by Ali Ibrahim
Last week, you read about how our relationships with our parents evolved from the helplessness of infancy to the stage of being kings and queens of our (very narrow) domains in infancy to our willful obstinate 5 year-old selves. Today, we’ll turn to the stage many of us college youth are stuck in, and hopefully moving away from: the “I’m right no matter what and Mommy doesn’t know what I’m up to!” stage.
We are now in our most rebellious and verbally abusive time of our lives…we are teenagers. We like music, MTV, Facebook, and hanging out with our non-Muslim friends who smoke, drink, do drugs, and skip school and go to Wendy’s down the street. If we are guys, we tell our mothers that “she’s just a friend!” If we are girls, we tell her “he’s just a classmate!” Never mind the fact that our ‘friends’ are the ones we are texting under the dinner table, while we are listening to our mothers tell us our chores, while we are shopping with her pushing the cart half-heartedly, while she picks us up to and from school. While we lie about why we were late coming back home on a school night insisting that we were working on a ‘school project’. While we lie about who we’re chatting with on IM at 4 am in the morning…she comes in telling us “It’s Fajr” and we say “5 more minutes” and then we get up when it’s time to drag ourselves out for school. Despite knowing that we are lying, our mothers never confront us, never take our computers, our phones, our cars away from us…despite knowing what we are doing. Our mothers, during this whole time, make du’a for us…that their son goes to the masjid, that their daughter wears the Hijab proudly, that we pray 5 times a day. This is Point 4.
Let us now go towards the aspect of our lives that dominates the majority of our earthly time: parenthood…yup, blink and you might miss it but now we are married, have our own kids, and now wonder why our kids are so rebellious. As the saying goes, “what goes around comes around”. Now it’s too late to go back and be good children to our parents. Now it’s our time to find out what parenthood really means, the sacrifices demanded, the freedoms that must be given. This is Point 5.
My friends, life is too short…too short to spend squabbling and arguing with our parents from Day 1 until the day they pass away. If we are not nice to them now, then later in life we’ll be kicking ourselves when our kids are even brattier than we were. Our lives will be one of Jahannam because we made our parents’ lives a living Jahannam (Hell is too harsh of a word). This is why we should honor and serve our parents, no matter what stage in life we are at, but especially at puberty for now, according to Shari’a, we are now adults. We are now mature, and some of us are parents in our own right. This is Point 6.
So why is it that we turn our parents away towards retirement homes? Do we have to add fuel to the fire that it wasn’t enough that when they were young and able, they served us, that now, that they are in their old age, we still are in denial of all that they have done for us?
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood’” (17:23-24).
Allah in His book, the Holy Qur’an is giving our parents this respect, especially in their old age. This is Point 7.
Stay tuned to find out why up to this point, we’ve only talked about mothers and not fathers! That will be next Friday, InshaAllah.
(This article is cross-posted on the author’s website.)
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