Islam and Elder Care in Egypt after the Arab Spring Uprisings: Between Divine Law and Secular Law: Quo Vadis? | Mohamed A. ‘Arafa. 

Mohamed A. ‘Arafa. 

Assistant Professor of Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at Alexandria University Faculty of Law (Egypt); Adjunct Professor of Law at Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (USA). Ph.D., Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law (2013); LL.M., University of Connecticut School of Law (2008); LL.B., Alexandria University School of Law (2006). Currently, he is a Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Brasília School of Law (UnB). Managing Editor, Arab Law Quarterly. Of course, all errors remain the author’s. For any comments or questions, please contact the author at:



An accurate and thoughtful understanding of the Islamic perception on the Muslim elderly’s essential rights, taking into account the substantial contemporary fluctuations and adaptations touching Muslim elderly’s cultural, economic, social, and emotional necessities, evolutions, and renovations entails a degree of attention within the Shari‘a (Islamic) principles and its religious norms.



1 Introduction and Overview


An accurate and thoughtful understanding of the Islamic perception on the Muslim elderly’s essential rights, taking into account the substantial contemporary fluctuations and adaptations touching Muslim elderly’s cultural, economic, social, and emotional necessities, evolutions, and renovations entails a degree of attention within the Shari‘a (Islamic) principles and its religious norms.[2] It should be noted that socio-cultural framework based on Islamic ideals considered one of the crucial features of Arab and Middle Eastern region in shaping their political and legal support systems.[3] In light of Islamic philosophies and the code of ethics, the family endures to be the keystone for the sustenance of the elderly and it is prohibited placing the elderly, especially parents, in nursery homes or similar places, as it represents a direct transgression of the divine Law of God.[4] However, family unity cannot be anticipated to be secure within new demographic and economic realities along with health essentials, weakening its effectiveness and productivity.[5] Islam is more than a faith and has more than divine significance in Muslim lives, as it includes a social command, one in which belief is reflected in a manner and conduct that tracks the Islamic code of conducts.[6] Familial and societal affairs, comprising the privileges and duties of parents, children, and elder care, have largely promoted from the Qur’anic texts, furthered in the Sunnah (Prophet Mohammad’s teachings), and the views of Muslim juriscounsults (Islamic jurisprudential scholars).[7]

What the Islamic norms likely introduce is an amplified sense of cognizance of the constructive value of elderly and the possibilities inherent in maintaining a positive atmosphere within the environment of the aging, while also preserving self-esteem, safety, balance, and societal rapport.[8] As such, the Islamic objective regarding the elderly to endure an operative and synergetic correlation between the elderly and the general public, while reducing and preventing inactivity, segregation or social detachment.[9] Additionally, Islamic law is at the centre of legislation, providing most of the social values applied by Arab administrations and guiding social activism dedicated to the care of the elder.[10] Yet, remarkable variety exists across the individual nations, a diversity that mirrors dissimilarities in political systems, natural and economic resources, cultural traditions, demographic and socio-political primacies, and most recently, the geopolitical implications of the revolutionary waves of the regrettable 2011 Arab Spring.[11] Such multiplicity has prompted numerous attitudes and forms of estrangement from the classical family pattern, resulting alterations in the field of elder care in which these changes remain to work within three superseding features of the Arab region:


Islamic principles, moral and cultural standards, touching major pillars of the society, particularly marriage, co-residence, reproduction and rearing;
Innovation and socio-economic developments with the resulting outcomes of social change and amplified permanence by also more restricting chronic diseases, curbing the same important social pillars, but in various ways, and
Conflicts, wars, and the political turmoil or chaos in this region, generating discriminatory policies in some settings and pushing youth to migrate in others.[12]

In this domain, the Muslim community has a straightforward social hierarchy that places elders at the top, as they are highly valued, not only because they are a source of wisdom and experience, but also because of their special status in the eyes of God.[13] Hence, they are highly esteemed; their views and wishes are heeded and accommodated when possible.[14] Under Islamic elder law, it is mandatory for Muslims to show reverence at all times when cooperating with elders, especially if they have a familial relationship.[15] Culturally, families are led by the eldest male or female, who has the final decision on foremost family decisions and exercises a great deal of influence.[16] As Islamic religious perspective sheds light on societal value systems and ethical rules, this confirm the fact that faith and ethics endures to stand several canons comprising those related to ageing and senior’s care.

Based on this concise framework, this article examines what Islamic elder and human rights laws propose for the needs of the elderly. Part one inspects briefly theological concepts (discourse) on aging and old age. Part two discuss the maintenance of the elderly (parents) and their essential rights in the Islamic theory. Part three highlights an action plan (or model) of the regional future strategy on treating elderly in Muslim countries where positive law fails or otherwise cannot insure the basic care required by Islamic law, along with vital international human rights instruments. This section will track how Shari‘a law and reasoning in this arena can be a more fruitful alternative.  Finally, the paper offers conclusions on how the axiomatic view of Islamic elder law is in essence fashioned by religious theories, laws, and divine practice, via a critical discussion of these Islamic principles, that Islam constitutes an appropriate and comprehensive design for the care of elderly people, so much so that national statutes should strive to meet its criteria.


2        Legal Responsibility for Elder, Care in Islamic Law and Arab Law

The Qur’an provides a set of ethical terms which are ‘among the (precepts of) wisdom, which thy Lord has revealed to thee’.[17] As Professor Solomon Alexander Nigosian highlighted, ‘these resemble the Ten Commandments in the Bible and represents the fullest statement of the code of behaviour every Muslim must follow’.[18] One of the main teachings in this respect is to be kind, moral, and modest to one’s parents, as the Qur’an text stipulates plainly:

Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. Thy Lord hath decreed, that ye worship none save Him, and (that ye 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. And your Lord has commanded that you shall not serve (any) but Him, and goodness to your parents. If either or both of them reach old age with you, say not to them (so much as) ‘Ugh’ nor chide them, and speak to them a generous word. And, out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: ‘My Lord! Bestow on them thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood’. And lower unto them the wing of submission through mercy, and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little . . .[19]

Generally speaking, Islamic law as a spiritual and socio-legal order is founded on justice and compassion, and grants human dignity and egalitarianism among personalities irrespective of their faith, religion, language, colour, social status, race, sex, cultural values, or origin. Islam outlaws discrimination and xenophobia and this confirmed by various Qura’nic manuscripts and the Prophet Mohammad’s teachings.[20] Muslim scholars have argued theoretically that Islamic elder law fashioned within various ideologies focuses on elderly’s respect and honour, as there is no doubt that Šhari’a has given the elderly a special status This follows from the concepts that: (a) humans are honoured creatures and have an honourable status in Islam as stipulated by God’s law;[21] (b) the Muslim ummah (community) is the society of maslahh muresalahh ‘common consideration’ of public interest as a subordinate source of Islamic law, cooperation, and unity; as the Prophet Mohammad said: ‘None of you truly believes until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself;’[22] (c) aging beings have a high position and prestige before God if he obeys God’s commandments, as Mohammad (PBUH) asked: ‘O Messenger of God, who is the best of people?’ He said, ‘The one who lives a long life and does good deeds;’[23] (d) respecting and glorying older individuals, as he also said: ‘Part of glorifying God is honouring the grey-haired Muslim,’[24] and (e) conducts in which Muslim takes care of the elderly, as enjoining good action and decent treatment to parents as they are usually elderly, and the command to honour one’s parents is accompanied with the command to tawheed (believe) in God along with blessing one’s parents’ friends even after the parents have passed away.[25] Unlike the Western (non-Muslim) communities, this represents one of the main doctrinal and divine principles of Islamic elder law as when members of the Muslim community visit the family’s aging friends means comprising them in socio-historical continuum within society and put an end to the seclusion they may feel, which in turn condenses influence of the emotional, social, and mental changes that the elderly go through.[26]

Thus, based on the notion of the ‘duty’ paradigm and excessive spiritual growth in Islamic law, God asks that we not only pray for our elderly parents, but act with infinite sympathy and to be treated generously, modesty, and mercifully, with the same kindness and selflessness, as serving one’s parents and elderly is the second duty in Islam and it is their right to expect it.[27] In this respect, Islamic elder guidelines teach to treat elders with a sense of responsibility, leniency, and certain care, courtesy and respect in which the Qur’anic verses and the Sunnah views assured explicitly this moral and religious obligation.[28]

In addition to these main principles, Islamic law emphasizes that the Qur’an defines and condemns elder abuse and confirms that blessing and respecting one’s elder’s parents brings God’s mercy as a most beloved act to him. Violating this duty reflect a major ithm or zanb (sin) (and curse from the Prophet), as Shari‘a elder law recognized that the abuser of the elderly is not among the believers.[29] In the same vein, some scholars explained the notion of ‘functional age,’ as that old age is linked with a normally noticeable and assessable decline in physical and rational abilities.[30] Hence,  statements and written cases illustrates the magnificent Islamic code of ethics on caring elder; it’s humanistic and universal perspective; and comprehensiveness in living matters of human life.

