How the Prophet Cared for the Elderly (+Stories)

Practical Examples

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,

“The young should (initiate) salutation to the old, the passerby should (initiate) salutation to the sitting one, and the small group of persons should (initiate) salutation to the large group of persons.” (Al-Bukhari)

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In the hadith above, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) gives practical examples of Islamic etiquette and starts with a token of respect to the old. Thus the young should take the initiative toward the aged in greeting and also helping, showing kindness, visiting, advising, phoning, and so on.

Similarly, giving priority to the elderly in different situations is a token of respect and honor to them:

It was narrated that the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said,“Jibreel ordered me to give priority to the elderly.” (Al-Fawa’id, Abu Bakr Ash-Shafi`i; authenticated by Al-Albani)

The Prophet also ordered Muslims to “start with the elderly” when serving a drink or the like (Abu Ya`la; authenticated by Al-Albani).

In addition, the Prophet ordered that priority be given to the old concerning leading prayers:

Malik ibn Al-Huwayrith (may Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Prophet said,

“When the time for prayer is due, one of you should announce Adhan and the oldest among you should lead the prayer.” (Al-Bukhari)

This hadith does not contradict the other hadith that gives priority in leading the prayer to one who is distinguished in recitation and memorization of the Quran. The two criteria are to be considered, as reported in the hadith of Mas`ud Al-Ansari(may Allah be pleased with him):

The Prophet said,

The person who is best versed in the recitation of the Book of Allah should lead the prayer; but if all those present are equally versed in it, then the one who has most knowledge of the Sunnah; if they are equal in that respect, then the one who has immigrated (to Madinah) first; if they are equal in this respect, then the oldest of them. (Muslim)

Furthermore, according to Prophetic guidance, the elder are worthier to startcnversation. Once, Huwayyisah and Muhayyisah, the sons of Mas`ud ibn Ka`b, and `Abdur-Rahman ibn Sahl came to the Prophet to discuss a certain matter with him.`Abdur-Rahman, who was the youngest of them all, started talking. Thus, the Prophet said, “Let the eldest (among you) speak first” (Al-Bukhari).

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