Orland Park Prayer Center

The Prayer Center of Orland Park

Allah (ﷻ) honored the human being in general. He said: {Yet very truly, We have so honored the Children of Adam: For We have carried them through the land and the sea. And We have provided them with all that is wholesome [in life]. And We have so favored them above most of what We have created with [such immense] favor.} 17:70. The elderly are honored and respected specifically because of the cycles of life they had to go through, the care they provided for their young children and the experiences in life with the accumulation of good deeds. 

When you are young, you know you are weak and vulnerable, but you feel safe because of the caring your parents provide for you. At the same time, you are looking toward the future with the hopes and dreams of being grown-up, strong, and managing your own matters. Being an adult comes with responsibilities, so as you busy yourself caring for your own children and managing your home and career, you may forget that each passing year brings you closer to old age! But when you start seeing the signs of old age approaching, you start feeling new types of challenges and vulnerability that comes with the decrease in physical and mental capabilities; to let go of the power, the authority you had on things before. It is not easy, but this is the natural cycle that Allah (ﷻ) through His wisdom made a part of our lives. Allah (ﷻ) said: {God is the One who has created [all of] you [originally] weak. Then after [your] weakness, He brings about strength [in you]. Then after [your] strength, He brings about weakness [in you] and the grey hair [of old age.]} 30:54.

Every time you see an elderly person you should try to see the time, effort, care he/she put in raising their own children, exactly the way you look at your own parents. The kind of respect you give to your parents for what they have done for you should be offered to every elderly person because they are parents too! Respecting your own parents is because of the direct relationship you had with them, but respecting other elders should be based on the concept itself (all those who cared for their young.) Allah (ﷻ) reminded us that we owe our parents dua and supplications: {My Lord! Have mercy upon them both- even as they have raised me up as a little one.} 17:24.

The prophet (ﷺ) reminded us about the importance of time given to us on this earth. It is a chance for repentance, good deeds and investment toward the Hereafter. The more time you live means more chances toward righteousness. He said: “Capture (the benefit) of five before (you reach) five! Your youth before being old, your health before being ill, your wealth before being poor, your empty time before being busy, and your life before death.[1] This means that a Muslim is someone who would benefit from such time given to him, and the older he/she gets the more respect is given for that. The prophet (ﷺ) reminded us about this fact when asked about the best type of people, he said: “The one who lived long, and his deeds were excellent.[2] Growing into old age is something of respect that Allah (ﷻ) recognizes in relation to forgiveness. The prophet (ﷺ) said: “Allah would be shy[3] to punish one (who grew old) in Islam (by having) grey hair.[4]

On the other hand, those growing old and reaching over the age of sixty without being righteous have failed to use their time wisely and failed to utilize such an age for their sins to be forgiven. Allah (ﷻ) said: {Did We not give you lifetime enough, wherein [the heart of one longing] to become mindful [of the covenant with Me] could have become mindful?} 35:37. The prophet (ﷺ) said: “Allah (left no) excuse for someone who reached sixty years (of age).”[5] Meaning, if someone passed sixty years of age and did not take the path of righteousness, it will be harder for him/her after that.

There are many references in the Sunnah of the prophet (ﷺ) urging us to honor and show respect for the elderly.

The comparison set by the prophet (ﷺ) between being thankful to Allah and honoring the elderly is a great message. You should look at respecting elders as an act of worship that pleases Allah (ﷻ). The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The reverence toward Allah is (through) honoring the Muslim with grey (hair).”[6] 

When Abu Bakr (RAA) brought his father to embrace Islam and to offer loyalty to the prophet, the prophet (ﷺ) said: “If you had kept the elder in his house, we would have come to him.[7]

When the prophet (ﷺ) told his companions: “Tell me of a tree, its example is like the Muslim (believer) offering its fruits every while by the Lord’s permission and it would never drop its leaves!” Abdullah the son of Omar thought it was the palm tree but out of respect for the presence of his father and Abu Bakr he said nothing. When the prophet (ﷺ) said: “It is the palm tree.” Abdullah told his father that he thought it was the palm tree. Omar asked: “What prevented you from saying it? If you had said it, it would have been more lovable to me than such and such.” Abdullah said: “Nothing prevented me but that I saw neither you nor Abu Bakr spoke, so I hated (disrespecting your silence.)

We owe elders (Sabr) or patience. When caring for their needs it is important to practice patience. Remember how they cared for you when you were young and helpless. A man carried his mom on his shoulder to make Tawaf and Saie. When he saw Omar Ibn Al Khattab, he asked: Did I pay her back what I owe her (by doing this!) Omar said: Not even for one contraction pain while she was delivering you. You are carrying her now thinking that when she dies you will be done, but she carried you for all those years just thinking about you growing and prospering in front of her eyes!

We owe the elders good manners when dealing with them. The Prophet (ﷺ) said: “The young greet Salam to the old.[8] And when people brought water to serve, the Prophet (PBUH) said: “Start with elderly.[9]

May Allah bless and protect our elders, and grant us the honor of caring for them and learning from their life’s experiences and wisdom. Ameen.

By Imam Kifah Mustapha

[1] Baihaqi

[2] Al-Tirmizi

[3] As it relates to His Might (SW)

[4] Ahmad

[5] Al-Bukhari

[6] Abu Daoud

[7] Al-Haithami

[8] Ibn Adii

[9] Al-Haithami


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