To What Extent Is Obedience to Parents Obligatory? Ask Shaykh YQ #172
Channel: Yasir Qadhi
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We have a question from brother Mostafa from New Jersey. He knows that he has gotten a job at a particular company, which is further drive that where he currently as, and his parents are not happy that he's going to be driving the extra distance. And his parents have asked him to not change his job. And now he is saying that he's having, you know, a guilty conscience. That is he obliged to listen to his parents, when they're asking for something that he feels this is a better move for his career, this job is a his job as a dead end job right now. And this one seems to be giving better opportunities better pay, but because there's a longer drive, obviously, the parental concern is
there that, you know, another 20 minutes, whatever it might be, I don't know how long it is. So he's asking basically the question, and I'm choosing his question. But in reality, I have been bombarded with many questions of the same genre. And that is, to what extent is it obligatory to listen to one's parents? And that's really what we're going to be discussing in this particular question.
No, he him first.
Now, this question is a very difficult one. It's a very awkward one.
And the reality is that this question does require much longer and detailed scenarios, and there is no one right answer, there is no cookie cutter answer, you just take it, and you then apply it rather, there's a lot of variables. And the goal today is just to begin that dialogue and discussion. And to make us start thinking a little bit more deeply in this regard. And I want to just begin by stating that the answers I'm talking about today, we're talking about adult children, independent, you know, young men and women, we are not talking about teenagers still living under their parents roofs, that's a different scenario altogether. We're not talking about young boys or
young girls, obviously, that's a different scenario, you have to obey. And just, you know, until you are adult and whatnot, now we're talking about financially independent, we're talking about fully bollier, we're talking about, you know, a young man or woman or even middle aged man or woman, and your parents are obviously you know, always always going to be your parents. The question arises, to what extent is obedience obligatory? And what is obedience recommended but not obligatory? And what is obedience not even recommended? And when is obedience, how wrong to one's parents? Because here's the point, dear Muslims, that's all too often. And of course, we're all doing this, because that's
what the Quran does. We're supposed to do this all too often, we concentrate on the rights of the parents, and we should, and we must prioritize that. And we should mention, you know, genders under the feet of the mother, we should mention that Allah says in the Quran that, you know, treat your parents with a son, don't say off to them, we should mention that even if they try to force you to worship idols, as Allah says, In the Quran, don't obey them. That becomes how long to obey your parents in the home, your parents tell you to drink, your parents tell you to go do something, how long your parents tell you to take interest, your parents tell you to worship an idol. It is how
long to listen to them. But then Allah says, even if they try to force you to worship an idol, don't obey, but live with them with goodness, right? Try to be polite and good even as they force you to commit. Schick. So yes, it is very common to hear about the rights of the parents, and we are never going to stop doing that. But we rarely ever talk about the opposite, which is the sanity of the children. Again, by children. I don't mean teenagers, I mean, young adults or even older than that, you know, I mean, fully grown independent men and women who are now living their lives, and they have elderly parents, to what level must they obey the parents because all too often and again, I'm
telling you as somebody who my email is now known to everybody, and I get emails from all over the world, this is well known, we have a huge issue of parents who are abusing, emotionally, their children, children that are scarred from how their parents have treated them from the nastiness to the crudeness or the unjust pneus of their mother or father. And now you know, they're just they're emailing me for some type of closure, or help and whatnot. And it's very important that we talk about this very bluntly. And the reality dear Muslims is that we have to take a step back and actually look at the Quranic terminology, the Quran does not use the term ba to invalid or ba to
walidah. The Quran uses the term bill, an heir son
When it talks about parents, the Quran uses Be kind to them and be nice to them, the Quran does not use the terminology of blind obedience. And that's because obedience is a different matter than kindness, okay, you can be kind without necessarily obeying everything that they say. And that's the point of the Quran here, that there is indeed an area where you're not obliged to listen to them. And there is an area where you cannot listen to them. And then there's an area where you are obliged to listen to them. And it's very important that we discuss this concept. And again, this is a spectrum. And where a particular request falls depends on a lot of factors. And generally speaking,
most requests of parents, generally speaking, most requests of parents are going to fall in this gray area where it is better to listen to maybe even obligatory, maybe even close to the story. But sometimes some of the requests are simply not reasonable. And you don't have to obey. It might even be McGrew to obey or detrimental to obey your parents. And that's why we need to also be bold enough to come out and tell our young men and women that there are indeed, there is a spectrum when it comes to the commands that the parents do. And a lot of times this spectrum is relative, ie, in some scenarios, this the parents requests might be reasonable and obligatory, and in other scenarios, it
