Dear Friday Jemaah,
Let us strive together to boost our takwa towards Allah s.w.t. strengthen the resolve to uphold Allah’s commands and avoid what He has prohibited upon us.
When we were young, our parents meant everything to us. They are the ones who brought happiness and joy to our lives. We looked up to them as our heroes; they were champions in our eyes. We saw how, despite their busy work schedules, they still had the energy to teach us, play with us, and bring us out to interesting places and so on. They were chosen by Allah s.w.t. to nurse us when we were sick and to protect us from all sorts of danger and threats.
We depended on them for all our needs. And then at one point, we find that our heroes, who were able to do everything for us, began to change. They are not as strong as they were before. While they used to be able to bring us out to all sorts of wonderful places, they may start complaining of aches in their legs and lack the energy to even walk up a few flights of stairs.
While they were once cheerful, they may easily be hurt or slighted by our words or actions, without us even realising it. That is indeed the cycle of life. Men will change not only physically, but also emotionally as they age. This is not a punishment but a gift from Allah s.w.t. to His servants so that as they get older, they will focus more on the Hereafter–the place they will return to for eternity.
In his youth, a man would usually be busy chasing material wealth, busy with work and managing his daily life. However, as he ages, all that nikmat (blessing) will be reduced so that he will remember his impending death. It is replaced with the nikmat of a more sensitive heart that is easily softened, so that it will ease him as he brings himself closer to Allah s.w.t.
When this change happens, Allah s.w.t. has reminded us as children, in surah Al-Isra’ 23:
Which means: “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.”
Allah s.w.t. is All Knowing, and indeed He truly knows the emotional state of men when he is in his old age. Thus, Allah reminds His servants to be very careful and to take extra care when dealing with their parents and not to utter any words or use any tone which may offend or hurt their feelings.
For those jemaah in the mosque who are already parents, they will definitely understand that raising children is not an easy feat. Parents have to make countless sacrifices and give up all sorts of comforts, and sometimes even endure pain and hardship just to raise their children.
It is because of this sacrifice that Allah s.w.t. has placed both our parents on a high standing. That is why there is a hadith of the Prophet s.a.w, narrated by Ibnu Hibban in his Shahih, which means:
“The pleasure of Allah is the pleasure of the parents and the wrath of Allah is the wrath of parents.”
Sometimes we go out and travel for miles and miles just to seek the doa of pious people. But we forget how noble our parents are and that their doa (prayers) will be granted by Allah. Be kind and courteous to them for as long as you have been given the opportunity to do so. Do no ill-treat them because with them lie the key to barakah and paradise.
Indeed, there are challenges in taking care of our aged parents, just as there are challenges in raising children. However, we can be mindful of several matters so that the situation does not get too complex or challenging.
First: The responsibility of taking care of our parents is a shared responsibility of all the children, and must be shared equally by all whether it is the daughter or son. Just because some of our siblings are taking care of our parents, does not mean we can wash our hands off the matter. It is obligatory upon all of us to share the responsibility with fairness and care for them. We must also lend emotional, financial and physical support to our siblings who care for our parents’ full time. If our brothers and sisters are tired from looking after them, we must play our roles by giving them time to rest and taking care of our parents’ needs. They must also be given time to spend with their own family.
Second: We need to correct our perception that taking care of our aged parents, no matter how challenging it can get at times, is not a burden but in fact, is a blessing or barakah. My brothers, Rasulullah s.a.w. once said in a hadith narrated by Imam Muslim:
“Woe to him, woe to him, woe to him.” The Prophet was asked: “Woe to whom, oh Rasulullah?” He replied: “A person who sees either one or both his parents in old age but does not attain Paradise.”
Let us not lose the opportunity to attain a place in Paradise. Do our best to serve our parents, and when it is time for them to leave us, we do not have any regret because we have done our utmost to take care of them and treat them with respect and kindness. Remember my brothers, when Allah s.w.t. has taken them away from us, we have lost the most valuable blessing that Allah has given to us. Instil in our children a sense of love and to value the elderly by loving our own parents and taking care of them.
It is extremely worrying that recently the papers have reported that cases of children who abuse their aged parents have risen. We cannot allow for this trend to continue and become widespread. Thus, we have to start with our own families.
Third: Make sure that we remember our parents in our doa all the time. My brothers, whether our parents are still alive or they have passed on, we should continue to make doa for their well-being. At the very least, remember what Allah s.w.t. says in surah Al-Isra’ verse 24:
Which means: “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.”
Our parents were never miserly in showering us with love so that we can live well. Thus, if they have any mistakes towards us we should try to forgive them for their weakness. Do not let syaitan overcome us and instigate us to become rebellious children and then fail to gain a place in Allah’s Paradise.
May Allah s.w.t. grant us the sincerity and strength to continue to serve our parents, whether they are still alive or have passed away. May Allah s.w.t. forgive the sins and wrongdoings of our beloved parents, and shower them and us with His Rahmah. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
Friday Sermon, 15 November 2013 / 11 Muharram 1435