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 How to pay back one's parents

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Join date : 2011-06-29

PostSubject: How to pay back one's parents   Wed Jul 27, 2011 3:44 pm

How to pay back one's parents

At, the end of our article last week, we mentioned nothing a child normally does for his parents may be considered adequate repayment for the love and kindness they showed him when he was young. Indeed, parents’ love, care and kindness overshadow throughout their lives. We also quoted the Hadith in which the Prophet specifies the only way to pay back one’s parents in full. The Prophet says: “No child repays his parent fully unless he finds him a slave, then he buys him and sets him free.

It is not difficult to appreciate why the prophet considers this as full repayment of a father’s kindness. Incidentally, this applies to the mother as well. A slave is committed to obey his master, whatever he order him. He cannot choose how or where he lives, and what job to do. He simply does what he is told. By setting him free, his son earns him back his freedom. He gives him a feeling of being reborn. Nowadays, we can’t imagine what it is like to be a slave, considering that slavery is non-existent. We can, however, imagine what it means to be committed to obey someone else every day of one’s life, to the extent that one is told what to eat when to sleep and wake up.

It is important to note here that when a son buys his father or mother who have been slaves, the moment they come into his possession they are set free. He does not need to grant them their freedom, as it were. Even in the blackest days of slavery, the mere fact that a father comes to be owned by his son or daughter means, according to Islam, complete freedom to him. No slave can be owned by his own child. This is most noticeable in the case of a slave woman who gives birth to a child by her master. Once the child is born, she can no longer be sold to anyone. She remains, however, the slave of her master. When he dies, she is technically inherited by the child who is her Own. That sets her free. This is one of the surest ways through which Islam reduced the slavery. It is clear that nowadays no one can achieve full repayment of his parents. Since slavery no longer exists, except perhaps in very remote and small areas of the world. It is possible, however, to be a dutiful child who tries hard to make his parents happy. We can achieve this better if we have a clear idea of how being dutiful compares with other Islamic duties.

At the time of the Prophet emigration to Madinah was the mark of being fully committed to Islam. It signified that a Muslim who emigrated disregarded totally all his past loyalties, including his tribal loyalty which used to be thc most important bond in his life. By emigrating a Muslim declared that he was fully committed to Islam, to the exclusion of every other commitment. A man came to the Prophet and said: “I have come to pledge to you my loyalty and to emigrate. I have led my parents in tears.” The Prophet said to him: “Go back to them and make them smile as you have made them cry.” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.) In other words, the Prophet gave a very clear indication to the man that if his parents would be so miserable as to cry because he was leaving, them in order to emigrate, then he was better off staying with them in order to make them happy. The Prophet did not wish that sadness should be felt by parents as a result of a duty Islam required of its followers.

Someone may ask how does the Prophet order someone not to emigrate, when emigration earns a great reward fGod. The answer is that to be kind and dutiful to one’s parents can compensate for that. Consider this Hadith reported by Ibn Abbas: “For any Muslim who has two Muslim parents and who goes to them every morning obeying their requests, God opens two doors to heaven. If he has one parent, God opens one door to heaven for him. If he displeases either of them God will not be pleased with him until that parent of his is pleased with him.” Someone asked: “Even when they are unjust to him?” He answered: “Even if they are unjust.” (Related by Al-Baihaqi and Al-Bukhari in “Al-Adab Al-Mufrad”). This is another of the many ways by which the Prophet explains to us that one of the surest ways to be admitted into heaven is to he a dutiful child. In this Hadith we are told that we must even tolerate injustice by our parents. There are certainly occasions when a parent may be unjust, if we can tolerate that unjustness, then we should do so.

But we should not obey them when their injustice is inflicted on someone else. In that case, we should counsel them against it. This is because injustice is forbidden. When we help them to do something forbidden we are their partners in that. It is more dutiful to try to dissuade them from committing that injustice. Where we must not obey our parents is when they order us to do something unlawful. If a parent commands a child of his to do something forbidden, then the child must not do it. The Prophet says “No creature may he obeyed in what constitutes a disobedience of the Creator”. If something ordered by the parents is suspiciously wrong, then we should still do what they ask us, because we are not certain that it leads to something forbidden.

