Commentary Adil Salahi
Relate on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (Pbuh) has said: “Despised and humiliated he is! Despised and humiliated he is! Despised and humiliated he is!” When his companions asked him to whom he was referring, the Prophet (Pbuh) answered: “A person whose parents, or one of them, attain old age, living with him, and they do not cause him to be admitted into heaven.” (Muslim, Ahmad and Al-Tirmithi)
Numerous are the Hadiths which speak of the importance of being kind to one’s parents. This suggests that the Prophet spoke at different times and on numerous occasions about this duty. That in itself is a clear indication of the great importance the Prophet (Pbuh) attached to the fulfilment of this duty. We have already quoted and commented on a few of these Hadiths. From them we learn that to be kind and obedient to one’s parents is a duty cast on every Muslim. It is well known that certain duties are imposed on the Muslim community as a whole. This means that if a group of the community fulfil that duty then the community as a whole is deemed to have fulfilled it. If no one comes forward and does it, the whole community is guilty of negligence. An example of such duties in the field of worship is prayer for a deceased person (i.e. janazah prayer). Moreover, any branch of science or knowledge which is needed by the Muslim community, especially in its relations with non-Muslim communities or states, including its enemies, imposes on the Muslim community the duty to acquire full knowledge of it. If any group of Muslims acquires that knowledge, the community has discharged its duty. If only one person is able to excel in it, it becomes a personal duty on him to do so, and the community is required to help him achieve that excellence.
To be dutiful to one’s parents is a personal duty. That is to say, it is required of every son and every daughter. If a married couple have, say, 10 children, nine of whom are dutiful and exemplary in their treatment of their parents, that does not reduce in any way the duty of the 10th child to be kind and dutiful to his parents. Mothers and fathers look after each one of their children. As such, they have an equal claim against each of them. In fact, children should compete in being kind to their parents.
When parents are treated kindly by their children, they are happy. They go through the remaining part of their lives feeling contented that the hard work they put in looking after their children has not been wasted. When any of their children is successful in life, they are overjoyed. Being dutiful toward one’s parents however, brings its own rewards to the child himself. First there is that happy feeling which is generated by the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere at home resulting from the good relationship which exists between parent and child. That happy feeling is strengthened by the sense that one is doing his duty toward someone so close to him. A much more important aspect of reward, however, is that Allah is pleased with every son and daughter who are kind to their parents. We have to remember here that Allah’s pleasure is the most coveted prize of all. It is the only way which leads to heaven. The Prophet (Pbuh) explains the relationship between being a dutiful child and ensuring one’s place in heaven. Muslim, Ahmad and Al-Tirmithi relate on the authority of Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (Pbuh) has said: “Despised and humiliated he is! Despised and humiliated he is! Despised and humiliated he is!” When his companions asked him to whom he was referring, the Prophet (Pbuh) answered: “A person whose parents, or one of them, attain old age, living with him, and they do not cause him to be admitted into heaven.” This Hadith is also related by Al-Bukhari in his book Al-Adab Al-Mufrad in a slightly different version in which the Prophet (Pbuh) is quoted to have said in his answer “A child whose parents or one of whom attain to old age at his place and he is thrown in hell.”
This Hadith is highly significant. It shows, beyond any shadow of doubt, that the surest way to book one’s place in heaven is to be exemplary in one’s kindness to one’s parents, especially when they have attained old age. This means that the reward of kindness to parents is certain to offset any sin one may commit, provided that he believes in the Oneness of Allah and the message of the Prophet. (Pbuh)
If a person finds himself in such a situation, looking after either one or both of his parents when they are old and cannot do much for themselves, it should be easy for him to win Allah’s forgiveness of his sins, through his kindness to his parents. If in spite of his situation he is thrown into hell, it means that he is either unkind to them, or that he is so wicked a person that he commits grave sins every day of his life. In both cases, he is despised and humiliated. He will certainly be so when he finds himself in hell in the hereafter.
It is well known that to take part in a campaign of Jihad, or struggle for Allah’s cause, is one of the most highly rewarded actions a Muslim may do. He is prepared to sacrifice his life for the cause of Allah. Allah is certain to reward him amply. In this light, consider this Hadith related by Al-Bukhari Muslim and others on the authority of Abdullah ibn Amr: “A man came to the Prophet (Pbuh) declaring that he wished to go on a campaign of jihad. The Prophet (Pbuh) asked him : Are your parents alive? He answered: yes, The Prophet (Pbuh) said: Then go and do Jihad in their service.” Linguistically speaking, Jihad means to exercise one’s best efforts. The Prophet’s (Pbuh) instruction to this man was to go and try as hard as he could to please his parents. The more kindness he showed them the better for him. What is more, to do so is equivalent in reward to fighting the enemies of Islam.
One may ask how can kindness to parents compensate for fighting the enemies when Allah states in the Qur’an, warning the believers against sitting back when it is time to fight the enemies. Unless you come forward (for Jihad) He will inflict on you grievous suffering. (9:39) There is certainly no contradiction in the teachings of Islam. Jihad is a community duty. Like we said earlier, if a sufficient number of Muslims go on Jihad the others are not deemed to have absconded. Jihad becomes a personal duty only when the ruler of a Muslim country makes it so by declaring full mobilization. To be dutiful to one’s parents is a personal duty.