Q & A
Q. If you have a father that drinks, commits adultery and takes drugs, do you still pay him respect although he doesn’t live with you and you only see him a few times a month?
Respecting parents is a separate duty from perhaps trying to urge them to stop their sinful ways. The personality of the father may be disengaged from the acts of the father. It is still possible to love the father but feel pain and hurt for the actions he’s doing. The specifics of the question are absent and hence no detailed answer is possible.
No doubt, whether parents are sinful, non-Muslim, difficult, unreasonable or just plain stubborn, a child must always exhibit the best behaviour towards parent(s). He/she must still show devotion, respect and serve them faithfully even though their outward behaviour may disappoint, cause outrage, invoke extreme anger or even fail to inspire any respect whatsoever. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an:
(Your Lord has decreed, that you worship none but Him and [that you show] kindness to parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age with you, do not say [so much as] ‘Fie’ to them nor repulse them, but speak to them a gracious word. And lower to them the wing of submission through mercy and say: My Lord! Have mercy on them both as they did care for me when I was little).
Imam al-Mawardi in his commentary entitled al-Nukat wa ’l-`Uyun on verse 24 above writes:
(فلا تقل لهما أف) يعني حين ترى منهما الأذى و تميط عنهما الخلا، وتزيل عنهما القذى فلا تضجر، كما كانا يميطانه عنك وأنت صغير من غير ضجر. و في تأويل (أف) ثلاثة أوجه: أحدها: أنه كل ما غلظ من الكلام وقبح، قاله مقاتل. الثاني: أنه استقذار الشيء وتغير الرائحة، قاله الكلبي. الثالث: أنها كلمة تدل على التبرم والضجر، خرجت مخرج الأصوات المحكية. والعرب تقول أف وتف، فالأف وسخ الأظفار، والتُّف ما رفعته من الأرض بيدك من شيء حقير. (و قل لهما قولا كريما) فيه وجهان: أحدهما: ليناً. والآخر: حسناً.
“(And do not say ‘fie’ to them) means when you see some offence [or insult] on their part bearing it all the way without showing signs of annoyance [and irritation] just how they both did while you were a child without showing signs of annoyance [and irritation to you]. There are three interpretations of [the word] ‘fie’. The first is any incorrect or abominable word. This was the opinion of Muqatil. The second is a filthy thing that changes the smell [or odour of something]. This was the opinion of al-Kalbi. And the third [interpretation] is that which indicates spoken [or uttered] sounds of annoyance and exasperation. And the Arabs say ‘uff’ and ‘tuff’. The [word] ‘al-uff’ means the dirt in fingernails and [the word] ‘al-tuff’ means picking up a filthy object with your hand from the ground. And (speak to them a gracious word) has two meanings. The first is a gentle [word] and the second is a gracious [word].”
Indeed, the actions mentioned in the question are utterly unlawful (haram) and a child must attempt to persuade – with the utmost gentleness, care and manner – his/her father to stop and perhaps seek professional help for the process of rehabilitation. Again, it maybe that regular contact with your father or seeking to make him a part of your life again is the revitalising force that puts him on the road to realising that he has more important things in life than these addictions you’ve mentioned, namely his child or children.
And Allah alone knows best.