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Parents in Islam: Their Rights and Status

 

fatherhood

“No son can repay (the right of his father) unless he finds him a slave, buys him and then emancipates him.”

The rights of parents include respect, love and obedience. This obedience is conditional that it does not contradict obedience to the commands of Allah and His Messenger. It involves care and kindness to both parents, and provision of necessities for elder parents. Humility and respect to both parents equally is an obligation, and any arrogance or insolence is forbidden.

Patience and perseverance are required when serving parents, no matter what the circumstances. Allah says in the Qur’an:

Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in their life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. (Al-Israa’ 17:23)

The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) instructed us saying:

“(Allah’s pleasure on someone) is based on the pleasure of his parents. The wrath of Allah is based upon the anger of his parents.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Both parents are entitled to this right even if they are not Muslims so long as they do not command their children to do any act of disobedience to Allah (Exalted be He).

Asmaa’, the daughter of the Abu Bakr, said My mother came to visit me while still not a Muslim. I asked Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him) concerning her visit (and how to treat her while visiting me) and said, ‘My mother is eager to visit with me. Should I (or should I not) extend my courtesy (as a host) to her?’ He said: “Yes, extend courtesy”. (Muslim)

The mother must be given priority in terms of kindness, sympathy, good feelings, love and affection as mentioned by Allah’s Prophet:

“A man  came to Allah’s Prophet and asked him: ‘O Prophet of Allah! Who is the most worthy and deserving person of my good treatment and companionship? He replied: ‘Your mother.’ The man asked: ‘who is next?’ Allah’s Messenger replied: ‘your mother.’ The man asked ‘who is next?’ Allah’s Messenger replied: ‘your father.’  And in another version there is the ending: ‘your father and then the next nearest and next nearest.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Allah’s Messenger assigned the mother with a three-fold portion of the right of companionship. The father, in comparison, receives only one share. This is due to the fact that mothers suffer more hardships during pregnancy and during the delivery and care of their children. Allah says in the Qur’an:

And we have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)

This in no way demeans the rights of the father, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:

“No son can repay (the right of his father) unless he finds him a slave, buys him and then emancipates him.” (Muslim)

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions”.

 

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Between Belief and Treating Parents in Islam

motherhood

Islam portrays parents, particularly the mother, as one’s benefactors. One is reminded of how they faced hardships in bringing one up.

And We have commanded man kindness to his parents: with hardship his mother bears him and with hardship she brings him up, and the weaning of him is thirty months, until, when he attains his full strength and attains the age of forty years, he says: “Lord! Grant me the ability that I may give thanks for the favor You have done to me and my parents and that I may act piously such as You may approve. And be gracious to my children. Truly I have turned to You and truly I submit to You (in Islam).” (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)

And We have commanded man about his parents, his mother bears him in hardship upon hardship, and his weaning is in two years. Give thanks to Me and your parents. Unto Me is the return. (Luqman 31:14)

Man has obligations towards his fellow human beings, but his obligations towards his parents, according to Islam, are of the utmost importance. The Qur’an mentions this duty, next only to that of serving Allah:

And your Lord has commanded that you should worship no one but Him and show kindness to your parents; and if either or both of them become old, do not say to them “pooh”. Do not show any disrespect to them. Speak to them a word of respect. And lower unto them the wings of humility out of kindness and say: Lord! Have mercy on them as they brought me up when young. (Al-Israa’ 17:23-24)

To begin with, the following points are worth noting, as one studies these passages, prescribing how we should treat our parents:

1- That parents are to be treated with kindness and respect features as a divine command in all the above instances. It underscores the tremendous importance attached to this duty in the Islamic scheme of things. It is not some moral precept which one may observe as a dictate of conscience or as a discretionary matter. On the contrary, it is a definite divine command which must be obeyed unquestioningly by everyone and at any cost.

2- The Qur’an repeatedly asks man to thank Allah for His numerous favours. Parents alone hold the distinction of being mentioned along with Allah, who deserve to be thanked for their favours. Man is directed to recall with gratitude the favours done to him by his parents. One should constantly bear in mind the exalted rank accorded to parents by the Qur’an.

