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Driven by Devotion


The ‘Abbaasi Khaleefah, Ma-moon, once mentioned, “I never saw a person who was more obedient to his father and treated him in a more excellent manner than Fadhal bin Yahya Barmaki.”

The following incident highlights the extreme lengths which Fadhal went to in order to see to his father’s comfort:

Yahya Barmaki would only make wudhu with warm water. On a particularly cold night, during the period when he and his son, Fadhal, were unjustly imprisoned together, the warden did not allow them to bring any wood into their cell. Hence, they were unable to make a fire to warm the water. This filled Fadhal with concern, as he could not bear for his father to undergo the difficulty of making wudhu with cold water. Hence, he waited for his father to fall asleep, after which he took the vessel of water and stood with it, holding it near the lamp so that the heat of the lamp would warm it. In this manner, he remained standing with the water in his hand until it was the time of dawn.

However, the warden learnt of the manner in which Fadhal had warmed the water, and thus prevented them from using the lamp the following night. Fadhal was undeterred and remained determined to warm the water for his father. Hence, that night, he went to bed holding the vessel of water against his body! As a result, the water had become warm by dawn.

(Birrul Waalidayn - Ibnul Jowzi [rahimahullah] pg. 55)


1. The importance of treating one’s parents with love and affection, and ensuring that they are completely comfortable, has been greatly stressed in Islam. Hence, Fadhal Barmaki was prepared to forego his own comfort and undergo great difficulty so that his father would not be inconvenienced through performing wudhu with cold water.

2. We should all strive to please our parents and see to their comfort. Doing so will please Allah Ta‘ala and cause the du‘aa to flow from their hearts. As the parents’ du‘aa for their child is never rejected, we should make it our goal to win their du‘aa through serving them with a smile and obeying them in all permissible matters. On the contrary, there is a great fear that displeasing them could cause curses to flow from their hearts. Hence, we should beware causing any hurt or harm to them, whether physical, emotional, verbal or even mental.