Deal with Ehsaan towards your parents (DW#596)

This week we will explore some Quranic injunctions for dealing with our parents, a relationship which the Quran holds as the most sacred of human relationships with the highest expectations of virtuous behaviour from children towards their parents.

Today’s verse:
And your Lord has commanded . . . ehsaan (virtue, goodness, kindness, excellent courtesy) to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) "Uff" nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word.[Quran 17:23]

In the above verse from Sura Israa (the Night Journey) Allah pairs the command to worship only Him with the command to show ehsaan towards our parents.

The Arabic word ehsaan is a word with profound meanings including goodness, beauty, perfection, excellence, generosity.

This verse specifically counsels virtuous behaviour towards parents as they age. This time of life is where the roles of parent-child relationship are turned around. The parent, who has been the caregiver and nurturer all their lives are now at a stage where they are dependent, often on those whom they nurtured. The child, who has become used to being on the receiving end of unconditional love and care must now step up and take care of those who cared for him/her. It is a time when it is easy to get annoyed and irritated with a parent who slowly loses their ability to fend for themselves in their life.

The Quran has three important reminders for us in this short verse:
1) That nothing short of excellence (ehsaan) is expected of us at this stage.
2) That we may not show the slightest distaste or disgust at our parents needs or incapacities as they age and
3) That we have a positive obligation of kind, generous, noble communication with them.
In short, what this means is that at a stage of life when our parents reach the winter of their lives, their needs and wants must take top priority. We need to do our best (and keep doing our best) to step up to the very best version of our selves and deal with them with compassion, patience, kindness and generosity of spirit.

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