Old is Gold.
When I ask myself this question, who did Allah bless us with that introduced us into the world? taught us? cared for us during good and testing times? played a major role on who we are today? By the permission of Allah subhanahu wa taala they have provided us academically and financially? The answer is our parents. Why am I talking about parents? In this day and age, the elderly are being neglected. They are being placed in a care home where one is unable to communicate due to language barriers and family members are not ‘free’ to visit. They are being treated as a servant looking after the house, whilst the couple is relaxing. They are being bullied by their own children claiming ‘they are old’, ‘useless’, ‘forgetful’, mocking them and accusing them of acts in which they never performed. Oh my Allah, really? Yes and it does occur in the Muslim community and the UK society as a whole regardless of religion and ethnicity. Disrespecting parents has become widespread, the hearts have hardened, and the relatives have become estranged. According to Age UK organization:
The status of our parents is vital in Islam as shown in one of the hadith below:
Abu Umru ash-Shaibaanee who said, “The owner of this house narrated to us,” and he indicated with his hand to the house of Abdullah, that, “I asked the Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam ‘which action is the most beloved to Allaah?’ He said, ‘Prayer at it’s correct time’. I said, ‘then which action? ‘He said, ‘birr to the parents.’ I said, ‘then which?’ He said ‘Jihaad in the way of Allah’ Abdullah said, “He told me these, and if I had asked further, he would have told me.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
The hadith above implies that praying on time. Salah (Prayer) and Jihad (Struggle) are important duties of a Muslim. Birr (good treatment, kindness) towards parents is mentioned alongside it which further indicates the importance of parents.
Another hadith that emphasises the importance of parents:
Abu Hurayrah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: A person came to Messenger of Allah salla allahu alayhi wa salam and asked, "Who among people is most deserving of my fine treatment?'' He salla allahu alayhi wa salamsaid, "Your mother". He again asked, ``Who next?'' "Your mother", the Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam replied again. He asked, "Who next?'' He (the Prophet salla allahu alayhi wa salam said again, "Your mother.'' He again asked, "Then who?'' Thereupon he salla allahu alayhi wa salam said,'' Then your father.''
In another narration: "O Messenger of Allah! Who is most deserving of my fine treatment?'' He (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, then your nearest, then nearest".
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Both narrations highlight the rights of the mother three times more important than that of the father. In the Hadith Nawawi Book; Chapter 40. It states regards this hadith that reasons for this is because:
1 She is weaker than the father.
2. The following three troubles are borne exclusively by the mother while the father does not share them with her:
a) She carries the baby in her womb for nine months,
b) The labor pain which she suffers.
c) Two years' period of suckling which disturbs her sleep at night and affects her health. She has also to be very cautious in her food for the welfare of the baby.
The above mentioned hadiths are amongst many that put an emphasis on the importance of parents.
Furthermore, no matter how much the children have helped the parents when they are older; children are unable to repay what the parents did for them whilst they were young. Amongst the examples of hadiths are two below that highlights the eminence of parents and importance of their rights.
Abu Hurairah radi allahu anhu reported: Messenger of Allah salla allahu alayhi wa salam said, "No son can repay (the kindness shown by his father) unless he finds him a slave and buys him and emancipates him".
From Abu Buraidah that he was with Ibn Umar and a Yemeni man was making tawaaf of the House carrying his mother on his back saying, “I am her humble camel where her camel would have gotten frightened I will not”
Then he said, ‘O Ibn Umar! Do you think that I have repaid her?’ He said, ‘no, not even a for a single moan that escaped her during child birth.’
Then Ibn Umar made tawaaf of the house, then came to the Station (of Abraham) and prayed two rak’ahs. Then he said, ‘O ibn Abu Musa! Indeed every two rak’ahs expiate what came before them.’ [Saheeh Isnaad]
We should strive to listen to our parents because it counts as a ‘sin’ if one was to be disobedient as a hadith states that Abu Bakra states: “The Messenger of Allah salla allahu alayhi wa salam said, ‘shall I not inform you of the greatest of the major sins?’ [three times] They said, ‘of course O Messenger of Allaah!’ He said, ‘Associating partners with Allaah, Disobedience to the parents – then he sat, reclining – and the false statement.’ He kept repeating them until I said, ‘if only he would stop’” [Saheeh, Ghaayatul Maraam (277)]
What if one's parents told them to do something such as not praying, not fasting and so forth?
From Abu ad-Dardaa who said, “The Messenger salla allahu alayhi wa salam enjoined me with 9 things: Do not associate anything with Allah, even if you are cut into pieces or burned. And never leave the obligatory prayers deliberately, and the one that leaves them deliberately becomes absolved of protection. And do not drink alcohol for it is the door to all evil. And obey your parents, and if they command you to leave your worldly possessions then do so for them. And do not dispute/contend with the leader of the Muslims, even if you think you are right, and do not flee from the advancing army, even if you are destroyed and your companions flee. And spend of your property on your family. And never raise your stick against your family. And fill them with the fear of Allah.”
[Saheeh, Irwaa (2026)]
This implies that one should obey their parents unless if they ask you do something that opposes Islam and its teachings.
Besides kindness towards parents and obeying them. The Quran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad salla allahu alayhi wa salam have mentioned on how to deal with the elderly. In the Quran it states:
And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me [in repentance]. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do. [Quran 31:14-15]
A Hadith states:
“He is not one of us who is not merciful to our youngsters and does not respect and honour our elders“ [Al Tirmidhi].
He salla allahu alayhi wa salam said, “Any young person who is kind to an elderly because of his age, Allah will send him someone who will be kind to him when he becomes old” [Al Tirmidhi].
This indicates how Allah subhanahu wa taala put emphasis on thanking Him and to one’s parents for their involvement and sacrifice of raising him/her to be who they are today. In addition, to respect others regardless of age; young or small.
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).” [Saheeh, at-Ta’leeq ar-Ragheeb (3/215)]
I want to dig deep! What are the root causes of elderly not being look aftered?
There are many reasons why this occurs, one of which is selfishness where one believes that fulfilling one’s personal needs comes before anyone else. Another reason would be that one finds a job elsewhere away from where their parents’ reside. Allah knows best.
So how could we as a community help the elderly for the sake of Allah subhanahu wa taala?
1. visit a care home/elderly home and shower them with love and care in your free time as their hearts are already in pain due to loneliness and health issues. You can bring your friends too.
2. If your parents are alive and they need help, please help them and show them kindness for they made many sacrifices whilst you were young. They may not need help but they may need your love, care and attention.
3. Raise awareness of this issue via social network and remind people of their duties towards parents.
Nor will you be requited anything except that which you used to do
[Surah Yasin 36:54]
The above ayah is a reminder that what he/she does to others will be done to him/her and he/she will be accounted for the actions that took place. Nothing should be placed before treating parents with kindness apart from the obedience of Allah subhanahu wa taala.
Anything good is from Allah subhanahu wa taala whilst anything bad is from myself and Shaytan al-rajeem.
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