The Quran stresses a lot on giving respect to both parents. In Muslim culture, this decree of God has – like every other verse in the culture – been misused. It has been misused enormously.
Giving due respect and care to your parents is not only your religious duty, but also your ethical obligation. They sacrifice a lot just to facilitate you with your requirements and so many other things in life.
You don’t have to convince yourself to respect your parents because it is natural. Everybody, I think, naturally gives respect to their parents.
However, when your character is ruined by your negative ailments and the most hidden evil in you, that negativity in your character will make you disobey your parents. Disobeying your parents is not the end of the world; you have something in you known as Nafs (the Carnal Self). It is the powerhouse of all evil and it is deeply rooted in you. The Nafs makes you disobey your Lord. It is not just parents that your Nafs makes you disobey.
In the broader prospect of the subject, the most importance is given to the Lord; parents come after the Lord. When your Nafs makes you disobey your Lord, then disobeying parents is a secondary issue.
How many religious people never sin? They all sin and disobey [God]. If you obey your parents, but you disobey God, will God be happy on Day of Judgement? It is not as if he will say, ‘You obeyed your parents, so it is okay if you disobeyed me.’ I know some people who say that they obeyed their parents. However they should look into their hearts and ask themselves: do they obey God? If you disobey God, then obeying your parents will not avail you anything on the Day of Judgement.
There is nobody in this world who is completely obedient to every single relation and obligation he should be obedient to.
Sometimes, you’re obedient to one and then at the same time, you’re disobedient to another who is of the same significance. You cannot be obedient to everybody; everybody has different interests so there is an enormous conflict of interests.
For example, if I am obedient to my mother and my obedience to my mother does not please my father – and in order to obey my father, I must disobey my mother – then I am in trouble. Sometimes you want to obey people but you cannot, simply because if you do, you will end up disobeying God. It is more important to obey God.
You cannot call that person a good person who obeys the parents, but disobeys God.
If there is a person who obeys the parents but disobeys God, it simply means that the parents also disobey God.
Otherwise they would have told their child, ‘What are you doing?’ If the parents are only concerned about their children being obedient to them, and the parents have no problem if their children are disobedient to God, you can understand how ‘divine’ the parents are.
Quran 17:23 [asks Muslims to respect their parents and treat them well.]
Only those parents misuse the verse from the Quran who are completely oblivion to God and who themselves are disobedient to God.
More important in my eyes is to be obedient to God. This obedience to God will automatically make you obey your parents.
So start from being obedient to God; then, obedience to parents is part and parcel of your obedience to God. If you are obedient to God and then you find out what the Quran says about your parents, then you will definitely be obedient to your parents. However, if you don’t want to know anything about God and you just pick up one verse from the Quran [asking children to be obedient to their parents] and impose it upon your children; and as a result of this, your children become obedient to you but are disobedient to and oblivion of God – neither will you end up pleasing God nor will they.
Remember that in the Quran, God is not addressing a common man. God is addressing the faithful ones (Momineen) who are obedient to God, whose hearts are enlightened. This verse is addressed to Momineen. These are the people who have found Sirat-e-Mustaqeem. Obviously, because they are enlightened and obedient to God, they will follow the instructions of God. I have seen people who recite the same verse of the Quran upon their children and say, ‘God is asking you to be obedient to me.’ However, the children never listen or obey because they are not obedient to God. If you are not obedient to God, will you regard anything that comes from God?
So if you want your children to be obedient to you, then you want to make sure that you are obedient to God, and your children are obedient to God.
Once your children are obedient to God, they will definitely be obedient to you. Parents who are not obedient to God have no right to ask their children to be obedient to them.
If you are disobedient to God, your obedience to your parents will be fake. You will only show off in front of them and behind their back, you will do everything you want to do. Behind their back, the veil of obedience is gone.
God is greater than parents. You cannot compare your parents with God. However, being obedient to parents is a gift of God when you are obedient to God. If you are disobedient to God, the parents should not keep their hopes high that you are going to be obedient to them. Understandably, if the parents are obedient to God, the first priority upon them will be that their children also should be obedient to God.
If parents don’t care whether their children are obedient to God or not as long as their children are obedient to them, it means they give more priority to themselves than they should give to God. We’re living in a very strange world. In this world, we say everything about God. But when it comes to importance, we want more importance than our children should give to God.
The word ‘Islam’ is total submission but we see how Muslims have not submitted to God completely. Most Muslims are fully submitted to themselves; exclusively, they’re consumed with themselves.
One who is disobedient to God, that person cannot be obedient to anybody. If that person is faking to be obedient to somebody, it is very temporal.