God and Parents
by Mr Muhammad Anwar, M.A., Assistant Imam, Ahmadiyya Anjuman Ishaat-e-Islam Lahore UK
The Islamic Guardian (UK), July to September 1981 Issue (Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 23–24)
وَ قَضٰی رَبُّکَ اَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوۡۤا اِلَّاۤ اِیَّاہُ وَ بِالۡوَالِدَیۡنِ اِحۡسَانًا ؕ اِمَّا یَبۡلُغَنَّ عِنۡدَکَ الۡکِبَرَ اَحَدُہُمَاۤ اَوۡ کِلٰہُمَا فَلَا تَقُلۡ لَّہُمَاۤ اُفٍّ وَّ لَا تَنۡہَرۡہُمَا وَ قُلۡ لَّہُمَا قَوۡلًا کَرِیۡمًا ﴿۲۳﴾ وَ اخۡفِضۡ لَہُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحۡمَۃِ وَ قُلۡ رَّبِّ ارۡحَمۡہُمَا کَمَا رَبَّیٰنِیۡ صَغِیۡرًا ﴿ؕ۲۴﴾
“And thy Lord has decreed that you serve none but Him, and do good to parents. If either or both of them reach old age with thee, say not ‘Fie’ to them, nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy, and say: My Lord, have mercy on them, as they brought me up when I was little” (The Holy Quran, 17:23–24).
In these verses, there are mainly two things that God has commanded a man to do. One, the worship of the only God, as the verse says,
“And thy Lord has decreed that you serve none but Him.”
This verse is in fact, and can rightly be called, the basis of Islam. History shows that man has always bowed and prostrated before one or many deities for fear of harm or in hope of good.
Strange, looking at the whole universe the only dominant figure that comes out and is bent upon conquering the powers of nature and digging out the treasures and secrets of the earth and the sea, is man. While on the other hand the same man is seen bowing and prostrating before these powers of nature, his own made idols whether men or stones and other countless objects, knowing full well that these are as hopeless as any lifeless thing in the world. They can neither speak, hear, reply nor can they do anything even for their own sake. Since they are the product of the human mind and hand, they have always been taken care of by their god-servants — the man who originally created them. He moulds them and changes them as he likes and the poor creature, what a pity, mocks at the very wisdom of human being. Object, thing or deity which is to be worshipped is worshipped with the conviction that it is above the human being in all and sundry qualities. But here a strange phenomenon occurs — man either worships things lower than himself or equal to him.
The God of Islam — the real Creator of the whole universe, has all power to a degree which none else can think of sharing with him. He has always manifested himself through His most beloved servants by listening to their prayers, helping them and disclosing to them the knowledge of events of the future. He never left man without guidance. It is because of the love and affection which He has for man that He created everything necessary for human life before the man’s birth and sent Prophets and Reformers for spiritual guidance throughout the ages. This process is still going on, for Divine Reformers (Mujaddids) shall ever continue to arise among the Muslims.
The glowing example of this was the advent of the Great Reformer as the Promised Messiah in India during the 14th Islamic century. Hazrat Mirza Ghulam Ahmad proclaimed himself as a concrete proof of the existence of an Ever-living and Omnipotent God. Since none can emulate Him, the question of having associates with Him cannot come to a sound mind. So He is the only power worthy to be worshipped.
The second command in the verse quoted above is
“… do good to your parents. And if either or both of them reach old age in your presence, say not ‘fie’ to them nor rebuke them and speak to them good and kind words. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say; O Lord! Have mercy on them as they have brought me up.”
The command follows the first ordinance about serving God because parents supply all their children’s needs purely instinctively, through natural love, somewhat like God supplies the needs of all His creation through love, without expectation of any reward. Note also that God, and He alone, is to be served, while to parents good should be done, whether they belong to one’s own or to some other religion.
This command need not to be explained in detail, as everybody who is a parent himself knows well how children are brought up. What is it that the parents not do for them? They are ever-ready to undergo the bitterest suffering for their children’s sake only out of love and affection. They do not expect any reward from them. The children are asked to have the same natural love for them in old age. At that time in life, due to decrepitude, sometimes a man becomes peevish, so this is the stage where the real trial of children takes place. They must be obedient and tolerant to them in return for their parents’ earlier struggle to bring them up.