Eders have always been seen as honored members and the culture of filial piety is one that has been deeply embedded in our culture. Traditionally, aging parents lived with their adult children.
The care of old aged persons in old age homes instead of their own residences do not suit Kashmiri society and need to be considered seriously.
Islamic teachings pay special attention to the elderly. It considers them to have a right to be cared for in repayment for the sacrifices that they have made to ensure the prosperity of the generation that they raised and nurtured.
The responsibility of children to care for their parents and treat them kindly is compulsory. If elderly people do not have children, the responsibility to care for them is transferred to society.
The elderly person has a high status before Allah, especially, if he or she adheres to the laws of Allah. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “No one of you should wish for death or pray for it before it comes to him, for when one of you dies, his good deeds come to an end, and nothing increases a believer’s lifespan but good” (Muslim).
Respecting the elderly and honoring them are characteristics of the Muslim society. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said: “Part of glorifying Allah is honoring the grey-haired Muslim” (Abu Dawud).
Following are some of the ways in which the Muslim society takes care of the elderly:
Enjoining good treatment of parents This is one of the ways in which the elderly are cared for in Islam because parents are usually elderly. The command to honor one’s parents is accompanied with the command to believe in Allah alone and the prohibition on associating others with Him in many verses.
For example, Allah says: “Worship Allah and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents.” (An-Nisaa’: 36). “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents” (Al-Israa’: 23). It was narrated that `Abdullah ibn Mas`ud said: I asked the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him), “Which deed is most beloved to Allah?” He said, “Prayer offered on time.” I said, “Then what?” He said, “Then honoring one’s parents.” I said, “Then what?” He said, “Jihad for the sake of Allah.” He told me that if I wanted to ask him more, he would tell me more (Al-Bukhari).
Enjoining honoring one’s parents’ friends, even after the parents have passed away, and regarding that as part of honoring one’s parents. Muslim narrated from `Abdullah ibn `Umar that a man from among the Bedouin met him on the road to Makkah. `Abdullah greeted him with salam, made him ride on the donkey that he was riding, and gave him the turban that he had been wearing on his head. Ibn Dinar said: We said to him, “May Allah guide you, they are just Bedouin and they are content with something simple.” `Abdullah said, “The father of this man was a close friend of `Umar ibn Al-Khattab and I heard the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) say, ‘The best way of honoring one’s parents is for the son to keep in touch with his father’s friends.” This is one of the forms of elder care in Islam. When the members of the Muslim society visit the friends of their parents, they help to include the elderly in society and put an end to the isolation they feel, which in turn reduces the impact of the social and psychological changes that the elderly go through.
Hence as far as possible we must be more considerate towards our elderly persons and prefer to make them comfortable at our homes rather than push them into old age homes that may add to their miseries, problems of health, psychology, and cause depression in them. Alternatively it would be worthwhile if meeting places are built in all areas accessible to the old persons preferably in parks, with a reading room, a library, a room for discussions and a recreation room with toilet facilities.
Er. Fazili is a retired Chief Engineer
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not refl ect the views of GK.