The subcontinent culture seems to give unnecessary honour to this relationship.
By Ismath Khatoon
During my recent visit to India, I happened to visit a sister at her parent’s house; she had come with her husband. Her husband — with a long beard — appeared to be a knowledgeable and practicing Muslim. But he stayed outside the house for her father to come and greet him. Seeing this, everybody at home rushed into action! Her father walked quickly to the main door holding his clothes in his hand to facilitate his quick walk, her mother rushed to get the chairs arranged just right, the father called him inside as if he was greeting a king and the mother added words of respect for her son-in-law.
Mixed emotions of happiness and sorrow enveloped my heart. An incident from the early days of my own marriage was refreshed in my mind.
My husband’s response to a similar incident echoed in my memories when he said to my uncle: “You are my wife’s uncle and elder to me, I owe respect to you, so please treat me like your son.”
I felt sad for the sister’s parents, but deep down I thanked Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) for blessing me with a pious and practising husband.
This is a sad reality in most of Asian Countries — being a girl’s parent is a really hard thing to be. The struggle starts when the parents get their daughters married with expensive gold, jewellery, furniture and gifts. The tradition says that the girl’s parents should show respect to the boy and his relatives every time they visit and meet each other. They should address him respectfully, seek his opinion in their matters, invite and consult before every occasion and send gifts every now and then.
Unfortunately, even Muslims follow the same practice due to the influence of other traditions around them. This is why sometimes people feel sad when a baby girl is born; as a parent they realise that a day will come when they will have to go through such situations.
My dear sisters in Islam, we all know how Qur’an mentions respecting, honoring and being obedient to parents immediately after the worship of Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى)
وَقَضَى رَبُّكَ أَلاَّ تَعْبُدُواْ إِلاَّ إِيَّـهُ وَبِالْوَلِدَيْنِ إِحْسَـناً إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ كِلاَهُمَا فَلاَ تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ وَلاَ تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلاً كَرِيمًا
As daughters, we should bring pride, honor and respect to our parents with our achievements and success. Were they not our parents who educated us, helped us through the difficult phases of our life, spent a huge amount on our weddings and made sure we got married and settled down? What made our husbands superior to our parents so much so that our parents need to show them respect?! Islam emphasises on respecting and honoring elders as well.
Narrated Abu Musa al-Ash’ari: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: Glorifying Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) involves showing honor to a grey-haired Muslim.*
Glorifying Allah (سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى) is an act of worship, and honoring the elderly is considered a part of it. The person who doesn’t honor an elderly is not considered amongst the Ummah.
Anas bin Malik narrated that: “An older man came to talk to the Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم), and the people were hesitant to make room for him. The Prophet (صلى الله عليه وسلم) said: He is not one of us who does not have mercy on our young and does not respect our elders”**
Elderly in general are to be honored irrespective of their relation and status in society. From the life of the Prophet Mohammed (صلى الله عليه وسلم) we know that he (صلى الله عليه وسلم) never demanded any sort of respect from anyone. He was married and was a son-in-law himself, he married his daughters and did have sons-in-law. He never venerated himself as being sons-in-law nor did he venerate others for being his son-in-laws. Then why do we venerate and honor son-in-laws?
We find in Hadeeth that Prophet Mohammed (صلى الله عليه وسلم) prohibited his companions from standing out of respect on seeing him.
Narrated Abu Miljaz: that Mu’awiyah came out and ‘Abdullah bin Az-Zubair and Ibn Safwan stood for him when they saw him, so he said: “Sit, I heard the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه وسلم) saying: ‘Whoever wishes that he be received by men standing then, let him take his seat in the Fire.'”
Grade: Hasan (Darussalam)***
When we as wives are obedient, respectful and dutiful towards our husbands; respecting his parents the way they deserve respect, can’t we request our husbands to honor and respect our parents as well? This will help our husbands be practicing Muslims and bring honor to our parents while eradicating this evil practice from our society.
I pray that Allah guide us to the straight path and include us amongst those who follow the guidelines of Qur’an and Sunnah.
*Sunan Abi Dawood, Book 43, Hadeeth 71 [Graded as Hasan]
** Jami-at-Tirmidhi, Book 27, Hadeeth 25 [Graded as Hasan]
*** Jami-at-Tirmdhi, Vol 5, Book 41, Hadeeth 2755 [Graded as Hasan]