Respect towards Parents
By: Ahmad Loqmani
Considered both as a ‘mannerly’ and an ‘obligatory’ act, displaying uttermost respect towards parents goes along with the worship of God. The holy Qur’an excellently states this decree:
“And when we made a convenant with Bani-Israel: you shall not serve any but Allah shall do good to your parents...1
Say: come I will recite what your Lord had forbidden to you- (remember that you do not associate anything with Him and show kindness to your parents.2
And dutiful to his parents, and he was not insolent, disobedient.3
-Jesus the son of Mariam (SA) once said: ‘God has obliged me to be mannerly and obedient to my mother; therefore I am not among the disobedient and the miserable’.4
With such mighty warnings, it is no surprise that disrespect towards parents is considered among the ‘great or deadly sins’ and disinheritance from them is regarded as an immense misery, bringing nothing but wretchedness and adversity in the worldly life and pain in the after life. On the contrary, paying due respect has its own rewards as the Prophet promises: ‘any one aspiring for a long and prosperous life must be good and submissive to his parents’ 5 and also: ‘anyone hoping for a restful and easy hour of death must pay constant visits to his relatives and be polite to his parents, all of which adds pleasure to your death and takes away hardship and adversity from your life.’6
And there is more, as other Islamic leaders have asserted;
-Four attributes guarantee an eternal happy life in paradise; showing kindness towards parents, giving alms to the unfortunate, treating the needy well and never causing them any grief.7
-In addition to rendering him a long life, ‘seventy’ sorts of violent deaths are removed from the one who treats his parents decently.8
-Those who, during their life time, are oblivious towards their parents however after the death of their parents pay back their debts and pray for their forgiveness to God, those people are considered ‘caring and sympathetic’ to their parents.9
-Your are obliged to be submissive, compassionate and humble to your father. Treat him with reverence and lower your voice when talking to him, for your father is your root and you are a branch which has sprung from his trunk.
-If there was no father no value would have been allocated to the child, therefore do not hesitate to give all you own in your possession to him.10
Fatima’s (SA) View in Regard to Parents
Eyes which shine with a divine glance certainly observe more universal truth than common eyes. Fatima’s (SA) eyes depicted sublime values of creation more than others and that is how she was able to place so much meaning in such short and concise phrases; ‘fair conduct towards parents removes divine punishment’.11
This heavenly belief accompanied her action and diction ever since her early youth. The day that Imam Ali (AS) asked for her hand in marriage from her father, Prophet, Muhammad (SAW) being an intelligent individual and one endowed with extraordinary gifts of foresight let Fatima (SA) have the last word on the subject. He was well aware that counseling with his dear Fatima (SA) was necessary in such a situation. Although most Arabs at the time never did give such a high value to their daughters to counsel them before giving them away to their husbands, the Prophet understood that by setting the example for it, he is acting as a role model for humanity. Knowing this he confronted her and kindly said: ‘dearest daughter, your cousin has asked for your hand in marriage. What do you think of it?’ Fatima (SA) was not a common girl to answer before thinking; ‘O’ Prophet of God, your opinion is much worthier than mine, what is your view?’ and then the Prophet answered smilingly; ‘God has sent his consent for this marriage’ and grinning Fatima (SA) says shyly; ‘I am contented by what God and his Prophet have chosen for me.’12
Her holiness was to the extent that she considered the Prophet’s ‘counsel’ and ‘recommendation’ as a ‘must’ and a ‘command’. She believed that obeying her father to the full extent is a form of respecting him. Salman Farsi once said; ‘one day I saw Fatima (SA) grinding the wheat with her own saintly hands. I went to her and exclaimed “O’ daughter of the Prophet of God! Why do you toil yourself so, your servant Fezza is standing idly besides you, let her do the hard tasks around the house.” Then she wisely answered: “my father has recommended that the household chores be equally divided between Fezza and me; yesterday was her turn and today is mine.”13
In addition to consulting with her father about marriage, Fatima (SA) maintained the same conduct towards him about the matter of inheritance of the garden of Fadak. After the revelation;14 give your family their due and Gabriel’s delivering of the divine message; ‘leave Fadak to Fatima (SA),’ the Prophet looked at her daughter and announced; ‘dear daughter, Fadak is all yours. You may take possession of it when you like, although I am well aware that they are going to take it away from you after my death.’ With her usual respectful manner, she answered; ‘dearest father, as long as I shall live I am not going to take possession of Fadak. You are worthier than me in every way and all my belongings are entirely yours.’15
