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  • The Muslim Family

    Apr 23, 2009

    Family is the bedrock,
    cradle of human civilisation.
    It is the foundation and basis
    of Muslim society.

    Adam and Hawa, our first father and mother,
    struggled to cultivate and endure in the earth
    as husband and wife. Gradually their family
    multiplied into multitude. Family gives mooring,
    anchor, stability and tranquility among the
    close blood related and other members.

    Allah says in the Qur'an:

    �O Mankind, be conscious of your duty to your Lord, Who created you from a single soul, created of like Nature, his mate, and from the two created and Spread many men and women; and be mindful of your duty to God whose name you appeal to one another and to (the ties of) the womb. Verily God watches over you�. Qur'an (4:1)

    The Islamic family system brings the rights of the husband, wife, children, and relatives into a fine equilibrium. It nourishes unselfish behavior, generosity, and love within the framework of a well-organized family system. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued by Islam, and it is seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members. A harmonious social order is created by the existence of extended families and by treasuring children.

    The institutions of marriage and the family have been commended as the �way of the Prophets�.

    Allah says in the Qur'an:

    "And surely We have sent Messengers before you, and we assigned to them wives and offspring; and it was not for any Messenger to bring assign except by God's leave. For every term has a Book."Qur'an (13:38)

    And the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) said:

    �Marriage is a part of my Sunnah. Whoever runs away from my path is not from amongst us�. [Ibn Majah, Book of Marriage]

    Moreover a Muslim family has its unique features, e.g. it provides a secure and healthy 'home' environment for all its members, it guards against passions of whims and desires and channelise them to wholesome and meaningful pursuit, it proliferates human virtues, such as, love compassion, sacrifice, justice etc. and it provides a refuge against any difficulty.

    And since the family is the microcosm of a society and as such there are distinct role for its members.

    Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) says:

    "Each one of you is a trustee (shepherd) and is accountable for that which is entrusted to him. A ruler is trustee and is accountable for his trust, a man is a trustee in respect of his family, a woman is a trustee in respect of her husband's house and children." (Sahih al-Bukhari and Muslim).

    Men has the leadership role in the family and in the family women have to be loyal to men.

    Allah says in the Qur'an:

    "Men are the supporters of women, because Allah has stowed on the one more than the other, and for what they have to provide (for them) from their sources. So the righteous women are obedient and protect in the absence of their husbands that which God ordains to be protected." Qur'an (4:34)

    Leadership raises the question of responsibility, consultation (shoora) and justice. As shepherd of the house women have responsibility over the house and children.

    Parents are to provide their children with basic human necessities, such as food, cloth, shelter, education and medical support. This is treated as and Ibadah (worship) for the parents. Also parents should provide their children with love, warmth, compassion, etc. As human being consists of body and spirit, parents must provide their children with the life skills and spiritual nourishment.

    Also there are many traditions regarding children's responsibility toward their parents. As God ask children to obey and serve their parents and be kind and decent to them. Bukhari and Muslim narrated,

    'A man came to Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) and asked permission to go to Jihad (fighting for the sake of Islam). The Prophet asked him, "are your parents alive?" The man said, "yes". The Prophet responded, "then strive to serve them."

    The rights and responsibilities within the family are inter-twined. One's responsibility is the other's right. Rights and duties of husband, wife, parents and children are inscribed in Shariah (God's Commands). No Superiority except in Piety.

    What Islam has established is equitability in the role of sexes because of many factors, such as, physiological, physical, emotional, etc. Allah has no bias for or against men and women.

    No burden bearer can bear another's burden.

    Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) has stressed the importance of good conduct in the family.

    "The best of you is the best to his family and I am the best among you to my family". "The most perfect believers are the best in conduct, and the best of you are those who are best to their spouses "(Tirmidhi).

    Prophet Mohammad (PBUH) shared household works with his wives. For genuine economic reasons both the spouses might need to engage in financial activities. But rearing up and educating children cannot be compromised. There should be frank discussion and consultation between the spouses. Children need to be involved as and when necessary and also in order to train them to become responsible in their lives.

    Extended family with three to four generations under the same family structure helps Muslims to acquire many social qualities, such as sacrifice, compromise, respect, affection, consultation etc. There is mutual support in case of needs. There may be some inherent difficulties in this arrangement, but, after all, children should also learn to live in the realities of life.

    Thus the family enjoys a high status in Islam. It is the core of the society, because a healthy family means a healthy society. Hence Allah, the Exalted, commands that parents be treated with gentleness and submissiveness.

    Allah says in the Qur'an:

    "And we have enjoined upon man (to be good) to his parents. With difficulty upon difficulty did his mother bear him and wean him for two years. Show gratitude to Me and to your parents; to Me is your final goal." (Qur'an 31:14)


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