Kind Treatment of Parents at Old Age
It is narrated that the Prophet, (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), repeated' "May he be humbled (or cursed)," three times. When he was asked to whom was he referring, he said, "The on who witnesses one or both parents live to old age, and does not enter Paradise (by not serving them and not treating them with ihsan)".
With the advancements in modern medicine and nutrition, more people are living longer now, then ever before. Because of this, Western societies are faced with the task of caring for more and more elderly people. About 2.2 million friends and relatives care for 1.6 million elderly loved ones in the United States. Those numbers can only increase, says Shirley O'Bryant, family relations researcher at Ohio State University.
The number of adult children who must care for their elderly parents is also growing, she says. More than 80 percent of couples in their 50s and 60s today have at least one living parent, compared to less than 50 percent at the beginning of the century. "Also, today's young couples are having fewer children than in past generations," O''Bryant says. "Fever people have brothers and sisters with whom they'll be able to share the responsibility of their parent care." As life spans get longer, this problem will only get more difficult.
"In the future, the major problem will be that many old adult children will need to provide care to their very old parents," O'Bryant said. "The age of the caregiver will bring on a whole new set of complications when they try to meet growing family obligations."
In many societies today, these care-facilities for the elderly express the major fragmentation in the social and family fabric that has occurred over time and the wrong changes in values and life styles.
These facilities which now are called "Senior Housing," have become the transitional place where old parents spend their last days before they are permanently moved into their graves. As for the children, they see it a fitting solution. They have to work hard during the day and need to get rest or have some fun in the evening. They have no time to spend with their old parents except in some occasions here and there.
The days when the son would come home from work and go to check on his mother or father before he turns to his wife and children are gone.
As Muslims, it is not only a social obligation, but also it is our duty to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala to care for our parents in their old age, as they cared for us in childhood. This is the least anyone can do for his parents and it is only appropriate in this regard to remember to saying, "Whatever you do to your parents your children will do to you."
The Greater Right of the Mother
When we look at the nature of the child's relationship to his mother we find it to be so unique that no other relationship could be compared to it. He manifests love to her before anybody else, if she goes away he calls her, if she ignores him he begs her, if he is need he asks for her help. He thinks that she has all the good, and believes that harm cannot reach him so long as she is protecting him.
Allah, subhanahu wa Ta'ala, says,
"His mother bore him by bearing strain upon strain, and his weaning is (or takes place) within two years."
It is reported that the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) was asked by a man as to whom was most deserving friendly care and good companionship from him. The Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) replied, "Your mother, then your mother, then your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives in order."
[Bukhari and Muslim]
It is said that Owaiss ibn Amer al-Qarni who lived in Yemen, believed in the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam) before his death but could not come to Madinah to meet with him because he had to take care of his mother. Umar ibn al-Khattab (radiAllahu anhu) said that he heard the Prophet (salAllahu alayhi wasalam), say, "Owaiss ibn Amer will come to you with the delegation of Yemen, he had leprosy but it is all gone except for a small part. He is very beneficent and dutiful to his mother and if he swore on Allah about something, Allah will fulfill it. If you could, ask him to pray to Allah for your forgiveness."
In the time of Uthman (radiAllahu anhu), the third khalifah, the price of dates became very expensive. During that time, people saw him extracting the juice from a date tree by incising the tree with a knife. The people surprisingly asked why he would destroy a tree, that at that was so costly. He replied that he was doing so to carry out the wish of his mother who had asked him to bring the juice for her. "How can I ignore the desire of my mother," he asked?
Through the majority of scholars have agreed that mothers enjoy greater rights than fathers, but it does not mean that children should serve their mothers and ignore their fathers. As far as the respect and reverence is concerned, fathers are more deserving of these, and negligence toward fathers, is not the behavior of true Muslim. For both of them nice behavior is emphasized.
But it should be borne in mind that mothers are comparatively weaker in our society, and due to the greater services rendered by her she is more deserving to be comforted and treated nicely by the children.