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"And We have enjoined on man goodness (Ihsan) to his parents, and if they contend with you that you should associate (others) with Me, of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them, to Me is your return, so I will inform you of what you did." Al-Qur'an 29:8
What sort of a relationship should we maintain with our parents? In what matters are we not allowed to obey them? Generally what opinion has mankind held concerning their parents and ancestors when the message of Allah was delivered to them? What should be our relationship with our parents in case they are unbelievers? The answers to such and many other questions are provided in the Qur'an as guidance for all Mankind. The Qur'an provides us a clear criteria for establishing a relationship with our parents whether they be believers or unbelievers. The following are some Ayat (verses) dealing with this subject:
As believers, we are instructed about the sort of behavior that we are to maintain with our parents, especially when they have reached old age:
"And your Sustainer has decreed that you will serve none but Him, and that you be good (Ihsan) towards PARENTS. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life,say not to them (even) `fie' nor rebuke them but address them with terms of honor." (17:23)
"And out of kindness lower to them the wing of humility and say:`O My Sustainer,Bestow on them your mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." (17:24)
In the above verse we are restrained from even saying `fie' <oof> to our parents as people who are harsh on their parents and rebuke them are described as `those in loss' <khasireen>:
"And (there is one) who says to his PARENTS `Fie' on you! Do you hold out the promise to me that I shall be raised up,even though generations have passed before me?' And they two seek Allah's aid (and say) `Woe to you! Believe! For the promise of Allah is true.' But he says:`This is nothing but tales of the ancients!' (46:17)
"Such are they against whom is proved the sentence among the previous generations of Jinn (hidden persons) and mankind, that have passed away; for they are those in loss." (46:18)
As believers we are also commanded to spend on our parents from our resources as they cherished us in childhood:
"They ask you what they should spend.Say:`Whatever you spend that is good, is for PARENTS and kindred and orphans and those in want and for wayfarers. And whatever you do that is good,-Allah has its knowledge." (2:215)

