Tawheed and goodness to our parents

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Assalamo ‘alaykum.

I do not take credit for the contents of this post. It is an almost word-by-word transcription from a tafseer class given by a student of knowledge that has encouraged me to share the benefits without ascribing them to her. She calls to Allah and not to herself  (may Allah preserve her) and teaches the tafseer of senior salafi scholars and this is the origin of what follows.

 وَإِذۡ أَخَذۡنَا مِيثَـٰقَ بَنِىٓ إِسۡرَٲٓءِيلَ لَا تَعۡبُدُونَ إِلَّا ٱللَّهَ وَبِٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ إِحۡسَانً۬ا وَذِى ٱلۡقُرۡبَىٰ وَٱلۡيَتَـٰمَىٰ وَٱلۡمَسَـٰڪِينِ وَقُولُواْ لِلنَّاسِ حُسۡنً۬ا وَأَقِيمُواْ ٱلصَّلَوٰةَ وَءَاتُواْ ٱلزَّڪَوٰةَ ثُمَّ تَوَلَّيۡتُمۡ إِلَّا قَلِيلاً۬ مِّنڪُمۡ وَأَنتُم مُّعۡرِضُونَ (٨٣)

And remember when We took a covenant from the Children of Israel, saying: Worship none but Allah Alone and be dutiful and good to parents, and to kindred, and to orphans and the poor, and speak good to people [i.e. enjoin righteousness and forbid evil, and say the truth about Muhammad Peace be upon him ], and perform As-Salat, and give Zakat. Then you slid back, except a few of you, while you are backsliders.

[Surah al-Baqarah 2:83]

In this ayah, Allah commands: 1) Fulfil your Tawheed and 2) be dutiful to your parents.

First comes the right of Allah to be singled out with all worship. After this come the rights of the parents.  Why do they have this great right upon us? Because they were the reason for a lot of good for us. My mother carried me, fed me, spent time and resources on me; she cared for me. Allah is the One who gave you all these bounties, yet, because our parents were a means for us to receive them, we have to be thankful to them as well. We relate every bounty to Allah and every provision is from Him, but if Allah makes someone a reason for this provision to reach you, you need to be thankful to this person as well. If a doctor was a reason for your life to be saved, you should thank Allah and also the doctor, because the granting of life was from Allah but the doctor made an effort. Similarly, the parents made great efforts in the upbringing of their children. Especially the mother. Allah is All-Aware and Appreciative. He knows all about her pain in pregnancy, childbirth, breastfeeding and so on. He is the All Knowing, the Thankful. Out of this knowledge He possesses, He commands us to be thankful to our parents.

Being thankful to our parents doesn’t just mean saying “thank you”, ” jazakum Allahu khayran.” Allah commands وَبِٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ إِحۡسَانً۬ا {… and Ihsaan (excellent behaviour) to parents}, but He does not specify exactly what to do, He doesn’t say exactly what ihsaan means in this case. This is because Ihsaan to parents varies according to the situation and the state of my mother as opposed to another person’s mother. Being good to my mother is different from being good to your mother. Maybe my mother likes me to spend time with her, another person’s mother likes to have help in the house and what really makes her happy is for her child to go and help her; another may care for and be touched by presents and other forms of financial help. Ihsan is not to do what *I believe* pleases her. I need to find out what actually pleases her the most and do it. Don’t say “I’m busy so I can’t come to see you, but I’ll buy you a nice present because I love presents!” if actually your mother doesn’t care for presents and all she wants is someone to talk to. When she calls you respond. If she wants your company sit with her. Goodness to one’s mother is one of the greatest acts of worship in Islam.

A killer went to Ibn Abbas (rady Allahu ‘anhuma) and asked if repentance was possible for him. Ibn Abbas said yes and asked him if his parents were still alive. The man said they were and Ibn Abbas told him that goodness to one’s parents is one of the greatest reason for sins to be forgiven.