Furthermore, besides enacting the command for the good treatment of parents, Allah teaches man the following supplications, which he should make for his parents:

Our Lord! Forgive me and my parents and the believers on the Day of Reckoning. (Ibrahim 14:41)

Lord! Grant me the ability that I may give thanks for the favour You have done to me and my parents … (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)

Lord! Forgive me and my parents and him who enters my house as a believer, and all the believing men and women … (Nuh 71:28)

By making these supplications, love and respect for parents is likely to be ingrained in both mind and heart. Man is thus instructed to regard his parents as an almost inseparable part of his self, as he seeks Allah’s forgiveness both for himself and his parents. Islam, thus, ensures that love and respect for parents is infused deeply into man’s consciousness. Man should imbibe this truth thoroughly.

3- Significantly enough, Islam admits no distinction between one’s Muslim or non-Muslim parents in treating them well. The parents of many early Muslims in the Prophet’s day clung to their ancestral faith out of blind conformity and imitation, and some of them even opposed Islam. Yet these Muslims were directed not to break their family or social ties with their parents.

Rather, they were told to treat them well, irrespective of their religious affiliations. The Prophet’s noble example bears out this point. It is on record that he always spoke affectionately of his loving uncle, Abu Talib, though the latter refused to embrace Islam, even in the face of the Prophet’s repeated and persuasive pleas.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) used to recount gratefully the invaluable patronage and protection extended by Abu Talib and mourned his death, describing it as his irreparable personal loss.

The same point comes out unmistakably from the following report, recorded by Al-Bukhari:

“Asmaa’, Abu Bakr’s daughter, sought the Prophet’s directive as to how she should treat her polytheistic mother who visited her. The Prophet told her to maintain filial ties with her mother and to look after her well.” (Al-Bukhari)

Other Qur’anic passages instructing man to treat his parents with love, kindness and respect are verses 83 of Surat Al-Baqarah 2, 36 of Al-Nisaa’ 4, 151 of Al-An`am 6 and 19 of An-Naml 27.

The directive embodied in the above is elucidated in several hadiths. Take the following for instance: The Prophet is on record declaring: “Your Paradise lies under the feet of your mother.” (Ahmad)

– The Prophet spelled out the following as cardinal sins: “To associate partners with Allah, to disobey parents, to commit murder and to give false testimony.” (Muslim)

– Once the Prophet exclaimed:

“Let him be disgraced!” On being requested to identify the culprit, he clarified: “One who is with his parents in their old age, both or either of them, and yet fails to win a place for himself in Paradise by serving them well.” (Muslim)

– That one may discharge one’s obligation towards one’s parents even after their death is clarified in the following hadith reported by Abu Usayd Sa`idi:

“Once while we were in the Prophet’s company, someone from the tribe of Salamah called on the Prophet and asked him: ‘O Messenger of Allah! Do I owe obligations to my parents even after their death?’ The latter replied: “Yes, you must pray to Allah to favour them with His forgiveness, honour the commitments which your parents made and maintain ties with their relatives and friends.” (Abu Dawud)

Non-Muslim Parents

Notwithstanding its emphatic exhortation for kindness towards parents, the Qur’an makes it plain that they are not to be obeyed if they ask their children to follow a faith other than Islam. Allah alone is to be obeyed in matters of faith, as is evident from the following assertions: “If they try to make you associate anyone with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them.” (Al-`Ankabut 29:8)

If either of them should try to make you associate anyone with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them, although you may keep company with them honorably in this world. Follow the way of him who turns to Me in repentance. (Luqman 31:15)

Islam adopts a balanced approach regarding one’s non-Muslim parents. This issue made its appearance in the early days of Islam.

Today, the same problem is faced by new Muslims. On the one hand, Islam directs a Muslim not to abandon his unbelieving parents. Nor should he/she recant his/her belief in Islam as a result of emotional blackmail from them.

That one should adhere steadfastly to Islam once the truth dawns on one is illustrated by Sa`id ibn Malik’s conduct. His acceptance of Islam in response to the Prophet’s call was vigorously resented by his polytheistic mother. She refused to take food, demanding that Sa`id should give up his allegiance to Islam.

