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By Mrs. Naheed Umair - Instructor English Language Unit

College for Women, Kuwait University.

For quite some time I am looking for any animal species, off springs of which, take care of their parents but I found none. While watching TV, I noticed in one of the programs featured on lion’s that in the pride of ten or twelve, only two were the hunters but others were allowed generously to share in the kill even though it was not a big kill. The two strong hunters have not taken the entire catch to keep them alive but shared to support the pride. Such behavior is common in many other species of animal kingdom.  Is it parallel to what is considered as the duty of children towards their parent in human race?

The family laws in general describe the duty of parents towards their children and explicitly illustrate the rights of children. It is inbuilt in the genetic structure to love and care the off springs and not governed by any written law. Interestingly, the parent’s care for off spring is common among animals and humans. But to take care of the parents by their off spring is probably not built in the genetic structure of animal kingdom. It is an acquired character or a behavior introduced in to humans by social practices. There was a time when several generations of a family used to live at same place in the same village or city because that setting was able to provide livelihood to all. It was easy to fulfill such social obligations. Today in pursuit for better life, migration become phenomenal occurrence, so it is difficult to fulfill such social requirements.

Simultaneously, with longevity of age, the population of elderly people is increasing everywhere. Therefore, this question is important today than ever before, whether it is obligatory for children to take care of their parents when they grow old or is it the responsibility of governments to look after the elderly people of the society?

In developed world, elderly people are finding refuge in old homes and there it is socially acceptable because after certain age children become independent and parents are not supposed to interfere in their lives. The children are free to live the life they want. They are not expected to sacrifice the pleasure of their lives for the sake of ailing parents. This may hamper the progress of free individual. Therefore, every individual has to plan for his advance age and if some one is not able to do so, it is his failure in life and no one else is responsible for his sufferings.

The developing world is hanging between today’s modern concepts that mostly originated in the west and their own social and cultural values. Therefore, on governmental level creation of old homes is not yet undertaken and on social level even though this problem is growing but we are turning our faces from it due to our social and cultural values.

Interestingly, one of the European countries has recently declared by a bill the responsibility of children to look after their parents. Why the law makers of that country felt the necessity to pass such a law? Do we need to impose such responsibility on younger generation by law?

Islam has given freedom to mankind to choose between right and wrong. It has not imposed any thing but provided a free will to the human beings and told them what a straight path is and what is not. In Quran Allah said, “Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him and that ye be kind to parents.  Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life say not to them a word of contempt nor repel them but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness lower to them the wing of humility and say: "My Lord! Bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." (Al-Isra S17:23-24)

At other places in Quran Allah ordained “And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command) "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal. (Luqman S31:15)

We have enjoined on man Kindness to his parents: in pain did his mother bear him and in pain did she give him birth.  The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months.  At length when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years he says "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favor which Thou hast bestowed upon me and upon both my parents and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue.  Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam." (Al-Ahqaf S46:15 )

Islam is a way of life and we derive laws from Quran, obeying the laws is a matter of faith and depends on how much we love Allah and fear the Day of Judgment. It is needed that in the planning of our lives, we must keep space for our parents.