Obeying Parents in Haram

Question and answer details
Dear scholars, as-salamu `alaykum. The question I have is related to the degree to which I must obey my mother. Her requirements of my time, money and effort become very strange and unreasonable. Sometimes she asks me to do things for her that will in effect harm her. For example, my wife and I do not go to Indian concerts because of the abominable activities that go on there such as drinking alcohol, bad language, dance and music. My mother wants me to take her there. I politely refused mentioning that it is not allowed in Islam, and especially since this event is for teenagers. I am not in my teens. Secondly, the event is late at night 9 p.m.- 12 midnight in a downtown where I do not dare venture. For more serious examples, she enjoys going to functions where there is bid`ah (innovation) and expects my wife or me to drive her there. I do not believe in the activities that go on at such places and have made my opinions clear about not to go to such places. However, she cites the hadith concerning obeying the parents and my wife or I take them grudgingly. I drop them and pick them up but do not enter. What shall I do? How can I educate someone like this? Am I committing a sin by not taking them to a concert? Jazakum Allah khayran.
Muzammil Siddiqi

Wa `alaykum As-Salamu wa Rahmatullahi wa Barakatuh.

In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.

All praise and thanks are due to Allah, and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger.

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Dear brother in Islam, thanks a lot for your question which reflects your care to have a clear view of the teachings of Islam. Allah commands Muslims to refer to people of knowledge to get themselves well-acquainted with the teachings of Islam as well as all aspects of life.  

Indeed, Islam orders us to be kind and loyal to non-Muslim parents, let alone Muslim ones. Referring to this, Allah Almighty says: (Thy Lord has decreed, that you worship none save Him, and (that you show) kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with thee, say not ‘Fie’ unto them nor repulse them, but speak unto them a gracious word.) (Al-Isra’ 17: 23)

However, favoring parents and being dutiful to them is not allowed if such favoring and that obedience involve disobedience to Allah.

In his response to your question, Dr. Muzammil H. Siddiqi, current President of the Fiqh Council of North America, states:

What a sad story! Yes, it is not only the youth who need Islamic education, our adults and grown-ups also need that. However, I am also very pleased to know about your and your wife's commitment to values and virtues. May Allah bless you and keep you strong in your faith.

There is nothing wrong, as far as Islam is concerned, in telling your mother that whatever she is doing is wrong. The wrong is wrong. It does not make any difference whether a child does it or a parent.

One has to obey one's parent if what they say is not against the teachings of Allah and His Messenger. You should treat her well and be nice and respectful to her, but you should tell her very politely that you obey Allah and His Messenger first and then you obey her. If there is any conflict between her demands and Allah’s Orders and His Messenger, then the priority goes to Allah and the Messenger.

You should pray for your mother. Ask Allah to guide her and keep you strong in your obedience to Allah. Take her to the nearby Islamic center and let her hear some good words from the Imam or teachers. She is really in a bad need for reminding. She is coming from a background where religion is only a matter of culture, not a conscious commitment to the Qur’an and the Sunnah.

Allah Almighty knows best.