Commentary Adil Salahi
Asmaa’ bint Abu Bakr was the Prophet’s sister-in-law. She was the daughter of his closest companion and the sister of Aisha, his wife. Her mother, however, did not become a Muslim for quite a long time.Asmaa’ states: “My mother came to me during the time of the Prophet (Pbuh), hoping to get something from me. I asked the Prophet (Pbuh) whether I should be kind to her. He answered: “Yes,”
(Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others).
Over the last issues we have been discussing kindness to parents as a personal duty imposed by Allah on every son and daughter. We have explained that to be a dutiful child is to ensure that one is closer to Allah. It makes it easier to win Allah’s pleasure and be eventually admitted into heaven. We have also explained that parents must be obeyed unless they order us to commit a sin. This is based on the Prophet’s (Pbuh) Hadith that “no creature may be obeyed in what constitutes disobedience to the creator.” All this assumes that the parents are Muslims. It may happen, however, that a Muslim child has non-Muslim parents. What should his attitude be toward them?
Asmaa’ bint Abu Bakr was the Prophet’s sister-in-law. She was the daughter of his closest companion and the sister of Aisha, his wife. Her mother, however, did not become a Muslim for quite a long time. Asmaa’ states: “My mother came to me during the time of the Prophet (Pbuh), hoping to get something from me. I asked the Prophet (Pbuh) whether I should be kind to her. He answered: “Yes,” (Related by Al-Bukhari, Muslim and others).
The way this Hadith is phrased suggests that her mother had not yet become a Muslim when she came to her. Another version states clearly that the mother was hostile to Islam. Had she shown any inclination to become a Muslim, Asmaa’ would not have needed to ask the Prophet’s (Pbuh) permission to be kind to her. Many a Muslim at that time was extra kind to their parents and relatives who were not Muslims, hoping to win them over to Islam. The significance of this particular Hadith is that even when a parent is determined not to become a Muslim, we still should treat him or her kindly. Allah later revealed in the Qur’an: As for such of the unbelievers as do not fight against you on account of your faith, and neither drive you forth from your homelands, Allah does not forbid you to show them kindness and to behave toward them with full equity. Indeed, Allah loves those who act equitably. (Surah Al-Mumtahinah 60:8)
It is clear from this Qur’anic verse and the Hadith quoted above that to show kindness to parents who are non-Muslims is also a duty on children, provided that such parents do not fight against Muslims, and do not chase them out of their land. This is further supported by a Hadith which mentions that Umar saw a silk suit being sold in the marketplace. He suggested to the Prophet (Pbuh) to buy it in order to wear it on Fridays and when he received delegations from other tribes. The Prophet (Pbuh) said: “Only a person deprived (of goodness) wears such a suit.”
Some time later, the Prophet (Pbuh) received a number of similar suits. He sent one to Umar. Umar asked. “How can I wear it when you have said about it what you said?” The Prophet (Pbuh) answered: “I have not given it you to wear it, but to either sell it or give it as a present.” Umar sent it to a friend of his in Makkah who was not a Muslim. This Hadith suggests that kindness to unbelievers is also recommended if they do not take an attitude of active hostility towards Islam.
Kindness to non-Muslim parents does not depend on what religion they follow. Even if they worship idols, we are supposed to be kind to them. It is true that such kindness may help win them over to Islam. This is, however, not the only reason. The parent-child relationship transcends matters of personal inclinations, desires, habits, creeds and faith. It is well known that a parent tries hard to overcome his prejudice against something if he feels that his son or daughter likes it. Islam does not like to stir trouble in every family where the parents are not Muslims. It recognizes that the parent-child tie need not be broken on account of faith. It, therefore, instructs its followers to be kind to their non-Muslim parents.
Only when such parents try to persuade their Muslim son to turn away from Islam does Allah command us not to listen to them or obey them. Allah states in the Qur’an: We have enjoined upon man goodness toward his parents: his mother bore him by bearing strain upon strain, and his weaning is within two years. Be grateful toward Me and toward your parents, with Me all journeys end. Yet should they (your parents) endeavor to make you ascribe divinity, side by side with Me to something of which you have no knowledge, then do not obey them. But even then bear them company with kindness in the life of this world and follow the path of those who turn toward me. (Surah Luqman 31:14-15)
It is reported that these verses were revealed when the mother of Sa’ad ibn Abu Waqqas, who was a companion of the Prophet (Pbuh), was so upset when she learned that he had embraced Islam. She tried to persuade him to recant. Realizing that he was determined to follow the Prophet (Pbuh), she tried to increase the pressure on him. She knew that he was a most dutiful child and he loved her dearly. She thought that if she brought hardship on herself, he would feel sorry for her and might listen to her. She swore that she would not taste any food or drink until he had left the Prophet (Pbuh).