She esteemed her father so that whenever he entered a room she stood up, and hastened to welcome him, kissed his hand, took his cloak from his shoulders and replaced his shoes. Then she would seat him next to herself and care for him tenderly. Whenever the Prophet called on her, she would answer ‘yes. Here I am at your service’.16
She called him ‘dear father’17 and always confirmed his decisions.18 She was always attentive of learning new ideas from him and worked hard at remembering all his sayings.19
That beloved Fatima (SA) preferred her father’s satisfaction prior to herself, and she sacrificed her belongings (such as her food, clothes, curtains, necklace, and even her children’s bracelets) more than once for his sake.20
No wonder that no woman ever took the place of his daughter Fatima (SA) in the Prophet’s heart. The Prophet always enlightened others with his famous saying that; ‘let Fatima’s (SA) father be sacrifice for her’.21
No wonder that the last house he left before going to any war and the first one he visited after the war was over, was hers alone. And no matter how tired, he always stayed there for a long time.22
Although understanding the depth of this father-daughter relation is quite difficult for us, yet this passage by him may prove informative; ‘Fatima (SA) is my own flesh and blood, the apple of mine eyes, the fruit of my spirit. She is woven into the threads of my heart and soul and she will reside there forever.23
She is truly a houri embodied in the form of a human being’ this compassion he showed to Fatima’s (SA) mother, Khadija (SA) the great, also. It would amaze everyone that ever since Fatima (SA) was in her mother’s womb, he would talk to her and feel intimate with her. When Mecca’s ignorant women shunned Khadija (SA) because of her marriage to the Prophet, Fatima (SA) would talk to her mother and comfort her by trying to make her more patient..24 And then there came the dark day when she was only a child and she had just lost her mother. She was holding her father’s robe circling around him and crying; ‘where is my mother, dear father?’ While God’s greatest Prophet stood in contemplation, suddenly Gabriel appeared and carried this comforting revelation; ‘Muhammad, send God’s Salam to Fatima (SA) and inform her that her mother is residing in a heavenly palace whose pillars are made of gold and whose columns are made of sapphire. She is comfortably seated there in the company of the Virgin Mary and Asiyah.’ Hearing this enlightening message from the great and the trustworthy Gabriel, she calmed herself down, and sent her Salam to God.’.25
Respect Towards Children
The most fundamental factor to the healthy growth of children’s characters lies in the compassionate arms and the genuine embrace of their parents. More than adding to the esteem of children and complementing their characters, parental display of affection influences the psychological and emotional balance of children during their teenage years and adulthood.
Parental tenderness sets the ground for the transition of moral values and acceptable qualities from one generation to another. The inheritance of such noble qualities is vivid among the descendants of Ali and Fatima (SA).
Islamic leaders have pointed out that the first duty of a father towards his children is choosing a respectable and virtuous mother for them! As we can sense in this passage from our Prophet (SAW); ‘male children have the right to have virtuous and noble mothers, who shall choose proper names for them and acquaint them with the holy book, look after their well being, and teach them swimming. Female children have the right to have a virtuous mother, one with a pure blood, from a noble family. A mother who shall choose a suitable name for them and teach them the Surah of Noor, (where they learn how a Muslim woman should wear hijab and be righteous) and consent to her marriage at a right time..26
In another brief saying, the blessings of the ‘inheritance factor’ in the spiritual education of children is well portrayed; ‘the children have a right to be placed and live in an adequate place’..27
Our intellectual leaders have much to say on the subject, and their emphasis is a sign of the significant effect that inheritance has on the generations to come;
-Marry not a short sighted woman because her company brings damnation and her children turn out to be spoiled and devastating..28
-The descendants of an ignorant woman are also unintelligent and indecent..29
-Never marry a mad woman, and if you ever did so forcefully, try not to have children with her...30
