Elderly in Islam: Islam is a complete religion that has discussed the rights of everyone to perfection. Old age death is discussed in Islam greatly. The cycle of life and the afternoon of age and life is not without purpose and meaning. If old age was of no importance to us Allah would not have given us longer lives. People before our age, like Nuh AS, lived for almost 1000 years according to Islamic tradition.
Many understand that since the time of birth is the purest a soul can be, old age, for those who are fortunate, is the journey back to spiritual purity. The passage of time is felt most in the afternoon before the sun sets as the daylight dwindles. Just like that, weakness, death, and inevitability of time are felt most in old age. It is, therefore, the duty of the elderly to teach wisdom and patience to those after them.
What are the Rights of Elderly In Islam?
Surah Al-Asr describes the afternoon as a time of loss and much gravity. Only those who follow the truth and do good will be able to protect themselves from loss. Old age is the time when you feel the weakest and vulnerable and have to rely on others to fulfill your needs and look to others for help. When your own physical abilities betray you, you turn to your spiritual self and seek help from Allah. The futility of life is what teaches the harshest of lessons. This unique situation makes old age the time of inner and spiritual growth. Old age only reveals the true nature of human existence which was veiled by individual strength and capabilities. The existence where we are constantly in need and dependent on Allah’s guidance and mercy.
8 – Never Insult Your Elders
7 – Let the Elderly Speak First
6 – Greeting the Elderly
5 – Mention of Old Age in Qur’an
Old age in the Qur’an is mentioned many times. Several times in the context of Prophetic stories. The Qur’an asks the believer to ponder over the unique yet inevitable situation of old age.
Here Allah explains the futile nature of knowledge and wisdom acquired through experience and a life’s worth of learning. The kuffaar of Quraish and Makkah used to ask the Prophet PBUH about Allah. The idolators that worshipped their own gods had given them qualities like birth, death, and reproduction. To them endorsing a God that was void of any human qualities was unfathomable. The Qur’an explains that old age and death are all because of Allah. Since He created life and death, He is free of it subsequently.
The mention of knowledge and physical weakness is a direct testament to Allah’s competence and knowledge.
It is, therefore, imperative that old age’s importance be understood by those that are young.
4 – Treatment of Old People In The Quran
The Qur’an gives clear treatment and guidelines of how to treat the elderly. The first important guideline it gives is regarding old parents and their rights.
In this verse, the Qur’an advises young adults to take care of their parents when they attain old age. It emphasizes one or both parents as the responsibility of their care obligatory even if both parents are in old age. It also emphasizes respect and humility and conveys it through practical imagery. It says not to utter even a syllable of disrespect. Furthermore, it accepts that you are now winged and capable but advises us to lower our wings as a show of mercy on our parents that allowed us to be this capable and strong.
It is also important to notice that Allah mentions the worship of Him as a precursor to treating parents with kindness. It means that the natural order and test of faith after worship of Allah is the care of parents.
3 – Hadith on Elderly
This solidifies that spirituality, faith, and old age are carefully intertwined.
2 – Hadith on Honoring Parents
Learn more about the importance of respecting parents from our previous post on 50 Islamic Quotes on Parents.
In continuation of taking care of your parents, it is important to take care of the old friends of your parents as well. Taking care of the people your parents held importantly is a sign of respect and a continuation of their legacy.
Among the rights of the elderly, the right of foremost importance is that of preserving their dignity. Dignity and respect are fundamental human rights essential to all human beings of all ages and walks of life. It is especially important of giving elderly people the dignity and respect that they may have lost due to old age.
It is common for old people to be treated poorly and treated as if they were discarded waste. Their voice and opinions are usually not paid heed to and are rarely conversed with. Treating them with respect and dignity is essential in caring for them. If they don’t feel dignified taking care of their health or their diet fulfills no purpose.
1 – Showing Respect to Elders
Another part of caring for them is to not isolate them. As we grow old, a communication barrier is likely to rise between the young and the old. This causes a general lack of empathy from the young generations’ side. This allows for institutions like old age homes and nursing homes where old people are taken to and are isolated from their families.
There they are sometimes subjugated to non-par care and attention. It is, therefore, important in an Islamic household to not isolate their elders and integrate them into their family and give them the required attention that they crave. This allows them to feel belonged and important in this otherwise unkind and lonely stage of life.
The Muslim society is built on tenets of care, respect, compassion, and kindness. This extends to the elders of our society as well. They may not be the future, but they shaped who we are today. They shaped our future. And even if they are no longer productive members of society their journey has not ended. Their spiritual journey is just beginning, and they are ultimately going to reunite with Allah SWT. This makes them the guests of Allah that are in your care.
So, it is important for everyone to take care of their elders and spend time with them.