However, he did not relent and told her plainly that her fasting unto death would not deter him even in the slightest. After a couple of days when her condition worsened and she realized Sa`id’s unwavering commitment to Islam, she recanted her stance and resumed eating and drinking.

A Muslim is not to budge an inch in the face of such pressure. Yet a Muslim must make a point of maintaining his social relations with his unbelieving parents. His treatment should be characterized by gentleness and kindness. He should help them financially and emotionally.

Particularly the Mother

In the Qur’anic passages setting forth one’s obligations towards parents, it is worth noting that they, particularly the mother, are portrayed as one’s benefactors. One is reminded of how they faced hardships in bringing one up.

As thanksgiving one should be kind to them. This fits in with the larger scheme of things Islamic. For Allah is the benefactor par excellence. It is on account of Allah’s favour that one is blessed with parents who selflessly and lovingly spend all that they have for their children.

In comparison, Allah’s concern and bounties for His servants are beyond measure. One should be thankful, in the first place, to Allah and then to one’s parents. Islam infuses gratitude into the hearts of believers.

Prompted by the same they profusely thank Allah. And on a much narrower scale, a Muslim is naturally drawn towards his parents out of gratitude for them.

Another striking point about the Qur’anic directive is that one should treat one’s parents well in their old age. This pointed reference to their old age rests on several important considerations. First, they need greater care and attention as they turn physically and emotionally infirm.

At this juncture they are especially sensitive to any neglect shown them. Being physically weak, they are more prone to being irritable and unable to exercise self-restraint. At times, they may behave irrationally, placing such demands on their children which may be hard to meet. It is in the face of all these irritants that one is directed by the Qur’an to treat them with love and respect.

Man is reminded of his own infancy and childhood when he placed too many demands on his parents and they cheerfully bore all such hardships. In turn, one should bear with his parents’ foibles and temperamental problems.

Against this backdrop, one realizes the significance of the prayers taught by the Qur’an to man, for seeking strength from Allah, which may enable one to treat one’s parents well.

Obviously, Allah’s mercy can help one discharge this difficult duty. Furthermore, it explains why many hadiths highlight the importance of this obligation and speak of Allah’s reward and punishment for one’s treatment of one’s parents.

The Reward

It is, no doubt, quite a task to maintain excellent relations with parents consistently. At the same time, it is vital for protecting and upholding the social fabric. Accordingly, many hadiths graphically spell out Allah’s reward on this count. Take the following hadiths as illustrative.

It is related on Ibn `Abbas’ authority that the Prophet made the following observation:

“A dutiful son who only looks at his parents with love and kindness will earn the reward due for Hajj for each glance of his. Someone asked: If one casts such a glance one hundred times a day, will he get the reward one hundred times? The Prophet replied: Yes, he will be credited with this reward for each glance. Almighty Allah’s treasure is not diminished on account of even such generous and ample rewards.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

“Abu Bakr reports that the Prophet said: While Allah may defer the punishment for one’s sins until the Day of Recompense, one guilty of denying one’s parents their due and disobeying them is punished in this world itself. This is in addition to the punishment to be inflicted in the Hereafter.” (Al-Bayhaqi)

The Qur’anic passages urging the good treatment of parents make pointed reference to man’s total submission to Allah in this world and his ultimate return to Him.

The point pressed home is that one’s excellent attitude towards one’s parents should flow from one’s wholesale surrender to Allah. As part of this and in accordance with divine command one should treat one’s parents well.

One should not be prompted by any material interest or selfish motive such as that of eliciting praise from others in serving one’s parents. Rather, one’s eyes should be set on the Hereafter, and, in view of divine reward, one should be kind to one’s parents, as this will win Allah’s pleasure in the Hereafter.