Looking at the golden marriage between Fatima (SA) and Ali (AS), we cannot but admire their supreme selection and high taste in raising their children. An example of their nobility is apparent. Fifty seven years after the birth of Imam Hussein (AS), at the time of misery and sadness in the red land of Karbala, when the enemy invited Imam Hussein (AS) to a life of wretchedness under the dark shadow of Satan, that leader stood up and said; ‘surly God will not allow us and his Prophet (SAW) and the faithful and the virtuous people who have raised us to be submissive to evil tyranny’. .31 He accuses ibn-Ziad as lacking this noble quality ‘beware that this filthy son of filth has left us stranded between two roads: either death or debasement. Fie on us if we choose debasement and ignobility.’.32
Other than this factor, Fatima’s (SA) attention to the emotional needs of her children was another sign of her wisdom. Deeply acquainted with the Islamic child-raising, she knew that after the dark ages (of pre-Islamic Arabia) the Prophet’s thesis would revolutionize people’s frame of mind: ‘the glance of father upon his child has as much bounty as freeing a slave, even though this glance be repeated three hundred and sixty times a day’.33 He also suggested; ‘kiss your children frequently because every kiss grants you an extensive place in heaven. Every righteous child is as a flower blossoming in paradise. Only those parents are blessed by God who help their children do righteous deeds, expect from them what is in their power, treat them tenderly and never accuse them of ignorance or incompetence.’34
The most particular psychological elements have been considered in the words of the Prophet; showing kindness, caressing, choosing meaningful names for them, donating animal sacrifice for the sake of their health, giving alms to charity for their lasting well-being, reciting the Azan in their right ear and Aqama in their left,( in order to acquaint them with the melody of monotheism, Prophethood and Imamate from the first minutes of their birth). These are all customs of the Prophet. He preferred no shelter for children better than a warm motherly embrace. As a mother Fatima (SA) was an ingenious one, caring both for their spiritual development and physical fitness. She would even compose spontaneous poetry for her children’s amusement; ‘you look like your father O Hassan, so labor in the way of fairness, pray to the all compassionate Lord, and make no friends with the envious’35 and when she was caressing Hussein she would hymn; ‘dear Hussein you assimilate my father Muhammad (SAW) not your father Imam Ali (AS)...’36
Hearing her energetic words, Ali’s (AS) face lit up with a warm smile. Fatima (SA) was so kind to her children that at times of their sickness she would fast for three days. Even at her death bed she was instructing Ali (AS) to look after their children: “dear Ali, I recommend that you look after our children, treating them kindly’.37 In addition to that, she advised him to choose a sympathetic wife to mother their children after her.
Besides motherly conduct there are always acts of foresight and wisdom when it comes to Fatima (SA). She would get her children used to staying up at sun dawn or at holy nights such as the night of Qadr.38 She would wake them up and feed them a little in order to keep them awake. Since she aimed at their spiritual enlightenment, she used to send her children to the Prophet (SAW) so that they may benefit from his company, learning the holy Qur’an and becoming acquainted with the Islamic laws.39 No matter how tender she was, her responsibilities came before her emotions. After hearing the Prophecy heart tearing events of Karbala from the Prophet, she cried for a long time, then, accepting the sacrifice for the nurture of the seed of Islam she courageously said; ‘dear father, I have surrendered my entire being to God and I am contented by whatever fate he has chosen for us, let my reliance be upon God forever.’
1- Holy Qur’an, 2:83.
2- Ibid. 6:14.
3- Ibid. 19:14
4- Minhaj us- Sadeqin, Vol. 5, p. 23.
5- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 74, p. 75.
6- Rozatul Waezin, Vol. 2, p. 429.
7- Mahasin Barqi, Vol. 1, p. 8.
8- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 74, p. 81.
9- Osul Kafi, Vol.. 2, p. 163.
10- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 74, p. 76.
11- Kashful Ghameh, Vol. 1, p. 494.
12- Ehqaqul Haq, Vol. 23, p.477.
13- Ibid. Vol. 10, p. 276.
14- Holy Qur’an, 17:26.
15- Manaqib ibn Shahr Ashoob, Vol. 1, p. 142.
16- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 142.
17- Ibid. p. 33.
18- Meratul Oqul, Vol. 5, p.315.
19- Safinatul Bihar, Vol. 1, p.231.
20- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 43, p. 81 & 86.
21- Ibid. p. 20.
22- Ibid. p. 20 & 40.
23- Ibid. p. 172.
24- Ehqaqul Haq, Vol. 23, p.477.
25- Rayyahin ash- Shari’a, Vol. 2, p. 203.
26- Mahjatul Bayza, Vol. 3, p. 443.
27- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 74, p. 85.
28- Wasail Ash Shi’a, Vol. 14, p. 56.
29- Ibid. p. 57.
31- Ibid. p. 97.
32- Tohaful Oqul, p. 274-275.
33- Rozatul Waezin, Vol. 2, p. 431.
35- Manaqib ibn Shahr Ashoob, Vol. 3, p. 389.
36- Yanabiul Mavadah, p. 93.
37- Bihar ul Anwar, Vol. 82, p. 27.
38- Da’aem al Islam, Vol. 1, p. 282.
39- Az- Zoriat at Tahirah, p. 149.