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Your Parents: Be Their Companion in Kindness!

By Ibrahim Ezghair

Khutbah delivered at Clear Lake Islamic Center on Jan. 22, 2010

What would you do if you knew that the Prophet (salla Allaahu alayhee wa sallam) was in al Madinah now? Could anything stop you from meeting him? Can you think of a reason why one should miss seeing the Prophet (saw)? Why would anyone lose the opportunity to be a sahaabi/companion of the Prophet (salla Allaahu alayhee wa sallam)?

It was narrated that every time the delegation of Yemen came to al Madinah, Umar bin al Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) would ask them if among them was Uweis bin Aamir al Qarani. When he finally met Uweis, he asked him:

Are you Uweis?
Yes
From Murad and then from Qaran?
Yes
Did you have Leprosy?
Yes
And have you been cured except for one spot (the size of a dirham (a coin the size of a quarter))?
Yes
Do you have a mother?
Yes
I have heard the Messenger of Allah say: “Uweis bin ‘Aamir will come to you with the delegation of Yemen. He is from Murad and then from Qaran. He had Leprosy and was cured from it except for a dirham-sized spot. He has a mother whom he treats with kindness. If he makes an oath upon Allah; Allah grants it to him. If you can ask him to seek forgiveness from Allah for you: do so.”

Umar then asked him to seek forgiveness for him from Allah. Indeed the Prophet (saw) knew that what prevented Uweis from becoming a companion of the Prophet (saw) was his looking after his mother and not being able to leave her.

Looking after our parents and being kind to them is an obligation upon us. The Messenger of Allah was asked about the best types of deeds: He said: al Salatu alaa waqtihaa (to pray on time.) then he said: Birr ul Walidain (kindness to parents), then he said al jihad fee sabeel Allah (to struggle in the cause of Allah).

Birr-ul-walidayn is an Arabic term that was explained by the scholars as to spend on them of that which you own and to obey their orders unless it is a disobedience of Allah. (al Hasan al Basry)

Al Layth al Samarqandi detailed the rights of the parent over his child as: To feed him when he is hungry. To clothe him when he needs it. And then in the explanation of the ayah: “and be their companion in kindness” he said: “companionship in kindness means to feed them when they are hungry, to clothe him when they need clothing, and to serve them when they need your service, to answer their call when they call you, obey their orders except in acts of disobedience, to speak with them
softly, not call them by their names, to walk behind them, and to ask Allah to forgive them.”

Allah says: “And your Lord decreed that you should worship none but Him and that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both attain old age in your life, then do not say to them ‘uff’ (an expression of discomfort), nor shout at them, rather address them in terms of honor / And lower for them the wing of submission and humility through mercy. And say, ‘My Lord! Grant them Your mercy as they brought me up when I was small’ (Al Isra’ 17:23-24).

It is an order to worship Allah alone. It came in a form of a decree. Thus it is an absolute command. The word “qadha” which means to decree gives more emphasis on the obligation. Restriction can also be understood from the negation employed in the ayah. So this is the basis for all the commandments that follow. The first bond after the bond of faith is the family bond. This ayah links one’s obligations towards his parents to his obligations towards Allah, thereby raising the importance of such obligations to the highest level.

On explaining the ayah, Sayid Qutb (rahimahullaah) commented: Through these soft words and beautiful expression, the Quran triggers the feelings of love, compassion and affection of the children towards their parents. This is especially important because life forces are directed towards going forward and not backward. Everyone’s attention is directed towards the children, but few naturally are directed towards the parents. The focus is not on the old generation but rather on the young generations. We often forget our parents in the midst of caring for our children.

It is the fitra that Allah created in the parents to care for their offspring and to forget their roots. It is the sunnah of everything
on this earth. The plant in order to grow would absorb everything the seed had until the seed turns into crumbs, the fetus in the egg would absorb everything inside the egg until it is not more than shells. We too suck the energy out of our parents until they grow old and helpless. It is at this time that Allah commands us to break this pattern and put your parents first and look after
them and take them under your wing of humility and mercy. (Translated from: “In The shades of the Quran”)

How often we forget. When one of them or two grow old while they are “Indak” (which literally means with you). This word “Indak” essentially means that they need you now as you needed them when you were a child.