Sometimes parents disagree with each other. Each one of them may ask their child to do something, which displeases the other. How does a child behave in this case? Muslim scholars’ answer that he should give priority to his father’s right to be honored and respected, because he adopts his name. At the same time, he gives priority to the mother’s right to be served and supported. If both of them enter his home or his room, he stands up to show his respect to his father. If both of them ask him to give them something, he begins by giving his mother. If he has to support them both financially and he can support only one of them, he gives priority to his mother, because a woman is normally supported by her relatives in Islamic society. The other reason is that one’s mother takes more trouble on herself looking after her child from pregnancy to birth to breast feeding and then bringing him up through the different stages of his childhood looking after him when he is ill and so on. This shows how Islam takes a reasonable, practical and balanced attitude of looking after parents.

Easy Way leading to heaven

Numerous are the Hadiths which speak of the importance of being kind to one's parents. This suggests that the Prophet spoke at different times and on numerous occasions about this duty. That in itself is a clear indication of the great importance the Prophet attached to its fulfillment. We have already quoted and commented on a few of these Hadiths. From them we learn that to be kind and dutiful to one's parents is a personal duty incumbent on every Muslim. It is well known that certain duties are imposed on the Muslim community as a whole.

This means that if a group in the community fulfills that duty then the community as a whole is deemed to have fulfilled it. If no one comes forward and does it the whole community is Guilty of negligence an example of such duties in the field of worship is prayer for a deceased person (i.e. Janazah prayer). Moreover, any branch of science or knowledge which is needed by the Muslim community especially in its relations with non-Muslim communities or states including its enemies imposes on the Muslim community the duty to acquire full knowledge of it. If any group of Muslims acquire that knowledge, the community has discharged its duty if only one person is able to excel in it, it becomes a personal duty on him to do so, and the community is required to help him achieve that excellence.

To be dutiful to one's parents is a personal duty. That is to say it is required of every son and every daughter. If a married couple have, say 10 children, nine of whom are dutiful and exemplary in their treatment of their parents that does not reduce in any way the duty of the 10th child to also he kind and dutiful to his parents. Mothers and fathers look after each one of their children. As such, they have an equal claim on each of them.

In fact children should compete in being kind to their parents. When parents are treated kindly by their children they are happy. They go through the remaining part of their lives feeling contented that the hard work they put in looking after their children has not been wasted. When any of their children is successful in life, they are overjoyed. Being a dutiful child however brings its own rewards to the child himself. There is firstly that happy feeling which is generated by the relaxed and peaceful atmosphere at home resulting from the parent and child. That happy feeling is strengthened by the sense that one is doing his duty toward someone so close to him. A much more important aspect of reward however is that God is pleased with every son and daughter who are kind to their parents. We have to remember here that God's pleasure is the most coveted prize of all. It is the only way which leads to heaven .The prophet explains the relationship between God and the one who does not treat his parents well in these terms, "Despised and humiliated he is! Despised and humiliated he is! Despised and humiliated he is!” When the companions asked him to whom he is refering the Prophet answered: "A person whose parents or one of them, attain to old age living with him and they do not cause him to be admitted into heaven." This hadith is also related by Al-Bukhari in his book "Al-Adab Al-Mufarrad" in a slightly different version in which the Prophet is quoted to have said in his answer: "A child whose parents or one of them attain to old age at his place and he is thrown in hell " This Hadith is highly significant, it shows beyond any shadow of doubt that the surest way to book one's place in heaven is to be exemplary in one's kindness to his parents especially when they have attained to old age. This means that the reward of kindness to parents is essentially to offset any sin one may commit provided that he believes in the t oneness of God and the message of the Prophet. If a person holds himself in such a situation looking after either one or both of his parents when they are old and cannot do much for themselves, it should be easy for him to win God's forgiveness of his sins through his kindness to his parents. If in spite of his situation he is thrown in hell, it means that he is either unkind to them or that he is so wicked a person that he commits grave sins every day of his life. In both cases he is despised and humiliated. He will certainly be so when he ends himself in hell in the hereafter.