It has been reported that the Prophet said, ‘If a young man honours an elderly on account of his age, God appoints someone to honour him in his old age’.[31] Within the intergenerational roles arranged by Islamic norms, the elderly hold a place of integrity and takes precedence over communal and supplementary divine acts. The following section will highlight the focal religio-legal Qur’anic and Sunnah scripts defining elderly’s basic rights especially (parenthoods).

Regarding the Arab world on elderly care, Arab nations have taken crucial collective and cooperative actions on the elder rights’ arena, by inaugurating several bodies committed to cultivating older people’s status and lives.[32] These institutions believe that older people play an active role in society, as they target to offer quality services to them while raising public, legal, and social awareness of elderly’s necessary needs, so they can endure engaging and active in the surrounding community.[33] The foremost dedications of these maintenance creations are to assist elders to overwhelmed difficulties in all economic, health, social, and rehabilitative life’s aspects of life endorse their social status in society and involve them in family and community life; teach the general folks on issues facing senior citizens and afford management and direction to their families, and advocate and campaign for their rights and endorse Islamic values on their care and human treatment and maintenance.[34]

Arab countries including Egypt, have taken other dynamic steps by issuing numerous international agreements in this field as, the Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam of 1993 (‘CDHR’), the Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights of 1981 (‘UIDHR’), and Arab Charter on Human Rights (2004) (‘Charter’).[35] It should be noted that the UIDHR is based on the Qur’anic texts and Sunnah instructions as this device offers diverse human rights such as the right to life, equality, education, and freedom, [and] proscription against impermissible [racism], the right to justice, . . . Most expressively this text stipulates and confirms that everyone shall be substantially supported and elderly in particular, shall be provided necessary care, [and elderly] mothers are entitled to special respect, care, and support from their families and communities.[36]

In the same vein, the Arab Charter is in orthodoxy with transnational human rights norms and contemporary humanitarian rights jurisprudence.  The Charter’s preamble recites its intent to apply the ‘eternal principles’ imparted by Šhari’a and other ‘divine religions’.[37]  The Agreement launches general rules on diverse aspects of human rights matters, such as equality, health, work, education rights . . . [among others] and stipulates that each member country shall ‘ensure the necessary protection and care for mothers, children, older persons and persons with special needs’.[38] Unfortunately, the rules of these global pacts on the protection of older people are few, broad, and not comprehensive. Even those accords that refer to Šhari’a as the pivotal source of their rules do not guarantee elderly’s essential and mandatory rights which are so strongly promoted by the Islamic standards.[39] This irregularity represents an enormous gap that occurs between Islamic law theoretical principles and their accurate legal [interpretation and] application in each country.[40]

In this regard, several Arabian constitutions and statutes (or by-laws) comprise some good rules to safeguard older people but have frequent misapplications of these rules such as the Algerian Constitutional Charter and the Algerian Family laws. Such mismanagements represent, for instance, a deficiency of residential care services and poor distribution of those that do exist.[41] For instance, the number of residential (nursing) care abilities in Egypt do not exceed 300, which is not adequate enough to face the needs of the growing older population.[42] Furthermore the current Bahraini Constitution, guarantee social security [solidarity] for its seniors nationals, by offering them with social treatment and health and medical insurance amenities, Bahrain has various employment and social insurance rulings that provide for older people and, a bill on the fortification of the rights of the elderly that would focus on ageing matters has been discoursed.[43]


3          Human Rights of the Elderly: Sources in Secular Law and Divine (Islamic) Law?

As regards to elderly rights, Article 83 of the Egyptian Constitutional Charter 2014 assures ageing rights and specifies ‘appropriate pensions to ensure them a decent standard of living’.  This constitutional provision reads:

The State shall guarantee the health, economic, social, cultural, and entertainment rights of the elderly people, provide them with appropriate pensions which ensure a decent life for them, and enable them to participate in public life. In its planning of public facilities, the State shall take into account the needs of the elderly. The State shall encourage civil society organizations to participate in taking care of the elderly people. All the foregoing is to be applied as regulated by Law.

Similarly, another provision within Article 17 cites the following legal and constitutional norm:

The State shall ensure that social insurance services are provided. All citizens who do not benefit from the social insurance system have the right to social security, in a manner that ensures a decent life in the event of being incapable to provide for themselves and their families, as well as in cases of incapacity to work, old age or unemployment. In accordance with Law, the State shall strive to provide suitable pensions to small farmers, agricultural workers and fishermen, and irregular labor. The funds of social insurance and pensions are deemed private funds that enjoy all aspects and forms of protection afforded to public funds. Those funds along with their returns are the rights of their respective beneficiaries; they shall be safely invested, and shall be managed by an independent entity in accordance with the Law. The State shall guarantee social insurance and pension funds.[44]

In view of that, the rights of elderly have great importance and a good deal under the Egyptian Constitution and Egyptian domestic laws, within the frame of economic and social justice ideologies and the reasonable distribution of wealth.[45] Likewise, it should be renowned that the most important legislative framework on elder care rights, issued by the Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs (‘MISA’) and other caring and official solidarity agencies in Egypt are, for example: Law No. 79 of 1975 [and its amendments] governs the establishment and operation of social insurance for civil servants, employees in private sector and in public enterprises, Laws No. 64 and 112 of 1980 regulating the operation of alternative social insurance systems under the supervision of Ministry of Insurance and Social Affairs and social insurance for casual and informal workers along many others.[46] As well, Egyptian social insurance regulations which governs most social insurance issues and care rights for elderly and provides for retirement pensions (social incomes) and the Egyptian Labor (employment) Law sets the retirement age at sixty and controls the employment relationship between employers and employees while the Egyptian Inheritance Law regulates elders’ inheritance rights according to the Islamic law principles and fiqh (jurisprudential) thought recognized values.[47]

As a socio-legal system, Islamic values forbid discrimination and bigotry based on belief, religion, language, colour, sex, social status, or any other reason, as fairness, impartiality, and equality standards should prevail in all acts, both among Muslims and with non-Muslims.[48] Right to respect and care of the parents is the central commitment on the children under Islamic family and elder laws.[49]


3.1       The Right to Respect and Maintenance (Sustainable Care Commitment)

Parents give their children numerous and countless favours. They provide protection, food, shelter to the newly born. The mother sacrifices her comfort to offer comfort to her children, and the father works very hard to provide for their physical, educational, and psychological needs.[50] Therefore, it is a sort of common courtesy that if the parents did all of these things for their children, they morally entitled to recompense and reward for their gifts and favours, especially in their old age as a form of holistic gratitude.[51]  According to the Qur’an, God ordered individuals to worship none but Him and to be benevolent to parents when they reach old age. Muslims are commanded not to say words of impudence or contempt to their parents, but rather to address them with terms of decency and honour and out of kindness to attend them with humility.[52] By the same token, decent treatment should to be extended to elder relatives, orphans, neighbours, companions, and the needy.[53] Muslim scholars said that ‘the caretaking of elderly parents is found to be morally and spiritually uplifting by Muslims’.[54] Some Muslim specialists have discussed the probable relation between the condition of age’s weakness and the dogmatic philosophies one holds, while others scholars debate that the age’s status results within a direct linkage to the ultimate state of frailty of body and mind as understood from the Qur’an.[55] Predominantly, scholars have argued that old age offers the individual an opportunity for self-purification and transformation.[56] This process gives a basis of knowledge, means that caring for ourselves has not served us, and any suffering of others that we can take upon ourselves becomes a medication to mollify and decrease the own attachment to the self.[57] Aggregating the care for others, as elderly and offering them happiness, joy, and merit, promotes their physical and social natures, so the abilities of that nature arise more prominently.[58]

Moreover, the Islamic rules treat the mother and father as equals and—with no hesitation—these perspectives in contrast to some radical Muslim’s understandings that favour one parent over the other.[59] The Prophet said ‘Curse be on him who finds either of his parents in old age and does not attain eternal bliss by serving them well’ and he added in a symbolic warning ‘None else but parents are their children’s heaven or hell’.[60] Additionally, Islam forbids Muslims to be rude, neglect, or vulgar to their elders, even if they are non-Muslims. No maltreatment should be done to parents even if they commit any excesses, unless they command sinfulness, as they are still parents and gave birth to them and brought up them by bearing the same pains and privations which are met by Muslim parents.[61] In this regard, the social utility and appreciation of the elderly upsurges with direct advantage to public community, while the ageing capability a positively involved and basically sustaining daily life that does away with the lethargy related to their age or emotional state of vulnerability and hopelessness often knowledgeable by their separate level.[62]


