Hārithah ibn al-Nu‘mān was one of the companions of the Prophet, sallā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam. He was an Ansārī (from Madinah) who participated in all battles, which the Prophet sallā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam participated. However, Hārithah ibn al-Nu‘mān is known for a few good tidings which the Prophet, ṣallā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam, conveyed to him. He’s going to be one of the Qur’ān reciters in the Paradise. This is not only a good news, but an outstanding prestige, for the Qur’ān is the only book of Allāh that will be recited in the Paradise.
The Story of Ḥārithah ibn Al-Nu‘mān
Sayyidah ‘Ā’ishah, radiya Allāhu ‘anhā, narrated that The Prophet Muhammad sallā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam once dreamt and was in the Paradise. It says:
نِمْتُ فَرَأَيْتُنِي فِي الجَنَّةِ، فَسَمِعْتُ صَوْتَ قَارِئٍ، فَقُلْتُ: مَنْ هَذَا؟ قَالُوا: حَارِثَةُ بْنُ النُّعْمَان. فَقَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ: كَذَلِكِ البِرُّ… كَذَلِكِ البِرُّ.
“I had a dream and saw myself in Jannah, and I heard the voice of a Qur’ān reader. I asked: Who is that?” And I was told, “Hārithah ibn al-Nu‘mān.” The Prophet sallā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam then said: Such is trueness (to one’s Lord), and such is the true one (to his Lord).”
Lessons From the Story of Ḥārithah
Hārithah radiya Allāhu ‘anhu used to show kindness towards his mother. And this is what entitled him for such an honourable position in the Paradise. Those of us, who have children and parents at the same time, know very well, that there’s a significant difference between caring for one’s children and caring for his parents, especially when they are aged.
The fact that we (deceptively think we) decide to have children dictates unconditional love for them in our hearts. This compassion towards them is what generates coolness in our eyes. After all, they are (supposed) to carry on with whatsoever legacy we make in this life. Thus, no matter how stubborn one’s child may be, he’s willing to defend him, sacrifice for him, spend his last penny on him, so that he sees his legacy grows up with him.
On the contrary, what our parents see in us is not what we see in them, unless Allah has saved one, and granted him the compassion, kindness and sympathy for his parents. The fact that we (think we) didn’t choose them, although they (think they) chose us, makes them a burden on us. And as much as they selflessly saw us grow means they will selflessly bear our arrogance and discrimination against them. This is the reality, which many of us live today, but it’s not necessarily humane and moral.
Therefore, it takes a lot of heart and sympathy to entertain the emotional needs of our parents, especially when they are aged. It requires high level of God-fearing to provide them the care they rightfully require.
A grownup child can’t entertain his aged parents’ emotional needs when he has sent them to the old folks home. Their emotional needs are entertained only when they see us, or at least, hear our voices on daily basis (the more frequently possible). After all, we are the coolness of their eyes!
Their emotions are also entertained when they see their offspring grow; our children; their grandchildren. They may show some sign of irritation towards the noise their grandchildren make. But take it from me; they are in love with it!
I assume that Ḥārithah ibn al-Nu’mān had shown kindness to his mother, far above all what I’ve discussed. It was an unconditional sacrifice. You can call it a payback although they are not equal. He just did it. Every sacrifice, which Allah’s Ultimate Pleasure is sought through, has certain sweet rewards. That’s exactly what Ḥārithah, raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu was awarded.
Sayyidunā Ḥārithah was not made to wait until the next life to start reaping the rewards for his good deeds. The honour for his good deeds started here. Ḥārithah raḍiya Allāhu ‘anhu was honoured to see Jibrīl ‘alaihi al-salām twice. In both events, Jibrīl was sitting with the Prophet sallaā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam in the form of a man. Jibrīl ‘alaihi al-salām sent him greetings through the Prophet, ṣallā Allāhu ‘alaihi wa sallam.
No doubt, the privilege of seeing Jibrīl and receiving greetings from him instills tranquility, joy and satisfaction in the heart of the believer. In other words, this privilege affirms faith in the heart of the believer. Knowing that you will be reciting the Qur’ān in the Paradise while you are still alive is one of the greatest good tiding a Muslim can have.