It is well known that to take part in a campaign of jihad or struggle for God's cause is one of the most highly rewarded actions a Muslim may do. He is prepared to sacrifice his life for the cause of God. God is certain to reward him amply. In this light, consider this Hadith related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others on the authority of Abdullah ibn Amr. "A man came to the Prophet (peace be on him) declaring that he wished to go on a campaign of jihad. The Prophet asked him: Are your parents alive, he answered: yes. The Prophet said: Then go and do jihad in their service. Linguistically speaking jihad means to exert one's best efforts. The Prophet's instruction to this man was to go and try as hard as he could to please his parents. The more kindness he showed them the better for him. What is more is that to do so is equivalent in reward to fighting the enemies of Islam.

One may ask how can kindness to parents compensate for fighting the enemies when God states in the Qur'anwarning the believers against sitting back when it is time to fight the enemies: "Unless you come forward (for jihad) He will inflict on you grievous suffering " (9:39) There is certainly no contradiction in the teachings of Islam. Jihad is a community duty. Like we said earlier, if a sufficient number of Muslim go on jihad, the others are not deemed to have absconded the duty.

When a Parent must not be obayed

Over the last few weeks we have been discussing kindness to parents as a personal duty imposed by God on every son and daughter. We have explained that to be a dutiful child is to ensure that one is closer to God. It makes it easier to win God’s pleasure and be eventually admitted into heaven. We have also explained that parents must be obeyed unless they order us to commit a sin. This is based on the Prophet’s Hadith that no creature may be obeyed in what constitutes "disobedience to the Creator”. All this assumes that the parents are Muslims. It may happen, however, that a Muslim child has non-Muslim parents. What should his attitude be towards them?

Asma’ bint Abu Bakr was the Prophet’s sister in-law. She was the daughter of his closest companion and the sister of Aisha, his wife. Her mother, however, did not become a Muslim for quite a long time. Asma states, my mother came to me during the time of the Prophet, hoping to get something from me; I asked the Prophet whether I should be kind to her. He answered: Yes. (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others.)

The way this Hadith is phrased suggests that her mother had not yet become a Muslim when she came to her. Another version of this Hadith states clearly that the mother was hostile to Islam. Had she shown any inclination to become a Muslim, Asma’ would not have needed to ask for the Prophet’s permission to be kind to her. Many Muslims at that time were extra kind to their parents and relatives who were not Muslims, hoping to win them over to Islam. The significance with this particular Hadith is that even when a parent is determined not to become a Muslim, we still should treat him or her kh1dly.

God later revealed in the Qur’an: As for such of the unbelievers as do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your home land, God does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave toward them with full equity. Indeed, God loves those who act equitably”(60:Cool

It is clear from this Qur’anic verse and the Hadith quoted above that to show kindness to parents who are non Muslims is also a duty on children, provided that such parents do not fight against Muslims and do not chase them out of their land. This is further supported by a Hadith, which mentions that Umar saw a silk suit being sold in the market place. He suggested to the Prophet to buy it in order to wear it on Fridays and when he received delegations from other tribes. The Prophet said: “Only a person deprived of goodness wears such a suit.”

Sometime later, the Prophet received a number of similar suits. He sent one to Umar. Umar asked: “How can I wear it when you have said. What did you said?” The Prophet answered:” I have not given it to you to wear, but to either sell it or give it as a present.” Umar sent it to a friend of his in Makkah who was not a Muslim. This Hadith suggests that kindness to unbelievers is also recommended if they do not take an attitude of active hostility toward Islam.