In sum, a Muslim’s conduct including his relationship with parents should be governed by Allah’s commands recorded in the Qur’an and elaborated in Hadith.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s The Qur’an: Essential Teachings, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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The Two Words I Never Was Fortunate to Say to My Mother…

Not too long ago I went to visit a friend of mine whose mother was dying of cancer. She had been battling cancer for about five years, and the news came to me that she was on her last days.

mother

My mom has been there all my life, never failed me once, never. And never once have I ever come to her and just said it…

So, I went to visit the brother, and I sat down with him, he was explaining to me that his mother is going through this state of “Sakarat Al-Mawt” conscious and then unconscious, and that the cancer was really starting to spread all over.

So, as I sat with this friend of mine and he was talking his eyes tear up. So I naturally assumed it was because his mother was dying. So I tried to comfort him and tell him that this was natural in life. He said to me, “I’m not crying because she is leaving and of course I’m upset, but this is not why I’m crying”.

I said, “then why are you upset?”

He said “I’m upset because all my life I never thanked Mother for what she’s done.”

Honestly I can’t explain what happened to me when he said these words.

“All my life I’ve never said ‘thank you’ to my mum”, he continued.

And now that she’s sitting in the next room and she’s alive but she is conscious and unconscious, and even if I spoke to her she is not going to be able to understand or comprehend the words that I’m saying.

What about You & Your Mother?

Can you, brothers and sisters, imagine that?

For those of us who are fortunate enough that their mothers are still around, how does this affect you?

My mom has been there all my life, never failed me once, never. And never once have I ever come to her and just said “Thank you”.  Can you imagine that?

Listen to the details of this pitiful story from brother Brother Mohamad Hoblos…

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Source: OnePath Network

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Islam and the Institution of the Family

By: Abul A`la Mawdudi

The foremost and fundamental institution of human society is the family unit. A family is established by the coming together of a man and a woman, and their contact brings into existence a new generation.

Islam and the Institution of the Family

In Islam, marital bond is founded on the sweetness of love with the possibility of lasting companionship.

Family… First Unit of Civilization

This, then, produces ties of kinship and community, which, in turn, gradually develops further ties. The family is an instrument of continuity which prepares the succeeding generation to serve human civilization and to discharge its social obligations with devotion, sincerity and enthusiasm.

This institution does not merely recruit cadets for the maintenance of human culture, but positively desires that those who are to come will be better members of society.

In this respect, the family can be truly called the source of the progress, development, prosperity and strength of human civilization. Islam, therefore, devotes much attention to the issues relating to the family and strives to establish it on the healthiest and strongest possible foundations.

Unity

According to Islam, the correct relationship between man and woman is marriage, a relationship in which social responsibilities are fully accepted and which results in the emergence of a family.

Sexual permissiveness and other similar types of irresponsible behavior are not dismissed by Islam as mere innocent pastimes or ordinary transgressions.

Rather, they are acts which strike at the very roots of society. Hence, Islam holds all extra-marital sex as sinful and forbidden (haram) and makes it a criminal offence. Severe punishments are prescribed to deter would-be offenders.

Purdah, which regulates the free association of men and women, restrictions on erotic music and obscene pictures and the discouragement of the spread of all forms of pornography, are other weapons used in the fight to protect and strength the institution of the family.

Islam does not look on adult celibacy simply with disfavor-it calls on every young man to take upon himself the social responsibilities of married life just as his parents did in their time.

Nor does Islam regard asceticism and lifelong celibacy merely as being of no benefit; it sees them as departures from the nature of man and as acts of revolt against the Divine scheme of things.

It also strongly disapproves of those rites, ceremonies or restrictions which tend to make marriage the easiest and fornication the most difficult thing in society – and not vice versa as it is in most societies today.

Hence, after debarring certain blood relatives from entering into matrimony with one another, it has legalized marriage with all other near and distant kith and kin. It has removed all distinctions of caste and community, and permitted matrimony of any Muslim with any other Muslim. It has urged that the mahr (dower) should be fixed at a figure which can be easily borne by both sides. It has dispensed with the necessity of priests and register offices.

…and Harmony

In an Islamic society, marriage is a plain and simple ceremony which can be performed anywhere before two witnesses, though it is essential that the proceedings should not be kept secret. Society must know that the couple are now going to live as husband and wife.

