O My Mother, O My Father!
In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.
Whether one or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. * And out of kindness, lower the wing of humility, and say: “My Sustainer! Bestow on them Your mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” * Your Sustainer knows best what is in your hearts: if you do deeds of righteousness, indeed he is Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him again and again [in true penitence].(17:23-5)
O heedless person who has in his house an elderly parent or a disabled or someone no longer able to work from among his relations or brothers in religion! Study the above verses carefully and see how on five levels in different ways it summons children to be kindly towards their elderly parents. Yes, the highest truth in this world is the compassion of parents towards their children, and the most elevated rights, their rights of respect in return for their compassion. For they sacrifice their lives with the utmost pleasure, spending them for the sake of their children’s lives. In which case, every child who has not lost his humanity and become a monster honours those respected, loyal, self-sacrificing friends, serves them sincerely, and tries to please them and make them happy. Uncles and aunts, maternal and paternal, are like parents. (1)
So understand from this how base and lacking in conscience it is to be contemptuous of those blessed elderly people, or to want their deaths. Know what a wicked wrong and iniquity it is to want the lives of those who sacrificed their lives for yours to pass quickly.
O you who struggle to secure his livelihood! That elderly or blind relative of yours whom you belittle is a source of plenty and mercy in your house and repels disaster. Beware! Do not say: “I have a low income and difficulty in making ends meet,” for if it were not for the plenty resulting from their presence, your circumstances would have been even more straitened. Believe this fact which I am telling you; I could prove it decisively and convince you, but I am cutting it short so as not to prolong the discussion. Be content with this much. I swear that it is absolutely certain; my evil-commanding soul and own devil, even, have submitted to it. So you should be persuaded by something that has smashed my soul’s obduracy and silenced my devil.
Yes, the All-Glorious and Munificent Creator, who, as the universe testifies, is infinitely Merciful, Compassionate, Bountiful, and Generous, provides infants with the finest of sustenance when He sends them into this world, causing it to flow into their mouths from the springs of their mother’s breasts. So too, He provides, in the form of plenty, the sustenance of the elderly, who are like children though even more in need and deserving of kindness and compassion. He does not burden the avaricious and miserly with their livelihood. All living creatures and all their species declare through the tongues of their beings the munificent truth expressed by the following verses:
For Allah is He Who gives [all] sustenance, – Lord of Power and Steadfast [for ever]. (51:58) * How many are the creatures that carry not their own sustenance? It is Allah Who feeds [both] them and you. (29:60)
In fact, it is not only the sustenance of elderly relations that comes in the form of plenty; the sustenance of creatures like cats who are friendly to man also comes in the form of plenty, sent together with the food of the human beings. An example supporting this, which I myself observed, is as follows: my close friends know that for two to three years my appointed lot every day was half a loaf of bread, the loaves in that village were small, and very often this was insufficient for me. Then four cats came and stayed with me as my guests, and that same portion was sufficient both for myself and for them. There was frequently some left over even.
This has recurred so often that it has made me certain that I was benefiting from the plenty resulting from the cats. I declare most definitely that they were not a load on me. It was not they who were obliged to me, but I to them.
O man! If a semi-wild animal is a means of plenty when it comes as a guest to the house of a human being, you can compare for yourself what plenty and mercy man will bring as the noblest of creatures; and the believers, the most perfect of men; and the powerless and ailing elderly, the most worthy of respect and compassion among the believers; and relatives, the most worthy and deserving of kindness, love, and to be served among the ailing elderly; and parents, who are the truest and most loyal friends among relatives, if they are present in a house in their old age.
According to the meaning of
, “If it were not for the elderly, bent double with age, calamities would be visited on you in floods,” (2)
You can see the significant role they play in disasters being averted.
O man, come to your senses! You too will grow old if you do not die young. If you do not honour your parents, as stated by , “the punishment is similar to the act that required it,”(3) your children will not be dutiful towards you. If you want to secure your life in the hereafter, here is a rich treasury for you: be dutiful towards your parents and win their pleasure! While if it is this world that you want, still try to please them, for thanks to them your life will be easy and your sustenance plentiful. But if you are contemptuous of them, wish for their deaths, and wound their sensitive and vulnerable hearts, you will manifest the meaning of the verse; , They lose both this world and the hereafter.(22:11)
If you want the mercy of the Most Merciful One, be merciful towards those in your house whom He has entrusted to you.
There was someone called Mustafa Çavuş, one of my brothers of the hereafter. I used to observe that he was very successful both in his religious life and his worldly life. I did not know the reason for this. Then later I understood that the reason for his achievement was that he had understood the rights of his elderly parents and observed them to the letter; thanks to them he had found ease and mercy. Allah willing, he repaired his life in the hereafter as well. Anyone who wants good fortune should try to resemble him.
O Allah, grant blessings and peace to the one who said: “Paradise is beneath the feet of mothers,” (4)and to all his Family and Companions.
Glory be unto You! We have no knowledge save that which You have taught us; indeed You are All-Knowing, All-Wise. (2:32)
21st Letter, Risale-i Nur
(1) Bukhari, Sulh, 6; Tirmidhi, Birr, 6; Abu Da’ud, Talaq, 35; al-Haythami, Majma’ al-Zawa’id, ix, 269; al-Daylami, Musnad al-Firdaws, ii, 207.
(2) al-‘Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa’, ii, 163; Suyuti, Kanz al-‘Ummal, ix, 167; Ghazali, Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din, 341; al-Haythami, Majma’ al-Zawa’id, x, 227; Bayhaqi, al-Sunan al-Kubra, 345.
(3) “All acts are requited with something similar to them.” al-‘Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa’, i, 332; ‘Ali al-Qari, al-Asrar al-Marfu’a, 103.
(4) Suyuti, al-Jami’ al-Saghir, 3642; al-‘Ajluni, Kashf al-Khafa’, i, 335; al-Albani, Sahih al-Jami’ al-Saghir wa ziyadatuhu, 1259, 1260.