Kindness to non-Muslim parents does not depend on what religion they follow. Even if they worship idols, we are supposed to be kind to them. It is true that such kindness may help win them over to Islam. This is, however, not the only reason. The parent-child relationship transcends matters of personal inclinations, desires, habits, creeds and faith. It is well known that a parent tries hard to overcome his prejudice against something if he feels that his son or daughter likes it. Islam does not like to stir trouble in every family where the parents are not Muslims. It recognizes that the parent-child tie need not be broken on account of faith. It, therefore, instructs its followers to be kind to their non-Muslim parents.

Only when such parents try to persuade their Muslim son or daughter to turn away from Islam that God commands us not to listen to them or obey them. God states in the Qur’an: We have enjoined upon man goodness toward his parents: His mother bore him by bearing strain upon strain, and his weaning is within two years. Be grateful toward Me and toward your parents with Me all journeys end Yet should they (your parents) endeavor to make you ascribe divinity, side by side with Me, to something of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them. But even then bear them company with kindness in the life of this world and follow the path of those who turn toward me.” (31:14-15) It is reported that these verses were revealed when the mother of Sa’ad ibn Abu Waqqas, who was a companion of the Prophet was so upset when she learned that he had embraced Islam. She tried to persuade him to revert to his old faith. Realizing that he was determined to follow the Prophet? She tried to increase the pressure on him. She knew that he was a most dutiful child and he loved her dearly. She thought that if she brought hardship on herself, he would feel sorry for her and might listen to her. She swore that she would not taste any food or drink until he had left the Prophet.

The judgment in his case was given by God in the above quoted verses. Sa’ad did not listen to his mother and continued to be one of the best companions of the Prophet. He was later given the happy news by the Prophet that he was certain to be admitted into heaven.

It is clear from this story and the verses revealed by God concerning it that when it comes to matters of faith, a non-Muslim parent may not be obeyed. That, however, does not mean to be unkind to such a parent. We are required to still be kind to him or her, hoping always that they may recognize the truth of Islam

We do good if we pray God to enlighten our non-Muslim parents and guide them to accept Islam. We cannot, however, pray God to forgive them. God forgives all sins with the exception of associating partners with him. All non-believers do associate partners with God in one form or another. It is, therefore, futile to pray Him to forgive what He has told us He would not forgive. Moreover it is an affront to God.

It may be hard for a Muslim child to be unable to pray for the forgiveness of his non-Muslim parents. Let us remember that the Prophet’s own parents were non-Muslims. He tells us that he asked God’s permission to pray Him to forgive his mother. His request was declined. We know that God granted every prayer the Prophet made either for himself or his companions or, indeed, Muslims generally.

The fact that God did not permit the Prophet to pray for the forgiveness of his own mother suggests that this is not a trifling matter at all. It is indeed much more beneficial to one’s non-Muslim parents who are alive that he prays God to guide them to Islam.

To pray for ones parents

When a person believes in Islam, he develops a permanent close relationship with God. To him, this relationship is more real than any relationship he may have with his relatives, neighbors, friends or colleagues. He feels that God watches over him, knows what thoughts he may entertain, his fears, hopes and ambitions. He knows his weaknesses and points of strength, motives, temptations and innermost thoughts and secrets. The stronger the faith of a Muslim is, the more real and vivid his relationship with God becomes. He turns to God at every point and prays Him for guidance, help, mercy and forgiveness.

If he does something good he thanks God for enabling him to do it. If he makes a mistake, he prays Him for forgiveness. If he hopes to achieve something, he prays God to fulfill it. If he stands in fear of something he prays Him to protect him against it. This sort of prayer, or ''supplication”, is the companion of a Muslim throughout his life. He resorts to it like a soldier resorto his weapon when he goes to fight. Supplication provides a Muslim with unfailing support. He feels that he does not stand alone against the problems of life, whatever they are. A Muslim fears nothing more than being abandoned by God. When he prays God he feels that He would not abandon him. After all, he says in the Qur'an: "Your Lord says: pray Me and I will answer you." (40:60)

This verse from the Qur'an suggests that our prayers will always be answered. The Prophet tells us, however, that when we pray God, He either grants us immediately what we have asked Him, or he may store it for us till the Day of Judgment when He gives it to us multiplied several times. When we are given it, we wish that God has deferred granting us everything we prayed Him for in this world. We may discuss this point in detail at a later time. This means that some of our prayers God will answer in this world. We feel that they are answered and we see the results with our own eyes. This enhances our feeling that our relationship with God is not something abstract. It is so real that it has its marked effects in our real lives.