Within the family itself Islam has assigned to the man a position of authority so that he can maintain order and discipline as the head of the household. Islam expects the wife to obey her husband and look after his well-being; and it expects the children to behave accordingly to their parents.

Islam does not favour a loose and disjointed family system devoid of proper authority, control and discipline. Discipline can only be maintained through a central authority and, in the view of Islam, the position of father in the family is such that it makes him the fittest person to have this responsibility.

But this does not mean that man has been made a household tyrant and woman has been handed over to him as a helpless chattel. According to Islam, the real spirit of marital life is love, understanding and mutual respect.

If woman has been asked to obey her husband, the latter has been called on to treat the wife with love, affection and sweetness and to make the welfare of his family his top priority.

Although, Islam places great emphasis on the marital bond, it only wants it to remain intact as long as it is founded on the sweetness of love or there exist at least the possibility of lasting companionship.

If neither of these two conditions can be maintained, it gives man the right of divorce and woman the right of separation; and under certain conditions, where married life has become a source of misery, the Islamic courts of justice have the authority to annul the marriage.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s The Islamic Way of Life.

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Prophet Abraham and His Non-Believer Father

There’re two examples of da`wah of Prophet Abraham (Ibrahim). One was when he presented haqq (the Truth) to his father and the other was when he addressed his people. There is a marked difference between the two.

Prophet Abraham dender nature

Paternal affection has been aroused in his address to his father.

The difference is not in the mode of discourse and clear presentation, but the deep knowledge shown of the prevailing conditions and psychology of the people addressed and how such discourse appeals to the hearts.

The son invites his father to Islam:

And make mention (O Muhammad) in the book of Ibrahim. Truly, he was a saint, a Prophet. When he said to his father: ‘O my father! Why do you worship that which does not hear nor see, nor can in any way avail you? O my father! Lo! There has come to me of knowledge that which did not come to you. So follow me, and I will lead you on a right path. O my father? Do not serve the Satan. Truly, the Satan is a rebel to the All Merciful. O my father! I fear that a punishment from the All Merciful will overtake you so that you become a comrade of the Satan. (Maryam 19:41-45)

Paternal affection has been aroused in these verses. Think over the repeated address: “O my father!” It shows obedience, love and humility. It requires an aesthetic taste to understand the eloquence of this address.

Mode of Address

Those who have a deep knowledge of the language of the Qur’an can really enjoy the spirit of this mode of address. It has been said that when such persons recite any ayah which delineates the punishment of Allah, their voices tremble and their faces redden with fear. When however they recite any ayah regarding Allah’s pardon and mercy, their hearts melt and their voices show mildness and the warmth of love.

When a son addresses his father thus: “O my father”, he arouses his paternal affection. If he had said the same thing with the voice of a preacher, he would have said,

“Exalted Sir! hear me, or O reverend priest! think it over.”

It would have then given an altogether different impression.

But he said: “O my father”. He adopted this mode intentionally so that his words might touch a sympathetic chord and arouse paternal affection, and thus open the way to his father’s heart. When a son addresses his father in this manner, however angry the father may be, his heart melts and he is inclined to hear what the son has to say.

The prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) touched the sympathetic chord in his heart before he discoursed. Because it has been seen that sometimes affection finds a place in the heart before faith finds acceptance with the person addressed.

It is also possible that a father may be affectionate but may not be a believer. If he is to be invited to true faith then one has to enter through the door which is open.

Hikmah

One who is inviting to the ‘way of Allah’ who is blessed with hikmah (wisdom) cannot lose sight of this aspect. If he does so, it may be harmful to him and his cause. If, however, he is bad-tempered he cannot succeed in his mission.

… if then (O Muhammad) you had been stern and fierce of heart they (the Companions) would have dispersed from around about you. (Aal `Imran 3:159)

When the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) addressed his uncle Abu Talib, at a very critical juncture, he addressed him as “Dear Uncle”.

It was at a time when Abu Talib was afraid of a boycott by Quraysh.

