Rights of Parents and Relatives

All praise is due to Allah, the Lord of all worlds, Who says in His Ever Glorious Book, “Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say no word that shows impatience with them, and do not be harsh with them, but speak to them respectfully, and lower your wing in humility towards them in kindness and say, ‘Lord, have mercy on them, just as they cared for me when I was little.’” I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Servant and Messenger. May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him, his Household, Companions and upon those who follow their path to the Day of Judgment.

Islam has come with a moderate message that calls for all noble ethics, fosters every moral value, guides to the righteous conduct, and turns values and ideals into a way of life. This way is meant to adjust the balance of interactions among people through promoting truth, justice, compassion, love and humanness. Therefore, the Almighty Allah says “Allah commands justice, doing good, and generosity towards relatives and He forbids what is shameful, blameworthy, and oppressive. He teaches you, so that you may take heed.”

Among the manifestations of the greatness of Islamic Shari’ah is the stipulation of the rules, regulations, and rights to deal with parents and relatives. Parents are the ones who deserve the best respect, appreciation, and care. In His Glorious Book, the Almighty Allah orders us to be kind and grateful to our parents. He, Most High, mentions together, the command to worship Him alone and the command to be kind to our parents, when He says, “Worship Allah; join nothing with Him. Be good to your parents.” He, Glory be to him, commanded us to thank Him for His grace and in the same context, He commanded us to thank parents due to the greatness of their position and status. Ibn Abbas said, “Three verses were revealed in conjunction with three others. One will not be accepted without its counterpart. Among these is the saying of the Almighty, ‘Be grateful to me and your parents.’ Whoever is grateful to Allah and is not grateful to his parents, it will not be accepted from him.”

Islam has raised the status of parents, and ordered us to be grateful, kind and gentle with them.  Abdullah Ibn Amr reported that, “A man came to the Prophet (PBUH) asking his permission to go out for Jihad. The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) asked him, “Are your parents alive?” He replied, ‘Yes.’ The Messenger of Allah (PBUH) then said to him, “Then your Jihad would be with them (i.e. in looking after them and being at their service).

The two daughters of the righteous man mentioned in the story of Prophet Moses (PBUH) have set the best example in gratefulness and good care. Their father was an old man who could not carry out his work. Therefore, they did his work instead, without any resentment. The Qur’an reads: “When he arrived at Midian’s waters, he found a group of men watering [their flocks], and beside them two women keeping their flocks back, so he said, ‘What is the matter with you two?’ They said, ‘We cannot water [our flocks] until the shepherds take their sheep away: our father is a very old man.’”

Jabir Ibn Abdullah reported that a man said: “O Messenger of Allah, I have wealth and a son, and my father wants to take all my wealth.” The Messenger of Allah said: “You and your wealth belong to your father.”

We have a good example in the conduct of Fatima, daughter of the Prophet (PBUH), in her courtship, respect, and kindness to her father. Whenever, he (PBUH) entered a place where she is sitting, she used to stand up, kiss him, leave her seat for him and kindly treat him, due to her deep reverence for him.

Islam orders us to show respect to parents, and not to hurt them. The Almighty Allah says, “If either or both of them reach old age with you, say no word that shows impatience with them, and do not be harsh with them, but speak to them respectfully.” Allah forbids saying any word that would reveal resentment to parents, which means that it is more strictly forbidden to cause harm to them or offend them in any way. Abu Huraira once advised a man on how to be grateful to his father saying, “Do not walk in front of your father; do not sit down before him; do not call him with name without a title; do not cause someone to insult him.” The Prophet (PBUH) said: “It is one of the greatest sins that a man should curse his parents.” It was asked (by the people), “O Allah’s Messenger (PBUH)! How does a man curse his parents?” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “The man abuses the father of another man and the latter abuses the father of the former and abuses his mother.”

Islam commands one to be kind to his parents even if they are not Muslims. The Almighty Allah says, “If they strive to make you associate with Me anything about which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them. Yet keep their company in this life according to what is right.” This was what happened with Prophet Abraham regarding his father, as the Qur’an tells us, “Mention too, in the Quran, the story of Abraham. He was a man of truth, a prophet. He said to his father, ‘Father, why do you worship something that can neither hear nor see nor benefit you in any way? Father, knowledge that has not reached you has come to me, so follow me: I will guide you to an even path. Father, do not worship Satan- Satan has rebelled against the Lord of Mercy. Father, I fear that a punishment from the Lord of Mercy may afflict you and that you may become Satan’s companion [in Hell].’”

Also, Asmaa the daughter of Abu Baker reported, “My mother came to me during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) and she was a pagan. I said to Allah’s Messenger, “My mother has come to me and she desires to receive a reward from me, shall I keep good relations with her?” The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Yes, keep good relation with her.”

Gratefulness to one’s parents has great implications and benefits that one can acquire in this life and the Hereafter, including the pleasure of Allah. The Prophet (PBUH) said, “Allah’s pleasure results from the parent’s pleasure, and Allah’s displeasure results from the parent’s displeasure.” It is also one of the reasons of alleviating hardship; this is proved by the Hadith of the Prophet (PBUH) wherein he stated ” While three men were walking, It started raining and they took shelter (refuge) in a cave in a mountain. A big rock rolled down from the mountain and closed the mouth of the cave. They said to each other, “Think of good deeds which you did for Allah’s sake only, and invoke Allah by giving reference to those deeds so that He may remove this rock from you.” One of them said, ‘O Allah! I had old parents and small children and I used to graze the sheep for them. On my return to them in the evening, I used to milk (the sheep) and start providing my parents first of all before my children. One day I was delayed and came late at night and found my parents sleeping. I milked (the sheep) as usual and stood by their heads. I hated to wake them up and disliked to give milk to my children before them, although my children were weeping (because of hunger) at my feet till the day dawned. O Allah! If I did this for Your sake only, kindly remove the rock so that we could see the sky through it.’ So, Allah removed the rock a little and they saw the sky.” So, his good behavior towards his parents was a means to alleviate the hardship they were in.

