The importance of honouring one’s parents is:
Firstly: it is obedience to Allaah and His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him). Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And We have enjoined on man to be good and dutiful to his parents”
“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 honour. 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 young’”
Meaning: be dutiful to them with noble statements, kind speech, being obedient and avoid being disobedient towards them, beware of being ungrateful towards them, spending on them, honoring those who are connected to them, and joining the ties of kinship that you would have no relationship with if it was not for them.
“…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…’”
The command of being dutiful to parents and its application includes everything mankind counts as being dutiful; this differs due to different times, situations, and people. This command also includes the prohibition of being undutiful towards the parents, and that is from two aspects:
- By abusing and being ungrateful towards them through harmful statements and actions, and leaving off performing some of their obligatory rights.
- To abandon being dutiful and also to abandon harming them. For surely (remaining upon this state of not doing anything) is a form of disobedience.
Also, a child cannot say: “If I establish the obligatory rights of my parents and I abandon disobeying them then I have established their rights.”
It is said (to this type of person), “(No,) rather you have to also exert yourself (by doing more than what is obligatory upon you) in being dutiful towards them, according to your ability, that will put you on the level of the righteous who are righteous to their parents.”
“…as they did bring me up when I was young.”
This is (one of) the reasons that necessitate being dutiful towards parents. That is because the parents had a share in cultivating a person’s well-being and spirit by providing nutrition, clothing, and raising them. They spent their provisions in teaching and guiding (their children) to the obedience of Allah and in having beautiful mannerisms and characteristics.
In this is a proof that every person who had the right of cultivating you by spending their provisions, clothing you, and so forth, then it is from their rights upon you to be dutiful and righteous towards them and to make supplication for them.
The highest level of those who deserve this are those who have cultivated your intellect and spirit through knowledge and discipline; they have the greatest rights over you. And this is from the virtues of the people of knowledge who teach and implement (what they know); these are their rights over the people. Perhaps, they may even exceed double fold in cultivating an individual more than one’s parents, and that is from Allah’s bounty that He gives to whomever He wills.
In al-Saheehayn it is reported that Ibn ‘Abbaas said: “The Messenger of Allaah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) was asked which deed is the best? He said, ‘Faith in Allaah and His Messenger, then honouring one’s parents…’” And there are many other Aayat and Mutawaatir Ahaadeeth which say similar things.
Secondly: obeying and honouring one’s parents is a means of entering Paradise, as it was reported in Saheeh Muslim from Abu Hurayrah that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “He is doomed, he is doomed, he is doomed.” It was said, “Who, O Messenger of Allaah?” He said, “The person whose parents, one or both of them, reach old age during his lifetime but he does not enter Paradise.” (Saheeh Muslim, 4627).
Thirdly: Respecting and honouring them brings friendship and love.
Fourthly: respecting and obeying them is a way of showing gratitude to them because they are the ones who brought you into this world. You should also show gratitude towards them for bringing you up and taking care of you when you were young. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents” [Luqmaan 31:14]
Fifthly: if a person honours his parents this may be the cause of his own children honouring him. Allaah says (interpretation of the meaning):
“Is there any reward for good other than good?’ [al-Rahmaan 55:60]
- Abu Bakrah Nufai` bin Al-Harith (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Shall I not inform you of the biggest of the major sins?” Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) asked this question thrice. We said, “Yes, O Messenger of Allah. (Please inform us.)”. He said, “Ascribing partners to Allah, and to be undutiful to your parents”. Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) sat up from his reclining position and said, “And I warn you against giving forged statement and a false testimony; I warn you against giving forged statement and a false testimony”. Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) kept on repeating that warning till we wished he would stop. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith mentions some of the major sins. A major sin is one against which there is a serious warning in the Noble Qur’an and Hadith. When disobedience to parents is mentioned along with Shirk (polytheism), it makes the fact evident that both of these are very serious sins. Similar is the case of telling a lie and false testimony, which in the incident mentioned in this Hadith made Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) to leave his pillow and sit attentively. It indicates that the latter two are serious. May Allah protect all Muslims from all such sins.
- Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`as (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “(Of the) major sins are: to ascribe partners to Allah, disobey parents, murder someone, and to take a false oath (intentionally)”. [Al-Bukhari].
Commentary: There are many more major sins which have been enlisted and discussed at length by Muhaddathun in independent volumes, such as Az-Zawajir `an iqtraf-al-Kaba’ir, Kitab-al-Kaba’ir by Adh-Dhahabi. This Hadith mentions some of the major sins enumerated by the Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) on a particular occasion. We can also say that the sins mentioned here are some of the most serious among the major sins.
- `Abdullah bin `Amr bin Al-`as (May Allah be pleased with them) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “It is one of the gravest sins to abuse one’s parents.” It was asked (by the people): “O Messenger of Allah, can a man abuse his own parents?” Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “He abuses the father of somebody who, in return, abuses the former’s father; he then abuses the mother of somebody who, in return, abuses his mother”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Another narration is: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “One of the major sins is to curse one’s parents”. It was submitted: “O Messenger of Allah! How can a man curse his own parents?” He (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “When someone curses the parents of another man who in return abuses the former’s father; and when someone abuses the mother of another man who in return abuses his mother.”
Commentary: We learn from this Hadith that one should not abuse anyone’s parents, because in the event, he is paid in the same coin, he will be responsible for disgracing his own parents.
- Abu Muhammad Jubair bin Mut`im (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “The person who severs the bond of kinship will not enter Jannah”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].
Commentary: This Hadith poses a serious threat to those who violate the Divine injunctions of maintaining good ties of kinship. In spite of such a serious warning, this major sin is very common in our present-day society. The purpose of this warning is that Muslims prevent themselves from it. May Allah save us from it.
- Abu ‘Isa Al-Mughirah bin Shu`bah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu alayhi wa sallam) said, “Allah has forbidden you: disobedience to your mothers, to withhold (what you should give), or demand (what you do not deserve), and to bury your daughters alive. And Allah dislikes idle talk, to ask too many questions (for things which will be of no benefit to one), and to waste your wealth”. [Al-Bukhari and Muslim].