15 Nov Practicing Good Conduct in the Family.Part3
Treating the Elderly with Respect
In Islam, the general rule is that those who are older than us should be respected, and those who are younger than us should be loved. In addition, it is commendable to care for those who have fallen on hard times. In fact, God’s help reaches us through those people who need our help; our subsistence and sustenance may be increased for the sake of the adults and children whom we support.
The basic rule of respect for elders is even more important between family members. An example is the extra respect due to mothers and fathers. It is not proper to call our parents by their first names. Below are some of the hadith of the Prophet on this topic:
“If any young person shows respect to an older person because of the age difference, God will appoint someone to show him similar respect when he himself grows old.”
This hadith informs us that young people will be rewarded for respecting elders and will be shown respect as they themselves grow old. Young people who perceive the elderly as a burden should think about this.
“Those who do not show mercy to younger people or show respect to older people are not of us.”
This hadith summarizes the relationship between younger and older people in a clear and succinct manner. The Prophet said,
“To have respect for an older Muslim with graying hair shows one has respect for God.”
In order to develop feelings of respect towards elders the following issues should be focused on:
- In all the family business of a household, the father and mother should be considered the authorities. This behavior encourages the internalization of respect for elders. A hadith says,
“Blessings are to be found next to your elders.”
- The respect and reverence shown by parents to their own mother and father (i.e., the children’s grandparents) serve as a great lesson to the children. If a child’s mother and father are always loving and compassionate, the child will be more aware of the duty and obligation to respect their parents and other elders. People develop this awareness over a long time and through habit. A child needs to see how to obey and respect elders over and over again to absorb this lesson. Otherwise it would be difficult—sometimes even impossible—to expect the desired result to come by simply teaching rules that are not practiced. God’s Messenger expressed the critical need in a society for young people to maintain respectful attitudes and behavior toward those who are older than themselves:
“If there were not whitehaired elders, suckling babies, and grazing animals among you, calamities would have rained down on you like a flood.”