might be unreasonable and not obligatory. So it is culture specific, context specific, family specific obligations specific if you are the only you know, child and you're the one taking care of your parents, you know, the, you're the one earning the bread winner, and your parents are elderly without any income, it's very different than if you have Mashallah seven siblings, and your parents are healthy and young. And and you know, so it each scenario has to be weighed. And I cannot give, you know, a scientific equation that you can apply. Rather, I can talk about general guidelines, and then you with your relatives, and with it's harder to Allah subhana wa Tada, and with deep
introspection, then decide what you think is that spectrum that I'm going to present to you. So generally speaking, generally speaking, dear Muslims, obedience to parents is obligatory. If what they are demanding from you to do is something that is permissible, not how long it is permissible, and that the benefit goes back to their own well being, the benefit has to be tangible to them, not back to you that they think they know your life better than you if the benefit goes back to them. And the third condition that it is reasonable for you to fulfill that request. Okay, these are the generally speaking the three main criteria number one, that they're asking you to do something that
is helpful. If they asked you worship other than a law, there is no obedience, if they asked you to go purchase alcohol, there is no obedience, right? Something that is halal, permissible, and most of the requests of the parents are within permissibility. That's condition one, condition two is the main point that also a lot of us have to, you know, think about. Why are they doing this? What is the point of them asking you is it because of something that is a tangible benefit to them, of their well being. So for example, you are the only son, and you have a good career, a good income, and your parents are elderly, and you live within their vicinity. Now you get a job at martial arts
about a cola, great company, more salary, but it is five states away, it is you know, five hours away by plane and your parents are elderly. And there's nobody really to take care of them in terms of being in the vicinity, right, and you have a job in Korean and it's not as if you're starving. Now here your parents say if you leave us who's going to take care of us, right? In this case, in this case, if you cannot take care of them in a legitimate manner, or you find another relative or something, then really their request is obligatory if you are the only source of you know their protection. Now in this case, you give up a fancier career, and you have a legitimate career, and
you expect a lot to reward you because they're asking you something that is of tangible benefit to them. If they're elderly, and they don't have anybody else. And you're the only son I'm giving a lot of ifs here, right? The point is, in this case, their request is extremely reasonable. And anybody can understand why they would want this. Okay. So this is why we're saying it must be of tangible benefit to them. If it is not of tangible benefit, if it is something that is intangible something that is not of direct. So for example, what will people say if my son, I'm a doctor, and I want you to be a doctor, and you're like, I'm not good in biology. You know, by the way, I'm not good in
biology. I never was I didn't. I'm not I like chemistry. I like engineering.
I like mathematics. That's why I don't think I could ever be a medical doctor. I'm just not interested in human biology, right? hamdulillah AC my classes in
chemistry and whatnot, if I'm just saying it wasn't my case, if my parents had told me, you have to be a doctor, right? I honestly think I would not have been able to that because I don't like biology, I would have failed biology. How can I excel in a field that I'm not interested in? And to have a whole career in something that I'm not interested in? It's and for what reason? I'm saying giving an example. Just because, you know, low hanging, right? What will people say, we are doctors, our children have to be doctors as well. And there's no tangible benefit. It is a matter of prestige of air of you know,
Tila will call talking, Summa it's called as it's called an Arabic, that's not a tangible benefit. That's something that is, frankly, egotistical, your parents do not have the Islamic obligation to choose your career for you. Yes, they have the obligation to, you know, try to educate you, or force you to do some career, they don't want you to be a lazy bum fully agreed. They're supposed to be, you know, pushing you to do something useful. But in the end of the day, if they say, let me give you a hypothetical example, if the father says, I don't want you to be,
let's say, an architect, let's just say I'm just giving an example. He says, I think it's not befitting that, you know, you become an architect, become an engineer. And for example, you don't like mathematics, and you love drawing, and you're great at what you're doing. You just cannot do partial differential equations, right? Is it obligatory on you to listen to your father who has an unreasonable demand? Like why doesn't he want you to architecture? What will people say that my son didn't do? The career that I thought was the prestigious career? This is not a tangible benefit, right? And you know, what is best The same goes for the SR. You have given me that you didn't tell
