Why is Walidayn used instead of Abu & Um? [Surah Israa’ 17:23]
وَقَضَىٰ رَبُّكَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ وَبِالْوَالِدَيْنِ إِحْسَانًا ۚ إِمَّا يَبْلُغَنَّ عِندَكَ الْكِبَرَ أَحَدُهُمَا أَوْ
كِلَاهُمَا فَلَا تَقُل لَّهُمَا أُفٍّ وَلَا تَنْهَرْهُمَا وَقُل لَّهُمَا قَوْلًا كَرِيمًا
And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.
The word ‘walidayn‘ is used in that ayah/verse, which refers to both your parents.
The word ‘lid‘ = to produce something.
The ‘ wa‘ as a prefix = to make the following word/verb occur.
In this case, the walid = the one who produced and made – the child – existant.
Walid [m] = the man who fathered you [i.e. biological father].
Walida [f] = the woman who gave birth to you.
Walidayn as a suffix signifies ‘two‘ i.e. Both parents; Mum and Dad.
In arabic, Um and Abu is also used for Mother and Father.
So why is Walid, and Walida [=Walidayn] used in the aayah/verse instead of Abu and Um?
In arabic, the Walid is the one fathered you.
However, the Abu is the one who fathered you, and he also lookaftered you, provided for you and gave you an upbringing.
This means that the Abu [Providing father] is of a higher rank than a Walid [biological father].
However,Allah is ordering the Muslim son/daughter to honour their parents, even if they just gave birth to them! Because without them, we would never be born.
So when we see people disrespecting their biological father and saying that “you weren’t there for me!”, they still need to realise that he is their Walid, and they are still required to respect their parents [walidayn].
The Pregnant Um
The mother is honored more than a walid [biological father]. Yet we should honor both.
How is this?
Allah tells us in Surah Luqman [31:14];
وَوَصَّيْنَا الْإِنسَانَ بِوَالِدَيْهِ حَمَلَتْهُ أُمُّهُ وَهْنًا عَلَىٰ وَهْنٍ وَفِصَالُهُ فِي عَامَيْنِ أَنِ
اشْكُرْ لِي وَلِوَالِدَيْكَ إِلَيَّ الْمَصِيرُ
And We have enjoined on man (to be dutiful and good) to his parents. Hismother [Um] bore him in weakness and hardship upon weakness and hardship, and his weaning is in two years give thanks to Me and to your parents, unto Me is the final destination.}[31:14]
Allah is telling us that your mother [walida], has already got the honorable title of Um [caring mother] – by being pregnant and giving birth to you. This is why she has more rights over you from the start.
However, for the father to get the title of Abu [the providing father], he will have to provide for you and give you an upbringing, otherwise his status will remain as a Walid [the one who you are born from (biologically)]. (even though you still respect your Walid).
حدثنا قتيبة بن سعيد بن جميل بن طريف الثقفي وزهير بن حرب قالا حدثنا جرير عن
عمارة بن القعقاع عن أبي زرعة عن أبي هريرة قال
جاء رجل إلى رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم فقال من أحق الناس بحسن صحابتي قال
أمك قال ثم من قال ثم أمك قال ثم من قال ثم أمك قال ثم من قال ثمأبوك
وفي حديث قتيبة من أحق بحسن صحابتي ولم يذكر الناس
Abu Hurairah, may Allah be pleased with him, reported:
A person came to Allah’s Messenger (may peace be upon him) and said:Who among the people is most deserving my companionship (of a kind treatment from me?)
He said: Your mother. He, again, said: Then who (is the next one)? He said: It is your mother [Um] (who deserves the best treatment from you). He said: Then who (is the next one)? He (the Holy Prophet) said: It is your mother.
He (again) said: Then who? Thereupon he (The Prophet (peace be upon him)) said: It is your father [Abu].
[Sahih Muslim The Book of Virtue, Good Manners and Joining of the Ties of Relationship (Kitab Al-Birr was-Salat-I-wal-Adab )]
This is part of the Linguistic Miracle of the Qur’an.