Islam is the second-largest religion in the world, with 1.3 billion practitioners. It was founded in 622 A.D. in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Muslims -- those who practice Islam -- place high expectations and responsibilities on the eldest son of the family. He is expected to discipline younger siblings, care for and respect elderly parents and relatives, care for and support female members of the family, and make up for any shortcomings of his parents.
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The eldest son holds the highest rank of all children in a Muslim family. He is allowed to discipline those younger than himself and to instruct them in proper behaviour as Muslims. He is more of a parental figure than a sibling. He is often held responsible by his parents and elder family members if a younger sibling misbehaves or does something to dishonour the family.
Responsibilities to the Elderly
It is the eldest son's responsibility to care for his parents as they age. If he is asked to do anything or get anything for them, it is his responsibility to do it and to not ask questions. He must always be respectful and obedient to his elders. When his father dies, the eldest son inherits his house even if his father's wife is still living. He must support and care for his father's wife with respect.
Support Family Members
Whether they are younger or older widows, orphans and female members of the family who are unmarried must be supported and cared for by the eldest son. It is his responsibility to make sure all the members of his family are cared for as needed. Widows in particular need this care, because Islamic law leaves them 15 per cent of the husband's estate, and they have few ways to support themselves.
If the parents are not fulfilling their responsibilities to take care of issues such as the study of Islam, behaviour, providing food for the family, or caring for elderly family members, those responsibilities then fall on the eldest son of the family. He must become the head of the family even though his father is still alive.
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