In the name of Allah, the Most Merciful, the Bestower of Mercy.
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Let us continue with this tremendous work of Imām al-Bukhārī (rahimahullāhu ta’ālā) titled “al-Adab al-Mufrad” with the explanation of ash-Shaykh al-‘Allāmah Zayd bin Muhammad al-Madkhalī (rahimahullāhu ta’ālā) with additional comments from myself (Abu Khadeejah).
Part 4. Speaking with Gentle Words to One’s Parents
This hadīth (no. 8) comes under Chapter 5: Concerning speaking with gentle words to one’s parents.
So Imām al-Bukhārī brought a chain of narration in this hadīth which is sahīh where he stated that Musaddad narrated to us, saying that Ismā’īl bin Ibrāhīm narrated to us, saying Ziyād bin Mikhrāq narrated to us, saying that Taysalah bin Mayyās narrated to me, and he said, “I used to be with the Najadāt sect…” Meaning: he used to be with this extreme and deviated sect of the Khawārij, the followers of Najdah bin ‘Āmir, “…and I committed sins that I believed were from the major sins. So I mentioned it to Ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) and he asked me, ‘And what were they?’ So I said to him, ‘They were such-and-such.’ Ibn ‘Umar (radhiyallāhu ‘anhumā) said, “They are not from the major sins. The major sins are nine in number, and they are:
1. To associate partners with Allāh in worship (shirk).
2. Killing another person.
3. Deserting the army on the day of battle.
4. Slandering a chaste woman (or man) by accusing her of fornication.
5. Consuming interest.
6. Consuming the wealth of an orphan.
7. Deviation (or heresy) in Masjid al-Harām.
8. To mock and make fun of the Muslims.
9. Causing your parents to cry due to your disobedience of them.”
Then Ibn ‘Umar said to me, “Do you want to be saved from the Fire and would you love to enter Paradise?” I said: “Yes, by Allah!” So, he said: “Is your mother still alive?” He said, “Yes, I have my mother.” Ibn ‘Umar said to him, “By Allāh! If you speak to her kindly and gently and you feed her, you will surely enter Paradise as long as you avoid the major sins.” (saheeh)
This narration from ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) is sahīh, it is authentic. Shaykh Zayd (rahimahullāhu ta’ālā) commented upon this narration: This athar (narration) contains a fatwa from a scholar. And within it is wisdom, forbearance, and patience. The scholars do not cause the people to despair at the Mercy of Allāh, they know that the best of deeds that a person should and can do in drawing close to Allāh, as it relates to the rights between the creation is to be dutiful, to the parents.
The best that a person can do as it relates to the rights of the people is to be good and dutiful to the parents. That can be done and manifested by feeding them when they ask to be fed―that you present food to your parents and you give it them to eat. And by speaking to them gently and kindly just as ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar said to this man, “By Allāh! If you speak to her kindly and gently…” Meaning: that you treat her well, “and that you feed her.” Meaning: don’t let them go hungry or wanting. And do whatever else that needs to be done to keep them happy and fulfil their needs, and serve them.
The truth is that the parents, in general, don’t burden their children unnecessarily nor harm them. Parents cultivate their children and educate them. And if within that there is some sternness and some firmness then that is for the benefit of the children because sometimes cultivation requires discipline. And this includes teaching them good manners and good behaviour. Parents must not leave them to roam free, rather they take them by the hand and teach them. Other than that, parents don’t burden their children. They don’t demand from their children that they are to give them wealth or money and to take them here or to take them there. The parents generally don’t do that with their children. And if they are firm with them, the firmness is for the benefit of the children themselves. Just like you would not let your child touch a flame by putting their hand onto it, you wouldn’t let them do that; in order to protect them. You would take hold of them and you would pull them back because that’s for their own benefit.
So, the parents are allowed to discipline their children and to be firm with them for their own protection. And they’re allowed to teach them, and to sit them down, and to educate them, and to cultivate them. All of this is for the benefit of their children because one day they’re going to be parents themselves, and they’re going to be leaders, and they’re going to be teachers, and they’re going to be members of society even after the parents have passed away.
