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Yasir Qadhi | Ramadan Reminder: Parents – My Biggest Door to Jannah


Link to all Ramadan 2011 posts

Lecture by Yasir Qadhi | Transcribed by Sameera

This lecture is brought to you by the Memphis Islamic Center (MIC). For more information about MIC, please visit

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[The following is the audio and transcript of Shaykh Yasir Qadhi’s lecture “Parents – My Biggest Door to Jannah.” The transcript includes slight modifications for the sake of readability and clarity.]

[audio: 2011 Lecture Series_ Parents – My Biggest Door to Jannah.mp3]
Download mp3

We just finished Sūrat’l-Isrā’, and I thought it would really not be appropriate to let this sūrah go by without talking about some of its salient verses, in particular those that talk about the rights of Allāh and the rights of the parents. Allāh says in the very famous verse: “wa-qaḍa rabbuka alla ta‘budu illa iyyāhu wa bi’l-wālidayn iḥsāna (Your Lord has decreed…).”  Allāh didn’t say, “I am decreeing this upon you” or “this is the ruling upon you.”  Allāh is speaking as if this is a done deal and there is no dispute.

“It has been decreed before you came onto this earth.”

It is not a subject of dispute, and there are no negotiations here.

What has He decreed?  “Alla ta‘budu illa iyyāhu wa bi’l-wālidayn iḥsāna (that you worship Him alone and that you show iḥsān to your parents)”. As we know in the Qur’ān and the Sunnah, the rights of parents are second only to the rights of Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) and this is enough of an indication of how important and sacred the rights of the parents are.

There is no secondary right after the rights of Allāh other than towards the parents.  After Allāh, the parents immediately come.  This is the message throughout the Qur’ān.  Allāh ‘azza wa jall even says, “wa bi’l-wālidayn.”  In other words, worship Allāh and be good to parents.  He didn’t say ‘and then be good.’  He said wow, which is arf ‘af.  It is as if they are being equated even though we know that they are not equivalent.  Worshipping Allāh is more important than being good to parents, but Allāh made it so important that it is as if it is almost the same.

The very famous scholar of the Arabic language and on of the earliest linguists is Al-Raghib al-Asbahani (d. ~482A.H.).   Regarding the phrase ‘wa bi’l-wālidayn iḥsāna‘ (that you should have iḥsān to your parents), he said the definition of iḥsān is that you give more than what is expected and you are content with getting less than what is required upon you.  The state of iḥsān is when you give more and are content with receiving less.  This is the highest verb in the Arabic language to show the proper treatment.

Allāh says ‘imma yablughanna‘ (when either one or both of then reach kibar (old age) then do not say uff to them and do not rebuke them, rather speak generous / marvelous words to them).

A note on ‘uff‘ here:  Uff in the Arabic language originally referred to the dirt that was collected under nails; it is an irritation and is disgusting.  It was then used to express the slightest level of contempt. Ibn ʿAbbās said that had there been a lesser word than uff that the Arabs knew, then Allāh would have used it here.  There is no word lesser than uff to show your irritation.  When do you say uff?  When you are frustrated and irritated – it is not an expression of anger but rather an indication of your own frustration.  Allāh says to not even say this to them.

Allāh then goes further than this.  “Do not rebuke them, and say to them the most generous (karīm) of words and lower over them the wings of mercy.”  This is a metaphorical language.  Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) is saying that just like the mother bird protects and shelters her infants with her wing from heat, cold, and enemies.  Notice that this is a parable with an implicit message.  Your parents did the same for you, and you should do the same for them.  It is the parents who lowered the wings of mercy on the infant, but in this verse, Allāh is saying to the children that they need to lower the wings of mercy on their parents.  There is reverse psychology here.  They did it for you, and now it is your turn to do it for them.  It is beautiful imagery here because, as we said, it is not the child who lowers the wing on the parents but the parent who does it to the child.  Allāh commands in this verse that the child do it to the parent – i.e. us to our parents.  Why?  To remind us that once upon a time it was the other way around.  Now it is your job to do that.

