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Articles Section > The Generation Gap [Part 3 of 5] by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib

The Generation Gap -- Part 3 of 5:
by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib
The Light (June 16, 1976)

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Also Read Parts: || 1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 ||

Highlights of Parts I & II: 

1. The world-wide problem of the generation gap has baffled world experts. 

2. This gap is nothing new. It was always there. 

3. Then why has it become a baffling problem now? Divine guidance coming to our rescue in the Holy Quran, shows that the difference lies in mankind having lost faith in God which alone made parents better exemplars to their children, and made children obey their parents because God said so. 

4. The polytheistic concept of God to be found in all religions, except Islam, cannot stand the test of reason which mankind has begun to apply to all matters in this age of scientific thought. 

5. Monotheism stands that test as proved by science itself that the whole universe is governed by the same laws and must have One Creator. 

6. Thus faith in God lost because of polytheism can be regained only through Islam. 

7. Until mankind accepts Islam, let us see what solution Islam suggests to the burning problem of the generation gap. 

Points of Friction: 

What the teenagers resent most is that the parents do not let them have complete freedom to do whatever they like. I ask the teenagers, "are your parents your enemies?" No sane person can suspect that. Then why do the parents interfere in the lives of their children? They do it because they are their well-wishers. The record of the parents shows it, from the time of a child’s conception to the time of their death. Nobody can suspect their bona fides. For the parents who make sacrifices all their lives for their children to the extent of giving their lives, if necessary, and who love and care for their children next only to Allah, there can be no motive to interfere, except for the good of their children. And any impartial person would concede that the parents are more mature, more experienced, more wise and better knowing than the children. So the chances are that in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, the parents are right and the children who do not agree are wrong. 

In the one per cent possibility of the parents being wrong, my advice to the teenagers is, "Don’t fly off the handle. If you put your point of view to your parents respectfully and pleasantly, the chances are that they would agree with you, out of affection and the spirit of sacrifice which govern all their relations with you, even if they are not really convinced. But if they still adhere to their point of view even after hearing your reasons, take a chance in obeying them, because all matters are finally decided by Allah as stated by the Holy Quran (31:22). If to please Him you obey your parents even if they happen to be wrong, He has the power to turn a wrong decision to your good. But even if you have to suffer occasionally, should you mind considering that your parents suffered for you all their lives. But did they ever resent or complain? So why should you?"

I can say from my own experience that as a child I used to resent all restrictions placed by my parents on me, all their "Dos and Don’ts", but now on growing up I have realised that they were right and I was wrong. But in the meanwhile I have suffered in all cases in which I did not obey them. 

Cause of Resentment: 

The Holy Quran has narrated in the precedent of our ancestors, Adam and Eve, how Satan made them follow him into sin, his nature being to disobey any restrictions because of his arrogance (2:34). And the Holy Quran has warned us thus: "O Children of Adam, let not the devil seduce you, as he expelled your parents from the garden" (7:27), which is the state of innocence and bliss in which all human beings are created. The devil, which incites the animal desires and passions in us, does not like any restrictions on him. And he teaches his own arrogance to those who follow him by making them say, "We know best." Human desires and passions are no doubt the driving powers of forces, they have to be controlled or else man comes to grief, the same way as a car or an engine or an aeroplane which is not properly controlled ends up in disaster. 

Who can tell us how to control our desires and passions, except our Creator Who created them when creating man? Hence the need for Divine guidance in the form of a revealed book, as the guidance placed in human nature and reason is overwhelmed by the strong urges of the human desires and passions. Witness what has happened in Europe and America (and most other countries which follow their way of life) after they rejected such Divine guidance as they had. The desires and passions thus let loose have played havoc with such societies socially and morally, and they have sunk below the animal level in certain respects as animals don’t go against nature while unnatural sexual offences are either legalised in western society or committed unabashedly. 

A Warning: 

So I warn the younger generation to learn from this glaring example before it is too late. Even where the youth have taken their lives in their own hands, are they happy or successful? They are not; or they would not take to juvenile delinquency and drug addiction or intoxication. They would not suffer from terrible venereal diseases (even as teenagers); they would not become hippies in search of something they do not know; and finally they would not take their own lives as increasingly reported from the West. 

Parental Intervention: 

To the teenagers who do not like their parents interfering in their lives occasionally, I would say that when you grow up and they grow old you would be interfering in their lives, particularly if they are living with you as you are living with them now. But they will suffer your interference smilingly and not mind it; in fact they will carry out your wishes, even if they go against theirs. You should do the same now.

