Respect for the Elderly is holy in Islam
All too often, in this day of secularism and self-indulgence, elderly members of a family or community are not given their due respect. Islam teaches us to honour the elderly and treat them with kindness. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said in a hadith:
“If a young man honours an elderly on account of his age, God appoints someone to honour him in his old age.” (Tirmidhi)
We should try to remember that when we are speaking to the elderly members of our family we should speak politely and not be answering back harshly to what they are saying. It may be that they were raised differently and of course in another time period, so they may have varying opinions to those younger than them. Having this mindset will help us to be more aware and conscious of how we speak to the elderly as well as remember that we should have the intention to please our Lord.
We ought to keep in mind that having patience with the elderly is vital. Perhaps when we are with an elderly person, we notice that they may move more slowly or take more time to explain something. It is disrespectful to rush them. Every human, if Allah has written for them to live to those years, will experience old age. How would we feel if someone was being impatient with us in our old age?
We have to remember that there are many elderly members of our families or communities who experience loneliness. Perhaps their spouse may have passed away, or their children may have grown older and moved away to different homes. There are so many reasons why an elderly person may feel alone. We must remind ourselves that Allah will be pleased with us if we go out of our way to make an elderly person feel that they are cared for. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:
“It is out of reverence to Allah to respect the white-headed (aged) Muslim.” (Abu Dawud)
We should also not overlook the fact that some elderly people may require more help with going about their daily activities. A young person may not struggle with things like making breakfast, walking up the stairs, or going for a walk outside. An elderly person will most likely appreciate it if there is someone to assist them. The youth or more able among us must do what is possible to help the elderly in our families and communities.
We must also make an effort to remind ourselves that during the current global pandemic, many elderly people have become even more vulnerable than before. If they fall ill they struggle more, especially if they are fragile. As Muslims, we must remember that it is our duty to help and be kind. We should do what we can to assist them and ease their struggles. We must remember to follow the example of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAW). He said in a hadith:
“He is not one of us who does not show mercy to our young ones and esteem to our elderly.” (Tirmidhi and Ahmad)