Old age homes: Not for parents | By Dr Ibad Ullah Sajid

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Old age homes: Not for parents

I was sitting in front of him and he was unblinkingly staring with his moist eyes. I gently held his hand and asked for how many months you are living in this Old Age Home?

He replied very softly with trembling voice, “last two years”. While telling his story, he said, I have two sons and a daughter.

All three are well educated and busy in their life. They have no time for me. He further said, “My children visit me after two three months”.

Upon a question that why he was sent to this Old Age Home by his children, the sentence spoken by him was so heart-rending that I am still feeling its pain.

He replied “my children think that I would be more comfortable and happy in Old Age Home but they never know that any Institution with lots of facilities and services can never be a substitute for home and family”

On the way back to my home, I was thinking that how powerfully the westernization is influencing our minds and thoughts that we are deviating from our religious teachings and cultural norms and values.

Sending parents to the Old Age Homes may be a usual trend in the West but it is still deemed an abhorable act in Pakistani culture.

I do agree and support the existence of Old Age Homes to the extent that homeless elderly people, who are extremely vulnerable and don’t have any family or children need to be accommodated there but I think it is never acceptable that we start sending our parents to Old Age Homes while we have all the resources.

Sending parents to Old Age Homes is not only against our cultural norms, values and traditions but our religion also doesn’t allow doing so.

Islam has accorded special respect, rank and status to the parents. In Islam, serving parents has been regarded as a duty second to prayer.

The Allah Almighty says in the Holy Quran,: “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. ” [17:23-24]

In Islam, the command to honour one’s parents is accompanied with the command to believe in the Allah Almighty alone (Toheed) and the prohibition on associating others with Him (Shirk) in many verses.

The Allah Almighty says: “Worship Allah and join none with Him (in worship) and do good to parents…” [4:36] Disobeying parents or ill-treatment with them has been condemned severely.

The Holy Prophet (SAW) cautions: “The punishment for the sin amongst all sins the Allah Almighty wills to delay, He delays it until the Judgement Day except the disobedience to parents, as the Allah Almighty inflicts the punishment for it in the life before death”.

It is obligatory for the children to spend on their parents and fulfil their needs. Islam also instructed its believers to spend on their parents from their resources as they cherished them in childhood: “They ask you what they should spend.

Say: ‘Whatever you spend that is good, is for parents and relatives and orphans and the needy and for wayfarers. And whatever you do that is good, indeed, the Creator has its knowledge. ” [2:215]

In our traditional joint family system, elders, especially parents, had a special respect and value but the escalating trend of urbanization has resulted rise of nuclear families where elders are widely ignored.

Modernization created individualistic and self-centered attitudes which negatively affected the parents and they are becoming victim of multiple types of abuse.

Ultimately the parents are compelled to leave home and seek shelter in any Old Age Home. In some cases, the children push out their parents from home and send them in any Old Age Home.

One of the major factors behind this tragic phenomenon is ignorance of Islamic teachings and values.

We should equally emphasize on religious education of our children to make them a good Muslim as well.

Collaborative concerted efforts are needed to instill cultural values in the children and youths to make them realize that the presence of parents is a blessing and gift of the Allah Almighty not the burden.

—The writer is PhD and serving as Social Welfare Officer at Social Welfare & Bait-ul-Maal Department Rawalpindi.