Could you please list the rights of parents over their children?

The Details of the Question
Could you please list the rights of parents over their children?
The Answer

Dear Brother / Sister,

Although man is the strongest among all the creatures, he is one of the most defenseless when he is born. Unlike animals, some of which can stand right after birth and some others can stand a while later after birth and begin to fulfill their needs, human can only reach this level years later after his birth. It is parents who bear all the difficulties for the maintenance of the human generation. Mothers carry their babies in their wombs for nine months and they come across many difficulties during pregnancy and they give birth to their babies, facing life-threatening dangers. They renounce their sleep and rest and health only in order to raise their babies which are unable to do anything. Likewise, As a matter of fact, Allah states the following :

We have enjoined on human in respect with his parents: his mother bore him in strain upon strain, and his weaning was in two years. (So, O human,) be thankful to Me and to your parents.” (the Qur’an, Luqman, 31:14). The father works hard constantly to meet the needs of the family and the child. If the child hurts himself, the parents become more disturbed than him. They prefer the child’s comfort to their own comfort. This hard labor lasts for twenty or thirty years in different phases and forms. In addition, the parent’s care for their child last life long.

This relation of right-duty which is caused by love and respect that Allah created between the child and the parents, is an indispensable condition for the maintenance of the human generation healthily and strongly and without corruption.

We can list the rights of parents over their children as follows:

1. Obedience (respect): The most important duty of the children for their parents is to obey them and carry out their demands unless religiously forbidden. God states the following: “(As the requirement for being good Muslims) We have enjoined on human to be kind and good to his parents; but if they endeavor to make you associate with Me anything as partner, about whose being so you impossibly have no knowledge, do not obey them.” (the Qur’an, al-Ankabut, 29:8)

The Prophet (pbuh) states the following in a hadith : “Allah forbids disobedience to your mothers” ( Bukhari, Adab, 4)

As can be understood from the verses and hadiths given above, it is Allah’s command to fulfill parents’ demands and wishes and not to object to them. However, if the parents ask the child to stand up against Allah and deny Him and not to do what He sets obligatory and to do what He forbids, these demands of theirs cannot be fulfilled because a person must not obey people if the issues involve rebellion against Allah even if those people are his parents.

2. Treating parents well. In the Qur’an, Allah states the following while listing the duties of a person toward other people:

“Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him alone, and treat parents with the best of kindness. Should one of them, or both, attain old age in your lifetime, do not say "Ugh!" to them (as an indication of complaint or impatience), nor push them away; and always address them in gracious words. Lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy, and say: "My Lord, have mercy on them even as they cared for me in childhood.” (the Qur’an, al-Isra’, 17:23-24)

The Prophet replied a person who asked for three times, “ Who is more entitled to be treated with the best companionship by me?”, “your mother” and for the forth time he replied that he should treat his father well. ( Bukhari, Adab, 2; Muslim, Birr, 1).

Although the parents have not treated their children well enough and they have even caused them some damage, the children should treat them well because, as people grow older, they act childishly. It is our debt of gratitude to treat those who responded with a smile to our mistakes and wrongs in our childhood as they did to us when they need our care.

3. Fulfilling their needs. It is the children’s duty to fulfill all the needs of their parents when they become too old to fulfill them on their own. This is not only a moral duty but also a legal one. Those who do not fulfill this duty are forced to do it by Islamic Administration. Allah charges the children with this duty : “They ask you what they will spend (to provide sustenance for the needy). Say: "Whatever you spend of your wealth is for (your) parents and the near relatives, and the (needy) orphans, the destitute, and the wayfarer. " Whatever good you do, surely God has full knowledge of it.” (the Qur’an, al-Baqarah, 2:215).

Abu Darda from the Honored Companions states that the Prophet advised him nine important things and that one of them is fulfilling the needs of the members of the family including parents. (Bukhari, al-Adabu’l Mufrad, 9). In addition, the Prophet (pbuh) sent a person who wanted to join the jihad to his parents due to their need for him. (Bukhari, al-Adabu’l Mufrad, 9)

4. Not treating them disrespectfully. The principle of the ummah of Islam is respect for the elders and love for the young people. Those who deserve respect the most and those whom we should not even think of disrespect against are our parents. One day, the Prophet (pbuh) said to his Companions:

-“ Allah's Apostle said thrice, "Shall I not inform you of the biggest of the great sins?" The Honored Companions replied: "Yes, O Allah's Apostle" He said, "To join partners in worship with Allah, to be undutiful to one's parents and to give a forged statement and a false witness; I warn you against giving a forged statement and a false witness." (Bukhari, Adab, 6)

-To a person who said “ I left my parents crying after me and I came to take your command to emigrate”, the Prophet (pbuh) said:

-“ Turn to them and make them smile the way you made them cry and make them happy” and he sent him to his parents who were not even yet Muslims.