I have heard the younger generation justify its heated disagreements with its parents on the ground that due to the difference in age, temperament and habits, the parents don’t understand their children. This is not correct. When the children were young, wasn’t there the same difference in age, temperament and habits between them and their parents? But did the parents therefore ill-treat their children for that reason, or separate them from themselves (as the children do to them in later life)? 

On the contrary, they put up with it with great patience, tolerance and love. And in the process they served their children as no servant can, the mother (and even the father if need be) performing the most obnoxious duties without any resentment. 

The Holy Quran: 

Throughout the Holy Quran, the children are asked, "to do good" to their parents. This is because the parents always "do good" to their children, even if occasionally they make a mistake unwittingly. Let us revert to the verse with which I began this series of articles: 

And thy Lord has decreed that you serve none but Him, and do good to your parents, if either or both of them reach old age with thee, say not ‘Fie’ to them, nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. (17:23)

I have already dealt with the first two commandments as to:

a. The absolute pertinence of obedience to Allah with the parent vs. children controversy, and 

b. The reason why children must always do good to their parents as the latter always did to the former. 

Now let us consider the rest of this verse. The next requirement is that the parents, or either one of them, if they grow old, must be kept by the children with themselves and not separately. This is the most difficult part of the Divine guidance to follow for the present-day children. The reason is that they did not like parental intervention even when they were children. But they put up with it as they had to live with their parents and draw upon them for all their needs and whims. But the moment a young man finds a job or a girl gets married, he or she wants to shed the parental shackles and lead a free life. 

And thus, one by one, the children leave their parents, unfortunately, that is also the time when the parents grow old, weak and liable to fall sick frequently, if not continuously. And when they need most that they should be looked after they are left alone. I have seen many a widowed mother, or a widower father, suffer the hardships and sufferings of old age alone, while his or her children are enjoying life. 

The justification for this desertion of the parents in their old age is said to be the difference in temperament, habits and way of life. But the unworthy children do not realise that when they were born and when they lived with their parents, there was the same -- in fact much more -- difference in temperament, habits, etc., between them and their parents. Did the latter for that reason throw them out of their homes? On the contrary, the parents held them close to their breasts and later put up with these difference with the greatest love, tenderness and affection -- although they suffered a lot in every way in bringing up their children with themselves. Why? Because the children needed looking after -- and when the parents need looking after, why should the children then refuse to have them with themselves? 

The Difference: 

The children may not be able to justify the above, but let me do it for them. One reason why the parents are not tolerated in their old age is that they become short-tempered. So occasionally, they might say something, which irritates or hurts their children. That is why the sublime Holy Quran has said, "Do not say ‘Fie’ to them." In requiring this, has the Holy Quran asked something of the children which it did not expect of the parents? It certainly did not. The parents may, in their old age, occasionally say or do something, which irritates their children. But the children are much worse offenders in this respect. All their lives under the parental roof, they did or said things quite often which irritated or hurt their parents. But the latter put up with that most tolerantly and suffered all the tortures of bringing up their children without complaining. 

The thing to remember is that the parents always mean well. They might occasionally make a mistake but they are the best well-wishers, after Allah, of their children. I have seen irritable or bad-tempered children cry endlessly or put their parents to great discomfort and suffering. Old age is after all called the "second childhood". The Holy Quran has also said: "He whom We cause to grow old. We (also) cause to deteriorate in creation." So the younger generation should not hesitate to look after their parents, who need care in old age the same way as the parents looked after them when they needed caring. 

The Daughter-in-Law: 

These days the son, upon whom lies a much greater responsibility than the daughter to look after the parents in their old age, finds it difficult to discharge his duty because of his wife’s objections, chiding or quarrelling. I ask him, "When you needed caring after, did your parents throw you out of the house, or ask you to live separately, because somebody objected or quarrelled?" I have almost always seen parents resent and react strongly if anybody finds fault with or objects to their children. They always defend them, to the extent of frequently defending them even if the children are at fault. "If they stood by you then, shouldn’t you stand by them now?" 

I have heard the daughter-in-law say to her husband, "I married you, not your parents." I ask such a woman: "Supposing your parents need looking after, and there is nobody except you to do it. If in that situation your husband were to say ‘I married you, not your parents,’ how would you like that? Wouldn’t your heart then bleed at this taunt? So why do you do to your husband what you would not like him to do to you in a similar situation?" 

My earnest plea to the young of either sex is, "Have pity on your old parents (or parents-in-law) and look after them as they looked after you when you needed their care." I will show shortly that it creates unbearable problems and sufferings for the old people to be left alone to fend for themselves. In fact, it has become dangerous now.

Also Read Parts: || 1 || 2 || 3 || 4 || 5 ||


Articles Section > The Generation Gap [Part 3 of 5] by Naseer Ahmad Faruqui Sahib


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