Life is indeed unpredictable and plans can never remain constant, I come across to this reality every now and then. The latest encounter I had with this factor is right now when I am writing this as this has never been in my plans or in my thoughts that I will ever write about this, but sometimes the incidences you come across force you to react to the things that you never bothered to think about. Yesterday when I was roaming in the city and trying to enjoy my evening a few Punjabi words hit my listening sense the simplest translation of those words are, “do you have any manners, how to talk to the elders?”.
While I am living in a part of UK where Urdu or Punjabi speakers are less in number as compared to the major cities of the countries, these words spoken in pure Faisalabadi dialect caught my attention. It was a scene where an elder was scolding a younger; I am sure the younger must have made some mistake so that he was facing the consequences, and however the odd thing was that he was being scolded in public.
This incident put me in the state of thinking, having an odd habit of analysing international affairs in the local perspective, current situation in the light of historical outcomes, and yes trying to find out what does my religion have to say over certain issues. Well today many argue my religion is out dated because its 1400 years old. However, if we can keep hopes attached to the 5000 years old democracy then why not a 1400 years old religion. That is a separate debate and as many Urdu op-ed writers say, “we will keep it for some other time”.
We are taught that Islam is a complete code of life. It is a religion that elaborates rights and duties for everyone at every stage. Islam talks about the rights of parents, rights of the elders and that is something we are told to follow in our basic training but Islam must have something to say for the “younger” Muslims and their rights. At least there has to be some kind of ruling for scolding others in public or to be more specific scolding younger people, or children.
When I referred to Quran and asked this question, I got answer in this verse:
“Your parents and your children, you know not which of them is the nearer to you in usefulness; this is an ordinance from Allah: Surely Allah is Knowing, Wise.” Noble Qur’an (4:11)
And when I referred to Hadith to explore more on this subject I found many Hadiths where Prophet Muhammad (Peace Be Upon Him) says:
“Observe justice in dealing with your children in the same manner in which you expect them to observe justice in being kind and good to you.”
“O Muslims, O fathers and mothers, O my followers, be kind and compassionate towards children, for someone who is not kind to children has no place amongst the Muslims.”
“Be kind to your children, and excel in this kindness.”
The one-liner answer to my query was in the end of an account mentioned noble book of Hadith, “Sahih al-Bukhari”. It says:
One day the Prophet was sitting with his companions when He saw a young child in the group. Having a great love for children, He called him and sat him on His lap. The people around him watched as the Prophet (PBUH) gave his attention to the child. Suddenly the boy, over-awed perhaps, urinated on the lap of the Prophet (PBUH). Embarrassed, the father sprang forward. “What have you done, you silly boy” he shouted. His arm shoved forward to grab the child away from the Prophet (PBUH), his red face showing his anger. Fear and confusion showed in the face of the child. The Prophet (PBUH) restrained the man, and gently hugged the child to him. “Don’t worry,” he told the over-zealous father. “This is not a big issue. My clothes can be washed. But be careful with how you treat the child” he continued. “What can restore his self-esteem after you have dealt with him in public like this?”
Sahih Bukhari, Volume 8, Book 75, Number 366
All the Hadiths have mentioned children, if I am allowed to understand the things better by using the term children in a broader way, here it does not limit to one’s own children only. Especially in a society like we have in Pakistan where still strength in family and socio-cultural bonding alive it turns into “he/she is my child too” or “like my children“ when it is about right of the elders. We like to be respected by those who are younger, well that is their duty to respect us but on the other side, we also have certain duties towards the “younger” to us.
A “younger” has his own personality and, just like an “elder”, wants that others should love and respect him. It is thus very difficult for him when he is scolded and derogated in public. I am not defending the one who made a mistake, but is that a right approach to start scolding, if a mistake is made, even when there are other people around. A reprimand, according to intensity of the mistake, is a better idea when it is done in private.
Expecting a “younger” to learn respecting others while we do not respect his personality is completely a vague expectation. Where there are so many things need to be fixed in our society that has a serious issue with growing intolerance, this one must also be addressed. We always sob over our rights and duties of the others, for a change once think the same in reverse order.