One of the women of the salaf used to pray all night. Her son used to collect firewood for her and stand besides her to keep the fire going  and adjust it so it wouldn’t be too hot, go out or make too much smoke. She used to tell him to go to sleep but he was pleased with doing that for her because that was what she loved to do. Another of the salaf carried his mother all the way from Yemen to Makkah and did tawaaf carrying her. He then asked Ibn Umar “Have I now compensated her for what he did for me?” Ibn ‘Umar (rady Allah ‘anhuma) replied “No, the pain of delivery is more of what you are doing now!”

Imam Abu Haneefah (raheemahullah) was very good to his mother. He was the imam and the faqeeh, but his mother was not convinced and she would tell him that she wanted to ask a question and that she wanted to be taken to so and so to get a fatwa from him. This person was in fact Abu Haneefah’s student!  and he would say yes and take her. He would not say “There’s no need to go to him, I am the imam and the faqeeh!”… he humbled himself to her.

Another of the salaf was also an imam and was in the masjid teaching the people. While he was teaching in the halaqah, suddenly his mother calls him “My son, go and feed the chickens!” He would say “Yes mother” and he would go and feed the chickens and then resume the lesson.

Whatever you do for your parents, do it willingly.

Don’t show that you are bored or burdened. Show her that you are willing and pleased to sit with them and talk about their memories if that is what pleases them. Even if they keep talking about the same incident, they might repeat it every week, or every day. Listen attentively, don’t show that you heard it 200 times before. They must feel that they still have a role in your life. Ask their opinion about something, consult them. They should feel they still have a use in this life, that they are worthy.

They should never feel that you don’t need them.

Show you need their expertise and opinion. If it pleases your mother that she prepares a meal and you go and eat with her, don’t say “No, don’t cook! take it easy, you are too old.” She likes to do that, let her and show your utmost pleasure with what she cooked, show that it made you happy and reminded you of the days of your childhood! Make her smile. Make her life happy. Whatever you do for her, do it with enthusiasm. We need to find out what pleases them, of course within the limits of obedience to Allah. You cannot do something wrong for their sake. Never. If they commanded you with something wrong you would say “I am sorry mother but I cannot do this, but I can do anything else for you.”  Don’t tell them things like “I don’t care if you are angry or not! My Lord has commanded me so you suit yourself!” Don’t say this. Out of mercy lower yourself to them.

Don’t be busy with your mobile, if you are sitting with her look at her, engage with her, don’t look at your mobile.

If you are facing problems or you are not feeling well, don’t tell her. Don’t go and tell her “I am suffering such and such severe pain…” or “My husband did this and that to me…” because this will give her great sorrow and sadness and she would not be able to tolerate that you are in this situation. So, as much as possible try not to tell her about your hardship. Handle as much as you can handle without making her sad about your problems; unless you need her help to solve it, in that case let her know but otherwise don’t tell her just to vent or to get her sympathy. You have to appreciate her weakness and her love for you and the fact that not being able to do anything for you would make her suffer and make her really stressed. We must show mercy and spare her this worry if we are able.

This is part of what it means to have ihsaan towards our parents as Allah commands, and to be grateful to them after being grateful to Allah. Let’s not allow the business of the life make us neglectful of the rights we owe them.

And if our mother is not Muslim or she is not on the correct manhaj, then the greatest form of ihsaan is to do du’a for them and do da’wah to them. This must be done in the most gentle manner: showing your love and concern, trying to give the proofs in a very simple and pleasant way. Tell her “This pleases Allah,” teach her to love Allah. Use encouraging words to her, like “You love Allah, let’s do what pleases Him.” Don’t tell her that if she doesn’t abide you will cut her off. On the contrary: whatever she does – even kufr – show that you are always her daughter and that you have affection and concern for her. This is very important because we are doing this for Allah’s sake and sometimes mothers can be very bad. If your mother is kind to you, being good to her would be easy, but some mothers can cause a great deal of pain.Doing it only for Allah will extract the sincerity from your heart. The reward in case of the mother being bad will be much higher, because Allah knows you are doing it only in obedience to Him and you are not getting anything pleasant out of it in this life.

After their death, you still have a chance to be good to them by making du’a, and Allah forgives a Muslim mother due to the du’a of her son or daughter. Make du’a for them in each and every one of your prayers. And stay in touch with those friends and relatives they loved.

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