In Islam, the status of parents occupies utmost importance. It is not possible to be a good Muslim without first cultivating excellent behavior towards one’s parents. This holds true irrespective of whether the parents are also Muslim or not.

And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the final destination. (The holy Quran, Chapter 31 Verse 14).

Allah’s order to care for parents is direct and is not conditional upon other factors. For example, Allah has not commanded us to care for the parents if they cared for us when we were children, or to provide for them in the manner they provided for us, or indeed, to be just and kind to them according to how they treated us. As Allah reminds us of our return to Him, it is indication that His scales of justice can never be erroneous. What we do for our parents is not Ihsan in the sense that we are doing them a favor. Any good deeds we do without expectation of worldly reward will be rewarded in the hereafter multiplied several times over. Allah in His infinite mercy has ordered his angels to record a bad deed as a single bad deed, and a good deed or even its sincere intention, as several good deeds. So the Ihsan with which we treat our parents is in fact planning for our own future in the akhirah.

As good treatment itself can be subjective, and dependent upon contemporary opinion, Allah has further clarified his expectation in this regard:

And your Lord has  decreed that you worship not except Him, and to parents good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as] “uff”, and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. (The holy Quran, 17 Verse 23).

When parents get old and they no longer have their physical or mental strength, they often revert to the dependence and weakness of infancy (The holy Quran, Chapter 16 Verse 70).  At such a stage, they must not be treated with contempt or ridicule, but with utmost respect and patience.

In today’s modern world, the hectic pace of life often means we have little time left to spend  with parents. Our work, children, the needs of our family, all pose competing demands on our time and energy. It is so much easier to admit our elders into old age facilities where their medical and physical needs are taken care of, than to care for them at home. However, at the end of their lives, our parents need our love and time more than a bouquet of flowers delivered at mother’s day or father’s day. For a Muslim, each day should be mother’s day and father’s day. Instead of an expensive gift, they value the everyday kindnesses shown in caring for them in the home, spending time with them as a family, taking them to masjid or other places where they can meet their peers, keeping them a part of our world, involving them in a hobby they enjoy, reminding them to take their medicines, cooking them healthy meals, taking them for a walk at their pace, thinking of their needs when they are unable to do so, and several other small acts.

Remember that Allah’s messenger (peace be upon him) said that the most beloved deeds to Allah are the most regular and constant, even if they are little, and if they are done to please Him.

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