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(NOTE: Although the plural of “sunnah” سنة in Arabic is “sunan” سنن and not sunnahs, but this is simply for ease of those who are not aware of the intricacies of the Arabic language and hence do not understand the word sunan whenever it’s written).
By Bashir Oyetunji (in collaboration with Team AYEINA)
Your parents are blessings that you must cherish. Little were you when they were fending for your needs so as to keep you sustained. No matter how minute their contributions in your life might be at this moment, they have their due rights as long as they are not calling towards anything Haram.
Rights of Parents According to the Quran and Sunnah:
1) Show respect
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 with you, say not to them , “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. [Quran; 17:23]
2) Be kind (Good Treatment)
Abu Huraira reported that a person said: Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He said: Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness). [Muslim 2548b]
Your mother probably went through all these difficulties when trying to sustain you as a child. The mother and child bond is something that’s in the fitrah (innate nature), and this is even witnessed in animals.
“The best of’ the deeds or deed is the (observance of) prayer at its proper time and kindness to the parents.” [Sahih Muslim 85 e]
3) Behave in a way that won’t displease them
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The Lord’s pleasure is in the parent’s pleasure, and the Lord’s anger is in the parent’s anger.” [Tirmidhi 1899]
This connection between Allah’s pleasure and the parent’s pleasure is a sure reason for you to increase your reverence for your parents. Knowing that the Lord’s anger is in your parent’s anger should make you want to gain your parent’s love using all good tactics.
4) Be obedient (as long as it doesn’t contradict Quran and Sunnah)
The Messenger of Allah said: The major sins are: Associating others with Allah (Shirk), disobeying one’s parents, killing a soul (murder) and speaking falsely.'” [Sunan an-Nasa’i 4010]
Remember that Allah is the One who has commanded you to obey your parents. You must, however, not obey them to disobey Allah. When your parents command you to do something which is sinful to Allah such as shirk (disbelief in Allah) and other related things, then you are not obliged to obey them in this regard.
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 world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me . Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do. [QURAN; 31:15]
5) Show humility towards them
Respecting your parents, looking at them with affection, being humble with them, and talking to them with a gentle voice and with kind words are what lowering the wing of humility means…
And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy…” [Quran; 17:24]
Islam has prohibited arrogance and it will even be more disdained when directed to the parents. For this reason, you must show love to your parents by not behaving with them in a patronizing manner. Arrogance towards parents can easily creep into a child’s heart at some point in life, especially when Allah might endow the child with more financial means and knowledge than the parents. Always remember that you’ve come to this world through them.
6) Spend on them / Serve them
“May the man before whom I am mentioned – and he does not send Salat upon me – be humiliated. And may a man upon whom Ramadan enters and then passes, before he is forgiven, be humiliated. And may a man whose parents reached old age in his presence, and they were not a cause for his entrance to Paradise (by being dutiful to them), be humiliated.” [Tirmidhi 3545]
A good way of showing love to your parents is to spend whatever you have on them. House them in a befitting residence as you’re capable of, feed them with the best of foods, clothe them, and take good care of them as you would take care of yourself.
A man came to the Prophet (ﷺ) asking his permission to take part in Jihad. The Prophet (ﷺ) asked him, “Are your parents alive?” He replied in the affirmative. The Prophet (ﷺ) said to him, “Then exert yourself in their service. [Bukhari]
Samina: “I was doing tafsir of Surah Saff verse 11 with the kids (age: 8, 6 and 5) and asked them how they can do Jihad with their nafs in this era? And as a child? 8yr old jumped up to say: through Hajj (because Muhammadﷺ said that a woman’s jihad is Hajj). That was a great point and then I said – similarly all of us can do the following transaction with Allah (referring to the verse 10 of Surah Saff): Me serving my parents and you serving yours! This is our Jihad 🌸 as mentioned in the hadith above.”
7) Show your gratitude
Always appreciate your parents through your words and actions.
Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the destination. [Quran; 31:14]
Samina: “When I was reading ahadith and verses from this article to kids, I gave them an assignment to go hug their parents and say to them “JazakAllah khair” over something specific. Everyone mentioned what they would say – ranging from yummy food to being thankful for playing with them 💖 Once my daughter also wrote a gratitude letter to her baba (in “Alhamdulillah for series” gratitude journal for kids).”
8) Make them smile
It was narrated from ‘Abdullah bin ‘Amr that a man came to the Prophet and said: “I have come pledging to emigrate (Hijrah), and I have left my parents weeping.” He said: “Go back to them, and make them smile as you made them weep.” [Sunan an-Nasa’i 4163]
Excerpt from this post: “I remember the time my mum visited me after marriage – I found her lying in bed silently one day. I could tell something was wrong since she had covered her face with her hijab. As I uncovered her face, I saw tears rolling down her eyes. I asked with worry: “what happened Ama?” (While my mind raced everywhere whether I did something that may have hurt her). As the conversation proceeded, I found out that she has been feeling useless and like a burden because she was not doing anything around the house.
I said: “what do you mean you’re not doing anything?”
Isn’t playing with your grandchildren “doing”?
Isn’t spending time with your daughter “doing”?
Isn’t providing emotional support in a rough time “doing”?
Isn’t laughing with us all and bringing us so much joy “doing”?
Isn’t grabbing my hand and hugging me a little longer “doing”?
Isn’t having deep meaningful conversations “doing”?
Isn’t sharing our vulnerabilities to each other and understanding ourselves through each other “doing”?
There’s so much value in what no one sees. Without which I won’t be a sane human being. No one will value the amount of time you gave me, but I will. And those hugs and kisses are beyond the food that you may cook for me. And I held her face in my palms and said: “Ama, if there is one thing I want you to take with you from this vacation, it’s that you start finding your value in yourself beyond what you’ve believed in all along. Beyond what society told you where your value lies. Beyond work. Work. And more work.
She nodded her head as tears rolled down like a stream from her eyes. And I held my tears back because that’s where every mum finds her value until her body gives up and she’s left with no value as a human being…”
9) Show physical affection
…When the Prophet came to her (Fatima رضي الله عنها), she stood up for him, took his hand, made him welcome, kissed him, and made him sit in her place… [Al-Adab Al-Mufrad 971]
10) Do not abuse them
Abusing one’s parents is one of the major sins. They (the hearers) said: Messenger of Allah (ﷺ), does a man abuse his parents too? He (the Holy Prophet (ﷺ)) replied: Yes, one abuses the father of another man, who in turn abuses his father. One abuses his mother and he in turn abuses his (the former’s) mother. [Muslim]
11) Connect with those they love (Relatives/Friends)
This is just the beauty of the child-parent love in Islam. The love you show your parents would not even be restricted to them alone; rather, it would extend to those they love.
‘Abdullah b. Umar reported Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) as saying: The finest act of goodness is that a person should treat kindly the loved ones of his father. [Muslim]
In another hadith,
The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The maternal aunt holds the same status as the mother.” [Tirmidhi]
This answer on ISLAMQA explains the hadith more.
12) Seek their duas
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “Three supplications are answered without doubt. The supplication of the oppressed, the supplication of the traveller, and the supplication of the parent…” [Riyad as-Salihin 980]
13) Make dua for them
One of the very beautiful way of showing love to your Muslim brother or sister is to pray for him or her when not present. This way of showing love is even much more beautiful in regards to your parents. You should pray for them when they are alive and when they’re no more.
“…and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up small.” [Quran; 17:24]
As mentioned in this post: “After everyone has taken their turns in reciting all the bedtime sunan before sleeping, we make dua for our parents and our kids make dua for us 💞 I even gave this task to my nieces to recite it for their parents and to remind their parents to make this dua for their parents. It indeed is a love circle. The love you show to your parents can be seen by your kids and they follow what you do. So becoming parents ourselves can give us better appreciation of our own parents naturally.
My husband and I are taking a parenting course nowadays and when I heard Sheikh Ala Elsayed say how predecessors would make dua (Quran 17:24 as mentioned in the embedded video) after each Salah and that parents should teach this dua to their children too, I knew we just had to include this in our bedtime routine as well.
