Divine Speech | Verbal Idiom #2 “To Lower Wings”

When someone said that person is “raising his wings” or “lowering his wings”, an imagery of a bird comes to mind. When a bird raises its wings, it means it’s about to go up and fly off. And when it lowers its wings, then it’s about to go down and land. Obviously when the bird has wings, it has the ability to raise them anytime it wants. Yet this bird still chooses to lower them.

And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility
through mercy [rahmah], and say: “My Rabb! Bestow on them Your Mercy
as they did bring me up when I was young.”
[Surah Al-Israa’17:24]

This Ayah is about our relationship with our parents – that we should lower our wing of humility out of love and mercy towards them. What does this actually mean?

1. The bird can fly, but it chooses to stay down

As time goes by, as we get older, our parents get older too. But they don’t just get weaker, they sometimes become more sensitive and emotional. Perhaps some parents become more difficult to speak with; they become angrier or easily agitated. By now, we would have our own job, money, and family. We have a pair of strong wings which we can raise anytime we want.

But the lesson from this Ayah is this: Even though you have powerful wings, you need to learn to lower them when it comes to your parents. To act like the wings don’t work, meaning to refrain from saying hurtful things like, “You know dad, I’m a grown up now. You can’t talk like that to me anymore!” The Ayah teaches us to be humble with our parents. Remember: The bird can fly, but it CHOOSES to stay down.

If we think our parents are unusually exasperating – then realize that these are all tests from Allah s.w.t.

2. Lowering the wing out of rahmah (love and mercy)

The word “rahmah” in this Ayah has 3 implications:

  1. When the bird was young, its parents would gather food and bring it to the chicks because they couldn’t survive on their own. Similarly, we were completely dependable on our parents too. They showed us love and care, they did everything for us. Now is time for us to do the same for them. Some may complain that our parents don’t understand us, ask too many questions, get agitated towards us to the point that we become tired and weary. But you know what, when we were little, WE made them tired and weary too, didn’t we? They put up with us. Why is it that we can’t put up with them?
  2. Secondly, we ourselves should genuinely have love and care for our parents. A sign of humbleness in a person is in the way how he treats his parents. We can’t raise our voice to our parents, yet say we love them.
  3. Thirdly, and the most powerful of them all is: If we want Allah’s Rahmah, we’d better show rahmah to our parents!

3. Sacrifice

Do you see how birds would lower their wings over their nest to defend it from being attacked by predators? Their wings will be attacked, but the chicks are protected. The parents are willing to sacrifice for the well-being of their chicks. But this Ayah is about the children sacrificing THEMSELVES for their parents. Our parents protected us – it’s time for us to protect them.

As we grow older, Allah s.w.t. reverses our roles and we find this reversal in the du’a in the last part of the Ayah:

“My Rabb! Bestow on them Your Mercy
as they did bring me up when I was young.”

[Surah Al-Israa’17:24]

Allahumma, show our parents love and care like how they showed us love and care when we were small.

Notes extracted from the Divine Speech Seminar by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan.