Respecting your elders. What exactly does that mean?

I'm asking this question because recently I was in a situation where an elder was demanding respect. I personally did not see that as worthy of respect, instead, I saw that as arrogance. In my mind, respect is given, not taken or demanded. So if a person respects an elder without the elder demanding it, that almost makes the elder a humble person in my view. In which case the person doing the respecting is respecting genuinely.

However, if the elder demands respect by some means, then the person doing the "respecting" is being forced to respect, which is not respect at all, that's more dictatorship etc.

What's the Islamic stance on this? Are both definitions correct and good according to Islam?

I guess my root question is: What is the Islamic definition of respecting your elders?

I'm after the Sunni > Hanafi view.


5 Answers 5


Good treatment of parents when they reach old age and be patient with them, where the Quran explicitly states this (17:23).

Of course, in your question you don't say that the person was your parent. For that, I have another story to relate, which is from Muhammad's Sira (i.e. biography). Soon after he was asked to go public with the message of Allah, he called upon all the leader and elders of the tribes in Makkah for a meal where he would announce the message. It was only Ali ibn Abu Talib, a mere boy at the time, who rose up to say that he believed in his message. I think the story goes where the Prophet acknowledged Ali's courage to defy his elders and also his father who was present the time. Defying the beliefs of his forefathers openly. The elders present couldn't take this humiliation.

After the incident, Abu Talib (father of Ali) would be mocked by the unbelievers, being told that in the Prophet's new preachings, his son was now more superior to him.

Then only this is a story I have read, I don't have a reference to it at this present time. And as such, there may be gaps in it.

And if this story is true, I think this goes to show the message of equality in Islam, where an elderly does not become superior to somone younger, simply due to their age.


It does not matter if anyone Asks for Respect or not, Order of islam is to Respect them by all means possible and to have Best manners. So dont think that if someone Asks for respect, then you are not obliged to respect then in turn

In islam, Respect means following

  • Not shouting on elders
  • not talking to them in rude way
  • never to abuse them ever
  • Never raise your voice in-front of elders
  • Whatever they say, be patient in what they have to say
  • If you dont like or dis-agree with what they say, then you have to convince them in calm way
  • 3
    Please consider adding references to support your statement! You have earned >600 of reputation you should know how SE works!
    – Medi1Saif
    Feb 17, 2016 at 9:05

Respecting your elders literally means to respect your elders, meaning people that are older than you.

You have to be polite towards people that are older and that have more wisdom than you, even if you don't totally agree their opinion.

Our religion was a guide to humanity. God created us and knows how we function. We should respect everyone, as it will lead to a happier life, filled with joy and exempt of stress.

Respect is a personal sentiment that comes from within, meaning that no one can force you to respect them if you don't actually respect them.

However, the teachings deriving from that Order tell us that we should be patient and not get angry and insulting.

So don't worry if you don't actually "respect" that person, just don't be disrespectful is what Allah's command is asking of you.



Bhai if an elder has to ask you to treat him/her with respect then its quite obvious that you aren't treating that person with respect in the first place. As a Muslim, its our responsibility to treat each and every one with respect irrespective of their age, gender or ethnicity. The only exception to this rule is a person who does something that makes him lose our respect, even in that case we as Muslims are not allowed to disrespect that person in anyway, we may not be respectful but we HAVE to be courteous to that person. That is what being a Muslim is all about brother. We all need to be humble and forgiving since we all make mistakes


Bismillah hir rahman nir raheem As sallamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa baraktuhu May allah have mercy on me and you .

Abdullah ibn Amr reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “He who does not show mercy to our young ones or recognize the rights of our elders is not one of us.”

Source: Musnad Aḥmad 7033

Refer to the commentaries of the scholars for how one should act upon this hadeeth. As sallamu alaykum

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