THE relationship between parents and their children is one of the sacred human relationships to which Islam gives due attention. This relationship should be based on respect, giving, tenderness and mercy.
The Holy Qur’an mentions this relationship in many Surahs (chapters), usually after mentioning Tawheed (Monotheism) as if Allah wants to inform people that being kind to one’s parents is the second important thing after believing in Allah: “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 your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at 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 Your Mercy even as they did bring me up when I was young.” (17:23-24)
You find a lot of parents in the West living in retirement homes who are only accompanied by their pets because their sons and daughters have totally forgotten them. You rarely find such cases in the Muslim world because Muslims do follow what the Holy Qur’an says regarding being grateful to one’s parents throughout their lives.
When one of the Companions asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), about the person who is entitled more to his companionship in this life to which Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), answered; “Your mother.” The man again said “Who else?” and the Prophet (peace be upon him) again said “Your mother.” The man asked, “And then who?” The Prophet (peace be upon him), said, “Your mother.” The man then asked, “Then who?” to which the Prophet said “Your father.” Muslim scholars said that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), preferred the mother three times to the father because she is distinguished by three roles: pregnancy, delivery and breast-feeding.
The Qur’an mentions a lot of positive examples of parent-child relationships such as the one between Prophet Yahya parents and this is clear when Allah praises Yahya in Surah Mariam, Mary: “And piety (for all creatures) as from Us, and purity: He was devout. And kind to his parents, and he was not overbearing or rebellious.” (Qur’an, 19:13-14) And in the same Surah, Prophet Isa, Jesus (peace be upon him says): “He has made me kind to my mother, and not overbearing or miserable.‘ (Qur’an, 19:32) In other words, the Holy Qur’an aims at instilling in the reader’s or listener’s mind the fact that being grateful and kind to one’s parents is the shortest way to win Allah’s approval.