Those Who Are Disobedient to Their Parents
By: Ayatullah Abdul Husayn Dastaghaib Shirazi
The sixth Greater Sin is to be disobedient to one’s parents as expressly mentioned in the traditions from the Holy Prophet (S) and the Pure Imams (a.s.). These have already been quoted in the first chapter. A tradition of the Prophet (S) says that the greatest sins are Shirk and to be disobedient to one’s parents. The seriousness of disobedience to parents as a Greater sin can be gauged from the fact that the Holy Prophet (S) has mentioned it along with Shirk which is the greatest of all Greater sins, and unforgiveable. “Āq” is a sin, the punishment of which is promised in the Qur’an and the traditions.
The words of Hazrat Isa (a.s.) as quoted by the Qur’an are: “And dutiful to my mother, and He has not made me insolent, unblessed.” (Surah Mariyam 19:32)
As Isa (a.s.) did not have a father, his mother is alone mentioned. In the same Surah, both the father and mother of Hazrat Yahya (a.s.) are mentioned.
Both the verses mention Three characteristics of the disobedient child
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1) ‘Jabbar’ (insolent)
2) ‘Shaqī’ (unblessed)
3) ‘Āsi’ (disobedient)
Each of these negative qualities render one liable for severe punishment. Regarding ‘Jabbar’ (insolent) the Qur’an says: “And they asked for judgement and every insolent opposer was disappointed. Hell is before him and he shall be given to drink of festering water: He will drink it little by little and will not be able to swallow it agreeably, and death will come to him from every quarter, but he shall not die; and there shall be vehement chastisement before him.” (Surah Ibrahīm 14:15-17)
The one who is Shaqī will be punished as follows: “So as to those who are ‘Shaqī’, they shall be in fire; for them shall be sighing and groaning in it; Abiding therein so long as the heavens and the earth endure, except as your Lord pleases.” (Surah Hūd 11:106-107)
Those with the third characteristic, that is, those who are ‘Āsi’ will be dealt with severely by Allah (S.w.T.).
“And whoever disobeys Allah and His Apostle and goes beyond His limits, He will cause him to enter fire, to abide in it, and he shall have an abasing chastisement.” (Surah an-Nisā’ 4:14)
Tradition Regarding Āq al-Walidayn
The Holy Prophet (S) says: “Beware! Abstain from angering the parents. The fragrance of Paradise is perceived even at a distance of a thousand years, but those who are disobedient to parents and those who cut off ties with relatives will not be able to smell it.” (Wasa’il ul-Shia).
The Holy Prophet (S) also said.
“One who displeases the parents, (it is as if) he has displeased Allah. One who angers both his parents (it is as if) he has angered Allah.”
Elsewhere, it is mentioned, “One who hurts his parents, hurts me and one who hurts me has hurt Allah. And the one who hurts Allah is accursed.” (Mustadrak ul-Wasa’il)
The Prophet (S) has also stated: “Allah will not speak to Three kinds of people on the Day of Qiyāma. Neither will He have mercy upon them, nor will He purify their sins. There is for them a horrible chastisement. The Three types of people are the believers in destiny, the drunkards and those who disobeyed their parents.” (al-Kāfi)
Āq al-Walidayn is Not Eligible For Divine Forgiveness
The wretchedness of the Āq al-Walidayn is sufficiently evident from the fact that the trustworthy Jibrīl (a.s.) has cursed him and said, “One who is blessed with parents but does not fulfill their (his parent’s) rights will not be forgiven (his sins) by Allah.” (Bihār al-Anwār)
When Jibrīl (a.s.) said this, the Holy Prophet (S) uttered, ‘Amen’! Hazrat Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, “Accursed, Accursed is the one who beats his parents. Accursed is the one who distresses his parents. (Mustadrak)
Prayer is Not Accepted
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) said, “Allah will not accept the Salāt of the person who stares angrily at his parents. Even though they (parents) may be unjust.”
A Young man is interceeded by the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.)
A young man was on his deathbed when the Holy Prophet (S) came, sat near him, and told him to recite two kalimas (Shahadatain). But the youth could not speak. The Holy Prophet (S) enquired if his mother was present? A woman sitting near his head said, “Yes, I am his mother.”
The Holy Prophet (S) asked, “Are your displeased with him?”
‘Yes, O Prophet (S), we have not spoken to each other since the last six years.’
The Holy Prophet (S) asked this woman to forgive her son. Thus at the Prophet’s instance she forgave his mistakes and was reconciled. At once the young man was able to recite the Kalima al-Shahadat.
The Holy Prophet (S) asked him, “What do you see, at this moment.” “ O Prophet of Allah a dark and smelly man has got hold of me and is not leaving me.”
