Question: My father commits many sins and disobediences to Allah and takes these very lightly. I have exerted a lot of effort in advising him, but he looks down on me and ridicules me …I hope to find with you words that please my heart, and help me help my father.
Answer: I read our sister's problem with her father who is committing some sins. This problem, it seems, is one that faces many young men and women, because of the enthusiasm they have for this religion. This enthusiasm is the result of the knowledge they have gained, and the righteous company they keep which, encourages them to command good and forbid evil.
There are several reasons for the difficulties young men and women face when advising the parents:
1. Their enthusiasm is sometimes accompanied by some harshness, which is the result of incomplete or incorrect education in the religion. For example, a young man or woman will often hear the story of Abu 'Ubaidah killing his father [during the battle of Badr], even though this story is weak, both in its chain of narrators and in its contents. He/she might also hear of the story of Sa'd saying to his mother, "If you had a hundred souls …"
2. It is from the nature of young people to be oblivious to the concerns of the older generation, and unable to imagine the particular circumstances and difficulties that generation faces and has lived through.
3. Moreover, the older person believers that it is his job to guide the younger person, because of their difference in age and experience. Meanwhile, the younger person is in need of guidance because of his youth and inexperience. This attitude is especially prevalent among parents, for they remember well the son's birth and childhood, his mistakes, … And people say, "whoever knew you when you were young, does not take you seriously when you grow up!"
There is some truth in all of this.
That is why we find in the Qur`an a strong emphasis on the kind treatment of parents,
"We have enjoined on Man kindness to parents" [Al-Qur`an 46:15]
This is the case even if they are idolaters or callers to idolatry, and even if they exerted their utmost effort to convert their son to idolatry. The Divine directive in this case is,
"But if they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge of obey them not; Yet bear them company in this life with justice (and consideration)" [Al-Qur`an 31:15]
This important point must be powerfully emphasized by those responsible for the guidance and advice of young people, whether in schools, centers, study circles or meetings; to take care of and respect the older person, particularly the parents.
It seems to me that there is some truth in what your father says. As long as he fasts, prays, loves the poor and reads the Qur`an, then these are good traits that we must recall, and not forget with the excuse that there are some disobediences. The righteous deeds cancel the sins, so why do suppose that the good deeds will not bring their fruits if some sins are present? Is there anyone whose traits are all good? Is it not enough nobleness for a person that his defects can be counted?
Why does our sister imagine her father watching unsuitable programs on television but does not recall him rubbing his face on the earth and secretly calling out to his Lord, "Glory be to my Lord the Most High, O Allah forgive me!"
Gentleness is a relative quality. The sister may be gentle from her point of view, but we need to hear the other side's opinion of her, and to what extent that gentleness is there.
Yes, I think our sister is honest in describing herself as gentle, because there is nothing that would cause her to be dishonest, especially since she is seeking advice, but, is there no level of gentleness, patience and affection higher that the one she has reached? I think there is. Then let her be even gentler with her father and family.
There is another important point to bear in mind. Their environment in which the youths live strongly influences them. If we burden them with the unusual responsibility of forbidding those evils that are beyond their control and energy then we have complicated and muddled their normal upbringing, This may lead them astray, and I have witnessed this many times.
Imagine that a young person is 17 years old, and he feels completely responsible for the home, the parents, the family, the little ones, what is being watched on TV and what magazines come into the house, etc. But the others do not accept this youth's responsibility, and regard him as a teenager who has not matured into adulthood, and they tell him, "you'll grow up … and we'll see". Thus they undermine that youth's confidence, and each side resists the other stubbornly.
This will result in an incorrect upbringing, and we must not put the young person in this situation if we wanted him to become a good-natured, well-balanced individual.
When we advise the young people about their role inside the home we must emphasize:
1. For the young man, the positive role of serving the family and taking on practical responsibilities, and for the young woman, cooking, washing, cleaning and tidying the house, looking after the young ones, helping the mother, serving the father.
2. The positive role of da'wah by making available to the family Islamic tapes, books and leaflets. Also by setting up lessons, competitions and activities for all the members of the family.
3. To have the etiquettes necessary for forbidding what is wrong. Among these is patience, giving the other person time, gentleness, not getting angry or violent - as has been mentioned by the Righteous Predecessors and the scholars. Moreover, he must have the necessary knowledge by checking the ruling on a particular matter before forbidding it. A youth must not forbid what he is ignorant of, or not used to without evidence. Moreover, he must have the ability to convince others, and must be generous during the discussion and not allow himself to be provoked.
It may be said that this is ideal behavior. Yes, but the young person should be brought up on this. Care must be taken that the youths become exemplary in their behavior, and that their mistakes are followed up and corrected. They must not be allowed to fight a state of affairs while this is beyond their ability, and while they are still young and conceited, in need of someone to direct them, support them and look after them.
Wassalamu alaikum warahmatu Allahi wabarakatuh.
Arabic original on http://www.islamtoday.net
Translated by Abu Abdul-Jalil