The Good Treatment of the Mother and Father in Light of the Quran and Sunnah

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There is no doubt that good treatment of parents is from the most important and greatest of obligations of Islam. Allah mentions this tremendous matter in numerous places in his Book:

وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا ۚ إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا – 17:23

“And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.”

وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا – 17:24

“And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.”

And He, the Most High, said:

وَاعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ وَلَا تُشْرِكُوا بِهِ شَيْئًا ۖ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا – 4:36

“Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents…”

Allah, the Mighty and Majestic, mentions in the following verse the mother and that one shows goodness to both parents:

وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ – 31:14

“And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and good to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years. So give thanks to Me and to both your parents, unto Me is the final destination.”

There are many verses which command and encourage obedience to parents and being good to them. In the Sunnah too, there are numerous narrations from Allah’s Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wassallam).

فسئل عليه الصلاة والسلام قيل: يا رسول الله! أي العمل أفضل؟ قال: الصلاة على وقتها. قيل: ثم أي؟ قال: بر الوالدين. قيل: ثم أي؟ قال: الجهاد في سبيل الله

On an occasion, he was asked: “O Allah’s Messenger, which of the deeds is best?” So he replied: “Prayer at its correct time.” He was asked: “Then what?” He replied: “Good treatment of parents.” He was asked: “Then what?” He replied: “Jihād in Allah’s cause.”

In a narration reported by Bukhāri and Muslim from Abu Bakrah Ath-Thaqafi (radiyallāhu ‘anhu) who said that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alayhi wassallam) said:

ألا أنبئكم بأكبر الكبائر -كررها ثلاثاً- قالوا: بلى يا رسول الله! قال: الإشراك بالله، وعقوق الوالدين، وكان متكئاً فجلس، فقال: ألا وقول الزور ألا وشهادة الزور

“Shall I not inform you of the greatest of sins?” He repeated the question three times. So the people said: “Yes indeed, O Allah’s Messenger!” So he said to them: “Associating partners with Allah in worship and being bad to one’s parents.” The Messenger was leaning back, so now he sat up and continued: “And indeed it is also false speech and bearing false witness.”

So Allah’s Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) explained that from greatest of sins is being disobedient and bad to your parents. So being good and dutiful to parents is from the best of all deeds whilst being disobedient and bad to them is from the worst of sins and ugliest of deeds. There occurs in another hadīth that Allah’s Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam) stated:

رضا الله في رضا الوالدين وسخط الله في سخط الوالدين

“The pleasure of Allah lies in the pleasing of one’s parents and anger of Allah lies in the angering of one’s parents.”

So it is obligatory upon every Muslim man and woman, boy and girl to be good to their parents and be dutiful to them, to be gentle with them, even when you think they don’t understand your feelings. You must treat them kindly and show them good manners. You should behave well with them, in front of them, when they are not present and even after they die. Do not dishonour them when you know they have raised you, nurtured you and provided for you. They sacrificed much to keep you clothed, fed, sheltered, protected and educated. So, you must treat them with goodness, especially as they get older. And that will be a cause of your entry into Jannah and the forgiveness of sins.

From treating them well is that you spend upon them from your wealth if they are poor and you are able to provide. You are to speak to them in the kindest way, with the best of speech you know, and with impeccable manners at all times. Never raise your voice to them in anger, disdain or pride. You are to listen to their requests and obey them wherever possible in all that agrees with Islam. This means that you obey them so long as it does not entail disobedience to Allah (the Most High) and it does not result in harm upon you or others. So obey them in good actions and good speech.

Also, a person must not prevent his children from visiting his parents. So if your mother and father want to see your children, then you should take them to visit your parents. Do not deny your parents nor your children. Allow your sons and daughters to visit their grandmother and grandfather. The only situation in which you should prevent these visitations is if harm would result, such as your parents commanding or encouraging your children with disobedience to Allah and His Messenger (salallāhu ‘alaihi wasallam). In this situation, you can prevent your children from visiting unless if they are supervised and protected from sin and disobedience. That is because the obedience to Allah takes precedence. However, if there is no harm that could come to the children, then these visitations should not be prevented. Indeed, in that there is a good treatment of one’s parents, friendliness towards them and they become very happy with such gatherings. And due to such kind treatment, much good can come about! However, if by visiting relatives and grandparents, your children are exposed to danger or harm: physical, spiritual or moral, then the children should be withheld from such visits, especially if they are unaccompanied. This is because Allah’s Messenger (sallallāhu ‘alayhi wasallam) stated:

  لا ضرر ولا ضرار

“There is nor causing of harm, nor reciprocating harm.” (Ibn Mājah)

As for preventing your children from visiting your parents without any cause or reason, then this is not allowed. And we seek Allah’s aid and assistance. [1]

So the rights of parents, mother and father alike, are immense and whoever neglects these rights has disobeyed Allah and opposed good conduct and character.

إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُوصِيكُمْ بِأُمَّهَاتِكُمْ – ثَلاَثًا – إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُوصِيكُمْ بِآبَائِكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُوصِيكُمْ بِالأَقْرَبِ فَالأَقْرَبِ

Allah’s Messenger said: “Allah enjoins you to treat your mothers kindly.” He said it three times. Then he said: “Allah enjoins you to treat your fathers kindly, Allah enjoins you to treat the closest relatives and the next closest kindly.” (Ibn Majah 3661 (this wording), At-Tirmidhi, 1897. Declared hasan by Al-Albāni)

عَنْ مُعَاوِيَةَ بْنِ جَاهِمَةَ السُّلَمِيِّ، أَنَّ جَاهِمَةَ، جَاءَ إِلَى النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ أَرَدْتُ أَنْ أَغْزُوَ وَقَدْ جِئْتُ أَسْتَشِيرُكَ ‏.‏ فَقَالَ ‏ هَلْ لَكَ مِنْ أُمٍّ ‏ ‏.‏ قَالَ نَعَمْ ‏.‏ قَالَ ‏ فَالْزَمْهَا فَإِنَّ الْجَنَّةَ تَحْتَ رِجْلَيْهَا ‏

It was narrated from Mu’awiyah bin Jāhimah As-Sulami, that Jāhimah came to the Prophet (ﷺ) and said: “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.” (An-Nisā’i, 3104. Declared hasan- saheeh by Al-Albāni)

The rights of the father are immense too and are never to be neglected. Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) reported Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) as saying:

 لاَ يَجْزِي وَلَدٌ وَالِدًا إِلاَّ أَنْ يَجِدَهُ مَمْلُوكًا فَيَشْتَرِيَهُ فَيُعْتِقَهُ

“A son does not repay what he owes his father unless he finds him enslaved and then buys his freedom.” (Reported by Muslim, 1510)

Abu Dardā’ heard the Prophet (ﷺ) say that:

الْوَالِدُ أَوْسَطُ أَبْوَابِ الْجَنَّةِ فَأَضِعْ ذَلِكَ الْبَابَ أَوِ احْفَظْهُ 

“The father is the middle door of Paradise. So it is up to you whether you take advantage of it or not.” (Ibn Majah, 3663)

Abdullah bin ‘Amr narrated that the Prophet (ﷺ) said:

رِضَا الرَّبِّ فِي رِضَا الْوَالِدِ وَسَخَطُ الرَّبِّ فِي سَخَطِ الْوَالِدِ

“The Lord’s pleasure is in the father’s pleasure, and the Lord’s anger is in the father’s anger.” (Tirmidhi, 1899)

Even migration to Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) for the pledge of allegiance required parental permission:

عَنْ عَبْدِ اللَّهِ بْنِ عَمْرٍو، أَنَّ رَجُلاً، أَتَى النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم فَقَالَ إِنِّي جِئْتُ أُبَايِعُكَ عَلَى الْهِجْرَةِ وَلَقَدْ تَرَكْتُ أَبَوَىَّ يَبْكِيَانِ ‏.‏ قَالَ‏ ارْجِعْ إِلَيْهِمَا فَأَضْحِكْهُمَا كَمَا أَبْكَيْتَهُمَا ‏

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.” (An-Nasā’i, 4163)

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:

ثَلاَثُ دَعَوَاتٍ يُسْتَجَابُ لَهُنَّ لاَ شَكَّ فِيهِنَّ دَعْوَةُ الْمَظْلُومِ وَدَعْوَةُ الْمُسَافِرِ وَدَعْوَةُ الْوَالِدِ لِوَلَدِهِ

“There are three supplications that will be answered without any doubt: The supplication of one who has been wronged, the supplication of the traveller and the supplication of a father for his child.” (Ibn Majah 3862)

All of this beautiful Islamic cultivation leads to cohesive, functional and loving families which have far-reaching effects upon the community and society at large. Muslims should always lead with the best example. How many non-Muslims there are who embraced Islam due to the beautiful morals and manners of pious Muslims.

[1] Adapted from an answer of Al-‘Allāmah Ibn Bāz,

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