“Dear Uncle! If they place the sun on my right hand and the moon on my left and ask me to abandon this mission, still I will not give it up. I will continue to work for it until Allah makes it prevail or I sacrifice my life for it.”

The result of these soft-spoken words was that the natural emotion of sympathy and affection was aroused and, though Abu Talib remained attached to his ancestral religion, he said: “O my son! continue with your mission and do what you like. I will not hand you over to anybody.”

Prophet Abraham’s Invitation 

While speaking to his father the Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) did not take to logic nor speak in the high-flown language meant only for the intelligentsia. He began his talk in the language used in common parlance which could be understood by any man with common sense.

He said, “My father! Why worship an idol which does not hear, see nor can it be of any help lo you. I have been revealed the truth of which you have no knowledge.” (Maryam 19:42-43)

It is also a matter of pleasure for a father that his son should excel him in knowledge and intelligence. That is not surprising.

It has sometimes been found that the father is illiterate and the son becomes a learned and proficient man.

The Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him) said to his father, “O my father! I have been revealed the Truth of which you have no knowledge, so follow me. I will guide you to the right path. O my father! Do not worship the Satan. The Satan is disobedient to Allah.” (Maryam 19:43-44)

Each and every word in this ayah has a depth of meaning in it and is a treasure of wisdom. He spoke to him in a simple language because his father was a simpleminded sculptor. It was no use talking to him in a sophisticated way. He just said, “O my father! I fear that you may be taken as a follower of the Satan and the punishment of Allah may strike you.” (Maryam 19:45)

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 The article is excerpted from the book “Inviting to the Way of Allah”, by Sayyed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Translated by Qazi Abdul Hamid, published by Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. and UK Islamic Academy, 1996/1416 H.

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Prophet Yusuf Inviting to Allah: Perfect Manners & Excellent Disposition

Here we present the method of invitation used by the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him). The relevant verses are:

And two young men went to prison with him. One of them said: ‘I dreamt that I was pressing wine.’ The other said: ‘I dreamt that I was carrying upon my head bread from which the birds were eating. Tell us the interpretation, for we see you of those who do good.’ He said: ‘The food which you are given (daily) shall not come to you but I shall tell you the interpretation before it comes to you. This is of that which my Lord has taught me. Truly, I have forsaken the religion of folk who don’t believe in Allah and are disbelievers in the Hereafter. And I follow the religion of my fathers, Ibrahim and Ishaq and Ya`qub. lt never was for us to attribute anything as partner to Allah. This is of the bounty of Allah to us (the seed of Ibrahim) and to mankind; but most men do not give thanks. 0 my two fellow prisoners! Are many lords better, or Allah the One, the Almighty? Those who in you worship besides Him are but names which you have named, you and your fathers. Allah has revealed no sanction for them. The decision rests with Allah only, Who has commanded you that you worship none save Him. This is the right religion, but most men know not. 0 my two fellow prisoners! As for one of you, he will pour out wine for his lord to drink; and as for the other he will be crucified so that the birds will eat from his head. This is the case judged concerning which you inquired. (Yusuf 12:36-41)

The Unusual Circumstances

Before I elucidate the meaning of these noble verses, I want you to visualize the unusual environment in which the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) had to carry out his mission.

First of all, think for a while about who the Prophet Yusuf was. He was the son of the Prophet Ya`qub(Jacob), and grandson of the Prophet Ishaq (Isaac) and great-grandson of the Prophet Ibrahim (peace be upon them) all, – eminent in lineage, a prophet by heredity, noble in disposition, excellent in morals and manners, mentioned in revealed books, narrated in religious, literary and philosophical works and matchless in beauty.

Then go through the following verses, before enjoying the literary excellence of these verses:

And there came a caravan, and they sent their water drawer. He let down his pail (in the pit). (Yusuf 12:19)

And it seemed good to them (the menfolk) after they had seen the signs (of his innocence)to imprison him for a time. (Yusuf 12:35)

The Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) was imprisoned on a charge from which he had been acquitted. His innocence was as much established by Allah as was the wolf free from the guilt of killing him (an Arabic proverb).

