Are You Surprised?


The parents’ rights are immovable, irrevocable. Apart from their food, clothing, shelter and health, which are their rights, it is their children who are obliged by Islam to provide them with. They should not cross-talk with them, and never even look at them with anger in their eyes, writes SYED IQBAL ZAHEER.  

Explaining the verse 23 of Al-Isra which prohibits a man to say even an “uff” to any of his parents, Mujahid has said in explanation that if someone finds his aged father having dirtied himself with faeces, he might not react in disgust and say, “uff”.

The son may not forget his childhood when his parents found him so often having dirtied himself, but did not say “uff.”

No limits can be placed on how, and what, an aged father (or mother) could be served with. Apart from his food, clothing, shelter and health, which are his rights, especially when he is unable, physically or psychologically, to meet his own needs, it is his children who are obliged by Islam to provide him with. They should not cross-talk with them, and never look at them with anger in their eyes.

The scholars say that his children must smile in his face, talk to him in loving terms, not sit when he is standing, not raise their voice against him, pray for him, and serve him before serving their own wife and children.

The above are the rights of a parent who mistreated his children when they were young, or even when old. The parents’ rights are immovable, irrevocable. How he treated them when the children were young or treats them now when they have grown up, is in his account in the Book of Deeds, and it is he who is answerable on a Day, when, let alone any intercessor, his own children will not be allowed to intercede for him.

What about if the parents are sinners? The rights remain.

And what about if one or both the parents are unbelievers (Kafir)? Then too, their rights upon their children remain.

Neglecting the above commands and instruction could entail a son to be Islamically termed `Aaq, about whom the Prophet said that they will not enter Paradise.

If Uways Qarni did not leave his home town in Yemen during the life-time of the Prophet, it was because of his old mother under his care. She had no other to care for her. But the Prophet (asws) placed him first in the list of those who will follow him (Taabe`iyyun), instructing some of the Companions to seek supplications from him if they met him.

Now, who is responsible for a senile parent? The answer is: his male offspring, the eldest until the youngest. That is, if the youngest male child fails (because the older ones were unable), the responsibility shifts back to the elder, and then the oldest, although, the younger ones cannot be absolved completely of the responsibility. It is desirable therefore, that all his children, including females, may share the services, each doing what less, or more, each can do.

Nonetheless, it is admitted that when a parent is in the most advanced stage of life, then, to meet with the duties towards him or her, are easier said than done. That is why they are rewarded with Paradise. But, there is no way to escape the duties, except when the parent is so far advanced in age that he can no longer recognize his wife, children or friends. He, or she, does not know who is around them. In such cases, they may be admitted to an old-age home, where nurses take care of him or her. A high-class service may not be necessary. An average care is sufficient. But, he or she should not be mistreated on any account by the care-takers.

The above applies to the senile. What about parents who are still in good health, say a father? What are their rights? The answer is, all that is said above are equally deserving of a father who is still in good health, except that his financial rights upon his children are reduced, sometimes to nil if he has a goodly income of his own to support himself as well as his wife, minor children, and an orphan grandchild under his care, and, additionally, his grown up children are not able to earn enough for themselves and their own families (wife and children). Otherwise, a father has financial rights upon his children, if his means are penurious. The rights being of suitable measure. This is based on a hadith wherein the Prophet told an inquiring son: “You and your wealth are your father’s.”

But matters go higher. A person is saved from abuse by other than his children – even after his death: say abuse by his own friends, or friends of his children.The Prophet prohibited that anyone should abuse his father. Someone enquired as to how anyone would abuse his own father? He answered, “He abuses someone’s father, so, that someone abuses his (the abuser’s) father. Thus, his abuse (of someone’s father) is tantamount to he abusing his own father.”

The parent’s rights include the rights to have a spouse. That is, if his wife (his children’s mother) dies, and the father feels that he needs another wife, (or the mother a husband) his children should help him out to marry another woman. It is not obligatory on them, but a moral duty.

Lately, some of the parents have been found molesting the spouses of their sons, or, even their own granddaughters, a new vile phenomenon, especially experienced in some families of the Western world. How does such behavior affect the perpetrator’s social, economic and other rights?

Answer: The issue should be left to the Law. Let the man (the father) be tried, judged and punished by the Law, if found guilty. His offspring may not try to shield him or influence the judgment in any way. If found guilty, either by Law, or by the victims of molestation, the father loses the right to live in the victim’s family. He may be asked to quit and live away, with no visiting rights. Alternatively, the victim’s family may move out to live in another place.

What about other rights, as mentioned above? They remain.

If one faces the sad situation of displeasing one of the parents, so that, if he pleases one, the other is displeased, then, in such a case, one should try and please both: father and mother. This is based on an opinion of Imam Malik. He was asked, “My father is in Sudan. He asks me to come back. But my mother advises me not to go? So, whom do I obey? Imam Malik replied, “Obey your father and do not disobey your mother.” (That is, find a way to reconcile the two). Qurtubi however notes that to the majority of scholars, if one is faced with an irreconcilable situation, he may prefer his mother.

Now, precisely who bears the responsibility of a senile parent? First son is the first to be responsible for his father’s or mother’s care. If he himself is too poor and penurious, then, the responsibility shifts to the second son … and so on, down the line to the last. Daughters – following Islamic Law – are at no stage responsible for the food, shelter or other basic needs of any one of the parents. They are expected – on moral grounds – to share the responsibility when circumstances require, and, would be sinning if they could do something but didn’t.

These are not extremist views but firm Islamic Laws and Injunctions.

Are you surprised then that Islam has prohibited the Insurance system?

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