Its is obligatory for us to provide for our parents when they are in need and not to desert them in an old home. Furthermore we cannot impose any hardships on them. Jesus the son of Mary (PBUH) is an example for us in this regard:
(Jesus said) "And He has made me kind to my mother and not overbearing or miserable." (19:32)
While maintaining good behavior with their parents, the Believers are instructed not to obey their parents in certain situations:
"And We have enjoined on Man concerning his PARENTS: In travail upon travail did his mother bear him and his weaning is in two-years: Show gratitude to Me and to your parents: To Me is your goal." (31:14)
"But if they strive with you to associate with Me that which you have no knowledge, THEN OBEY THEM NOT; Yet bear them company in this life in a recognized manner. And follow the way of those who turn to Me. In the end the return of you all is to Me, and I will tell you the truth of all you did." (31:15)
We are not to obey our parents if they suggest `Shirk' i.e. association with Allah, yet bear them company in a just manner.
Generally people maintain those beliefs in their lives which they have inherited from their parents and ancestors. They don't analyse those beliefs by reason nor intelligently or critically evaluate them. Many people take the faith of their ancestors to be the whole truth under the assumption that `How could our elders and loved one's be wrong?' They are also discouraged by their parents and influentials to raise questions concerning religious beliefs and suggest blind following to their doctrines without proof. The inherited faith has always caused a barrier in accepting the truth of Allah as the beliefs of ancestors are mostly at variance with the message of Allah. In all times the foremost reaction of people, when the truth and reality of Allah is made evident to them is that they found their fathers following something else and they will stick to their ancestral beliefs. The excuse that people give when they are told to follow Qur'an is the same and they prefer the blind following of the sect or cult in which they are born rather than personally consult the Qur'an for guidance:
"And when it is said to them:`Follow what Allah has revealed !' They say: `Nay ! We will follow what we found our FATHERS following.' What ! Even though their fathers were void of wisdom and guidance?" (2:170)
The faith of ancestors has always been a barrier in accepting the truth of Allah and the messengers were given the the same argument.
Response to Noah (PBUH)
"....Never did we hear such a thing among our FATHERS of old." (23:24)
Response to Hood (PBUH)
"..Have you come to us that we may serve Allah alone and leave that which our FATHERS served..?" (7:70)
Response to Salih (PBUH)
"..Do you forbid us that which our FATHERS served?.." (11:62)
Response to Shoaib (PBUH)
O Shoaib, does your Salat order that we leave of that which our FATHERS served." (11:87)
Answer to Abraham's (PBUH) question
"They said:`Nay we but found our FATHERS doing thus what we do!" (26:74)
Joseph's (PBUH) reminder
"If not Him you serve nothing but names which you have named, you and your FATHERS.." (12:40)
Response to Moses (PBUH) and Aaron (PBUH)
"..Never did we hear the like among our FATHERS of old!" (28:36)
Reaction to Muhammad (PBUH)
"..This is just a Man whose intention is to oppose you from that which your FATHERS served.." (34:43)
The Qur'an strongly opposes the blind following of the faith of parents and ancestors. It invites people to use their reasoning ability and intelligence in ascertaining the truth. (See 38:29,47:24,43:3,21:10) The Qur'an not only provides evidence for its claims (see 4:174,6:104) but also asks its opponents to provide sufficient proofs (see 21:24, 27:64, 2:111, 37:157).
Blind following of ancestors involves a person to accept their beliefs without question or sufficient proof.The blind submission to ancestral beliefs is encouraged by Satan as his chief objective is to keep Mankind away from the Qur'an:
"When they are told to follow what Allah has revealed,they say:`Nay we shall follow the ways that we found our FATHERS following !' What ! Even if it is Satan beckoning them to the penalty of the blazing (fire)? " (31:21)
Instead of taking guidance for all matters requiring guidance from the Book of Allah,people insist upon copying the ways of their fathers:
" What! Have We given them a Book before this to which they are holding fast?" (43:21)
"Nay! They say:`We found our FATHERS following a certain way
and we will guide ourselves by their footsteps."
"Just in the same manner, whenever We sent a Warner before you to any town, the wealthy ones among them said:`Surely we found our FATHERS following a certain way and we will certainly follow in their footsteps." (43:23)
By following the faith of their ancestors people get involved in worshipping those names and heroes which exist in their ancestral traditions and don't serve Allah alone.Joseph (PBUH) also faced similar situations and he reminds...
"If not Him you serve nothing but names which you have named, you and your FATHERS, --for which Allah has revealed no authority: The government is for none but Allah; He has ordered that you be subservient to none but Him, that is the established Deen,(System of life) but the majority of mankind do not know." (12:40)

It is essential once we have the opportunity in this lifetime that we use our reasoning and the criteria of Al Qur'an in analyzing the faith that we have inherited from our parents,whether it confirms to what the Qur'an is saying or is against its teachings.In case we are not relating the guidance of Al Qur'an in our lives and are blindly following our fathers then our end has been foretold....
"Then their return is to the BLAZING (fire)." (37:68)
"Surely they found their FATHERS on the wrong path." (37:69)
"So they (too) rushed down their footsteps." (37:70)

Allah will question on the last day:

"The fire will burn their faces and they will grin therein with their lips displaced." (23:104)
"Were not my AYAT (Verses) REHEARSED TO YOU and you did but treat them as falsehoods?"(23:105)
"They will say:`Our Sustainer! Our misfortune overwhelmed us and we became a people astray!" (23:106)
People will further admit on that day:
"They will (further) say:Had we but listened or USED OUR INTELLIGENCE,we should not (now) be among the companions of the BLAZING FIRE!" (67:10)

