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Are Elders Always Right?

Answered according to Hanafi Fiqh by ShariahBoard.org

Assalamualaikum Warahmatullah

We often hear from our elders that we should obey them, this reminder even continues when we become adults. Does this mean that the people who are old and elders by age, only they are correct? For some reason, this thought keeps on coming in my mind, but I firmly believe that a correct action can be performed or true statement can be made by anyone regardless of their age, even my children can say something which is correct because maybe my mind is not thinking in an angel that my child may be thinking in. This is not a strive towards disrespecting the elders and hope that you understand what my real point is. It is also a part of our culture that as soon as we disagree with someone’s opinion, it becomes an issue of disrespecting the elder. I also understand that certain things are stemmed from one’s culture, they get started from one’s culture, and after passage of certain time, and they become an integral part of the culture. I believe that Islam does not stop one from expressing their mind, instead it motivates and appreciates it. Islam actually likes the differences in people regardless of the age difference between them. It is often said that “Islam is a religion based on the nature”, and I firmly believe that as a human being I can naturally make either a right or wrong decision, and whatever the case maybe I should stand by the right or wrong decision I make. The logic behind this thinking is that I do not want to regret that I gave the authority of making my decisions to someone else and he/she makes those decisions on my behalf. I am no Islamic scholar or an aalim, but hope that you will provide me guidance in this matter by shedding some light on this issue. JazakAllahu Khaira for the time and effort.

Walaikumassalam Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuhu

الجواب وباللہ التوفیق

The correctness of one’s decision or statement is one aspect, but the actual result of that action or decision, taking the environment and circumstance into consideration while making that decision or statement is entirely another aspect. No one denies the fact that a child or young person can also be right, but there are a number of other important aspects which are usually not the focus of a younger person. These include things such as:

  • What will be the future results and implications of the decision or statement
  • Will it be beneficial or disadvantageous with respect to the circumstances and the current environment
  • The natural love and kindness that the elders have for the younger generation or their kids
  • Always taking the right decisions for their children while keeping on their children’s best interest in their mind
  • The vast experience they have acquired during their life
  • Understanding the true meanings of loss and gain

Although the younger generation does not make a statement or decision which is considered incorrect from a Shar‘ai standpoint, they are not wrong but they do not have a focus on the aspects mentioned above. Therefore, for the time being they think that their statements and decisions are correct but sometimes in the future those statements and decisions turn out to be of great detriment both from a religious and worldly standpoint. Thousands of examples in front of us have proved this proof to us. Therefore, considering this detail and the associated benefits and sincerity towards us, we are instructed to listen and act upon the decisions and statements of our elders.

فقط واللہ اعلم بالصواب

This answer was collected from Shariahboard.org. It was established under the supervision of the eminent faqih of our era, Hazrat Shah Mufti Mohammed Navalur Rahman damat barakatuhum.

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