The Prophet tells us in several Hadiths which prayers are granted straightaway. One of these Hadiths is related by Ahmad At-Tirmidhi and others on the authority of Abu Hurairah, who quotes the Prophet as saying '`Three prayers are answered with out doubt: A prayer by a person suffering injustice, and a prayer by a traveler, and a prayer by parents against a child of their own." All three types of people share in common that they have no one around to turn to for the fulfillment of their legitimate needs or requests.

When a person suffers injustice and finds people turning away from him, his last resort is God. He turns to Him and prays Him with sincerity, hope and faith that He alone can restore justice to him.

Similarly, a person who has traveled away from home feels himself a stranger among people with whom he may have little in common. That gives him a real sense of weakness. When he prays God, he does so with devotion and sincerity. Parents do not normally pray God against their own children unless they are genuinely and deeply hurt by them. Nothing hurts a human being more than ingratitude. When he does someone a good turn, he expects his good turn to be appreciated. If instead, the other person is ungrateful, he feels deeply hurt. Parents normally do every kindness they can to their children. They have a double motive to do so: Their natural inclination as parents, and their hope to be rewarded by God.

To his parents, a child represents hope for the future. When the helpless young boy of yesterday is a man going through life with confidence and ability, benefiting by his upbringing, his parents may stand in need of him because they have grown older and weaker. When the kindness they expect does not materialize, still they hope that their son will soon recognize his duty toward them. At first their forgiveness is easily forthcoming. Repeated unkindness by the son however, is bound to leave a growing sense of disappointment. If he hurts them so badly they give up on him they feel that no one can restore their rights except God. They turn to Him with supplication. If they pray God against their own child, it means that they have been so hurt by him that their sense of injury becomes much stronger than their natural love of their own child. Such an injury cannot escape punishment by God. No one who has a shred of faith In God would cherish the prospect of having his parents praying God for support against him. If a Muslim finds himself in that position, he must immediately go back to his parents, ask them to forgive his mistakes and try as hard as he can to compensate them for his past unkindness. Normally, parents will easily forgive, even if their son or daughter has deeply offended them.

The Prophet gives us an example of how God answers a parent's supplication to Him against their own children without fail. Both Al-Bukhari and Muslim relate a Hadith on the authority of Abu Hurrairah who mentions that he heard the Prophet saying: "No human child spoke in his cradle except for Jesus, son of Mary, (peace be on him) and the friend of Jurayj. The Prophet was asked: 'Who was the friend of Jurayj?' The Prophet answered: 'Jurayj was a monk who lived in his hermitage. A cowherd used to make his abode at the foot of Jurayj's hermitage. A woman from the village used to come to the cowherd (having an affair with him.)

One day his mother came and called ‘Juraij’, When he was at his prayers. He said to himself while praying 'Should I answer my mother or continue with my prayer?' He preferred to continue with his prayer. She shouted to him a second time, and he thought, 'My mother or my prayer'?' He again thought it better to continue with his prayer. She shouted to him a third time and he again thought: 'My mother or my prayers?' Again he thought it better to continue with is prayer. When he did not answer her, she said: 'Jurayj, may God not let you die until you have looked in the laces of prostitutes.' She then left. (Perhaps we should explain here that his mother did not pray that he should commit any sin, but rather that he should be humiliated among people before he died.)

Later, a village woman was taken to the king after she had given birth to a child. The king asked her who was his father. She answered, 'it is Jurayj's. He asked: 'The man in the hermitage?' She answered, 'Yes.' He ordered that the hermitage should be destroyed and that Jurayj should be fetched to him. They hacked at his hermitage with axes until it collapsed. They bound his hand to his neck with a rope and took him along. They passed with him by the prostitutes. When he saw them, he smiled. They were looking at him along with other people.

