بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
We are living in a time when the word “family” has been re-defined. In today’s world due to the influence of the various cultures the word “family” no longer includes the equation of marriage.
In fact the definition of ‘marriage’ today describes any couple simply living together, both either bringing with them children from a previous relationship or by adoption. In some cultures, the word “family” is also used to describe single parent families and even same sex couples. Aside from the fact that the word “marriage” has become redundant, we find that there is no longer any commitment involved and most of the relationships are formed on a “trial and error” basis. This is the status of the family in many countries around the world.
However, in Islam the foundation of a Muslim family is based on the sacred act of nikah (marriage). It becomes a sacred act of worship when our intention is to save ourselves from haraam in order to please Allah (سبحانه وتعالى). The family is the basic structure of a Muslim society and it is the values that are practiced within this small unit that form the backbone of the Ummah. This is why the Qur’an specifically gives detailed instructions on the code of conduct for each and every member of the household and their rights and obligations towards each other. These instructions are amply supported by various ahadith, the most often quoted (but rarely understood).
“Whoever marries has completed half of his faith. So let him beware of Allah regarding the other half”
(Bayhaqi – At Tabaraani)
It is within the family environment where we learn to recognize and fulfill the rights of others. In fact, by learning to interact with others in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah, we fulfill one half of our Deen. The other half is all about knowing that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is always watching us as we deal with the obligations of our family members, in other words, Taqwa. This is why Muslims are referred to as an Ummah - one big family, united by faith.
The father has been given the supreme responsibility of not only providing for the family through halaal earnings, but also of cultivating and ensuring the Islamic mindset and manners of each individual under his control. In Surah Nisa, ayat 34 Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) tells us:
الرِّجَالُ قَوَّامُونَ عَلَى النِّسَاء بِمَا فَضَّلَ اللّهُ بَعْضَهُمْ عَلَى بَعْضٍ وَبِمَا أَنفَقُواْ مِنْ أَمْوَالِهِمْ فَالصَّالِحَاتُ قَانِتَاتٌ حَافِظَاتٌ لِّلْغَيْبِ بِمَا حَفِظَ اللّهُ وَاللاَّتِي تَخَافُونَ نُشُوزَهُنَّ فَعِظُوهُنَّ وَاهْجُرُوهُنَّ فِي الْمَضَاجِعِ وَاضْرِبُوهُنَّ فَإِنْ أَطَعْنَكُمْ فَلاَ تَبْغُواْ عَلَيْهِنَّ سَبِيلاً إِنَّ اللّهَ كَانَ عَلِيًّا كَبِيرًا
Men are in charge of women by [right of] what Allah has given one over the other and what they spend [for maintenance] from their wealth. So righteous women are devoutly obedient, guarding in [the husband's] absence what Allah would have them guard. But those [wives] from whom you fear arrogance – [first] advise them; [then if they persist], forsake them in bed; and [finally], strike them. But if they obey you [once more], seek no means against them. Indeed Allah is ever Exalted and Grand.
As a reminder to children regarding the status of a father, Imam Zainul Abedin says: ”It is the right of your father to realize that he is your root and you are his branch and that without him, you would have been non-existent. Therefore when you find in yourself anything that is likeable, remember that your father is the basic means of that gift (of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى)) to you. And be thankful to Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) and grateful to your father accordingly.”
Regarding the mother, Imam Zainul Abedin says: “ It is the right of your mother that you should appreciate that she carried you (in her womb) as nobody carries anybody, fed you the fruits of her heart which nobody feeds anybody, protected you (during pregnancy) with her ears, eyes, hands, legs, hair, limbs (in short) with her whole being, gladly, cheerfully and carefully. She patiently suffered all the worries, pains, difficulties and sorrows till the Hands of Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) removed you from her and brought you to this world. Then she was most happy feeding you, forgetting her own hunger, clothing you, even if she herself had no clothes, giving you milk and water, not caring for her own thirst, keeping you in the shade even if she had to suffer from the heat of the sun, giving you every comfort with her own hardships, lulling you to sleep while keeping herself awake. Therefore you must remain thankful to her accordingly and you cannot do so except by the help from Allah (سبحانه وتعالى).”
Here we see that the husband and wife also have obligations towards each other. In the family structure, this is the most important relationship, as it bears the entire responsibility of raising righteous children who are to become members of the Ummah. Until and unless both parents treat each other with love and respect, are mindful of each other’s rights and are constantly aware of the fact that Allah (سبحانه وتعالى) is watching them (adopting Taqwa), they will not be able to instill in their children the required moral values. It is the right of the children that their parents provide them good names. Parents should not only provide a good academic education but, more importantly, proper religious guidance. In a nutshell, the children need the protection and guidance of parents - while similarly, in their old age, the parents need the kindness and care of the children.
This has been a brief outline of what a Muslim family should be like. However, today’s Muslim families are being threatened by the globalization in every aspect of their life. Under this threat, everyone is watching the same TV shows and movies, reading the same books, using the same toothpaste and shampoo, wearing the same clothes, talking the same language, eating the same food; the list goes on.
We find parents who should be spending more time with their children and giving more attention to their upbringing being caught up in the rat race of consumerism, trying desperately to keep up with their neighbors’ decor; buying the latest phone or a bigger TV, vacationing in Europe, obsessing over designer labels and eating at the newest restaurant. Where will it end? The father no longer has enough time to guide his flock – instead he spends long hours at work in an effort to earn more and more money to maintain this decadent lifestyle. He sees all the other children attending mixed parties and begins to think that it could not be wrong since everyone else is doing it. He sees his daughter going out in tight jeans and a revealing top and in his eyes she’s like all the other girls her age. He doesn’t see anything wrong with that. And even if he does occasionally think of commenting on such matters, he refrains from doing so out of fear of being labelled as “conservative” or “backward”. He has a sneaky suspicion that his teenage son is on drugs but does not have enough courage to confront him since he himself enjoys the occasional puff!
As for the mother, she tries to some extent to hold on to her values and to restrain her children, but alas, social pressure gets the better of her too and she stews in insecurity and doubt. She does not want to lose her husband, who sees other women who are dressed more attractively or are more sociable than she is. She also does not want her children to become alienated from her, and so stifles her resentment towards their behavior. Moreover, she tries to become like those women dressing and behaving like them leaving behind the Islamic values.
The cold, hard truth is that the entire Muslim world is either being persecuted or is suffering from an identity crisis. This is the time period that the Prophet (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) referred to an a hadith narrated by Anas bin Malik (رضى اللهُ عنهُ) . The Prophet (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) said:
“There shall come upon the people a time in which the one who is steadfast upon his religion, will be like the one holding onto a burning ember.”
This situation requires drastic and urgent action! This is a time when those with correct knowledge of Deen have to make an extra effort to do Dawah and spread the correct Islamic values. More schools need to be opened that operate under Islamic guidelines and teach proper Islamic morals. We need to introduce our children to real heroes; the heroes of Islam such as Khalid Bin Waleed, Salahuddin Ayubbi, and the Prophet (صلي اللهُ عليهِ وسلم) himself in order to wean them off their blind adulation towards rock stars, sports personalities and movie stars. The Muslim family and indeed the entire Muslim Ummah is under attack and so for the sake of our faith, and the innocence of our children, we need to make a sincere resolution to analyze where we stand and to orient ourselves towards the better – towards Islam.