Mama and Papa are two of the strongest people I know. When we were growing up, we didn’t really have much money. However, they never allowed us to notice it. Papa and Mama gave (and continues giving) us such great love and unconditional compassion.
Instead of buying us fancy games, Mama organized trips to the park. Mama created these games in which we were inquisitive explorers. She bought us books on plants and animals and we would run through the park together, trying to figure out the various species. With her guidance, we even managed to collect all 17 Young Scientist badges each.
Instead of going for beach holidays, Mama brought us to swim at a pool within walking distance from our house every week. The trips would cost just $1 per person but they made us infinitely happy. When we got really famished, we looked forward to seeing Papa walk through the gates. That would mean two things – seeing Papa after his long day at work (he worked overtime every day) and KFC chicken!
Instead of bringing us to expensive restaurants, Mama cooked for us. With what little she had, she would buy nutritious food such as fish and vegetables. Every day, we would wait for Papa to come home so that we could eat dinner together. “Assalamualaikum!” Papa would exclaim as soon as he opened the door. All of us would run out and kiss his hand. He would hug and kiss each and every one of us.
Our late ustazah used to tell us again and again that Allah has decreed that we must treat our parents very well. This is so important that in the Quran, it is mentioned right after the decree that we should not worship anyone but Allah. On top of that, we have to be kind to our parents even if they try to sway us from the oneness of Allah!
You wouldn’t be surprised that I put Mama and Papa on a pedestal. I decided quite resolutely that I wanted to be just like Mama. I wanted to marry someone just like Papa.
Then, it happened. I can’t remember when it was exactly. However, I know that it was around the time that I was in primary school. I started to realise that sometimes, there were inconsistencies between what Mama and Papa told us to do and what they actually did. For instance, I caught Mama drinking coke straight from the bottle. She always insisted that we had to pour it into a cup first. Another time, I saw Papa lose his temper because a dishonest satay stallholder had made us wait for more than an hour, realised that he forgot what our order was and then insisted that we did not order at all. Papa always reminded us what Ali ibn Abu Talib said, “A moment of patience in a moment of anger saves a thousand moments of regret.”
These examples may seem very minor to you but they perplexed me. I just could not understand how the most perfect people in my world could contradict their words. My expectations came crashing down on me. I learnt that I cannot put anyone on a pedestal. I learnt that perfection is a mirage. I decided that it’s easier to love Allah, in his glorified perfection.
But do we truly love Allah if we cannot love His creations?
My fellow seeker, our parents are not perfect. We shouldn’t love them because they are perfect. We love them despite knowing that they’re not. They brought us up in the best way they could, in the only way they knew how. Everyone, even our loved ones, is inconsistent. They will disappoint us. Unwittingly, they will hurt us.
Only when we can bring ourselves to see beyond their imperfections to recognise Allah in them do we know that we truly love them for the sake of Him. In shaa Allah, we can then be more thankful and kind and humble. Through our parents, we can fall even more deeply in love with our Creator.
“And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow upon them Your mercy as they did bring me up when I was young” Surah al-Isra’ 17:23-34
Our fathers have sacrificed so much for us. Our mothers almost died giving birth to us. They loved us even before we were born.
Do you think we can ever repay them?