me the exact reality but I'm assuming this New Jersey, a few extra Tollway stuck in traffic New Jersey, right, everybody knows that the total and the traffic along the stat. I don't know how you guys do it. But anyway, so you're sitting in traffic for, you know, 45 minutes extra, whatever. And obviously, understandably, your mother feels pain, oh, my God, my son is going to be sitting in the cold weather in the Senate. Okay, fair enough. And she has every right to feel that pain. Are you obliged to give up a better career and a better opportunity, simply because your parents feel sorry that you're going to have to sit in the traffic, right? It's your life at the end of the day? Yes,
you owe a lot to your parents. But are you obliged? In this sense? Will Allah punish you for choosing another you know, path or career, this is where we say the second condition is that the benefit must be back on the parents that is tangible, that is common sense. And not, you know, some type of benefit that is intangible or no benefit at all. And the classic example for this is when it comes to the son in law and daughter in law issues. So panel law, we have explicit statements of our greatest roadmap, that must I listen to my mother, if she tells me to divorce my wife, because dear Muslims in law issues, they are universal. Every single you know in law has tensions. This is the
reality of human society, right? That every mother is going to think that this girl that my son married, it's not good enough, my son is better than this girl, and she's gonna have issues with her daughter in law, even though 30 years ago, she was the daughter in law, and her own mother in law gave her problems. And she promised herself when I become the mother in law, I'm never going to do and then it's human nature. Her son gets older, her son is her prince and her king in her eyes, and then well, whoever he marries, that's not good. And the same goes father in law, this and that the same gender i'm not i'm not using the gender here, both genders are the same, right? There's going
to be the reality like the father in law is not happy with the son in law like this, this boy is not good enough for my daughter, right? Imagine, imagine if we open this door, and we said it is obligatory to listen to your mother, if she says, divorce your wife? Well, I think that 90% of the marriages, if we said this, and that's why our scholars you see again, this is you have to again, I'm sorry to bring this up all the time, but we have a crisis of superficial literalism, amongst the minor students of knowledge is just listen to one thing and that thing has no filter is much more advanced than just you know, one liners. Yes, obedience to parents is very good, but it is not
unconditionally obligatory. No scholar ever said this, no scholar ever said this. The famous shafr is called the Urban Decay calorie. He said, it is not obligatory for the children to listen to the adults in each and every matter that they ask of him. And this is by Iijima of all of the scholars of Islam is not obligatory unconditionally, there are conditions to make it obligatory, and even taymiyah says that it is obligatory, to obey the parents, if three things are met. Number one, they command something that is not a sin. Number two, there is benefit for them in that command. And number three, that the child can do it without undue harm.
Or hardship to himself or herself. And these are the three conditions that I'm going over, right. And the famous molecules called coffee said that just like the, the child cannot irritate or harm the mother or father, so to the mother or father should not harm or irritate or do something harmful, basically, to their children. So it's a two way street here. And if the parents asked something that is unreasonable, and there's no tangible benefit, right, the Father, for example, give you some example. He doesn't like a company because of whatever dealings that he had, right? And he says, No, I don't want you to work for that company. Because 10 years ago, we had a contract
with them, and they didn't do justice. We're not okay, he has a personal vendetta. Fair enough. But is it right for him to expect his son to not have a career in another company just because he doesn't like the company or doesn't like the career? No, it's not obligatory? now. Here's the question back though. Suppose the sun listened. Suppose the sun obeyed, I would say they would get extra reward from Allah. And Allah will bless them, and they made the better decision. Well, I will say this, the general rule, if you can listen, then listen, and put your trust in Allah. And Allah will give you better, but I'm saying it's not obligatory. So please understand my new ones here,
right? Suppose your mother's begging you, please don't sit in traffic for 20 extra minutes, please, my heart's going to ache. You know what, if you're giving up an extra $1,000 a month for the sake of your mother's heart, I would say do it. But if you insisted, and you said, You know what, I need the money, you don't have to pay for my school's tuition. And my mother's request isn't reasonable, I will tell you, you are not sinful. See, that's that gray area here, right? Do it and expect a lesser reward and expect a lot to give you more. But it is not obligatory, because your mother is not being reasonable. She's not saying something that is tangible. It's just an emotion that we understand it.
But it's not something that you have to obey. So this is the second condition, that the commandment that they have is a tangible benefit to them, they cannot dictate, they walk into your house, and they say, Oh, we don't like your furniture is yellow, change it to blue, okay. If you if you were to open this door, you will destroy relationships, it doesn't work that way. You cannot just ask something unreasonable, and then expect the child to be listening to every single matter that any time just because a father or a mother opens their mouth, it does not become obligatory in each and every issue. There must be as we said, number one, no sin number two, an element of reasonability.