3.2       Duty of Obedience to Parents

Parents must be esteemed, loved, followed, and pleased in communication and dealings.   This encompasses attention, gentleness, and humanity to parents, entirely obeying and serving them in all deeds acceptable in Shari‘a.[63] Piety to parents is an ordinary character or feeling which must be reinforced by careful activities.[64] If they need financial assistance, children should give them access to their own fortune, sustaining them with the living costs, even if they are kafirs (agnostics/atheists), and provide them the best of their foodstuff and beverage.[65] Old age often makes the parents confrontational due to numerous factors, including physical sickness, medications for diseases, and others, but it is the adult children’s responsibility to be concerned and understanding. With decent children such support should come automatically and not even to be asked for.[66] Accordingly, it is prohibited to cause them any harm or become disobedient even if your parents commit any excesses due to old age or any other reason.[67] In this regard, John Esposito mentioned that Islam is almost fanatical with the notion of social equity and this encompasses to interfamilial relations as well.[68] One of Islamic law’s major pillars is the theory of haq as a societal definition not and individual one (where everybody’s rights are definite) and this encompasses to bad parenting too.[69] A parent who disregards to provide for her dependent child or tortures them in a physical or emotional custom is an aggressor-both against the child and against God too, thus, it is not allowed to even disinherit the natural children beyond a certain limit.[70]  It is a major ithm (sin) if any one misuses or abuses his own or another person’s parents.[71] The Prophet Mohammad confirmed that along with the ijma‘a (consensus) of the Muslim Sunni schools of fiqh (jurisprudential thoughts).[72]

In the meanwhile, numerous privileges are due to parents after their passing, including dua’a (requesting from God) and istigfhar (praying) for forgiveness, pardon, and sympathy for them; sending gifts and rewards to them in the form of altruistic acts of worship (e.g., charities and donations) and on their behalf; making regular calls and visits their friends and relatives in a lovely and modest mode during life (e.g., holiday season) and helping them wherever possible; resolving any disputes concerning their diyoun’s (unpaid loans and debts); fulfil any oaths or promises that they made; and securing the permitted wasiyyah and awqwaf (legacies and endowments either in cash or assets) they have made to anyone in their life.[73]


3.3       Financial and Legacy Rights

Islamic law commends an ethical duty for children to afford substantial support for their elder parents when they are in need. Likewise, Islamic law enables parents to their children’s fortune and monies, so long as no damage or mischief comes from taking it.[74] In terms of financial obligations, the foremost principle in Islamic elder law is the policy of ‘absolute ownership of property’. Customary property privileges contain the rights to practice control over one’s property, to use it for one’s pleasure, and to satisfy rights in it by way of handover.[75]  The model of birth rights to familial property, which has been the keystone of some societies, was never documented in Islamic property law as it is supposed that everything belongs to God.[76]

In addition, under Islamic law of mirath (inheritance), both parents are among the primary heirs of their children, and they cannot be excluded by each other or by any other heir.[77]  In the major schools of Islamic fiqh, it is stated that in the nonexistence ‘of the mother, a maternal grandmother becomes the heir and successor, and in the absence of both parents, a paternal grandfather becomes the heir and successor’.[78]  The Islamic law of inheritance takes notable care of aging blood relatives by giving them ansbah (dividends) in the decedent’s assets, even at the cost of extreme division.[79]  Furthermore, the Qur’anic commands on the law of legacy guarantee the reorganization of wealth among many folks, and consequently, monies and real possessions do not endure concentrated [in the possession] or to be in that hand of a few individuals for a long period of time–in less than one-third of assets (shares) prior to distribution–of the rest of shares.[80] Parents have a right to conservation and emotional sustenance, regardless of whether they are followers of Islam, and there is no order of priority between maternal and paternal descendants, with each side having the same rights to maintenance.[81]


3.4       Equality and Work Rights

Recent development in the Islamic world create an atmosphere that is vastly obsequious to elderly. According to the authentic Sunnah teachings, the Prophet Mohammad specified that the oldest in a gathering should lead the spiritual prayers if all in the group are equal in their public knowledge and wisdom.[82] Culturally, Arab-Muslim (and non-Muslim) elders are also to be assisted first, even within daily performances, as it is a traditional custom that esteem (e.g., respect, and the best seats are given to them or other notables).[83] Similarly, Islamic labour law has valued the significance of work for everyone, and this is equally the case for the elderly [or senior citizens]’. For instance, the Prophet is reported to have said: ‘Nobody has ever eaten a better meal than that which one has earned by working with one’s own hands’.[84]

It should be noted that the only adequate standards of preference in employment are the meritocratic qualifications and credentials an employee holds. One of the furthermost imperative norms about work in Islamic law is that occupation affairs are based on union or [b]rotherhood interactions, which confirmed clearly by Mohammad.[85] This means those managers and owners should establish sound and sensible working hours, taking the elderly and their health conditions into account.[86] Also, Islam has stringent guidelines on swift payment of fair salaries and incomes, and just wages should be at least at a level that would assist workers to satisfy all their and their families’ crucial necessities in a humanitarian way, as the Prophet said: ‘Give the worker his wages before his sweat dries up’.[87] Therefore, Islam provides for the right to equal control between elderly males and females in profession (or service) and in civic (society) participation as confirmed by the Qur’an and Mohammad, as women, especially the elderly—as they are described by wisdom at this time period—at his time could not only be present in Muslims’ meetings but also debates problems and argue issues openly with him, and other men, defend their welfares and basic rights, take part in policy (and decision) making, and even serve in the army. [88]


3.5       Social Justice, Solidarity, Securities, Retirement, and Insurance

Collective action, mutual assistance, and collaboration, are the main divine philosophies and pious norms in which relationships in the Muslim ummah, including the elderly, should be based according to the notion of a harmonious family.[89] With regard elder care, Islamic law urges Muslims to make their living expenses or income through shari‘ii or halal (legitimate) means, and outlaws some sorts of activities, among them fasad, rashwa, istglal al-nfouz (corruption, bribery, and power’s misuse or peddling in influence), ribba (interest), gharar (excessive uncertainty), and ihtikar (monopoly of essential commodities which are required by general public all the time).[90]

Generally speaking, according to its notions of social justice and accountability, Islam forbids cheating and trespassing on other people’s properties by aggressive or forcible acts. If such actions are committed, it is the role of the state to put things right according to norms of accountability and rule of law.[91] It should be stressed that social solidarity is one of the ideologies that Islam has recognized to empower human beings to lead decent lives; hence, Islam has laid down several systems of religious contributions to achieve social solidarity. To define human social solidarity under Islamic law in terms of subsistence, functioning, development, and sustention of poor people, especially the elderly, Muslim scholars have argued that:


Social Solidarity in Islam is one of the bases of society through which it can achieve its permanent happiness, goodwill, security, unity, and peace. Simply, each member of society should help those [in needs] so that they can lead even the least decent life and meet their basic needs. This includes all members of society whatever their religion or nationality [. . .] Solidarity is categorized into financial and moral solidarity [and] . . .  Financial solidarity includes financial assistant, aiming at making the poor reach the limits of ‘financial independence’ or ‘prosperity’.[92]

On the other hand, ethical cohesion represents the most significant paradigm of solidarity as human needs are not only economic ones, but also comprise various forms, such as shura (consultation), generosity, advice, alliance, and consolation, among others.[93] Even though ‘social solidarity’ and ‘social security’ seems alike, there is a clear difference between them. Social Security is the leader’s responsibility, as well as the government’s obligation to its nationals to enable them, at least, to reach the minimum standard of life, to have access to essentials of life, and to offer assistance to all who need it, especially the aging.[94] Accordingly, social solidarity is one of the essential human rights assured by Islamic law for decades. The right to decent life is one of the cornerstones laid down by Islam as necessary to bequeath social solidarity’s values to future generations.[95]

Islamic law has found several techniques to enrich social solidarity, as zakāh (regular commercial duty), al-waqf (endowment as incremental aid), voluntary charities, blood money, kaffarah (expiation or compensation) [a punishment upon persons who commit ithms ‘sins’ and can be fasting, poor’s feeding, assisting elderly], and wa‘ad (vow or promise, to perform a legal act).[96] All these forms contribute to asocial solidarity fund to help poor relatives and the elderly. It can take the form of monthly allowance, deposit to start a project along with the social solidarity committees should be formed in districts so that the rich folks can frequently help the poor, handicaps, wretched, orphans, and elderly.[97] Such forms don’t diminish contributions basic human’s satisfaction, they are to touch on the limit of financial independence and prosperity.[98] Moreover, it should be human development-oriented, instead of a motive for dependence. It should offer at least some help to one individual or family by affording them access to income and other resources that enable them to achieve their self-sufficiency (social unity’s basis).