The Holy Prophet (S) told him to recite the following Du’a,
يامن يقبل اليسير ويعفوعن الكثير اقبل مني اليسيرواعف عني الكثيرانك انت الغفور الرحيم
“Ya man Yaqbalul yasīra wa y’afo ‘Anil Kathīra Iqbal minnil Yasīra Wa ‘Āfo ‘Annil Kathīra.”
Then asked, “Now what do you see?” He replied, “A fair complexioned man, handsome and fragrant, is moving towards me.”
The Holy Prophet said, “Keep repeating this Du’a.” When the youth repeated this Du’a he said “O Prophet of Allah (S) both of them have disappeared from my sight.” After this the face of the Holy Prophet (S) was illuminated with joy. He said, “O Allah forgive the sins of this young man.” Then the youth passed away. (Bihār al-Anwār)
This tradition shows how difficult are the last moments of the Āq al-Walidayn. He leaves this world in disbelief and remains, forever, in Divine punishment. The tutor of Kalima for this young man was the Holy Prophet (S). In spite of this his tongue did not move till his mother forgive him. The blessings of the Holy Prophet (S) and the forgiveness of his mother brought salvation for this youth.
What is Āq al-Walidayn?
Allama Majlisi (r.a.) writes in his commentary on al-Kāfi: Āq al-Walidayn means that the son or the daughter cause disrespect to parents by speech or actions. Or they do not obey them in matters which are within reason and matters which are not in any way against religion.
Āq al-Walidayn is absolutely Harām. The books of traditions of both the Shias as well as the Sunnis validate this fact.
To look at the parents with anger is Āq, to cause unhappiness to the parents results in Āq. It is Harām to take any step, which one is sure, will displease the parents.
Benevolence to Parents is Wajib
The verses of the Qur’an as well as the traditions of the infallible Imams (a.s.) not only prohibit displeasing and angering the parents, but also stress that benevolence towards them is Wajib.
A few examples of the Qur’anic Ayats are presented for the readers:
1) “And We have enjoined on man goodness to his parents.” (Surah Al-’Ankabūt 29:8)
2) “Be grateful to Me and both your parents...” (Surah Luqmān 31:14)
The above verse is specially worth noting for the fact that Allah (S.w.T.) has mentioned together gratefulness towards Himself and to the parents. Certainly thankfulness to Allah (S.w.T.) is Wajib, and in the same way it is Wajib for the children to be thankful to their parents.
3) “And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness 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. And make yourself submissively gentle to them with compassion, and say: O my Lord! Have compassion on them, as they brought me up (when I was) little. (Surah al-‘Isrā’, 17:23-24)
In this Ayat Allah (S.w.T.) has mentioned goodness to parents. In the same sentence He exhorts about service to Him. As service to Allah (S.w.T.) is Wajib, benevolence to parent is Wajib too.
When the Imam (a.s.) was asked to explain the meaning of the term “Bil Walidayn Ihsana” (and goodness to your parents), he said, “Be good to your parents and if they are in need of something, procure it for them before they ask for it.”
Then the meaning of the words, “Taqullahuma Qualan Karīma” (speak to them a generous word) was explained by the Imam (a.s.)
“If the parents beat you, say ‘May Allah forgive you’. The phrase ‘Wakhfiz Lahuma’ (and make yourself submissively gentle to them) is elaborated by the Imam (a.s.): “Do not look at them with distaste. Do not raise your voice above theirs. When you walk with them do not precede them. When you go to a gathering, do not sit before they do. Never keep your hand above theirs (while giving them something).”
Service to Parents is Better Than Jihad
Imam Ja’far as-Sadiq (a.s.) narrates that a young man presented himself to the Holy Prophet (S) and said that he wanted to participate in Jihad. The Holy Prophet (S) told him: “Certainly, go for Jihad in the way of Allah. If your are killed you will be alive near Allah and be provided sustenance from Him. The recompense for your sacrifice would be with Allah. If you return alive your sins would be washed off as if your were a newborn child.”
This man said: “O Prophet of Allah, my parents are alive and they are aged and have great expectations from me. They do not like me to be away from them.”
The Holy Prophet (S) said: “If that is so, then stay behind to serve your parents. By Allah in whose hands is my life, to serve parents for a day and night is equal to a year of Jihad.”
Another tradition from Holy Prophet (S) says: “Acquire your place in Heaven by serving your parents. If you are guilty of ‘Āq’ then make Hell your abode.”
Goodness to Parents is the Expiation of Sins
Goodness towards the parents is the expiation of various sins. It is related in a report that a man came to the Holy Prophet (S) and said, “O, Prophet of Allah (S) there is not a single misdeed, that I have not committed. Is there repentance for me?” The Holy Prophet (S) told him, “Go and do goodness to your father in order that your sins may be expiated.”
When the man left the assembly the Prophet (S) said, “If his mother had been alive, it would have been more meritorious to do good to her.”