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How to Honor and Respect Parents even after Their Death

Islam is a religion of justice and compassion that teaches morality and forbids bad conduct in society.

Special merits have been accorded to the elderly; they are treated with respect and dignity. Muslims are urged to honor them and this is especially true when it comes to the treatment of one’s parents.

Although death may take us at any age, parents are often elderly and as such require special care and attention. Even though the rigors of old age may cause parents to be demanding, impatient or petulant, a Muslim is still obligated to treat then with kindness and to look after them lovingly. God linked honoring parents to the command to believe in Him Alone.

{Worship God and join none with Him (in worship); and do good to parents…} (Quran 4:36)

One of Prophet Muhammad’s companions asked about the deeds God loved most.  The Prophet replied:

“The prayer offered on time and honoring parents…”  (Sahih Al-Bukhari)

The sayings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) abound with words of wisdom about the obligation to be dutiful and kind to parents. He was once heard to say:

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“May he perish, May he perish, may he perish”. Those around him immediately asked whom he was referring. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) replied:

“He whose parents (one or both) attain old age in his life and he does not enter Paradise (because of his goodness towards them).” (Sahih Muslim)

Respect for parents is a key to the gates of Paradise. By upholding the commands of God and giving parents the affection and love due to them, we receive the reward of eternal bliss.

Beneficial Actions

There are many ways a Muslim can continue to honor and respect his or her parents after their death. He may pray and make supplications for God to show mercy towards them; he may pay any worldly debts they may have accumulated or debts owed to God such as fasting or making the pilgrimage (Hajj); and he may also give charity in their name.

Keeping the ties of kinship and friendship are also ways of continuing to show love and respect to parents after their death, and Islam carefully explains what actions on the part of the living may be beneficial. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said,

“When a person dies, all his deeds come to an end except three: ongoing charity, beneficial knowledge (which he has left behind), or a righteous child who will pray for him.” (At Tirmidhi)

A man from among the companions asked Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him):

“Is there anything left from the goodness I owe my parents I should present to them after their death?”  He replied, “Yes, four things: Pray and ask forgiveness for them.  Fulfil their pledges.  Be kind to their friends.  And maintain the ties of kinship that come from only their direction”. (Ahmad, Abu Dawood &ibn Majah)

Thus, it is understood that the kindness and gratitude we are obliged to show our parents should be continued even after their death.  Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also told us about a man raised to a very high rank in Paradise.The man was surprised and asked how he achieved such a noble position. He was informed:

“Because your son prayed for your forgiveness”. (Ibn Majah)

The Keys to Paradise

Life in the 21st century is hectic, and we are often overwhelmed by worldly concerns; so much so, we tend to forget that morals and manners are a large part of this way of life that is Islam.

ParentsKindness to parents is an obligation and we would do well to remember and to emulate the behavior of the early Muslims. They held their parents in high esteem, they loved and cherished them by following the commandments of God and knew that paradise really did lie at the feet of mothers. These were not just words to our predecessors; they were the keys to paradise.

In the narrations of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), we are able to observe the behavior of Abdullah (may Allah be pleased upon him), the son of Umar ibn Al-Khattab. On the road to Makkah, Abdullah met a Bedouin. He greeted him with peace, had him ride the mount that he was riding and gave him the turban that he had been wearing on his head. One of Abdullah companions commented:

“May God guide you, they are just Bedouins and they are content with something simple.”

Abdullah answered:

“The father of this man was a close friend of my father, and I heard the Messenger of God say:

“The best way of honoring one’s parents is for the son to keep in touch with his father’s friends.”

Islam recognizes the importance of the family unit, and a good and loving relationship between parents and children is essential.  After God, our parents deserve our gratitude and obedience.

A Muslim is obligated to show goodness and mercy to his or her parents. There is only one exception to this, if parents expect their children to associate anything with God or to do something regarded impermissible in Islam, then the child must not obey, however nothing removes the obligation to be kind and respectful.


About Aisha Stacey
Aisha Stacey is the mother of three adult children. She embraced Islam in 2002 and spent the next five years in Doha, Qatar studying Islam and working at the Fanar Cultural Centre. In 2006 Aisha returned to university for a second time and completed at Bachelor of Arts and a Graduate Certificate in Writing. Aisha is also a published writer in both internet and print media and in 2009 -10 she was the Queensland editor at a national Australian Islamic newspaper ~ Crescent Times.