5. Receiving their consent. There is no doubt that the most important duty of a person in the world is to receive Allah’s consent. After that, it is our parents whose consent we need to receive. As can be seen in the verses from the Qur’an above, Allah commanded people to worship him first and right after this, to treat parents dutifully; and the Prophet (pbuh) stated “ Allah’s consent is due to the father’s consent and His rage is due to his rage”. (Bukhari, al-Adabu’l Mufrad, 1; Tirmidhi, Birr, 3). The mother’s position, who comes before the father, is the same in dutiful treatment by the children.

Allah's Apostle (pbuh) said thrice: “Let him be humbled into dust”. The Honored Companions asked: “Allah's Messenger, who is he?” He said: “He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise.” (Muslim, Birr, 9)

According to the report of Abdullah b. Amr al-As, a man came to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked for his permission to join the jihad. The Prophet (pbuh) asked him : “Are your parents alive?” The man replied: “Yes”. And then the Prophet reminded him of his duty stating “ Then, you should first ask for your parents’ approval”. (the Translation of Tajrid Sarih, VIII, 337).

6. Addressing them in gracious words. We should avoid any kind of speech or behavior which might hurt their feelings. As it is forbidden to do such behavior directly to them, it is also forbidden to cause people to address them in disgraceful words. Apart from God’s command: “ Do not say ‘Ugh!’ to them”, this hadith from the Prophet (pbuh) is also remarkable:

 “It is one of the greatest sins that a man should curse his parents." It was asked (by the people), "O Allah's Apostle! How does a man curse his parents?" The Prophet said, "'The man abuses the father of another man and the latter abuses the father of the former and abuses his mother." (Bukhari, Adab, 4).

7. Remembering them with gratitude when they pass away and pray for them. Our responsibilities for our parents do not finish even if they pass away. We should keep their clean memories. What makes a human human in a sense is these nice emotions and memories which are inherited from generation to generation. Our Prophet’s (pbuh) statement “Love is obtained with inheritance” ( Bukhari, al-Adabu’l Mufrad, 22) indicates this reality. Thus, a connection of love is set between grandparents and grandchildren. Remembering them with gratitude and praying to Allah for their forgiveness is one of the prayers Allah teaches us in the Qur’an : “Our Lord! Forgive me, and my parents, and all the believers, on the Day on which the Reckoning will be established. " (the Qur’an, Ibrahim, 14:41)

When a companion who asked “What am I entitled to do for my parents after their death?”, the Prophet (pbuh) replied:

“Yes, there are four things ( that you should do):

Remembering them with gratitude and praying to Allah for their forgiveness. Fulfilling their will if they have. Keeping in touch with their friends. Keeping in touch with relatives, your relatives exist only because of them.” (Bukhari, al-Adabu’l Mufrad, 19)

The Prophet (pbuh) explains how the prayers for a dead person are useful to them: “When people die, their book of record of their deeds is closed. Yet, these three things still bring them thawabs: Sadaqa al-Jariyah (continuous charity), knowledge that people can utilize and a child to remember them with gratitude and pray to Allah for them.” (Bukhari, al-Adabu’l Mufrad, 19)

Furthermore, treating them nicely in every way, abstaining from any bad kind of behavior is also our duties toward them.

Those who fulfill their duties for their parents when they are alive and when they die and who please them and receive their consent are the ones who attain the greatest bliss of the world and hereafter. It is because, the Prophet (pbuh) gives the good news that such people will have fertile and long lives and Allah will surely accept the prayers of their parents for them and they will attain Paradise.

The Prophet (pbuh) explains how important the duties of children for their parents are as follows:

A child can never pay back the father’s right with any good deeds. However, he pays it back it if he finds him in a state of slavery and pays for him to free him”.(Bukhari, al-Adabu’l Mufrad, 6)

Loving our parents who have such a great amount of effort and right over us and not changing their love with any other things is one of the most important moral duties. This duty is fulfilled by showing respect, compassion and mercy for them and trying to please them. We should not forget that the true love for our parents is not just saying “ I love my parents” but this can be proved by fulfilling every moral and material duty for them.

In a hadith narrated from Burayd, a man performed circumambulation with his mother on his back to make her perform circumambulation around the Kaaba. He came to the Prophet (pbuh) and asked:

“-Did I pay her right back?” The Apostle of Allah replied:

“-No, not for the right of a single breath she took when she was pregnant with you”.

It is clear that this description full of compassion should make people thank their parents.

Abdullah b. Mas’ud (may Allah be pleased with him) asked the Prophet (pbuh):

“-Which deed is loved most by Allah?”

“-To perform prayers at their early (very first) stated times.”

Abdullah asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?"

The Prophet said, "To be good and dutiful to one's parents,"

Abdullah asked, "What is the next (in goodness)?"

The Prophet said, To participate in Jihad for Allah's Cause."

In summary, we should treat and serve our parents in every good way, fulfill their material needs, not even say “ugh!” to them, address them in gracious words, respond to them with the nicest behavior and attitudes, not make them upset and not show any kind of botheration to them. It is the children’s duty to abstain from words that can hurt their feelings, to try to receive their consent in any case, to make them pleased with them, to serve in every way when they grow old and to carry out their medical treatment in case of an illness. To serve them if they are ill or bedfast is a behavior which opens the door of Paradise.

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