The Quran is a book of equitable social standards defined as Permanent Values. These are the tenets that not only hold together individuals and society, but also push forward the progress of humanity in a matrix of harmony. To bring about a developed civilisation, the Quran lays down some basic requirements for those who want to protect themselves from lasting harm. For example, parents and their children have reciprocal commitments and responsibilities to each other: the first of these obligations that parents have to their children is not to kill them, especially because of poverty, hardship or frustration.


This seems to be a bizarre injunction but is not as strange as it first appears. Children are frequently victims of a fatality because parents cannot afford to feed them, marry them off due to exorbitant dowry customs or because they become embroiled in the drama of estranged parents, where one parent murders his or her offspring rather than give them up to their spouse.[1]


However, we have to concede that usually it is parents who sacrifice more for their children than children do for their parents. When parents neglect their children it rarely goes unnoticed but when children neglect their parents it often occurs without comment.


Parents have a duty to look after the welfare of their children. This includes that they provide adequate food and shelter. It also falls on them to ensure the health and safety of their children. They are required to maintain an environment where their children grow up feeling safe and secure. However, the extent of this responsibility is limited to the means parents have. They are not expected to burden themselves with debt to provide beyond the necessities – so luxuries are out, unless parents have the resources to provide them. In fact, it is a duty incumbent on parents to provide the best, but not to stretch beyond their means and undergo undue suffering.[2]


Parents have an obligation to write a will in the favour of their children, letting them inherit what is rightfully theirs. They are not permitted to cut out any offspring because of ill feeling towards them.


Apart from providing the material needs, parents are under strict obligation to provide guidance. This direction has to be based on Permanent Values that give children wholesome discipline yet allow freedom of expression. Parents are charged with the task of awakening the consciousness of their children, showing them that responsibility and accountability are the twin forces that define their character. It is critical that children grow up to be exemplary citizens and this can be done only by good role models which parents should be by the virtue of their position.


In the event that children deviate and get caught up in harmful social influences, then parents should not shoulder the blame or feel guilty, and if it becomes necessary they may disassociate themselves from their aberrant offspring. Conversely, parents ought not to indulge or be too proud of their children as it can create an illusion of supremacy, unrealistic expectations and inevitable disappointment. It is also worth remembering, when relationships disintegrate to an extreme level, children and parents can also become enemies of one another.


However, shared values create a strong, unbreakable bond between parents and children, so it is essential for parents to try and instil a sense of high moral and ethical standards in their children.


What about children? What are their commitments to their parents?


First and foremost children have an undeniable duty to honour their parents, each one individually and both together. As second only to God, this is the primary tenet for any child, young or old.[3] Their mother carried them for nine months, gave birth arduously and looked after them when they could not do it themselves. They were weaned, cared for in sickness and in health. While they were young they were provided with nourishment and an environment which allowed them to flourish.


Honour is something which needs to be shown in practical ways. The remembrance of a birthday or an occasional visit is not enough. Neither is leaving them in a ‘good’ home for the elderly and infirm. Unless honour manifests as something real and constructive, it is meaningless.


Honouring parents means not expressing annoyance or speaking harshly to them. To honour means never to mistreat them. It is crucially important to understand this; just as parents should never abuse their children, children are prohibited from ill-treating their parents. [4]


To honour parents does not in any way imply that children must follow or support them in wrongful things, such as those things that would divert them from adhering to the Permanent Values. In a situation of a great conflict or irreconcilable difference, children should move away from their parent or parents, rather than speak to them unsympathetically or cruelly.


In preference to relatives, neighbours, friends or other people in the community, children should do what is best, first for their parents and then for others. It is the right of parents to expect decent care and financial support when necessary over and above anyone else. When Joseph had the opportunity to raise his parents’ position both in status and wealth, he did so without hesitation, thus fulfilling his duty to his parents.[5]


Just as parents have a duty to write a will in favour of their children, children, too, have a responsibility to include their parents in their will. Any benefit to other relatives or indeed other people is secondary.