To a Believer,the cause of Allah is what matters the most. Believers cannot give preference to their parents, children, relatives, careers etc over the cause of Allah, mentioned in Al Qur'an. The following verse reminds us:
"Say:`If it be that your FATHERS, or your sons,or your brothers, or your mates, or your relatives; the wealth that you have gained, the commerce in which you fear a decline; or the buildings in which you delight--are dearer to you than Allah and his messenger and the striving in his way;--Then wait,until Allah brings about his decision: and Allah guides not the Dissolute." (9:24)
If the Parents and relatives hold such beliefs and actions that are against the teachings of Al Qur'an, then they are not to be taken into intimate ranks:
"O Believers ! Take not as protectors your FATHERS or your BROTHERS if they love Disbelief <Kufr> above Conscious Belief <Eimaan>. If any of you do so then they are from the Oppressors." (9:23)
In such a situation were parents are unbelievers, we are to deliver the message to them and incase they don't respond positively and are harsh and aggressive, then bear with patience but should not misbehave. Misbehaving would mean taking a stand on our own ego, rather than following the guidance of Allah.The example of Abraham (PBUH) is to be followed when dealing with unbelieving and aggressive parents:
"And remember in The Book, Abraham; He was a true ‘Nabi’ (Direct recepient of the Divine Messages)." (19:41)
"When he said to his FATHER; `O my father why serve that which hears not sees not and can profit you nothing?" (19:42)
"O my father! To me has come knowledge that has not reached you: So follow me. I will guide you to a way that is even and straight." (19:43)
"O my father serve not Satan, for Satan is a rebel against (Allah) Most gracious." (19:44)
"O my father! I fear that a penalty from (Allah) Most Gracious afflict you, so that you become to Satan ,
a friend."
To Abraham's (PBUH) invitation his father responded in negative:
"(The father) replied :`Do you hate my gods O Abraham? If you forbear not, I WILL INDEED STONE YOU ! Now get away from me for a long while ! " (19:46)
Abraham (PBUH) did not reply in a harsh manner to his father's threat:
"(Abraham) Said:`PEACE BE ON YOU:I WILL PRAY TO MY SUSTAINER FOR YOUR FORGIVENESS <MAGHFIRA> , for He is to me most Gracious." (19:47)
Believers don't have any affection or love for those who oppose the way of life prescribed by the Qur'an even if they are their parents and near relatives:
"You will not find any people who believe in Allah and the Last day, loving those who oppose Allah and His messenger even though they were their FATHERS or their brothers, or their kindred. For such He has written <Eimaan> (Conscious Belief) in their hearts and has strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein forever. Allah well pleased with them and they with Him. They are the Party of Allah. Surely it is the Party of Allah that will prosper." (58:22)
Even if our parents are genuinely righteous in the sight of Allah, even then they can be of no help to us on the last day. As each and everyone of us is responsible for our own actions (See 53:38,35:18) how much we follow the guidance of Allah in our lives ourselves, that we ourselves have to face. The instance of Noah (PBUH) is evident in this regard as he being a messenger of Allah could not save his own son:
"And Noah called upon his Sustainer, and said: `O my Sustainer,surely MY SON is of my family and your promise is true and you are the most just of judges!" (11:45)
"(Allah) Said :`O Noah! He is not from your family, for his conduct is not corrective, so ask not of Me that of which you have no knowledge! I give you counsel, lest you act like the ignorant!" (11:46)

We are responsible and accountable for our own actions,what our parents and ancestors did , we will not be questioned about them:
"That was a Nation that has passed away. For them is what they earned and for you is what you earn. And you will not be questioned as to what they did." (2:141)
Mankind are reminded, about the day when parents and children will be of no help to each other. In this life we are responsible for our own beliefs and actions and have been provided with the faculty of reasoning and the guidance of Allah in Al Qur'an and the free will to chose our line of action (See 18:29). It is our own duty to seek the truth and follow the guidance, rather than blindly follow our parents and ancestors.On the last day we cannot put the blame on our parents for the results of our actions.
"O Mankind ! Do your duty to your Sustainer, and fear a day when no father can avail ought for his son, nor a son avail aught for his father, Surely the promise of Allah is true: Let not then this present life deceive you, nor let the chief deceiver deceive you about Allah." (31:33)

By: Kashif Ahmed Shehzada

Taken from: http://www.al-shia.com



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