Answered by Ustadha Shazia Ahmad
What is the bare minimum in relation to being good to one’s parents? I have siblings who live out of town and visit only a handful of times a year. One sibling speaks to my father twice a year, if that. The parents did not abuse the children or anything outward; we are just not close as a family.
We are instructed to be good to parents, but what is the minimum of this injunction? Is it sufficient to just say salam?
Thank you for your question. May Allah reward you for wanting to fulfill your duties to your parents, and may He increase your whole family in your bond, love, and closeness to each other.
Just greeting your parents would not be enough by any standard in the world, and I feel that calling twice a year is in no way sufficient; instead, it’s disrespectful. That being said, there is no minimum that I can list out for you, but rather, being good to parents means that they are pleased with you. As long as they are pleased, your Lord is pleased.
The Prophet said: “The Lord’s pleasure is in the parent’s pleasure, and the Lord’s anger is in the parent’s anger.” [Tirmidhi]
In order to come up with some kind of measuring stick, you should look at pious Muslims around you and see what they do for their parents. You should also imagine yourself as an elder and imagine what you might like your children to do for you. Some parents value a child’s presence, some value their gifts or their financial help, and some value phone calls; it’s different for everyone. Another option is to ask your parents how they might like to see more done for them.
Keep this important Islamic standard in mind. Abu Huraira reported that a person said:
“Allah’s Messenger, who amongst the people is most deserving of my good treatment? He said: ‘Your mother, again your mother, again your mother, then your father, then your nearest relatives according to the order (of nearness).’” [Muslim]
Please see these links as well:
- Goodness to Parents – A Reader
- Serve Your Parents Now Before It’s Too Late
- Parents – Your Door to Allah’s Acceptance, by Ustadh Uthman Bally
May Allah give you the best of this world and the next.
[Ustadha] Shazia Ahmad
Checked and Approved by Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Ustadha Shazia Ahmad lived in Damascus, Syria, for two years, where she studied aqidah, fiqh, tajweed, tafsir, and Arabic. She then attended the University of Texas at Austin and completed her Master’s in Arabic. Afterward, she moved to Amman, Jordan, where she studied fiqh, Arabic, and other sciences. She later moved back to Mississauga, Canada, where she lives with her family.