Respecting our elders : Its significance in Islam
In Islam we are taught to be respectful towards our elders. We read in a hadith:
Ibn Abbas reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “Blessings are with your elders.” (Sahih Ibn Hibban)
Considerate towards our elders
In another hadith, we learn that it is extremely important for us to be caring and considerate towards elders, and that in doing so we become closer to the help of Allah. We read:
Jabir reported: When the emigrants returned to the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, from across the sea, the Prophet said, “Will you not tell me about the most amazing things you saw in the land of Abyssinia?” They said, “Of course, O Messenger of Allah. While we were sitting, an elderly woman among the senior nuns passed by us carrying a jug of water on top of her head.
As she passed by some young men among them, one of them pushed her back, she fell to her knees, and her jug was broken. When she got back up, she turned to him and said: Soon you will know, traitor! When Allah takes up the Throne and gathers the former and latter generations, and hands and feet are made to speak about what they have earned, you will come to know mine and your affair shortly.” The Prophet said, “She spoke the truth. She spoke the truth. How can Allah sanctify a nation if their strong do not support their weak?” (Sunan Ibn Majah)
Rewards of helping the elderly
This shows us how beneficial it is for us when we do make an effort to look after elders and have patience with them. Indeed, we are reminded that if Allah wills for us to live until that age, we will also experience the trials of old age. May Allah grant the elderly strength and may He reward those who help the elderly.
We learn that respecting the rights of our elders is part of being a Muslim. Ibn Abbas reported:
“The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, ‘He is not one of us who is not merciful to our young, nor respects the rights of our elders, nor enjoins good, nor forbids evil.’” (Sunan al-Tirmidhi)
Example of The Prophet (SAW)
The Prophet (SAW) was very considerate about the elderly and the struggles they face. We read in a hadith:
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “If one of you leads people in prayer, let him lighten it as among them are the weak, sick, and elderly. If one of you prays by himself, let him pray for as long as he wishes.” (Sahih Bukhari)
In another hadith, we read that the Prophet (SAW) would take into account the elderly and others who may struggle when waiting a long duration for the prayer to begin. We read in a hadith:
Abu Sa’id al-Khudri reported: We prayed with the Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, at nightfall and he did not come out until half of the night had passed. The Prophet said, “Take your places.” We took our places and the Prophet said, “Verily, people have prayed and laid down in their beds, but you continue to be in prayer as long as you wait for prayer. Were it not for the weakness of the weak and the sickness of the sick, I would delay this prayer until half of the night had passed.” (Sunan Abi Dawud)