“Life is not about you alone. It is about others as well, and toping the chart are your noble parents.”
About a month ago, I travelled to the Haram, the Grand Mosque in Makkah, for the Friday prayers with a longtime friend in the U.K., who has just relocated to Saudi Arabia. It was a great opportunity to meet again. As we got to the mosque, and the call to prayer was made, the Imam mounted the pulpit. A powerful voice echoed through the microphone: “Assalamu Alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu.” (This is the Islamic greeting, which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) taught the Muslim faithful). It was Abdurrahman Sudais, the Chief Imam of the mosque, and a household name in the recitation of the Qur’an.
I have listened to several sermons of Mr. Sudais, but in my humble estimation this was one of the best sermons the Imam had delivered. It was about parents. As many readers might be aware, the Shaykh lost his father few weeks ago, which perhaps might have contributed to the selection of this important topic.
The lesson of the sermon was universal, useful for all times. It emphasised valuing and respecting the most important people in our lives, our parents.
After listening to the Khutbah, my thoughts went back home. I thought of the youths in our society who consider their parents as a treasury to be milked; the teenager who lies to his parents in order to make money out of them; and the boys and girls who think it’s the duty of the mother alone to cook, clean the house, look after the guests and respond to the needs of every member of the household while everyone else is busy watching television or playing games.
Indeed, my thought crossed over to the modern day youth, whose life has consumed everything his parents have saved to see him get educated; yet on landing the best job, his or her parents become secondary. It now becomes the time to enjoy life, buy the best car in town, and purchase the most expensive clothes so that he or she looks smart. Yet, the very parents, who sacrificed their comfort to see you grow, to get you the best education, and even work hard to ensure that you get the right job are now placed in a secondary position among your top priorities.
There is no better way to explain the position of parents than this Qur’anic verse: “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 [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word (Quran 17: 23)”
Of course, it is halal (permissible) for you to enjoy your life from the little you earn, but as Islam teaches us, life is not about you alone. It is about others as well, and toping the chart are your noble parents. Therefore, God in his infinite mercy ordained that, after worshipping Him, the next noble deed is called Ihsan to the parents.
What does that mean? It basically means kindness, compassion, respect, love and everything that extends care and support to your parents. It means being selfless, sacrificing your comfort for them, working to alleviate their suffering, and extending respect to those they care for. You should be so mindful of their feelings, that you must avoid anything that creates discomfort in them, even if it’s a one letter word.
Unfortunately, some youth in this age think because their parents are rich, or in a position of authority, they do not need this respect, rather their resources should be milked. The youth do not even care to work hard and make a living for themselves.
It doesn’t matter, whether your parents are rich, or they are poor, looking after them is a responsibility you must fulfil.
This is what we have been taught by the noble Qur’an: “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 (Quran 31:14).”
A few years back, a friend told me a story about the reaction of his parents when he became a Muslim. They thought they had lost him. Yet after reading these verses, and sayings of Prophet Muhammad (upon whom be peace), about the position of parents, he increased his phone calls to them, his visits increased, and his support for their needs multiplied. Not only did they accept his decision, but indeed they turned out to be proud of his new way of life.