and one's parents:

وَاِنۡ جَاهَدٰكَ عَلٰٓى اَنۡ تُشۡرِكَ بِىۡ مَا لَيۡسَ لَكَ بِهٖ عِلۡمٌ ۙ فَلَا تُطِعۡهُمَا​ وَصَاحِبۡهُمَا فِى الدُّنۡيَا مَعۡرُوۡفًا​ وَّاتَّبِعۡ سَبِيۡلَ مَنۡ اَنَابَ اِلَىَّ ​ۚ ثُمَّ اِلَىَّ مَرۡجِعُكُمۡ فَاُنَبِّئُكُمۡ بِمَا كُنۡتُمۡ تَعۡمَلُوۡنَ‏  

"But if they press you to associate others with Me in My Divinity, (to associate) those regarding whom you have no knowledge (that they are My associates), do not obey them. And yet treat them well in this world, and follow the way of him who turns to Me in devotion. Eventually it is to Me that all of you shall return, and I shall then tell you all that you did.” (Surah 31 Luqman::15) 
According to Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ahmad, Abu Daud and Nasai, this verse was sent down in respect of Saad bin Abi Waqqas. He was 18 or 19 years old when he embraced Islam. When his mother, Hamnah, daughter of Sufyan bin Umayyah (niece of Abu Sufyan), came to know that her son had become a Muslim, she said, “I will neither eat nor drink nor sit in shade unless you disown Muhammad. The rights of the mother are superior even according to Allah’s command. Therefore if you disobey me, you will be disobeying Allah too.” Saad was perplexed and came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and told this entire story. At that, this verse was revealed. Possibly other young men who embraced Islam in the initial stage at Makkah were also confronted with similar situations. 
What the verse means to impress is this: The rights of the parents, among the creation of Allah, are to be held as the supreme, but even if the parents force a person to adopt shirk, they should not be obeyed. The words, “And if they strive with you to make you join with Me” imply that a lesser pressure, or a pressure by either of them, deserves to be set aside much more promptly. The next sentence, “Of which you have no knowledge (as such)” is also noteworthy. This gives a sound reason for not obeying the parents in this regard. The parents certainly have the right that the children should serve them, respect them, and obey them in lawful things. But they do not have the right that one should obey them blindly against one’s knowledge of the reality. 

Therefore, there is no reason why a person should go on following his parents’ religion just because it is their religion. If the children come to know that their parents are following a false religion, they should give it up and adopt the right religion, and should not follow the wrong way whose falsehood has become clear to them even if the parents use every kind of pressure for it. When this is so in the case of even the parents, it should be so with every other person, too. No one deserves to be followed and obeyed unless one is sure that the person being followed is on the right path.

However, one should still continue to honour one's parents with compassion and due consideration and should not abandon them just because they do not profess to the divinity and Oneness of Allah, and continue to accompany the parents in life with kindness.

Herein under, we are sharing a beautiful commentary on the respect of parents in Islam by Nouman Ali Khan:
May Allah help us understand Qur'an and help us to act upon the commandments of Allah contained therein. and also help us to take care of our aging parents and look after them for as long as they are with us and Aameen.

For more Selected Verses, please refer to our reference page: Selected Verses from the Qur'an

You may also refer to our Reference Pages for knowing more about Islam and Quran.
Reading the Holy Quran should be a daily obligation of a Muslim - Reading it with translation will make it meaningful. But reading its Exegesis / Tafsir will make you understand it fully.

An effort has been made to gather explanation / exegesis of the Sūrahs of the Holy Qur'an from authentic sources and then present a least possible condensed explanation of the surah. In that:
  • The plain translation has been taken from the Holy Quran officially published by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 
  • The exegesis of the chapters of the Holy Quran is mainly based on the "Tafhim al-Qur'an - The Meaning of the Qur'an" by one of the most enlightened scholars of the Muslim World Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi. 
In order to augment and add more explanation as already provided, additional input has been interjected from following sources: 
In addition the references of  other sources which have been explored have also been given in each page. Those desirous of detailed explanations and tafsir (exegesis), may refer to these sites.

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