Zakāh as a tool of takaful (socio-economic) justice plays a fundamental role in improving joint liability and social security. It is a mandatory commercial duty and tax on Muslims of a specific nisab (amount), to be directed toward specific recipients.[99] It was historically one of the ruler’s commitments, and represented in the bit al-mal (public treasury). It was effective in battling actual poverty, enhancing social harmony, hiding envy and resentment felt by the poor, and in assisting the elderly by providing additional access to employment opportunities.[100] Thus, zakāh was not just money to feed the poor, but also a tool for alleviating poverty, providing access to employment, bestowing economic and social justice system, and boosting economic expansion.[101]

On the other hand, waqf under Islamic law is a dutifully motivated contribution of a property that engenders revenues, and is managed and regulated by Islamic law.[102] It is ‘the detention of the [c]orpus from the ownership of any person and the gifts of its income or usufruct either presently or in the future, to some charitable purpose ‘in charity of poor or other good objects’.[103] It can be devoted to serving economically unable persons to marry, feed kids and children, help the sick, disabled, orphans and elderly, and to cover the expenses of the needy, and it is subject to the supervision and control of governmental institutions, where ministries and public offices were established in Muslim nations to regulate and govern the waqf properties.[104]

One final thought in that regard is that the Prophet Mohammad expressly declared that one must do everything possible for the elder friends, companions, and associates of one’s parents after their death.[105] In general, he told his followers that the ‘aged and the infirm among their neighbours were to enjoy rights additional to those of the general Muslim populace’.[106] In the same vein, ‘neighbours’ is a term that means those who are not family, and it includes, for instance, associates and companions.[107]


4          Action Plan for Elder Care in Middle Eastern/Arab Countries


The theoretical and practical frameworks for the provincial strategy on elder care and needs in Muslim countries based on the Islamic principles necessities to be built upon three fundamental principles; (a) contribution of elderly in the development’s process; (b) proceeding health and well-being into old age; and (c) guaranteeing an facilitating and supportive environment.[108] Procedures and programs that promote lifelong health, counting disease prevention, assistive technology, therapeutic and rehabilitative care, mental health amenities, diminish disability levels related to old age and lead to budgetary savings.[109] Creation of a supportive environment for the elderly requires in the Middle East, especially in countries recognizing Islamic law as their main source of legislation, action in a diversity of sectors, along with health and social services, as education, employment, finance, social security, housing, transport, justice, and rural and urban development and these sectors can articulate ‘age-friendly’ rules and enabling programs for older persons, comprising those with disabilities.[110] Social and health scholars have recommended to Muslim governments that a fundamental strategy in this area should contain: (a) constant periodic review and updating of the district’s (subnational levels) strategy to propose suitable ways of health and socioeconomic support within the context of the predominant social and cultural norms (values); (b) formation and preservation of an up-to-date and comprehensive statistical database for an evidence-based decision-making process on  elder care at country level; (c) launch of multidisciplinary regional and domestic nets among agencies, organizations, academic associations interested in training of primary health care and community care workers; (d) provision of proper knowledge and skills required for self-care, health safety, and promotion for aging (their families), and (e) sustenance of research and training in this field.[111]

In this regard, the framework of the strategy needs to have ‘active ageing’ as the crucial objective for elder care based on Islamic values.  However, most Arab countries merely pretend the application of Islamic law—with zero knowledge of the main principles of this law and its fundamentals. With aging, the most common social and bodily issues facing the elderly in the Arab World are for instance, the ability to do daily actions (functional ability) failures to some point in every individual. Moreover, elder folks, on average, incline to have more syndromes and disabilities than do fresher younger persons along with the fluctuations that go along with aging are more than just deviations in health.[112] Social issues as living arrangements work’ sort) influence an older person’s risk and experience of illness.[113] Clinicians often do what is called a social history to assist them and other members of the health care team assess a person’s care needs and social support, as they always use the social history to help them, for example, familial, financial, and marital status, living measures, work history, education, and history of substance use and legal issues.[114]

The foremost pillars of this strategy should include updated research and database, human resource growth, and provision of services’ quality at a reasonable cost and partaking of the beleaguered populace in all strategy’s phases.[115]  Therefore, the constituents of this strategy as developed by scholars and researchers in the field must include:


an iterative process of plan and strategy design;
a conception of health care as the keystone of energetic and active seniors and the improvement of human resources for quality health care;
a commitment to robust contribution of the elderly in society;
improvement of human resources of various sectors (public and private);
establishment and keep of multidisciplinary networks to expedite elderly’s care;
research, surveys, studies, and database formation with skilful trainers, and finally
raising the social and public cognizance campaigns of the inhabitants to dynamic ageing along with NGOs’ assistance as visible initiatives.[116]


Despite privileges granted to various institutions to protect the elderly in the Arab world from intrusion, one of the main problems facing the Arab world in that area, is that these foundations still suffer from weaknesses in terms of their freedom and lack of complete political impartiality. Therefore, one of the main weaknesses of these governmental organizations is their subordination to the executive branch.[117]

Likewise, abusing pensioners’ materialistic and professional experiences, plays a vital role in contributing to the social growth process.[118]  Law No. 84 of 2002 in Egypt on governing the work of Non-Governmental Organizations (‘NGOs’) and private institutions for example, recognized senior citizens to share in the NGOs’ administration, run strategies and projects, using their professional skills and abilities.[119] Also, Egyptian laws prohibit and condemn committing any vicious acts or abuse against all citizens comprising elderly, as they accomplish an honoured and privileged prestige within their families in Egyptian society based on the spiritual (Islamic) beliefs and ethical and moral conducts (consolidation ties among family members).[120]

Under the umbrella of the Egyptian current laws (such as, employment law and Social Solidarity) and others, all kinds of mistreatments are proscribed and penalized.[121] The current laws stipulates that ‘physical abuse against a senior citizen entails any use of physical force (e.g., hitting, striking, beating, pushing, shaking, pinching, kicking, slapping and burning) likely to result in injury, physical pain or impairment will  be punished by the Egyptian Penal Code regarding the penalties of serious bodily injuries or manslaughter’.[122]

The Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice (‘MSSJ’) in cooperation with the National Centre for Social and Criminological Research (‘NCSCR’) are in charge of conducting social, legal, physical, and philosophical research, inquires, and field studies on senior people’s performances, to determine the most significant complications and issues they may face, as well as, identifying their needs, welfare services, and legal rights so that decision and policy makers can study the modern status of institutional welfare to determine any negative features.[123]

Preparation of national (Islamic) program for nations who do not have one, and adjustment of predominant plans in line with variations in innovative technology and intellectual, should be the first footstep.[124] In addition, one momentous pillar of this approach should be to inspire the robust involvement of the older people in society, as this simplifies the active contribution of the aging to economic enlargement (containing formal and informal work and voluntary actions), according to their individual needs, preferences and capacities and according to each country’s level of socioeconomic evolution.[125]


5          Arab Storm? Prospects for Future National Policy on the Elderly (Conclusion and Practical (or) Policy Recommendations)


To sum up, however Islamic (Shari‘a) law affords a comprehensive system for caring for the elderly, taking into account their residential care – as most care still provided in the family based on religious duties in Muslim countries – and their human rights through several policies and sincere and decent practice. A domestic policy for the aging needs to take into consideration the following factors: the country’s demography, the influence of the elderly in societal institutions,[126] the status quo of the elderly in all aspects of life, the tendency of change in family structure[127], the economic stance and the cultural moorings of the society. The national policy must have a command which is in tune with the country’s constitution and regular laws and its future visualization and must be all-encompassing, (i.e. help in building a society for all ages, specifically elderly, rather than segregate or discriminate them as a susceptible group waiting for sustenance). The basic areas have to focus on: (a) financial security (an old-age pension for work time); (b) access to reasonable and worth health care (primary health care oriented, ambulatory and institutional mental health care; subsidized specialist care, drugs, aids, shelter and appliances, accessibility of affordable health insurance, cost, quality, etc…); (c) destitute associations; (d) obtainability of scope for formal, non-formal education and training; (e) social security and solidarity (Islamic collaterals) by the state and civil society groups; (f) encouragement of NGOs to assist the government in elderly life and property’s protection; (g) use of press and mass media in swaying society for supporting aging and involving them more in the community services, and (i) creation of a national association to give them the strength to influence policy and programs meant for them along with a mechanism to implement and monitor the impact of the policy.

It should be noted that Western cultures have forgotten the lessons from Islamic law regarding the rights of the elderly. Some young and adult children are impolite or offensive towards parents and show disobedience. They may drive them out from their homes and put them in ‘senior citizens homes’ when they grow old and cannot spare the free time to attend to their needs. The most significantly issue is that the busy Western life has led to a break-up of the family unit.[128]  The obligations of children towards parents are not found in Islam only, but in all other faiths and religions.[129] The Islamic perspective on elderly care is genuinely rooted in the revealed texts of the tradition and as such is divinely based, aimed at instilling devoutness and morality, while also providing instruction on the principles of human dignity and appreciation of the value of life appreciation. While fostering religious cohesion and sustenance, these norms are not static, but rather dynamic.

[1] The Holy Qur’an: English Translation of the Meanings and Commentary (2002), at 4:36 [An-Nisaa’], [hereinafter Qur’an].

[2] See Abla Mehio Sibai and Rouham Yamout, ‘Family-Based Old-Age Care in Arab Countries: Between Tradition and Modernity’, in Hans Groth  and Alfonso Sousa-Poza (eds.), Population Dynamics in Muslim Countries: Assembling the Jigsaw (New York: Springer, 2012), at 63-64 (explaining the tendencies in ageing and older-adult care in Arab cultures, reviewing  the social and health policies of Arab governments to the growing needs of their older people while capitalizing on prevailing systems of social resources and capitals).

[3] IbIbid. But for many Muslims, the notion of placing elderly, especially parents in facilities is still unbelievable, seen as a direct breach of a Qur’anic duty to care for older people.. See also Lynette Clemetson, ‘U.S. Muslims Confront Taboo on Nursing Homes’, The N.Y. Times, 13 June 2006, (last visited 28 April 2015).

[4] IbIbid. In this regard, Mahmood defines the Muslim family as follows: ‘A Muslim family primarily includes the self, the spouse and the immediate ascendants and descendants—the position of none of these constituents being within the intergenerational roles prescribed by Islam, the elderly hold a place of honor. . . ‘For a fascinating definition(s) of the Muslim Family, see Tahir Mahmood, ‘Law and the Elderly in the Islamic Tradition—Classical Precepts and Modern Legislation’, Islamic & Comp. L. Q. IX (1989) 33.

[5] IbIbid. See generally William J. Wood, ‘Advance Directives: Religious, Moral, and Theological Aspects’, 7 Elder L.J. (1999) 457.

[6] Mahmood, supra note 5, at 42.

[7] For further explanation on Islamic law’s concept and its sources, see M. Cherif Bassiouni and Gamal M. Badr, ‘The Shari’ah: Sources, Interpretation, and Rule-Making’, UCLA J. Islamic & Near E. L. 1  (2002)135, 138–139; Khaled Abou El Fadl, ‘Way of Truth and Justice: Understanding Islamic Law’, ABC Religion & Ethics [Opinion], 13 Sep. 2014 (defining Islamic law, its sources, and discussing the interpretation’s methodologies of the schools of the Islamic jurisprudence),,  retrieved 28 Apr. 2015). (‘Islamic law is derived from two distinct sources: the Qur’an and the traditions of the Prophet [and] Sunna is the orally transmitted record of what the Prophet said or did during his lifetime, as well as various reports about the Prophet’s companions’.).

[8] Mahmood, supra note 5.

[9] Ibid.; Sibai  & Yamout, supra note 3. This rises and provokes positive expressive states, strengthens senses of responsibility towards parents, validates deep acknowledgement of parent’s care, and grows the loyalty’s feelings.

[10] Ibid. Islam pursues to offer normative social values that exists in accordance with families’ perceptions and sustains positive interface holding mutual interests on both family and civic society towards ageing’s treatment.

[11] See generally Fawaz A. Gerges, The New Middle East: Protest and Revolution in the Arab World,( Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2013) (examining the Arab popular uprisings, discussing thoroughly reflections on the causes, on the domestic, regional, and international politics of the Middle East and North Africa, analyzing political authority’s crises and new sorts of mobilization (communication technology) and activism (youth movements)).

[12] See Sibai & Yamout, supra note 3, at 64. See also Chibli Mallat, Introduction to Middle Eastern Law (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press , 2009), which provides an introduction to the laws of the Middle East, defining the term ‘Middle Eastern law,’ dwelling on Islamic law as the ‘common law’ of the Middle East by examining legislative reform in family  and elder laws and the women’s status in the current legal system.

[13] Clemetson, supra note 4. See generally Claudia Gaspar, ‘Aging Muslim Communities’, World Muslim Congress, 30 Apr. 2007, , last visited  28 April 2015.

[14] Ibid. See also Abdul-Rahman Al-Sheha, Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions, Dar Foundation,, at 2, last visited 28 April 2015: ’The application of the individual and social principles of the third trend, when guided by the perfect revealed law from Allah in the Qur’an and Sunnah, will definitely make humanity happier and more prosperous. [A]pplication of these principles will enable the society to achieve peace and security’.

[15] Joseph A. Islam, Parents, Qur’an’s Message, , last visited 28 April 2015.

[16] Ibid. This area of research would be of advantage to scholars, chiefly health specialists, therapists, and social workers on cultural, ethical, and religious values revolving around treatment of elderly’s parents. Current studies viewing that religiosity trainings momentous influence on the psychological well-being of elderly and results in lessening some depressive symptoms, an overall improved life’s quality, and a lower aggression and rebelliousness’s rates.

[17] Qur’an, at Al-Israa, [17:22]. It reads: ‘Take not with Allah another object of worship; or thou (O man!) wilt sit in disgrace and destitution. Set not up with Allah any other god (O man) lest thou sit down reproved, forsaken. Do not associate with Allah any other god, lest you sit down despised, neglected’.

[18] See Solomon Alexander Nigosian, Islam: The Way of Submission, Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1987), at 117.

[19] Ibid., Qur’an, at [17:23 & 24]. Professor Nigosian is an Egyptian/Canadian Theological professor and was a minister of the Armenian Evangelical Church and a member of the Armenian community in Toronto. For further information about his profile, see

[20] See Radwa S. Elsaman and Mohamed A. ‘Arafa, ‘The Rights of the Elderly in the Arab Middle East: Islamic Theory versus Arabic Practice’, Marquette Elder’s Advisor L. Rev. 14  (2012) 2, at 9-12 (examining how Islamic law provides for the needs of the elderly population, its approach on the essential care rights of the elderly, and elaborates on the different systems of elderly’s protection in the Arab countries).

[21] Ibid., Qur’an, at Al-Israa, [17:70].

[22] Ibid., at Qur’an, at al-Fath, [48:29] & [al-Balad 90:17-18]. In the same vein, the Prophet said: ‘The likeness of the believers in their mutual love, mercy and compassion is that of the body; if one part of it complains, the rest of the body joins it in staying awake and suffering fever’. Sahih Muslim, Hadith No.2586 & Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No.13 (describing the believers as being like a single body).

[23] See Sahih Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith No.1899 and See also, ibid., at Sahih Muslim, No. 2682.

[24] Sunan Abuo Dawood, Hadith(s) Nos.4843 and 4053. It has been reported that an old man came wanting to see the Prophet and the people did not make way for him. The Prophet said: ‘He is not one of us who does not show mercy to our young ones and respect our old ones’. Ibid., at Al-Tirmidhi, No. 1565.

[25] Ibid., Qur’an, at [17:23]. Further, it has been reported that the Prophet asked ‘Which deed is most beloved to God?’ He said, ‘Prayer offered on time’. He said, ‘Then what?’ He said, ‘Then honoring one’s parents’. Ibid., at Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No.527. Also, the Prophet reported: ‘Part of honoring (one’s parents) is to keep in touch with your father’s friend’. Ibid.

[26] See C.P. Chaulk, ‘Preventive Health Care in Six Countries: Models for Reform?’, 15 Health Care Finance Rev. (1994) 4, at 7-19, (‘International systems are frequently offered as models for health care reform. This study, focusing on preventive services for children and pregnant women in six industrialized countries, finds that a broad range of preventive services can be provided through health care systems with divergent financing and cost containment, utilizing multiple entry points into the health care system, and employing targeted programs for high-risk patients . . ‘.).

[27] See generally Caring between Generations: Islam against Elder Abuse, Wisdom Global Islamic Mission, 15 June  2014, , last retrieved 28 April 2015: ‘Elder abuse is a single or repeated act, or lack of appropriate action, occurring within any relationship where there is an expectation of trust which cause harm or distress to an old person’ says WHO, 2002. It can be of various forms: physical, which may include beating, burning, spitting on, restraining using rope, belts, drugs and other chemicals; emotional, which include verbal and non-verbal behavior affecting self-esteem or dignity; financial, which includes theft, fraud, forgery, extortion sales of assets, wrongful use of power of attorney; sexual, including assault, harassment or exploitation; neglect, which might be the worst of all, includes intentional or unintentional failing to meet the needs; and systematic, which include rules, regulations, policies of discrimination. Various organizations under UN have adopted plans of action to solve the problem of elder people . . ‘.

