The rights of parents include respect, love and obedience. This obedience is conditional that it does not contradict obedience to the commands of Allah and His Messenger. It involves care and kindness to both parents, and provision of necessities for elder parents. Humility and respect to both parents equally is an obligation, and any arrogance or insolence is forbidden.
Patience and perseverance are required when serving parents, no matter what the circumstances. Allah says in the Qur’an:
Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in their life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. (Al-Israa’ 17:23)
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) instructed us saying:
“(Allah’s pleasure on someone) is based on the pleasure of his parents. The wrath of Allah is based upon the anger of his parents.” (At-Tirmidhi)
Asmaa’, the daughter of the Abu Bakr, said My mother came to visit me while still not a Muslim. I asked Allah’s Prophet (peace be upon him) concerning her visit (and how to treat her while visiting me) and said, ‘My mother is eager to visit with me. Should I (or should I not) extend my courtesy (as a host) to her?’ He said: “Yes, extend courtesy”. (Muslim)
The mother must be given priority in terms of kindness, sympathy, good feelings, love and affection as mentioned by Allah’s Prophet:
“A man came to Allah’s Prophet and asked him: ‘O Prophet of Allah! Who is the most worthy and deserving person of my good treatment and companionship? He replied: ‘Your mother.’ The man asked: ‘who is next?’ Allah’s Messenger replied: ‘your mother.’ The man asked ‘who is next?’ Allah’s Messenger replied: ‘your father.’ And in another version there is the ending: ‘your father and then the next nearest and next nearest.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)
Allah’s Messenger assigned the mother with a three-fold portion of the right of companionship. The father, in comparison, receives only one share. This is due to the fact that mothers suffer more hardships during pregnancy and during the delivery and care of their children. Allah says in the Qur’an:
And we have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: in pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. (Al-Ahqaf 46:15)
This in no way demeans the rights of the father, since the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
“No son can repay (the right of his father) unless he finds him a slave, buys him and then emancipates him.” (Muslim)
The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions”.