Being Kind to Oppressive Parents

It is stated by sayyidina Ibn Abbas RA ,”If both parents of a muslim are alive and he begins the morning treating them both kindly then Allah swt opens for him 2 doors of paradise. But, if one of them is alive (and he nehaves kindly with the surving parent) the Allah swt opens for him one door of paradise. And, if he displeases them then Allah swt will not be pleased with him until he makes them happy.” Someone asked, “If they oopressive (then what)?” ibn Abbas said, “Even if they are oppressive.”

(bayhaqi shabal-iman)


This hadith emphatically relates the merits of service, obedience and kind treatment to parents. If both parents of a muslim are alive and he gives them respect,serves them obeys them then Allah swt opens 2 gates of paradise for him. However, if only one of the parents is alive and he is respectful, loving and caring to the surviving parent then, because of his pious deed, one gate will be opened for him. In some way the hadith is very explicit in describing the plight of one who is undutiful to his parents. It cautions very clearly that if anyone displeases his parents then he earns the displeasure of Allah swt and does not regain it until he makes amends and pleases his parents.

The concluding portion states that if the parents are oppressive and hard on their child even thendisobedience and hurting them will open the doors of hell for him. But, this does not imply that parents are permitted to be cruel to their offspring. If parents abuse their children then they will face punishment for that and they will be made to pay for their misconduct.

The offspring must realise their own responsibilities and if parents do not fulfil their obligations it is their lookout, not their offspring’s. In fact, this is great advice and useful instruction to live a collective life. Everyone must pay attention to his own responsibilities and not worry how other people treat them (although this is easier said then done). If everyone, young and old is mindful of this advice then inshallah life will be peaceful and allah swt alone enables.

Source: Manners in islam – Abu Abdullah Muhammad bin islamil Bukhari

Respect the Poor

If you come across a poor person at a gathering or you were invited by a poor person at home or at work, do not look down upon him or her because you consider them poor. Poverty is not a defect or a fault to be ashamed of, while lack of kindness and generosity is.

Remember that the poor will enter paradise much before the rich- “The poor of the Muhajireen will enter Paradise five hundred years ahead of the rich of the Muhajireen.” (Saheeh al-Jaami’ 4/90, no.4104).

Majority of the people in paradise will be the poor-Prophet (s.a.w) said, “I stood by the gate of Paradise and saw that the majority of those who entered were the poor and wretched. The rich [Muslims] were detained while the people of Hell were ordered to be taken to Hell”. [Sahih Al Bukhari]

Treat poor companions or guests with honor and respect. Be pleasant while talking to them, using the best language. Again, poverty is not a vice. Many of the poor are more honorable than the wealthy, and many who are penniless are preferred to the rich.

Walking with the elderly

To illustrate this point I will cite jurist ‘Ali bin Mubarak Al-Karkhi [Rahimahullah], who studied under Imam, Abi Y’ala Al-Hanbali [Rahimahullah], himself a jurist and a judge and the chief Shaikh of the Hanbali school of Law: ‘One day, Judge Abu Y’ala said to me, while I was walking with him: “If you walked with someone you honor, where would you walk? I said: “I do not know.” He said: “Walk on his right. Place him at the position of Imam in the prayer. Leave his left side clear in case he needs to spit or to get rid of dirt.

An interesting story in this regard happened among three Muslim scholars. They were Judge Ahmad bin Omar bin Suriah (249-306 A.H.), Faqih Mohammad bin Dawood Al-Zaheri (255-297 A.H.), and linguist Naftawih (244-323 A.H.) [Rahimahumullah]. They were walking along together when they came to a very narrow passageway, and each wanted the other to go ahead. Ibn Suriah [Rahimahullah] said, “A narrow street begins ill manners.” Ibn Dawood [Rahimahullah] responded, “Though it points out status.’ Naftawih [Rahimahullah] said, “When friendship prevails, formalities disappear.”