“And pray to Allāh: ‘O Allāh have mercy on them, as they raised me when I was a child.’”

Concept of being good to parents is because of all that they have done for us

Most of us here are parents, and you know how much love a parent has for a child.  I have said this many times before that this love is a miracle from Allāh without which life on earth would cease to exist.  Muslim or non-Muslim, kāfir or mu’min, the love that comes from the heart of a parent is a miracle from Allāh.  This love is a type of love that is unparalleled in human existence.  No one loves you like your parents do – not your wife, not your husband, and not even your child.  The type of love that a parent has is a selfless love; they will give and give and give and expect nothing back in return.  If you think about, it is a miracle because look at how much time, effort, and frustration the kids bring, but still the parents continue to give and give.  If Allāh had not created this love in parents, then humanity would cease to exist because children do drive parents crazy.  Children are an incentive for us to go to work.  It is because of the children that we want to work overtime.

Allāh is saying:  “This love I created in your parents, and now you need to give it back to them.”  Allāh knows that the reverse love is not as pure as the love that came from top down.  The love we give back is not the same.  We all love our parents, but it is a love that you struggle with and remind yourself about.  You need to control your tongue.  Allāh has given us all of these incentives.

The Qur’ān and Sunnah are full of the rights of the parents

Our Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “The pleasure of Allāh is found in pleasing the parents, and the anger of Allāh is found in making the parents angry.” [Musnad of Imam Aḥmad].  The pleasure of Allāh is found in pleasing the parents and the anger of Allāh will be incurred in displeasing them.

In the famous ḥadīth, a man came to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said, “O Messenger of Allāh, how do I enter Jannah?”  The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Is your mother alive?”  The man said, “Yes, she is alive.”  The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Find her feet and stick yourself [izlimhā] to them; there you will find Jannah.”  This is an expression in Arabic meaning to ‘humble yourself to her service.’  This is where we get the common phrase that Jannah is underneath the feet of the mother.  The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) didn’t quite say that phrase but said a similar phrase of sticking yourself to her shin or her legs because Jannah will be around that area.  He gave this metaphor of lowering and humbling yourself to service your mother.

In a famous ḥadīth reported in Sunan Al-Nisā’i for this wording (it is also in Bukhāri):  A man came to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said, “Ya Rasūlullāh, I have come all the way from Yemen to dedicate myself to you.  I have come to dedicate my life to whatever you want, and I want to do jihād fi sabīlillāh.  I even left my parents who are old and weak even though they need me and are crying out of their need.”  In other words, he is boasting that he left his parents crying to come to him to show his sincerity.  The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Do you really want the pleasure of Allāh?”  The man said, “Yes.”  The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Go back to them right now!  Make them laugh just as you caused them to cry.  That is how you will reach Jannah.”

Notice that this man became a ṣaḥābi by coming to Madinah because he met the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).  He was so happy that he will dedicate his life to the service of Islam, but he said he left his parents crying, so the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Is this your version of Islam?  Is this how you think you will enter Jannah?  By causing your parents to cry and coming to me?”  There is something more important than jihād fi sabīlillāh and that is giving the rights of the parents.  He said, “Go back to your parents and make them laugh just as you made them cry.”  This is the month of Ramadan, brothers and sisters, which is a month where we after the worship of Allāh, the second right that we need to do is remember the rights of the parents.

There is a very beautiful incident from the life of Ibn ʿAbbās (raḍyAllāhu ‘anhu).  Ibn ʿAbbās was doing ṭawāf around the Ka‘bah and there was a man doing ṭawāf carrying an elderly lady on his back.  When he recognized Ibn ʿAbbās, he came running to him and said, “O Ibn ʿAbbās, I have come from such-and-such a place (a faraway place in the area of Iraq) and this lady on my back is my mother.  She had the desire to come for Hajj for so many years, but we couldn’t afford a camel or a horse, so I put her on my back and have come from that place in order to perform the Hajj.  Have I now fulfilled the rights of my mother on me?”  Ibn ʿAbbās smiled and said, “What you have done is good, but you haven’t even fulfilled a fraction of what your mother did for you.”  The man said, “Ya Ibn ʿAbbās, I have come walking from that place with my mother on my back and you say that I haven’t even done a fraction?”