Anyway, the Prophet Yusuf was sent to jail as a convict on a false charge. The prison staff had to carry out the orders of the higher authorities. They were not concerned with the facts of the case. They treated the inmates as chattels. They were not aware of the status of the Prophet Yusuf, the family he belonged to or the noble character he bore. The atmosphere in prison is different from the outside world and the inmates had a lot of time at their disposal.

Though all the prisoners were treated as equals, the Prophet Yusuf (peace be upon him) became the centre of attention- other prisoners being impressed by his character.

Perhaps the fellow prisoners were attracted towards him on account of his devotion to prayers, dignified manners, strength of character, and broadmindedness. They were obliged to respect him for his sterling qualities of head and heart. It was all in accordance with the will of Allah.

The two prisoners had dreams which is nothing unusual, but their dreams were a bit strange. One of them dreamt that he was extracting wine (from grapes). He did not know what the dream meant and fear caught him as if it was a nightmare. The other man dreamt that he was carrying bread in a basket over his head and the birds were eating from it. It was also a strange dream.

They referred their dreams to the Prophet Yusuf, peace be upon him. It shows that their instinct had not become dull. They had the faculty of observation and it is a common practice that people judge by their own experiences rather than depending on logic and reason. They told their dreams to the Prophet Yusuf and asked him for their interpretations saying, “We see you (to be one) of those who act excellently well”.

The Meaning of “lhsan

The two prisoners who asked for interpretation of their dreams said:

“ … for we see you (to be one)of those who act excellently well.”

lhsan thus signifies doing anything in a manner which is the highest degree of perfection.

When asked about lhsan the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:

lhsan is that you worship Allah as if you see Him, because if you do not see Him, then He sees you.” (AL-Bukhari)

Ihsan here means that the Prophet Yusuf was perfect in every way. Because he was accused of an offense (which he did not commit) there must have been some talk about it in the prison. His co-prisoners must have thought at first that there must be some truth in the charge or else he would not have been in prison.

Others might have said that the charge was false. But all this loose talk ended in the prison when they saw him at close quarters and experienced his perfect manners and excellent disposition. The aura of guilt which preceded his coming to the prison disappeared and the prisoners instead saw a halo of glory around him.

A Thought-provoking Matter

The Prophet Yusuf, (peace be upon him) realized that the frightening dreams had brought these persons to him since they considered such matters important in their time.

They gave great importance to such incidents and prognostications and placed implicit faith in them.

But the Prophet Yusuf was brought up in the lap of prophethood, endowed with a rare insight and moulded for prophethood; he understood that these two prisoners were forgetting the grave realities which needed more attention than these dreams. He knew that the present life, however long it may be, is, in fact, no better than a dream.

These two prisoners were more in need of knowing the interpretation of the reality of life and death since their forgetfulness of Allah laid them open to a more serious loss and danger.

Yusuf who was blessed with sympathy for people and had their welfare at heart, knew that it was more important to warn them about the real danger to come. They ought to be told about the thing which was more profitable to them, especially when they had experienced a shock and were mentally prepared to heed his advice. He had now an opportunity to tell them what he wanted; there probably would be no other occasion.

Yusuf (peace be upon him) thought it better not to lose that chance as the interpretation of dreams had presented him with an opportunity to invite them to the way of Allah. He thought that their natural sense of reason ought to be awakened so that they might grasp the meaning of tawheed, the easy and natural belief in One God.

To be continued…..

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The article is excerpted from the book “Inviting to the Way of Allah”, by Sayyed Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi, Translated by Qazi Abdul Hamid, published by Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd. and UK Islamic Academy, 1996/1416 H.

 

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A Divine Call for Kindness to Parents

By Dr. Ahmad Al Khalidi

Allah (Exalted be He) addresses believers and commands them to worship Him alone and to be always kind to their parents especially when they grow old and weak in such a way that they should not utter the slightest word of disgust or disrespect to them.

A Divine Call for Kindness to Parents

Allah commands believers to worship Him alone and to be always kind to their parents especially when they grow old and weak.

The Qur’an reminds children of their parents’ favor to them in childhood specially mothers who endured pains of weight in her body, delivery and weaning.

