Sayyiduna Anas bin Maalik (radhiyallahu ‘anhu) reports that Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) said, “There is no young person who honours an elderly person (by serving and looking after him/her) on account of his age, except that Allah Ta‘ala will appoint a person who will honour (and serve) him (the one who served others when he was young) at the time when he is advanced in age.” (Sunan Tirmizi #2022)

Today, most of us are hale and hearty, healthy and strong. We are able to look after ourselves and personally attend to our needs. However, though we make du‘aa for Allah Ta‘ala to keep us healthy and independent until the end of our lives (aameen!), it is possible that the day may come when we will be advanced in age, our faculties will be failing us and we will require the assistance of others to look after ourselves.

At that critical time, every person will want to be cared for at home by those whom he loves, who will show him compassion and gentleness and treat him with dignity and respect. Nobody wants to be dumped into an old-age home where he will be just another faceless-name on the roster, another hungry mouth to feed and another anonymous patient to attend to. Nobody wants to spend the latter portion of his life surrounded by unfamiliar, uncaring faces, separated from and forgotten by our loved ones.

In this hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has taught us that if we respect the elderly and serve them, even if they are not our relatives or family members, then one day, when we are old, Allah Ta‘ala will appoint someone to take care of us with LOVE AND RESPECT, just as we had once taken care of the old with love and respect.

The commentator of hadeeth, Mulla ‘Ali Qari (rahimahullah), explained that in the virtue mentioned above is an indication that the one who looks after the old and takes care of them will be blessed with a long life. (Mirqaat vol. 8, pg. 706)

The narrator of this hadeeth, Sayyiduna Anas bin Maalik (radhiyallahu ‘anhu), was honoured to remain in the khidmah (service) of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) for ten years. Through the blessing of this service and the du‘aa of Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam), Allah Ta‘ala bestowed him with such a long life that he passed away at the age of one hundred and three! Furthermore, his progeny (children and grandchildren who would make his khidmah and attend to him) numbered more than a hundred! (Adapted from Mirqaat vol. 8, pg. 706)

Therefore, we must have the heart to take care of the elderly – ESPECIALLY those who are family. May it never happen that we take our own parents, grandparents, etc. and abandon them in some care facility or old-age home at the time when they are most in need of our compassion and care. Instead of viewing their khidmah and service as a burden, we must realise that serving them is a privilege and honour for which Allah Ta‘ala will bless us and reward us in this world and the Hereafter.

Finally, we must remember that what goes around comes around. If taking care of the elderly is a means of Allah Ta‘ala appointing someone to take care of us in our old age, then conversely, it is likely that if we abandon the elderly, then we may find ourselves similarly abandoned and forgotten in our old age – Allah Ta‘ala forbid!

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all with the spirit of the sunnah and with hearts of compassion and care, aameen.