The Position of the Family in Islam
Islam’s concern about the welfare of the family may be summarised in the following points:
- Islam stresses the principle of marriage to form a family and considers it one of the most meritorious acts as well as one of the practices of Allah’s prophets and messengers. The Prophet r said in this regard, “Sometimes I fast and sometimes I don’t; I engage in night prayer and I also sleep, and I marry women. Therefore, whoever does not follow my practice is not one of my true followers.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 4776; Saheeh Muslim: 1401)
- Amongst the countless and greatest blessings that Allah I has bestowed upon us, the Qur’an mentions, are love and tenderness which He has placed between spouses: “Among His signs is that He created spouses for you of your own kind so that you might find tranquillity in them, and He has placed affection and compassion between you.” (Soorat Ar-Room, 30:21)
- Islam commands its followers to get married and to make marriage easy for those who seek it to guard their chastity, as the Prophet r said, “There are three people whom Allah will surely help.” Amongst these three he mentioned “a person who wants to get married in order to preserve his chastity.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 1655)
- It also commands young men to get married, for marriage is the right course of action to help them control their intense sexual impulses and to find tranquillity in their spouses.
- It has shown respect to every member of the family, males and females alike.
It has charged the parents with the great responsibility of bringing up their children. ‛Abdullaah ibn ‛Umar t narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger r say, “Every one of you is a guardian and is responsible for those in his custody. The ruler is a guardian of his subjects and responsible for them; a husband is a guardian of his family and is responsible for it; a woman is a guardian of her husband’s home and is responsible for it, and a servant is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 853; Saheeh Muslim: 1829)
- It encourages children to honour their parents and commands them to express respect and appreciation to them, look after them and show them due obedience until their death.
No matter how old children may be, they are duty-bound to obey their parents and show kindness to them. Indeed, the Qur’an regards obedience to one’s parents a meritorious act of worship and warns the believers against being rude to their parents, even by saying a word of disrespect to them: “Your Lord has decreed that you should worship none but Him, and that you should show kindness to your parents. Whether one or both of them reach old age with you, do not say ´Ugh!´ to them out of irritation and do not be harsh with them but speak to them with gentleness and generosity.” (Soorat Al-Israa’, 17:23)
- It commands parents to safeguard their children’s rights and urges them to spend on them equally and treat them justly in all apparent matters.
- It directs its adherents to maintain the ties of kinship by keeping in touch with their relatives from both parents’ sides and showing kindness to them.
These relatives include paternal and maternal aunts and uncles and their children. Indeed, Islam regards maintaining the ties of kinship as one of the most commendable acts, warns against severing such ties and considers doing so a major sin. The Prophet r said, “The person who severs the bonds of kinship will not enter Paradise.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 5638; Saheeh Muslim: 2556)
The Position of Women in Islam
Islam has honoured women and freed them from servitude and subordination to men. It has also liberated them from being a cheap commodity with no respect or honour whatsoever. Examples of forms of respect Islam shows to women include the following:
- Islam grants them the right to inheritance, allocating them equitable shares with men, which sometimes differ under certain circumstances depending on their relationship with others and the financial obligations they have to discharge. While men support the family as a matter of religious obligation, women are not obliged to spend a penny
- It establishes total equity between men and women in numerous matters including financial transactions. As the prophet said, “Women are the twin halves of men.” (Sunan Abu Daawood: 236)
- It grants them the right to choose ther husbands and places a large amount of the responsibility of bringing up children upon them, as the Prophet said, “A woman is a guardian of her husband’s home and is responsible for it.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 853; Saheeh Muslim: 1829)
- It grants them the right to keep their maiden names. In Islam, a woman does not change her surname to that of her husband upon marriage, as is common in many parts of the world; rather, she retains her maiden name, and thus her independent personality.
- It makes it the husband’s duty to spend on those women entitled to his support, such as his wife, mother and daughters, without attempting in the least to remind them of his favours.
- It stresses the importance of helping weak women who are in need of support, even if they are not one’s relatives, and urges its followers to engage in such a noble act, regarding it one of the meritorious deeds in the sight of Allah. The Prophet said, “The person who looks after a widow or a poor person is like a warrior who fights for Allah’s cause, or like one who performs prayers all night without slackness and fasts continuously and never breaks his fast.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 5661; Saheeh Muslim: 2982).
Women That Islam Enjoins Muslims to Look after
The Mother: Abu Hurayrah narrated that a man once asked the Prophet , “To whom should I show kindness most?” “Your mother,” he replied. The man said, “Then who?” The Prophet [again] said,“Your mother.” The man further asked, “Then who?” The Prophet replied,“Your mother.” The man asked again, “Then who?” The Prophet said, “Then your father.” (Saheeh Al-Bukhaaree: 5626; Saheeh Muslim: 2548)
The Daughter: ‛Uqbah ibn ‛Aamir narrated that he heard Allah’s Messenger say, “Whoever has three daughters and he remains patient with them, provides for them and clothes them from his money, they will be a shield for him from the Hellfire on the Day of Resurrection.” (Sunan Ibn Maajah: 3669)
The Wife: ‛Aa’ishah ~ narrated that Allah’s Messenger said, “The best among you are those who are best to their wives, and I am the best amongst you to my wives.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhee: 3895)
Islam considers the relationship between husband and wife to be complimentary, each of which remedies the deficiency of each other in building the Muslim society.
No Place for a Struggle between the Sexes
The struggle between men and women ended with either men gaining power over women, as in some pre -Islamic societies, or with women rebelling against their innate natural predisposition, as in some other non-Muslim societies which have rejected Allah’s laws.
This only happened as a result of rejecting Allah’s guidance. As the Qur’an states, “Do not covet what Allah has given to some of you in preference to others — men have a portion of what they acquire and women have a portion of what they acquire; but ask Allah for His bounty. (Soorat An-Nisaa’, 4:32) Indeed, Islam has honoured both men and women, and allocated each of them distinctive characteristics and roles whereby they may strive to gain Allah’s rewards and attain His pleasure. It does not give preference to any of the two sexes; rather, it aims to promote the welfare of the individual in general and that of society at large..
Therefore, there is no such thing in Islam as as truggle between the sexes; there is no need for a fierce rivalry for worldly pursuits between them; nor is there a necessity to launch an attack against either of them in an attempt to disparage, harm, criticise or find fault with any one of them.
All this is vain in Islam and constitutes a misunderstanding of Islam’s view of the roles it has assigned to each one of them. In Islam, each one of them has a share according to what they have earned in both material and spiritual terms. Instead of envying each other, they are required to ask Allah to give them more of His bounty through lawful labour and through prayer.