Honoring Father and Mother
Compiled by Dr. Ron Epstein
San Francisco State University
Please send all comments, suggestions, and corrections to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mang I asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "It is not
Soon after, as Fan Ch'ih was driving him, the Master told him,
saying, "Mang-sun asked me what filial piety was, and I answered
him,-'not being disobedient.'"
Fan Ch'ih said, "What did you mean?" The Master replied, "That
parents, when alive, be served according to propriety; that, when
dead, they should be buried according to propriety; and that they
should be sacrificed to according to propriety."
Mang Wu asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "Parents
are anxious lest their children should be sick."
Tsze-yu asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "The
filial piety nowadays means the support of one's parents. But
dogs and horses likewise are able to do something in the way of
support;-without reverence, what is there to distinguish the one
support given from the other?"
Tsze-hsia asked what filial piety was. The Master said, "The
difficulty is with the countenance. If, when their elders have
any troublesome affairs, the young take the toil of them, and if,
when the young have wine and food, they set them before their
elders, is THIS to be considered filial piety?"
Honor your father and your mother, that you may long endure on the land that the Lord your God is assigning to you. (Tanakh, Torah, Exodus 20:12)
Lo, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before the coming of the awesome, fearful day of the Lord. He shall reconcile parents with children and children with their parents, so that, when I come, I do not strike the whole land with utter desolation. (Tanakh, Nevi'im, Malachi 3:23-24)Excerpts from The Legends of the Jews by Louis Ginzberg, Volume III:
But when the people heard the fifth commandment, "Honor thy father and
thy mother," they said: "According to our laws, if a man enrolls himself as a servant of the king, he thereby disowns his
parents. God, however, makes it a duty to honor father and mother; truly, for this is honor due to Him." 
It was with these words that the fifth commandment was emphasized: "Honor thy
parents to whom thou owest existence, as
thou honorest Me. Honor the body that bore thee, and the breasts that gave thee suck, maintain thy parents, for thy parents
took part in thy creation."  For man owes his existence to God, to his father, and to his mother, in that he receives from
each of his parents five of the parts of his body, and ten from God. The bones, the veins, the nails, the brain, and the white of
the eye come from the father. The mother gives him skin, flesh, blood, hair, and the pupil of the eye. God gives him the
following: breath, soul, light of countenance, sight, hearing, speech, touch, sense, insight, and understanding.  When a
human being honors his parents, God says: "I consider it as if I had dwelled among men and they had honored Me," but if
people do not honor their parents, God say: "It is good that I do not dwell among men, or they would have treated Me
superciliously, too." 
God not only commanded to love and fear parents as Himself, but in some respects
He places the honor due to parents even
higher than that due Him. A man is only then obliged to support the poor or to perform certain religious ceremonies, if he has
the wherewithal, but it is the duty of each one even to go begging at men' doors, if he cannot otherwise maintain his parents.
Thou shalt honor thy father and thy mother, that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest live long on the earth.
Q. What does this mean?
A. We must respect and love God, so that we will neither look down on our parents or superiors nor irritate them, but will honor them, serve them, obey them, love them, and value them.
And remember We took a covenant from the Children of Israel (to this effect): Worship none but Allah; treat
with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need. (Qur'an 2.083)
And We have enjoined on man (to be good) to his parents: in travail upon travail did his mother bear him, and in years twain was his weaning: (hear the command), "Show gratitude to Me and to thy parents: to Me is (thy final) Goal. (Qur'an 031.014)
We have enjoined on man kindness to his parents: In pain did his mother bear him, and in pain did she give him birth. The carrying of the (child) to his weaning is (a period of) thirty months. At length, when he reaches the age of full strength and attains forty years, he says, "O my Lord! Grant me that I may be grateful for Thy favour which Thou has bestowed upon me, and upon both my parents, and that I may work righteousness such as Thou mayest approve; and be gracious to me in my issue. Truly have I turned to Thee and truly do I bow (to Thee) in Islam." (Qur'an 046.015)
The father [is] the physical form of the Lord of Creatures, the mother the physical form of the earth... The trouble that a mother and father endure in giving birth to human beings cannot be redeemed even in a hundred years. He should constantly do what pleases the two of them.... (The Laws of Manu, 2:226)