Psychology that will make us shudder

Listen to what Ibn ʿAbbās said, showing he was a person who understands human nature.  He said, “You haven’t done a fraction because when your mother took care of you, she did it out of genuine love wanting to see you flourish, grow, and live for a long time.  Now that you are doing it back, you are doing it as a burden and as a favor back to her waiting for her to die.  How can you compare the two?  How can you compare that attitude of love and compassion with your attitude of ‘I will pay you back’?  You have done good, but you haven’t done a fraction of what she did for you.”

This is the reality of the rights of our parents, brothers and sisters.

In a final ḥadīth:  A man came to the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) and said, “O Messenger of Allāh, my father has died, is there anything I can do to bring him benefit?”  If your parents are alive, you need to do as much as you can physically and financially, be in touch with them, call them, have good relations with them, and visit them as frequently as possible.  If one or both of them have gone on, the rights of the parents don’t end even after they have left this earth.  The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) said, “Of course, there is so much you can do.  You can make du‘ā’ and istighfār for them and seek forgiveness for them – O Allāh, make their qabr a vast place, O Allāh increase their ranks in Jannah and O Allāh forgive their sins, O Allāh put away any evil they have done’ – and you can give ṣadaqah on their behalf and you can give udhiyah on their behalf and you can go for Hajj on behalf of your parents (this is one of the best things you can do for them as long as you have done Hajj for yourself), and you can do ‘umrah on behalf of them.  Visit the relatives and friends your parents had who you do not have much relationship with but you resurrect those relationships and friendships in order to bring about the memory of your parents.”  One of the things we can do is if your parents had distant relatives or friends who are not a part of your circle of friends, visit them for the sake of birr of your parents.

The bottom line, brothers and sisters, is that there is a never ending job, we have to repay back to our parents.  Never ending ṣadaqah, never ending du‘ā’, never ending istighfār.  This is part and parcel of being a righteous Muslim.  In this month of Ramadan, let us see what our relationship is with our parents and what we can do to increase and better that relationship if they are alive.  If they have left this world, then there is much that we can do for the akhirah.

One last incident comes to mind.  A ṣaḥābi’s father passed away and he was crying very much at the funeral.  One of the other ṣaḥābah came and comforted him and tried to console him and said, “O so-and-so, I am not crying just because my father died.  I know inshā’Allāh he is in a better place now than he was in this world.  I am crying because my biggest door to Jannah has now been shut.”  Think about this, brothers and sisters, for those of you whose parents are alive that this is your easiest door to Jannah.  This is the largest and middle door to Jannah.  Think about this, and do whatever you can to help your parents to have that good relationship with them.  The du‘ā’ for the parents is the best thing that you can ask for in this world.

May Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) make us righteous children and righteous progeny.  May Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) forgive our parents.  May Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta‘āla) cause us to be resurrected with our parents and be with our parents in Jannat Al-Firdaws Al-‘Ala.

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Sh. Dr. Yasir Qadhi is someone that believes that one's life should be judged by more than just academic degrees and scholastic accomplishments. Friends and foe alike acknowledge that one of his main weaknesses is ice-cream, which he seems to enjoy with a rather sinister passion. The highlight of his day is twirling his little girl (a.k.a. "my little princess") round and round in the air and watching her squeal with joy. A few tid-bits from his mundane life: Sh. Yasir has a Bachelors in Hadith and a Masters in Theology from Islamic University of Madinah, and a PhD in Islamic Studies from Yale University. He is an instructor and Dean of Academic Affairs at AlMaghrib, and the Resident Scholar of the Memphis Islamic Center.



