As elsewhere in the world, the International Day of Older Persons will be observed in Bangladesh today (October 1) through various programmes. In 1990, the United Nations decided to observe the day internationally on October 1 every year. This day has been observed since 1991 with the aim of ensuring the protection and rights of the elderly as well as creating global awareness about old age. The United Nations has designated 60-year olds for citizens of the Asia-Pacific region and those 65 years of age and older for citizens of developed countries. And in the twentieth century, the great advances in medicine, awareness, nutrition, and health care have reduced mortality. Besides, the average life expectancy of people has increased. As a result, the number of elderly persons in the world is increasing.
According to statistics, there are more than 13 million senior citizens in Bangladesh at present. By the year 2025, the number of elderly persons in the country will be around one crore 80 lakh. In 2050, this number will be about four and a half crore and in 2061 it will be about five and a half crore. In 2050, one out of every five people in our country will be elderly, which is 20 percent of the population at that time. In Bangladesh, the number of senior citizens will be one percent more than children in 2050. At that time the number of children will be 19 percent and the number of senior citizens will be 20 percent. Dignity of elders in Islam: It is the custom of all societies to show respect to the elders. In the previous society, the elderly were quite respected and revered. Until the last moment of life, this respect and esteem for the elderly remained intact. It is specially in the Oriental society where the tradition of showing respect to the elderly can be seen even today.
In the case of social conduct, one should pay attention to knowledge-glory, educational qualifications, taqwa-abstinence and other special ranks. This has been described in the sentence 'Behave according to rank'. The teaching of Islam is the way in which a child is cared for lovingly by his parents. It is the duty of the child to take care of his/her parents in their old age. Neglecting this duty is inhuman and un-Islamic. There is no forgiveness for those who do such things. For this negligence, the children will have to suffer severe punishment of Hell in the Hereafter and will have to suffer more extreme consequences in this world in their old age. Instructing them to be kind to their elderly parents and to be kind to them, Allah (SWT) says, "Your Lord has commanded you not to worship anyone other than Him and to be kind to your parents. If one or both of them reach old age in your lifetime, do not say oh to them and do not threaten them; Talk to them respectfully. In this way, Islam has shown respect to parents, relatives and elders of all walks of life, urging them to take care of their helpless parents. If this instruction of Islam had been followed, there would have been no need for the elderly to live a miserable life in an old age home. A man with a healthy conscience and human qualities pays respect to his/her elderly parents. And, he/she also cannot neglect his/her olderly relatives.
Finally, the biggest thing is to spread the teachings of Islam in every home. In particular, mothers and sisters, including the children of every old man, have to play a leading role in this task. Inspired by their own religious teachings, Muslims should pay respect to the elders. It is imperative for their liberation in this world and in the hereafter. May Allah (SWT) grant the entire Muslim Ummah the Tawfeeq to take care of the elders. Amen.
The writer is the editor and publisher of the Daily Shastho Thathya
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