The Status of Parents in Islam
The position of parents, and the mutual obligations and responsibilities, have been addressed in Islam in great detail. The Qur’anic commandments, as well as the sayings of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) guide us in this matter. The parent-child code of behavior in Islam is unique, since rules were laid down by divine command.
“And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents. In travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in two years was his weaning. Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents; to Me is thy final goal.” (Quran 31:14)
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or more attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say, “my Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy, even as they cherished me in childhood.” (Quran 17: 23-24)
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth.” (Quran 46:15)
Thus, God has enjoined on us to show kindness, respect, and humility to our parents. We are commanded to do this, even though they may have injured us. The only exception to the above command is made in the following verse:
“We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents; but if they strive (to force) thee to join with Me anything of which thou hast no knowledge, obey them not.” (Quran 29:8)
Some of the traditions of Prophet Muhammad, and of the learned members of his family, about our responsibilities toward our parents are quoted here:
“Paradise lies under the feet of the mother.”
“God’s pleasure is in the pleasure of the father, and God’s displeasure is in the displeasure of the father.”
“He who wishes to enter Paradise through its best door must please his parents.”
“It is a pity that some people may not attain Paradise, on account of not serving their old parents.”
Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (r.a.), the great-great-grandson of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have quoted Imam ‘Ali (ra) that, “disobedience to parents is a major sin.” He also stated that, “if a person looks at the face of his or her parents with wrathful eyes, despite the fact that injustice was done to him or her by the parents, his or her salah (prayer) will not be accepted by God.”
According to one of the Hadith-e-Qudsi, the following is reported about the status of parents:
“God has commanded that if anybody prays equal to the invocations performed by the prophets, such prayers will do no good if that person has been cursed by his or her parents.”
Parents’ duties: Islam has assigned certain duties to parents that they must fulfill. If they fail in those, they will be questioned about it. Besides providing the basic necessities of life, Islam requires that the parents teach their children about the Oneness of God, the Quranic commandments, values, the Prophets and their teachings, and the moral code of Islam as according to the Quran and the Sunnah (teachings) of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Let us pray to God that He guide us to be respectful, kind, and obedient to our parents, and that we continue to show them humility regardless of the power, position, wealth, and influence we may possess. Let us also pray that we be patient, kind, thoughtful, and friendly with our children, as we guide them through their lives, and that we discharge our responsibilities towards them as required by our religion, so that God may be pleased with us, and may He Bless and reward us, both in this world and in the Hereafter. Ameen.