Children may ask about how to allocate their welfare spending. Welfare expenditure begins at home and that is why children are directed to give a portion of their income to their parents, before looking after the wants of other relatives or those in need.


Now it could be asked, what if the parents are financially comfortable and have their own income? Even if parents have their own earnings and enjoy a decent living standard, the obligation of the children does not diminish. Just as parents are expected to keep their children in the best manner within their means, children too are expected to maintain their parents in a manner according to their own capacity. If that raises their parents’ standard of living from good to better, then all the more reason to do so.


The inheritance law gives, in the absence of a will, more to the male than the female. This is simply because the financial responsibility to support, parents, spouse and children  fundamentally falls on the male children.


During and before the period of maturity and earning capacity of children, parents pay a heavy price, albeit voluntarily, to ensure that children are well supported and looked after. This not only includes their general wellbeing but also the education and other opportunities afforded to them. The hardships some parents suffer can be unspeakable. Often children are never aware or informed of this. Therefore, for children to raise and maintain the dignity of their parents, both financially and socially, is an obligation and not a favour. It is a duty, not a charity.


No individual can claim to be self-made, no matter how successful he or she becomes through what appears to be their own effort. Can anyone rise without the foundation of parents, family, community and society? The supporting hands that were there at the beginning remain for many years after. Throughout the developing stages of their children, and often beyond childhood and youthful years, parents give and they give – and still give more. The natural instinct of parents is self-sacrifice. It’s also intrinsic love, hopefully mutual, and not only in the emotional sense but one that transpires as sincere care for the support and wellbeing of each other.


In the Quran, the obligations of both the parents and children are highlighted and, while in each case the individual family circumstances need to be considered, whatever the position, the principles should not change. Undoubtedly, the parent-child relationship is unique. It cannot be broken or discarded. It will always be there in some form or another, so both should be sincere well-wishers of each other.


Now the concluding question is this: what do children, when they become adults, do on an ongoing basis that has a positive and life-enhancing impact on the lives of their parents? The answer will tell us the real nature of the relationship between parents and their children.


What is a family?

While individuals are distinct persons in their own right, they are also part of a family – but what is a family?  A family is not just a group of people related by blood ties but are those individuals who form the fabric of each other’s lives because they share the same values; they share the day-to-day activities that bond them together. This does not mean living in each other’s pockets but taking part in simple things like eating together, having a chat about the day’s events, doing some things together, cooking, gardening or even helping around the house. In short, spending time together enhances each other’s lives by adding value every day.


An essential part of belonging to a family is sharing values that form the basis of how we live. This is the very foundation that binds the family together. For muslims it means fulfilling obligations and not just exercising your rights.


When you start to make excuses for not wanting to do things together, you know the problems have started. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.


While working and spending leisure time with friends is important, nothing can replace an enduring relationship with your family.  As the saying goes: love your friends but don’t forget to treat your family a little better.


You deserve success – but how much?

Successful and ambitious individuals may feel that the achievements they make are by his or her efforts alone. Is this true? The main fallacy inherent in this argument is made evident when we look at the conditions on which success depends. There are four factors that  contribute to success:


  1. Physical and mental capacities.
  2. Education and training.
  3. Opportunities available.
  4. Effort and hard work.


It is obvious that an individual can take credit for only the fourth factor, i.e. the work a person puts in. A person’s natural endowments are a gift of God. These are not acquired through individual efforts. For the education and training that is received, the debt is due to the community. The family (parents) have provided the opportunities for producing wealth. It follows that a person can justly claim only that portion which has been earned by the outcome of the labour that has been put in. The work that has been performed entitles him to a share in the wealth produced and not to the whole of it.


