Our Responsibility in Taking Care of Our Parents –Lessons from the Story of Uwais Al-Qarni
Blessed Friday Jemaah,
Let us continue to strengthen our iman and takwa to Allah s.w.t. by obeying all of His commands and abstaining from what Allah has prohibited upon us. May we be placed among those who are successful, insyaAllah.
What if I were to share with you a practice that can bring us closer to Allah s.w.t? A practice that can make us servants of Allah that will be loved by Allah, The One God. Surely, as a mukmin (believer) we are always seeking and hoping for Allah’s love and mercy.
Let us reflect upon the story of a man who lived during the time of our beloved Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. However, he was not categorised among the Companions (sahabah) because he did not get the chance to meet with the Prophet s.a.w. Nonetheless, it was recorded that Rasulullah s.a.w. asked some of his companions to look for that man to ask for his doa. Who was this special man? He was none other than Uwais Al-Qarni.
Uwais Al-Qarni was from Yemen. He lived in poverty. Although he was poor, he was a man who was of beautiful akhlak (morals) and good manners. He was known as a son who was devoted to his aged mother, and was a devout Muslim.
From the day he embraced Islam, Uwais had badly wanted to meet the Prophet s.a.w.. At that time, the Prophet s.a.w. was in Madinah. However, Uwais had to pacify his desire to meet with the beloved Messenger of Allah, because his mother was extremely old and needed him by her side at all times.
One day, Uwais approached his mother, and gently sought her permission to travel to Madinah to meet wit the Prophet s.a.w. His mother gave her permission and said: “Go ahead my son...meet the Prophet at his house. And when you have reached Madinah and met with Rasulullah s.a.w., quickly come back home.” And so, Uwais Al-Qarni travelled all the way from Yemen Madinatul Munawwarah. However, when he arrived in Madinah, Rasulullah s.a.w. was not there as he was travelling.
Imagine how Uwais must have felt! He had travelled hundreds of miles to meet with Rasulullah s.a.w. but could only send the Prophet his salam. And so, he left for Madinah because he wanted to keep his promise to his mother, who wanted him back home immediately.
Because of his selfless sacrifice and his utmost sincerity in taking care of his mother, Allah s.w.t. granted Uwais a special place in Allah’s sight, and fulfilled his doa. This matter was recorded in a narration of a saying of the Prophet s.a.w. regarding Uwais:
Which means: Verily Rasulullah s.a.w. said: A man called Uwais will come to you from Yemen… whoever amongst you is able to meet him [Uwais], then ask him to pray for your forgiveness. (Hadith narrated by Imam Muslim).
There are several lessons that we can gain from the story of Uwais Al-Qarni. Among them:
First: One of the most effective ways to gain Allah’s love is to be of service to our parents.
Sometimes, we would travel for hundreds or even thousands of miles, just to search for knowledge and seek the doa of pious people. However, we forget the noble status of our parents and that their prayers for us will be accepted by Allah. Be kind to them as long as we have the opportunity to do so, and do not neglect them for the keys to barakah and paradise lie with them.
Know that both our parents have a special place in the sight of Allah, as reported by Ibnu Hibban in his book of Sahih that means: “The pleasure of Allah lies in the pleasure of the parent. The anger of Allah lies in the anger of the parent.” Remember what Allah commands upon us in surah Al-Isra’ verse 23 about the obligation of every child to be good to one’s parents. Allah says in the Quran:
Which means: “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.”
The second lesson: Dedication and sincerity in serving both our parents.
The sacrifices of our parents cannot be measured in terms of money or wealth. The sacrifices of our mother, when she was pregnant with us; the pain she endured during labour and delivery is something that is hard for us to ever imagine. However, the pain is replaced by happiness the moment she hears the first cries of her child.
Our fathers’ sacrifice lies in working hard, to ensure that the family has enough to get by, that his children can afford to be educated and even complete their varsity education.
These two people are part of us. They will never be able to watch us suffer or bear any pain, and would be willing to do anything to ensure that our welfare and happiness are taken care of. However, now they are not as strong as they were previously. Those legs that were able to bring us to many places, are now weaker. So when it comes to a point that they need our assistance and support, would we be calculative toward them and start fighting with our siblings about who will care for them?
The responsibility of taking care of our parents is a shared responsibility among all siblings, both sons daughters. And if some of our siblings are the ones taking care of our parents, it does not mean that we can neglect our responsibilities. It is obligatory upon us to share the responsibility and take care of them, and to do so with fairness. We must be ready to sacrifice for them, without thinking about being tired or bored. We must provide emotional, financial and physical support to those who are the full time caregivers of our elderly parents. Third: The need for mental and emotional strength, as well as patience.
For those who take care of their parents and live with them, they will definitely require physical and emotional strength – that is patience and mutual understanding between the husband and wife. We need to constantly remind ourselves of the great reward that Allah s.w.t. has promised us, for taking care of our parents. Be kind to our parents; as we care and manage their affairs, try our very best to make sure they feel comfortable in our home, just as we were comfortable in theirs. Do not make them feel as if they are strangers and unwelcomed in our home.
For those who are not given the opportunity to care for their parents in their own home, visit them often even if it is once a week. Instil and educate this important value in our children, and impress upon them that this good deed is one of the sources of barakah in our lives.
Even though there are many sad cases of parents who have been neglected and abandoned by their children, Alhamdulillah, there are many others who are well cared for by their children. These children lovingly care for their parents and are good to them. These are important values that we need to uphold – no matter what conditions we are in, our parents should never be neglected. It is normal that we will face challenges in taking care of them. But during those trying moments, reflect upon their sacrifices toward us, and how they sacrificed their time and energy when they were younger to care for us, and raise us.
May Allah s.w.t. grant us sincerity and strength to continue to serve our parents, whether they are still alive or have passed on. May Allah s.w.t. forgive their sins and grant His mercy upon all of us. Amin Ya Rabbal Alamin.