In The Name of Allaah, The Most Merciful, The Bestower of Mercy.
Allaah [The Exalted] said:
وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعۡبُدُوٓاْ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُ وَبِٱلۡوَٲلِدَيۡنِ إِحۡسَـٰنًاۚ إِمَّا يَبۡلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ ٱلۡڪِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَآ أَوۡ كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَآ أُفٍّ۬ وَلَا تَنۡہَرۡهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوۡلاً۬ ڪَرِيمً۬ا
وَٱخۡفِضۡ لَهُمَا جَنَاحَ ٱلذُّلِّ مِنَ ٱلرَّحۡمَةِ وَقُل رَّبِّ ٱرۡحَمۡهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِى صَغِيرً۬ا
And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour. And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.” [Surah Al-Israa. Verses 23-24]
[رَّبِّ ٱرۡحَمۡهُمَا كَمَا رَبَّيَانِى صَغِيرً۬ا – My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small]– Meaning, supplicate for them to be granted mercy when they are alive and after their death, out of repaying good to them because they nurtured you when you were small. It is understood from this verse that the more they took care of you, the more rights you owe them. (1)
Allaah [The Most High] said:
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنْسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ إِحْسَانًا ۖ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ كُرْهًا وَوَضَعَتْهُ كُرْهًا ۖ وَحَمْلُهُ وَفِصَالُهُ ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا ۚ حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
And We have enjoined on man to be dutiful and kind to his parents. His mother bears him with hardship and she brings him forth with hardship, and the bearing of him, and the weaning of him is thirty (30) months, till when he attains full strength and reaches forty years, he says: ‘’My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my off-spring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims [submitting to Your Will].’’
This is from Allaah’s kindness to His slaves and also that parents deserve to be thanked; therefore, Allaah commanded the off-spring to be dutiful and kind to their two parents- [to speak to them] kindly, spend on them and through other ways of kind treatment. Then Allaah [The Most High] stated the reason [behind this command] and mentioned what the mother endured due to her child- the severe difficulties she faced during pregnancy, then the great difficulty of childbirth, breast feeding and baby-sitting. These [difficulties] are not [present] just for a short period, an hour or two; rather its time period is lengthy [ثَلَاثُونَ شَهْرًا– Thirty months]. And in most cases the period of pregnancy is nine months or [a bit less or more], and then breast feeding during the remaining months [after childbirth].
Then Allaah said: [حَتَّىٰ إِذَا بَلَغَ أَشُدَّهُ وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً – Till when he (i.e. the person) attains full strength and reaches forty years]– the period in which he exits youth and attains complete [discernment, maturity etc.]; [وَبَلَغَ أَرْبَعِينَ سَنَةً قَالَ رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي – And reaches forty years, he says: My Lord! Grant me the power and ability]: Meaning: Grant me the ability [through speech and deeds [أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ – that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents]: Meaning: [To be grateful due to] the blessings of Islaam and the things You have given me in the worldly life; and to be grateful to [You O Allaah] for [granting me the ability to utilise these worldly blessings] in acts of obedience to You, for You are the One Who guided (me) towards them and the One Who preserve them. Therefore, a person should acknowledge the favours of Allaah, [declare his] inability to thank Allaah the way Allaah deserves and praises Allaah [The Most High] for such favours.
Likewise, the blessings that are bestowed upon the parents are blessings for their offspring, because the children will receive some of those blessings [through their parents], especially the blessing of the Religion of Islaam; for indeed the righteousness of parents – through knowledge and deeds- is the greatest means for the offspring to be righteous. Then Allaah said (i.e. that this person who has reached the age of forty says): [وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ – And that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You]; so that such deeds are based on everything that will make them upright and safeguarded against corruption.
Then Allaah said (i.e. that this person who has reached the age of forty says): [وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي – And make my off-spring good]-Meaning: [Just] as I ask for goodness for myself, I also ask Allaah to make the affairs of my off-spring good. [إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ – Truly, I have turned to You (Allaah) in repentance] from sins and disobedience, and I return to obeying You; [وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ – And truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will)]. (2)
Imaam Ash-Shawkaani [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “And in this Ayah is evidence that indeed it is befitting for the one who has reached the age of forty to increase in making these supplications.