Taking into consideration that the purpose of life is Self-development and being a benefactor of humanity is a vital part in achieving this, the Quranicproposition, “Only that survives which is for the benefit of all mankind”, together with its corollary, “only those survive who benefit all mankind”, are the fundamental principles of Self-development. See verses 2:3-4 and 53:33-40.The law is not the ‘survival of the fittest’ but the ‘survival of the most munificent’. In other words, according to the standard laid down by the Quran, only the most munificent are the fittest to survive. Individuals who understand that life is continuous, and those who have imbibed the true spirit of the Quran will steer clear of selfishness and will dedicate themselves to the service of humanity, beginning with parents; those who initiated and nurtured life.


An example of this Quranic concept is well illustrated by the American economist Richard Wolff and is given below. His complete YouTube video is worth watching. His words are paraphrased here.


Mark Zuckerberg is the owner of the Facebook idea. Was he creative? Yes he was, and there is no doubt about it. But before he created it he had to be educated by teachers who helped him learn and the parents who fostered him to do well at school. The information he received from the media also educated him, as did all kinds of social and business encounters that helped him move forward.


Mark Zuckerberg also had to be developed. There had to be inventions by many other people too, such as the invention of computers, but Zuckerberg had nothing to do with the development of modern computers. But the development of Facebook is unthinkable without modern computers. So Zuckerberg’s achievement is not really his achievement at all. He put a number of different ideas together in a creative new way – which deserves praise – but the things he put together were the creations of other people those who taught Zuckerberg how to use those computers, those who wrote the books that he studied andthe people who provided him with the support along the way. In reality Facebook is not just the creation of Zuckerberg but the creation of many people, the whole society, the thousands who contributed their creativity to all the different parts which are essential to what Facebook has become. However Zuckerberg is a multi billionaire (net worth over £50 billion as at 2017), while most of the people can hardly make ends meet, even though without their contribution Zuckerberg could not have done what he did. Is this not a bizarre society that gives most to the last person in the chain of creativity. One individual gets the big prize and everybody else gets very little or nothing at all.


There is only one thing stranger than dividing up the wealth created by Facebook and giving it overwhelmingly to one person, that is then turning round and trying to justify it by saying that the whole creation of Facebook was just Zuckerberg’s brilliance. Nothing of this sort can be true. To reward, then try to justify such an inequitable reward, unimaginable wealth, at the expense of all others who contributed is unreasonable.


If we didn’t do that with the rich but utilised a portion of the wealth that we give to one man like Zuckerberg, to alleviate the poverty of millions, would make a more balanced society. A society that does not see the justice in this distribution is a strange one to claim that it takes morality and social ethics seriously.[6]


In the Charity and Social Welfare of the Concepts section of this book the Universal Basic Wage (sometimes called Citizen’s Income) has been discussed.  Please read this also. Looking at the above we can also say that a maximum salary can also be put into place, essentially a cap on earnings. This is not a new idea and was also put forward by American president Franklin Roosevelt in 1944 and also by the Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn in 2017. This could be applied by a tax on earnings of over a fixed threshold. According to the concept discussed above it could be a minimum tax of 75% on income of over and above the threshold, leaving 25%, the fourth factor, the individual’s personal effort as part of the salary.


See also sections on:


  • Usury, Gambling and Slavery
  • Economic Exploitation
  • Charity and Social Welfare

Hajj, the Challenges of Life


[1]Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. See verse 17:31. A mother (Theresa Riggi) killed her 3 children in Edinburgh, in August 2010, while estranged from her husband.Female infanticide (and neonatricide) is the deliberate killing of newborn female children common in India and China where some sections of society have a bias against females. Poverty, the dowry system, births to unmarried women are among some of the causes. Tragically, poverty is often the cause of maternal filicide in India and China.

[2]God does not impose any burden. See verse 65:7.

[3]Honour your parents. See verses 2:83; 2:200; 17:23.

[4]Always treat your parents with kindness. See verses 17:23-25.

[5]Support your parents financially. See verses 2:215; 12:100.

[6]Richard Wolff on YouTube video: Blaming the poor and worshiping the rich. His complete video is worth watching.