[28] Ibid. See also ‘How Muslims ‘Should’ Treat Their Parents’, Zaufishan (3 Nov. 2010),, last visited 28 April 2015.

[29] Ibid. The Qur’an, describes this stage of life as ‘infirm old age’ while creating the virtual quality of old age regarding divine ruling as found in the realism that some die young while others grow older to acquire wisdom; determined by Divine will. See, ibid., e.g., Qur’an, at [Maryam 19:8 & Ghafir 40:67].

[30] Isma‘il ‘Izzat, Al-Shaykhukhah [Elderly Phase], Wakalat Al-Matbu‘at Press (Kuwait 1983), at 17 (on file with author). The popular opinion in Islamic law refers in general practice to definite personal faces as physical faintness, greying hair (being a sign of ascendancy of religious stature), amnesia, and fragility.

[31] Ibid., Qur’an, at Al-Israa, supra note 18. See Ibid., at Sahih Al-Tirmidhi, supra note 24.

[32] See generally William B. Ward and Mustafa Z. Younis, Steps Toward a Planning Framework for Elder Care in the Arab World, Springerbriefs in Aging, Vol. VII, (New York: Springer, 2013), 55 (2013), which elaborates on the elder care literature of the Arab countries, examines steps toward planning a framework for improving elder health, quality life, training issues, and health care in the Arab world via (program assessment and planning), Arab world elder demographics; quality of life issues; demand for services; training issues and capacity).

[33] Ibid.

[34] Ibid. For example,  the Qatar Foundation for Elderly People Care (‘IHSAN’),

[35] Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21.

[36] See Universal Islamic Declaration of Human Rights, 21 Dhul Qaidah 1401, Sept. 19, 1981, available at; Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam, 5 Aug. 1990, available at, and Council of the League of Arab States, Arab Charter on Human Rights, 23 May 2004, at, last visited 20 Nov. 2015.

[37] Ibid.

[38] See International Bill of Human Rights (A/RES/3/217, 10 Dec. 1948), at Arts. 22 & 25, (last visited Nov. 20, 2015). See also Ann Elizabeth Mayer, ‘Universal versus Islamic Human Rights: A Clash of Cultures or a Clash with a Construct?’, Mich. J. Int’L. L. 15 (1994): 307, 329). In this regard, this bill declares that:  ‘Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality. Everyone has the right to . . . and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control’.

[39] See Al-Sheha, supra note 15.

[40] Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21, at 32.

[41] See People Dem. Repub. Algeria Const., 28 Nov. 1996, at Arts. 29, 31, 50, 51, 54, 55, 56, 59, & 69.

[42] Mayer, supra note 36.

[43] Const. Kingdom of Bahrain, 14 Feb. 2002, at Arts. 1, 2, & 4. For further debate on the discussion of a law (Protecting Rights of the Elderly), see The National Report Bahraini Human Rights Ministry and Social Development (2009) (discussing the efforts on elderly issues and the residential care difficulties in Bahrain along with some legal regulations governs elderly’s development programs and harsh punishments in case of their abuses),, last retrieved 20 Nov. 2015). In addition, Kuwait is considered to be one of the most developed Arab countries to have taken steps to promote elder rights, in part as it has a wide-ranging health program as elderly are provided with free in-home health services along with a [detailed] law regarding their social care. See ‘Afasy: Kuwait is One of the World’s Developed Countries in Protecting The Elderly’, Alrai Journal (3 Oct. 2010), (citing Law No. 11 of 2007, which establishes the National Committee for the Elderly).

[44] Constitution of the Arab Republic of Egypt, 18 Jan. 2014, at, at Arts. 53  and 83.

[45] Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21.

[46] Such as for instance, Law No. 54 of 1975 [and its amendments] on the establishment and operation of occupational voluntary private pensions plans in Egypt and its tax treatment (Specific bylaw regulates asset management of pension funds); Law No. 108 of 1976 regulates the creation and operation of a specific model for employers and self-employed-persons, and Law No. 50 of 1978 prescribes regulations governing social insurance for migrant workers and Law No. 61 of 1981 on comprehensive social insurance issues.

[47] See generally, Mohamed ‘Arafa, ‘What’s New in the Residential Care of the Elderly in the Arab and Islamic World? The Case of Egypt’, Helen Meenan, Nicola Rees, and  Israel Doron (eds.),  Towards Human Rights in Residential Care for Older Persons: International Perspectives (Abingdon: Routledge, 2016). Islamic (Sharie‘a) law has its own distinctive processes of identifying and developing legal norms. The role of jurists in framing rules of law is also unusual in Islamic law, in large part because it is both a religion and a means toward establishing a legal and social order in civil and criminal matters. As such, it comprises rules concerning devotional obligations as well as rules that create a comprehensive and integrated guide to all aspects of political, economic, national, and even international affairs.  Islamic law has a great influence on the legal and political systems of many countries with mixed Islamic and civil law systems, in particular in the Middle East and in South Asia. Islamic law is, therefore, studied throughout the world, and increasingly seen as a conditio sine qua non for the study of law in comparative context and as Egypt is a civil law countries applied the Napoleonic civil written (European) codes and apply only Islamic norms in inheritance and family issues.

[48] In this regard, Prophet Mohammad said, ‘No Arab has superiority over a white person and no white person has superiority over an Arab; no black person has superiority over a white person and no white person has any superiority over a black person. The criterion of honor in the sight of God is righteousness and honest living’. See Qur’an, 49:13, at Al-Hujurat & Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Hadith No. 24204.

[49] In other words, Islam sets out numerous spiritual, moral, and legal processes to tolerate just treatment and clemency replicating indispensable values.

[50] Islam, supra note 16. It should be noted that the Qur’an ‘design a scheme of material and moral defense for the elderly based on the family structure’.

[51] Ibid. See also e.g., Ahmed, Rights of Parents, Haq Islam (Apr. 12, 2009),, last visited 30 Apr. 2015.

[52] Ibid. See also Qur’an, supra note 18.

[53] Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21, at 12-14.  Accordingly, children are banned to reproach, belie, or reject or cause any inconvenience to their parents and also ordered to note their manners in addressing other’s parents.

[54] Arshad Khan, Islam, Muslims, and America: Understanding the Basis of their Conflict (New York: Algora Pub.,  2003), at 196.

[55] Ibid., Qur’an, at [At-tin 95:4-6].

[56] Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21. It should be noted that during war or conflict’s times, elderly cannot be killed, and prisoners with their distinct position entail kind behaviour according to Qur’anic texts and Sunnah guidelines.

[57] Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche, Becoming a Bodhisattva in Modern Times: Exchange as the Key: Stages of the Practice (Part 2), Seminar 2009 Vershire, Vermont, 29 May  2013, , last visited 20 Nov. 2015.

[58] Ibid.

[59] Ibid. See Islam, supra note 16; See also, ibid., at Ahmad ibn Hanbal, supra note 33.

[60] Ibid., at Sunan Aboū-Dawood, Hadith No.4884 & Sahih Muslim, Hadith No.6189.

[61] Ibid., at Ahmed, supra note 36.

[62] Ibid.

[63] Ibid. It should be noted that Islam bans kids to show anger or even to raise their voices in front of elderly parents.

[64] Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21, at 14-15.

[65] Qur’an shows an excellent example of obedience of Prophet Ismail. It said ‘he said, ‘O my son, indeed I have seen in a dream that I [must] sacrifice you, so see what you think’. He said, ‘O my father, do as you are commanded. You will find me, if Allah wills, of the steadfast’. Ibid., Qur’an, at [Al-Safat, 37:102-107].

[66] See I. A. Arshed, Parent-Child Relationship in Islam, Islam 101, Sociology, (1919, Valleria Courts, Sugarland. Tx 77479), (last retrieved Apr. 30, 2015).

[67] See Akramulla Syed,’ Rights of Parents in Islam, Rights of Parents in Islam, Status of Parents in Islam, 5 May 2011, (‘Humanity and ethics demand that…safeguard these two jewels (our mother and father) by exhibiting goodness towards them while they are alive, and by means of charity and goodly remembrance after their death . . ‘.).

[68]  See generally John L. Esposito, The Future of Islam (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013).

[69] Ibid.

[70] This issue related to the notion of punishment/discipline as there is no positive punishment/discipline as there are destructive significances to enforce devotion to the rules.

[71] The Prophet Mohammad said in one of his teachings, ‘Fear Allah and treat your children fairly (with equal justice)’. See Sahih Bukhari & Muslim.

