One day a man came to see the Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him. It seemed that he was trying to solve something but couldn't quite work it out. So he asked the Prophet. ''Tell me, O Prophet!'' I have many relatives and many friends whom I love, and whom I wish to care for and help. But I often find it difficult to decide which of them has the greatest claim upon me? Which of them should come first?'' The Prophet replied immediately, ''Your mother should come first and before all others.''
The man was very pleased to have this clear guidance from the Prophet. But of course there were all his other relatives and his friends, so he asked ''and after my mother, who has the greatest claim upon me?'' The Prophet's reply this second time surprised him. ''Your mother!'' he said again.
The man wondered why the Prophet was repeating himself. Perhaps he had not spoken clearly, the man thought, so he asked the question again, ''What I want to know is, after my mother, who has the greatest claim upon me? Again the Prophet said ''your mother!''
The Prophet had now said it three times. Slowly, the man realized why he had done so. ''The Prophet means that my mother is extremely important, so much so that my duty to her must be stressed over and over again. Even so, the man's thoughts ran on, ''what about all the others I love and wish to care for?'' Still uncertain and wanting to know more, he once again turned to the Prophet and said, ''and after my mother, who comes after her? Is there anyone besides her?'' The Prophet then replied ''after your mother, your father.'' ''And then?'' asked the man. ''Then people who are nearest to you,'' said the Prophet. Allah's peace and blessings be upon the Prophet.
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