So it is required from the parents that they cultivate their children. And these ahādīth are actually ahādīth of cultivation. Because this is ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar teaching this man how to treat his mother. And after this chapter in Al-Adab Al-Mufrad, we have hundreds of chapters to go through regarding cultivation and education (tarbiyah): how to behave with Prophetic manners, how to feed the guests, how to look after the neighbour, how to respect the elders, and how to treat the scholars. All of this is contained within this book. Also, habits of eating and drinking, looking after the poor, sheltering those in poverty, and so on. All of these are manners that we teach our children and our families.
So this requires sitting the children down and educating them so that they begin to understand how to respect other people in society, and to care for them, and to look after them. And they learn how to behave themselves: how to dress, how to conduct themselves in public, how to behave around relatives, how to behave around youngsters, how to behave around elders, how to behave around rulers, how to behave around students of knowledge, and how to protect themselves from dishonour and humiliation.
All of this is from the Tarbiyah An-Nabawiyyah (Prophetic cultivation) with which the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) would cultivate his companions. And he was like a father to them. And this is why he’s referred to as the father of the Ummah in terms of cultivation and caring, just like his wives are the Mothers of the Believers. Rather, he is more than a father because the Messenger of Allāh (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) had more concern for the believers than a father has for his own children.
So you’ll find that parents do not burden their children: they don’t demand from their children food, or clothing, or to goto the shops, and to spend money. You’ll find that they themselves will spend from their own wealth upon their children even to their own detriment, even if they themselves go hungry, even if they themselves are wearing less, and they are wearing clothing of inferior quality. All of this because they want khayr (good) for their children. They will pay fees for the Islamic schools for their children: thousands and thousands of dollars or pounds. Yet they themselves go without. For what purpose? That is for the cultivation of their children.
So when the parents ask something from their children it is for the benefit of the child himself. Rather, in most cases, the parents are kinder, and more giving, and more generous towards their children than they are to themselves. And many children don’t realize that and they don’t see it because children only look at what is in front of them whereas the parents are looking at years ahead in terms of their children and their marriages, their future, their offspring in turn and how they are going to turn out in decades to come. Whereas the child looks at the short term gain: what’s happening today? What’s going to happen tomorrow?
So you’ll find in most cases that parents are kinder to their children and more giving than they are to themselves as is the nature of many human beings. This is something that Allāh has placed in the nature of humans. Indeed, that is the nature of animals, too. You’ll find a similar type of care amongst animals. Animals will not allow other predators to touch their children. The mother would rather die herself than allow her child to be harmed by a predator. Animals show kindness to their offspring. And this is mentioned in a hadīth of the Prophet (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) wherein Allāh’s Messenger (‘alayhi as-salāt wa as-salām) said that with Allāh there are 100 portions of mercy and from it, He sent one portion of mercy to the inhabitants of the earth so that they may show mercy to one another. And due to that, a beast will lift its hoof and raise it high and not put it down fearing that it will crush its own offspring. [Sahīh al-Bukhārī]
And this is something that you already know: you see huge herds of beasts running through a part of an open plain in Africa or elsewhere and the mother will have a small calf with her and she will lift her leg and not put it down up until she has looked where she is placing her foot lest that she should crush her own offspring.
And if that is the Mercy between animals then I say to you, my brothers and my sisters, what about between human beings? What about between the mother and her child or the father and his children to whom Allāh has given intelligence and He placed within each person a heart that perceives, is afflicted, feels happiness and joy, sadness and grief? Is that heart not affected by the afflictions of its offspring? And Allāh has given them understanding, that which he has not given to other creatures, meaning: there is a level of understanding, and intelligence, and perception of the heart that Allāh has not given to the animals. Allāh has given that to the human being. And Allāh (subhānahu wa ta’ālā) has chosen the human above the rest of the animals. Allāh (subhānahu wa ta’ālā) has distinguished them with intelligence and He placed upon them a burden of responsibilities
So going back to the narration of ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) when Taysalah bin Mayyās asked him the question about sins: then Shaykh Zayd mentions that there are some benefits that can be highlighted from this narration.