The judgement in his case was given by Allah in the above quoted verses. Sa’ad did not listen to his mother and continued to be one of the best companions of the Prophet (Pbuh). He was later given the happy news by the Prophet that he was certain to be admitted into heaven.
It is clear from his story and the verses revealed by Allah concerning it that when it comes to matters of faith, a non-Muslim parent may not be obeyed. That, however, does not mean to be unkind to such a parent. We are still required to be kind to him or her, hoping always that they may recognize the truth of Islam.
We do good if we pray Allah to enlighten our non-Muslim parents and guide them to accept Islam. We cannot, however, pray Allah to forgive them. Allah forgives all sins with the exception of associating partners with him. All non-believers associate partners with Allah in one form or another. It is, therefore, futile to pray Him to forgive what he has told us He would not forgive. Moreover, it is an affront to Allah.
It may be hard for a Muslim child to be unable to pray for the forgiveness of his non-Muslim parents. Let us remember that the Prophet’s (Pbuh) own parents were non-Muslims. He tells us that he asked Allah’s permission to pray Him to forgive his mother. His request was declined. We know that Allah granted every prayer the Prophet (Pbuh) made either for himself or his companions or, indeed, Muslims generally. The fact that Allah did not permit the Prophet (Pbuh) to pray for the forgiveness of his own mother suggests that this is not a trifling matter at all. It is indeed much more beneficial to one’s non-Muslim parents who are alive that he prays Allah to guide them to Islam.
Abdullah ibn Abbaas reported that the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) saw a gold ring on a man’s hand. He took it off and threw it aside, saying, “Would any of you take a burning coal and hold it in his hand?” When the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) had gone away, someone said to the man, “Take your ring and benefit from it (i.e., sell it).” He said, “No, by Allah, I will not take it after the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) has thrown it away.” (Muslim).
Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al Aas reported that the Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) said: “Whoever of my ummah wears gold and dies wearing it, Allah will deny him the gold of Paradise. Whoever of my ummah wears silk and dies wearing it, Allah will deny him the silk of Paradise.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad).
This prohibition applies to men only, not to women, as Ali, (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that the Prophet of Allah (Pbuh) took a piece of silk in his right hand and a piece of gold in his left, and said: “These are forbidden for the males of my ummah.” (Reported by al-Nisaa and Abu Dawud).
The Prophet (Pbuh) also said: “Wearing silk and gold is permitted for the women of my ummah and prohibited for the males.” (Reported by Imaam Ahmad)
Gold is permitted for women because of their delicate and gentle nature, and their need for adornment. Allah says (interpretation of the meaning): “(Do they then like for Allah) a creature who is brought up in adornments (wearing gold and silk ornaments, i.e., women), and in dispute cannot make herself clear?” [al-Zukhruf 43:18]
As for men, it is a sign of instability and an unmasculine nature to adorn oneself with gold. Islam wants the differences between the sexes to be marked clearly, and their distinct characteristics to stand out, because when they resemble one another, much corruption results therefrom. The prohibition of gold for men includes pure gold, gold alloys, cut pieces, joined pieces, gold inlay, etc. As for gold-plating and gilding, some scholars are of the opinion that such articles are forbidden for men if it is possible to extract gold from them (by peeling or shaving off, for example); if no gold can be extracted from it, then such items are permitted. Some scholars say that it is not permitted to wear an item which is wholly or mostly gold-plated, but if only a little part of it is gold-plated (like the hands of a watch, or the numerals, or the tiny points denoting numbers), then it is permitted to wear it. They say that the issue is its appearance, not its value: if the gold-plating is very obvious and covers everything, it is not permitted, because many people will not make the distinction between gold-plated and real gold, and some may follow this person’s example and begin to wear pure gold. And Allah knows best. (Al-Jamiat)