“And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him in 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 favour which You bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my progeny good. Truly, I have turned to you in repentance and truly I am one of the Muslims.” (46:15)
In Surah al-Ahqaf, Allah teaches us this amazing dua that we can try to learn and read regularly. In this duah, we find that we make duah for many generations of people: Ourselves, our parents and our progeny – all the future generations to come through our children and grandchildren. Allah describes a forty year man who has reached an age of sensibility, leaving his youth behind him. Perhaps at this age, with family and children of his own he realises the value of his parents. As we were young and carefree we did not understand the advice our parents offered. Now this man has reached 40 he understands that he has responsibilities. He realises the importance of his parents as they are now reaching old age and he wonders how long he will have to enjoy their company. He looks at his children and wonders what kind of life they will have and so he turns to prayer. Allah tells us the reward for making a prayer like this and taking responsibility for our parents and our children. In the next Verse He motivates us to look after our dependents;
“They are those from whom We shall accept the best of their deeds and overlook their evil deeds. They shall be the dwellers of Paradise – a promise of truth, which they have been promised.” (46:16)
Our parents may test us but we must try hard to be good and kind to them always no matter what they may say to us. We must struggle to restrain our tongues and only use words of gentleness with them or remain silent. The Prophet, pbuh, taught us that when the parents are pleased with their offspring, then Allah is also pleased with them.
In our state of sinfulness we may have hurt our parents incredibly. As we embrace Islam we must find a way to earn our parents forgiveness and make amends with them. We must find a way to settle their hearts from the stress and strain of worry about us. For every tear that fell from our mothers eyes, we must try to produce a smile from her lips. The Prophet, pbuh, taught us about a companion who could not say the shahada on his death bed;
Muhammad ﷺ asked; Is either of his parents alive? He was told that his mother is, but she is very old. Muhammad ﷺ sent her a message asking her to come to him if she was able to, or otherwise she should stay at home until Muhammad ﷺ comes to her. A messenger told her Muhammad’s ﷺ message.
She said: ” May my life be a ransom for him; It is I who ought to go to him.” She then stood up leaning on her walking stick, and came to Muhammad ﷺ, and greeted him.
Muhammad ﷺ returned the greeting and said to her;”Umm Alqāmah, tell me the truth, for otherwise Allāh Most High will reveal the truth to me! How was the situation of your son Alqāmah?” She replied: ”Messenger of Allāh ﷺ, he prays much, fasts great deal and spends a great amount in charity.” Muhammad ﷺ asked; “What about yourself?” She said; ” Messenger of Allāh ﷺ, I am angry with him.” Muhammad ﷺ asked; “Why?”She replied: “He has preferred his wife to me and disobeyed me.”
Muhammad ﷺ said: ”Umm Alqāmah, surely your anger has prevented Alqāmah’s tongue from uttering the shahadah”; He then turned to Bilāl(RA) and asked him to go out and collect a quantity of firewood. She asked; ”Messenger of Allāh ﷺ, what do you plan to do?” Muhammad ﷺ replied: ” I will burn him in front of your eyes.”
She said: “ Messenger of Allah ﷺ, he is my son! My heart can not bear seeing you do that!
Muhammad ﷺ said: “Umm Alqāmah, Allāh’s torment is severe and more lasting! Therefore, if you want Allāh to forgive him, be contented with him. I swear by Allāh in whose Hand my soul is, Alqāmah’s praying, fasting and spending in charity, are all of no benefirt to him as long as you are angry with him.”
Thereupon she said;
“Messenger of Allāh ﷺ, I call upon Allāh Most High and His angels and the Muslims who are present to be witnesses what I am contented with my son Alqāmah.”
Afterﷺ said to Bilal to go to Alqāmah and see if he is now able to say the shahadah or not. It may be that Umm Alqāmah is saying something (for my sake) which is not in her heart. As soon as Bilāl(RA) reached the door of Alqāmah’s house, he heard him saying the shahadah. He entered the house and remarked: ” It is true that the anger of Alqāmah’s mother prevented his tongue from uttering the shahadah, while her pleasure set it free.”
Alqāmah died the same day. After his funeral, Muhammad ﷺ stood by his grave and said;
“Listen you, company of immigrants (Muhajireen) and Helpers (Ansar), if anyone favours his wife over his mother, Allāh and His angels and all mankind will curse him! Allāh does not accept his beneficence and his uprightness unless he repents towards Allāh, the glorious, the Majestic and reconciles with his mother and attain her pleasure, for Allāhs pleasure consists in her pleasure and Allāh’s anger consists in her anger.”
[ Tabarāni and Muslim ]
So this companion, preferred his wife over his mother, dedicating his time and energies to her. What about us? This companion preferred something that was halal over his mother and she was upset. We preferred the haram, forbidden, things over our parents and that is far worse. So those of us with parents must strive to please them and make it up to them for all that we have hurt them and caused them to miss out on. And for those of us that its too late, then repent to Allah for the way we hurt them when they were alive.