  1. Kashif

    November 15, 2011 at 9:33 AM

    Thank you for this beautiful article. May Allah shower peace and blessings upon our parents.

  2. umm abdullah

    November 15, 2011 at 11:46 AM

    JazakAllah Khair Sheikh! I needed this.

    It’ll be very beneficial if you could advice me about how to deal with a hot tempered father (who is also very concerned about his family’s well being and is generous) when it comes to things like insurance and other stuff.
    Let’s say there is an issue “X’ which is haram and my dad wants me or my fiance or husband to do that. How do we deal with it? Many a times I end up getting frustrated and talk back and Im really scared if my good deeds will go into the trash if I’ll do this.

    I really want to be a good Muslim daughter and I hope AllahSWT will help me.

  3. subsequent

    November 15, 2011 at 11:53 AM

    Assalam u Alaykum,

    My parents don’t pray, I never seen them give zakaat, they don’t like hijab and don’t like someone to grow beard or be more practicing, they think that is being religious fanatic. I don’t think they probably know the translation of Surah Fatihah. On top of that they didn’t arrange for my marriage at the right time with my kind of spouse (they think I was too young) so I ended up marrying someone on my own and now they weren’t really excited about it and kind of curse me that you have married by displeasing your parents so you will never be pleased in life. I turned religious on my own as a teenager. Little do they know or are concerned about my trials as protection of deen isn’t #1 on their list. I’ve been obedient to them all throughout, support them in whichever way possible and never shouted at them or disrespected them in anyway. In such type of situation what more could I do that my parents still remain my biggest door to Jannah?

    • abrar

      November 17, 2011 at 3:10 PM

      brother, I commend that you are worried about your deen and created a desire to become better to your parents.

      You mention that you “I’ve been obedient to them all throughout, support them in whichever way possible and never shouted at them or disrespected them in anyway… this is great as I myself have not been able to say the same about me and my parents…however what I can say is that you haven’t done any nad ..but have you done any good… have you had more sabr with them than you have with others….have you smiled at them more than you have others… have you treated them with mercy more than you have others?????..

      This is a question for us all to answer… I pray Allah swt makes us all treat our parents with the best of the best of manners ahead of anyone else…

      “wa bil walidaynee IHSANA

    • Gibran Mahmud

      November 18, 2011 at 1:09 PM

      Assalamualaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

      You didn’t become religious by yourself, Allah decided to guide you out of His mercy.
      Watch this for extreme benefits. – Similar

    • A. Stranger

      November 23, 2011 at 12:30 AM

      Dawah. Do Dawah to them, and make Dua. The best Dua for another person is done in his/her absence. May Allah reward your patience.

  4. Yasmin

    November 15, 2011 at 12:13 PM

    Mashallah, Sheikh Qadhi always enlightens us with his wide breadth of knowledge. May Allah (swt) grant him the strength to continue doing so for many years to come!

  5. melaika

    November 15, 2011 at 10:39 PM

    This article is much needed for many of us, especially at our times of frustration.

    However, not that this topic isn’t important because it really is and we need to be reminded of it, I rarely see articles like this attributed to children’s rights and how parents should treat their children. Do children have any rights? Today we are bombarded with parents rights and many parents are taking it out of context to validate their actions and expectations..

    Shaykh could you, or anyone from MM, enlighten us about children’s rights if there is any?

  6. shiney

    November 17, 2011 at 11:12 AM

    Jazakallah Khair for this…i really needed it!

  7. ummanar

    November 17, 2011 at 2:50 PM

    Mashallah this beautiful it brings tears to my eyes.jazakallahu khirn

  8. N.

    November 18, 2011 at 9:34 AM

    Thank you for this great reminder. We are so often negligent of our duty to our parents, especially our mothers. May Allah swt forgive us.

