Part 1 discussed how Allah (swt) made it an obligation to be dutiful to our parents.
Part 2 explained how kindness to parents is manifested in our daily lives.
This final post will outline the ongoing reward that can be attained after the death of our parents
One of the biggest regrets for the child is the passing away of their parents. With the death, a door to Paradise closes, that will never open again. Often the regret stems from the child’s realisation of the neglect in fulfilling the duty whilst their parents were alive. Nothing can compensate kindness to parents during their lifetime. It is of the highest obligations and a sin to neglect, whereas dutifulness to parents after their death is recommended and does not carry the same weight. Hence, in the polluted secular environment of the West, it is essential that we remind the youth of the reality of life. It is more than just play, amusement and irresponsibility. With maturity come accountability, reward and punishment. Part of the accountability relates to our responsibility to our parents when they are living amongst us. However, even after they have passed away we can gain reward for us and them through various recommended deeds.
Of the best actions that can be performed for the deceased parent, after praying for their mercy and forgiveness is keeping good relations with their friends and relatives.
A man from the tribe of Banu Salamah came and said to the Prophet (pbuh), “O Messenger of Allah, are there any rights of my parents on me which I have to fulfil even after they have died?” “Yes”, replied Muhammad (pubh), “To pray for mercy and forgiveness on their behalf, to fulfil the promises they may have, to pay due regard to the bonds of relationship that are from their side and to be respectful to their friends”. [Abu Dawud, Ibn Majah].
When I think about this hadith, I remember myself as a child sitting bored witless when relatives and family friends came to visit. I also remember those visits to India meeting relatives who I have never seen before, who I had nothing in common with and no interest in getting to know. Perhaps it was a false superiority complex that I was from the ‘West’ and they were from the ‘village’. I imagine many of the Muslim youth growing up in the West have such a complex. However, for Muslims, maintaining relationships helps strengthen the Islamic bonds and build a sense of community. Not only is it a rewardable action, but imagine sitting with your father’s childhood friend, sharing memories and stories of when your father was young. It helps maintain the memory of your deceased parents and in turn spreads goodness in the society.
Giving charity for the sake of the souls of your parents increases Allah (swt) pleasure with them, without reducing the reward of the child who gave in charity.
Sa’d ibn ‘Ubaadah’s mother died when he was absent, and he said: “O Messenger of Allaah, my mother has died when I was absent. Will it benefit her if I give in charity on her behalf?” He said: “Yes.” He said: “I ask you to bear witness that my garden that bears fruit is given in charity on her behalf.” [Bukhari].
Even the good deed a child does in response to Allah (swt)’s command, is rewarded by Allah (swt) with reward for the child and the parent. This is because the righteous child is the result of parents who raised and nurtured them.
The Prophet (pbuh) said,” Whoever recites the Quran, learns it and acts according to it will be given a crown of light to wear on the Day of Judgement whose light will be like the sun. His parents will be clothed in two garments that did not exist in this worldly life. So they will say, what has caused us to be clothed (in these garments)?’ It will be said “Your child taking hold of the Quran has caused this.” [Al Hakim]
So a gate to Paradise closes with the death of a parent, however the opportunity remains to gain reward and the pleasure of Allah (swt) after their death.
The family unit is a pillar in the society that has been corrupted by the secular thoughts of individualism and freedom. Unfortunately we find that parents have forsaken their rights over their children, whilst children have neglected their responsibility to their parents. As a parent, I wish that my children grow up to fulfil their responsibility to both myself and my wife. To help achieve that my wife and I need to fulfil our responsibility to our parents
Jabir (ra) narrated that the Prophet (pbuh) said: “Be dutiful to your parents and your children will be dutiful to you. Be chaste with women and your wives will be chaste with you” [Al-Hakim]
Kindness to parents needs to permeate within our families if we seek the pleasure of Allah (swt). Every parent must inculcate the fundamentals of obedience as ordered by Allah (swt), out of mercy for their children. Every child should learn how to be kind to their parents so that they will not regret after their parents are gone.
The challenge for Muslims is to realise the impact that secularism has had on the Islamic culture. Our perception of right and wrong, our priorities, even our close relationships have become polluted by the dominance of secularism in the world today. We need to purify our atmospheres and strive to live in a society in which Islamic culture and values, such as kindness to parents, are both protected and dominant.
It is with a very heavy heart that I wrote these blog posts. The heaviness is a natural consequence when I reflect upon the deficiency in my relationship with my parents and when I recollect all those moments when in haste I raised my voice or acted in a manner displeasing to them. My relationship in my teenage years before my reverting to Islam was spent in rebelliousness. The immediate time after was spent hastily trying to convince them with little thought or wisdom. Unfortunately my recent years have been spent with my own family trying to navigate them through the complexities of life in the West. I have neglected my parents, and I ask Allah (swt) to forgive me, soften the hardness of my heart and allow me to understand my priorities.
The heaviness also stems from my parents being non-Muslims and disbelievers in Allah (swt), together with the lack of opportunity for me to ask for their forgiveness and the inability to raise their level with Allah (swt) as a result of my deeds. Much of what I typed I am unable to enact due to their disbelief. I wonder what the situation will be, if Allah (swt) wills, that they die before me in a state of disbelief. As I see the signs of ageing in me, I can see the signs manifest in them and a time will come when they will take their last breath, whether that be as Muslims or disbelievers.
Asma bint Abu Bakr narrated that my mother came to me during the lifetime of Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) and she was a Mushrikah (polytheist). I said to Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) (seeking his verdict), “My mother has come to me and she desires to acknowledge our connection, shall I keep good relations with her?” The Prophet (pbuh) said, “Yes, keep good relation with her.” [Bukhari]
This narration outlines my relationship with my parents. Only Allah (swt) knows what the future will bring, but whilst they are both alive, I need to reassess my relationship with them and make the necessary changes to treat them with kindness and gain the pleasure of Allah (swt).