Respecting our parents

Why do so few parents get the respect they deserve? For example, when a young couple want to marry, they used to go to their respective parents and inquire as to the wisdom of the match. The parents will conduct a screening, and then give or withhold their consent, as they see fit.

Nowadays, however, the young couple will have already “bonded” (spent so much time together, even only by virtual means) that the parents are virtually a “rubber stamp” to a “done deal”. It would be more difficult for the young couple to break up than to go ahead and marry, whether or not they were originally well suited for one another.This is the Hollywood “falling in love” model. And not to mention those young people who employ the wrong tactics altogether in trying to win the heart of their future partners.

The point is that young couples seem to place greater emphasis on winning their partner’s heart, even while deliberately neglecting the very foundation of a strong and blessed marriage, that is, their respective parents’ love and unreserved consent.

Young people who want an HONEST appraisal of their chances for happiness in marriage will not go anywhere alone together until the parents have had a chance to give their true opinion on the match. University students cannot begin to meet such a standard. The Rector of a famous Islamic University once expressed the dream that students accepted to his university would be paired off in marriage within the first two years of their studies. He knew, as statistics clearly show, that married students make better students. They postpone having children and their grades go up.

If virginal marriages (for both men and women) are truly important, then many of our young people should really be married well before they graduate from university. Their “fitrah” dictates that this be so.

Qur’an repeats in many places the importance of respect for our parents. The logic is simple. There is no other way to achieve the “Afterlife” than by means of THIS life (dunya), which is the gift of our parents and no one else. Furthermore, if we even have the capacity to believe in and aspire to the Afterlife, it can only mean that our parents were in a very high spiritual condition themselves when they conceived us. How else could it be?

As we age and begin to value life as the jewel that it is, we think more and more kindly of our parents. We realize, after our own experience, how much WORK is involved in raising a child. And that nothing we ever do can repay the kindness, prayers and devotion of our parents to us during these young years.

If our parents have managed to provide us with a good upbringing, and we are decent people ourselves, then we have only our parents to thank for such decency, as our expression of gratitude to Allah the Most Exalted. And then, we have the same obligation to provide for the lives of our own children, knowing what THEY will one day face in their own old ages, and that the gift of “good character” comes first from parents, guided by proper religious training.

All the little things our parents taught us will come back to us in old age. They are almost limitless. How did they remember to teach us all these details of daily life? Don’t slam the door, don’t interrupt, always answer your elders, don’t befoul your mouth and other senses with dirty material, be polite however angry you may feel, where did we learn all these things? Can we really hope to do such a good job with our own offspring?

Irbid, Jordan | 9 Zulkaedah 1432

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