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Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ [b] 40 All the Law and Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

Like Jesus mentioned in Matthew 22:37-40 of the Gospel when he was asked what the Greatest Commandment is, our first obligation is to the Lord. We owe Him praise, worship, obedience, gratitude, and so much more. The first four commandments make this very clear. It is only after this, we are then instructed on how we should be treating each other morally and ethically. And who does He mention first before all others? Our parents. The fifth Commandment states in the Torah: Shemot, Parshas Yisro, 20:12. aka Exodus 20:12 in the Bible:

Honor your father and your mother, in order that your days be lengthened on the land that the Lord, your God, is giving you.

“יבכַּבֵּד אֶת אָבִיךָ וְאֶת אִמֶּךָ לְמַעַן יַאֲרִכוּן יָמֶיךָ עַל הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר
יְהֹוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ:

Although not specified in the form of a list as can be read in the Ten Commandments, Islam also stresses the same message in the Quran, Al-Israa 17:23

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.

۞ وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُ وَبِٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ إِحۡسَـٰنًاۚ إِمَّا يَبۡلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ ٱلۡڪِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَآ أَوۡ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ۬ وَلَا تَنۡہَرۡهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوۡلاً۬ ڪَرِيمً۬ا (٢٣)

For Muslims, the 2nd greatest sin after denying the Oneness of God is poor treatment to parents. All scriptures agree, based on the above verses, along with others from all the different texts as shown below, on the importance of children respecting parents.

More according to the scriptures:


(2 Vayikra, Parshas Kedoshim, 19:3, aka Leviticus 19:3) Every man shall fear his mother and his father, and you shall observe My Sabbaths. I am the Lord, your God. גאִישׁ אִמּוֹ וְאָבִיו תִּירָאוּ וְאֶת שַׁבְּתֹתַי תִּשְׁמֹרוּ אֲנִי יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם:

(Shemos, Parshas Mishpati, 21:15, aka Exodus 21:15) One who strikes his father or mother will surely die. טו וּמַכֵּה אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ, מוֹת יוּמָת.
Shemos, Pasrshas Mishpatm, 21:17 (aka Exodus 21:17) One who curses his father or mother will surely die. יז וּמְקַלֵּל אָבִיו וְאִמּוֹ, מוֹת יוּמָת.


Matthew 15:4-6 For God said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’5* But you say, ‘Whoever says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is dedicated to God,”6need not honor his father.’ You have nullified the word of God for the sake of your tradition.

Mark 7:7-13 In vain do they worship me,teaching as doctrines human precepts.’8You disregard God’s commandment but cling to human tradition.”9 He went on to say, “How well you have set aside the commandment of God in order to uphold your tradition! 10 For Moses said, ‘Honor your father and your mother,’ and ‘Whoever curses father or mother shall die.’11Yet you say, ‘If a person says to father or mother, “Any support you might have had from me is qorban”’* (meaning, dedicated to God),12 you allow him to do nothing more for his father or mother.13You nullify the word of God in favor of your tradition that you have handed on. And you do many such things.”

Ephesians 6:1-3 Children, obey your parents [in the Lord], for this is right.a2“Honor your father and mother.”b This is the first commandment with a promise,3“that it may go well with you and that you may have a long life on earth.”


AL-‘ANKABUT 29:8 And We have enjoined upon man goodness to parents. But if they endeavor to make you associate with Me that of which you have no knowledge, do not obey them. To Me is your return, and I will inform you about what you used to do. وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حُسْنًا ۖ وَإِنْ جَاهَدَاكَ لِتُشْرِكَ بِي مَا لَيْسَ لَكَ بِهِ عِلْمٌ فَلَا تُطِعْهُمَا ۚ إِلَيَّ مَرْجِعُكُمْ فَأُنَبِّئُكُمْ بِمَا كُنْتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ

AL-‘ISRAA 17:23-24 And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word. And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small. وَاخْفِضْ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ الذُّلِّ مِنَ الرَّحْمَةِ وَقُلْ رَبِّ ارْحَمْهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِي صَغِيرًا وَآتَيْنَا مُوسَى الْكِتَابَ وَجَعَلْنَاهُ هُدًى لِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ أَلَّا تَتَّخِذُوا مِنْ دُونِي وَكِيلًا

LUQMAN 31:14 And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination. وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ

Initially when I read these verses, I felt the punishment sounded too harsh. We know from experience as parents, aunts, uncles, sisters, brothers, and even from our own childhoods that young children will be disobedient to their parents at times. They will test the waters and push the boundaries. They need discipline, and every child psychologist will agree that instilling respect and building a strong moral character in our children is a process that takes many years. No one in their right mind would put a 5-year-old to death, or even a 12-year-old to death for talking back, or hitting their parents. Wild and unruly behavior is naturally met with concern and many attempts at correcting the child. I have no doubt this was also true during the times of these revelations. Parents love their children too much to give up so easily on them. This strong emotional feeling of love God has instilled in parents to protect, nurture, and do their best to raise children to become good and God-fearing adults. So how do we honor our parents? According to these readings we are told to be kind, use words of respect, and never to cause them physical harm. We are also told to obey our parents’ wishes and aid them whenever possible so long as it doesn’t interfere in our obligations of worship towards God, Himself. Severe is the punishment, that being death, for physical or verbal harm that comes to the parents caused by the children.

There comes a point, however, when children become fully accountable for their behavior towards their parents. Once we have given them the necessary understanding, and discipline to know how they should behave in their obligations to God, and to parents, it is up to them to make the decision to live accordingly. If they don’t, it’s clear God is telling us, there will be consequences for them. The Jewish text stresses consequences in this life. Deuteronomy 21:18-21 gets even more specific calling for the stoning of children who are stubborn and disobedient to their parents though their parents have disciplined them. These unruly children are called gluttons and drunkards by their own parents. Glutton and drunkard are not words used to describe little children, but adults who have gone astray. These people must be those who have been disciplined in childhood, know better, and are causing so much mischief they become a threat to their parents and society at large.

Concerning the consequences of poor treatment towards parents in the Hereafter, I personally wouldn’t want to find out what it might be. This aspect really isn’t mentioned in the scriptures. The only place I have seen the fruits of honoring or dishonoring parents mentioned in the Hereafter are in some sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (hadiths), which teach believers that whether we enter Paradise or not is dependent on fulfilling our obligations to both God and our parents. Its obvious God has given good treatment of parents’ priority over every other interpersonal relationship we have, and we would do best by heeding His Divine Command.

Amy Lancisi

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