Also, the list of the virtues of righteousness to parents includes that a person’s offspring would consequently be dutiful to him. Allah, Most High, awarded our master Prophet Abraham (PBUH) for his good behavior when talking to his disbelieving father with granting him our master Ishmael (PBUH) who was righteous to him. The Quran records this for us, “And when he reached with him [the age of] exertion, he said, “O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think.” He said, “O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast.”

Being righteous to parents is also a means to lead the Muslim to Paradise. A man once came to the Prophet (PBUH) asking him for performing Jihad saying “O Messenger of Allah! I want to go out and fight (in Jihad) and I have come to ask your advice.” He said: “Do you have a mother?” He said: “Yes.” He said: “Then stay with her, for Paradise is beneath her feet.” He (PBUH) is also reported to have said, “The father is the middle door of Paradise (i.e. the best way to Paradise), so it is up to you whether you take advantage of it or not.” In the same connection, it is reported that Ibn ‘Umar once said to a man, ‘Do you wish to separate yourself from the Fire? Would you like to enter Paradise?’ ‘By Allah, yes!’ I replied. He asked, ‘Are your parents still alive?’ I replied, ‘My mother is.’ He said, ‘By Allah, if you speak gently to her and feed her, then you will enter the Garden as long as you avoid the major wrong actions.'”

Yet, we stress that whatever man does for his parents from the kinds of righteousness, he will not repay their debts. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “No son can repay (the kindness shown by his father) unless he finds him a slave and buys him and emancipates him.”

With that said, I ask Allah to forgive me and you

All praise is due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds; I bear witness that there is no god but Allah; and I bear witness that our master Prophet Muhammad is His slave and Messenger; may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him, his family, companions and whoever follows their guidance to the Day of Judgment.

Muslim brothers,

Just as Islam recommends us to do good to our parents, it also directs us to maintain the ties of our kinship – man’s relatives. It further tells that they have dues rights. Allah, Most High, says: “But those of [blood] relationship are more entitled [to inheritance] in the decree of Allah.” Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ” Verily Allah created the universe and when He had finished that, ties of relationship came forward and said This is the place for him who seeks refuge from severing (of blood-relationship). He said: Yes. Are you not satisfied that I should keep relationship with one who joins your ties of relationship and sever it with one who severs your (ties of relationship)? They (the ties of blood) said: Certainly so. Thereupon He said: Well, that is how things are for you. Allah’s Messenger (PBUH) then said: Recite if you like:” But if you turn away you are sure to make mischief in the land and cut off the ties of kinship. Those it is whom Allah has cursed, so He has made them deaf and blinded their eyes. Do they not reflect on the Qur’an? Or, are there locks on their hearts?”

He (PBUH) also reports Allah as having said: “I am the Merciful. I have created ties of kinship and derive a name for it from My Name. If anyone maintains ties of kinship, I maintain connection with him, and I shall cut off anyone who cuts them off.'”

Maintaining ties of kinship is fulfilled through visiting relatives, checking up on them and supporting them. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: “Giving charity to a poor person is charity, and (giving) to a relative is two things, charity and upholding the ties of kinship.” It is also maintained by answering their invitations, visiting he who is sick from them and escorting their funerals to graves.

Allah, Most High, clearly stated that maintaining of ties of kinship blesses one’s age and provision. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said, “He who is desirous that his means of sustenance should be expanded for him or his age may be lengthened, should join the tie of relationship.” He (PBUH) also stated that maintaining ties of kinship is a means to forgiveness of sins. A man came to the Prophet (PBUH) and said: “O Messenger of Allah! I have been afflicted by a tremendous sin. Is there any repentance for me?” He said: “Do you have your mother?” The man said: “No.” He said: “Do you have any maternal aunts?” The man said: “Yes.” He said: “Then be dutiful to them.”

So man should beware cutting of ties of kinship; he should not respond to the bad deed with a bad deed; rather, he should be tolerant. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said: ” The person who perfectly maintains the ties of kinship is not the one who does it because he gets recompensed by his relatives (for being kind and good to them), but the one who truly maintains the bonds of kinship is the one who persists in doing so even though the latter has severed the ties of kinship with him”. It is also narrated that a man once said to him (PBUH): “I have relatives with whom I try to keep the ties of relationship but they sever relations with me; and whom I treat kindly but they treat me badly, I am gentle with them but they are rough to me.” He (PBUH) replied, “If you are as you say, it is as if you are feeding them hot ashes, and you will be with a supporter against them from Allah as long as you continue to do so”.

Islam bans cutting off the ties of kinship and warns against its bad consequences in the worldly life and the hereafter. He (PBUH) said: “There is no wrong action which Allah is swifter to punish in this world – in addition to the punishment which He has stored up for the wrongdoer in the Next World – than cutting off ties of kinship and injustice” and “The one who severs the ties of kinship will not enter Paradise.”

So, let’s for God’s sake be dutiful to our fathers and mothers; let’s maintain our ties of kinship and do good to all people.

O Allah! Guide us to be righteous with our parents, to maintain our ties of kinship, protect our people and make people secure and safe!