The Rights of Elders in Islaam

In the name of Allaah, The Most Gracious, Most Merciful. May peace an blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family ad companions. As for what follows;

The Sheikh ‘Abdur Razzaaq ibn ‘Abdul Muhsin al-Badr, may Allaah preserve them, mentions in his book ‘The rights of Elders in Islaam[1];

Concerning some of the rights of the elders that Islaam has enjoined are as follows:

1: Honoring them: It comes in the prophetic tradition (“…he is not from us he who does not honor our elders”). This is a magnificent statement that comprises many important meanings. The elderly must be honored and treated with importance. He has dignity and regard. This is the core for the fulfillment of these rights. Because the one who doesn’t honor or respect his elders, then naturally it’s impossible to fulfill their rights. Honoring them is the first right and the foundation of executing the rest of them. And it is achieved by having esteem and respect for them in your heart and understanding their rank in the society.

2: Reverence for them: It comes in another narration on the authority of Abu Musa al-Ash’ari, may Allaah be pleased with him, that the Prophet, may peace be upon him, said: “From the signs of ones’ reverence of Allaah is… respecting the elderly muslim ” So you must revere them with all that this phrase comprises of from pleasant speech, fine interactions, kindness, etc.

3: Giving them the greetings of peace first: As it comes in the prophetic tradition “The young should greet the old”. Therefore when you encounter an elderly muslim do not wait until he greets you. Rather rush to give him the salutations of peace with the utmost respect and politeness. Also pay attention to his condition. Whereas if his hearing is still intact then greet him as you would normally, but if his hearing has weakened due to his old-age then greet him appropiately.

4: Polite Speech: When speaking with an elder be sure to call him by courteous names like “Oh Uncle” for instance out of respect for his age. On the authority of Abu Umaamah ibn Sahl, may Allaah be pleased with him, said: “We offered the noon prayer along with ‘Umar ibn ‘Abdul ‘Azeez, may Allaah have mercy upon him. We left and came upon Anas ibn Maalik, may Allaah be pleased with him, and found him praying the forenoon prayer. I asked him: “Oh dear Uncle! Which prayer have you offered?” He said: “The forenoon prayer and this is the time of the prayer of Allaah’s Messenger, may peace be upon him, which we used to pray with him.”

Also on the authority of ‘Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Ouf, may Allaah be pleased with him, who said: “While I was standing in the front line on the day of the battle of Badr, I looked to my right and left and saw two young Ansaar boys and I wished that I had been stronger than than them. One of them asked me, “Oh Uncle, Show me Abu Jahl.” I said: “What will you do to him Oh nephew?” He aid: “I’ve heard that he curses and insults the Messenger, may peace be upon him. By Allaah, I will either kill him or be killed before I do so.”

5: Giving them precedence: The elder is to be given precedence in speech, gatherings, eating, admittance, etc. These are all from their rights.

Taken from the book ‘The rights of Elders in Islaam’ a new publication coming soon inshaallaah.

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About Abu Fouzaan Qaasim
American student studying in the Islaamic University of Medinah from Chester,PA.

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