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Relations With Parents

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  • Shahid Khan
    * Relations With Parents * We bestowed wisdom on Luqman: Be grateful to God; for he who is grateful is only grateful for his own benefit. As for the one who
    Message 1 of 1 , May 1, 2007
      * Relations With Parents
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      We bestowed wisdom on Luqman: 'Be grateful to God; for he who is grateful is
      only grateful for his own benefit. As for the one who is ungrateful; well,
      God is self-sufficient, ever to be praised.' Luqman said to his son,
      admonishing him: 'My dear son! Do not associate any partners with God; for,
      to associate partners with Him is indeed a great wrong.' We have enjoined
      upon man goodness to his parents: his mother bore him going from weakness to
      weakness, and his weaning takes place within two years. Be grateful to Me
      and to your parents. With Me is the end of all journeys. Yet should they
      endeavor to make you associate as partner with Me something of which you
      have no knowledge, do not obey them, but (even then) bear them company in
      this world's life with kindness, and follow the path of those who turn
      toward Me. In the end, it is to Me that you shall all return, when I shall
      inform you about all that you were doing (in life). *(Luqman: 31: 12-15)*

      The second presentation starts with a new construction, using narration and
      indirect advice. It takes up the question of gratitude to God alone,
      believing in His absolute oneness, and the question of the hereafter, reward
      and requital.

      "We bestowed wisdom on Luqman: 'Be grateful to God; for he who is grateful
      is only grateful for his own benefit. As for the one who is ungrateful;
      well, God is self-sufficient, ever to be praised." The surah chooses Luqman
      as its spokesman on the questions of God's oneness and the life to come.
      Reports on Luqman's identity vary, with some suggesting that he was a
      prophet, while others say that he was a devout person, but not a prophet.
      Whoever Luqman truly was, the Qur'an states that he was a man endowed with
      wisdom, embodied in gratitude to God: "We bestowed wisdom on Luqman: 'Be
      grateful to God.'" The verse thus contains an implicit directive to show
      gratitude to God, emulating this sage who is chosen as an example to be
      followed. This is coupled with another directive making it clear that being
      grateful to God is of benefit only to the person expressing such gratitude,
      while it is of no benefit to God, who is ever praised even though none of
      His creatures offers any such praise: "He who is grateful is only grateful
      for his own benefit. As for the one who is ungrateful; well, God is
      self-sufficient, ever to be praised." Thus, the person who abandons wisdom
      and who does not keep something for his future life betrays the worst type
      of stupidity.

      The question of God's oneness is then raised in the form of an admonition by
      Luqman to his son: "Luqman said to his son, admonishing him: My dear son! Do
      not associate any partners with God; for, to associate partners with Him is
      indeed a great wrong." This is a sincere piece of advice, for no parent
      wishes anything but good for his child. The sage, Luqman, warns his son
      against associating partners with God, explaining that to do so is to be
      guilty of great wrongdoing. He emphasizes this fact twice: firstly, by
      explaining the reason, and secondly through the emphatic style employed.
      This is the truth that Muhammad (peace be upon him) presented to his people,
      but they argued and disputed with him, suspecting his motives and fearing
      that he might want to take power and place himself above them. What would
      they, then, say when they heard Luqman, the sage, urging it upon his son? A
      father's counsel is honest, sincere, free of suspicion. The fact is that
      God's oneness is the old truth stated by everyone to whom God has imparted
      knowledge and wisdom. It aims to bring pure goodness and nothing else. This
      is the psychological effect intended here.

      Continuing on from this parental advice, the surah speaks in gentle terms
      about relations between parents and children, delivering this in an
      inspiring and tender way. Nevertheless, the bond of faith takes precedence
      over such close relations: "We have enjoined upon man goodness to his
      parents: his mother bore him going from weakness to weakness, and his
      weaning takes place within two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents.
      With Me is the end of all journeys. Yet should they endeavour to make you
      associate as partner with Me something of which you have no knowledge, do
      not obey them, but (even then) bear them company in this world's life with
      kindness, and follow the path of those who turn toward Me. In the end, it is
      to Me that you shall all return, when I shall inform you about all that you
      were doing (in life)."

      That children are enjoined to be good to parents is mentioned repeatedly in
      the Qur'an and by the Prophet. The reverse recommendation enjoining kindness
      to children occurs only rarely, but mostly in connection with infanticide, a
      special case with special circumstances. Human nature ensures that a newborn
      is taken care of by its parents. It is because of their very nature that
      people look after the new generation in order to ensure the continuity of
      life, as God wills. In this way, parents normally offer their personal
      efforts, resources, possessions and lives generally, without complaint or
      boredom. Indeed they often do not realize how much they give. They do it
      willingly and with pleasure, as if they were the recipients. Thus, parents
      do not need to be urged to take care of their children. It is children who
      need to be urged to look after the generation that has already given its all
      and stands at life's departure gate. Children cannot compensate parents for
      even a portion of what they have given, even though they may dedicate their
      entire lives to such ends. Such parental dedication is given an inspiring
      image: "His mother bore him going from weakness to weakness, and his weaning
      takes place within two years." Needless to say, the mother gives the larger
      share of such sacrifice, with more love and care. "A man was carrying his
      mother on his back in tawaf, (a worship ritual of pilgrimage), when he asked
      the Prophet: 'Do I thus pay her back for what she did for me?' The Prophet
      said: 'No; not even for one heaved sigh." *(Related by Al-Bazzar.)* This is
      how the Prophet compares the two actions. The man could not repay his mother
      for even one heaved sigh during pregnancy or childbirth, for she carried her
      child in weakness upon weakness.

      With this image of compassion the surah directs people to the need to
      express gratitude to God, the first Benefactor, and then to show gratitude
      to parents who are always ready to give to their children. These duties are
      given in order of priority: "Be grateful to Me and to your parents." This
      fact is linked to the reality of the hereafter: "With Me is the end of all
      journeys." It is then, at the end of the journey, that what has been
      advanced of good work will be of benefit.

      This bond between parent and child, with all its care, love and sacrifice,
      nevertheless comes second to the bond of faith. Hence, immediately after the
      statement enjoining man to be dutiful to parents, he is told: "Yet should
      they endeavour to make you associate as partner with Me something of which
      you have no knowledge, do not obey them." Should this happen, the duty of
      obeying one's parents is no longer valid. The bond of faith supersedes all
      bonds. Hence, no matter how hard parents try to persuade, coerce, pressurize
      or force their son or daughter to associate with God anyone whose godship is
      unknown to them � and no being other than God has any godship to be known �
      they must not be obeyed. This is an order from God whom all creatures must
      obey.

      However, differences of faith and the order not to obey parents against
      one's faith does not deprive parents of their right to receive kindly and
      caring treatment and companionship: "but (even then) bear them company in
      this world's life with kindness." This life is, after all, a short journey
      that does not affect the truth: "Follow the path of those who turn toward
      Me," i.e. the believers. "In the end, it is to Me that you shall all
      return," after this short journey on earth; "when I shall inform you about
      all that you were doing (in life)." Everyone will have the just reward of
      his/her deeds.


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      Compiled from various sources.

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      Note that an English translation of the Qur'an is an interpretation of the
      Qur'an, and does not have the perfect status as the Qur'an in its original
      Arabic form.

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