“The Lord has commanded that ye worship none but Him, and that ye show kindness unto your parents ….. (Qur’an, 17:23).
The spiritual and moral duties are Laid down side by side here. We are to worship none but Allah, because none is worthy of being worshipped but Allah. Then we are told to be kind to the parents. The ‘ayat’ goes on to say: whether any or both of them attain old age with thee, wherefore, say not unto them ‘Oh’; neither reproach them; and lower unto them the wing of humility out of compassion, and say thou: “O” my Lord, Have mercy on them as they cherished me in my childhood”.
The metaphor brings to our mind the picture of a high flying bird which lowers her wing out of tenderness to her off spring. There is a double aptness:-
When the parents were strong and the child helpless, parental affection was showered on the child: now that the parents are weak and helpless and the child has grown up o a strong man, can he do less than bestow similar tender care to the parents?
But more to the point are the words ‘humility’ and ‘compassion’. The child must approach the parents with gentleness, humility and love: for, does not parental love remind him of the great love with which cherishes His creatures? There is something here more than simple human gratitude. It goes up into the highest spiritual regions.
Note that we are asked to honor our father and mother upon so high and lofty grounds. In the first place, not merely respect, but cherishing kindness and humility to parents are recommended. In the second place, this command is bracketed with the command to worship the only True God; parental love should be a mirror to the divine love. Nothing that we can do will ever really compensate for that which we have received from them.