Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The rewards for taking care of aging parents

************************ In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ************************* Reflection *********************** The Declining Day (Al-'Asr) 1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance. ***************************** ONE Dr Safiah Osman once in a while in her email 'provoke' me to write about 'my part in helping' my aging parents and what 'worldly rewards' I get or witness from it. I am reluctant because I am very shy to talk about 'my help' to them as it was nothing to shout about. ************************* I mean 'nothing' because they; especially my mother had sacrificed everything for me; when she did everything that she did for me – she gave up her time, her pleasures, her health – she gave up everything she had to raise me as you see me today, but I have given her 'only a little helping hand and time'. Ooh, that's unthankful and disgraceful for me... *********************** But recently in my weekly 'kuliah subuh' (lectures after dawn prayers), the 'ustaz' involved gave a talk about seven rewards awaited those who devoted their 'everything' including time to look after their parents made my rethink about Dr Safiah's request and thought they might help in opening up minds of some readers. ************************* Dr Safiah who was a Professor of Language Education at the University of Malaya (UM) and at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) requested me to do so after reading my previous articles 'on mothers' including one with the title 'Love your mother, mother and mother' in which among others I wrote: "Since a few years back I was responsible for her well being, almost every Wednesday I had to take the day off to take her to the Melaka Hospital for her weekly consultation and appointment. Nowadays she needs to go to the hospital or community clinic almost daily and that this was one reason I decided to opt for an early retirement at the age of 50." **************************** Yes, there are bountiful rewards in this word and the Hereafter to those who take great care of their parents; what more when they are of old age but those who abandon them would see the doom in this world and Hereafter. ************************** Of course our parents (and we too) are getting older and older by each day. They too are getting weaker and weaker thus our help are very much needed. Regarding this, Allah SWT in the Qur'an does not advise us to offer physical help to them. Rather He says: “And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.” (Qur’an Al-Isra' 17:23) ************************* In the following verse, Allah SWT goes on to explain further how we should treat them: “And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, ‘My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.’” (Qur’an Al-Isra' 17:24) ************************** 'Lowering the wings' is a saying used to express humility. It means that you have a chance to show your power, but you refrain out of humbleness. Similarly, the word “rahmah” or “mercy” gives a connotation of someone, despite having the upper-hand, still showing kindness. ************************** Dr Safiah herself had published several books mostly on education and not long ago she had sent me a copy of her work entitled 'Let Us Remember Allah for the Gift of Love in Our Hearts'. In her book, Dr Safiah began with reminding us to remember Allah and move on to love for parents and ending it with love for those who are not greedy and miserly. ************************* Regarding 'Love for Parents', Dr Safiah wrote in a beautiful poetic style prose; *********************** Allah SWT has given us the precious gift of life, the treasured gift of love. So He says: Love your parents and give them your endless devotion, Show a great deal of affection and let there be many beautiful tender moments, Treasure each precious moment that you are with them, Embrace them, take their trembling clasped hands and plant light kisses on them, Show kindness, gentleness and polite manners and use polite speech, And always, forgiveness from them you beseech, Beseech Allah's forgiveness for them. Respect them, do not give even one exasperated sigh or utter a single harsh word, Because if you do it will hurt you more for your prayers may not be heard, Also, it will be a cause of regret, Regret, your heart torn with regret, pierced with regret, Regret, deep regret, that it had been too little and too late, Regret that will rip your hearts to shreds... The Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. said: "Love your mother, love your mother, love your mother and then love your father." ************************** The 'ustaz' during the 'kuliah subuh' said the seven rewards to those who do good deeds to their parents according to various 'hadiths' are: ************************* 1. Those who take great care towards their parents, their deeds made Allah SWT happy and the reward in doing so is much more compared to the reward of going to a 'jihad' war. According to a report by both Bukhari and Muslim, a man came and asked the Prophet s.a.w. for permission to participate in jihad. He asked him; "Are your parents alive?" He said, "Yes," so the Prophet s.a.w. told him: "So perform jihad by taking care of them." ****************************** 2. The reward is equivalent to performing hajj and minor hajj (umra). *********************** 3. They would rewarded with the bounty of Paradise. *********************** 4. It is a reason to prolong our lives, having bounty and 'barakah' (blessed) in our properties. ********************* 5. A very great opportunity to be admitted to Paradise; those who dismiss this chance would be at a great loss. ************************** 6. Erasing all our sorrows and sadness but opening up to the feeling of goodness, and 'insya-Allah' (if Allah wills) we are on the road of success. *************************** 7. If our parents are please with us, then Allah SWT is also please to us; whats more we want in life other than His blessing! ************************** Our parents are like fields for us to gather rewards from Allah SWT. Doing good deeds to them are like opening up the gates to Paradise. He who wishes to enter Paradise through the best door must please his father and mother. **************************** The Prophetic tradition provides us with motivation when we find it hard to deal with our parents: In a famous narration, the Prophet s.a.w. said, “Ameen,” to three supplications made by Angel 'Jibrail' (Gabriel). One of them was, “Far away is the person whose parents, one or both of them, reach old age during his lifetime but he does not enter Paradise!” (Muslim) *************************** This person was given a chance to enter Paradise by being good to their parents, but they let the opportunity slip away. This person lost out because of how easy it can be to gain reward for helping them or staying in their company. The Prophet s.a.w. called out this person because it is the ultimate lack of mercy to leave your parents in their old age. ************************** The 'ustaz' said a son or daughter could still help his/her parents even after their death because there is a 'hadith' narrated by Abu Hurairah r.a. which said: "There are three things which continue to benefit a person after death, a recurring charitable act, knowledge which he has imparted to others from which people derive benefit and thirdly, pious off springs who continue to offer prayers invoking Mercy of Allah upon him."

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