I begin with the Name of Allaah, the Entirely Merciful, the Especially Merciful.
“And indeed We have honored the Children of Adam, and We have carried them on land and sea, and We have provided them with At-Tayyibaat (lawful good things), and have preferred them above many of those whom We have created with a marked preferment.” Qur’an 17:70
One of the hallmarks of the Islamic civilization is the element of respect for fellow humans, especially towards the elderly of the society. Allaah, may he be Exalted, in His Perfect Wisdom, has not created humans to be of equal age and status, nay, the divine system has it that some will be the seniors while some will assume the status of being the juniors. And depending on where one belongs, respect as a virtue has been commanded.
The Muslims pride themselves with the shinning stars in the golden galaxy of Islam, and these were none other than the companions of the Prophet (may Allaah be pleased with them). Indeed, there were the senior companions and the junior companions alike, however, what distinguished this group was the fact that the juniors of that society were respectful towards the seniors of the society.
Allaah, may He be Exalted says: “Your Lord has commanded that you worship none but Him, and that you be kind to your parents. If one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say to them a word of disrespect, or scold them, but say a generous word to them. And act humbly to them in mercy, and say, ‘My Lord, have mercy on them, since they cared for me when I was small” Qur’an 17: 23-24.
It is clear from the above that Allaah, may He be Exalted, has forbidden speaking and behaving in an obnoxious manner because that is inconsistent with the moral code of Islam. Yet again, an old man came wanting to see the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the people did not make way for him. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “He is not one of us who does not show mercy to our young ones and respect our old ones.” Narrated by At-Tirmidhi (1919) classed as hasan (good) by al-Albani in Saheeh at-Tirmidhi (1565)
Hence, the concept and the virtue of respecting the elderly was deeply rooted in the norms of the early Muslims. Alas! today what the world is witnessing is a complete reversal of the old order as it is in all other virtues. If the element of respect for the elderly is absent, safe to say that the society will be plunged into the abyss of destruction.
With democracy toothing its horn of according humanity freedom of speech, more and more juniors of the society become champions of disrespect towards the elderly in the name of voicing out their ‘opinions’ which is mostly informed by an uninformed perspective. The moral fabric of the society is being destroyed and it seems as if little is done to salvage it.
Notably, the juniors of the society should be aware that no matter what the seniors do that is wrong, they must address those wrongs with the right decorum. Insulting and cursing elders under the pretext of correcting their mistakes is not a justifiable tool to employ, nay, it speaks volume of how morally bankrupt the junior is.
The very core value that defines human society is being eroded. Anyone that is conversant with the debates on social media platforms, will attest to the fact that, there is almost no regard for the seniors of the society, be they scholars or leaders or even parents. Nobody wants to leave behind an evil legacy and as the saying goes, whatever comes around, goes around. The ripple effect of the juniors disrespecting the seniors, is that the juniors of today will definitely be disrespected by the juniors of tomorrow.
In conclusion, there is no pride in being vulgar and disrespectful towards the elders in order to make a point. In fact, it defines how uncultured the one that employs that methodology is. Allaah, may He be Exalted, says: “If you do good, you do good to yourselves. (Likewise) if you do evil, you do evil to yourselves.” Qur’an 17:7. Respond to the mistakes of others and avoid reacting to their mistakes. He who responds, applies wisdom and respect even to his greatest adversary, but he who reacts because guilty of an evil act. The choice remains ours!
Mr Abdul (Penabdul), an architect, is the Chairman/CEO of Sustainable Project Works (SPW) Ltd & a Lecturer at Baze University, Abuja. Twitter: @Penabdull Instagram: @Penabdul