Islam is the religion of compassion and justice, a religion that teaches perfect morals and forbids bad conduct, a religion that grants man his dignity if he adheres to the laws of Allah.
There can be no doubt that Islam has given the elderly a special status, as there are texts which urge Muslims to respect and honour them.
There was an old man who was left dead in his apartment for four years, and his body was only discovered by accident.
A report from the Ministry of Families, Youth and Seniors in Germany in 1993 says that 440,000 elderly people are subjected to physical and mental abuse at the hands of their relatives and family members at least once each year.
There was an old paralyzed woman who died of starvation in her apartment because her son had cut off her water, electricity, and gas until the neighbours found out what was happening… but it was too late.
And an elderly man died in his flat in London; he had five children but not one of them knew of his death until six months later.
While Islam emphasizes respect for all elders in society, children have a special responsibility towards their parents.
The Qur’an says:
“Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: “My Lord! bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood.” (Translation of Al-Qur’an 17:23-24)
In these verses, kindness towards parents is mentioned along with belief in One God. These two verses reflect the compassion, respect, and sense of responsibility that Islam requires the believers to have towards their parents.
Islam makes it mandatory for children to be responsible for the maintenance as well as care of their parents once the children have become independent.
Compassion and respect toward the elderly are essential elements of Islamic conduct. The Prophet of Islam stated clearly: