Respecting the Elderly and Protecting their Rights

Islam pays great attention to caring for the elderly and guaranteeing them an honorable life. The jurists have tackled the importance of providing medical, physical, and religious care for the elderly and making them aware of their rights. So the community should provide them with care and protection.

The Islamic Fiqh Academy (IFA), a subsidiary organ of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), tackled the subject of the elderly and children’s rights in its 12th session in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Jumada Thani 25–Rajab 1, 1421 (September 23–28, 2000).

After reviewing the researches submitted to it on the subject of the elderly and children’s rights, and the recommendations of the Juristic Medical Symposium held in Kuwait in cooperation with the Islamic Organization for Medical Sciences from Rajab 9–12, 1420 (October 18–21, 1999) regarding the rights of the elderly, the members and experts of the academy discussed the subject together with a number of jurists. Accordingly, they asserted that Islam pays attention to human beings in all their stages of life based on the principle of honorable treatment to all human beings. Allah Almighty says, “Verily We have honoured the Children of Adam” (Al-Isra’: 70). Allah Almighty also says, “Thy Lord hath decreed, that you worship none save Him, and (that you show) kindness to parents” (Al-Isra’: 23).

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) also said, “When a young man honors [and treats with kindness] an old person because of his being aged, Allah Almighty will bring this young man those who will honor [and treat him with kindness] when he becomes aged” (Reported by At-Tirmidhi).

The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, as well, “He does not belong to us who does not show mercy to the young children and respect to the old persons” (Reported by Ahmad and At-Tirmidhi).
Hence, the academy concluded:
1. It is important to acquaint the elderly with what protects their physical, spiritual, and social health; teach them the religious rulings regarding acts of worship, transactions, and so on; and let them know how they can get close to Almighty Allah and trust that He Almighty may forgive them.

2. It is to be emphasized that the elderly are members of the community and enjoy all rights as human beings.

3. The most proper place for the elderly to live is with their families in order for them to enjoy family life with their children and grandchildren. If some elderly have no families to live among, they are to be provided with a family atmosphere in homes for the elderly.

4. It is important to raise the awareness of the community to the status and rights of the elderly through curriculum and media programs, with special attention to be drawn to showing kindness and respect to one’s parents.

5. Homes for the elderly are to be provided for the care of the elderly who have no one to care for them or whose families cannot provide for them.

6. Geriatrics is to be given importance in medical colleges and health institutes. Doctors in this field are to be encouraged to discover treatments for aging diseases, and hospitals are to dedicate sections for treating the elderly.

7. Special seats are to be assigned for the elderly in public transportation and public places.