The story does not tell who went ahead of the others, but it is likely that It was Ahmad bin Suriah [Rahimahullah] since he was a judge and a prominent imam at the imam at the time and ranked above his two companions. He may have said “A narrow street brings ill manners” apologizing out of politeness for going ahead. It is just wonderful to see such perfect behavior and nice apologies.

Do not walk in front of elders unless you have to show the way.

Respect of Parents

Observe complete respect  and reverence to your father and mother for they are most worthy of your consideration. A man came to Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] and asked, “Who is most worthy of my cordial conduct?” He answered, “Your mother! Your mother! Your mother! Then your father, then the closest to you and then the closest to you.” [Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

Sayyiduná Hisham Ibn ‘Urwah [Radiallahu anhu] recounted that his father related to him that Sayyiduná Abu Hurairah [Radiallahu anhu] saw a man walking ahead of another. He asked him, “How is this man related to you?” “He is my father,” answered the man. Sayyiduná Abu Hurairah [Radiallahu anhu] told him: “Do not walk ahead of him, do not sit until he sits and do not call him by his name.” [Al-Adabul Mufrad & Musannaf ‘Abdul Razzáq]

Imam Ibn Wahab [Rahimahullah] has related that a student of Imam Malik Ibn Anas [Rahimahullah], by the name of Imam Abdul Rahman Ibn Al-Qásim Al-Utaqí Al-Misrí [Rahimahullah] said, ” Imam Malik  [Rahimahullah] was once engaged in teaching the ‘Muwatta Imam Malik. He stood up for a long time and then sat again. When he was asked why he did so, he answered, “My mother came to ask me something. Since she was standing, I stood up out of respect. When she left, I sat down again.” [Tartíbul Madárik]

The revered Tábi’í Tawús Ibn Kaisán [Rahimahullah] said, “It is part of sunnah to respect four persons: an álim, a leader, an elder and a father. It is considered rude that a man calls his father by his name.” [Tárikh Madínatis San’á]

At the end of his book on Maliki law entitled, “Al-Káfi”, Imam Ibn ‘Abdul Barr [Rahimahullah] says, “Kindness to parents is an obligatory duty but it is only easy for the one for whom Allah makes it such. Kindness means, to be humble with them, to speak to them politely, to look at them with love and respect, to speak in a tone that does not surpass theirs unless they are hard of hearing, to give them complete access to your own wealth and to offer them the best of your food and drinks.”

One should not walk ahead of one’s parents, nor should one speak first to them when it is their right of doing so. One should try one’s utmost to avoid upsetting them, and should seek their pleasure as much as possible. Pleasing one’s parents is one of the most virtous acts.

One must hasten to the call of one’s parents. If one is engaged in nafl saláh, one should shorten it and respond to them immediately. One should only express kind words to them.

In return, the parents should assist the child in his endeavour of being kind to them. By the parents being more accomodating and understanding, they would be assisting their child in his endeavour to be obedient to them, for imdeed when it comes to fulfilling the command of Allah, it is only with assistance of Allah that people can obey Him and fulfill His commands. Therefore, it would be easier for the child to be obedient to the parent if the parent assists him to do so.

Greeting According to the Order of Merit

In this light, the sunnah is to start according to the following order of merit: age, knowledge, social status, lineage (like one belonging to the family of Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam]), leadership, veterans of Jihad, genorosity or similar virtues. Furthermore, the sunnah of hospitality is to start with the most prominent, then to move to those on the right in order to reconcile the ahadith that instruct starting from the right with the ahadith which suggest starting with people of virtue.

Some people of weak understanding mistakenly claim that the sunnah is to start with those on your right whoever they may be. They base this on those ahadith which encourage starting from the right. But this is only correct when those present are all equal or similar in character, status or age. In that case the one on the right of the host should be commenced with. However, if one of them is distinguished with a merit such as  old age, then the sunnah is to start with this person, for this is a characteristic which warrants preference.

Imam Ibn Rushd [Rahimahullah] said in his book, “Al-Bayan Wat Tahsil”: “As a rule, if the status of those present are equal, one should commence with those on the right, as with every desirable act.”

