How do we respect elders in islam? What does islam say about helping the elderly? What does islam say about the elderly?
Man is an honored and dignified being.
Due to their longer life, elders possess a greater knowledge and experience compared to children and the young. In a family, elders like grandfathers, grandmothers, uncles, aunts are people who have contributed to our growth and development. They merit greater honor and respect than anyone. Therefore, in the Islamic culture, the young always respect their elders, give them priority, and consider serving them a duty. The elders, too, treat the young with love, compassion, and understanding. In this way, a bond of love and respect emerges between the young and the old. This creates a peaceful environment in Muslim society.
How do we show respect to our elders?
In a seated environment, on seeing an elder walk inside, we stand up and if needed, show him a place where he can sit; and wait for him to do so.
If the elder is someone of old age or vast knowledge, we show him respect by kissing his hand.
We know that the priority of speech always belongs to our elders. We either talk when they have finished talking or we ask permission to talk.
Ibn Umar -May Allah be well-pleased with him- recounts:
I was still a small child when the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- asked a group of elders around him to name a tree that resembles the features of a Muslim; the tree which always bears fruits and is evergreen.”
Nobody there spoke to name the tree that the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- was thinking of. I thought in my mind that ‘this must be the date tree’; but because I was next to the Companions like Abu Bakr and Umar –Allah be well-pleased with them-, I thought it would be inappropriate to state my opinion. Moments later, the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- confirmed what had been crossing my mind. ‘It is a date tree’, he said.
Then when I left the gathering along with my father, I told my father that the name of the tree had occurred to me when the Messenger of Allah -upon him blessings and peace- asked the question.
‘Then why did you not say it?’ my father asked. ‘It would have made me so happy to see you give the right answer!’
‘Seeing all of you keep silent’, I answered, ‘I thought it would be more appropriate for me to keep my silence, too (when in fact I could have spoken when none of them could think of the answer)’. (See, Bukhari, Ilm, 4 Adab, 79)
We do not raise our voice when speaking to our elders. We keep our wits about us and do not act in a shameless manner.
We do not act rudely by making gestures with our hands and arms.
When eating with elders, we wait for them to start first.
When walking with them on the street, we do not walk in front of them. Rather, slightly behind them and to their left.
If we see them carrying a heavy bag in their hands, we carry it for them.
We run to their help wherever they may be and for whatever help they may need.
On vehicles of public transportation, we vacate our seats for them, should they be unable to find an empty seat.
When they leave from a gathering, we stand up and see them to the door.
One day the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- was sitting with his Companions. Right next to him were Abu Bakr and Umar –Allah be well-pleased with them-. Then suddenly, Abbas -May Allah be well-pleased with him-, the Prophet’s -upon him blessings and peace- uncle, turned up. Abu Bakr made up room for Abbas; and Abbas sat right between the Prophet and Abu Bakr. The Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- then said:
“Only the courteous and refined know the value of courteous and elegant people.”
While talking with his uncle, the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- had lowered his voice so much that Abu Bakr said to Umar:
“Something has happened to the Messenger of Allah…it seems that he has lost his voice; and that has me worried”. Abbas eventually left moments later, whereupon Abu Bakr asked the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-:
“Were you not feeling well before, O Messenger of Allah?”
“No”, replied the Prophet -upon him blessings and peace-.
“It made me worried to hear you lowered your voice so much…” Then the Blessed Prophet -upon him blessings and peace- explained:
“Just as Angel Gabriel has advised you to lower your voices next to me, he has advised me to lower my voice next to my uncle.” (Ali al-Muttaqi, Kanz al-Ummal, V. XIII, 514/37321)
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