A Quick Overview on the Status of Parents in Islam

A Quick Overview on the Status of Parents in Islam

Parents are not merely the origins of our biological life and existence. They are our first and most important teachers who rather responsibly took on the duty of our upbringing, making every sacrifice for us without expecting anything in return, from the time we were born until we came of age.‌

June 1st, the Global Day of Parents[1]


1. The Importance of Parents in Formation of Communities

We are all profoundly indebted to our parents regardless of our nationality, ethnicity, religion, language, profession, and social status. Whether an Asian Buddhist, a subway-line repairman in Okinawa, a Mumbai Brahman university professor, an Iranian Shiʿa deep-sea oil pipeline welder, an Arab Sunni cook in a five-star hotel in Beirut, a Black catholic police officer in Durban South Africa, an American protestant, a firefighter in Boston, or an atheist Indian sports-shop salesman in Leon Mexico, we all have our existence in this world from our parents.

Parents are not merely the origins of our biological life and existence. They are our first and most important teachers who rather responsibly took on the duty of our upbringing, making every sacrifice for us without expecting anything in return, from the time we were born until we came of age. 

In order to give us the proper upbringing, our parents not only worked hard to financially support us, they also made every attempt, based on their feminine or masculine characteristics, to cultivate in us the spirits of honor, generosity, courage, and responsibility.

They also taught us how to manage our emotions and anger and they helped us develop many other aspects of our affective self, nurturing our talents and preparing the grounds for self-confidence to develop as a part of our personality.

These important functions of parents shows the significance of the married family as the smallest, yet the most important, building block of every community.[2] These facts show, on the one hand, the important of the married family in the development of every society and, on the other, the simplicity and shallowness of the modern legal systems which have undermined the constitution of marriage by authorizing the formation of non-married families.

By legalizing non-married systems such as cohabitation or even the homosexual marriage, these so-called modern legal systems have allowed for the children to be brought up within unstable and abnormal atmospheres, causing irreparable damage to the future of their own communities. 

In any case, man always understands the necessity of respecting his parents based on his God-give truth-seeking original nature and emotions. This is why almost all nations have dedicated one day in a year to the commemoration of parents in which children can visit their parents, get them some gifts, take them on a trip, or show them their love and gratitude in some other way.


The Great Significance of Parents in Islamic Discourse

As it was discussed above, man’s emotions and truth-seeking nature drive him to respect and thank his parents. When it comes to the Islamic teachings, however, gratitude toward parents is not restricted to the annual day of parents and a mere one-day festival for them. Islam instructs its followers to hold their parents in great esteem all throughout their lives and it enj o i ns this upon the Muslim people as a part of its ideology.

The holy Quran, which is the main source of the Islamic teachings in all Islamic schools, has emphasized respecting and doing good to parents several times four verses of which, this teaching comes right after the ordinance regarding the principal teaching of Tawḥīd,[3] which clearly manifests the significance of the issue of venerating one’s parents.

In yet another Quranic verse, gratitude to parents has been equated to gratitude to Allah for His countless bounties.[4] Similarly, respecting parents and being kind to them has been greatly emphasized in the Islamic traditions. For instance, according to a tradition from the Prophet (s), the very act of looking at one’s parents kindly and respectfully has been called an act of worship.[5]

In fact, just as the belief in the Oneness of Allah and gratitude toward Him constitute the core belief of any Muslim, respecting the parents and treating them kindly is of the same level of importance within the framework of Islamic teachings.


Some Pieces of Advice regarding the best Way to Treat One’s Parents

Along with the general attitude of Islam regarding the significance of parents and the importance of respecting them, the Islamic teachings are full of detailed practical guidelines regarding how to treat one’s parents kindly and respectfully.

Some of these guidelines are as follows:

  1. One must refrain from speaking disrespectfully to parents and must talk to them respectfully at all times.[6]    
  2. When praying to Allah for oneself, one must also implore Allah to bless one’s parents and show them mercy.[7]
  3. One must avoid angering one’s parents.[8]
  4. One must never walk ahead of the parents, sit before they sit, or call them by their first names; one must also do whatever they can to prevent their good reputation from being damaged.[9]
  5. After one’s parents pass away, one must imploring Allah to forgive them and must also pay back their debts.


By keeping the general attitude of Islamic teachings in mind and following these practical guidelines closely, all human beings will be able to ensure their prosperity and to set a good example for their children to pass down the future generations regarding how best to treat the parents.





[1] https://www.un.org/en/events/parentsday/

[2] Makarem Shirazi, N. Tafsīr-i Nemūneh. Publisher: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah, Tehran. 10th ed., 1371. Vol. 21, p. 334.

[3] Al-Baqarah, 83; al-Nisā’, 36; al-An‘ām, 151; al-Isrā’, 23.

[4] Luqmān, 14.

[5] “نَظَرُ الْوَلَدِ إِلَى‏ وَالِدَيْهِ‏ حُبّاً لَهُمَا عِبَادَةٌ” [Majlisī, Muhammad Baqir ibn Muhammad Taqī. Biḥār al-Anwār. Publisher: Dār Iḥyā’ al-Tirāth al-‘Arabī, Beirut. 2nd ed., 1403 Ah. Vol. 71, p. 80.

[6] Al-Isrā’, 24.

[7] The Prophet of Allah has been quoted as saying: “إِيَّاكُمْ‏ وَ عُقُوقَ‏ الْوَالِدَيْنِ‏ فَإِنَ‏ رِيحَ‏ الْجَنَّةِ تُوجَدُ مِنْ‏ مَسِيرَةِ أَلْفِ‏ عَامٍ‏ وَ لَا يَجِدُهَا عَاق”. [al-Kulaynī, Muhammad ibn Ya‘qūb ibn Isḥāq. Al-Kāfī. Researched/revised by: Ghaffārī, A. K., & Ākhundī, M. publisher: Dār al-Kutub al-Islāmiyyah, Tehran. 4th ed., 1407 Ah. Vol. 2, p. 349.

[8] Regarding the duties owed by a son to his father, the Prophet of Allah (ṣ) stated the following:                                “لَا يُسَمِّيهِ‏ بِاسْمِهِ‏ وَ لَا يَمْشِي‏ بَيْنَ‏ يَدَيْهِ‏ وَ لَا يَجْلِسُ قَبْلَهُ وَ لَا يَسْتَسِبُّ لَه” [al-Kāfī, vol. 2, pp. 158-159].

[9] In a tradition by Imam al-Baqir (‘a) in which he explained the duties of children toward their parents, the Imam (‘a) stated the following: “فَإِذَا مَاتَا قَضَى دَينَهُمَا وَ اسْتَغْفَرَ لَهُمَا فَيكْتُبُهُ اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَ جَلَّ بَارّاً” [al-Kāfī, vol. 2, p. 163].