However, if a scholar, an honourable person or an elder is present, the sunnah is to start with such a person and then move to his or her right in a counter clockwise fashion.  [1]

Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] was offered milk mixed with water while a Bedouin was sitting on his right, and seated to his left was Sayyiduná Abu Bakr [Radiallahu anhu]. Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] drank  some and handed it over to the Bedouin saying, “From the right, then to the right.” [2]

Do not proceed to the left even if the person to the left is of higher status in knowledge, virtue or age, unless those on the right agree to pass their right. This is in conformity to what Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] did when he was seated with an elder to his left and a young man to his right when he was offered a drink. After drinking, he asked the young man: “Would you give me permission to pass it to those elderly on the left? The boy answered, “By Allah, no. I would not favour anyone with my share of your drink.” Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] willingly put the drink in the young man’s hand indicating that it was his right.”

Therefore, the general rule is to start on the right if those present are equal in merit. However, if there is a person who is distinguished by a respectable trait or is one of virtue, then undoubtedly to start with that person would be more appropriate. (Then move to the right.)

If we were to follow the alleged rule that, hosts ought to start with the persons who are on their immediate right, then this could result in starting with a child, a servant, a driver, or a guard, who may even be a non-Muslim, at the expense of more prominet guests such as a dignitary, a revered scholar, a leader, a parent, a grandparent, or an uncle. Would it be acceptable by the Shariah and its refined manner to forsake honouring and starting with a child, a servant, a driver and then proceed to a person of higher status? Also, it is possible that there may be ten persons or more, sitting on the right, before the most honourable person. In that case, he may only be reached after ten or even twenty more people. Islamic manners definitely do not accept this irregular conduct.

However, if someone asks for a drink, they have a right to be served before anybody else regardless of his age or status. It should then be served to those on his right. If this person notices someone elder pt og higher status showing desire for the drink, he may willingly give up his right in favour of that person. When preferring others to oneself, one has practised the Islamic manner of unselfishness and one will achieve great virtue and earn great rewards.

[1] In this manner one will not be expressing one’s personal preference of some over others.

[2] In this instance, Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] being the most honorable was the first to drink. Hence, the drink was offered from his right thereafter.

Elders are to be Served First

Give precedence to the elderly or to dignitaries ahead of anyone else. After that, you may proceed with those on their right, which is in accordance with the practice of Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam]. The evidence supporting this manner in addition to the hadith mentioned here, is illustrated in many ahadith, some of which are cited below.

Imam Muslim [Rahimahullah] reported in his Sahih under the chapter of , “The Manners and Rules of Eating and Drinking”  that Sayyiduná Hudhaifah Ibn Yamán [Radiallahu anhu] said, “Whenever we were invited to a meal with Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam], we would not stretch out for the foodwith our hands until he reached for it.”

To emphasise the importance of these manners, Imam An-Nawawi [Rahimahullah], in his book Riyadhus Salihin, cited a large collection of Ahadith and devoted an entire chapter to this subject entitled, “The Chapter of Respecting  Scholars, the Elderly, the Dignitaries, Giving them Precedence and the Best Seat and Acknowledging their Rank.”

Allah said in the Qurán:

“Are those who know equal to those who do not know? It is only those who possess knowledge that receive admonition.” (Surah az-Zumar: 9)

Sayyiduná ‘Uqbah Ibn ‘Amr Al-Badri Al-Ansari [Radiallahu anhu] stated that Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, “Those who are best at reciting the Qurán should lead the people saláh. If they are equal, then those who are well versed in the sunnah should lead, if they are equal, then a person who emigrated earlier (from Makkah to Madinah) should lead. If they emigrated at the same time, then the elder should lead.” [Sahih Muslim]

Sayyiduná ‘Abdullah Ibn Mas’úd [Radiallahu anhu] reported that Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, ” Let your wise men and intelligent ones stand close to me (in saláh), then those that are lower than them in rank, and then those that are lower than them in rank, and so on. (Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said this thrice.)” [Sahih Muslim]

