What Are the Rights of Parents in Islam? Part 1

A newborn baby who opens his/her eyes to this world is tiny and weak at first; like a rosebud that appears in spring. It is then a burden upon the parents in Islam to take care of this fragile gift, like a compassionate gardener, until the baby grows up and flourishes.


Knowing that our parents as a team have provided for all our needs till we grow up, we naturally respect them. But this becomes of paramount importance when we come to know that how strongly Islam emphasizes parents’ rights and respecting them.


The Importance of the Rights of Parents in Islam


Islam has placed such a strong emphasis on the parents’ rights and worth that showing gratitude and being grateful to them are commanded to, right after Monotheism (Tawhid) in several verses of the Quran [i].


In the nineteenth chapter of the Quran, Surah Maryam, where some moral virtues of Prophet Yahya (PBUH) are mentioned, it is said that he was “good to his parents” (19:14). We also read that Prophet Jesus (PBUH) introduces himself as the servant of Allah who: “[made me] be good to my mother” (19:32).


In a narration, Imam Sadiq (AS) is asked about the best deeds; Imam (AS) answers: “Prayer (Salat) in its stipulated hour, goodness towards parents and Jihad in the way of Allah” [1]. Bringing the respect for parents, after prayer (Salat) and before Jihad indicates the high-value Islam places on caring for parents.


parents in Islam, Salam Islam, family in Islam


In another narration from Imam Sadiq (AS), doing good to parents, whether they are among believers (Mu'min) or disbelievers (Kafir), is known as a duty that no one can be exempted from [2]. He also said that: “Whoever satisfies the parents has satisfied God; and whoever annoys them, has annoyed God” [3].


The Rights of Parents in Islam


Respecting the rights of parents in Islam, whether alive or dead, is highly advised. These rights include:


  • Obedience to parents as far as it is not against God’s orders or unjust; a situation that one is forbidden to obey his/her parents is: “if they urge you to ascribe to Me as partner that of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them”(31:15). But even in this case, one should treat them kindly: “Keep their company honorably in this world” (31:15). Another case where parents’ disobedience is allowed, is when they invite to something unfair: “Be maintainers of justice and witnesses for the sake of Allah, even if it should be against yourselves or [your] parents and near relatives” (4:135).


  • Respecting them deeply, looking at them with affection, being humble and talking to them with a gentle voice and kind words: “Keep their company honorably in this world” (31:15); “[He has enjoined] kindness to parents. Should any of them or both reach old age at your side, do not say to them, ‘Fie!’ And do not chide them, but speak to them noble words” (17:23); “And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy” (17:24). In a narration from Imam Reza (AS), saying “Fie” to parents is believed to be the least thing that bothers them; hence, anything greater than that must be definitely avoided. Of other narrations in this regard are: “If your parents upset you, do not react badly; if they hit you, do not react the same but tell them ‘May God forgive you’” ;  “… do not look at your parents except with a kind look, do not raise your voice on them, nor your hands over their hands, nor walk further than them ” [5]; “whoever looks at his parents with hatred, even if they oppress him, Allah will not accept a single prayer from him” [6]; “Insolence includes a man’s looking at his parents with a sharp gaze” [7].


  • Being humble regarding parents: “Lower the wing of humility to them, mercifully” (17:24). This humility must arise from deep in your heart and originate from your real affections. 


 parents in Islam, Salam Islam, family in Islam


  • Treat them well: "When We took a pledge from the Children of Israel: ‘Worship no one but Allah, do good to your parents” (2:83). This verse of the Quran reveals that everybody, whether Muslim or not, must treat the parents well.


Imam Hussain (AS) was asked about the meaning of treating well in this verse. The answer was briefly that it means to treat them with ultimate compassion, to show them great respect during their companionship, not to oblige them to ask for what they need but provide them before they mention it [8]. One of the best deeds in Eid al-Adha is said to be doing good to parents [9].


  • Being beneficent to parents is a duty upon children when they are alive as well as after they pass away. Imam Sadiq (AS) said: “What prevents you from doing good to your parents? Pray [ii], donate, perform the holy pilgrimage (Hajj) and fast (Sawm) in their place because God awards you a lot in return for your good deeds” [10]. It is also said that: "Whoever visits his parents' grave on Fridays, will be forgiven and will be among the virtuous" [11].


  • And be thankful to them: “Give thanks to Me and to your parents” (31:14).


Praying and asking mercy for them [iii]: “and say, ‘My Lord! Have mercy on them, just as they reared me when I was [a] small [child]’ ” (17:24).
Continue Reading: "What are the Rights of Parents in Islam? Part 2"