Wrote about why parents with adult children would be compelled to support themselves through reverse mortages. To which Neil Remington Abramson recounted his own recollections of parental support for their own parents. There is also some jurisprudence here, where parents have sued children for support. I remember the “Honour thy father and mother” commandment in Christianity. Here a friend comments on how parental support obligations are viewed in Islam (e-mail correspondence reproduced with permission):
I know for sure that it is obligatory for a person to spend on his parents when they are in need. However, I do not think that there is a verse in the Qur’an that talks about “spending” specifically. There are many verses that talk about the rights and the obligations of respecting them and treating them with excellent manners and humbleness. I will list a few:
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. (17:23) And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them, as they brought me up [when I was] small.” (17:24)
And We have enjoined upon man, to his parents, good treatment. His mother carried him with hardship and gave birth to him with hardship, and his gestation and weaning [period] is thirty months. [He grows] until, when he reaches maturity and reaches [the age of] forty years, he says, “My Lord, enable me to be grateful for Your favor which You have bestowed upon me and upon my parents and to work righteousness of which You will approve and make righteous for me my offspring. Indeed, I have repented to You, and indeed, I am of the Muslims.” (46:15)
Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.” (6:151)
6. Abu Hurairah reported: “A man came to the Prophet of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and asked, ‘What do you command me to do?’ He replied, ‘Be dutiful towards your mother.’ Then he asked him the same question again and he replied, ‘Be dutiful towards your mother.’ He repeated it yet again and the Prophet replied, ‘Be dutiful towards your mother.’ He repeated the question a fourth time and the reply was, ‘Be dutiful towards your mother.’ Then he put the question a fifth time and the Prophet said, ‘Be dutiful towards your father.'”
15. Abu Bakr reported that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Shall I tell you which is the worst of the major wrong actions?” “Yes, Messenger of Allah,” they replied. He said, “Associating something else with Allah and disobeying parents.” he had been reclining, but then he said up and said, “And false witness.” Abu Bakr said, “He continued to repeat it until I said, ‘Is he never going to stop?”
21. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Disgrace! Disgrace! Disgrace!” They said, “Messenger of Allah, who?” He said, “The one who fails his parents or one of them when they are old will enter the Fire.”
32. Abu Hurairah reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Three supplications are answered without a doubt: the supplication of someone who is oppressed, the supplication of someone on a journey, and the supplication of parents for their children.”
There is a great commentary on verse number one in this link, titled “Celestial Ordinances”, as it relates to previous messages before Islam as well.
Verse Number One
And when we took a covenant from the children of Israel, “worship none but Allah and render good behaviour to parents and kinsmen and to orphans and the needy and speak good to all people and establish prayer and pay zakat.” Then you turned away save a few of you and you are a people swerving. [Surah 2, Verse 83]
This verse points out that in ancient religions every Prophet’s nation was ordered to abstain from polytheism (shirk) and to do good unto parents, relatives, orphans and the indigent.
At whichever juncture, the Quran orders good behaviour unto parents, Allah Ta’ala has laid it adjacent to those injunctions dealing with worshipping Him. From this we deduce the importance of this heavenly guidance. Following the Ibadah of Allah and obedience to His commandments, rendering good behaviour to parents is also Fardh (compulsory).
Good behaviour includes obedience as well. i.e. the children should bear in mind obedience to their parents in every aspect of their social (and domestic) life.
However, they should not accede to their commands or anybody else’s, if they are in conflict with the ordinances of Allah Ta’ala and His Prophet Sallallahu alayhi wasallam.
In others words, the Almighty Allah states “Be obedient to me and render good behaviour unto your parents and obey them as well.” For a servant or human being, the essence of Allah Ta’ala is that of an absolute and omnipotent creator. He indicates the solution to virtually every step of our social life and guidance lies in good conduct to parents, obedience to them and refraining from disobeying them. Obedience to Allah Ta’ala is, in essence, subservience to Quranic injunctions. Since Allah Ta’ala has ordained good conduct to parents immediately after He decreed obedience unto Him, shows that he ordained obedience unto them as well. Hence, every son or daughter is constrained to act accordingly, or else obedience to Allah Ta’ala will not be complete. As categorically stated that shirk (polytheism) is an unpardonable sin, similarly, disobedience to parents will be considered an unforgivable sin.