Do you dream passionately of the day you’ll be free from the prison of your parents’ suffocating control?
We feel you. We’ve all been there. The moment the teenage years arrive, every word out of their mouth sounds like a lecture. Every look they give you seems judgmental and disapproving.
But for parents, it’s complicated: Believe it or not, they’re scared for us because they love us. They lecture us because they don’t want us to learn painful lessons that they learned the hard way. We will only relate to this tiring experience -- the tears and joys of being a parent -- when we ourselves become parents. Until then, our parents will always seem annoying.
But the world couldn’t survive waiting for its havoc-wreaking rebels to become parents ourselves and suddenly understand everything. So Allah has given us Islam, which sets rules to keep us from destroying families and committing sins we’ll greatly regret in the future. He stresses His dislike of severing kinship ties in an ayah:
“So would you perhaps, if you turned away, cause corruption on earth and sever your ties of kinship? Those who do so are the ones Allah has cursed, so He deafened them and blinded their vision.”
More specifically, Allah talks about the rights we owe our parents in many different ayaat of the Quran:
“And We have enjoined on you to be dutiful and kind to your parents…”
“…no mother should be harmed through her child, and no father should be harmed through his child…”
The most important people in our lives are our parents. Everyone else in the world might turn their backs on us, even our romantic partners. Don’t believe your parents if they swear up and down that they hate you. They don’t. It’s only that their job is complicated. So, be kind and understanding to your parents -- and, when necessary, supportive.
Now you might be thinking, “Yeah, I get that I’m supposed to be kind and all, but what if they ask me to do something wrong?”
Remember that Allah never said we must obey them blindly. Asking us to do all the grocery shopping without any help is one thing. Asking us to convert to a new cult is another thing. Allah says:
“But if they (your parents) strive with you to make you join in worship with me others of which you have no knowledge, then obey them not; but behave with them in the world kindly…”
Allah is our Lord and the one we should obey above all, by far. If your parents ask you to do something that Allah has forbidden, Allah’s command takes precedence over theirs. A good example is Prophet Ibrahim’s father who threatened to stone his son if he spoke against idol worship.
Even with lesser things that might not be particularly haram, we have to decide for ourselves where to draw the line between obeying our parents while at the same time respecting ourselves, our happiness, and our goals for life. One example many of us can relate to is the “doctor dreams.” We all know every Muslim parent’s dream is for their child to become a doctor. If you’re fainting in the middle of dissecting corpses, having nightmares, and vomiting after giving shots, obviously medical school isn’t your thing.
It isn’t just the risk of going nuts from disgust that you’ll face. Over time, working a job you hate will destroy your happiness and build resentment. This will influence how you treat people. You will do injustices to your patients and others out of anger. For the greater good of yourself and everyone else, and for the sake of avoiding a life full of problems, compromising with your parents over a better career path might be a better idea.
Parents can be awesome most of the time, but every relationship has their bumps in the road. Let’s face it: Islamic rulings and philosophy aside, people will always annoy each other. Parents will never agree with their kids’ stupidity and kids will never bow to their parents’ control freak issues.
Allah never said being nice would be easy. Nobody’s blaming you if you think it’s pointless to scrub dishes if you’re going to just throw them in the dishwasher, or that getting lectured for talking to the opposite gender when all you were doing was asking for class times is a bit excessive. Your parents get older and become less patient, crankier, and a whole heck of a lot more demanding.
Allah never said taking care of your parents was easy. Why do you think we get the reward of jihad for taking care of our parents?
And always remember that we are never trapped. It was to us and not our parents that Allah gave final agency and freedom of choice. If your heart is telling you that what your parents are asking from you is not only inconvenient but wrong, trust it.
But of course, in most matters, Allah tells us to be patient, gain perspective, and let it go. There is a beautiful ayah in the Quran in which He says:
“O you who believe, seek help through patience and prayer. Indeed Allah is with the patient.”
Quran 2: 153
Does that just make you feel so warm and fuzzy inside like a teddy bear? Allah’s love, mercy, and care for us can be seen in our parents. We make mistakes and we fail over and over. We can be ungrateful and impatient sometimes. But they never turn their backs on us. We will always be their baby bear.