How Do Muslims View the Elderly?

Muslims, as a matter of principle and faith, are to respect and care for the elderly. It is quite common to find children, parents, grandparents and sometimes even great grandparents all living together in the same home. In the Islamic world there are no such things as old people’s homes. If the elderly are in need of special and specific medical attention, which cannot be provided by the family or at the house, then appropriate arrangements are made, otherwise, the family remains close together as best as possible.

In Islam, serving one’s parents is a duty second only to worshipping God. It is considered despicable to express any irritation when, through no fault of their own, the elderly become difficult to attend to.

God says in the Quran:

Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him, and be kind to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, do not even say ‘uff’ to them or rebuff them, but speak to them in terms of honor and kindness. Lower to them the wing of humility, and say, “My Lord! Have mercy on them, for they did care for me when I was young.” (Quran 17:23-4)

Mothers are particularly honored in Islam. The Prophet Muhammad (may God bless him and grant him peace) taught that “Paradise lies at the feet of mothers.” Through this, and other prophetic narrations, the Prophet greatly emphasized that mothers deserve our merciful and loving companionship.

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