    Not intended as dispute in any way, but rather seeking clarification:

    Had learned that in the case of the married female, her husband has greater rights than even her parents. Hoping in sha Allah that these two never clash, but even from a standpoint of making our intentions and priorities as wives (and as a guideline for husbands) what is your take on this ya sheikh?

    Jazakum Allahu khairan

  9. Qasim

    November 24, 2011 at 9:20 PM

    JazakAllahu khair for this beautiful reminder. Quick question, isn’t the Sahabi in the story about hajj and making tawaf around the Kaba, Ibn Umer and not Ibn Abbas (raa)?

  10. Pingback: Parents – My Biggest Door to Jannah « Words of love.. words for love…

  11. maliha

    November 26, 2011 at 3:18 AM

    that’s realy a heart touching lecture.realy we should always take care of our parents and love them limitlessly without any demand.

  12. K.

    November 26, 2011 at 5:37 AM

    Assalaamu 3aleikum wa rahmet Allah,

    Jazak Allah khayran Sheikh Yasir for the great lecture, and a very useful and important reminder. I would like to know if there is a lecture regarding dealing with parents who are very hard to get along with. I know many people who have very irrational parents, and no matter how good they are to them, they keep being irrational and unfair until the children can’t take it anymore. I myself am in a similar situation, I have had many arguments with my parents, in some I even said some things that I deeply regret, but I feel that the level of patience that is required to continuously deal with them in kindness despite their behavior towards me is something that is beyond my ability. And this makes me very depressed because I don’t want to be disrespectful to my parents in any way, but in a way I feel forced to act that way whenever dealing with them.

    I thought that separating from them and living alone was the solution, and only meeting once in a while to avoid their criticism and attempts to control my life, but I still feel uneasy because I know that we are not on the best of terms. I feel that my parents are the ultimate test for me from Allah, however I’m under the impression that I’m failing this test miserably, and this makes me very, very sad. I know there are many people around the world, especially those living in the west with non-western parents who have a similar situation. I would really appreciate some good advice on dealing with this seemingly impossible task.

  13. Umm Muslima

    November 26, 2011 at 11:54 PM

    Alhamdulillah, what a beautiful lecture and reminder.
    JazakAllah Khair Sheikh.

    This is such a relief to read after reading another article on MM written by someone “anonymous” about how their parents “abused” them. Surely if we are to hide the faults of our brothers and sisters the first in line for that consideration would be our parents?!

    MashaAllah, many of us have grown up with parents that didn’t reach the ideal that we had of how we would like to be treated. But Alhamdulillah, they DID raise us, they DID feed us, they DID clothe us, they DID expose us to Islam(unless you are a convert in which case Alhamdulillah that Allah SWT has guided you. Maybe your guidance will be a good influence on your parents as well!).

    I think that once someone gets to a “certain age” you realize that your parents were human. And hopefully insha Allah you can learn to see all of the good that they did for you and say “Alhamdulillah.” And you can see the mistakes that they made and ask Allah SWT to forgive them for all of their mistakes. We all make mistakes and do things wrong. We’re all going to need the Mercy and Forgiveness of Allah SWT on the Day of Judgement.

    Narrated Jarir bin ‘Abdullah: “Allah’s Apostle said, ‘Allah will not be merciful to those who are not merciful to mankind.’ (Translation of Sahih Bukhari, ONENESS, UNIQUENESS OF ALLAH (TAWHEED), Volume 9, Book 93, Number 473)”

    How can we ask for Allah SWT’s forgiveness if we don’t even forgive and show mercy to our parents?

  14. Magasvery

    July 10, 2012 at 12:42 PM

    Salam. I have a hard time forgiving my mother. While she was caring in terms of her behavior, she was also very abusive toward me with her tongue, and still is. She constantly picks on me, and nothing I do can ever be right, no matter how hard I try to please her. I don’t talk back to her but my heart holds a lot of resentment, bordering on hatred at times. What can I do to cure this for the sake of Allah. I want to take care of this, insha Allah, before either of us passes away.

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