Sayyiduná  Jábir Ibn ‘Abdullah [Radiallahu anhuma] said, “After the Battle of Uhud, Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] buried two martyrs in a single grave. He would ask, “Which of the two memorized more of the Qurán?” Upon being informed as to who it is, Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] would lay him down first.” [Sahih Bukhari]

Sayyiduná  ‘Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar [Radiallahu anhuma] stated that Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, “I dreamt I was brushing my teeth with a miswak when two men approached me. I handed the miswak to the younger but then I was instructed to hand it to the elder. Accordingly, I handed it to the elder.” [Sahih Muslim]

Sayyiduná Abu Musa Al-Ash’arí [Radiallahu anhu] stated that Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, “Part of paying homage to Allah is to respect an elderly Muslim, whose hair has turned grey, a hafidh of the Qurán, who is neither too strict nor too laz with regard to it, and a just ruler.” [Sunan Abi Dawúd]

Sayyiduná Maimun Ibn Abi Shabib [Radiallahu anhu] recounted that a beggar stopped by Rasulullah’s [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] wife, sayyidatuná ‘Aishah [Radiallahu anha]. She gave him a piece of dry bread. At another time, a properly dressed, well groomed man passed by her. She let him and offered him a meal. When asled about that, she replied, Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, “Treat people according to their status.” [Sunan Abi Dawúd and Hákim classified it as Sahih]

Imam An-Nawawi [Rahimahullah] concluded this chapter by citing a hadith as reported by Imam Bukhari and Imam Muslim in which Sayyiduná Samurah Ibn Jundub [Radiallahu anhu] said, “Though I was a young child at the time of Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam], I used to listen to what he said and memorize it. Noting prevents me from narrating my knowledge except the presence of men elder than me.”

Respecting The Elderly

Recognise the status of the elderly and give them due respect. When walking with them, walk slightly behind, to the right. Let them enter and exit first. When you meet them, greet them properly and respectfully.  When you discuss something with them, let them speak first, and listen to them attentively and graciously. If the conversation involves debate, you should remain polite, calm and gentle. Ensure that you speak to an elder in a low tone. When you address him, never forget to remain respectful.

Let me review with you some ahadith of Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] that encourage these polite manners. Two brothers came to Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] to discuss a personal matter. The younger brother began to speak. At this Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] remarked, “The elder, the elder,” meaning, give the elder brother his right and allow him to speak first. [Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

Sayyiduná ‘Ubádah Ibn Samit [Radiallahu anhu] reports that Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] said, “Whoever does not respect our elders is not of us.” Another version reports that, “Whoever does not respect our elders, is not compassionate to our youth, and does not give our scholars due honour is not of us.” [Ahmad, Hákim and Tabaráni]

Observe in the following narration how Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] taught the youth the manners of companionship and the habit of giving priority to elders.

Sayyiduná Malik Ibn Huwairith [Radiallahu anhu] said, “I was among a group of youth of similar age that visited Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] in Madinah for twent nights. Rasulullah [Sallallahu álayhi wa sallam] was very kind and compassionate. He sensed that we might have been longing for our families back home, and enquired about whom we had left behind. When we informed him, he remarked, “Go back to your families, live with them, teach them Islam and inform them of good deeds. At the time of prayer, let one of you call out the adhán and let your eldest lead the saláh.” [Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim]

Hafidh Ibn Rajab Al-Hambali [Rahimahullah] has narrated from a jurist, Imam Áli Ibn Mubarak Al-Karkhi [Rahimahullah] who studied under Imam Qadhí Abu Ya’lá Al-Hambali [Rahimahullah], himself a jurist, judge and chief shaykh of the Hambali school of law during his time. Imam Áli Ibn Mubarak Al-Karkhi [Rahimahullah] says, “One day, Qadhí Abu Ya’lá said to me, while walking with him, “If you had walked with someone you honour, where would you walk?” I replied, “I do not know.” He said, “Walk to his right. place him at the position of Imam in saláh, leave his left side clear, in case he needs to spit or get rid of dirt.” [Dhail-Tabaqátul Hanabiliah]