"My Lord, have mercy upon them [my parents] as they brought me up [when I was] small."
The above concise, yet so powerful ayah is actually part of a bigger context, which comes from Surah Al Isra. Where the Almighty instructs us:
“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."
(Quran – Surah Al Isra 23-24)
The beginning of the ayah is an instruction by the Almighty to worship HIM and no one but HIM. And right after there is instruction for mankind to respect, love and care for their parents. Manner of speech, mercy and prayer, whilst dealing with them is all stressed in this beautiful little excerpt. The Almighty was and is well aware that the next generation would be more impatient than their parents and there will be a time when they will be tested on this.
Our behavior towards our parents has to exhibit utmost kindness, patience and affection – and not even say ‘Uff’ which can often indicate anger, impatience or even exasperation. And finally the ayat culminates in a short prayer for our parents stressing on ‘have mercy upon them, as they brought me up (when I was) small.’ Essentially instructing us to adopt and embody the same kind of behavior that was meted out to us, by our parents, when we were kids. How utterly beautiful is that?
Recently I was listening to my most favorite mentor Nouman Ali Khan and he highlighted another message that this ayah carries – which actually starts from the beginning where the Almighty instructs us to worship HIM alone. Worship to God and respect for parents are intertwined – hence if we are able to honestly build a relationship with our Creator we will always have a respectful, loving and patient relationship with our warm, loving and caring parents. Aameen!
And this brings me to the conclusion of my ‘Warm’ series with an extremely comforting, soothing warm dish. Slices of French bread are soaked in a custardy mixture of eggs, milk, vanilla and brown sugar for about twenty minutes. Once the bread pieces are heavy and laden they are gently butter friend in a pan- finally topped with a quick, easy to make toffee sauce. The comfort by no means replaces the warmth of our parents – yet it can certainly give you some heavenly peace on a cold winter morning.