Islam is the religion of compassion and justice, a religion that teaches perfect morals and forbids bad conduct, a religion that guarantees man his dignity if he adheres to the laws of Allah. There can be no doubt that Islam has given the elderly a special status, as there are texts that ask Muslims to respect and honor these rights.
Man has an Honorable Status in Islam
Allah the Almighty says:
And, in effect, we honor the children of Adam and take them by land and sea and give them for sustenance from benign things, and we clearly prefer them to many of those we create. [Holy Quran 17:70]
Thus, the elderly, as children of Adam, are included in this elevated status, based on the general meaning of this verse.
The Muslim Society is a Society of Compassion and Mutual Coherence
Allah The Almighty says: Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. And those who are with him are strict towards the merciful renegades of the Faith, among them. [Holy Quran 48:29 ]
And He also says, describing the believers: Next, it is to be of those who believe and recommend, mutually, patience, and mutually recommend, mercy. These are the companions on the right. [Holy Quran 90: 17-18]
The Prophet (may peace and blessings be upon him) described the believers as being one body. He said:
“The likeness of believers in their mutual love, mercy and compassion is that of the body; if a part of him regrets, the rest of the body joins him to stay awake and with a fever ”[Muslim]
The Prophet is also reported to have said:
“NONE OF YOU TRULY BELIEVE UNTIL HE LOVES FOR HIS BROTHER WHAT HE LOVES FOR HIMSELF” [AL-BUKHARI]
He also said:
“The Merciful has mercy on those who are merciful. Be merciful to those on earth, so that the one in heaven may have mercy on you ”[At-Tirmidhi]
A Muslim Must Be There For His Brother
Ibn Abi Ad-Dunya narrated from Ibn `Umar that the Prophet ﷺ said:
“The person most loved by Allah is the one who brings the most benefits to people, and the most loved person for Allah is to make a Muslim happy, or to relieve him of hardship, or to pay his debts, or to stave off his hunger… Who he wants you to go to your Muslim brother to satisfy your need, it will be done by Allah to stand firm on the day when all feet will slip. ”[Tabarani]
Elderly Believers Have High Status Before Allah
The Prophet ﷺ said:
“None of you should wish for death or pray for it before it comes to him, for when one of you dies, your good deeds come to an end and nothing increases a believer’s life expectancy but the good.” [Muslim]
A Muslim Must Respect and Honor the Elderly
The Prophet ﷺ said:
“PART OF THE GLORIFICATION OF ALLAH IS HONORING THE GRAY-HAIRED MUSLIM.” [ABU DAWUD]
Good Parenting Ordered
While Islam emphasizes respect for all the elderly in society, children have a special responsibility towards their parents.
The Holy Quran says:
And your Lord decreed that you worship only Him; and decreed benevolence towards parents. If one or both of them reach old age, next to you, do not say to them: “Phew!” Or the mistreatments, and say to them noble. And he lowers both the wing of humility, out of mercy. And say, “My Lord! Have mercy on them, like when they took care of me as a little boy. ” [Holy Quran 17: 23-24]
In these verses, kindness to parents is mentioned along with belief in one God. These two verses reflect the compassion, respect and sense of responsibility that Islam requires that believers have towards their parents.
“A man came to the Prophet and said:
‘O Messenger of God! Who among the people is the most worthy of my good company? The Prophet said: Your mother. The man said, “Then who?” The Prophet said: So your mother. The man asked, “Then who?” The Prophet said: So your mother. The man asked again, “So who?” The Prophet said: “Then your father” [Hadith of Bukhari and Muslim]
The Prophet declared that parents have a right to be obeyed by their children. In one of his narrations, the Prophet stated that the main sins are believing that God has partners, disobeying parents, committing murder and giving false testimony [Bukhari, Muslim].
Islam makes it mandatory for children to be responsible for maintaining their parents when they become independent.
Honoring Parents Continues Even After Their Death
Muslim narrated from ‘Abdullah ibn `Umar that a man among the Bedouins found him on the road to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Abdullah greeted him with salam (Islamic greeting), made him ride on the donkey he was riding and gave him the turban he wore on his head. Ibn Dinar said: We told him, “May Allah guide them, they are just Bedouins and they are happy with something simple.” Abdullah said: “The man’s father was a close friend of ‘Umar ibn Al-Khattab and I heard the Messenger of Allah ﷺ say,” The best way to honor the parents is for the son to keep in touch with his father’s friends. ”
This is one of the ways of caring for the elderly in Islam. When members of Muslim society visit their parents’ friends, they help to include older people in society and end the isolation they feel, which in turn reduces the impact of the social and psychological changes that older people experience.
Dignity – A Basic Human Right
Compassion and respect for the elderly is an essential element of the Muslim’s conduct . The Prophet of Islam clearly stated:
“HE IS NOT ONE OF US WHO SHOWS NO TENDERNESS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE AND WHO SHOWS NO RESPECT FOR HIS ELDEST.” [TIRMIDHI]
In the cycle of life, youth and old age are only a matter of time, since those who are young must certainly grow old one day. Islam reminds young people of this basic truth of the human condition, through an account of the Prophet in which he stated:
“IF A YOUNG MAN HONORS AN ELDERLY PERSON BECAUSE OF HIS AGE, GOD APPOINTS SOMEONE TO HONOR HIM IN HIS OLD AGE.” [HADITH OF AT-TIRMIDHI]
May God help us all, fulfill our duties to the elderly, love and respect them as they should be loved and respected, and set a good example for our own children.