The human status, nowadays, matches with the Qur’anic facts; as the Muslims in the east and west belong to families with strong bonds where the children are dutiful to their parents in one way or another; while most mushriks ( polytheists’) children in non-Muslim societies depart their parents as soon as they reach puberty age.

Besides, their relationship with their parents gets too weak to visit them or to do any favor for them except on occasions (if they remember them). How wonderful are the  Qur’anic teachings that call children to do good to their parents not only throughout their life but also after their death.

Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. (Al-Israa’ 17:23)

Baz, (2007) brings up that the Qur’an incites the affection of benefaction and mercy in the hearts of children, who always look forward and rarely look backward to care for their parents who  have spent the whole nectar of their life for the sake of their children until drought has approached them.

The Father

Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) instructs children to be aware of their parents’ status in Islam.

Abu Darda’ heard the Prophet say that:

The father is the middle door of Paradise (i.e. the best way to Paradise), so it is up to you whether you take advantage of it or not.” (Ibn Majah)

And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say, “My Lord! Bestow on them Your mercy even as they cherished me in childhood”. (Al-Israa’ 17:24)

The Mother

That is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) commended children to treat their mother well more than any other person.

Abu Huraira reported that a person said:

“Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He said: ‘Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness).’” (Muslim)

Allah says:

And We have enjoined upon man (care) for his parents. His mother carried him, (increasing her) in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the (final) destination. (Luqman 31:14)

True scientific discoveries usually agree with the Holy Quranic verses, so Al Tawashi (2006:265) mentions what scientists have discovered about the importance of mother’s milk, “Every day, a new benefit of mother’s milk to the baby is discovered.” He adds, “one of the facts that science has discovered about mother’s milk is that suckling up to two years after birth is very beneficial.” Moreover, “Mother’s milk is an unmatched mixture that is created by God has both an excellent food-source for the new born baby, and a substance that increases its resistance to disease. Even artificial baby food produced by today’s technology cannot substitute for this miraculous source of nutrition.”

Allah’s Mercy

Children should not forget their parents’ breeding and care. Allah orders children to be modest to their parents out of humbleness and mercy to them seeking reward from Allah. However, in case parents call their children to shirk, they should not obey them; yet they should keep kind and benevolent for them. This, indeed, reflects the extent of mercy of Allah upon parents even though they were disbelievers.

But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them but accompany them in this world with appropriate kindness and follow the way of those who turn back to Me in repentance. Then to Me will be your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do. (Luqman 31:15)

“If they help you in the obedience to Allah, guide and cultivate you with a correct upbringing then they deserve to be obeyed. If, however, they both deviate and strive with much effort with you to fall into shirk (associating other beings/gods) with Allah then there is no obedience to them (in that). However, the general righteousness that you should have towards them does not become void even if they try and strive against you and harm you to disbelieve in Allah, it is upon you not to forget their rights; for you must be a good companion to them in this life.” (Sahih International)

In view of that, young Muslims should always remember this Prophetic hadith that calls children to regard their parents and to be watchful for them.

`Abdullah ibn Mas`ud reported:

“I said: Messenger of Allah, which of the deeds (takes one) nearer to Paradise? He (the Holy Prophet) replied: Prayer at its proper time, I said: What next, Messenger of Allah? He replied: Kindness to the parents. I said: What next? He replied: Jihad in the cause of Allah.” (Muslim)

Fostering Ethical Concepts in Children

Luqman’s son is reminded of the rights of his parents on him, of the hardships mothers face while bearing and weaning their children and of the total dependence of infants on their mothers for two years. However, Man should be thankful to Allah first, then to his parents.

S`adi (1985) points out that one has to be respectful to his parents and that he should treat them gently, speak with them modestly using kind words, deal with them pathetically and avoid ill-treating them, particularly his mother who faced difficulty after difficulty since he was a clot until he was born, enduring his weight in her body, her sufferings from weakness and illness as well as pains of delivery.

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Dr. Ahmad Muhammad Al khalidi is Researcher and translator, E L teacher and lecturer, an old member in the presentation to Islam committee.

 

 

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