[72] It has been narrated that the Prophet said: ‘It is one of the greatest sins that a man should curse his parents’. It was asked (by the people), (…!), How does a man curse his parents?’ The Prophet said, ‘The man abuses the father of another man and the latter abuses the father of the former and abuses his mother’. Ibid., at ibn Hanbal, supra note 33. Generally speaking, the Prophet Mohammad said, ‘God has forbidden you: (a) to be undutiful to your mother; . . ‘. Ibid., at Al-Bukhari, supra note 23, Hadith No.3:6.

[73] Ibid., at Ahmed, supra note 36. Also, the Prophet said, ‘The pleasure of God is in the pleasure of a father and the displeasure of God in the displeasure of a father’. See also Reza Asgari, Hassan Reza Khalaji, and Zabbih Motahari Khah, ‘Parents’ Rights after their Death from the View Point of Islam’, Procedia: Social & Behavioral Sciences  31 (2012): 580-583, 00000aacb35f&acdnat=1423032860_79e1eae6fe915e74a8826e4b0b487de8.

[74] It has been narrated that: A man came to the Prophet and said, ‘My father is taking all my wealth’. He said, ‘You and your wealth belong to your father. Your children are among the best of your earnings, so eat from your wealth’. Sunan Ibn Mājah, Hadith No. 2380.

[75] Mahmood, supra note 5, at 184–85.

[76] Afzal-Ur-Rahman, Muslim Educational Trust, Economic Doctrines of Islam, Vol. II 208–12 (1980).

[77] See Ahmad Ibrahim, ‘Islamic Concepts and Land Law in Malaysia’, in

Ahmad Ibrahim and Judith Sihombing,  The Centenary of the Torrens System, (Singapore: Malayan Law Journal, 1989)  at 189: ‘While Islam therefore gives the right of benefit, sale and purchase and even inheritance of land to the individual, the absolute ownership of land is given to Allah and from Him to the State or the community’.

[78] Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21, at 17-18.

[79] Ibid. For further discussion about the inheritance Islamic jurisprudence, see generally Mohd Ridzuan Awang, The Islamic Inheritance Law (Faraid): The Manifestation of Comprehensive Inheritance Management in Islam (2008), (explaining the sources of this law, its reformation, and its general policies governing succession).

[80] Ibid.

[81] See generally Ashraf Ali, People’s Rights in Islam, 1st ed. (Al-Naffe Marketing , 2009), which provides various human rights’ discourse such as elderly parent’s rights and the wet-nurse, neighbor and travelling companion’s rights.

[82] Ahmed, Social Manners with the Elderly, Haq Islam (1 Jun. 2010), (citing Shaykh Abdul-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, Islamic Manners (2001)).

[83] Ibid., at 25. Respecting elders ‘is so important that the Prophet made it a part of respecting and venerating Allah.  To ignore it is a gross misbehaviour’. Ibid., at 29-30.

[84] See, e.g., Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21, at 24 (giving a practical example and case of the importance and dignity of work).

[85] Ibid. See also, Ibid., at Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 2383. See also generally Rafik Beekun, The Leadership Process of Muhammad [PBUH] From Hadith Sources,(The Islamic Workplace , 2006),, last visited  30 Apr. 2015).

[86] In other words, Islamic law establishes a just and cordial relationship with employees and labor force. Such a relationship must be based on equality and goodwill. Abdul-Rahman al-Sheha, Human Rights in Islam and Common Misconceptions, Abu Salman Deya Ud-Deen (2010) (discussing public rights and duties of both employers and employees in Islam),, at 77-79.

[87] Ibid., at Tirmidhi, Hadith No.2987.

[88]Ibid., at Qur’an at Al-Aĥzāb, 33:35. See, e.g., Qur’an 3:195 & 4:1. Beekun argued regarding the principles of leadership: ‘Do not be in a leaderless group; appoint a leader [. . .] A. Personal attributes a leader should develop in himself/herself: (1) Develop competency in the area in which you are leading others; (2) Stress virtue and behave with integrity; (3) Maintain balance and self-control; (4) Be proactive and action-oriented especially when confronting evil; (5) Be modest and self-effacing; (6) Keep your word; (7) Maintain a positive and cheerful attitude, and (8) Do not meddle in what does not concern you . . . [Also] (a) Take responsibility for your followers; . . . (e) Do not deceive your (business) partners or abuse or hurt other Muslims or  harbor suspicion towards others . . . or support a tyrannical leader . . .’.

[89] Mohsen Haredy, ‘Towards a Just and Caring Society: Social Solidarity and Social Justice in Islam’, OnIslam, 16 Dec. 2014, (‘Islam and Muslims have a lot to offer. Muslims should support oppressed people with all possible means . . ‘.).

[90] Ibid., this income functions as old-age pension.

[91] Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21, at 27-28. For further illustration on social justice in Islam, see generally Salma Taman, ‘The Concept of Corporate Social Responsibility in Islamic Law’, Ind. Int’l. & Comp. L. Rev. 21(3) (2011): 490-492 (providing further discourse concerning the social justice tools in Islamic commercial law).

[92] On the concept of social solidarity and security, see generally Magdy Abd Al-Shafy, ‘Social Solidarity and Social Security in Islam’, Yasmin Muhammad Moslem (trans.), Encyclopedia of Miracles in Qur’an and Sunnah, This meaning confirmed plainly by the Qur’anic verses and Hadith reports. Islam has made clear that money God grants us is not ours, but His. Thus, a Muslim is not to spend such money according to one’s vain desires, but rather, according to God’s instructions’. Ibid., Qur’an, at [At-Tawbah, 9:71]; see supra, at Sahih Muslim.

[93] Hartley Dean and Zafar Khan, ‘Muslim Perspectives on Welfare’, J. of Social Policy 26(2) (1997): 193-209 (define the essence and the potential of the Islamic welfare state, the Islamic tradition of zakāh as one of the central pillars and its role in decreasing poverty and redistribution of wealth, the scope for rapprochement among Western arguments on the moral basis for welfare and Muslim views on social justice and solidarity).

[94] Ibid. See also Sami Hasan, ‘Muslim Philanthropy and Social Security: Prospects, Practices, and Pitfalls’, University of Technology, Sydney, 2006, paper presented at the 6th ISTR Biennial Conference held in Bangkok, 9-12 July 2006, This paper examines the social security aspects of zakāh and endowments funds for children and women and the achievement of some Muslim societies in affecting the social security roles of Muslim growth: ‘The Islamic principle of property suggests that the needy people have a right in the wealth of a rich person . . . , (including the elderly)…’.

[95] Sohail H. Hashmi, ‘Islamic Ethics in International Society’, in S. H. Hashmi and J. Miles (eds.), Islamic Political Ethics: Civil Society, Pluralism, and Conflict (Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press 2002), pp. 148-172 (exploring the Muslim politics and call for elderly reform within Islamic international law principles).

[96] See generally Mohammad H. Kamali, Freedom, Equality, and Justice in Islam (Cambridge: Islamic Texts Society, 2002), which explains the concepts of freedom, equality and justice from an Islamic attitude and their manifestations in the religious, social, legal, and political areas and their evidences in the Qur’an, Sunnah, and the schools of law.

[97] Ozay Mehmet, ‘Al-Ghazzali on Social Justice: Guidelines for a New World Order from an Early Medieval Scholar’, Int’l. J. of Social Economics 24 (1997): 1203-18.

[98] See, e.g., ‘Umar ibn al-Khattab, as he stated: ‘When you make a donation, grant financial independence’. Also, scholars argued via ijma‘a (consensus) that this solidarity can also be achieved through providing supplementary access to service occasions and supporting in starting, managing, and improving small businesses.

[99] Virginia B. Morris & Brian D. Ingram, Guide to Understanding Islamic Investing  (New York: Lightbulb Press, 2001) 12; see Mohamed ‘Arafa, ‘Corporate Social Responsibility and the Fight against Corruption: Towards the Concept of CSR in Egypt after the January Revolution’, in Frank Emmert (ed.), Corporate Social Responsibility in Comparative Perspective (Council on International Law & Politics, 2014), at 200-201 (‘As such, Egypt has a powerful culture of giving, practiced in both its Islamic tradition of zakāh’.).

[100] See generally Raj Bhala, Understanding Islamic Law (Sharie‘a) (Dayton, OH: LexisNexis, 2011), providing the essential foundational of zakāh as a policy model for developing countries as a means of redistributing income to the elderly poor) and describing its various goals of providing economic rehabilitation for the employable, eliminating beggary and poverty, and redistributing wealth in society.

[101] Elsaman & ‘Arafa, supra note 21, at 28-29. See Taman, supra note 72, at 488-490, explaining the notion of zakāh in Islam and the eligibility of the Muslim to pay zakāh from his/her wealth under Islamic law.

