We all play a huge role in the COVID-19 pandemic. During this circuit breaker period, all of us have been told to stay home and only go out if it is absolutely necessary.
Photo credit: Ustaz Aiman’s Facebook
However, it is understandable if you feel anxious about your elderly parents, especially if they are staying on their own. We want to look after them the best way we can, just like they took care of us when we were young.
Allah s.w.t. says in the Quran:
وَوَصَّينَا الإِنسانَ بِوالِدَيهِ إِحسانًا
“We have commanded people to honour their parents.”
(Surah Al-Ahqaaf, 46:15)
Imam Ibn Kathir commented on this verse saying “to honour (Ihsan)” is to do good and show affection to them. In fact, there have been multiple and frequent reminders within the Quran and the Prophetic tradition to honour our parents.
These reminders inspire strong motivation such as the saying of the Prophet s.a.w:
أَفْضَلُ الأَعْمَالِ الصَّلاَةُ لِوَقْتِهَا وَبِرُّ الْوَالِدَيْنِ
“The best of the deeds is the (observance of) prayer at its proper (earliest) time and kindness to the parents.”
Here are some tips on how to care for your elderly parents:
Including others in our constant prayers is a sign of sincere love. We may also find these prayers in both the Quran and the Prophetic tradition, to learn and emulate. Here is one of the verses:
رَبَّنَا اغفِر لي وَلِوالِدَيَّ وَلِلمُؤمِنينَ يَومَ يَقومُ الحِسابُ
Our Lord! Forgive me, my parents, and the believers on the Day when the judgment will come to pass
(Surah Ibrahim, 14:41)
Similarly, here is another verse:
وَقُل رَبِّ ارحَمهُما كَما رَبَّياني صَغيرًا
And pray “My Lord! Be merciful to them as they raised me when I was young.”
(Surah Al-Isra’ 17:24)
Staying away from our parents is tough and heartbreaking but we really don’t know if we are carrying the virus. We could have COVID-19 and not feel sick, may Allah protect us from it. The last thing we want is for our parents to get infected, so it’s best to not meet them in this period, no matter how much we miss them.
What if you’ve always been their primary caregiver? Then, it's okay to help them with their daily needs. You just have to make sure that you take all precautions such as ensuring that your hands are clean and wearing your mask.
Unsurprisingly, researchers have revealed that “chronic loneliness is associated with a greater risk of heart disease, dementia, depression, and anxiety.” It’s also linked to dying earlier. In fact, “being lonely raises mortality more than obesity or sedentary living does.”
Let us strive to call our parents at least once a day. Just a simple “Assalamualaikum, how are you?” goes a long way towards easing their loneliness. If they are using smartphones that enable them to video call, even better!
Although we are unable to be there for them physically during this pandemic period, our act of love is expressed by constantly staying connected with them with the necessary means we can find.
Part of honouring our parents is to speak to them with kind words. Words truly make a difference - they can lift you up or destroy you.
وَبِالوالِدَينِ إِحسانًا ۚ إِمّا يَبلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُما أَو كِلاهُما فَلا تَقُل لَهُما أُفٍّ وَلا تَنهَرهُما وَقُل لَهُما قَولًا كَريمًا
“And honour your parents. If one or both of them reach old age in your care, never say to them even ‘ugh,’ nor yell at them. Rather, address them respectfully.”
(Surah Al-Isra, 17:23)
Most of us only get to interact with our parents through the phone during this period. It is even more enlightening to calm them with conversations that bring them a smile. Let us be kind and respectful and comfort them.
Most of our parents are blessed with smartphones, Alhamdulillah. Although the mosques are closed, they can continue learning online!
On Muslim.Sg’s Facebook page, invite your parents to watch Just Ask! AYN every Thursday at 8.30 pm and Muslim.Sg Online Kuliah every Saturday at 8.30 pm. On Fridays, they can read Surah Al-Kahfi together with an Ustaz or Ustazah during Quran Time at 12 pm.
These videos are also available on Muslim.Sg’s YouTube channel should you wish to watch with your parents after the live broadcast on Facebook.
If they prefer Malay content, they can learn from Ustaz Fatris Bakaram during his Kuliah Tafsir, that is streamed live on Muslim.Sg’s YouTube channel and Facebook every Sunday after Maghrib. They can look forward to hearing him explain the verses in the Quran and understand how to apply its timeless values, wisdom, and teachings in their daily lives.
Nowadays, it is so convenient to order and deliver food to your parents through apps such as Foodpanda, GrabFood and Deliveroo. When you support your favourite local businesses, you’re also helping them feed their own families.
Although we are allowed to go out for essential activities such as grocery shopping, it is best for our parents to stay safe at home.
Here are other online platforms that also do home delivery for groceries:
Photo credit: The Halal Eater
Unfortunately, the elderly may fall victim to scams and cyber crimes. In Singapore, scammers have impersonated officers from public agencies such as Singapore Police Force, Ministry of Manpower, Singapore Civil Defence Force and SingPost.
It would be devastating if our parents get cheated. We cannot be with them 24/7 but we can drop them friendly reminders to be careful.
There are so many things we can do to honour our parents. What is important is for us to not let this current period hinder us from fulfilling our obligations. Let us continue to remind one another with timely advice and words of encouragement. May Allah s.w.t. protect our loved ones and guide us to that which pleases Him.
And Allah knows best.