Rights of the Children upon Their Parents
By: Ayatullah Abdul Husayn Dastaghaib Shirazi
Just as it is Wajib for the children to respect, honour and fulfill the rights of their parents, it is incumbent upon the mother and the father to fulfill the rights, which the children have upon them. If the parents do not fulfill these rights, it would amount to Qat’a ar-Rahm (cutting off the relationships). Since children are the closest to parents it is a must to refrain from Qat’a ar-Rahm with them, and Qat’a ar-Rahm is a great sin, as would be described later.
Just as the children become ‘Āq al-Walidayn’ by not complying with their duties, the parents also become ‘Āq’ if they fail to perform their duties towards their children. Further, the parents should not impose unbearable commands upon the children such that the children are forced to find excuses for not obeying them and thus become ‘Āq’.
The parents should not ridicule their children for their actions. Rather the children must be corrected by constructive criticism. Ridicule makes the children stubborn and creates enmity between them and the parents. When the parents fail to fulfill the rights of the children, it induces the children to forsake the rights of the parents in retaliation. As a consequence, both the parents and the children are involved in a Greater Sin.
The Holy Prophet (S) said: “The parents are liable to be ‘Āq’ in the same way as the children who do not fulfill the rights of the parents become involved in the sin of ‘Uqūq’ (plural of Āq).”
It is therefore a solemn duty of the parents to behave kindly with their children and give them a good training and education. They should keep them under gentle control and must not do anything that would cause them to be ‘Āq’.
For example, the parents should overlook the minor faults of the children. They should appreciate insignificant favours and show happiness and gratitude for these favours which would encourage the child to further good actions. They should make the children aware that they wish them the best and pray for their happiness in the world and the Hereafter.
We will now put forward the rights of children upon their parents, as enunciated by educated jurists and propounded in the books of Islamic Law.
Maintenance of Children
It is Wajib upon the parents to bear the expenses of the children right from the time of their birth till they become independent, and in case of a daughter, till she gets married.
Arranging the Marriage
One of the most important duties of the father is to arrange for the marriage of the son when he attains maturity. In case of the daughter too the father must strive to find a good match for her. The parents cannot restrain their daughter from matrimony. The Holy Qur’an states clearly: “...then do not prevent them from marrying their husbands when they agree among themselves in a lawful manner.” (Surah al-Baqarah 2:232)
Religious Education and Training
Another important duty for the parents is to give a good education to their children. The parents must strive to instruct the children with regard to the fundamentals of Islamic faith. The seriousness and significance of observing the laws of Shari’a should be inculcated in the children, and no leniency must be shown if the religious laws are not strictly followed.
However, the aspect of Amr bil Ma’rūf and Nahy Anil Munkar must be kept in mind. The details regarding the same shall be explained in the chapter of Amr bil Ma’rūf (enjoining good) and Nahy Anil Munkar (forbidding evil).
Various traditions stress upon the duty of the parents to shower their love and affection upon the children. A few of these are quoted below.
Love and Affection For the Children
The Holy Prophet (S) said: “Be affectionate to your children and have mercy upon them. When you promise them something, fulfill your promise because the children repose hope only in the parents. When a promise is not fulfilled, it causes dissatisfaction and strains relationships. Certainly Allah is most wrathful when the women and children are disheartened.”
Kissing the Children
The Holy Prophet (S) has told that when a person kisses his child, a good deed is recorded in his Sahifat al-Amāl(Scroll of deeds). (Wasa’il ul-Shia)
Daughters Are More Deserving of Kindness
The parents have been ordered to be more kind towards the daughters. It is mustahab that when a father brings something for the children he must first offer it to the daughter; especially the one who is named Fatima.
If the children oppose the parents, they must never be abused or reviled. The curses of the parents cause an increase in the misery of the children.
Spiritual Fathers Are More Qualified For Kindness
Whatever has been mentioned till now concerns the biological parents; however the spiritual fathers or the guides of humanity are Hazrat Muhammad (S) and his Purified Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s.). All of us are spiritually related to them. In every circumstance their followers can be enriched by virtues and get protection from calamities. The Holy Prophet (S) has informed, “I and ‘Ali (both) are the fathers of this Umma.”
The spiritual fathers are superior to the biological parents in a manner that the soul is superior to the physical body. Similarly the punishment of the ‘Āq’ of the spiritual fathers is much more severe than that of the ‘Āq’ of ordinary parents.
High Rewards and More Punishment
The rewards for kindness to the spiritual father is a thousand times more than kindness to the real parents. In the same way the ‘Āq’ of a spiritual father is far more severely punishable, i.e., Heaven is prohibited for the person who disobeys the spiritual father, and none of his deeds are accepted even if he prays in the nights and fasts during the day.
The punishment for those who do not acknowledge the Wilāyat of Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s.) is more severe because the Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s.) are the real spiritual fathers. It would be wrong to consider all the Qur’anic verses and traditions in connection with Uqūq al-Waledain to be restricted to biological parents. The Holy Qur’an and hadith are unanimous in declaring that the commands for Uqūq al-Waledain apply equally and more stringently to the spiritual as well as biological parents. The ultimate argument in this connection is the Qur’anic verse wherein Allah (S.w.T.) has ordered obedience towards the parents along with His own worship.
“Be grateful to Me and both your parents.” (Surah Luqmān 31:14)
“And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents.” (Surah al-‘Isrā’, 17:23)
A similar reference to the Holy Prophet (S) and the Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s.) is to be found in the chapter of Silet ar-Rahm. Two traditions are reported from Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.)
The first tradition is when Umrū bin Yazid enquired about the meaning of the following Ayat of Surah ar-Rā’d: “And those who join that which Allah has bidden to be joined and have awe of their Lord and fear the evil reckoning.” (Surah ar-Rā’d 13:21)
The next tradition is concerned with the tafsir of the same ‘Ayat’. It says that the above Ayat has been revealed about the Silet ar-Rahm to Muhammad (S) and the Ahl ul-Bayt (a.s.), the close relatives of the Mu’min being included in it. The tradition further says, “And do not be of those who restrict the Ayat to some particular personalities. But whenever you hear of a verse regarding a kind of people you must consider it to be applicable to the other people of the same kind.”
The Uqūq of Spiritual Fathers
The Uqūq of the spiritual fathers means to disobey their commands and to be heedless of their orders. To sever relationships with them in this world by not acknowledging their leadership. Imam Riďa (a.s.) asked, “Won’t you feel bad if your parents are displeased and say that you are not their child?”
Those who were present answered, “Yes”. Imam (a.s.) continued, “The spiritual parents are superior to your biological parents. Do not give them an opportunity to say this. Rather consider yourself lucky be to their son or daughter”.