رَبِّ أَوْزِعْنِي أَنْ أَشْكُرَ نِعْمَتَكَ الَّتِي أَنْعَمْتَ عَلَيَّ وَعَلَىٰ وَالِدَيَّ وَأَنْ أَعْمَلَ صَالِحًا تَرْضَاهُ وَأَصْلِحْ لِي فِي ذُرِّيَّتِي ۖ إِنِّي تُبْتُ إِلَيْكَ وَإِنِّي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
My Lord! Grant me the power and ability that I may be grateful for Your Favour which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents, and that I may do righteous good deeds, such as please You, and make my off-spring good. Truly, I have turned to You in repentance, and truly, I am one of the Muslims (submitting to Your Will). (3)
Sa’eed Bin Jubayr [may Allaah have mercy upon him] said, “Indeed, I increase the length of my prayer to (supplicate) for my child (i.e. in the Sujood and after the Tashahud)”. (4)
Allaah [The Exalted] said: [ وَٱلَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا هَبۡ لَنَا مِنۡ أَزۡوَٲجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّـٰتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعۡيُنٍ۬ وَٱجۡعَلۡنَا لِلۡمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا – And those who say: “Our Lord! Bestow on us from our wives and our offspring who will be the comfort of our eyes, and make us leaders for the Muttaqun]. (pious) [Surah Al-Furqan]. Verse 74]
Saeed Ibn Mansoor said: Hazm reported to us, saying: I heard Katheer Ibn Ziyaad asking Al-Hasan, “O Abu Saeed! What is this comfort of the eyes- is it in this worldly life or the afterlife?” He (Al-Hasan) said, “No, rather by Allaah it is in this world”. He (Katheer) said, “What is it?” He (Al-Hasan) said, “By Allaah it is (when) Allaah causes a slave to see (deeds) of obedience to Allaah from his wife, brother and close friend. By Allaah there is nothing more beloved to a Muslim than seeing his/her child, or father or a close friend being obedient to Allaah (The Mighty and Majestic)”. (5)
Imaam Ibnul Qayyim said: So they ask Allaah to grant them the comfort of the eye by making their wives and offspring obedient to Allaah, and to grant them happiness in their hearts due to being followed by the righteous in obedience and servitude to Allaah. That is because a trustworthy leader in the religion co-operates with [others] upon obedience [to Allaah and His Messenger], and that is to call them to [sound] leadership in the religion, whose foundation is patience and certainty, as Allaah [The Most High] said:
[ وَجَعَلۡنَا مِنۡہُمۡ أَٮِٕمَّةً۬ يَہۡدُونَ بِأَمۡرِنَا لَمَّا صَبَرُواْۖ وَڪَانُواْ بِـَٔايَـٰتِنَا يُوقِنُونَ – And We made from among them (Children of Israel), leaders, giving guidance under Our Command, when they were patient and used to believe with certainty in Our Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.)].
Therefore, in their supplication to Allaah that He makes them leaders of the righteous people, is that Allaah guides them, grants them success, bless them with beneficial knowledge and righteous actions–outwardly and inwardly–without which [sound] leadership in the religion cannot be achieved. (6)
Abdullah Bin Umar [may Allaah be pleased with him and his father] said: Allaah’s Messenger [peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him] never abandoned these supplications in the morning and evening:
اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ العافِيَـةَ فـي الدُّنيا والآخِرَةِ، اللَّهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ العَفْوَ والعافِيَـةَ فـي دِيني ودُنْـيايَ وأَهْلِي ومالِي، اللَّهُمَّ اسْتُـرْ عَوْراتِي، وآمِنْ رَوْعاتِي،
اللَّهُمَّ احْفَظْنِـي مِنْ بَـيْنِ يَدَيَّ، ومِنْ خَلْفِي، وعَنْ يَمِيـنِـي، وعَنْ شِمالِي، ومِنْ فَوْقِي، وأَعُوذُ بِعَظَمَـتِكَ أَنْ أُغْتالَ مِنْ تَحْتِـي
“O Allaah! I ask You for well-being in this Dunyaa and the Aaakhirah. O Allāh, I ask You for pardon and well-being in my religion, my worldly affairs, my family and my wealth. O Allaah! Conceal my [faults, shortcomings etc] and safeguard me against everything that will bring me fear and sorrow. O Allaah! Protect me from in front, from behind me, from my right and my left, and from above. And I seek refuge with Your Magnificence from being swallowed up from beneath me”.
This great supplication begins with one asking Allaah for [العافِيَـةَ -wellbeing] in the Dunyaa and Aakhirah. Nothing can be equal to wellbeing, for whoever is granted well-being then indeed he has received his complete share of good. Seeking [العَفْوَ -pardon] necessitates that one is forgiven his sins and they are wiped away. As for [العافِيَـةَ – Well-being], it is safety Allaah bestows on a servant of His- protects him against every punishment and trial, by averting evil from him, protecting him against calamities and ailments [sicknesses], evil affairs and sins. So, the Messenger [sallal laahu alayhi wasallam] asked for wellbeing in the Dunyaa and Aakhirah, as well as wellbeing in his religion, worldly affairs, his family and wealth.
Well-being in one’s religion is protection against everything that will bring dishonor [or disgrace] to one’s religion or deprive him of it. Well-being in the Dunyaa is to seek protection against everything that will harm the person in his worldly affairs, such as calamities or trials, severe poverty and ailments. Well-being in the Aakhirah is to seek protection against the extreme hardships in the Aakhirah and its various punishments. Well-being in one’s family is that they are protected from trials, calamities and tests; wellbeing in one’s wealth is that it is protected from drowning, burning, theft etc…
[اللَّهُمَّ اسْتُـرْ عَوْراتِي – O Allaah! Conceal my faults, shortcomings etc [ وآمِنْ رَوْعاتِي – safeguard me against every affair that will frighten me and bring sorrow upon me].
[اللَّهُمَّ احْفَظْنِـي مِنْ بَـيْنِ يَدَيَّ، ومِنْ خَلْفِي، وعَنْ يَمِيـنِـي، وعَنْ شِمالِي، ومِنْ فَوْقِي، وأَعُوذُ بِعَظَمَـتِكَ أَنْ أُغْتالَ مِنْ تَحْتِـي – O Allaah! Protect me from in front, from behind me, from my right and my left, and from above. And I seek refuge with Your Magnificence from being swallowed up from beneath me] – Meaning: Asking Allaah to protect you against destructive things and evils which a person is exposed to from the six directions, for indeed evil can approach from the front, behind, the right, the left, above or below, and he does not know which direction calamity will suddenly come upon him. (7)
Refs 1 & 2: Tafseer As-Sadi. slightly paraphrased
Ref 3: Fat-hul Qadeer
Ref 4: Hilyatul Awliyaa 4/297
Ref 5: Fat-hul Baari 8/491
Ref 6: Ar-Rooh 487-489
Ref 7: Fiqh Al-Ad’iyah Wal Ad’kaar 3/32-33