[102] Ibid.

[103] For further details on the Islamic waqf system and its various sorts, see Mohamed ‘Arafa, ‘Islamic Policy of Environmental Conservation: 1,500 Years Old – Yet Thoroughly Modern’, European J. L. Reform16 (2) [Special Issue on Islamic Law] (2014): at 498-501. (‘It should be borne in mind that the protection and enrichment of the natural environment should be understood and interpreted in charitable terms as serving the public interests and sustaining God’s properties, over which human beings have only vice-regency’.).

[104] See generally H. Cattan, ‘The Law of Waqf’, in Majid Khadduri and H.J. Liebesny (eds.), Law in the Middle East, vol. 1 [Origin and Development of Islamic Law] (Washington D.C., 1955); A.M. Tawfiq, ‘The Awqaf in Modern Egypt’, 4 The Islamic Quarterly (1998):  257-265. For a fascinating account on the waqf’s historical development in the Islamic world, see F. J. Ziadeh, ‘Land Law and Economic Development in Arab Countries’, American J. Comp. L. 33(1) (1985): 93-106,

[105] See generally ‘Ali Hasan ‘Abd al-Hamid, Neighbors Rights: According to the Sunnah and the Example of the Salaf, Huda Khattab (trans.),( Ibn Hazm Publ. House, 1997),

[106] See, e.g., Sahih Al-Bukhari, Hadith No.654 & Sahih Muslim, Hadith(s) Nos.75–78.

[107] Ibid. at ‘Abd al-hamid, supra note 86;  see also, ibid., Qur’an, supra note 30 [19: 32].

[108] Mehmet, supra note 78.

[109] Ibid.

[110] See Ali, supra note 60.

[111] See generally Jonathan Gruber and David A. Wise, An International Perspective on Policies for an Aging Society (National Bureau of Economic Research, 2001) (providing a global approach on public policies towards the elderly and discussing the applications of these policies for both elderly and the government budgets).

[112] Ibid.

[113] See Peter Lloyd-Sherlock, ‘Social Policy and Population Ageing: Challenges for North and South’, Int’l J. of Epidemiology 31(4) (2002): 754-757.

[114] WHO, Towards an International Consensus on Policy for Long-Term Care of the Ageing (Geneva: WHO, 2000).

[115] Stephane Jacobzone & Howard Oxley, ‘Ageing and Health Care Costs’, Int’l. Politics & Society 1 (2002), online at

[116] Ibid. See also Diego Rodriguez-Pinzon and Claudia Martin, ‘The International Human Rights Status of Elderly Persons’, Amer. U. Intl. L. Rev. 18(4) (2003): 915-1008.

[117] ‘Arafa, supra note 48. (‘Thus, the transformation in the age profile of the population constitutes the basis for planning programs.  According to numerous official statistical data and surveys issued by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (‘CAPMS’), there is a systematic growth in older people in the population and this is predicted to rise methodically starting from 2011 to reach 11.500.000 (11%) in 2025 and, about 24.000.000 (21%) in 2050

[118] ‘Arafa, supra note 48.

[119] Ibid.

[120] Ibid., at 24. (‘On the other hand, Egyptian laws forbid and condemn committing any violent acts or abuse against all citizens including older people, as they attain an honored and privileged status within their families in Egyptian society based on the religious (Islamic) values and ethical and moral traditions (strengthening ties among family members).  In other words, Egyptian culture considers older individuals as the voice of history, deep experience and knowledge, and heritage’.).

[121] Ibid.

[122] Ibid., at 25-26. (‘Emotional and/or psychological abuse typically is defined by the laws as ‘an act that causes emotional pain, distress or anguish (assaults, intimidation, humiliation, threats, insults, harassment, etc…)’). See generally Ahmad ‘Awad Belal, Mabad’e Kanun Al-‘Uqubat Al-Masry: Al-Kesm Al-‘Amm [Principles of Egyptian Criminal Law, Part I: The Theory of Criminal Offences] (2004). (‘In Egypt, perpetrators of elder abuse can comprise anyone in a position of trust, control or authority as family connections, neighbors and friends, are all communally considered as relationships of confidence, whether or not the older adult truly thinks of the people as ‘honest and trustworthy’.  Furthermore, institutional abuse is a very recognizable phenomenon in Egypt and Middle Eastern regions as a result of mutual practices or processes that are part of the governing of a care institution or service’.). See Law No. 58 of 1937 (Egyptian Penal Code) (reformed in 1952), Al-Jarida Al-Rasmiyya [The Official Gazette], (Egypt), Arts. 234-240.

[123] See Ahmed Abulkheir, National Report on Senior Citizens’ Rights in the Arab Republic of Egypt, Ministry of Solidarity and Social Justice: Seniors’ Division), 3 Feb. 2011, at 11,

[124] See generally David N. Weisstub, Aging: Culture, Health, and Social Change (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2001).

[125] These actions may include for instance: (i) inclusion of elderly in the planning, implementation and assessment of social development progresses and efforts to diminish poverty; (ii) elimination discrimination’s age by enactment of labour market and fair employment policies; (iii) pension reforms that supports productivity, a diverse and more flexible system of pension schemes and retirement options (e.g. gradual or partial retirement); (iv) adoption of policies and norms that support the share of older women and men make in unpaid work in the informal sector and in care giving in the home; (v) recognition of the value of volunteering work; (vi)  formation of actual and positive (effective) images of active ageing in the media in common literature and through removal of negative stereotypes and ageism, and (vii) protection of older consumers from unsafe medications and treatments; and unscrupulous marketing activities.

[126] It should be noted that the spiritual and cultural background of Muslims and the teachings of Islamic norms deter many Muslims from sending their older families (including parents and relatives) to nursing homes. See generally Claudia Gaspar, Aging Muslim Communities, World Muslim Congress, 30 Apr. 2007, In other words, this dogmatic belief comes at a price, as Medical Insurance provides funds to cover being in nursing homes for different family and older people, but still these policies do not present enough the equivalent level of funding to individuals who live with family members at home, or at least not to all families who need upkeep and care. See also Lynette Clemetson, ‘U.S. Muslims Confront Taboo on Nursing Homes’, The N.Y. Times,13 June 2006,, last visited 25 Nov. 2015. (‘For generations, immigrant groups have grappled with the American concept of housing for the elderly, tailoring it to meet their ethnic, cultural and religious needs. But for many Muslims, the idea of placing parents in facilities is still unthinkable, seen as a violation of a K[Q]oranic obligation to care for one’s elderly relatives’.).

[127] For further details on this point, see Sangeeta Dhami & Aziz Sheikh, ‘The Muslim Family: Predicament and Promise’, West J. Med. 173 (5) (2000): 352–356, (‘The family forms the basic building block of Muslim society. Despite the many pressures it faces, the family institution remains strong. The future of the extended family, however, is under considerable threat . . . The traditional Muslim family is extended, often spanning 3 or more generations. An extended structure offers many advantages, including stability, coherence, and physical and psychological support, particularly in times of need . . . In Muslim culture, akin to other traditional cultures, respect and esteem increase with age. Elderly parents are respected on account of their life experiences and their hierarchic position within the family unit. The opportunity to attend to the needs of one’s parents in their later years is viewed as a gift from Allah. Transition is all the more difficult where Muslims live as minorities because in many cases, migration patterns have resulted in fragmentation of the extended family structure. Many second-generation Muslim migrants have grown up in nuclear families, not having first-hand familiarity with the richness and complexity of living within extended family networks. In addition, despite religious teachings that encourage marriage at an early age, a secular trend to marry late is being seen among Muslims. Some observers have suggested that increasing age curtails a person’s ability to adapt to change, adaptability being the hallmark of youth. Finally, and perhaps most important of all, Muslim youth in the West are faced with lifestyle choices not available in more traditional cultures. To some, the opportunities with respect to individual freedom offered by a nuclear family structure far outweigh any benefits of living in an extended family’.).

[128] On this point, see generally M. Henwood, Community Care and Elderly People, (London: Family Policy Studies Centre,1990); Thomas R. Cole, The Journey of Life: A Cultural History of Ageing in America, (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press. 1992) (explaining the relevant to cultural changes throughout Northern Europe). See, e.g., Luke Gormally, ‘Against Voluntary Euthanasia’, in Ranaan Gillon (ed.) Principles of Health Care Ethics (New York: John Wiley, 1994), at 763-764.

[129] Obeying elderly’s parents in Islam fall under the category of Islamic Scale theory on wajeb or fard (mandatory, required) acts which are obligatory on every male or female Muslim, and rewarded, if who have fulfilled the clauses of takleef (religious commitment) or the ability to do them (maturity by reaching puberty’s age along with sound reasoning).