Assalamualaikum, what is the best way for us to do good to the elderly?
Waalaikumussalam. Alhamdulillah, praise and thanks to Allah for the many countless blessings He has blessed us all with. Blessings and salutations to the Prophet Muhammad PBUH, his wives, his family, companions and all those that follow his teachings to the day of judgement.
Respecting and Loving Them
Islam taught us to always do good to someone older than we are. This is stated in a hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik RA, where an elderly came to meet the Prophet PBUH, but the crowd is hesitant in giving way to him to walk. The Prophet PBUH said:
لَيْسَ مِنَّا مَنْ لَمْ يَرْحَمْ صَغِيرَنَا وَيُوَقِّرْ كَبِيرَنَا
“He is not one of us who does not have mercy on our young and does not respect our elders.”
Sunan al-Tirmizi (1919)
Al-Munawi commented on the above hadith stating: “Indeed, both actions are an obligation placed rightfully according to their rights. Where the adults love the young at the same time the youths respect and honour their elders.” (Refer Faid Al-Qadir Syarah Al-Jamie’ Al-Soghir:5/388)
Mubarakfuri in his book state (وَيُوَقِّرْ) means respect and this includes young man and the elderly. (Refer Tuhfatul Al-Ahwazi: 6/40)
Ibnu Abi Dunya wrote the story of a tabi’in where all of them respect each other. This is narrated from Talhah bin Musharrif, while he was walking with Malik bin Mighwal and they arrive at a narrow road and he walks preceding me, then he said:
لَوْ كُنْتُ أَعْلَمُ أَنَّكَ أَكْبَرُ مِنِّيِ بِيَوْمٍ مَا تَقَدَّمْتُك
“If I know that you are a day older than me, I wouldn’t have preceded you.” (Refer Makarimal Al-Akhlak Li Ibnu Abi Dunya: 1/93)
Help and Assist Them
Helping in everything that is good is a commandment in Islam. Allah SWT state in the Quran:
وَتَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْبِرِّ وَالتَّقْوَىٰ ۖ وَلَا تَعَاوَنُوا عَلَى الْإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ
“And cooperate in righteousness and piety, but do not cooperate in sin and aggression.”
Surah al-Maidah (2)
The Prophet PBUH commanded his ummah to help and assist others so that it will be easy for him in the hereafter. This is stated in a hadith from Abu Hurairah RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
مَنْ نَفَّسَ عَنْ مُؤْمِنٍ كُرْبَةً مِنْ كُرَبِ الدُّنْيَا نَفَّسَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُ كُرْبَةً مِنْ كُرَبِ يَوْمِ الْقِيَامَةِ
“If anyone relieves a Muslim believer from one of the hardships of this worldly life, Allah will relieve him of one of the hardships of the Day of Resurrection.”
40 Hadith of Imam Nawawi (36)
Imam Ibnu Daqiq al-A’id commented on the above hadith in his book, “There are numerous wisdoms and lessons from this hadith regarding the advantages of fulfilling the needs of someone. This includes helping in the matters of knowledge, property, advise and others.” (Refer Syarah Al-Arbain Al-Nawawi Li Ibnu Daqiq Al-A’id: 1/119)
To conclude, there are several ways for us to do good to the elderly, among them are:
- Helping them in their daily lives such as helping them in performing worship, which is included in the above hadith of the Prophet PBUH.
- Respect and love them by minding our manners and actions when we are with them.
- Prioritize them from our worldly matters. This is stated in a hadith from Ibnu Umar RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
أَمَرَنِي جِبْرِيلُ أَنْ أُقَدِّمَ الأَكَابِرَ
“Jibril AS commanded me to prioritize the elderly.”
Musnad Ahmad (6226)
- Always supplicate goodness for them and this is encouraged by the Prophet PBUH in a hadith from Abi Darda’ RA, where the Prophet PBUH said:
مَا مِنْ عَبْدٍ مُسْلِمٍ يَدْعُو لِأَخِيهِ بِظَهْرِ الْغَيْبِ، إِلَّا قَالَ الْمَلَكُ: وَلَكَ بِمِثْلٍ
“There is no believing servant who supplicates for his brother behind his back (in his absence) that the Angels do not say: The same be for you too.”
Sahih Muslim (4912)
- Taking care of their wellbeing when they are sick, especially in regards to their matters of worship.
Do good and be polite to the elderly is a commandment of our religion and we should always be the example in our society. In the Quran, Allah SWT acknowledges that the Prophet PBUH is the best of example to be followed:
لَّقَدْ كَانَ لَكُمْ فِي رَسُولِ اللَّـهِ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ
“There has certainly been for you in the Messenger of Allah an excellent pattern for anyone,”
Surah al-Ahzab (21)