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Abandoning elderly a crime
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 01 - 05 - 2017

LAST week, I came across a shocking video clip on Twitter that was being widely circulated. The clip was of an old mother, who was seen sitting and crying at Al-Shumaisi Hospital in Riyadh. The clip also showed that humanity was not dead as the hospital staff took time out to ascertain the cause for the mother's tears.
The hospital thinking that the old mother was in pain from an ailment took her for medical examination and checked out her condition in order to find out whether she was sick and needed help. The staff proceeded with this action, as the clip revealed, thinking that she needed treatment. What the examination revealed was that the old mother was in good condition and suffering from no illness.
But the whole hospital, like the society, was in for a further surprise as the clip showed. With the old mother found to be hale, the hospital, as is the standard procedure, made many attempts to contact the old mother's family. What they encountered was a deafening silence. To their shock, once they had gotten through to the family and told them of their mother's plight, they were amazed by the family's response — or to be precise of the lack of it. The family did not even bother to respond and the hospital later found out that her children had callously dumped her at the hospital.
The clip is a minute long and in that short span tells too many stories. Primarily, it is raising an alarm of a phenomenon that is evidently growing. For stories of children abandoning their parents is increasingly making the rounds, and what is more distressing is the fact that the children do not even consider that in the cycle of life they could be in the lead part in the repeat scene in future.
The old mother was seen in the clip sitting on the ground and sobbing incessantly in pain, not because of sickness but because of the ingratitude of her near and dear ones, and the inhumanity she suffered from those who were once so close to her heart. With a shaking hand and a shaky voice, she raised her finger, praying to God, against those who had abandoned her at this very old age and when she was in desperate need of attention and care. Amid the crying, she vehemently shouted that "she did not need them, and cared two whit for them."
The clip also revealed the story of a mother's pain at being given a rude gift for all her service and love to her children, just when she expected a return of the love. The whole situation was heartbreaking and society can take heart from the fact that the tragic situation of the mother tugged at the heart strings of the hospital staff, who in their every action tried to alleviate the women's suffering — reinforcing human values. As for the reason why she was abandoned it is still anybody's guess, as the family failed to step up to their responsibility.
This was not the first case and sadly it may not be the last, although we pray to God that such examples become a thing of the past. A visit to an elderly home will only reveal a dark picture of how some sons and daughters turn into monsters and abandon their parents in these homes, which was basically designed to give shelter to the elderly with no family. But in reality the home is being virtually turned into a "house of horrors", with each elderly member having a horror story to tell of abandonment by their children.
I can never understand cruelty against parents no matter how hard I try. I believe it is the worst crime that can be committed and such children do not understand the gravity of their action and the punishment that awaits them in life and the hereafter. The law should punish children who abandon their parents and dump them on the street or in front of hospitals or charity homes. If I was to suggest a punishment then it should be 1,000 lashes each day a parent is abandoned.
The Holy Qur'an is clear about this in a verse saying, "And We have enjoined upon man [care] for his parents. His mother carried him, [increasing her] in weakness upon weakness, and his weaning is in two years. Be grateful to Me and to your parents; to Me is the [final] destination."
And in another verse the Qur'an says, "Your Lord has ordered you to worship none except Him, and to be good to your parents. If either or both of them attain old age with you, do not say: "Fie on you", nor rebuke them, but speak to them with words of respect. And lower to them the wing of humbleness out of mercy and say: ‘My Lord, be merciful to them, as they raised me since I was little."
It is human nature that a person feels gratitude when someone shows hospitality toward them. It will feel like a debt they need to pay and return kindness with kindness. Do not these children feel this debt to the mother who fed them when they were helpless and stayed awake and nursed them when they were sick. The parents, especially the mother deserves more. Even when someone says that parents were neglectful of their children or they were cruel to them when they were young, I can only say that Allah was clear of being kind to them no matter what.
To such people I say, fear Allah and remember what goes around comes around. Such people should know that the cruel way they treat their parents, the same treatment they will receive at the hands of their children. They will see justice being meted out in their lifetime before they are punished on judgment day. Such people will not see peace in their life and surely they will not feel blessed at all.
I conclude here with the Prophet's, pbuh, saying, A person came to Messenger of Allah peace be upon him and asked, "Who among people is most deserving of my fine treatment?" He said, "Your mother". He again asked, "Who next?" "Your mother", the Prophet replied again. He asked, "Who next?" He (the Prophet said again, "Your mother." He again asked, "Then who?" Thereupon he said," Then your father."
The writer can be reached at [email protected] Twitter: @anajeddawi_eng


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