None can deny the parents‘ favor upon their children. The parents are the underlying reason for the existence of the child. They have reared him in his babyhood and experienced painstaking efforts to provide full comfort and sound well-being. Your mother had you in her womb while you were a parasite there sharing her food and whole being for nine months. In this context, Allah says:
It is a preliminary stage followed by incubation and breast feeding for two years marked by peculiar fatigue and hardships. The father, on his part, is meanwhile also fully engaged catering for his child and bringing him up, not sparing any sort of instructions or guidance he could provide his child with; the child, meanwhile, a helpless creature is neither harmful nor useful to himself.
Allah has always enjoined that children should be good and thankful to their parents and He says:
“And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. His mother bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years – give thanks to Me and to your parents, – unto Me is the final destination.” (31:14)
“… And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honor. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.” (17:23, 24)
The right of parents upon you is to do good with them. You should be good to them physically as well as monetarily, and also with your words and your actions. You should be obedient to them unless in it there is disobedience to your Lord or there is some harm to you. Be kindhearted to them and serve them as they need your help. In their old age, in case of any ailment or weakness, never consider them a burden on you, neither speak to them harshly, because one day you will also become as old as they are. You will be a father as they are your parents and, if life permits, soon you will be an old man before your children just like your parents became old before you. So you need the help of your children as your parents need you today. If you are doing good to your parents then you must have the good news of a great reward and a better showing from your children, because whoever remained good to his parents, his children will also be good to him; and whoever annoyed his parents, will also be annoyed by his children. It is the process of recompense that deeds provide the results accordingly “as you sow, so will you reap. Allah has ranked the rights due to the parents high next only to His and the Prophet’s, Allah says:
“Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship, and do good to parents…” (4:36)
And Allah also says:
“…give thanks to Me and to your parents… (31:14)
“Which deed is most beloved by Allah?” He said, ‘Observing prayer in time.’ “And next to that?” He said: ‘Being dutiful to one’s parents.’ “And next to that?” He answered: ‘Jihad (fight in the cause of Allah).'”
This Hadith (Prophetic saying) reported by Bukhari and Muslim points directly to the significance of the rights due to one’s parents.
Unfortunately, most people have forgotten these rights, instead disobedience and severance of ties have risen to harden the hearts, and even they contempt and detest their parents. Some people have even deemed themselves superior to those two old good creatures. A recompense is sure in store for those disobedient children, sooner or later.
This includes suppressing one’s anger, and being gentle and humble. Allah Most High has said: Surely, you are of tremendous nature, (The Holy Quran: 68/4) and: Those who suppress their anger, and forgive other people – assuredly, Allah loves those who do good. (Quran: 3/134)
Bukhari and Muslim relate that Abdullah Ibn Amr (May Allah be pleased with you) said, “The Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) was never immoderate or obscene. He used to say, ‘Among those who are most beloved to me are those who have the finest character.'”
They also narrate that Aisha (May Allah be pleased with her) said, “Never was the Messenger of Allah (p.b.u.h.) given the choice between two things without choosing the easier of them, as long as it entailed no sin. If it did entail sin, he was of all people the most remote from it. Never did he seek revenge for something done against himself; but when the sanctity of Allah was challenged, he would take vengeance for His sake alone.”
The meaning of good character is the inclination of the soul towards gentle and praiseworthy acts. This may take place in one’s personal actions for Allah Most High, or in actions which involve other people. In the former case, the slave of Allah has an open and welcoming heart for His commandments and prohibitions, and does what He has imposed on him happily and easily, and abstains from the things which He has forbidden him with full contentment, and without the least dissatisfaction.
He likes to perform optional good acts, and abstains from many permitted things for the sake of Allah Most High whenever he decides that to abstain in that way would be closer to perfect slavehood to Him. This he does with a contented heart, and without feeling any resentment or hardship. When he deals with other people, he is tolerant when claiming what is his right, and does not ask for anything which is not; but he discharges all the duties which he has towards others. When he falls ill or returns from a trip, and no-one visits him, or when he gives a greeting which is not returned, or when he is a guest but is not honored, or intercedes but is not responded to, or does a good turn for which he is not thanked, or joins a group of people who do not make room for him to sit, or speaks and is not listened to, or asks permission of a friend to enter, and is not granted it, or proposes to a woman, and is not allowed to marry her, or ask for more time to repay a debt, but is not given more time, or asks for it to be reduced, but is not permitted this, and all similar cases, he does not grow angry, or seek to punish people, or feel within himself that he has been snubbed, or ignored; neither does he try to retaliate with the same treatment when able to do so, but instead tells himself that he does not mind any of these things, and responds to each one of them with something which is better, and closer to goodness and piety, and is more praiseworthy and pleasing.
He remembers to carry out his duties to others just as he remembers their duties towards himself, so that when one of his Muslim brethren falls ill he visits him, if he is asked to intercede, he does so, if he is asked for a respite in repaying a debt he agrees, and if someone needs assistance he gives it, and if someone asks for favorable terms in a sale, he consents, all without looking to see how the other person had dealt with him in the past, and to find out how other people behave. Instead, he makes “what is better” the imam of his soul, and obeys it completely.
Good character may be something which a man is born with, or it may be acquired. However, it may only be acquired from someone who has it more firmly rooted in his nature than his own.
It is well known that a man of sensible opinion can become even more sensible by keeping the company of intelligent and sensible people, and that a learned or a righteous man can learn even more by sitting with other people of learning or righteousness; therefore it cannot be denied that a man of beautiful character may acquire an even more beautiful character by being with people whose characters are superior to his own.
And Allah gives success!