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Birr towards parents

April 18, 2014

DISCLAIMER: This reminder was originally delivered in Arabic on Friday, 18 April 2014. Any meanings lost in translation are not to be attributed to the speaker as reminders are translated by volunteers. The mosque has no official translator and volunteers often have no formal qualifications to translate on the day. Please forgive any errors as they are from our human weakness and any right guidance is from God.

All praise is due to Allah, and Allah's peace and blessings be upon His final Messenger, his pure family, his noble companions, and all those who follow them with righteousness until the Day of Judgement.

Amongst the manners Islam instructs its followers to adopt are the manners of Birr (righteousness) and Silat ur Rahim (maintaining the ties of kinship). Birr was described by the Prophet (SAAW) as, "Birr (righteousness) is good character". It was also described as: being of good character with The Creator and the creation. Birr can also be defined as Ma'roof (the acknowledged good virtues) which includes: being kind, refraining from causing any harm and loving for others that which you love for yourself. Birr (righteousness) is a word that is comprehensive of all good. A righteous person is a person who is compassionate, honest and sincere in his love AND the effect of his Birr is reflected in his dealing with his parents, family, neighbours, guests, his parents' friends, orphans and the needy. He is a person who is characterised with constantly doing the good, maintaining his ties of kinship, being kind, spending on the relatives and showing selflessness (ithar) towards everyone.

Because Birr is of the highest steps in the ladder of morality, you will not reach it without struggling against your own self and preferring the Hereafter over this worldly life as Allah (SWT) says:

Never will you attain Birr until you spend (in the way of Allah) from that which you love. Quran Al-'Imran (3:92)

...until your heart is attached to nothing but that which is with Allah (SWT) so the soul becomes sincere to Him and therefore its level with Him is raised. The Prophet (SAAW) said:

There are two types of men: A man who is righteous, has Taqwa (consciousness) and honourable before Allah, and a wicked man, who is miserable and insignificant to Allah. Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) - Al-Tirmidhi

The closer in relation a people are to you the more confirmed the Birr (righteousness) towards them becomes and there are no people closer to you than your parents. Allah (SWT) has ordered us to be kind, patient, humble with them, to accompany them in [this] world with appropriate kindness, to be polite with them and to supplicate for them as He (SWT) says: 

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. 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. Quran Al-Isra' (17:23-24) 

In the hadith, the Prophet (SAAW) said: "Allah (SWT) instructs you to treat you mothers well - three times - and to treat you fathers well - two times - then the closest and the closer (of relatives)". The real loser is the one who finds his parent in old age without being kind to them as the Prophet (SAAW) prayed for humiliation, shame, disappointment and loss to afflict those who miss the opportunity to do good to their parents in the Hadith:

"Let him be humbled into dust; let him be humbled into dust". It was said: Allah's Messenger, who is he? He said: "He who sees either of his parents during their old age or he sees both of them, but he does not enter Paradise" Prophet Muhammad (SAAW) - Muslim

That is because this life is a time to seize opportunities (for reward) and missing out on rewards is not of the qualities of a wise Muslim.

He (pbuh) mentioned the one who is disrespectful of his parents amongst the three types of people who will not enter Paradise because that is considered of major sins both in legislation and in the view of those of right intellect. Allah (SWT) made maintaining Birr (righteousness) as a door to Paradise as the Prophet (pbuh) said, "Allah's satisfaction is the parent's and His wrath is theirs". To exaggerate the importance of seeking your mother's satisfaction, the Prophet (pbuh) said, "Stay by her feet, for there is Paradise". In the story of the three men who were trapped in the cave by a big stone is an example for how Allah's mercy and relief is descended if the financial transactions are legal, honours are preserved and the family ties (in shape of being kind to parents) are maintained. Those three men resorted to Allah (SWT) with their righteous deeds; one of them was so kind with his parents he used to give them preference over his wife and children so the big stone kept moving away from the entrance of the cave as they were supplicating until they were able to get out.  

O Muslims,  

The best and most sincere Birr towards you parents is that which you preserve in their presence or in their absence, their life and after their death. Examples for Birr after their death are to be kind with their friends and loved ones, and also to give charity in their behalf as it was narrated in the authentic hadith that a man asked the Prophet (pbuh), ‘My father died and left behind property without making any will regarding it. Would he benefit if I give sadaqa on his behalf? The Prophet (pbuh) said: "Yes"'

We usually forget the role of our parents in our lives because of our preoccupation with our lives, wives and children so Allah's order comes to remind us: ‘And your Lord has decreed' that we show the best of treatment to parents, to be polite with them and not to show anything that might be a sign of refusal, insult or bad manner. He (SWT) also ordered us to speak to them a noble word that includes nothing but honouring and respect and to show them all signs of humility, mercy and compassion.

O Muslims,   Time will not be enough for us to mention all the rights of parents but we say that Allah (SWT) has prohibited even the smallest thing that is considered as showing disrespect (uquq) towards parents; saying "uff"!  

Ibn 'Umar saw a man going around the House making tawaf while carrying his mother on his back. The man asked, ‘O Ibn 'Umar, do you think that I have repaid her?' He replied, ‘No, not even for a single groan (of the birth pangs she suffered).'

"Our Lord, have mercy upon our parents as they brought us up [when we were] small."