It’s worth noting here, that no narration indicates what are the exact deeds Ḥārithah did in showing kindness to his mother that earned him such an honour. However, the rewards of such unknown deeds have been specified. This means, we may not have to do the same acts that Ḥārithah did, for the needs of his mum differs from all other mums. Therefore, every child has to show kindness to his parents according to their respective needs, regardless of the needs of someone else’s parents. And the reward, insha Allāh, is going to be as that of Ḥārithah. One’s effort may not be as much as Hārithah’s though. But his sincerity and willingness to be there for them, should be on par.
The Significance of Showing Kindness to One’s Parents in Islam
The only commandment, which Allāh ever mentioned in the Qur’ān, next to His command for us to worship Him alone (tawhīd) is to show kindness to our parents. For example, Allāh says in Sūrah al-Isrā’, 17:23:
وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا
“Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and show kindness to your parents.”
It’s so much so that, even if they (our parents) happen to be none Muslims, and for that matter, they try to force us to go back to idolatry (shirk) or infidelity (kufr), we are advised not to obey them, but we should continue to show kindness towards them. This is what Allāh says in Sūrah Luqmān, 31:15:
وَإِن جَاهَدَاكَ عَلَىٰ أَن تُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا، وَصَاحِبْهُمَا فِي الدُّنْيَا مَعْرُوفًا
“But if they press you to associate something with Me about which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. Yet be kind to them in this world…”
As much as caring for our parents is important, bringing up our children responsibly is also important. But the Qur’ān talked less about caring for our children because, it’s automatic; we are going to care for them. It has however emphasized that we show kindness and be of responsibility towards our parents, especially when the are aged, weaker and more sensitive. At that age, sense of selflessness and appreciation is highly required to do the job. Above all that is Allāh consciousness (taqwā).
Yet, no matter how selfless a child becomes to his parents, especially his mother, they were more selfless; to ensure his survival and happiness. The best you can do, as a child, is to secure for them a “peaceful death”, when they die on your laps. Can we compare the one who takes care of someone for him die (although peacefully) with someone who cares for him to live and build legacy?
Nevertheless, your effort comes with unimaginable inner happiness and joys. Such joys can only be felt when we do it with sincerity, and compassion. Such joy can be similar to the joy we have when we set eyes on our children. Parents find coolness of eyes when looking at their kids whom they’ve raised themselves. Children can have the same joy or close to it upon looking at their aged parents, only after they devoted some time, out of their busy schedules to entertain them, unconditionally.
Many people see caring for parents as a social responsibility, which they have to carry out, to avoid shame. Such people care for their parents, just for the praise of fellow human beings, or to avoid their blame. Yes, it may be a social responsibility, but it’s more so a moral responsibility, and a religious obligation. If we choose to avoid it, we shall be put to account.
Kindness towards parents should be a default character (common sense) in each one of us. What more when Allāh’s has emphasized it in Qur’ān? What more when Allāh has made it the second most important act of worship He requires from us.
This article is written from the perspective of a child who is determined to do all it takes to attain His Pleasure through the pleasure of his parents. It’s therefore meant for other children, as a reminder on how to bear with their parents, more so, at their elderly age. I have to admit to the fact that it’s, sometimes, difficult to deal with some ‘hardcore’ parents. But we are still obliged to entertain them to the best possible level.
Imagine yourself been called up to a stage to do a presentation or deliver a talk in this world. You may be nervous, but surely excited (honoured and privileged). Then, imagine yourself been called up to a stage in the Paradise to do a Qur’ān recitation. You will be excited and shall never be nervous. In the Jannah, everyone is honoured, but some are more honoured than others.
انظُرْ كَيْفَ فَضَّلْنَا بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى>ٰ بَعْضٍ، وَلَلْآخِرَةُ أَكْبَرُ دَرَجَاتٍ وَأَكْبَرُ تَفْضِيلًا
“See how We have exalted some above others [in the present life]. Yet the Hereafter shall be greater in degrees of rank and greater in excellence.” [Surah al-Isra, 17:21].
One may not be a professional Qur’ān reciter in this life, but with the genuine kindness he shows to his parents, he shall be one, in the Paradise.