Raising Children and Respecting the Elderly

Islam came to strengthen the ties between individuals within the community, young or old, poor or rich, educated or not, to ensure that the muslim community is connected from all sides and is a standard to be followed.

 

Dear Brothers and sisters in Islam, from the great attributes that Islam has brought, is for the youngsters to respect their elders, and for the youngsters to  realise the status of their elders, and not to exceed this verbally or physically.

 

This is the Sharia that Islam has brought to us, teaching us to respect other Muslims especially those older than themselves, and the elders should have mercy on the youngsters, and look after them, and to be soft with them. These exchanges ensures respect between the members of the community and keep a strong Islamic ethos between the community members.

 

It is important that we give each person the respect they deserve, and not to ignore status, as the prophet peace and blessings be upon him said:

 

He is not from amongst us who does not have mercy on our youngsters and respect our elders.

 

The imam reminded us of ayat 54 of Sura Ar-Rum in which it is translated to say:

It is Allah Who has created you in a state of helplessness as a baby, then gave you strength to come out of helplessness in youth, then after strength again helplessness and grey hair in old age. He creates whatever He wills and it is He Who is the All-knowing, the Almighty.

 

Dear brothers and sisters, if we analyse this ayat we see a powerful lesson for us all, regardless of age. Our vigour and strength that comes from being youthful will not last forever and we will also belong to that group of people who will need help, support as well as honour and respect.

And so, this reminder concludes with two sets of practical advice. The first advice is for the parents, on how we ought to be with our children. This is summarized in 5 tips for Islamic parenting:

  1. Embrace the uniqueness of each child. By this it means that it is for us as parents to understand the unique characteristics and behaviour of our children. Therefore we need to work with their personalities and provide them with the guidance, nurturing and support they need to fulfil the potential that Allah SWT has bestowed them with.
  2. Embed the love and power of Allah SWT in them. Instill in them the facts of life from an early age. The fact that nothing happens without the will of Allah SWT. That everything comes from asking of Him. That duas are part and parcel of existence in this life and that nothing comes without the permission of Allah SWT in our lives.
  3. Establish the extreme importance of prayer. We know salah to be important but it needs to become a family event in the home so that those who are young get to experience the salah even if it means sitting quietly at salah time for the older children.
  4. Engage in beneficial activities with them. This is key to maintaining a relationship with them as they reach adolescence. Activities you can participate with them in such as swimming, walks in the park and cycling. Don’t fall into the trap of the electronic babysitter, ie the phones, computers and television as they will take their attention away from the family as is being seen now in society.

 

  1. Family meetings and meal times. Family meetings should be conducted where every member gets to have their say on what is important to them and what is troubling them. These should be done in a fair, open nature so that each member can speak without fear of being told off. Let each member take turns in chairing the meeting so that everyone gets experience in leading the meeting, presentation skills, communication skills and skills on resolving issues.

Alongside these tips comes the second set of practical advice and this part is summarized in 5 tips that we can employ to honour our parents.

  1. Helping them in their day to day chores. Often it may be the case that they are struggling to come to terms with their own limitations in old age. The head is willing, even if the body is not. As children we need to recognise when this is happening and offer to help, even when it is not being asked of us.
  2. Speaking to them with a greater degree of politeness. As they get older they become more sensitive to the tone, speed and language of voice that is being used to speak to them. Hence be mindful of this so that their feelings are spared and they don’t feel hurt after speaking to their children.
  3. Ignore their harshness. Often it is the case that they are coming to terms with the hardship of their age and time. As a result it may play on them and they become harsh in their conduct with others. We need to recognise that this is our test and not theirs. Respond to their harshness with kindness understanding and love because as our parents they have earnt it regardless of the harshness they may show now.
  4. Follow their advice. We live in a time and place where the internet has replaced the wisdom of parents and so children don’t come to the parents for advice. Besides the obvious argument that the internet is also full of bad advice, it is worth remembering that the advice that come from parents comes with 2 important points that are often overlooked. Firstly, their advice is laden with love and you can’t get that from anywhere else. Secondly, their advice comes with the wisdom from Allah SWT. What this means, and it’s important to remember, is that even if the advice is not the one you’d opt for, the fact that you are going with that advice over your own, means you are obeying your parents over your own self and thus Allah SWT, who controls your destiny and your future, is now part of that equation. Surely a most powerful argument for following their advice.
  5. Looking after their needs. Whether this be financial through ensuring they are comfortable in later life to sociological such as making sure they engage in continued relations with their friends and relatives, we have a responsibility to make sure that they do not feel vulnerable or isolated in later life.

Dear brothers and sisters, remember, with all things in life, it is finely balanced and the right of the children and the rights of the parents are both important and should not be overlooked. By following the advice of todays reminder we can contribute to the well-being of our family as well as set an example in a fragmented society on how the family unit ought to be established.

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