The king asked him: 'What do you say to that which this woman claims?' He said: 'What does she claim?' He said: 'She claims that you are the father of her child.' He asked her, 'Do you claim that'?' She answered in the affirmative. He asked, 'Where is the little one?' They replied that it was in her lap. He turned to the child and said 'Little one, who is your father'?' The child answered: "The cowherd.'

The king said to him: 'Shall we rebuild your hermitage with gold?' He replied, 'NO'. He said, 'With silver, then'?' He answered, 'No'. The king asked, 'Then of what shall we make it?' He answered, 'Put it back as it was.' The king asked him, 'What made you smile?' He answered, 'Something which I recognized. My mother's supplication has been fulfilled He told them the story."

In this Hadith, the Prophet teaches us that even a man who has dedicated himself to prayer could not escape the consequences of his mother's supplication against him, if she has a genuine grievance. Jurayj did not make any mistake by continuing with his prayer. His mother might have been unaware that he was in the middle of his prayer. She was genuinely annoyed when he did not answer her after she had called him three times. Her supplication was not extremely serious. She felt a little humiliated and she prayed that her son would be humiliated in return. God granted her prayer in the terms she wished. We should, then, be careful how we treat our parents. Whatever we do, we must not let them feel offended by our attitude toward them, We should guard against them coming to feel hurt by us that they would turn to God for justice As it has been explained earlier, God grants a parents' supplication against his child without delay. God also answers the supplication of parents for their children. This however may be deferred. A dutiful child, however, will certainly feel that his parent’s supplication on his behalf brings him immeasurable benefits. He will undoubtedly be successful in life.

Higher level of dutifulness

This is the last article in our series how a Muslim should treat his parents. We have explained in our articles that to be undutiful to one's parents is considered in Islam a very grave sin indeed.

We concluded our discussion last week by explaining that when parents supplicate against their childras a result of being treated unkindly by them, God answers their supplication without fail. When parents pray God for the welfare of their children, God may defer answering their prayer, although He will definitely answer it. The question arises whether a child's supplication and prayer for his parents benefit them. The answer is a most definite "yes". God orders us in the Qur'an to pray for our parents, in these terms: "My lord, have mercy on them (my parents) as they have brought me up when I was young."

He would not have told us to pray Him for our parents if our prayers were not beneficial to them. Our supplication on their behalf, however, benefits us as well. It is a mark of being dutiful, and God rewards a dutiful child. In other words, when we pray God to be kind to our parents, to have mercy on them and to forgive them, He credits us with a good deed for being dutiful and He answers our prayer bestowing mercy on our parents. Hence, the Prophet who has taught us every good thing tells us to conclude our formal prayer, whether voluntary or obligatory, with this supplication: "My Lord, forgive me and my parents. My Lord have mercy on them as they have brought me up when I was young.'' Thus, thinking of one's parents and remembering their kindness and love to us when we were young becomes intertwined with worship.

What this means is that we can help our parents to a higher position with God by praying for them every time we stand in prayer whether obligatory or voluntary, when they are alive and after they die. The Prophet mentions this specifically in a Hadith related by Muslim, An-Nassaie Abu Dawood, as well as Al-Bukhari in "Al -Adab Al-Mufrad" on the authority of Abu Hurairah: "When a person dies, his actions come to an end, except in one of three ways: A continuing act of charity, (or) sadaqah), or a useful contribution to knowledge, or a righteous child who prays for him." Al-Bukhari also relates in his book "AI-Adab Al-Mufrad' which is considered to be of a slightly Iesser degree of authenticity than his compilation of highly authentic Hadiths known as the Sahih the following Hadith which is also related by Ibn MaJah and Malik on the authority of Abu Hurairah : "The rank of a dead person may be raised after his death. He asks: My Lord, how does this come about? He is then told: Your child has prayed for your forgiveness."

