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This past year, as Mother’s Day passed and Father’s Day approached, I reflected on the importance of honoring and obeying our parents, the ones who brought us into this life, who nurtured and educated us, and provided for our future.
The Baha’i writings say:
The fruits that best befit the tree of human life are trustworthiness and godliness, truthfulness and sincerity; but greater than all, after recognition of the unity of God, praised and glorified be He, is regard for the rights that are due to one’s parents. This teaching hath been mentioned in all the Books of God… Observe how loving-kindness to one’s parents hath been linked to recognition of the one true God! Happy they who are endued with true wisdom and understanding, who see and perceive, who read and understand, and who observe that which God hath revealed in the Holy Books of old, and in this incomparable and wondrous Tablet. – Baha’u’llah, The Most Holy Book, p. 139.
Show honor to your parents and pay homage to them. This will cause blessings to descend upon you from the clouds of the bounty of your Lord, the Exalted, the Great. – Baha’u’llah, Family Life, a Compilation, pp. 386-387.
Every other Faith tradition also addresses this important subject:
But if any widow have children or nephews, let them learn first to shew piety at home, and to requite their parents: for that is good and acceptable before God. – 1 Timothy 5:4
Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. – Colossians 3:20
Hear, my son, the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the teaching of thy mother; For they shall be a chaplet of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. – Proverbs 1:8-9
Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you. – Exodus 20.12
There are three partners in man, God, father, and mother. When a man honors his father and mother, God says, “I regard it as though I had dwelt among them and they had honored me.” – Talmud, Kiddushin 30b
Towards a mother (grandmother, great-grandmother, father, grandfather and great-grandfather) the same obedience must be shown as towards a teacher. – The Dharma Sutras, Apastamba Prasna I, Patala 4, Khanda 14
The mother and the father must not be treated improperly under any circumstances. – The Dharma Sutras, Gutama 21:15
Thy Lord has decreed… that you be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in your lifetime, do not say 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.” – Qur’an 17.23
One companion asked, “O Apostle of God! Who is the person worthiest of my consideration?” He replied, “Your mother.” He asked again, “And second to my mother?” The Prophet said, “Your mother.” The companion insisted, “And then?” The Messenger of God said, “After your mother, your father.” – Hadith of Bukhari
Happy is it to honour mother. Happy is it to honour father. – Dhammapada – Sayings of the Buddha 3
Those who wish to be born in [the Pure Land] of Buddha… should act filially towards their parents and support them, and should serve and respect their teachers and elders. – Meditation on Buddha Amitayus 27
Native American (Zuni) Prayer:
Do not despise the breath of your fathers, but draw it into your body, that our roads may reach to where the life-giving road of our sun father comes out, that, clasping one another tight, holding one another fast, we may finish our roads together; that this may be; may my father bless you with life; may your road reach to Dawn Lake, may your road be fulfilled.
Attend strictly to the commands of your parents and the instructions of your teachers. Serve your leader with diligence; be upright of heart; eschew falsehood; and be diligent in study; that you may conform to the wishes of the heavenly spirit. – Oracle of Temmangu
In addition to our actions towards our parents, we can add our prayers on their behalf, both while they are with us in this physical existence, and after they have passed on to the spiritual world. The Baha’i teachings contain several beautiful prayers for parents, including this one:
O Lord! In this Most Great Dispensation Thou dost accept the intercession of children in behalf of their parents. This is one of the special infinite bestowals of this Dispensation. Therefore, O Thou kind Lord, accept the request of this Thy servant at the threshold of Thy singleness and submerge his father in the ocean of Thy grace, because this son hath arisen to render Thee service and is exerting effort at all times in the pathway of Thy love, Verily, Thou art the Giver, the Forgiver and the Kind! – Abdu’l-Baha, Baha’i Prayers, p. 64.