The first level of caring for them is NOT to disrespect them even with such a small word as the word “uff”, let alone cursing or
shouting. The second level of caring is to speak to them in an honorable way to keep their dignity. The third level of caring is to take them under the wing of mercy and humility. It is such a beautiful expression which reveals the love that you must have from the bottom of your heart for them. It is these feelings of Love, mercy and humility that you carry within you towards them. It indicates that when you serve your parents you must show humbleness towards them even though they are the ones who need you. It is so that you will not feel arrogant that you are helping them. It is so that you will know that you need their blessings that you are helping them. The fourth level of caring is to pray for them and to ask Allah’s mercy for them.

Brothers and sisters:

Allah has ordered you to realize how difficult it was for your mother to bear you and look after and watch you grow, and for the father to endure so much to get you to the point where you are now. Even when your parents do not share the same beliefs as you, you must be dutiful to them.

Allah said: “And We enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in agony upon agony did his mother bear him and in two years was his weaning: “Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: to Me is your final destination. But if they urge you to ascribe to Me as partner that whereof you have no knowledge, then do not obey them. And keep them company in this world honorably, in other words, with decency: dutifulness and kindness — and follow the way of him who returns to Me
[in penitence], with [acts of] obedience. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you of what you used to do.” (Luqman: 14-15)

Allah made his pleasure connected to the parents’ pleasure and one cannot thank Allah if his in not thankful to his parents as said in the ayah. Ibn Abbaas commented: “Thus whoever thanks Allah and is not thankful to his parents, Allah will not accept it from him.”

Ibn Umar narrated that the Prophet (salla Allaahu alayhee wa sallam) said: “The pleasure of the Lord is in the pleasure of the father, and the anger of the Lord is in the anger of the father.”

We take our parents for granted. How many of you have lost a parent? We often become complacent with the status quo, thinking that their death is never near. Listen to me: don’t think that way. If there is something you can do today for your
parents do it.

Listen to what the Prophet (salla Allaahu alayhee wa sallam) said:

“May he be humiliated! May he be humiliated! May he be humiliated!” We asked who is he O Messenger of Allah? He said: “He who sees one of his parents or both grow to old age and does not enter paradise.”

This hadith indicates that if you are dutiful to your parents you will enter paradise.

Brothers and sisters:

You will never be able to compensate for your father and mother all the pain and difficulty they had to endure. Hence the least you can do is to be kind to them and look after them as they age. If you haven’t seen your father or mother for a while, plan to see them soon, before it is too late. Do not let them cry anymore.

A man came to the Prophet (salla Allaahu alayhee wa sallam) and said: O Messenger of Allah I came to participate in Jihad with you seeking only the Face of Allah and the last day. I left my parents crying. The Prophet (saw) said: “Return to them and make them laugh as you have made them cry.”

Some may ask: is it too late for me to make amends. I have lost both of my parents. Is there anything I can do for them?
Abu Usayd al Saa’idi said: “while we were with the Messenger of Allah(salla Allaahu alayhee wa sallam), a man from bani Salama said: “Is there any act of kindness I can offer after the death of my parents? The Prophet (salla Allaahu alayhee wa sallam) said: “Yes: to pray for them, seek forgiveness from Allah for them, fulfill their promises, and to keep the bonds of kinship which cannot be kept except through them, and to be generous and respectful towards their friends.”

Abu Hurriara narrated that the Messenger of Allah (salla Allaahu alayhee wa sallam) visited his mother’s grave and cried and the people around him cried with him. He said: “I have asked my Lord to permit me to ask forgiveness for my mother but He did not grant it. But I asked Him permission to visit her grave and he allowed me. So visit the graves as they remind you of death.”

The Messenger of Allah (salla Allaahu alayhee wa sallam):

“when the son of Adam dies, all of his actions will come to an end except for three: an everlasting charity, a knowledge that he left behind which benefits the people and a child that prays for him.”

Pray for your parents.

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