These two Hadiths need no comment. A child who does not pray God for his parents, particularly after their death, when he knows that his supplication on their behalf benefits them and him is either undutiful or lacking in faith.

Again in this respect the whole question is one of debt repayment. When my children notice that I supplicate to God for my parents and ask Him to have mercy on them, they will supplicate on my behalf when I am dead. In the same way, if they see me treat them when they are alive as a dutiful child should treat his parents, it is more than likely that they will treat me in the same way. If they realize that I am undutiful (God forbids), the likelihood of them being undutiful to me is very high indeed. If I care for my children, then I would like them to be dutiful because of the reward a dutiful child earns from God. In short, to be a dutiful child is to walk along the path which brings benefit to oneself, one's parents and one's children. In view of this, only a loser can be undutiful.

When one's parents are alive. their presence may be a great motivator for one to be dutiful. When they die, we tend to think that we discharge our duty fully toward them by praying for them. The Prophet teaches us that there are other ways in which we demonstrate our dutifulness. The emphasis the Prophet puts on kindness to parents motivated his companions to be exemplary in their treatment of their parents

They always came to him With questions exploring every way which may earn them greater reward. A man came to the Prophet and asked: "Messenger of God, now that my parents are dead, is there any act of dutifulness left for me to do towards them?" The Prophet answered: "Yes. There are four things: Supplication for them, praying that they are forgiven, fulfillment of their wills, being kind to their friends and maintaining good relations with those of your relatives with whom your kinship is established only through them.'' (Releated by Abu Dawood, Ibn Majah and others.)

It goes without saying that the Prophet considered supplication for parents and praying for their forgiveness as one, because, when we supplicate on behalf of anyone the first thing we ask is his forgiveness. It may be useful to point out that family relations may be established through breast-feeding, marriage and birth. If a child is breast-fed by a woman who is a stranger to him he becomes related to her in the same way as he is related to his own mother. In this Hadith, the Prophet lays emphasis on the need to be kind to our relations with whom our tie of kinship is established through our birth.

In this Hadith and similar ones, the Prophet explains to us a higher standard of being a dutiful child. While everyone appreciates the first two of these four actions the Prophet mentions, the last two are not so easily appreciated. Someone may say: What claim my father's friend may have on me when our ways hardly meet? 1 may have nothing to do with him. His way of thinking may be very different from mine. The Prophet is stressing this point as a mark of good upbringing, good personality and dutifulness. We lose nothing by treating our parents' friends with respect and kindness. Indeed, we gain a great deal as our reputation in our society is greatly enhanced.

The same applies, perhaps in greater measure to our relatives who belong to the families of either of our parents. We should do like the companions of the Prophet who learned this lesson from him and acted on it. Ahmad and Muslim relate that Abdullah ibn Umar, a companion of the Prophet who achieved high renown as one of the best scholars among the Prophet's companions, was traveling with a group of people when he met a Bedouin who was a friend of his father. The Bedouin asked him: "Are you not Umar's son?" He answered in the affirmative. Ibn Umar then gave instructions that the Bedouin be given his own donkey which he used to take with in Order to ride when he was tired camel riding. He also took his turban off his head and gave it to the man. Some of his companions remarked that a couple of dirhams (the silver coin of the time) would have been adequate, since Bedouins did not expect much. Ibn Umar told them that the Prophet said: "Maintain your father's friendly ties. Do not sever them lest God puts out your light " A different version of the same Hadith is also attributed to lbn Umar without the introductory account of his meeting with the Bedouin. This version is even more authentic as it is related by Muslim, Abu Dawood, At-Tirmidhi, Ahmad and others. It is also related by Al-Bukhari in " Al-Adab Al-Mufrad". It quotes the Prophet as sayng 'The highest form of dutifulness is when a man maintains good relations with the people his father loved."

It goes without saying that whatever applies to fathers in the Prophet's Hadiths concerning being dutiful also applies, in no lesser degree, to mothers. We conclude this series of articles by praying God to help us be truly dutiful children, whether our parents are alive or dead.
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