Do not listen to your parents!
This reflection came to me while listening to the Friday speech where the Imam was encouraging us to be kind to our parent and be extremely nice to them. It is quite obvious how valuable parents are and how much value Islam places on being extremely grateful and kind to them.
Since it is the winter break, the masjid had many kids including my own. I told myself, “This is a pretty suitable message for these kids. I hope they get it.” I then day dreamed about what these kids would be saying now (assuming they are paying attention to what the Imam is saying).
They will probably say, “You do not know my guys. They do not understand me. They just don’t.” Another would say “Boy, they are always wrong. They just want me to do what they think is right. I really think what they want me to do is wrong.” Others would say, “I wish we should hear a speech once to tell parents how to be nice to their kids, just one speech. I wish the Imam knows how many times my parents just embarrassed me in front of my friends.”
While thinking that way, the Imam made a very interesting statement. He said, “Parents are humans. They aren’t perfect. They make mistakes.” He said that our utmost kindness to our parent is required despite their mistakes and shortcomings.
While driving back, I had the following discussion with one of my sons
Wael: How do you like today’s speech?
Son: It is was good
Wael: Did you get the point?
Wael: You know? Sometimes it is a hard call to know who is right, you or us? I bet you think you are right and we think we are right. But is it really a clear call?
Son: No, But I wish when you are proven wrong, to admit that you are wrong. Maybe just stay quiet to admit that.
Wael: Well, can you always tell that we are wrong?
Wael: Sometimes it is very obvious that parents are absolutely wrong. You know when does that happen?
Son: [thinking ...]
Wael: Do not think of us, just think in general
Son: [quickly] when they ask you to do something wrong, to quit being a Muslim for example
Wael: Yeah, and wouldn’t they be absolutely wrong and you should not listen to them at all?
Wael [switching to boring lecture mode]: Let us see how Allah told us that . He could have told us if anyone including your parents told you to worship other than God or to associate partners with Him, do not listen to them. But God did not say that. He says, “We have enjoined on man [to be good] to his parents: on travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in two years was his weaning. Show gratitude to Me and your parents. To Me is your final destiny.” [31:14] Allah continues to say, “If they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey them not, yet bear them good company in this life with justice, …” [31:15]
Wael: The message here is as follows. No matter how much wrong they are, even if they are absolutely wrong, your kindness and consideration for them and their favor upon you can’t change. Even when they are as bad as “striving to distract you from your worship to God,” they are still your parents and they still have the same rights upon you. Even if God Himself is telling you not to listen to them in this particular wrong request, He puts it in a sandwich of 1) gratitude to their favors upon you and 2) an order for good company to them. We have no excuse not to show the utmost respect and kindness to our parents no matter how much we think they are wrong and no matter how much we think we are right, even if they are absolutely wrong!
Son [nodding ...]: OK
Wael: Back to our case, we are always right, OK?!
Note: This message is not for parents; it is for kids. If you are a parent, you can ONLY use this message with your parents not your kids.