Firstly, the permissibility in Islām to ask knowledge related questions and that they are not to be asked except to a person of knowledge. We don’t ask ignorant people questions: you just see someone with a big beard standing so you ask him any question―no. Rather, the questions are to be asked to people who are known for knowledge. Either they are scholars or they are recommended by the scholars. They are the ones that you ask. You don’t look at a person and say, “Well, he looks like a religious person. Let me ask him a question.” Because you know from the narration that we have discussed of the man who killed 99 men and then he killed the ignorant monk who gave him a fatwa based upon ignorance.
The second benefit is the obligation of fearing one’s sins. Those sins due to which a person is punished because some sins are destructive. So a person may commit those sins which incur the punishment of Allāh either in this life or in the next life. So either the punishment will come early or the punishment will be delayed. So one should fear and keep away from any sin that brings about the punishment of Allāh.
And from those are these sins that are being mentioned, these major sins, and other than them that haven’t been mentioned here. Such as the drinking of khamr (alcohol), or spreading rumours (scandal-mongering), or backbiting, or gambling. All of those are sins. And from them, as ‘Abdullāh ibn ‘Umar (radiyallāhu ‘anhumā) stated: causing your parents to cry because of the way that you treat them. That is a major sin. If you make your parents sad and you have done something that is not related to the religion, then you should fear Allah. Of course, if you fast and your parents cry because of your fasting, then that is not your fault ― in the month of Ramadhān you’re fasting, or you’re praying Fajr and your parents are upset that you’re praying because they are not religious people. This narration is not referring to that. This is referring to making your parents cry needlessly. For example, they ask you to do something and you don’t do it, or that you constantly bother them and you hurt their feelings. That is from the major sins. That a tear should be shed from your mother or from your father because of your ill-treatment of them. Fear Allāh (subhānahu wa ta’ālā) with regards to this affair. It doesn’t matter how old you are. You could be a youth, or an elderly, or a middle-aged man and if your mother is in her eighties and you make her cry? You should be ashamed of yourself that your mother or your father cry; you made them cry because of your bad treatment of them, or maybe because you didn’t say the words in a correct manner. There are twenty, thirty, or a hundred ways of saying something but you chose the worst way of speaking to your mother or to your father. And you break their hearts; that is a major sin.
This goes also for minor sins because sometimes people commit minor sins and they continually commit them and they belittle them. They look down upon them as if minor sins are nothing. So they take them for granted and pay them no attention: this is also destructive. They can become a cause for your punishment. What you consider minor the sahābah used to consider it like mountains that are about to fall upon them. So it is a must that a person stays away from falling into major sins and also from being constant upon minor sins.
The fourth affair is the obligation of being dutiful and kind to the parents, and in particular to the mother due to what she has been given of great rights. And alongside that, the rights of the father are not to be neglected.
And finally, fifthly, the clarification of the fact that being dutiful to one’s parents is from the greatest of means that will enter you into Jannah. Meaning: establish your daily prayers, establish the Tawhīd of Allāh, pay your Zakāh, fast the month of Ramadhān, keep away from the major sins, and be dutiful to your parents. And from the greatest of affairs that will enter you into Jannah is showing that kindness and goodness to your parents. And that can be done whilst they’re alive and even after their death. Don’t imagine to yourself that just because your parents have passed away it necessitates that doing good for them has ended. This is not true. Make du’ā’ for your parents and for your grandparents, and give sadaqah on their behalf. There’s much that you can do. The distribution of books or leaflets that you paid for as sadaqah and you give them out freely so that da’wah can be given to the people. There are many things that you can do after the death of your parents. So the rights of the parents don’t end at the grave, they continue even after they’ve passed away.
Upon that we’ll finish, bārakallāhu fīkum. I advise that you don’t waste your days. Rather, benefit yourselves and benefit your families whilst you are with them.
Walhamdulillāhi Rabbil ‘ālamīn wa sallallāhu wa sallam ‘alā nabiyyinā Muhammad wa ‘alā ālihi wa sahbihi ajma’īn. And all praise is due to Allah, Lord of all creation, and may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and all his Companions.
(Class by Abu Khadeejah. Transcribed by Umm Hidaayah, may Allah reward her)
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