It feels so good to hear it from your kids. My mum had tears in her eyes when my 5yr old told her that we have this in our night time routine. It’s been more than a month I think since we have been doing this every single night. If I forget, my 5yr old reminds us. I wonder how good a deceased parent would feel too when their child would make dua for them in this dunya, raising the parents’ ranks in aakhirah!”
You can even perform hajj for your parents.
“A woman came to the Prophet and said: ‘My mother died and she did not perform Hajj should I perform Hajj on her behalf?’ He said: ‘Yes, perform Hajj on her behalf.'” [Tirmidhi]
Abu Huraira reported: I invited my mother, who was a polytheist, to Islam. I invited her one day and she said to me something about Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) which I hated. I came to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) weeping and said: Allah’s Messenger, I invited my mother to Islam but she did not accept (my invitation). I invited her today but she said to me something which I did not like. (Kindly) supplicate Allah that He may set the mother of Abu Huraira right. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: O Allah, set the mother of Abu Huraira on the right path. I came out quite pleased with the supplication of Allah’s Apostle (ﷺ) and when I came near the door it was closed from within. My mother heard the noise of my footsteps and she said: Abu Huraira, just wait. And I heard the noise of falling of water. She took a bath and put on the shirt and quickly covered her head with a headdress and opened the door and then said: Abu Huraira, I bear witness to the fact that there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is His bondsman and His Messenger. He (Abu Huraira) said: I went back to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) and (this time) I was shedding the tears of joy. I said: Allah’s Messenger, be happy, for Allah has responded to your supplication and He has set on the right path the mother of Abu Huraira. He (the Holy Prophet) praised Allah, and extolled Him and uttered good words. I said: Allah’s Messenger, supplicate to Allah so that He may instill love of mine and that of my mother too in the believing servants and let our hearts be filled with their love, whereupon Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said: O Allah, let there be love of these servants of yours, i.e. Abu Huraira and his mother, in the hearts of the believing servants and let their hearts be filled with the love of the believing servants. (Abu Huraira said: This prayer) was so well granted by Allah that no believer was ever born who heard of me and who saw me but did not love me. [Muslim]
See this beautiful act of Abu Huraira with his mother. Despite the fact that his mother was saying hateful things about the Prophet (ﷺ) whom he loved, he still didn’t behave badly with his mother. Rather, he was gentle with her and showed great love to her by asking that Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) pray for her.
“…No obedience for evil deeds, obedience is required only in what is good.” [Bukhari]
Nevertheless, you must still not forget to be nice to them when correcting them or when declining their wrong orders. Try to let them see the reason why you would not follow them and, perhaps, they would also be guided by Allah through you to change. Try all good means to avoid their bad calls and to tell them that which is right. By correcting them nicely, they would at least accept your stand and wouldn’t invite you to their erroneous way.
Discussions about the parents is a lengthy one, but the crux of this piece is to show love to your parents by being dutiful to them. You must be of best conduct with them. Also, you should pray for them when they are alive and deceased. They are your hidden treasures, and, when you as a Muslim successfully imbibe all good lessons commanded as regards to them, you are treading the path of Jannah in shaa Allah.
It was narrated that Abu Usaid, Malik bin Rabi’ah, said: “While we were with the Prophet(ﷺ), a man from the Banu Salamah came to him and said: ” O messenger of Allah, is there anyway of honoring my parents that I can still do for them after they die?’ He said: “Yes offering the funeral prayer for them, praying for forgiveness for them, fulfilling their promises after their death, honoring their freinds and upholding the ties of kinship which you would not have were it nor for them.'” [Ibn Majah 3664]
Here are some FREE ebooks to read on the topic of parental rights and perhaps to teach your kids too (through your actions towards your parents and words (through books, Quran and ahadith)):
Co-author’s Bio: Bashir Oyetunji is a Muslim who loves to speak through his pen. He loves to tell stories and share experiences that’d impart minds and souls. Some of his inks are splashed at medium.com/@oyetunjibashir – He can be reached on social media here: Twitter & LinkedIn