Now, again, I say, suppose your mother said I don't like yellow, change it to blue. And you said how they're similar delta and you listen to her, I will tell you a lunch, Allah will bless you for that, and Alo will reward you and Allah will give you more, and a lot of xojo will show you the beauty of obeying your parents. But the question is, are you sinful for saying, dear mother, I just purchased all of this. And I know you don't like the color, but you know, my wife likes it. My kids like it, we're fine with it. Are you sinful for saying no? And I'm saying No, you're not. But even when you say no, or you have to turn them down? do so with the utmost kindness and the utmost love. You do
not have to obey each and every commandment. But you are never ever allowed to be rude to your mother and father, do you understand this point here? You're never ever allowed to be nasty and mean, even if you say, should not even say no, even if you turn down their request, do so in a simple manner. Like your mother says, I don't want you to sit in traffic say, don't worry. I'm going to listen to Cora. That's it. You see, you kind of you know, you took it somewhere else. Don't worry, I'll make the offer you all the time, I'll think of you every time I'm stuck in traffic, I'll make extra out for you. Right? You don't say why do you care? No, you don't be mean or nasty. Even
as you turn down that request, you do so in a gentle and loving manner, and you will not be sinful in the eyes of Allah. The third thing as we said, it must be reasonable. So there again, there's three conditions, number one, that they're commanding you something that is not a sin. Number two, that they're commanding you something that is of a reasonable tangible benefit to them. And not something abstract, change the color of your furniture, right? You know, don't choose that company, because 20 years ago, you know, this happened, something that is of benefit to them. And then point number three, something that is not harmful to you. So simple example, you are now a young man or
young woman, you know, you have in your career, you know, as a young man, you got married, you have children, and your parents are relatively, you know, well off or whatnot. And your parents say, Hey, give us half of your salary. You're like, I'm just starting my career. You don't need you know, a mother you have your you have your house. I mean, I understand you need help, I'll help you with the groceries. You know, you'll give X percent, but half my salary. I have children, I can't live. So now this is unreasonable demand right. Now, again, we're assuming that the parents have if they're not having food, by the way, then all of you have to eat the same amount together, right? You
Man who just got married and has kids, you have to take care of your wife, and your children and your parents, all of them, if you only have one bread, all of them are gonna get one portion of that bread, you're not going to starve any one of them because of the other, you have to treat all of them in the manner that is equitable. It is your obligation if nobody else is there, that you have to take care of all of them. But suppose there's other people suppose you have other siblings, suppose they have their savings. Now, your primary obligation obligation is your wife and children. That's your immediate obligation. And if your parents demand, what is unreasonable, right, even if
it is of tangible benefits, so again, the first two conditions are met, right? It's not how long for them to ask you if their wealth, it is something that they're going to do at some age stage of their lives, usually, and it is a benefit to them. But now, it must be without harm to you. And if you're going to be severely harmed No, here, we have to say, what to severe harm. It goes back to, again, your conscience, your status, the culture of the time, the time, the circumstances, if you have martial law, five or six brothers or sisters, and you are the only one, you know, that is being demanded, well, that's not fair, is it? It's really not fair. And yeah, you know, the same goes if
they have plenty of savings, and they're just being mean and nasty. That's not fair either. But, if they don't have any wealth, and you know, you are the only child well, then things do change. And as I said, this is context based. So, as long as it is not unreasonable and extreme harmful to you, and it is of benefit to them and it is in the permissible then it is obligatory wajib You must obey, if I any of these conditions, especially with the last two are not met, if it is not of tangible benefit, or it is an extreme inconvenience to you, and only you then in this case, if you listen to them, You shall be rewarded by a law even in this case, you shall be rewarded, and you should try
your best to do so and expect a lot to give you something better than what you gave up. But in case you decide you don't for whatever reason, then sidetrack there demand in a gentle manner in a polite manner and make it up to them in another manner to demonstrate that you are a loving child, right? Because in the end of the day, remember dear Muslim, that the pleasure of Allah subhana wa tada will be found in your attempt to please your parents, okay, in your attempt to please your parents, not in your parents being unreasonable, what are in your attempt to please your parents? So if you try to please your parents to the best of your ability, and Allah knows your sincerity and trying, then
inshallah Tada, you will be releasing a lot geladeira Lou, I hope that inshallah this answers this this difficult question. And again, to reiterate your brothers and sisters, it's not an easy cut and paste answer. It requires a lot of soul searching, a lot of internal conscience, a lot of balancing between, you know, context and community and also, each family is different. But my point is that you should be aware there is indeed a spectrum and it is not something that is obligatory to listen to every unreasonable request, try your best to obey your parents to the maximum that you can and expect a law to reward you for every obedience that you can do that is permissible. If in case
you're not able to then as we said sidetrack the response in a very gentle and loving manner. May Allah subhana wa Taala bless all of us to be righteous children, and inshallah we'll continue next week, just like Mila had said on Monday rahmatullah wa barakato.