The grandson of our Holy Prophet, Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him), has made it quite clear, and powerful, as to what our responsibilities are to our parents, and likewise for the child, in his famous Risalat al-Huquq (Treatise on Rights).
There comes a point in everyone’s life where they being to question, or demand, what is “theirs”. This happens a lot usually in the “adolescent” stage of life – where the basis of every argument is “it’s my right!” Parent-child arguments are very normal, yet sometimes, we forget who we are or what we are doing. We forget that we are speaking out of anger, or acting upon senselessness. Luckily, the grandson of our Holy Prophet, Imam Sajjad (peace be upon him), has made it quite clear, and powerful, as to what our responsibilities are to our parents, and likewise for the child, in his famous Risalat al-Huquq (“Treatise on Rights”).
Divorces are unfortunate situations, especially in the Muslim world. Usually these things spur from minor dilemmas, which all root back to the reason that the persons involved in the situation did not know their rights or their responsibilities. The same thing happens between a parent and a child. They get in arguments, hold grudges, or make judgments and all due to the fact that they did not have mutual respect for each other’s God-given rights.
So let us take a look at what our beloved Imam has told us about our rights.
The Right of your Mother
The right of your mother is that you know that she carried you where no one carries anyone, she gave to you of the fruit of her heart that which no one gives to anyone, and she protected you with all her organs.
She did not care if she went hungry as long as you ate, if she was thirsty as long as you drank, if she was naked as long as you were clothed, if she was in the sun as long as you were in the shade. She gave up sleep for your sake; she protected you from heat and cold, all in order that you might belong to her.
You will not be able to show her gratitude, unless through God’s help and giving success.
What beautiful words has our Imam shared with us. The beauty is in the simplicity of the words, yet mostly in the truth. In essence, as we all are aware, no matter how many times our mothers are “mean” (whatever that means), we cannot repay them for their priceless acts. We need to notice how the Imam worded this. If you look at it literally, it doesn’t say that in order to repay her you must listen to her or massage her feet, but he says her right is “that you know.” If you are angry, upset, or frustrated with your mother, you can reflect back, and once you remember and know all of these things she has done for you, it will surely bring awe to your heart so that you may rethink your feelings of dislike or frustration against her in those times of arguments.
The Right of your Father
The right of your father is that you know that he is your root. Without him, you would not be.
Whenever you see anything in yourself which pleases you, know that your father is the root of its blessing upon you. So praise God and thank Him in that measure. And there is no strength save in God.
“Without him, you would not be.” Again, how beautiful and undeniable is the truth! Many a times we children or “young adults” get angry with our fathers for being too stern or too “high and mighty” (of course not in every family’s case). Sometimes we seem to pick on our fathers more due to our expectations of him being the breadwinner and the leader. Sometimes he may “fail” our expectations, and we forget about all of his good qualities and things he has done for the family. We are quick to say “I’m like my mom” in this quality, but we should also remember our fathers, as the Imam has said, “whenever you see anything in yourself which pleases you, know that your father is the root of the blessing.” Let us all keep this in mind before we continue to criticize and pick on our dear fathers for not doing everything “right”.
The Right of your Child
The right of your child is that you should know that he is from you and will be ascribed to you, through both his good and his evil, in the immediate affairs of this world.
You are responsible for what has been entrusted to you, such as educating him in good conduct (Husn al-Adaab), pointing him in the direction of his Lord, and helping him to obey Him.
So act toward him with the action of one who knows that he will be rewarded for good doing toward him and punished for evildoing.
Save the best for last! I’m sure all children get happy to learn that they have rights too. Yes, Islam has justice for all. Often we find parents becoming “tyrants” or using their sense of raising their kids without learning or educating themselves in child or adolescent psychology and mind. Likewise, the child cannot think that he or she is king or queen of the world. Also, Imam mentions acting towards the child knowing that you will be rewarded and punished for the good ways you treat your child as well as punished for the bad.
All parents essentially want the general good (education, love, a home, food, and clothes, etc.) for their kid. But when it comes to being protective and allowance of certain things, many times we see arguments occur. Especially for daughters, in many cultures in Muslim countries we are sure to see the “unfair” treatment between sons and daughters. This is something that is not allowed in Islam. Double standards, such as boys being allowed to go out of town for college versus daughters not being able to do so, are common. Similarly, boys are allowed to go out with their friends later than girls. Of course, these rules all vary amongst household, but the point is that we cannot overlook the justice of Islamic rights for each person. These rights do not say they are specific only for sons, and such and such for daughters.
All children have the right to being taught good manners. Many children lack this quality today, as we see children more often today hurting each other or talking rudely to anyone they come across. Look around at an Islamic center near you. Parents must keep in mind that this is their child’s right, i.e. that they are “owed” to be taught good Akhlaq (behavior) and be pointed to the direction of Allah. This can mean many things. But the generally meaning is that Islam and the praise and love of Islam and Allah should be the focal point of the child’s life, so they begin learning how to live a successful life as a Muslim.
Insha’Allah we all take the time to read about our duties, and our rights so that we can learn to tolerate and treat each other with kindness and respect, whether we are parents or children. Rights are not specific to a certain age group, race, or ethnicity, just as humanity and Islam are not. We need to learn to respect each other, and with this respect will come mutual love, brotherhood, and hopefully a greater desire to work together towards teaching the ways of the Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them) around the world.
So next time you want to say “no!”, mom and dad, think about it and make sure you are respecting your child’s rights, just as it is expected for the children or adolescents to know that they can’t kick and scream if they are lectured or made to sit in the prayer hall! Your parents are just fulfilling your right to an education!