In a hadith reported by Al-Imam At-Tabarani, a young man came to Rasulullah to protest against his father’s intent to remove him of his wealth. Upon hearing this, Rasulullah instructed the young man to have his father meet him. After he left, the Prophet was approached by the angel Jibril a.s., who then said to him: “O Muhammad, Allah ‘Azza wa Jalla conveys His salam to you, and has commanded you – when the young man’s father arrives – to ask him of the whisperings of his heart, of which his ears do not hear.”
When the young man finally arrived with his father, Rasulullah asked what he was told to ask, the father thus began to pour his feelings towards the actions of his son and confessed his heart’s lament by saying: “I nurtured you when you were an infant
and cared for you when you were young. You have enjoyed all the fruits of my labour. I worried restlessly when you fell ill during the night. Your pain and anguish had me anxious and sleepless – as though I was ill instead of you. I wept uncontrollably, fearing the coming of your death, despite knowing of its inevitability. As you welcomed adulthood, you treated me with harshness, bitterness and cruelty and acted as though you were responsible for all the bounties. Alas! If you are not able to fulfil your duties
towards your father, the least I ask is to be treated as a remote neighbour.”
Upon hearing the father’s grievances, Rasulullah turned towards the young man and said: Which means: “You and your wealth belong to your father!”
The story depicts the responsibility to protect the welfare of our parents. They have exhausted all efforts to nurture us throughout childhood, it is now our responsibility to treat them with kindness and compassion. Allah mentions:
Which means: “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” [Al-Quran, Surah al-Isra’, verse 23]
The role of a parent is highly treasured in Islam. Hence, Islam has since made clear several guidelines for Muslims, to ensure the rights of parents are always fulfilled. Among these rules are:
First: Ensuring their needs are always met.
The responsibility of every child is to safeguard the needs of his or her parent. This can be done by contributing a portion of our salary to support their financial needs, funding their medical bills and so on – such actions must not be seen as a burden, but rather, as an obligatory duty. Every child from a family should cooperate together to provide for their parents.
Additionally, this duty extends beyond their material needs; to include their spiritual and emotional needs as well. Parents wish to preserve relations with their children and to have them visit every once in a while, even after having families of their own. This
a positive bond between parents and children is further fortified by acting on values such as sincerity, empathy, love and acts of worship such as zikir (zikr), which enlightens the heart.
Secondly: Patience in managing their affairs.
It is the nature of Allah’s creation, that He takes away from His servants who are in their elderly years, the favours and blessings that was once presented to them when they were young. A person’s health, his mental acuity, the luxury of wealth and many other forms of sustenance that was once bestowed by Allah, will be taken away as he ages. Those who are approaching their elderly years are in need of support and assistance in many aspects of their lives.
It is without a doubt that caring for our parents, especially if they are elderly, requires additional effort. It entails patience and a strong sense of commitment. Therefore, when Allah commanded man to serve his parents and treat them graciously, Allah also commanded him to be humble towards them. Allah mentions:
Which means: “And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.” [Al-Quran, Surah al-Isra’, verse 24]
For instance, among the illnesses afflicting our elderly, is the challenge of dementia, which impacts a person’s memory and mental cognition. As such, it is imperative that we take interest in caring for our parents’ health and wellbeing, especially when they are being tested with illnesses, among other things. Every deed, action and service that we render to our parents will have a positive effect in preventing any harm from befalling them.
Lastly: Remembering them in our prayers.
We should be thankful for every opportunity to be with our beloved parents when they are alive, as we have been blessed with time to devote our services to them. However, should we be deprived of that opportunity, let us not be disheartened and fall into
despair. Have faith in the knowledge that Allah accepts the prayer of a child for his parents who have since returned to Him. Rasulullah once said in a hadith which means:
“When a son of Adam dies no further reward is recorded for his actions, with three exceptions: a charity that benefits continuously, beneficial knowledge, or the supplication of a righteous son (for him).” [Hadith reported by Al-Imam Muslim]
We ask Allah to protect our parents from harm and make us among His servants who are constantly being of service to their parents.