(2) A Muslim vis-à-vis His/Her Parents

Allah has demanded that Muslims treat their parents in the best possible fashion. Muslims must be grateful people. They must be grateful to Allah and to all who do them well. After Allah, there is perhaps no one who deserves a person’s gratitude more than his parents. Thus, numerous verses of the Quran touch upon the question of the treatment of parents. Indeed, in more than one place, Allah has closely tied good behavior towards parents with the command to worship Him alone. Note, for example, the following verse of the Quran: “Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, the poor, the neighbor who is near of kin, the neighbor who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) whom your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful” (4:36).

In this verse, Allah has combined His rights over His servants with the servants’ rights over each other. Among the servants, a person must treat the following five classes especially well: (1) those that are related to him, especially his parents; (2) those who are weak and in need; (3) those with whom he mixes and sees on a regular basis, such as neighbors; (4) those who come upon a person on a temporary basis, such as a wayfarer; and (5) the slaves that one possesses. In this last category, some of the early scholars also included what one possesses of animals.265

Allah also says, “Say (O Muhammad): Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited you from: Join not anything in worship with Him; be good and dutiful to your parents…” (6:151); “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.’ Your Lord knows best what is in your inner-selves. If you are righteous, then, verily, He is Ever Most Forgiving to those who turn unto Him again and again in obedience, and in repentance” (17:23-25); “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” (2:83).

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also emphasized good treatment of one's parents, putting it after prayer in its proper time as a deed that is most beloved to Allah:

The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked, “What deed is the most beloved to Allah?” He replied, “Prayer in its proper time.” He was asked, “Then what deed?” He replied, “Being dutiful to one’s parents.” He was asked again, “Then what deed?” He then replied, “Jihad for the sake of Allah.”266

Allah reminds the believers that their parents, in particular the mother, went through a great deal of hardship and effort to raise their child and therefore they are deserving of love, respect and gratitude in return. Allah says, “And (remember) when Luqmaan said to his son when he was advising him, ‘O my son! Join not in worship others with Allah. Verily! Joining others in worship with Allah is a great wrong indeed.’ And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination” (31:13-14); “And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship and she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him is thirty months, till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years, he says: ‘My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my off-spring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will)’” (46:15).

Thus, in particular, the mother is deserving of the greatest friendship and closeness from her children. The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was once asked, “Who among the people has the most right for my good companionship?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied, “Your mother.” The man asked, “And then whom?” The Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) replied again, “Your mother.” The man again asked, “And them whom?” the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) once again said, “Your mother.” The man asked once more, “And then whom?” This time the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said, “Your father.”267

265 Ibn Rajab, Jami, vol. 1, p. 346-348.
266 Recorded by al-Bukhari and Muslim.
267 Recorded by Muslim.