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Behavior Towards Non-Muslim Parents



Imam Muslim reported the story of Saad bin Abi Waqqas whose mother took an oath and vowed that she would not talk to him and that she would neither eat nor drink until he left Islam. She said, "Allah has enjoined you to obey the parents, I am your mother, so you must obey me." She eventually passed out until someone had to gibe her some water. Because of this, the following verse was revealed:


"Now We have enjoined on man goodness towards his parents;
yet (even so) should they endeavor to make you commit Shirk
with Me of something which you have no knowledge of, obey them not."[29:8]

Allah also says,

"Yet should they endeavor to associate with Me
that o which you have no knowledge, obey them not;
but even then bear them company in this world's life with kindness."[31:15]

These verses have made the matter or dealing with non-Muslim parents very clear. One should not imagine that obeying them in matters of Kufr and sinfulness is being good or see it as matter of doing ihsan to them; the rights of Allah take precedence over everyone else's. Furthermore, obedience does not mean getting into haram or things that are excessive. For those of us who live in non-Muslim societies, the subject of obedience to non-Muslim parents must be carefully considered.

For instance, one cannot celebrate Christmas, Mother's Day, Thanksgiving, Independence Day,etc., by exchanging gifts or extending greetings to them on these occasions. Also, if they expect you to take off your hijab when going out with them, or to have a chat with the male/female relatives during family reunions, or to hold hands and recite the Lord's prayer before dinner, you cannot obey them.


Some people get frustrated with their parents and cut off relationships with them because they do not understand your new religion, or because they say and do things that annoy you. If you are one of those people, carefully consider the previous verse [31:15]. It does not say "cut them off," but rather "obey them not," meaning in matters of Shirk. As far as being dutiful and kind towards them is concerned, then that is still required as the nest part of the verse clarifies, "but (even then) bear them company in this world's life with kindness." Unfortunately, many new Muslims do not understand this point. It is not proper for them to cut off their parents and take them out of their lives completely. They should ponder over this verse and rethink their relationship. Our parents always have rights on us and we should always try our best to maintain a good relationship with them.

Also, one is not required to take the permission of the non-Muslim parent to go for Jihad. The incident reported by Bukhari and Muslim should clarify this matter completely:

Asmaa, the daughter of Abu Bakr, had a non-Mualim mother who lived in Makkah, whereas she had migrated with her father and the rest of the Muslims to Madinah. After the Treaty of Hudaybiya, peace was established and they could visit each other. So her mother, came to Madinah to visit Asmaa. She wanted some gifts and donations from Asmaa. Asmaa was not sure what to do because she knew that her mother hated Islam and was a polytheist. So she came to the Prophet (PBUH), informed him of the situation, and asked him if she should also join the ties of kinship and act kindly towards her mother. The Prophet (PBUH), told her to do so, "Yes, do an act of kindness to her." (Al-Bukhari, Muslim and Abu Dawud)


The children of non-Muslim parents should also supplicate for them. Allah says,

"It is not fitting for the Prophet (PBUH) and those who believe
that they should pray for forgiveness for polytheists, even though they be of kin,
after it is clear that they are companions of the Fire."[9:113]

This is after they die upon disbelief as non-Muslims. It is, however, permissible to guide them to Islam in their lifetime.

In another hadeeth, it is narrated that while Abu Hurairaha embraced Islam, his mother continued to be an infidel for quite a long time. He continuously tried to convince her in favor of Islam, but to no avail. Nevertheless, he continued respecting and obeying her. Once when he was trying to convince her she became insolent and uttered some insulting remarks about the Prophet (PBUH). Because of this, Abu Hurairah was very much pained. He went to the Prophet and complained saying, "O Messenger of Allah! I have always been trying to make my mother accept Islam but she always refuses to accept it. But today when I asked her to believe in Almighty Allah, she became very much annoyed and started insulting and rebuking you which I could not stand and tears came to my eyes. O Messenger of Allah! Pray to Allah that He may open the heart of my mother to Islam." The Prophet (PBUH) immediately raised his hands and prayed, "O Almighty Allah, guide the mother of Abu Hurairah." Abu Hurairah was overjoyed and went home. When he reached home he found the door was bolted from the inside but he heard the sound of flowing water, which assured him that his mother was taking a bath. Hearing his footsteps, she hastily finished the bath. Then she opened the door. She said, "O my son Abu Hurairah, Allah has heard you. Be witness that I recite the Shahadah." He started crying out of sheer joy and went back to the Prophet (PBUH) with the tiding that Almighty Allah had accepted his prayer and had given his mother the treasure of Islam. The Prophet (PBUH) was also pleased to hear that. He praised Allah and gave Abu Hurairah some advice. Then, on his request, he prayed, "O Allah, put the love of Abu Hurairah and his mother in the hearts of all true Muslims and put the love of all true Muslims in the hearts of both of them."

If it is not a matter of aqeedah and the foundation of Islam, the rule is to be good with them and do ihsan for them. Being kind to, and loving is not only our obligation but it could become the means through which they accept Islam. That is the best thing we can do for our non-Muslims parents.

- Sumayyah bint Joan

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